Bible Reading Plans for 2011 and How To Enjoy Bible Study

“Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.” — John 17:17

Here are various Bible reading plans to help encourage routine and daily study of God’s Word:

1) Bible Readings for the Year (A Puritan’s Mind)
Utilizing this schedule daily you read 3 chapters in the Old Testament and 3 chapters in the New Testament, each day, enabling you to read through the OT one time and the NT four times in 2011.

2) Bible Gateway Reading Plans
With Bible Gateway you not only have a number of translations available to read online, but they also offer a free daily email reminder which will link you to the Scripture reading for that day.

3) Robert Murray M‘Cheyne’s Bible Reading Calendar
M‘Cheyne (1813-1843) was the minister of St Peter’s Church, Dundee, Scotland. This plan enables you to read the Old Testament once, and the New Testament and Psalms twice in 2011

4) Chronological Bible Reading Plan
Crossway ESV based reading plan

5) Daily Bible Reading Plan
This Chart was designed by Crossway for the ESV Study Bible

6) Through the Bible in a Year Reading Plan
Crossway ESV based reading plan

7) Prof. Horner’s Bible-Reading System
This Bible Reading plan was designed by Professor Grant Horner of The Master’s College, and is a favorite of mine, in fact this reading plan is one I used for quite awhile. By reading 10 chapters of Scripture each day you are continually covering the totality of Biblical revelation thus allowing the Bible to do what it does best – interpret itself. This is one I highly recommend!

Check out the facebook group here and read the story behind, and tips for using, Prof. Horner’s unique system of Bible reading.

8) For the more ambitious: Modified Horner Bible Reading for 90 Days is another.

9) Last, but not least, the system I recently switched to was designed by John MacArthur of Grace Community Church This plan enables you to read the Old Testament through once each year by reading 15-20 minutes in the OT each day…

In the New Testament, however, each day you focus on one book at a time, reading the entire book once a day for 30 days (a shorter book like Colossians) or breaking a larger book (like the Gospel of John) into sections and reading each section for 30 days, and then moving to another book in the New Testament. The article below explains this plan in greater detail and has some great study tips, as well.

How to Enjoy Bible Study by John MacArthur

How do you plan to dig in to God’s Word in a deeper way, this year?

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Charles Spurgeon: On True Freedom In Christ

Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892)

We are to wait upon our Master humbly, reverently, feeling it an honor to do anything for Him. We are to be self-surrendered, given up always to the Lord—free men—and yet most truly serfs of this Great Emperor. We are never so truly free as when we admit our sacred serfdom….Often Paul calls himself the servant of the Lord and even the slave of Christ. And he glories in the branding iron’s marks upon his flesh. “I bear,” says he, “in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus; therefore let no man trouble me.” We count it liberty to bear the bonds of Christ! We reckon this to be the most supreme freedom, for we sing with the Psalmist, “I am Your servant; I am Your servant. You have loosed my bonds.” “Bind the sacrifice with cords, even with cords to the horns of the altar.” Such is the conduct which our servitude to our Lord requires.

cited in John MacArthur, Slave (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2010), pg. 220

Charles Spurgeon: On The Full Inspiration And Inerrancy of Scripture

Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892)

I do not believe that, from one cover to the other, there is any mistake in it of any sort whatever, either upon natural or physical science, or upon history or anything whatever. I am prepared to believe whatever it says, and to take it believing it to be the Word of God; for if it is not all true, it is not worth one solitary penny to me. It may be to the man who is so wise that he can pick out the true from the false; but I am such a fool that I could not do that. If I do not have a guide there that is infallible, I would as soon guide myself, for I shall have to do so after all; I shall have to be correcting the blunders of my guide perpetually, but I am not qualified to do that, and so I am worse off than if I had not any guide at all. Sit thou down, Reason, and let Faith rise up. — Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892) (RT: Spurgeon.US)

“Christian: You Can Neither Increase Nor Decrease In The Favor of God” — A.W. Pink

