Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Profiting from the Word - Chapter 10

In Chapter 10 "The Scriptures and Love" of Profiting from the Word, A.W. Pink states that "[n]o one can read the Scriptures with any measure of attention without discovering how much they have to say about love, and therefore it behooves each one of us prayerfully and carefully to ascertain whether or not his or her love be really a spiritual one, and whether it be in a healthy state and is being exercised aright."  As part of my family devotional study of this book, I've decided to post my thoughts chapter by chapter and to include portions from the book that are helping me improve my daily Bible reading and study. You can read my notes from Chapter 1 here, Chapter 2 here, Chapter 3 here, Chapter 4 here, Chapter 5 here, Chapter 6 here, Chapter 7 here, Chapter 8 here, and Chapter 9 here.

A man profits from the Word of God when he:
  1. Perceives the importance of Christian love--"Said our Lord, 'By this shall all men know that ye are My disciples, if ye have love one to another' (John 13:35). By Christ’s making it the badge of Christian discipleship, we see again the great importance of love. It is an essential test of the genuineness of our profession: we cannot love Christ unless we love His brethren, for they are all bound up in the same 'bundle of life' with Him (1 Sam. 25:29). Love to those whom He has redeemed is a sure evidence of spiritual and supernatural love to the Lord Jesus Himself. Where the Holy Spirit has wrought a supernatural birth, He will draw forth that nature into exercise, He will produce in the hearts and lives and conduct of the saints supernatural graces, one of which is loving each other for Christ’s sake."
  2. Detects perversions of Christian love--"[W]e should not be surprised when unregenerate professors1 mistake human sentimentality and carnal pleasantries for spiritual love. But sad is it to see some of God’s own people living on so low a plane that they confuse human amiability and affability with the queen of the Christian graces. While it is true that spiritual love is characterized by meekness and gentleness, yet is it something very different from and vastly superior to the courtesies and kindnesses of the flesh. How many a doting father has withheld the rod from his children, under the mistaken notion that real affection for them and the chastising of them were incompatible! How many a foolish mother, who disdained all corporal punishment, has boasted that 'love' rules in her home!"
  3. Understands true Christian love--"Christian love is a spiritual grace abiding in the souls of the saints alongside faith and hope (1 Cor. 13:13). It is a holy disposition wrought in them when they are regenerated (1 John 5:1). It is nothing less than the love of God shed abroad in their hearts by the Holy Spirit (Rom. 5:5). It is a righteous principle which seeks the highest good of others...Spiritual love is a holy thing: it is faithful to God; it is uncompromising toward all that is evil."
  4. Discovers that Christian love is Divine communication--"To love Christ, and His and our brethren in Him, is congenial to that Divine nature He hath made us the partakers of by His Holy Spirit...It is the Holy Spirit within attracting and alluring me with Christ indwelling my brethren and sisters. Thus real Christian love is not only a Divine gift, but is altogether dependent upon God for its invigoration and exercise. We need to pray daily that the Holy Spirit will call forth into action and manifestation, toward both God and His people, that love which He has shed abroad in our hearts."
  5. Rightly exercises Christian love--"This is done not by seeking to please our brethren and ingratiate ourselves in their esteem but when we truly seek their highest good...Love is to be exercised in a Divine way, and never at the expense of failing to love God; in fact, it is only when God has His proper place in my heart that spiritual love can be exercised by me toward my brethren."
  6. Comprehends the manifestations of Christian love--"To love our brethren and manifest the same in all kinds of ways is our bounden duty...In no other way can the Christian more manifest his affectionate regard toward his fellow pilgrims than by using all his interests in the Lord Jesus in their behalf, entreating His mercies and favours unto them...The best way of overcoming a bitter spirit to a brother who has offended is to be much in prayer for him. "
  7. Grasps the proper cultivation of Christian love--"First, recognizing at the outset that just as there is much in you (in me) which will severely try the love of the brethren, so there will be not a little in them to test our love. “Forbearing one another in love” (Eph. 4:2) is a great admonition on this subject which each of us needs to lay to heart...Second, the best way to cultivate any virtue or grace is to exercise it. Talking and theorizing about it avails nothing unless it be carried into action.  Suffer not the coldness and unkindness of others to dampen your love, but “overcome evil with good” (Rom. 12:21)...Third, above all see to it that your own heart basks in the light and warmth of God’s love. Like begets like. The more you are truly occupied with the unwearying, unfailing, unfathomable love of Christ to you, the more will your heart be drawn out in love to those who are His."
Mr. Pink ponders the previous 9 chapters and reiterates that:

"Many are deceived on this matter, mistaking an eagerness to acquire knowledge for a spiritual love of the Truth (2 Thess. 2:10), and assuming that addition to their store of learning is the same thing as growth in grace. A great deal depends upon the end or aim we have before us when turning to God’s Word. If it be simply to familiarize ourselves with its contents and become better versed in its details, it is likely that the garden of our souls will remain barren; but if with the prayerful desire to be rebuked and corrected by the Word, to be searched by the Spirit, to conform our hearts to its holy requirements, then we may expect a Divine blessing."

He goes on to encourage the reader to honestly measure himself by asking the following questions to see if his reading and searching of the Scriptures are really blessing his soul:

"Am I acquiring a greater hatred of sin, and a practical deliverance from its power and pollution? Am I obtaining a deeper acquaintance with God and His Christ? Is my prayer-life healthier? Are my good works more abundant? Is my obedience fuller and gladder? Am I more separated from the world in my affections and ways? Am I learning to make a right and profitable use of God’s promises, and so delighting myself in Him that His joy is my daily strength? Unless I can truthfully say that these are (in some measure) my experience, then it is greatly to be feared that my study of the Scriptures is profiting me little or nothing."

Under Mr. Pink's fifth point of rightly exercising Christian love, he points out what Christian love is not and gives biblical counsel on how to show love:

"Petting and pampering each other is not brotherly love; exhorting one another to press forward in the race that is set before us, and speaking words (enforced by example of our daily walk) which will encourage them to 'look off unto Jesus,' would be much more helpful (Heb. 12:1,2). Brotherly love is a holy thing, and not a fleshly sentiment or a loose indifference as to the path we are treading. God’s 'commandments' are expressions of His love, as well as of His authority, and to ignore them, even while seeking to be kindly affectioned one to another, is not 'love' at all. The exercise of love is to be in strict conformity to the revealed will of God. We are to love 'in the truth' (3 John 1)."

This concludes my book study on Pink's Profiting from the Word.  May your Bible reading in 2016 be profitable.

***
"By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments," (1 John 5:2).

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Profiting from the Word - Chapter 9

In Chapter 9 "The Scriptures and Joy" of Profiting from the Word, A.W. Pink contends that "[i]t is the sovereign decree of heaven that nothing can make sinners truly happy but God in Christ."  As part of my family devotional study of this book, I've decided to post my thoughts chapter by chapter and to include portions from the book that are helping me improve my daily Bible reading and study. You can read my notes from Chapter 1 here, Chapter 2 here, Chapter 3 here, Chapter 4 here, Chapter 5 here, Chapter 6 here, Chapter 7 here, and Chapter 8 here.

