Eric Is Taking A Short – 3 Day – Vacation.

I will be taking today (09/29/2010), Thursday (09/30/2010) and Friday (10/01/2010) off. Which means that I won’t be adding any new posts to this blog these three days. However, I will have a presence on Twitter and Facebook. On Saturday (10/02/2010) I should be, Lord willing, back to blogging. Thanks and the Lord’s blessings to you all. You are all cherished friends and this blog wouldn’t exist at all without everyone’s prayers, encouragement, and friendship.

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“Against Compromise” By John MacArthur

“Against Compromise”

John MacArthur

It was Martin Luther who said:

“The world at the present time is sagaciously discussing how to quell the controversy and strife over doctrine and faith, and how to effect a compromise between the Church and the Papacy. Let the learned, the wise, it is said, bishops, emperor and princes, arbitrate. Each side can easily yield something, and it is better to concede some things which can be construed according to individual interpretation, than that so much persecution, bloodshed, war, and terrible, endless dissension and destruction be permitted.

“Here is lack of understanding, for understanding proves by the Word that such patchwork is not according to God’s will, but that doctrine, faith and worship must be preserved pure and unadulterated; there must be no mingling with human nonsense, human opinions or wisdom.

“The Scriptures give us this rule: ‘We must obey God rather than men’ (Acts 5:29).”

It is interesting to speculate what the church would be like today if Martin Luther had been prone to compromise. The pressure was heavy on him to tone down his teaching, soften his message, stop poking his finger in the eye of the papacy. Even many of his friends and supporters urged Luther to come to terms with Rome for the sake of harmony in the church. Luther himself prayed earnestly that the effect of his teaching would not be divisive.

When he nailed his 95 Theses to the door, the last thing he wanted to do was split the church.

Yet sometimes division is fitting, even healthy, for the church. Especially in times like Luther’s–and like ours–when the visible church seems full of counterfeit Christians, it is right for the true people of God to declare themselves. Compromise is sometimes a worse evil than division. Second Corinthians 6:14-17 isn’t speaking only of marriage when it says,

“Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, “I will dwell in them and walk among them; And I will be their God, and they shall be My people.”

Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate,” says the Lord.
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This article here originally appeared at Grace To You. – © 1969-2010. Grace to You. All rights reserved. www.gty.org
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“Doctrine Divides” Devotional from Ligonier Ministries’ Tabletalk

“Doctrine Divides”

“They have healed the wound of my people lightly, saying, ‘Peace, peace,’ when there is no peace” (v. 14).
– Jeremiah 6:1–15

Throughout history men have appeared who would become famous for seeking peace at any price. Perhaps the greatest twentieth-century example of such a figure is the British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain who in 1938 proclaimed that he had achieved “peace in our time” with Adolf Hitler even as he was preparing to unleash his blitzkrieg on Europe. Chamberlain’s aversion to hostility was so great that Hitler played him for a fool.

Conflict is something that most people, when given the opportunity, try to avoid. Peace is so desirable that significant differences between individuals and groups are often ignored, and unity is sought under the lowest common denominator. When peace is sought under these auspices, it can be easy to ignore the importance of truth altogether. The modern heirs of nineteenth-century Christian liberalism reveal such tendencies. In the drive to live peaceably with other professing believers and even other non-Christian religions, liberalism has tended to redefine Christianity as “the universal fatherhood of God and the universal brotherhood of man,” or some other innocuous definition. Ironically, liberals tend to tolerate any kind of belief system unless it happens to represent orthodox, biblical faith.

We cannot, however, judge mainline Protestantism without recognizing that these problems are increasingly evident within evangelicalism. Even though many different denominations were born out of the Protestant Reformation, evangelicals have traditionally confessed the inerrancy of Scripture and the doctrine of justification by faith alone whether they were Lutherans, Baptists, Anglicans, Presbyterians, and so on. Today, unfortunately, the desire for unity means that such essential doctrines are often diminished so that Protestants, Roman Catholics, and Eastern Orthodox can all get along. Professing evangelicals no longer necessarily believe that justification by faith alone is an essential doctrine — even though without it there is no Gospel (Gal. 1:6–9; 2:15–16).

If Christian unity is to mean anything, it must be a unity of faith grounded in the truth. To sacrifice conviction for “peace” is to have no conviction at all.