A.W. Pink (1886-1952)

Christian progress does not signify advancing in God’s favor. The believer’s growth in grace does not further him one iota in God’s esteem. How could it, since God is the Giver of his faith and the One who has “wrought all our works in us” (Isa. 26:12)! God’s favorable regard of His people originated not in anything whatever in them, either actual or foreseen. God’s grace is absolutely free, being the spontaneous exercise of His own mere good pleasure. The cause of its exercise lies wholly within Himself. The purposing grace of God is that good will which He had unto His people from all eternity: “Who hath saved us and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began” (2 Tim. 1:9). And the dispensing grace of God is but the execution of His purpose, ministering to His people: thus we read “God giveth more grace,” yea, that “he giveth more grace” (James 4:6). It is entirely gratuitous, sovereignly bestowed, without any inducement being found in its object.

Furthermore, everything God does for and bestows on His people is for Christ’s sake. It is in no wise a question of their deserts, but of Christ’s deserts or what he merited for them. As Christ is the only Way by which we can approach the Father, so He is the sole channel through which God’s grace flows unto us. Hence we read of the “grace of God, and the gift of grace (namely, justifying righteousness) by one man, Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:15); and again, “the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 1:4). The love of God toward us is in “Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:39). he forgives us “for Christ’s sake” (Eph. 4:32). He supplies all our need “according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19). He brings us to heaven in answer to Christ’s prayer (John 17:24). Yet though Christ merits everything for us, the original cause was the sovereign grace of God. “Although the merits of Christ are the (procuring) cause of our salvation, yet they are not the cause of our being ordained to salvation, They are the cause of purchasing all things decreed unto us, but they are not the cause which first moved God to decree these things unto us.” (Thos. Goodwin)

The Christian is not accepted because of his graces, for the very graces (as their name connotes) are bestowed upon him by Divine bounty, and are not attained by any efforts of his. And so far from these graces being the reason why God accepts him, they are the fruits of his being “chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world” and, decretively, “blessed with all spiritual blessings in the heavenlies in Christ” (Eph. 1:3, 4). Settle it then in your own mind once for all, my reader, that growth in grace does not signify growing in the favor of God. This is essentially a Papish delusion, and though creature-flattering it is a horribly Christ—dishonoring one. Since God’s elect are “accepted in the beloved” (Eph. 1:6), it is impossible that any subsequent change wrought in or attained by them could render them more excellent in His esteem or advance them in His love. When the Father announced concerning the incarnate Word “This is my beloved Son [not “with whom” but] in whom I am well pleased” He was expressing His delight in the whole election of grace, for He was speaking of Christ in His federal character, as the last Adam, as head of His mystical body.

The Christian can neither increase nor decrease in the favor of God, nor can anything he does or fails to do alter or affect to the slightest degree his perfect standing in Christ. Yet let it not be inferred from this that his conduct is of little importance or that God’s dealings with him have no relation to his daily walk. While avoiding the Romish conceit of human merits, we must be on our guard against Antinomian licentiousness. As the moral Governor of this world God takes note of our conduct, and in a variety of ways makes manifest His approbation or disapprobation: “No good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly” (Ps. 84:11), yet to His own people God says “your sins have withholden good things from you” (Jer. 5:25). So, too, as the Father He maintains discipline in His family, and when His children are refractory He uses the rod (Ps. 89:3-33). Special manifestations of Divine love are granted to the obedient (John 14:21, 23), but are withheld from the disobedient and the careless. —Arthur W. Pink (1886-1952)

(Arthur W. Pink, Spiritual Growth [Grand Rapids: Baker, 1971, 1976, 1996]) pp., 20,21,22

“You Cannot Receive Christ as Savior Only and Not as Lord” — D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

“You cannot receive Christ as your justification only, and then, later, decide to refuse or to accept Him as your sanctification. He is one and indivisible, and if you receive Him at all, at once He is made unto you “wisdom and righteousness and sanctification and redemption.” You cannot receive Him as your Saviour only, and later decide to accept or refuse Him as your Lord; for the Saviour is the Lord who by His death has [bought] us and therefore owns us. Sanctification is nowhere taught or offered in the New Testament as some additional experience possible to the believer. It is represented as something which is already within the believer, something which he must realise [sic] more and more and in which he must grow increasingly.”