A man profits from the Word of God when he:
  1. Perceives joy as duty--"The Holy Spirit here speaks of rejoicing as a personal, present, and permanent duty for the people of God to carry out. The Lord has not left it to our option whether we should be glad or sad, but has made happiness an obligation. Not to rejoice is a sin of omission...It is not a carnal joy which we are here urging, by which we mean a joy which comes from carnal sources. It is useless to seek joy in earthly riches, for frequently they take unto themselves wings and fly away...No, if we are to “rejoice evermore” it must be in an object that lasts forevermore...it is an intelligent, steady, heart delight in God Himself. Every attribute of God, when contemplated by faith, will make the heart sing. Every doctrine of the Gospel, when truly apprehended, will call forth gladness and praise."
  2. Learns the secret of true joy--"It is only where there is much faith and consequent love that there is much joy. 'Rejoice in the Lord alway' (Phil. 4:4). There is no other object in which we can rejoice “alway.” Everything else varies and is inconstant. What pleases us today may pall on us tomorrow. But God is always the same, to be enjoyed in seasons of adversity as much as in seasons of prosperity."
  3. Understands the great value of joy--"Joy is to the soul what wings are to the bird, enabling us to soar above the dregs of earth. This is brought out plainly in Nehemiah 8:10: 'The joy of the Lord is your strength'...My dear readers, there are tasks needing to be performed, service to others requiring to be rendered, temptations to be overcome, battles to be fought; and we are only experimentally fitted for them as our hearts are rejoicing in the Lord. If our souls are resting in Christ, if our hearts be filled with a tranquil gladness, work will be easy, duties pleasant, sorrow bearable, endurance possible."
  4. Attends to the root of joy--"The Gospel works joy, because the soul is at rest in God. But these blessings become our own only by personal appropriation. Faith must receive them, and when it does so the heart is filled with peace and joy. And the secret of sustained joy is to keep the channel open, to continue as we began...Daily do we need to pray for afresh realization of the preciousness of the Gospel, a fresh appropriation of its blessed contents; and then there will be a renewing of our joy."
  5. Maintains joy--"But the joy to which we are exhorted is not limited to any set of circumstances or type of temperament; nor does it fluctuate with our varying moods and fortunes...If we are to maintain our joy, we must keep from grieving the Holy Spirit. When Christ is supreme in the heart, joy fills it."
  6. Avoids hindrances to joy--"It is only as we walk with God, in the light, that the heart can truly be joyous. It is the deliberate allowance of things which mar our fellowship with Him that chills and darkens our souls. It is the indulgence of the flesh, the fraternizing with the world, the entering of forbidden paths which blight our spiritual lives and make us cheerless...Oh my brethren and sisters, if we are to be kept from such a fall, if we are not to lose our joy, then self must be denied, the affections and lusts of the flesh crucified. We must ever be on our watch against temptation. We must spend much time upon our knees. We must drink frequently from the Fountain of living water. We must be out and out for the Lord."
  7. Preserves the balance between sorrow and joy--"If the Christian faith has a marked adaptation to produce joy, it has an almost equal design and tendency to produce sorrow—a sorrow that is solemn, manly, noble.  'As sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing' is the rule of the Christian’s life (2 Cor. 6:10). If faith casts its light upon our condition, our nature, our sins, sadness must be one of the effects."
Under his first point, that joy is a matter of Christian duty, Mr. Pink does not allow the Christian to hide under the excuse of uncontrollable emotions dictated by circumstances.  He writes:

"'Rejoice in the Lord' is a Divine command, and to a large extent obedience to it lies in one’s own power. I am responsible to control my emotions. True, I cannot help being sorrowful in the presence of sorrowful thoughts, but I can refuse to let my mind dwell upon them (2 Cor. 10:5). I can pour out my heart for relief unto the Lord, and cast my burden upon Him (1 Peter 5:7). I can seek grace to meditate upon His goodness, His promises, the glorious future awaiting me (Col. 3:2). I have to decide whether I will go and stand in the light or hide among the shadows. Not to rejoice in the Lord is more than a misfortune, it is a fruit which needs to be confessed and forsaken."

I had never before considered joy a duty even though I've read 1 Thess. 5:16 countless time; therefore, it never occurred to me that my lack of joy is a sin to be confessed and forsaken.  This is something that I will need to be mindful of and prayerful for as I continue my walk with the Lord.  It helps to remember that sanctification is progressive and I will not be perfected until death.

As he talks about maintaining joy under his fifth point, Mr. Pink exposes the sin in my heart when he writes:

"If we expect people to pet and pamper us, disappointment will make us fretful. If we desire our pride to be ministered unto, we are dejected when it is not. The secret of happiness is forgetting self and seeking to minister unto the happiness of others. 'It is more blessed to give than to receive' (Acts 20:35), so it is a happier thing to minister unto others than to be ministered unto (Matt. 20:28)."

This chapter was not only convicting, but also encouraging.  As a Christian, joy should be a fruit of the Spirit that predominates my life, regardless of my circumstances and emotions.


***
"And he [Jesus] said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me," (Luke 9:23).

Friday, December 18, 2015

Fundamentals of Unity Part 2

On June 21, 2015, Pastor Mark Fitzpatrick of Arann Reformed Baptist Church preached a Sunday evening message entitled "Fundamentals of Unity (2)".  He continues to expound Gal. 5:13-15 and looks at Thomas Brooks's Precious Remedies Against Satan's Devices.  You can find my post on Part 1 of his series here.  I'm continuing my notes of his second sermon on this important doctrine of Christianity.

"For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.  For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.  But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another," (Gal. 5:13-15).

Pastor Fitzpatrick looks at the Brooks's 2nd stage of Satan's devices.  Here, the challenge for Christians is to live what they hear preached (Jude 14-19 shows the sin of division, Rom. 16:17).
 
Next, he reads from Ephesians 4:

"Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you," (Eph. 4:31-32).

Brooks's 3rd stage of Satan's devices is overcome by tending to the garden of your own heart and removing the weeds by the roots (Eph. 4:31-32).  The soil of your heart should not give place for the things in verse 31 to grow.  Actively practice verse 32 so that the things in verse 31 don't have room to grow in a Christian heart that is obedient to the Word of God.

In regards to the 4th stage of biting and devouring, Pastor Fitzpatrick states that a life of pretense is not Christianly.  Believers should not be like the devil in their mindset and should not pretend one thing while secretly doing another.  We should rather sow the fruit of righteousness in peace and be a peacemaker (2 Sam. 2:12-28).  Blow the trumpet of peace in your heart and stop the fighting to remove the anger.

***
"And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful," (Col. 3:15).

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Profiting from the Word - Chapter 8

In Chapter 8 "The Scriptures and the Promises" of Profiting from the Word, A.W. Pink reminds Christians that "[w]hile the natural intellect is capable of perceiving much of their [Divine promises] greatness, only the renewed heart can taste their ineffable preciousness."  As part of my family devotional study of this book, I've decided to post my thoughts chapter by chapter and to include portions from the book that are helping me improve my daily Bible reading and study. You can read my notes from Chapter 1 here, Chapter 2 here, Chapter 3 here, Chapter 4 here, Chapter 5 here, Chapter 6 here, and Chapter 7 here.