Coram Deo

Christians have often divided over matters not essential to Christian orthodoxy and lobbed charges of heresy at one another. Such actions have created a distaste for theology in the minds of many people, and there is now a tendency to downplay any essential differences within the visible church because of all the vitriol shown over the less important points of doctrine. Let us be passionate for the truth, but let us not divide unless Christian orthodoxy is at stake.

Passages for Further Study

Job 34:12
Jeremiah 5:1–3
Romans 14
2 Timothy 2:8
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From Ligonier Ministries, the teaching fellowship of R.C. Sproul. All rights reserved. Website: www.ligonier.org | Phone: 1-800-435-4343

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James Boice: On Why We Do Not Have A Strong Church Today

We do not have a strong church today, nor do we have many strong Christians. We can trace the cause to an acute lack of sound spiritual knowledge. Why is the church weak? Why are individual Christians weak? It is because they have allowed their minds to become conformed to the “spirit of this age,” with its mechanistic, godless thinking. They have forgotten what God is like and what he promises to do for those who trust him. Ask an average Christian to talk about God. After getting past the expected answers you will find that his god is a little god of vacillating sentiments. He is a god who would like to save the world, but who cannot. He would like to restrain evil, but somehow he finds it beyond his power. So he has withdrawn into semi-retirement, being willing to give good advice in a grandfatherly sort of way, but for the most part he has left his children to fend for themselves in a dangerous environment.

Such a god is not the God of the Bible. Those who know their God perceive the error in that kind of thinking and act accordingly. The God of the Bible is not weak; he is strong. He is all-mighty. Nothing happens without his permission or apart from his purposes—even evil. Nothing disturbs or puzzles him. His purposes are always accomplished. Therefore, those who know him rightly act with boldness, assured that God is with them to accomplish his own desirable purposes in their lives.

(James Montgomery Boice, Foundations of the Christian Faith: A Comprehensible and Readable Theology, Revised in One Volume [Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1986], pgs. 25-26)

“Examining Calvin’s Rules of Prayer (Part 2)” by R.C. Sproul

“Examining Calvin’s Rules of Prayer (Part 2)”

R.C. Sproul

John Calvin’s third rule of prayer was that we must always pray with genuine feeling. Prayer is a matter of passion: “Many repeat prayers in a perfunctory manner from a set form, as if they were performing a task to God … They perform the duty from custom, because their minds are meanwhile cold, and they ponder not what they ask.”

A fourth rule of prayer from Calvin was that it be always accompanied by repentance: “God does not listen to the wicked; that their prayers, as well as their sacrifices, are an abomination to them. For it is right that those who seal up their hearts should find the ears of God closed against them.”

Calvin said a humble submission is required: “Of this submission, which casts down all haughtiness, we have numerous examples in the servants of God. The holier they are, the more humbly they prostrate themselves when they come into the presence of the Lord.”

If I can summarize Calvin’s teaching on prayer succinctly, I would say this: The chief rule of prayer is to remember who God is and to remember who you are. If we remember those two things, our prayers will always and ever be marked by adoration and confession.

Coram Deo: Do you pray with genuine feeling? Do you always accompany your prayers with repentance?

Philippians 4:6: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.”

James 5:16: “Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.”

1 Peter 4:7: “The end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers.”
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From Ligonier Ministries, the teaching fellowship of R.C. Sproul. All rights reserved. Website: www.ligonier.org | Phone: 1-800-435-4343

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“Examining Calvin’s Rules of Prayer (Part 1)” by R.C. Sproul

“Examining Calvin’s Rules of Prayer (Part 1)”

R.C. Sproul

For John Calvin, prayer was like a priceless treasure that God has offered to His people.

Calvin’s first rule of prayer was to enter into it with a full awareness of the One to whom we are speaking. The key to prayer is a spirit of reverence and adoration: “Let the first rule of right prayer be, to have our heart and mind framed as becomes those who are entering into converse with God.”

Calvin wrote of how easy it is for our minds to wander in prayer. We become inattentive, as if we were speaking to someone with whom we are easily bored. This insults the glory of God: “Let us know, then, that none duly prepare themselves [sic] for prayer but those who are so impressed with the majesty of God that they engage in it free from all earthly cares and affections.”