Cited in John F. MacArthur, Jr., Faith Works: The Gospel According to the Apostles (Dallas: Word Publishing, 1993), 105.

“What is the Nature of True Saving Faith?” by John MacArthur

Dr. John MacArthur

Scripture is everywhere clear-the one thing a person must do to be saved is exercise “true saving faith” in Christ. Faith is the instrument that God uses to bring individuals into a saving relationship with Himself. That is not to say that faith is the basis of our salvation; rather, it is the channel by which God grants salvation. Noted theologian B.B. Warfield said, “The saving power of faith resides thus not in itself, but in the Almighty Savior on whom it rests…It is not, strictly speaking, even faith in Christ that saves, but that Christ saves through faith.”

Faith comes to the believer as a gift from God. It is not something that individuals are capable of mustering up on their own. Were faith a work of man’s own doing, man would be in a position to take partial credit for his redemption. But such a concept is foreign to the writers of Scripture. Paul anticipated that men would tend to boast of their part in salvation when he wrote that faith (one of many components of salvation) “is the gift of God…that no one should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). As Charles Haddon Spurgeon was fond of saying, salvation is “all of grace.”

Faith comes as a result of the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit-He quickens our hearts to believe. Apart from the new birth, there can be no true faith. Therefore, faith, though it manifests itself in action, comes as a result of God’s work in us. God grants us faith and that faith is evidenced by our walking in the good works that “God [has] prepared beforehand” for us to walk in (Ephesians 2:10).

The Bible says that if we believe on the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved. However, the Bible does not present faith as simply “mental assent to the facts of the gospel.” True saving faith involves repentance from one’s sin and a complete trust in the work of Christ to save from sin and make one righteous. The Reformers spoke of three aspects of faith: recognition of the truth claims of the gospel, acknowledgment of their truthfulness and exact correspondence to man’s spiritual need, and a personal commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ who, by virtue of His death, provides the only sufficient sacrifice for one’s personal sin. Any one of these three aspects of faith, taken by themselves, is insufficient to meet the biblical definition of saving faith. However, the presence of all three components together results in saving faith. In other words, saving faith consists of mental, emotional, and volitional elements. Saving faith involves both the mind and the will.

In addition to calling us to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, the New Testament uses several figures of speech to describe the nature of saving faith. Perhaps the most vivid of those figurative references is found in Jesus’ words from the Sermon on the Mount: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied” (Matthew 5:6). In that passage, Jesus likens true faith to hungering and thirsting. The unbeliever, by virtue of the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit, recognizes his or her dire need of nourishment and refreshment and comes to Jesus begging that He fill the need. That is a beautiful picture of faith. First, there is recognition of Jesus’ claim to be the “bread of life” (John 6:35) and the possessor of “living water” (John 4:10). Next, the unbeliever is convinced that Jesus’ promise is really true and that it corresponds exactly with his profound hunger and thirst. Finally, the unbeliever acts-he begs Jesus to satisfy his hunger and quench his thirst. True faith hears, believes, and actively responds.
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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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J.C. Ryle: With Sobering Questions for Those With Extravagantly Broad Views of Truth

J.C. Ryle (1816-1900)