A man profits from the Word of God when he:
  1. Perceives to whom God’s promises belong--"There can be no intercourse between the thrice holy God and sinful creatures except through a Mediator who has satisfied Him on their behalf. Therefore must that Mediator receive from God all good for His people, and they must have it at second hand through Him. A sinner might just as well petition a tree as call upon God for mercy while he despises and rejects Christ. Both the promises and the things promised are made over to the Lord Jesus and conveyed unto the saints from Him."
  2. Labors to own God’s promises--"Not only must I search the Scriptures to find out what has been made over to me by the everlasting covenant, but I need also to meditate upon the promises, to turn them over and over in my mind, and cry unto the Lord for spiritual understanding of them. The bee would not extract any honey from the flowers as long as he only gazed upon them. Nor will the Christian derive any real comfort and strength from the Divine promises until his faith lays hold of and penetrates to the heart of them."
  3. Recognizes the blessed scope of God’s promises--"They believe in God, after a fashion, for things spiritual, and for the life which is to be; but they totally forget that true godliness hath the promise of the life which now is, as well as that which is to come. To them it would seem almost profanation to pray about the small matters of which daily life is made up...'Godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come' (1Tim 4:8). Reader, do you really believe this, that the promises of God cover every aspect and particular of your daily life?"
  4. Correctly discriminates between God’s promises--"While God’s promises proceed from pure grace, yet it ever needs to be remembered that grace reigns 'through righteousness' (Rom 5:21), and never sets aside human responsibility. If I ignore the laws of health I must not be surprised that sickness prevents my enjoying many of God’s temporal mercies: in like manner, if I neglect His precepts I have myself to blame if I fail to receive the fulfillment of many of His promises. Let none suppose that by His promises God has obligated Himself to ignore the requirements of His holiness: He never exercises one of His perfections at the expense of another. And let none imagine that God would be magnifying the sacrificial work of Christ were He to bestow its fruits upon impenitent and careless souls."
  5. Makes God’s promises his support--"This is one reason why God has given them to us; not only to manifest His love by making known His benevolent designs, but also to comfort our hearts and develop our faith...Our tender Father planned that we should enjoy His gifts twice over: first by faith, and then by fruition. By this means He wisely weans our hearts away from things seen and perishing, and draws them onward and upward to those things which are spiritual and eternal...Faith looks to the Word promising, hope looks to the performance thereof."
  6. Patiently awaits the fulfillment of God’s promises--"There is often a long and hard winter between the sowing-time of prayer and the reaping of the answer...Many of the best of God’s promises to His people will not receive their richest accomplishment until they are in glory. He who has all eternity at His disposal needs not to hurry. God often makes us tarry so that patience may have 'her perfect work' (Jam 1:4), yet let us not distrust Him."
  7. Makes a right use of God’s promises--"First, in our dealings with God Himself. When we approach unto His throne, it should be to plead one of His promises. They are to form not only the foundation for our faith to rest upon, but also the substance of our request. We must ask according to God’s will if we are to be heard, and His will is revealed in those good things which He has declared He will bestow upon us...Second, in the life we live in the world. In Hebrews 11:13...They acknowledged (and by their conduct demonstrated) that their interests were not in the things of this world; they had a satisfying portion in the promises they had appropriated. Their hearts were set upon things above (Col 3:2); for where a man’s heart is, there will his treasure be also (Matt 6:21)."

***
"Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust," (2 Peter 1:4).

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Fundamentals of Unity Part 1


On June 21, 2015, Pastor Mark Fitzpatrick of Arann Reformed Baptist Church preached a sermon titled "Fundamentals of Unity (1)".  He expounds Gal. 5:13-15 and looks at Thomas Brooks's Precious Remedies Against Satan's Devices.  I'm posting my sermon notes on this important doctrine of Christianity.

"For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.  For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.  But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another," (Gal. 5:13-15).

Pastor Fitzpatrick starts off by looking at Galatians 5 and notes that we see grace in verse 13 (we are saved to serve one another in the body of Christ) and law in verse 14 (the whole law of God is fulfilled in this principle of loving our neighbor as ourself).

Next, Pastor Fitzpatrick looks at Brooks's 4 states that lead up to biting and devouring one another:
  1. We become strange with one another--forsaking the assembly (Heb. 10:19-39).
  2. We divide with one another--learn the simplicity of the Christian life before the high and noble doctrines of the faith (1 Cor. 3:1-3).
  3. We become bitter and jealous of one another (Heb. 12:14-15).
  4. We bite and devour one another (James 3:13-18).
This is how Satan attacks.  He has devices to destroy the saints.  The tool Satan uses is sin, but his purpose is to make your soul something that will not worship God and will not be a blessing to other believers.  His goal is to make you a worthless soul in regards to God and the people of God.
However, the armor of God described in Ephesians 6 helps us to stand against the enemy.  We are attacked by the devil because we are part of the body of Christ.
Faith is trust in the revealed Word of God.  If you don't love the people of God along with their friendship and fellowship, then you are not saved.
God has made an inward change in believers.  We are not perfect, but we are different. Some neglect church because of dissatisfaction with the preacher, with some member of the church, or with some decision in the church.  It is the sacred duty of a believer to meet together for the public worship of God.

***
"And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful," (Col. 3:15).

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Profiting from the Word - Chapter 7

In Chapter 7 "The Scriptures and the World" of Profiting from the Word, A.W. Pink contends that Christians are not "to be content with an increase of mere head-knowledge of Scripture: what we need to be most concerned about is our practical growth, our experimental conformity to the image of Christ.  And one point at which we may test ourselves is, Does my reading and study of God’s Word make me less worldly?"  As part of my family devotional study of this book, I've decided to post my thoughts chapter by chapter and to include portions from the book that are helping me improve my daily Bible reading and study. You can read my notes from Chapter 1 here, Chapter 2 here, Chapter 3 here, Chapter 4 here, Chapter 5 here, and Chapter 6 here.

A man profits from the Word of God when:
  1. His eyes are opened to the true character of the world--"The 'world' is fallen human nature acting itself out in the human family, fashioning the framework of human society in accord with its own tendencies. It is the organized kingdom of the 'carnal mind' which is 'enmity against God' and which is 'not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be' (Rom 8:7). Wherever the 'carnal mind' is, there is 'the world;' so that worldliness is the world without God."
  2. He learns to resist and overcome the world--"Settle it then in your mind, my reader, that the world is a deadly enemy, and if you do not vanquish it in your heart then you are no child of God, for it is written 'For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world' (1Jo 5:4)...Out of many, the following reasons may be given as to why the world must be 'overcome.' First, all its alluring objects tend to divert the attention and alienate the affections of the soul from God...Second, the spirit of the world is diametrically opposed to the Spirit of Christ...Third, its concerns and cares are hostile to a devout and heavenly life."
  3. He understands that Christ delivers from the world--"The Son of God came here not only to 'fulfill' the requirements of the law (Mat 5:17), to 'destroy the works of the devil' (1Jo 3:8), to deliver us 'from the wrath to come' (1Th 1:10), to save us from our sins (Mat 1:21), but also to free us from the bondage of this world, to deliver the soul from its enthralling influence...And the Holy Spirit indwelling the saints co-operates with Christ in this blessed work. He turns their thoughts and affections away from earthly things to heavenly."
  4. He weans his heart from the world--"The truth is that until the heart be purged from this corruption the ear will be deaf to Divine instruction...The world has turned its back upon Christ, and though His name is professed in many places, yet will it have nothing to do with Him. All the desires and designs of worldlings are for the gratification of self...The Christian is taught by the Spirit, and through His presenting of Christ before the soul his thoughts are diverted from the world."
  5. He walks in separation from the world--"Surely disparity of character and conduct, the desires and pursuits which distinguish the regenerate from the unregenerate, must separate the one from the other. We who profess to have our citizenship in another world, to be guided by another Spirit, to be directed by another rule, and to be journeying to another country, cannot go arm and arm with those who despise all such things!"
  6. He evokes the hatred of the world--"What 'world' hated Christ and hounded Him to death? The religious world, those who pretended to be most zealous for God’s glory. So it is now...Ah, my brother, it is a healthy sign, a sure mark that you are profiting from the Word, when the religious world hates you."
  7. He is elevated above the world--"First, above its customs and fashions...Second, above its cares and sorrows...Third, above its temptations...Fourth, above its opinions and approvals. Have you learned to be independent of and defy the world? If your whole heart is set upon pleasing God, you will be quite unconcerned about the frowns of the godless."
In his second point on resisting and overcoming the world, Mr. Pink poses some very important questions for every Christian to ponder:

"Do the things which are so highly valued by the unregenerate charm and enthrall you? Take away from the worldling those things in which he delights, and he is wretched: is this so with you? Or, are your present joy and satisfaction found in objects which can never be taken from you? Treat not these questions lightly, we beseech you, but ponder them seriously in the presence of God. The honest answer to them will be an index to the real state of your soul, and will indicate whether or not you are deceived into supposing yourself to be 'a new creature in Christ Jesus' (see 2Co 5:17)."

At the end of the Chapter 7, he concludes with additional questions to measure yourself as a Christian:

"Now, my reader, do you really wish to measure yourself by the contents of this article? Then seek honest answers to the following questions. First, what are the objects before your mind in times of recreation? What do your thoughts most run upon? Second, what are the objects of your choice? When you have to decide how to spend an evening or the Sabbath afternoon, what do you select? Third, which occasions you the most sorrow, the loss of earthly things, or lack of communion with God? Which causes you greater grief (or chagrin), the spoiling of your plans or the coldness of your heart to Christ? Fourth, what is your favorite topic of conversation? Do you hanker after the news of the day, or to meet with those who talk of the 'altogether lovely' One (Song 5:16)? Fifth, do your 'good intentions' materialize, or are they nothing but empty dreams? Are you spending more or less time than formerly on your knees? Is the Word sweeter to your taste, or has your soul lost its relish for it?"

So, what do I think about?  I'm responsible for the duties I have as  wife and homeschool mom, but where do my thoughts go when I actually find that elusive "down time"?  Do I follow the command to think on things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, and of good report (Phil. 4:8)?  No, typically my thoughts are selfish and worldly.  In Matthew 6:25:34, the word 'thought' is used 6 times.  In this passage Jesus Himself tells me to take no thought for my life, for my stature, for my raiment, for what I eat or drink, or for the morrow.  I am to seek first the Kingdom of God and all these things will be added to me (v. 32).

Sanctification is a synergistic process, so while I have responsibility to conform my life to the image of Christ, I cannot do it in my own strength.  The Holy Spirit is the sanctifier and comforter of God's people (John 14:26), and He helps my infirmities by making intercession for me (Rom. 8:26).  Therefore, I need to be more prayerful in all that I do--this simple statement will definitely help control where my mind wanders!  Our family memorizes scripture, but I don't meditate on what I'm learning.  Incorporating memorization and meditation will also help guide my thoughts.  My outward life should be reflective of my inward thoughts; and both should be conformed to Christ.


***
"If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.  If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you," (John 15:18-19).

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Profiting from the Word - Chapter 6

In Chapter 6 "The Scriptures and Obedience" of Profiting from the Word, A.W. Pink states that the "bounden duty of those who bear His name to honour and glorify Christ in this world."  Christians can only honor Christ when they live holily unto Him and by walking in subjection to His revealed will.  As part of my family devotional study of this book, I've decided to post my thoughts chapter by chapter and to include portions from the book that are helping me improve my daily Bible reading and study. You can read my notes from Chapter 1 here, Chapter 2 here, Chapter 3 here, Chapter 4 here, and Chapter 5 here.

"God has given us His Word not only with the design of instructing us, but for the purpose of directing us: to make known what He requires us to do.  The first thing we need is a clear and distinct knowledge of our duty; and the first thing God demands of us is a conscientious practice of it, corresponding to our knowledge."

A man profits from the Word when he:
  1. Discovers God’s Demands upon Man--"'The law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good' (Rom 7:12). The sum of God’s Law is, 'Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might' (Deu 6:5)."
  2. Discovers Man’s Failure to Meet God’s Demands--"But once a soul really perceives what are God’s demands upon him, and how completely and constantly he has failed to render Him His due, then does he recognize what a desperate situation he is in. The Law must be preached before any are ready for the Gospel."
  3. Learns God’s Provision for Meeting His Demands--"That obedience which God requires can proceed only from a heart which loves Him.  'Whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord' (Col 3:23). That obedience which springs from a dread of punishment is servile. That obedience which is performed in order to procure favours from God is selfish and carnal. But spiritual and acceptable obedience is cheerfully given: it is the heart’s free response to and gratitude for the unmerited regard and love of God for us."
  4. Loves God’s Commandments--"The 'blessed' man is the one whose 'delight is in the law of the Lord' (Psa 1:2). And again we read, 'Blessed is the man that feareth the Lord, that delighteth greatly in His commandments' (Psa 112:1)...'I delight in the law of God after the inward man' (Rom 7:22). And, my reader, unless your heart delights in the 'law of God' there is something radically wrong with you: yea, it is greatly to be feared that you are spiritually dead."
  5. Yields to God’s Commandments--"A holy mind declines whatsoever God forbids, and chooses to practice all He requires, without any exception. If our minds submit not unto God in all His commandments, we submit not to His authority in anything He enjoins. If we do not approve of our duty in its full extent, we are greatly mistaken if we imagine that we have any liking unto any part of it...Self must be denied; not merely some of the things which may be craved, but self itself! "
  6. Prays for Enabling Grace--"Many desire to escape from hell, yet their desires are not sufficiently strong to bring them to hate and turn from that which must inevitably bring them to hell, namely willfully sinning against God. Many desire to go to heaven, but not so that they enter upon and follow that 'narrow way' which alone leads thereto. True spiritual 'desires' use the means of grace and spare no pains to realize them, and continue prayerfully pressing forward unto the mark set before them."
  7. Enjoys Obedience--"As we tread the path of wisdom (complete subjection to God), we discover that 'her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace' (Pro 3:17).  'His commandments are not grievous' (1Jo 5:3), and 'in keeping of them there is great reward' (Psa 19:11)."
Mr. Pink exhorts and warns his readers:

"We 'feed' on the Word only when we personally appropriate, masticate, and assimilate into our lives what we hear or read. Where there is not an increasing conformity of heart and life to God’s Word, then increased knowledge will only bring increased condemnation!...'Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth' (2 Tim. 3:7). This is one of the prominent characteristics of the 'perilous times' in which we are now living. People hear one preacher after another, attend this conference and that conference, read book after book on biblical subjects, and yet never attain unto a vital and practical acquaintance with the Truth, so as to have an impression of its power and efficacy on the soul. There is such a thing as spiritual dropsy, and multitudes are suffering from it. The more they hear, the more they want to: they drink in sermons and addresses with avidity but their lives are unchanged. They are puffed up with their knowledge, not humbled into the dusk before God. The faith of God’s elect is 'the acknowledging [in the life] of the truth which is after godliness' (Titus 1:1), but to this the vast majority are total strangers."


