The Christian church in her utter folly during this present century has been recognizing a new authority. And the new authority of course is the man of knowledge, the man of culture, and particularly the man of scientific knowledge. And the church has been at great pains to do everything she can to please this new authority.
This man of learning must never be offended. And in order to please him and duplicate him, the church has been ready to take things out of the Bible. She rejects and throws out the whole of the first three chapters of Genesis, much of the other history, throws out all the miracles . . . She’ll throw out anything in order to make her message pleasing and acceptable to this new authority—the man of knowledge, the man of learning, the man of science.
“By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward.” — Hebrews 11:24–26
“Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.'”
— Matthew 16:24
“Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” — James 4:4
If you would ever be saved, you must make the choice that Moses made—you must choose God before the world.
Mark well what I say. Do not overlook this, though all the rest be forgotten. I do not say that the statesman must throw up his office, and the rich man forsake his property. Let no one fancy that I mean this. But I say, if a man would be saved, whatever be his rank in life, he must be prepared for tribulation…There is a common worldly kind of Christianity in this day, which many have and think they have enough—a cheap Christianity which offends nobody and requires no sacrifice, which costs nothing, and is worth nothing.
The world in the nineteenth century is what it always was. The hearts of men are still the same. The offense of the cross is not ceased. God’s true people are still a despised little flock. True evangelical religion still brings with it reproach and scorn. A real servant of God will still be thought by many a weak enthusiast and a fool.
But the matter comes to this. Do you wish your soul to be saved? Then remember, you must choose whom you will serve. You cannot serve God and mammon. You cannot be on two sides at once. You cannot be a friend of Christ and a friend of the world at the same time. You must come out from the children of this world and be separate; you must put up with much ridicule, trouble and opposition, or you will be lost forever. You must be willing to think and do things which the world considers foolish and to hold opinions which are held by only a few. It will cost you something. The stream is strong, and you have to stem it. The way is narrow and steep, and it is no use saying it is not. But, depend on it, there can be no saving religion without sacrifices and self–denial.
Now are you making any sacrifices? Does your religion cost you anything? I put it to your conscience in all affection and tenderness. Are you, like Moses, preferring God to the world, or not? I beseech you not to take shelter under that dangerous word “we”—”we ought,” and “we hope,” and “we mean,” and the like. I ask you plainly, what are you doing yourself? Are you willing to give up anything which keeps you back from God; or are you clinging to the Egypt of the world and saying to yourself, “I must have it, I must have it: I cannot tear myself away”? Is there any cross in your Christianity? Are there any sharp corners in your religion, anything that ever jars and comes in collision with the earthly–mindedness around you? Or is all smooth and rounded off and comfortably fitted into custom and fashion? Do you know anything of the afflictions of the gospel? Is your faith and practice ever a subject of scorn and reproach? Are you thought a fool by anyone because of your soul? Have you left Pharaoh’s daughter and heartily joined the people of God? Are you venturing all on Christ? Search and see. (excerpted from Moses—An Example in Holiness by J.C. Ryle)
The dominant myth in evangelicalism is that the success of Christianity depends on how popular it is. The perceived mandate is that, if the gospel is to remain relevant, Christianity must somehow adapt and appeal to the latest cultural trends.
That kind of thinking used to be limited to the seeker-sensitive crowd, but it has recently made the leap into more Reformed circles. There are entire movements that would agree to the truths of predestination, election, and total depravity, but then also, inexplicably, demand that pastors act more like rock-stars than humble shepherds. Influenced by the emotional rhetoric of bad theology, people tolerate the idea that cultural shrewdness of a pastor determines how successful his message is and how influential his church will be. Current church growth methodology claims that if an evangelist wants to “reach the culture” (whatever that means), he must emulate the culture in some way. But such an approach runs contrary to the biblical paradigm. The power of the Spirit in the gospel is not found in the messenger, but in the message. Thus, the motivation behind the seeker-driven mind-set might be noble, but it is seriously misguided.