J.C. Ryle,

A scriptural view of sin is one of the best antidotes to the extravagantly broad and liberal theology which is so much in vogue at the present time. The tendency of modern thought is to reject dogmas, creeds and every kind of bounds in religion. It is thought grand and wise to condemn no opinion whatever, and to pronounce all earnest and clever teachers to be trustworthy, however heterogeneous and mutually destructive their opinions may be. Everything, forsooth, is true and nothing is false! Everybody is right and nobody is wrong! Everybody is likely to be saved and nobody is to be lost! The atonement and substitution of Christ, the personality of the devil, the miraculous element in Scripture, the reality and eternity of future punishment, all these mighty foundation–stones are coolly tossed overboard, like lumber, in order to lighten the ship of Christianity and enable it to keep pace with modern science. Stand up for these great verities, and you are called narrow, illiberal, old–fashioned and a theological fossil! Quote a text, and you are told that all truth is not confined to the pages of an ancient Jewish book, and that free inquiry has found out many things since the book was completed! Now, I know nothing so likely to counteract this modern plague as constant clear statements about the nature, reality, vileness, power and guilt of sin. We must charge home into the consciences of these men of broad views and demand a plain answer to some plain questions. We must ask them to lay their hands on their hearts and tell us whether their favorite opinions comfort them in the day of sickness, in the hour of death, by the bedside of dying parents, by the grave of a beloved wife or child. We must ask them whether a vague earnestness, without definite doctrine, gives them peace at seasons like these. We must challenge them to tell us whether they do not sometimes feel a gnawing “something” within, which all the free inquiry and philosophy and science in the world cannot satisfy. And then we must tell them that this gnawing “something” is the sense of sin, guilt and corruption, which they are leaving out in their calculations. And, above all, we must tell them that nothing will ever make them feel rest but submission to the old doctrines of man’s ruin and Christ’s redemption and simple childlike faith in Jesus. (excerpted from Chapter 1 of Holiness: It’s Nature, Hindrances, Difficulties, and Roots, J.C. Ryle, 1877)

J.C. Ryle: Before Coming to Christ….You Must Know Why You Are Coming to Christ

J.C. Ryle (1816-1900)

I say, then, in the first place, that a scriptural view of sin is one of the best antidotes to that vague, dim, misty, hazy kind of theology which is so painfully current in the present age. It is vain to shut our eyes to the fact that there is a vast quantity of so–called Christianity nowadays which you cannot declare positively unsound, but which, nevertheless, is not full measure, good weight and sixteen ounces to the pound. It is a Christianity in which there is undeniably “something about Christ and something about grace and something about faith and something about repentance and something about holiness,” but it is not the real “thing as it is” in the Bible. Things are out of place and out of proportion. As old Latimer would have said, it is a kind of “mingle–mangle,” and does no good. It neither exercises influence on daily conduct, nor comforts in life, nor gives peace in death; and those who hold it often awake too late to find that they have got nothing solid under their feet. Now I believe the likeliest way to cure and mend this defective kind of religion is to bring forward more prominently the old scriptural truth about the sinfulness of sin. People will never set their faces decidedly towards heaven and live like pilgrims until they really feel that they are in danger of hell. Let us all try to revive the old teaching about sin in nurseries, in schools, in training colleges, in Universities. Let us not forget that “the law is good if we use it lawfully” and that “by the law is the knowledge of sin” (1 Tim. 1:8; Rom. 3:20; 7:7). Let us bring the law to the front and press it on men’s attention. Let us expound and beat out the Ten Commandments and show the length and breadth and depth and height of their requirements. This is the way of our Lord in the Sermon on the Mount. We cannot do better than follow His plan. We may depend upon it, men will never come to Jesus, and stay with Jesus, and live for Jesus, unless they really know why they are to come, and what is their need. Those whom the Spirit draws to Jesus are those whom the Spirit has convinced of sin. Without thorough conviction of sin, men may seem to come to Jesus and follow Him for a season; but they will soon fall away and return to the world. (excerpted from Chapter 1 of Holiness: It’s Nature, Hindrances, Difficulties, and Roots, J.C. Ryle, 1877)

Spiritual Growth: Not to Be Judged By Feelings or Emotions — A. W. Pink

Because so many Christians walk more by sense than by faith, measuring themselves by their feelings and moods rather than by the Word, their peace of mind is greatly destroyed and their joy of heart much decreased. Not a few saints are seriously the losers through misapprehensions upon this subject. Scriptural knowledge is essential if we are better to understand ourselves and diagnose more accurately our spiritual case. Many exercised souls form an erroneous opinion of themselves because of failure at this very point. Surely it is a matter of great practical moment that we should be able to judge aright of our spiritual progress or retrogression that we may not flatter ourselves on the one hand or unduly depreciate ourselves on the other.