***
“What doeth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” (Mic 6:8).
“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep His commandments: for this is the whole duty of man,” (Ecc 12:13).
"Ye are my [Jesus'] friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you," (John 15:14).

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Book Review: A Lost God in a Lost World

In his book A Lost God for a Lost World: From deception to deliverance; a plea for authentic Christianity, Melvin Tinker presents the key truths about "the lostness of man, the greatness of God and the glory of the future which will correct much wrong thinking and behavior within the church, and so enable the church to effectively confront the world by holding out the Gospel."   He writes his book "to enable Christians to trust 'the God who is there' and his gospel and so enable them to move confidently into the world," (p. 22).

In Chapter 1 'When God is Weightless', the author rightly identifies idolatry as a constant problem not only for mankind in general, but also for God's people.  While the sovereign Lord of the universe is not "lost", Mr. Tinker contends that "the truth about the real God is disappearing fast.  What is more, when God is lost from sight, we become lost too.  A lost God results in a lost world.  In terms of purpose we never find satisfaction, in terms of morality, we have no fixed points and in terms of human life, it loses its unique value," (p. 29).

My first area of concern is found on pages 34-35.  Mr. Tinker quotes Isaiah 44:9 from the NIV which uses the phrase 'things that they treasure' to prove his point that idolatry is futile.  He footnotes that C.R. North translates the phrase as 'their darlings' to describe the treasured things in his book Second Isaiah.  The only other translation that uses the phrase 'their darlings' is the New World Translation created by the Jehovah's Witnesses (JW).  This similarity is ironic because the author admonishes the Christian believer for idolatry against the one true God, but he inadvertently advances a Bible translation that is used by a modern cult that worships a false god (JW do not believe that Jesus is God, but that Jesus was God's only direct creation).  Therefore, the promotion of this phrase could be seen as validating the Bible translation used by the Jehovah's Witnesses along with their false religion.

Next in Chapter 2, Mr. Tinker points out that the world, along with our individual lives, are in such a mess because of the Fall of man through pride.  He goes on to talk about the remedy of the Fall through the Lord Jesus Christ.  However, he uses very weak language to explain the work of Christ on the cross:  "Jesus as the King of Kings, through the deep tragedy of the cross, came to reverse the tragedy of the King of Tyre [referencing Ezekiel 28] by bearing our tragedy in our place," (p. 62, emphasis mine).  The diluted word 'tragedy' does not give justice to the atoning work that Jesus Christ did on on the cross, nor does it adequately describe the abiding sin in fallen man.  The Prophet Isaiah tells us that "he [Jesus] was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed," (Isa. 53:5).  And the Apostle Peter confirms that "his [Jesus] own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed," (1 Peter 2:24).

In addition, Mr. Tinker does not give a clear Gospel message, but instead quotes the conversion experience of Professor J. Budziszewski (Chapter 2, pp. 63-64).  The professor's description does not include a recognition of sin, a repentance of sin, or an acknowledgment of Christ's atoning work for his sin.  God set forth Christ to be a propitiation through faith in his blood and to declare the His righteousness for the remission of sin (Rom. 3:25).  The Apostle Paul succinctly declares the Gospel message: "For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures," (1 Cor. 15:3-4).  The author gives a better description of salvation on pages 70 and 92, but they are still not complete in light of the Scripture verses noted.  In Chapter 7 'When God is Embraced', Mr. Tinker rightly identifies that it is the Holy Spirit that regenerates man in the salvation process, but his subsequent statements are not consistent with the conversion example given in Chapter 2.

Next, Mr. Tinker does not write consistently on the sovereignty of God.  His word usage allows for a sense of Open Theism (the unorthodox view that though God is omniscient, He does not know what man will freely do in the future).  On page 58 the author states (emphasis mine): "Rather he [God] was allowing the overweening pride of man to follow its logical course."  And again on page 67 (emphasis mine): "First, does God ever intervene in life?"  If the answer to the question is negative, then "God will be insipid, distant and dull."  The author's poor word choice does not indicate that God is absolutely sovereign. However, God has declared the end from the beginning (Isa. 46:10-11) and His eternal purpose is unchangeable (Eph. 3:11).  Life is not a chess game in which God allows man to run the course of life as man pleases or intervenes to make sure His will is done.  The author upholds the sovereignty of God on page 72, and even renounces the 'Openness of God', but his previous word usage and writing contradict his latter statement.

One final area of concern is in Chapter 8 where the author favorably quotes Dallas Willard and N.T. Wright.  Mr. Willard espoused the tenets of Open Theism and promoted contemplative prayer.  Mr. Wright is a leading champion of the New Perspective on Paul.  Neither Open Theism nor the New Perspective on Paul align with orthodox Christianity.  Therefore, it is very dangerous to quote from them without a caveat to the reader.

Overall, when reading A Lost God in a Lost World, I could not determine whether Mr. Tinker was addressing the false professor in the church, the unregenerate outside the church, or the true believer whose life is not Christ-centered   Some of Mr. Tinker's statements are sound, but on the whole, I found his propositions either concerning and/or contradictory.  Many of his examples seem to be directed at the unregenerate in the world, which follows his concluding remarks that his book is to bring an "awareness of the real God [that] has been lost and replaced by idolatrous thoughts with the result that people are lost, that is, they become disoriented, dissatisfied and detached from God and so from reality," (p. 186).  True Christians, indwelt by the Holy Spirit of God, can never become detached from God.  However, from his preface, Mr. Tinker's initial goal is to correct wrong thinking and behavior in the church, which implies that he should be addressing Christians throughout the book; I did not find that to be the case.  I did not enjoy reading A Lost God in a Lost World, nor did I gain any additional insight into furthering my sanctification or helping my local church as a Christian; therefore, I do not recommend reading it.

Full Disclosure:  I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Is the King James Rendering of Romans 8:1 Spurious?

"There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit," (Rom. 8:1).

Many scholars today argue that the phrase 'who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit' should not be in Romans 8:1 because it is not found in the "oldest manuscripts".  The oldest manuscripts usually refer to Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Vaticanus, which are the bases for the 19th century modern critical scholars who want to change and overthrow the Traditional Text of the New Testament.  If you want to read more of my post on the Traditional Text, please see the labels 'King James' and/or 'Traditional Text' on my blog.