Calvin’s second rule of prayer was that we ask only for those things that God permits. Prayer can be an exercise in blasphemy if we entreat His blessing for our sinful desires: “I lately observed, men in prayer give greater license to their unlawful desires than if they were telling jocular tales among their equals.”

Coram Deo: How does your personal prayer life line up with these two rules? Is your heart and mind framed as becomes those who are entering into conversation with God? Do you ask only for those things God permits?

Psalm 109:4: “I give myself to prayer.”

1 Corinthians 7:5: “Give yourselves to fasting and prayer.”

Ephesians 6:18: “[Pray] always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.”
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From Ligonier Ministries, the teaching fellowship of R.C. Sproul. All rights reserved. Website: www.ligonier.org | Phone: 1-800-435-4343

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“Approaching Life From A Divine Perspective” — John MacArthur

“Approaching Life From A Divine Perspective”

John MacArthur

“I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, entreat you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called.” Ephesians 4:1

To mature in our faith, we must learn to see things from God’s perspective.

Paul was a prisoner of Rome. why then did he call himself “the prisoner of the Lord”? Because he had the ability to see everything in terms of how it affected Christ. No matter what happened in his life, he saw it in relationship to God. His questions were, “What does this mean, God?” and “How does this affect You?”

When a problem comes in life, we are prone to say, “Oh, woe is me!” and wonder how it will affect us: Will it cause me pain? Will it cost me money? Too often we think only on the earthly level. But like Paul, we should think on a heavenly level: What is God trying to teach me? How can I glorify Him in this? In fact, a good definition of Christian maturity is: automatically seeing things in light of the divine perspective.

This perspective, this God-consciousness, is the only right way for Christians to live. David said, “I have set the Lord continually before me; because He is at my right hand I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices; my flesh also will dwell securely” (Ps.16:8-9). Because David was always aware of God’s presence, he found joy and security, and no trouble could disturb him for long.

Paul was the same way: he knew there was a reason for his imprisonment and that Christ would be glorified by it (cf. Phil. 1:12-14). Paul wasn’t preoccupied with how it affected him, and thus he was able to rejoice, even in prison.

“God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8:28). Nothing happens outside of God’s control. Let’s trust that He knows what is best for us.

Suggestions for Prayer: If you tend to get discouraged or complain when trouble comes, ask God to forgive you and help you see troubles from His perspective. Acknowledge before Him that He is in control of everything.

For Further Study: Paul’s attitude towards difficulties was cultivated by the experience he describes in 2 Corinthians 12:2-10. What did Christ teach him about troubles in verse 9, and how did that change Paul’s outlook?

(John MacArthur, Strength for Today [Wheaton: Crossway Books, 1997], devotion for January 5)

“Walking in Wisdom” from R.C. Sproul

“Walking in Wisdom”

from R.C. Sproul

In the New Testament, the word disciple literally means “a learner.” The Christian is called to be enrolled in the school of Christ. Careful study of the Bible is necessary for true discipleship.

Jesus said to His own students: “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31–32). Our Lord calls for a continued application of the mind to His Word. A disciple does not dabble in learning. He makes the pursuit of an understanding of God’s Word a chief business of his life.

The wisdom literature of the Old Testament distinguishes between knowledge and wisdom, just as the New Testament distinguishes between knowledge and love. Knowledge without love merely puffs up with pride. Yet the love that edifies is not a love without contentment. Likewise, the Old Testament makes it clear that one can have knowledge without wisdom.

Since we can have knowledge without love and/or knowledge without wisdom, we tend to downplay the importance of knowledge. The wisdom literature of the Old Testament never views the difference between knowledge and wisdom as a difference between the bad and the good. Rather, the distinction is one between the good and the better. It is good to attain knowledge; it is better to achieve wisdom.

Coram Deo: Is after the pursuit of an understanding of God’s Word the chief aim of your life?