Some are tempted in one direction, some in the other—depending partly on their personal temperament and partly on the kind of teaching they have received. Many are inclined to think more highly of themselves than they ought, and because they have obtained considerably increased intellectual knowledge of the truth imagine they have made a proportionate spiritual growth. But others with weaker memories and who acquire a mental grasp of things more slowly, suppose this to signify a lack of spirituality. Unless our thoughts about spiritual growth be formed by the Word of God we are certain to err and jump to a wrong conclusion. As it is with our bodies, so it is with our souls. Some suppose they are healthy while they are suffering from an insidious disease; whereas others imagine themselves to be ill when in fact they are hale and sound. Divine revelation and not human imagination ought to be our guide in determining whether or not we be “babes, young men, or fathers”—and our natural age has nothing to do with it. (pp. 7,8)

A page later he continues,

The “new creature” is from above, whereof our natural reason has no acquaintance: it is a supernatural product and can only be known by supernatural revelation. In like manner, the spiritual life received at the new birth thrives as to its degrees, unperceived by our senses. A child, by weighing and measuring himself, may discover that he has grown, yet he was not conscious of the process while growing. So it is with the new man: it is “renewed day by day” (2 Cor. 4:16) yet in such a hidden way that the renewing itself is not felt, though its effects become apparent. Thus there is no good reason to be disheartened because we do not feel that any progress is being made or to conclude there is no advance because such feeling is absent. “There are some of the Lord’s people in whom the essence and reality of holiness dwell who do not perceive in themselves any spiritual growth. It should therefore be remembered that there is a real growth in grace where it is not perceived. We should judge of it not by what we experience of it in ourselves, but by the Word. It is a subject for faith to be exercised on” (S. F. Pierce). If we desire the pure “milk of the Word” and feed thereon, then we must not doubt that we duly “grow thereby” (1 Peter 2:3). (pg. 9) — Arthur W. Pink (1886-1952)

(Arthur W. Pink, Spiritual Growth [Grand Rapids: Baker, 1971, 1976, 1996])

J.C. Ryle: On The Pursuit of Holiness: Council and Warning

J.C. Ryle (1816-1900)

There is an amazing ignorance of Scripture among many, and a consequent want of established, solid religion. In no other way can I account for the ease with which people are, like children, “tossed to and fro, and carried about by every wind of doctrine.” ( Ephesians 4:14.) There is an Athenian love of novelty abroad, and a morbid distaste for anything old and regular, and in the beaten path of our forefathers. Thousands will crowd to hear a new voice and a new doctrine, without considering for a moment whether what they hear is true…..For myself, I am aware that I am no longer a young minister. My mind perhaps stiffens, and I cannot easily receive any new doctrine. “The old is better.” I suppose I belong to the old school of Evangelical theology….But I must express a hope that my younger brethren who have taken up new views of holiness will beware of multiplying causeless divisions. Do they think that a higher standard of Christian is needed in the present day? So do I.— Do they think that clearer, stronger, fuller teaching about holiness is needed? So do I.— Do they think that Christ ought to be more exalted as the root and author of sanctification as well as justification? So do I.— Do they think that believers should be urged more and more to live by faith? So do I.— Do they think that a very close walk with God should be more pressed on believers as the secret of happiness and usefulness? So do I.— In all these things we agree. But if they want to go further, then I ask them to take care where they tread, and to explain very clearly and distinctly what they mean.