Textual criticism of the Christian Bible is not a new concept.  The Modern Critical Text proponents of the 21st century are not the first ones to realize that there are textual variants, but they are more apt to disregard the preservation of God's Word in light of their own human knowledge.  Robert Haldane wrote his Exposition of the Epistle to the Romans in 1835.  Here is what he has to say about the phrase 'who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit' in Romans 8:1 (p. 314):

"Who walk not after (according to) the flesh, but after (according to) the Spirit.--These words not being found in all the manuscripts, are considered by some spurious.  But they connect perfectly well with the preceding clause of the verse, as characterizing those who are in Christ Jesus.  In no respect, however, do they assign the cause of exemption from condemnation to them who are in Christ.  The Apostle does not say, because they do not walk, but who walk, not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.  There is an essential difference between asserting the character of those who are freed from condemnation, and declaring the cause of their being delivered from it.  These words refer to the proof of our justification, which proceeds from the efficacy of the Holy Spirit in our hearts, who applies the merit of the blood of Jesus and imparts a new and eternal life, opposed to sin and corruption, which the Scriptures call death in sin, for the minding of the flesh is death, but the minding of the Spirit is life.  In this way, then, we may be assured that we are in Christ Jesus, and that there is no condemnation to us, if we experience the effects of His Spirit in our hearts causing us to walk in holiness.  For the life which Jesus Christ has merited for us on the cross, consists not only in the remission of sins, which is a removal of what is evil, but also in the communication of what is good, namely, in our bearing the image of God.  The same words as in the clause before us occur again in verse 4th, in which their genuineness is not disputed, where their full import shall be considered."

Mr. Haldane completely and succinctly reconciles the phrase with what the Apostle Paul has previously said and reminds us that the same phrase will be used in verse 4 of the same chapter.  Instead of trying to rip this phrase out of the Bible, he persuasively argues for its preservation.  If we only had more men like Mr. Haldane in today's world of Christian scholarship; men that lift up the Word of God, rather than tear it down.

***
"For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.  For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit," (Rom. 8:2-4).

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Profiting from the Word - Chapter 5

In Chapter 5 "The Scriptures and Good Works" of Profiting from the Word, A.W. Pink considers how the Word's teaching about God and Christ, its reproofs and corrections for sin, and its instruction in connection with prayer furnish the Christian unto all good works.  As part of my family devotional study of this book, I've decided to post my thoughts chapter by chapter and to include portions from the book that are helping me improve my daily Bible reading and study. You can read my notes from Chapter 1 here, Chapter 2 here, Chapter 3 here, and Chapter 4 here.

The honest soul, with the help of the Holy Spirit, may ascertain whether or not his reading and study of the Word is really benefiting him by understanding:
  1. The Place of Good Works--"To suppose that the hearts of the regenerate are not as much and as effectually influenced with the authority and commands of God unto obedience as they were given in order unto their justification, is to ignore what true faith is, and what are the arguments and motives whereby the minds of Christians are principally affected and constrained. Moreover it is to lose sight of the inseparable connection which God has made between our justification and our sanctification: to suppose that one of these may be without the other is to overthrow the whole Gospel."
  2. The Necessity of Good Works--"All would like to go to heaven, but who among the multitudes of professing Christians are really willing and determined to walk that narrow way which alone leads thereto? It is at this point that we may discern the precise place which good works have in connection with salvation. They do not merit it, yet they are inseparable from it. They do not procure a title to heaven, yet they are among the means which God has appointed for His people’s getting there. In no sense are good works the procuring cause of eternal life, but they are part of the means (as are the Spirit’s work within us and repentance, faith and obedience by us) conducing to it."
  3. The Design of Good Works--"The 'good works' are not for the directing attention to ourselves, but to Him who has wrought them in us. They are to be of such a character and quality that even the ungodly will know they proceed from some higher source than fallen human nature."
  4. The Nature of Good Works--"Supposing that what men regard as good works God will approve of too, they remain in the darkness of their sin-blinded understandings; nor can any convince them of their error, till the Holy Spirit quickens them into newness of life, bringing them out of darkness into God’s marvelous light. Then it will appear that only those are good works which are done in obedience to the will of God (Rom 6:16), from a principle of love to Him (Heb 10:24), in the name of Christ (Col 3:17), and to the glory of God by Him (1Co 10:31)."
  5. The True Source of Good Works--"The unregenerate have no power to perform works in a spiritual manner, and therefore it is written, “there is none that doeth good, no, not one” (Rom 3:12). Nor are they able to: they are “not subject to the law of God neither indeed can be” (Rom 8:7). Hence, even the ploughing of the wicked is sin (Pro 21:4). Nor are believers able to think a good thought or perform a good work of themselves (2Co 3:5): it is God who works in them “both to will and to do of His good pleasure” (Phi 2:13)."
  6. The Great Importance of Good Works--"Condensing as far as possible: “good works” are of great importance because by them God is glorified (Mat 5:16), by them the mouths of those who speak against us are closed (1Pe 2:12), by them we evidence the genuineness of our profession of faith (Jam 2:13-17)."
  7. The True Scope of Good Works--"This is so comprehensive as to include the discharge of our duties in every relationship in which God has placed us. It is interesting and instructive to note the first “good works” in Holy Writ, namely the anointing of the Saviour by Mary of Bethany (Mat 26:10; Mar 14:6)."
Mr. Pink leaves us with the following application of good works: "'That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work' (Col 1:10). The bringing up (not 'dragging' up!) of children, lodging (spiritual) strangers, washing the saints’ feet (ministering to their temporal comforts), and relieving the afflicted (1Ti 5:10) are spoken of as 'good works.' Unless our reading and study of the Scriptures is making us better soldiers of Jesus Christ, better citizens of the country in which we sojourn, better members of our earthly homes (kinder, gentler, more unselfish), 'thoroughly furnished unto all good works,' it is profiting us little or nothing."


***
"Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen," (Heb. 13:20-21).

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Profiting from the Word - Chapter 4

In Chapter 4 "The Scriptures and Prayer" of Profiting from the Word, A.W. Pink states that "a professing believer who prays not is devoid of spiritual life. Prayer is the breath of the new nature in the saint, as the Word of God is its food."  Christians can measure how much they profit from reading and studying the Word of God by the extent to which they use the Word of God as a directory for daily prayer.  As part of my family devotional study of this book, I've decided to post my thoughts chapter by chapter and to include portions from the book that are helping me improve my daily Bible reading and study. You can read my notes from Chapter 1 here, Chapter 2 here, and Chapter 3 here.