Proverbs 1:20–22: “Wisdom calls aloud outside; she raises her voice in the open squares. She cries out in the chief concourses, at the openings of the gates in the city she speaks her words: ‘How long, you simple ones, will you love simplicity? For scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge.’”
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From Ligonier Ministries, the teaching fellowship of R.C. Sproul. All rights reserved. Website: www.ligonier.org | Phone: 1-800-435-4343
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“The Value of Meditating Upon God’s Word” from Joel Beeke

“The Value of Meditating Upon God’s Word”

from Joel Beeke

After reading Scripture, we must ask God for light to scrutinize our hearts and lives, then meditate upon the Word. Disciplined meditation on Scripture helps us focus on God. Meditation helps us view worship as a discipline. It involves our mind and understanding as well as our heart and affections. It works Scripture through the texture of the soul. Meditation helps prevent vain and sinful thoughts (Matt. 12:35), and provides inner resources on which to draw (Ps. 77:10-12), including direction for daily life (Prov. 6:21-22). Meditation fights temptation (Ps. 119:11, 15), provides relief in afflictions (Isa. 49:15-17), benefits others (Ps. 145:7), and glorifies God (Ps. 49:3).

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Quoted in Feed My Sheep: A Passionate Plea for Preaching. 2nd edition, 2008 by Reformation Trust Publishing, an imprint of Ligonier Ministries. Available here.
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From Ligonier Ministries, the teaching fellowship of R.C. Sproul. All rights reserved. Website: www.ligonier.org | Phone: 1-800-435-4343
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“He That Believeth Shall Not Make Haste” by A.W. Pink

God has said in his Word, ‘He that believeth shall not make haste’ (Isa. 28:16), and if ever there was a time when his children needed to give special heed to this admonition it is now. The children of God are infected with the spirit of the world. The mad rush which characterizes everything around us, the awful hustle and bustle of the ungodly as they rush headlong to eternal death, has affected the members of the household of faith; and few, if any of us, are free from it. One of our most urgent needs is to be delivered from this feverish spirit, for it is rapidly sapping the spiritual vitality of many of God’s people. The irreverent speed at which the Holy Scriptures are read in the average pulpit; the rate at which sacred songs are commonly sung; the unholy manner at which many rush into the presence of the Most High God, and gabble off the first words that come to their lips, are so many examples of this infection. And, alas, the same spirit possesses most of us when we read the Word of God and expositions of that Word. We earnestly ask our readers to make a prayerful study of the words ‘stand’, ‘sit’, ‘wait’, ‘tarry’, as they are found in Holy Writ.¹

¹ A.W. Pink: excerpted from a note his readers from the first issue of his Studies in the Scriptures January 1922 as cited in (Iain Murray, The Life of Arthur W. Pink [Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1981 and 2004], pg. 73)

“Pray Without Ceasing . . . Really?” — John MacArthur

From the Commentary:

Pray without ceasing; (1 Thessalonians 5:17)

Joyful believers will also be prayerful believers. Those who live their Christian lives in joyful dependency on God will continually recognize their own insufficiency and therefore constantly be in an attitude of prayer. Paul’s exhortation to the Thessalonians to pray without ceasing is thus a divine mandate to all believers. Pray is from proseuchomai, the most common New Testament word for prayer (e.g., Matt. 6:5–6; Mark 11:24; Luke 5:16; 11:1–2; Acts 10:9; Rom. 8:26; 1 Cor. 14:13–15; Eph. 6:18; Col. 1:9; 2 Thess. 3:1; James 5:13–14, 16). It encompasses all the aspects of prayer: submission, confession, petition, intercession, praise, and thanksgiving. Without ceasing means “constant” and defines prayer not as some perpetual activity of kneeling and interceding but as a way of life marked by a continual attitude of prayer.

The New Testament emphasis on the importance of prayer cannot be overstated. Already in 1 Thessalonians, Paul had written, “As we…….continued at the MacArthur New Testament Commentary Series page (link here). There you can continue reading the excerpt from from the commentary and be sure to listen to the short audio Q and A with John MacArthur.

“Developing Practical Righteousness” — John MacArthur

“Developing Practical Righteousness”

John MacArthur

“Stand firm therefore . . . having put on the breastplate of righteousness” (Eph. 6:14).

Practical righteousness is a moment-by-moment obedience to God

We’ve seen the importance of putting on the breastplate of righteousness as protection against Satan’s attempts to pervert your thinking and emotions. But Scripture speaks of three kinds of righteousness: self-righteousness, imputed righteousness, and practical righteousness. Which did Paul have in mind in Ephesians 6:14?

Paul wasn’t speaking of self-righteousness because that is what the breastplate of righteousness is designed to protect you from. Self-righteousness deceives a person into thinking, I can please God and reach heaven on my own merit. But Isaiah said, “All our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment” (Isa. 64:6). Far from getting you to heaven, self- righteousness will condemn you to eternal hell because it rejects the merits of Christ’s atonement.