Finally, I must deprecate, and I do it in love, the use of uncouth and new-fangled terms and phrases in teaching sanctification. I plead that a movement in favor of holiness cannot be advanced by new-coined phraseology, or by disproportioned and one-sided statements—or by overstraining and isolating particular texts—or by exalting one truth at the expense of another—or by allegorizing and accommodating texts, and squeezing out of them meanings which the Holy Spirit never put in them…..It is my heart’s desire, and prayer to God daily, that personal holiness may increase greatly among professing Christians in England. But I trust that all who endeavor to promote it will adhere closely to the proportion of Scripture, will carefully distinguish things that differ, and will separate “the precious from the vile.” (Jer 15:19.) (excerpted from Introduction to Holiness: It’s Nature, Hindrances, Difficulties, and Roots, J.C. Ryle, 1877)

“God’s Promises…Are Just As True When God Frowns As When He Smiles!” — Charles Spurgeon

“Now I would like to put this personally to any tried child of God here. Are you going to let go of your God because you have lost His smile? Then I ask you, Did you base your faith upon His smile? For if you did, you mistook the true
ground of faith! The ground of a Believer’s confidence is not God’s smile, but God’s promises! It is not His temporary sunshine of His love, but His deep eternal love, itself, as it reveals itself in the Covenant and in the promises. Now the
present smile of God may leave you, but God’s promises do not—and if you believe upon God’s promises, they are just as true when God frowns as when He smiles! If you are resting upon the Covenant, that Covenant is as true in the dark as in the light. It stands as good when your soul is without a single gleam of consolation as when your heart is flooded with sacred bliss. Oh, come, then, to this—the promises are as good as ever! Christ is the same as ever! His blood is as great a plea as ever and the oath of God is as Immutable as ever! We must get away from all building upon our apprehensions of God’s love. It is the love, itself, we must build on—not on our enjoyment of His Presence, but on His faithfulness and on His truth. Therefore, be not cast down, but still call Him, ‘My God.'”
(from: Our Lord’s Solemn Inquiry, Sermon #3507, Charles Spurgeon) (sources: SpurgeonUS and Spurgeon Gems [Sermons])

“What Books Have Most Influenced John MacArthur?”

“What books have most influenced John MacArthur?”

Here are a few of the books John MacArthur says have had a great influence on his life:

•Arthur Bennett, ed., The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions (Banner of Truth, 1975)
•Stephen Charnock, The Existence and Attributes of God
•J. I. Packer, Knowing God
•D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Preachers and Preaching
•D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount
•Arthur Pink, Spiritual Growth
•John R. W. Stott, The Preacher’s Portrait
•Thomas Watson, The Beatitudes
•Thomas Watson, A Body of Divinity

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You can order any of those books from Grace Books International .
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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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“When God Once Forgives He Forgives Forever” — Charles Spurgeon

Charles Haddon Spurgeon

“…when God once forgives he forgives for ever; he never plays fast and loose, and he never brings to mind again that of which he hath said, “I will remember it no more.” O my brother, if thou art pardoned once thou art forgiven once for all, irreversible acquittals God bestows; “for the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.” Immutability is stamped upon the patent of our pardon. Until God can change or lie, he never will bring to mind again the sin of that man whom he hath pardoned.” — Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892) (RT: Spurgeon.US)

J.C. Ryle: On The Dangerous Delusion of Sinless Perfectionism

J.C. Ryle (1816-1900)

“I ask in the third place, whether it is wise to use vague language about perfection, and to press on Christians a standard of holiness, as attainable in this world for which there is no warrant to be shown either in Scripture or experience? I doubt it.