Christians profit from the Scriptures when they:
  1. Realize the Deep Importance of Prayer--"It is really to be feared that many present-day readers and even students of the Bible have no deep convictions that a definite prayer-life is absolutely essential to a daily walking and communing with God, as it is for deliverance from the power of the indwelling sin, the seductions of the world, and the assaults of Satan."
  2. Know How to Pray--"The Christian can no more pray without the direct enabling of the Holy Spirit than he can create a world. This must be so, for real prayer is a felt need awakened within us by the Spirit, so that we ask God, in the name of Christ, for that which is in accord with His holy will."
  3. Understand the Necessity of the Spirit’s Help--"We have inward wants as well as outward. Some of these may be discerned in the light of conscience, such as the guilt and defilement of sin, of sins against light and nature and the plain letter of the law. Nevertheless, the knowledge which we have of ourselves by means of the conscience is so dark and confused that, apart from the Spirit, we are in no way able to discover the true fountain of cleansing. The things about which believers do and ought to treat primarily with God in their supplications are the inward frames and spiritual dispositions of their souls."
  4. Learn the Right Purpose of Prayer--"God has appointed the ordinance of prayer with at least a threefold design. First, that the great triune God might be honored, for prayer is an act of worship, a paying homage: to the Father as the Giver, in the Son’s name, by whom alone we may approach Him, by the moving and directing power of the Holy Spirit. Second, to humble our hearts, for prayer is ordained to bring us into the place of dependence, to develop within us a sense of our helplessness, by owning that without the Lord we can do nothing, and that we are beggars upon His charity for everything we are and have...Third, as a means or way of obtaining for ourselves the good things for which we ask. It is greatly to be feared that one of the principal reasons why so many of our prayers remain unanswered is because we have a wrong, an unworthy, end in view."
  5. Plead God’s Promises--"Prayer must be in faith (Rom 10:14), or God will not hear it. Now faith respects God’s promises (Heb 4:1; Rom 4:21); if, therefore, we do not understand what God stands pledged to give, we cannot pray at all. The promises of God contain the matter of prayer and define the measure of it. What God has promised, all that He has promised, and nothing else, we are to pray for."
  6. Submit Completely unto God--"Prayer is an acknowledgment of our helplessness, and a looking to Him from whom all our help comes...We are to spread our case before God, but leave it to His superior wisdom to prescribe how it shall be dealt with. There must be no dictating, nor can we 'claim' anything from God, for we are beggars dependent upon His mere mercy. In all our praying we must add, 'Nevertheless not as I will, but as Thou wilt,' (Mat 26:39)."
  7. See Prayer as a Real and Deep Joy--"What is it which, under the blessing of the Spirit produces and promotes his joy in prayer? First, it is the heart’s delight in God as the object of prayer, and particularly the recognition and realization of God as our Father...Second, joy in prayer is furthered by the heart’s apprehension and the soul’s sight of God as on the throne of grace...Thirdly...freedom and delight in prayer are stimulated by the consciousness that God is, through Jesus Christ, willing and ready to dispense grace and mercy to suppliant sinners. There is no reluctance in Him which we have to overcome. He is more ready to give than we are to receive."
Mr. Pink gives a sharp rebuke for Christians who do not have a vibrant prayer life:

"Thus the purity and power of our prayer life are another index by which we may determine the extent to which we are profiting from our reading and searching of the Scriptures. If our Bible study is not, under the blessing of the Spirit, convicting us of the sin of prayerlessness, revealing to us the place which prayer ought to have in our daily lives, and is actually bringing us to spend more time in the secret place of the Most High, unless it is teaching us how to pray more acceptably to God, how to appropriate His promises and plead them before Him, how to appropriate His precepts and turn them into petitions, then not only has the time we spend over the Word been to little or no soul enrichment, but the very knowledge we have acquired of its letter will only add to our condemnation in the day to come."

 
***
"O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh," (Matt. 12:34).

"But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves," (James 1:22).

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Christmas & the Christian


I'm listening to a 7-part sermon series preached in 1994-95 by Pastor Albert Martin of Trinity Baptist Church.  The first sermon "Christmas and the Christian 1" was preached on 12/18/94.  Looking back I had only been a Christian about 3 months when he started this series at his church.  I did not even think about the possibility of not celebrating Christmas at that time; I had been celebrating it my whole life.  I knew Christmas was celebrating Jesus' birthday, but I had no clue who he was.  It was Santa Claus that brought the presents anyway.  Whether or not Santa was real made no difference to me as a child because I still got what I wanted from the Sears toy catalog...

Thankfully, the Lord has grown my husband and me spiritually over the past 21 years.  We are now convicted under the Regulative Principle of Worship not to celebrate Christmas in a corporate setting, and as a matter of Christian liberty, we don't celebrate it in private worship either.

I was interested to hear what Pastor Martin had to say on this subject.  Some Christians think that my family is legalistic because we don't celebrate Christmas and some think that we are missing a good opportunity to witness to the lost.  However, we view our decision as biblical.  We worship the Lord corporately and privately the same way through the preaching and hearing of His Word, singing, and prayer (LBCF 22.5).  The ordinances of the Lord's Supper and Baptism are additional aspects of worship, but those should only be done by called church officers, so we don't participate in them outside of corporate worship.

Pastor Martin was very aware that his sermon on Christmas would cause discomfort and possibly anger or contention in his congregation.  Nevertheless, he made the following bold statement:

"There is no biblical warrant for the remembrance of the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ by means of a special designated day of religious or social celebration."

He drew two conclusions from this statement:

"The conscience of no Christian should ever be bound to have any sense of duty to observe in any way December 25th as a day of religious or social celebration."

"No Christian church can impose upon its people in their corporate life and worship any activities or objects which would indicate any special significance attached to December 25th."

In 1994, December 25th fell on a Sunday.  He gave this admonition to the church members:

"He [God] has designated a whole day for Himself...If you're prepared to take December 25th and let it alter one iota--keeping a day wholly unto God, fulfilling all your biblical and church responsibilities from morning till night--you're proving that you've allowed the world and the pressure of relatives and conformity to custom to be more important than the will of Christ as revealed in the Word of Christ.  No amount of rationalization will cut it; you don't keep that Day unto the Lord by disobeying the Lord."

December 25th fell on a Sunday in 2011.  My husband and I were just learning about the Regulative Principle of Worship earlier that fall and developing a true understanding of the Lord's Day.  We decided not to celebrate Christmas anymore when we learned that many churches in our area canceled Sunday church services so that staff and members could spend Christmas at home with their families.  Christmas has eclipsed the true worship of God, not only in the world, but also in the Church of God.


***
"Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I [Jesus] have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen," (Matt. 28:19, emphasis mine).

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Profiting from the Word - Chapter 3


In Chapter 3 "The Scriptures and Christ" of Profiting from the Word, A.W. Pink states that "[a]part from the Scriptures, He [Jesus Christ] cannot be known.  In them alone He is revealed."  Christians can measure how much they profit from reading and studying the Word of God by the extent to which Christ is becoming more real and precious to them.  As part of my family devotional study of this book, I've decided to post my thoughts chapter by chapter and to include portions from the book that are helping me improve my daily Bible reading and study. You can read my notes from Chapter 1 here and Chapter 2 here.