Similarly, Paul wasn’t speaking of imputed righteousness–the righteousness of Christ granted to every believer at the moment of salvation. It’s also called “positional righteousness” because it results from your position or standing in Christ. Second Corinthians 5:21 says that God made Christ, “who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” Every believer is clothed in the garment of Christ’s righteousness. You don’t put that on. It’s already yours in Christ.

Only practical righteousness remains–that which flows from obedience to God’s Word. Although in God’s eyes you are righteous in Christ, you must also pursue righteous behavior. In other words, your practice should match your position. That’s what Paul meant when he said, “Work out your salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil. 2:13). John added that “the one who says he abides in [Christ] ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked” (1 John 2:6).

As you learn to live in obedience to God’s Word, you’ll be protected by the breastplate of righteousness.

Suggestions for Prayer: Ask the Spirit to help you search your heart and reveal any self-righteous attitudes that might be making you vulnerable to Satan’s attacks. Confess them, then praise Christ for the true righteousness that is yours in Him.

For Further Study: Read Romans 3:10-23. What kind of righteousness did Paul pursue?

(John MacArthur, Drawing Near [Wheaton: Crossway, 1993], devotion for September 15)

“If God Is Sovereign, Why Pray?” (pt. 1) by R.C. Sproul

“If God Is Sovereign, Why Pray?”

from R.C. Sproul

How does the sovereignty of God relate to our daily lives? We understand from Scripture that God is sovereign, that He rules and reigns over all things for His glory and the good of His people. We also understand, having studied the Lord’s Prayer throughout this book, that God invites us to come to Him in prayer, bringing our petitions before Him.

As soon as we set these two ideas—the sovereignty of God and the prayers of His people—side by side, we run into a very sticky theological question. Objections are raised from every quarter. People say: “Wait a minute. If God is sovereign, that is, if He has ordained every detail of what is taking place in our lives, not only in the present but in the future, why should we bother with prayer? Furthermore, since the Bible tells us that ‘all things work together for good to those who love God’ (Rom. 8:28), shouldn’t we content ourselves that what God has ordained is best? Isn’t it really just an exercise in futility, and even arrogance, for us to presume to tell God what we need or what we would like to happen? If He ordains all things, and what He ordains is best, what purpose is served by praying to Him?”

John Calvin briefly discusses this question of the usefulness of prayer in light of God’s sovereignty in his Institutes of the Christian Religion:

But some will say, “Does He not know without a monitor, both what our difficulties are and what is meet for our interest, so that it seems in some measure superfluous to solicit Him by our prayers, as if He were winking or even sleeping until aroused by the sound of our voice.” Those who argue in this way attend not to the end or the purpose for which the Lord taught us to pray. It was not so much for God’s good, as it was for our good. (Book III, Chap. 20)

Calvin argues that prayer benefits us more than it benefits God. We can see this readily enough, at least for some of the elements of prayer. Consider, for instance, the elements of adoration and confession. God’s existence is not dependent on our praises. He can get along without them. But we can’t. Adoration is necessary for our spiritual growth. If we are to develop an intimate relationship with our heavenly Father, it is essential that we come to Him with words expressing reverence, adoration, and love. At the same time, it is necessary for us that we mention our sins before His throne. He knows what they are. In fact, He knows them more clearly and more comprehensively than we do. He gains nothing by our giving Him a recitation of our sins, but we need that act of contrition for the good of our souls.

The intricate problem of the relationship between the sovereignty of God and human prayers comes not at the point of adoration and confession, but at the point of intercession and supplication. When I see someone in need and begin to pray for that person, I am interceding for him. I offer my requests to God on that person’s behalf, pleading for God to act in His mercy, to do something to change that person’s situation. Furthermore, I do the same for my own needs, as I perceive them. However, the omniscient God already knows everyone’s situation, having ordained it. Therefore, are these prayers of any value? More fundamentally, do these prayers work? Do they ultimately have any impact on my life and on the lives of others?

To be continued…

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Excerpted from The Prayer of the Lord by R.C. Sproul.