Any effort to manipulate the outcome of evangelism by changing the message or stylizing the messenger is a mistake. The idea that more people will repent if only the preacher were cooler or funnier invariably causes the church to suffer through a ridiculous parade of entrepreneurial types who act as though their personal charm can draw people to Christ. ¹
¹ John MacArthur et.al.,The MacArthur Pastor’s Library :: Evangelism: How to Share the Gospel Faithfully (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2011), pp. 3-4
Martyn Lloyd-Jones: On The Perpetual Fads of Market-Driven Churches
“Pragmatism: Modernism Recycled” by John MacArthur
John MacArthur on Charles Spurgeon & Worldly Preaching [VIDEO]
The Failure of Contextualized Theologies and the Need for Sustained, Biblical Preaching — David F. Wells
“The standard of whether we’re right or not is not what any church body says, or what any confession of faith says, but what does the Bible say.” – Phil Johnson
Click on link below to watch this short video:
(HT: Thabiti Anyabwile)
If it is the case that contextualized theologies have all too often become a doomed enterprise, the reason, the most self-consciously biblical believe, is that the project itself is unnecessary. And there is something to be said for this argument, too. For it is certainly the case that the Word of God, read or preached, has the power to enter the innermost crevices of a person’s being, to shine light in unwanted places, to explode the myths and deceits by which fallen life sustains itself, and to bring that person face to face with the eternal God. It is this biblical Word which God uses to bring repentance, to excite faith, to give new life, to sustain that light once given, to correct, nurture, and guide the Church (Jer. 23:29; II Tim. 3:16; Heb. 4:12; Jas. 1:18). The biblical Word is self-authenticating under the power of the Holy Spirit. This Word of God is the means by which God accomplishes his saving work in his people, and this is a work that no evangelist and no preacher can do. This is why the dearth of serious, sustained biblical preaching in the Church today is a serious matter. When the Church loses the Word of God it loses the very means by which God does his work. In its absence, therefore, a script is being written, however unwittingly, for the Church’s undoing, not in one cataclysmic moment, but in a slow, inexorable slide made up of piece by tiny piece of daily dereliction. ¹
¹ David F. Wells, Above All Earthly Powers: Christ in a Postmodern World (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2005), pp. 8-9
Comfort for the Doubting Christian — Thomas Watson (c.1620-1686)
A Weak Faith Receives A Strong Christ — Thomas Watson (c.1620-1686)
Spiritual Growth: What It Is, And What It Is Not — J.C. Ryle
Relying on God’s Grace — R.C. Sproul (Ligonier Ministries Blog)
“Not What My Hands Have Done” — Horatius Bonar (1808-1889)
“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” — 2 Timothy 3:16-17
In order to uphold the authority of the Scripture, he [the Apostle Paul] declares that it is divinely inspired; for, if it be so, it is beyond all controversy that men ought to receive it with reverence. This is a principle which distinguishes our religion from all others, that we know that God hath spoken to us, and are fully convinced that the prophets did not speak at their own suggestion, but that, being organs of the Holy Spirit, they only uttered what they had been commissioned from heaven to declare. Whoever then wishes to profit in the Scriptures, let him first of all, lay down this as a settled point, that the Law and the Prophets are not a doctrine delivered according to the will and pleasure of men, but dictated by the Holy Spirit.
If it be objected, “How can this be known?” I answer, both to disciples and to teachers, God is made known to be the author of it by the revelation of the same Spirit. Moses and the prophets did not utter at random what we have received from their hand, but, speaking at the suggestion of God, they boldly and fearlessly testified, what was actually true, that it was the mouth of the Lord that spake. The same Spirit, therefore, who made Moses and the prophets certain of their calling, now also testifies to our hearts, that he has employed them as his servants to instruct us. Accordingly, we need not wonder if there are many who doubt as to the Author of the Scripture; for, although the majesty of God is displayed in it, yet none but those who have been enlightened by the Holy Spirit have eyes to perceive what ought, indeed, to have been visible to all, and yet is visible to the elect alone. This is the first clause, that we owe to the Scripture the same reverence which we owe to God; because it has proceeded from him alone, and has nothing belonging to man mixed with it. ¹
¹ Calvin, John. Calvin’s Commentaries, “The Epistles to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon,” trans. from the original Latin. Rev. William Pringle (Christian Classics Ethereal Library: http://www.ccel.org) excerpted from commentary on 2 Tim 3:16, accessed April 25, 2011. http://www.ccel.org/ccel/calvin/calcom43.iv.iv.iii.html
Part of this quote cited in: James Boice, Standing on the Rock: Biblical Authority in a Secular Age (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1994) pg. 23
(HT: Tony Zabala)
“…Rob Bell has been sowing doubt, confusion, and error in the church for years. His theological trajectory has been clear for at least a decade. The stance he takes in Love Wins is the predictable fruit of many other compromises and concessions to worldly opinion that were already well established in Bell’s teaching.