That believers are exhorted to “perfect holiness in the fear of God”–to “go on to perfection”–to “be perfect,” no careful reader of his Bible will ever think of denying. ( 2 Corinthians 7:1; Hebrews 6:1; 2 Corinthians 13:11.) But I have yet to learn that there is a single passage in Scripture which teaches that a literal perfection, a complete and entire freedom from sin, in thought, or word, or deed, is attainable, or has ever been attained, by any child of Adam in this world. A comparative perfection, a perfection in knowledge, an all-around consistency in every relation of life, a through soundness in every point of doctrine–this may be seen occasionally in some of God’s believing people. But as to an absolute literal perfection, the most eminent saints of God in every age have always been the very last to lay claim to it! On the contrary they have always had the deepest sense of their own utter unworthiness and imperfection. The more spiritual light they have enjoyed the more they have seen their own countless defects and shortcomings. The more grace they have had the more they been “clothed with humility.” ( 1 Peter 5:5.)

What saint can be named in God’s Word, of whose life many details are recorded, who was literally and absolutely perfect? Which of them all, when writing about himself, ever talks of feeling free from imperfection? On the contrary, men like David, and St. Paul, and St. John, declare in the strongest language that they feel in their own hearts weakness and sin. The holiest men of modern times have always been remarkable for deep humility. Have we ever seen holier men then the martyred John Bradford, or Hooker, or Usher, or Baxter, or Rutherford, or M’Cheyne? Yet no one can read the writings and letters of these men without seeing that they felt themselves “debtors to mercy and grace” every day, and the very last thing they ever laid claim to was perfection!

In face of such facts as these I must protest against the language used in many quarters, in these last days, about perfection. I must think that those who use it either know very little of the nature of sin, or the attributes of God, or of their own hearts, or of the Bible, or of the meaning of words. When a professing Christian coolly tells me that he has got beyond such hymns as “Just as I am,” and that they are below his present experience, though they suited him when he first took up religion, I must think his soul is in a very unhealthy state! When a man can talk coolly of the possibility of “living without sin” while in the body, and can actually say that he has “never had an evil thought for three months,” I can only say that in my opinion he is a very ignorant Christian! I protest against such teaching as this. It not only does no good, but does immense harm. It disgusts and alienates from religion far-seeing men of the world, who know it is incorrect and untrue. It depresses some of the best of God’s children, who feel they never can attain to “perfection” of this kind. It puffs up many weak brethren, who fancy they are something when they are nothing. In short, it is a dangerous delusion.” (excerpted from Introduction to Holiness: It’s Nature, Hindrances, Difficulties, and Roots, J.C. Ryle, 1877)

“Receiving Joy and Strength” by R.C. Sproul

“Receiving Joy and Strength”

R.C. Sproul

There is still another vital aspect to the “why” of Jesus’ departure. He said, “If I do not go away, the Helper (Paraclete) will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you.” Jesus’ departure was tied to Pentecost. There is no Pentecost without ascension. As the invested King of kings, Jesus had the authority together with the Father to send His Holy Spirit in a new and powerful way upon the church. Jesus spoke of a certain necessity of His leaving in order for the Spirit to come. Herein was another great advantage. He declared, “Ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost has come upon you” (Acts 1:8, KJV).

Two remarkable things happened to the disciples after Jesus departed. The first is that they “returned to Jerusalem with great joy” (Luke 24:52). They were not despondent over the departure of Jesus. Obviously they finally understood why He was leaving. They understood what, for the most part, the church since then has failed to understand. We live as if it would not have been better for Jesus to leave.

The second obvious change in the lives of the disciples was in their spiritual strength. After Pentecost, they were different people. No longer did they flee like sheep without a shepherd. Instead, they turned the world upside down. They turned the world upside down because they fully understood two simple things: the “where” and the “why” of Jesus’ departure.

Coram Deo: Great joy and spiritual strength are two of the benefits of the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Let Him release these benefits in your life today.

Acts 4:31: “And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.”

Acts 4:33: “And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all.”