We Recommend
We’ve been taught that prayer changes things. In view of God’s sovereignty, what is the role of prayer in a Christian’s life? Q&A
For Thine is the Kingdom Article by Steven Lawson
God Remembers Rachel Devotional

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From Ligonier Ministries, the teaching fellowship of R.C. Sproul. All rights reserved. Website: www.ligonier.org | Phone: 1-800-435-4343
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“The Prince of the Power of the Air” — John MacArthur

“The Prince of the Power of the Air”

John MacArthur

From the Commentary:

And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. (Ephesians 2:1–2)

A person who is spiritually dead has no life by which he can respond to spiritual things, much less live a spiritual life. No amount of love, care, and words of affection from God can draw a response. A spiritually dead person is alienated from God and therefore alienated from life. He has no capacity to respond. As the great Scottish commentator John Eadie said, “It is a case of death walking.” Men apart from God are spiritual zombies, the walking dead who do not know they are dead. They go through the motions of life, but they do not possess it.

In the state of spiritual death, the only walking, or living, a person can do is…….continued at the MacArthur New Testament Commentary Series page (link here). There you can listen to the short audio Q and A with John MacArthur and continue reading the commentary excerpt. I highly encourage listening to this one and reading the rest of the excerpt. Very helpful!

“Encountering Absolute Rest” by Burk Parsons

“Encountering Absolute Rest”

by Burk Parsons

All human beings are made in the image of God, and all human beings know God created them, whether or not they want to admit it. We know that God created us with an insatiable desire for goodness, truth, and beauty. By nature we know we need these three things and that we need them absolutely. We do not yearn for partial goodness, truth, and beauty but for complete and absolute goodness, truth, and beauty. We strive after these three essential qualities because we can’t help but strive after them. Just as God has put eternity in our hearts (Eccl. 3:11), He has put goodness, truth, and beauty in the very fabric of our souls. And as we eternally desire infinite goodness, truth, and beauty, so the God who embodies these has created us to know Him, the only infinite one, who is the beginning and the end of all goodness, truth, and beauty. As such, by God’s design, we will never grow tired or bored in our pursuit, knowledge, and love of these transcendentals that find their fulfillment in God Himself.

In his Confessions, Augustine prayed, “Great art Thou, O Lord, and greatly to be praised; great is Thy power, and of Thy wisdom there is no end. And man, being a part of Thy creation, desires to praise Thee… . Thou movest us to delight in praising Thee; for Thou hast formed us for Thyself, and our hearts are restless till they find rest in Thee.”

Our hearts are restless without God, and they won’t fully cease to be restless until we see Him face to face, coram Deo, and find our final rest and fullest expression of worship in the One who created us to worship Him and be fully satisfied in Him. As believers, just as the Author of our faith made us dependent to find rest in Him at our conversion, so the same Finisher of our faith is about the unrelenting business of making us dependent everyday of our lives to find daily rest in Him alone.

However, as self-made men with idols that look just like us, we are constantly chasing after mere shadows of goodness, truth, and beauty. We catch a glimpse of what tickles the ear, fancies the eye, and amuses the mind, and we chase after it with all our might. Both the enemy within and the enemy without have become successful partners in manufacturing appealing idols that have the appearance of goodness, truth, and beauty, attempting to draw our eyes from the Creator to the created. But as it is, all creation sings God’s glory, and wherever we find goodness, truth, and beauty, may we draw our eyes from the created to the Creator.
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From Ligonier Ministries and R.C. Sproul. © Tabletalk magazine. Website:
www.ligonier.org/tabletalk. Email: tabletalk@ligonier.org. Toll free: 1-800-435-4343.
http://www.ligonier.org
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“Focusing On Scripture and The Lord” — John MacArthur

“Focusing On Scripture and The Lord”

John MacArthur

“Walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.” – Galatians 5:16

We must focus on God and His Word as we begin to walk by the Spirit.

Paul’s directive to the Galatians in today’s verse may sound like an impractical platitude. But to the apostle this command was a foundational truth for how all Christians should live their daily lives. The Greek for “walk” could be translated, “keep on continually walking.” Life transpires one day at a time, and believers should routinely take each day one step at a time. In walking by the Holy Spirit, our chief opposition is our own flesh (Gal. 5:17). Therefore, it is crucial that we possess the scriptural strategy for our spiritual walk and that we know how to practically and effectively carry it out. The first part of our strategy has to be a daily intake of God’s Word. Psalm 1:2 says that the man who walks on a godly path will “delight . . . in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night.” Meditation (patiently and thoroughly reflecting on a passage of Scripture) helps us effectively seal the Word in our hearts so we can obediently apply it and minister it in accordance with God’s Spirit.