In fact, the most surprising thing about Love Wins is not the position Rob Bell takes, but the fact that so many people seem genuinely caught off guard and unaccountably confused by it. The record of Bell’s own words makes it clear that this latest book of his is little more than a distillation of things he has been saying all along. He abandoned Jesus’ teaching years ago in favor of a different religion—one more in keeping with his personal preferences. He is pointing people toward the broad way that leads to destruction…” [read entire post here]
(HT: Jason Stephens)
And being in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper, as He sat at the table, a woman came having an alabaster flask of very costly oil of spikenard. Then she broke the flask and poured it on His head. But there were some who were indignant among themselves, and said, “Why was this fragrant oil wasted? For it might have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor.” And they criticized her sharply.
But Jesus said, “Let her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a good work for Me. For you have the poor with you always, and whenever you wish you may do them good; but Me you do not have always. She has done what she could. She has come beforehand to anoint My body for burial. Assuredly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her.” — Mark 14:3-9
This holy woman had displeased the disciples. She must have been very sorry to do that. She would not have willfully grieved the least servant of her Lord. But she did so without the slightest blame on her part—it was the unexpected consequence of a most blessed action and the fault lay with those who complained of her holy deed—not with her. I do not know whether all the disciples felt grieved, but we are told by Matthew that, “they had indignation”…..It was a hard thing for a timid woman to bear such a censure from one so highly respected in the college of Apostles—but she had this solace, which I will guarantee you put quite out of her mind all care about the censure of disciples, even of the biggest of them—she pleased her Master! She could see, by the very look of Him, that He accepted what His followers condemned. She knew in her conscience that she had the approbation of the Lord, even though she had the disapprobation of the servants. And oh, Brothers and Sisters, let us always carry our case into the highest court and live before the Lord and not as the slaves of men! If we are conscious that we have sincerely done what we have done as unto the Lord and if we feel sure that He has approved our service, it is of the smallest possible consequence what men shall say about us! Let us never provoke our Brothers and Sisters to be ill-tempered with us, neither let us do anything that can be rightly censured—but if we have gone somewhat beyond common custom in the fervor of our spirit, let us reply with young David to his envious brethren, “Is there not a cause?” The opinions of other men are no rule to us—we have our own obligations to discharge and, as our debt of love is larger than usual, let us take liberty to be as full of love and zeal as we can be—only regretting that we cannot go still further in the way of sacred service. (excerpted from: TO LOVERS OF JESUS—AN EXAMPLE, NO. 1834, A SERMON INTENDED FOR READING ON LORD’S-DAY, APRIL 12, 1885, DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON, AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON, ON NOVEMBER 2, 1884) (Thanks: Spurgeon Gems)
Title of blog post added by me.
Click on link below to watch this short video.
What is Justification by Faith?
I love to read. And I love to see what others are reading, as well. So I thought I would share with you some of the books I am currently reading.
1. Wells, David F. Above All Earthly Powers: Christ in a Postmodern World. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2006
2. MacArthur, John. et.al. The MacArthur Pastor’s Library :: Evangelism: How to Share the Gospel Faithfully. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2011.
3. Horner, Barry E. Future Israel: Why Christian Anti-Judaism Must Be Challenged. Nashville: B&H Academic, 2007.
4. Carson, D.A. The Gagging of God: Christianity Confronts Pluralism. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996.
5. Murray, Iain H. A Scottish Christian Heritage. Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 2006.
Rob Bell’s denial of eternal punishment goes hand in hand with a warped view of the gospel. No wonder. Each error fuels and exacerbates the other. Eliminate every hint of punishment for sin; ignore the wrath of an offended deity; dismiss the demands of divine justice, and you abolish any need for the gospel.
The only hell that exists in Bell’s theology is a state of mind or an earthly experience of suffering that Bell says God wants eliminated. But it’s up to us to live rightly in order to end whatever hell on earth we might suffer. By living the right way we can exchange our earthly hell for a strikingly earthbound sort of heaven…..[continue reading here]