Christians profit from the Scriptures when the Word of God:
  1. Reveals Their Need of Christ--"Man in his natural estate deems himself self-sufficient...The more the Spirit deepens His work of grace in the regenerated soul, the more that individual is made conscious of his pollution, his sinfulness, and his vileness; and the more does he discover his need of and learn to value that precious, precious, blood which cleanses from all sin...Yes, the more we are truly profiting from our reading of the Scriptures, the more do we feel our need of Him."
  2. Makes Christ More Real--"To the multitudes Christ is but a name, or at most a historical character. They have no personal dealings with Him, enjoy no spiritual communion with Him...it is the one who by grace is treading the path of obedience to whom the Lord Jesus grants manifestations for Himself. And the more frequent and prolonged these manifestations are, the more real He becomes to the soul...Thus the more Christ is becoming a living reality to me, the more I am profiting from the Word."
  3. Engrosses Them in Christ’s Perfections--"It is a sense of need which first drives the soul to Christ, but it is the realization of His excellency which draws us to run after Him. The more real Christ becomes to us, the more are we attracted by His perfections...Our great need is to be occupied with Christ, to sit at His feet as Mary did, and receive out of His fullness...Is it your chief joy to get alone and be occupied with Him? If not, your Bible reading and study have profited you little indeed."
  4. Makes Christ More Precious--"Christ is precious in the esteem of all true believers (1Pe 2:7). They count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus their Lord (Phi 3:8)...The more we are engaged with Christ’s perfections, the more we love and adore Him. It is lack of experimental acquaintance with Him that makes our hearts so cold towards Him...The more precious Christ is to us, the more delight does He have in us."
  5. Increases Their Confidence in Christ--"Just as there is growing “from strength to strength” (Psa 84:7), so we read of “from faith to faith” (Rom 1:17). The stronger and steadier our faith, the more the Lord Jesus is honored...Above everything else there is one thing to be aimed at and diligently sought by earnest prayer: that our faith may be increased...Nothing more pleases, honors, and glorifies Christ than the confiding trust, the expectant confidence, and the child-like faith of those to whom He has given every cause to trust Him with all their hearts. And nothing more evidences those who are being profited from the Scriptures than an increasing faith in Christ."
  6. Deepens Their Desire to Please Christ--"Love delights to please its object, and the more our affections are drawn out to Christ the more shall we desire to honour Him by a life of obedience to His known will...It is not in happy emotions or in verbal professions of devotion, but in the actual assumption of His yoke and the practical submitting to His precepts, that Christ is most honoured...If Christ groaned under sin, we shall too, and the more sincere those groanings be, the more earnestly shall we seek grace for deliverance from all that displeases, and for strength to do all that which pleases our blessed Redeemer."
  7. Causes Them to Long for Christ’s Return--"At the return of Christ we shall be done with sin for ever. The elect are predestined to be conformed to the image of God’s Son, and that Divine purpose will be realized only when Christ receives His people unto Himself...Never again will our communion with Him be broken, never again shall we groan and moan over our inward corruptions; never again shall we be harassed with unbelief...The more we yearn for the coming One, the more we are trimming our lamps in earnest expectation of His coming, the more do we give evidence that we are profiting from our knowledge of the Word."
Under his sixth point, Mr. Pink exposes the lukewarm piety within the Christian Church today:  "It is at this point particularly that the genuineness of our profession may be tested and proved. Have they a faith in Christ who make no effort to learn His will? What a contempt of the king if his subjects refuse to read his proclamation! Where there is faith in Christ there will be delight in His commandments, and a sorrowing when they are broken by us. When we displease Christ we should mourn over our failure. It is impossible seriously to believe that it was my sins which caused the Son of God to shed His precious blood, without my hating those sins."

***
"What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?  For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s," (1 Cor. 6:19-20).

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Profiting from the Word - Chapter 2


In Chapter 2 "The Scriptures and God" of Profiting from the Word, A.W. Pink looks at how someone becomes a genuine child of God and identifies 7 spiritual effects of truly profiting from the Word.  As part of my family devotional study of this book, I've decided to post my thoughts chapter by chapter and to include portions from the book that are helping me improve my daily Bible reading and study.  You can read my notes from Chapter 1 here.

Mr. Pink outlines the monergistic work of God in salvation.  He states that "[a] supernatural God can only be known supernaturally (i.e. known in a manner above that which mere nature can acquire), by a supernatural revelation of Himself to the heart."  He uses a simple, yet effective, illustration: "Water, of itself, never rises above its own level.  So the natural man is incapable of perceiving that which transcends mere nature."  Therefore, "[e]ternal life must be imparted before the 'True God' can be known...an 'understanding,' a spiritual understanding, by a new creation, must be given before God can be known in a spiritual way."

So, how does this work of God happen in someone's life?  Mr. Pink continues, (emphasis mine), "[t]he supernatural experience of the Christian is seen in his attitude toward God.  Having within him the life of God...he necessarily loves God, loves the things of God, loves what God loves, and, contrariwise, he hates what God hates.  This supernatural experience is wrought in him by the Spirit of God, and that by means of the Word of God.  The Spirit never works apart from the Word.  By that Word He quickens.  By that Word He produces conviction of sin.  By that Word He sanctifies.  By that Word He gives assurance.  By that Word He makes the saint to grow."

An individual who truly and spiritually profits from the Word has a:
  1. Clearer Recognition of God’s Claims--"This is what true conversion is: it is a tearing down of every idol, a renouncing of the empty vanities of a cheating world, and taking God for our Portion, our Ruler, our All in all...It belongs to God as God to legislate, prescribe, determine for us; it belongs to us as a bounden duty to be ruled, governed, disposed of by Him at His pleasure...It is in them [the Scriptures], and in them alone, that the claims of God are revealed and enforced, and just as far as we are obtaining clearer and fuller views of God’s rights, and are yielding ourselves thereto, are we really being blessed."
  2. Greater Fear of God’s Majesty--"The man who lives in the fear of God is conscious that “the eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good” (Pro 15:3); therefore is he conscientious about his private conduct as well as his public. The one who is deterred from committing certain sins because the eyes of men are upon him, and who hesitates not to commit them when alone, is destitute of the fear of God...Thus, just so far as we are awed by God’s awful majesty, are made conscious that: 'Thou God seest me' (Gen 16:13), and work out our salvation with 'fear and trembling' (Phi 2:12), are we truly profited from our reading and study of the Bible."
  3. Deeper Reverence for God’s Commandments--"A spirit of obedience is communicated to every regenerated soul...None of us keeps them perfectly, yet every real Christian both desires and strives to do so...Christ has redeemed His people from the curse of the Law and not from the command of it; He has saved them from the wrath of God, but not from His government...Just so far as our reading and study of the Scripture is, by the Spirit’s application, begetting within us a greater love and a deeper respect for, and a more punctual keeping of God’s commandments, are we really profiting thereby."
  4. Firmer Trust in God’s Sufficiency--"That which characterizes all the unregenerate is that they lean upon an arm of flesh. But the elect of grace have their hearts drawn from all creature supports, to rest upon the living God...Thus, as the Scriptures are pondered, and their promises received in the mind, faith is strengthened, confidence in God is increased and assurance deepened. By this we may discover whether or not we are profiting from our study of the Bible."
  5. Fuller Delight in God’s Perfections--"But the Christian delights in the wondrous perfections of God. Really to own God as our God is not only to submit to His scepter, but is to love Him more than the world, to value Him above everything and everyone else...Thus, to the extent that you are being weaned from the empty pleasures of this world, are learning that there is no blessing outside of God, discovering He is the Source and Sum of all excellency, and your heart being drawn out to Him, your mind stayed on Him, with your soul finding its joy and satisfaction in Him, are you really profiting from the Scriptures."
  6. Larger Submission to God’s Providences--"It is natural to murmur when things go wrong; it is supernatural to hold our peace (Lev 10:3)...Here, then, is another sure test: if your Bible study is teaching you that God’s way is best, and causing you to submit unrepiningly to all His dispensations, if you are enabled to give thanks for all things (Eph 5:20), then are you profiting indeed."
  7. More Fervent Praise for God’s Goodness--"Praise is the outflow of a heart which finds its satisfaction in God...The more we are 'increasing in the knowledge of God' (Col 1:10), the more shall we adore Him. But it is only as the word dwells in us richly that we are filled with spiritual songs (Col 3:16) and make melody in our hearts to the Lord. The more our souls are drawn out in true worship, the more we are found thanking and praising our great God, the clearer evidence we give that our study of His word is profiting us."
As I conclude this chapter, I would like to leave you pondering a serious spiritual self-assessment from A.W. Pink:  "Ah, my reader, if your heart has not been drawn out to love and delight in God, then it is still dead toward Him."


***
"Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee.  My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever," (Psalm 73:25-26).