Secondly, if we want to walk by the Spirit, we must focus on God and allow Him to renew our minds. The key is found in Paul’s familiar command: “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect” (Rom. 12:2). The believer who lives that way will undoubtedly walk by the Spirit because he will also be one who worships God “in spirit and truth” (John 4:24). As one Bible teacher so aptly phrased it, “Find me a worshiper of God, and I will show you a stable man with his mind in control, ready to meet the present hour with refreshment from above.”

Suggestions for Prayer: Pray today that the Lord would help you to begin removing everything from your life that is preventing you from worshiping Him wholeheartedly.

For Further Study: Joshua 1:8; Psalm 19:7-8; John 8:31-32; Romans 15:4; 2 Timothy 2:15; and Hebrews 4:12 all refer to God’s Word. Read them and write down all the different things they say about the importance of Scripture. ~ What should motivate you to have a better intake of the Word?

(John MacArthur, Strength for Today [Wheaton: Crossway Books, 1997], devotion for September 12)

Expositional Studies in Scripture with John MacArthur (Audio Format)

Here’s an easy way to start an expositional study through a book of the Bible. Each week we’ll update the website with a new message so you can work through an entire book, verse-by-verse, with pastor-teacher John MacArthur.

We’ll post the newest message on Friday (so you can have it for your Saturday morning devotions) and leave it up for the duration of that book study. You can check back each week, or you can add the “GTY Audio Study” to your RSS feeder to receive an automatic reminder (click here to learn more about GTY RSS feeds).

If you’ll set aside the time, we’ll give you the message. So grab your Bible, a notebook and pen (or open a new document!), and get ready to enjoy the profound riches of God’s Word.…..follow this link (click here) for more info. on what looks to be a great (free!) opportunity to dive into the riches of Scripture.

“Gazing into the Perfect Law” —John MacArthur

“Gazing into the Perfect Law”

John MacArthur

“One who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man shall be blessed in what he does” (James 1:25).

God blesses when you obey His Word

James 1:21-24 contrasts hearers of the Word and doers of the Word. Hearers don’t respond to Scripture or benefit from its truths–though they may study it in depth. Doers receive it in humility and obey its commands. James 1:25 adds that they are blessed in what they do. That means there is blessing in the very act of obedience.

James here calls Scripture “the perfect law, the law of liberty” (v. 25). It is “law” because it’s God’s obligatory behavioral code. Grace doesn’t eliminate God’s moral law; but it gives us the spiritual resources to obey it, and forgiveness when we fail. That’s how Jesus fulfills the law in us (cf. Matt. 5:17).

Scripture is “the perfect law” because it is complete, sufficient, comprehensive, and without error. Through it God meets every need and fulfills every desire of the human heart. In addition, it is “the law of liberty.” That may sound paradoxical because we tend to think of law and freedom as opposites. But as you look intently into the Word, the Holy Spirit enables you to apply its principles to your life, thereby freeing you from the guilt and bondage of sin, and enabling you to live to God’s glory. That’s true freedom!

“Look intently” translates a Greek word that pictures bending down to examine something with care and precision. Stooping implies humility and a desire to see clearly what Scripture reveals about your own spiritual condition. It’s an attitude as well as an action.

As you study Scripture, let this be your underlying attitude: “Lord, as I gaze intently into your Word, reveal the things in my life that need to be changed. Then grant me the grace to make those changes so I can live more fully to your glory.”

Suggestions for Prayer: Memorize Psalm 139:23-24 and make it your sincere prayer.

For Further Study: Read Hebrews 4:12-13. ~ To what is God’s Word compared? ~ What effect does the Word have on those who are exposed to it?

(John MacArthur, Drawing Near [Wheaton: Crossway Books, 1993], devotion for June 11)

“Social Darwinism” by Gene Veith

“Social Darwinism”

by Gene Veith

Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution was never just about biology. Nor were its consequences just about religion. Rather, the origins and effects of Darwinism were largely cultural and moral.