Acts 4:29: “Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word.”
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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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“Prove All Things By the Word of God” — J.C. Ryle

“Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.” — 1 Thessalonians 5:21

J.C. Ryle

“If we would hold fast that which is good, we must never tolerate any doctrine which is not the pure doctrine of Christ’s Gospel. There is a hatred which is downright charity—that is the hatred of erroneous doctrine. There is an intolerance which is downright praiseworthy—that is the intolerance of false teaching. Who would ever think of tolerating a little poison given to him day by day? If men come among you who do not preach “all the counsel of God,” who do not preach of Christ, and sin, and holiness, of ruin, and redemption, and regeneration; and do not preach of these things in a Scriptural way, you ought to cease to hear them. You ought to act upon the injunction given by the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament: “Cease, my son, to hear the instruction which causes to err from the words of knowledge.” (Proverbs 19:27.) You ought to carry out the spirit shown by the Apostle Paul, in Gal. 1:8: “Though we, or an angel from heaven preach any other doctrine unto you than that which we have preached, let him be accursed!” If we can bear to hear Christ’s truth mangled or adulterated—and can see no harm in listening to that which is “another Gospel”—and can sit at ease while “sham Christianity” is poured into our ears—and can go home comfortably afterwards, and not burn with holy indignation—if this is the case, there is little chance of our ever doing much to resist Rome! If we are content to hear Jesus Christ not put in His rightful place—we are not men and women who are likely to do Christ much service, or fight a good fight on His side. He who is not zealous against error—is not likely to be zealous for truth” (from “Prove All Things,” J.C. Ryle, 1816-1900)

Sovereign Election: God Sets the Standard of What Is Just — John MacArthur

This is from a sermon by John MacArthur, rather from his writings. So the wording is more extemporaneous.

You don’t want to talk too long about justice when you talk about salvation because if God gave us all justice we’d all be sent to hell. You see, the creator owes nothing to the creature…not even what He graciously is pleased to give to the elect. He doesn’t owe that. How then could God be called unjust when whatever He does is just and the fact that He elected certain ones to be saved when they didn’t deserve it anyway, how could that be unjust? Salvation is never a matter of justice, it is always a matter of grace, pure grace. And it always seems curious to me that God seems to be gracious most often to those who seem to be the most undeserving. And so not only does it to some people seem unfair that God chooses some but it seems unfair that He chooses the ones He chooses. For when Jesus came He rejected the religionists and the do-gooders and chose the harlots, the prostitutes, the outcasts, the poor, the social rejects and that’s the plan, not many noble, not many mighty. He’s chosen the base things of this world. And in many cases, in most cases, passed by the mighty, the noble, the religious, the educated. You really don’t want to try to figure this thing out from the standpoint of is it fair. God did it, that makes it just. God sets the standard of what is just. If you don’t understand what God does, that doesn’t mean He doesn’t live up to your standard, that means your standard doesn’t live up to His standard. He is God. (excerpted from sermon Chosen by God: Part 1 on 1 Peter 1:1 | April 17, 1988 | Code: 60-2)

“Hebrews 6 and the Loss of Salvation” — John MacArthur

“Hebrews 6 and the Loss of Salvation”

Does Hebrews 6:4-6 teach that a true believer can lose his salvation?

No. In that passage, the writer of Hebrews is speaking to the unsaved who have heard the truth and acknowledged it, but who have hesitated to embrace Christ. The Holy Spirit warns them, “You had better come to Christ now, for if you fall away it will be impossible for you to come again to the point of repentance.” They were at the best point for repentance–full knowledge. To fall back from that would be fatal.

Because they believe the warning is addressed to Christians, many interpreters hold that the passage teaches that salvation can be lost. If this interpretation were true, however, the passage would also teach that, once lost, salvation could never be regained. There would be no going back and forth, in and out of grace. But Christians are not being addressed, and it is the opportunity for receiving salvation, not salvation itself, that can be lost.

The believer need never fear he will lose his salvation. He cannot. The Bible is absolutely clear about that. Jesus said, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they shall never perish; and no one shall snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand” (John 10:27-29; see also Rom. 8:35-39; Phil. 1:6; and 1 Pet. 1:4-5).

If you are in Christ, rejoice. Your salvation is secure forever.

(Today’s post adapted from the MacArthur New Testament Commentary on Hebrews, p. 146.)
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