Darwin’s Origin of Species was published in 1859, which was at the height of the Industrial Revolution and the Capitalist Revolution. The dynamic free market economy, characterized by intense competition in which weak companies went broke and the strong companies thrived, had brought unparalleled economic and technological progress. It was a small step to speculate that animal species compete and progress in a similar way. What Darwin did was to apply the principles of free market capitalism to biology.

Immediately after Darwin’s theories were published, people were relating his biological theories back to economics and, more importantly, to ethics. Herbert Spencer, the great popularizer of Darwinism, coined the phrase “survival of the fittest,” applying it not only to animals but to human society.

In the very works in which he explained Darwin’s scientific theories to the world, Spencer formulated what would be called “Social Darwinism.” To achieve social progress, according to Spencer, the fittest must survive and the unfit must die out. Efforts to help the “unfit” — charity for the poor, mental hospitals, government programs for the disadvantaged — actually interfere with social evolution and should be stopped. Meanwhile, unfettered economic and social competition will favor the “fittest,” who will usher in the next stage of human evolution.

At the same time, Darwin’s own cousin, Francis Galton, was arguing that natural selection had to do with who was able to reproduce. The “unfit,” he said, should not be allowed to breed. Only the “fittest” should be allowed to have children. Furthermore, it should be possible to breed these fit human beings for desirable traits, just as we breed domesticated animals. By sterilizing the unfit and selectively breeding the fittest, we can usher in the next stage of human evolution. Darwin’s cousin was the founder of the eugenics movement.

Friedrich Nietzsche took Darwinist moral ideas even further. Whereas Marx believed that Christianity was a way for the strong to keep the weak under control (the “opiate of the masses”) Nietzsche believed the opposite — that Christianity with its teachings of love and compassion enabled the weak to control the strong. Christianity made the strong feel guilty and manipulated them into supporting those who would otherwise die out. As Nietzsche writes in The Twilight of the Gods, Christianity upheld “the poor and base,” representing “the general revolt of all the downtrodden, the wretched, the failures, the less favored.”

Now that “God is dead,” Nietzsche said, mankind can evolve into the “Superman.” His virtue will not be compassion but cruelty. “It is not sufficient for him to be capable of cruelty merely at the sight of much suffering, perishing, and destruction: such a man must be capable of himself creating pain and suffering and experience pleasure in so doing, he must be cruel in hand and deed (and not merely with the eyes of the spirit).”

Whereas the Social Darwinism of Spencer, Galton, and Nietzsche applied mainly to individuals, other thinkers, noting that Darwin was talking about species and not just individual animals, applied natural selection to various kinds of human groups. Marxists believed social evolution would emerge from the conflict between economic classes. A new movement of nationalist scholars focused on the conflict between nations. The new “race scientists,” claiming to be more Darwinian by concentrating on biology, focused on the conflict between races.

In our own time, Margaret Sanger combined eugenics with racism, seeking birth control and sterilization for “inferior races,” becoming the founder of Planned Parenthood. Ayn Rand, the libertarian guru, embraced Spencer’s socio-economic program along with Nietzsche’s critique of Christian compassion with her “virtue of selfishness.”

But the most thoroughgoing Social Darwinist of all was Adolf Hitler, whose Nazi party carried racial theory, nationalism, eugenics, and Nietzsche to their logical conclusion and put them into practice.

As I document in my book Modern Fascism, the Nazi regime practiced both “positive eugenics” (breeding for positive characteristics) and “negative eugenics” (eliminating undesirables from the gene pool). In the former, couples with positive “Aryan” racial characteristics were mated outside of marriage. In the latter, a third of a million of the “unfit” were sterilized.

And then began the euthanasia program. In the so-called T4 program, disabled children, the mentally ill, the incurably sick, and the residents of nursing homes were euthanized. Portable gas chambers were engineered for the project. Larger models were installed in the concentration camps. At first, only prisoners who were “unfit” to work went into the gas chambers. Then the gas chambers were used on a larger scale to eliminate an entire “inferior” race.

All of this was for the Darwinist purpose of ushering in the next stage of human evolution.
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From Ligonier Ministries and R.C. Sproul. © Tabletalk magazine. Website: www.ligonier.org/tabletalk. Email: tabletalk@ligonier.org. Toll free: 1-800-435-4343. www.ligonier.org
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