Saturday, February 25, 2017

What Has Become Of Us?

When I think back nostalgically on the halcyon days of my youth, I am deeply troubled and filled with a profound sadness at our current state of affairs.  What has become of us as a nation, a culture, a country, and as a people?

When I look around today and see the confusion, divisions, the hatred, the lawlessness, the anti-Christian bigotry, and the hypocrisy that has Western civilization in its death grip, I just stare at all of this in shock and ask, “What has become of  us?”

        People can't reason any more. Who would have thought that someone like Bernie Sanders could have gotten so many votes on the Democratic side? Who would have thought that Malcolm X would be extolled as a great leader and freedom fighter? Who would have thought that moral perversions would be considered main stream and to oppose these things make you the nut case? Who would have thought that if you were patriotic you would be viewed as a potential danger to society? Who would have thought that you could cry, "Islam is a religion of peace" and so many would believe it. One world order, one world currency, one world government, one world with no borders...This was at the root of the Tower of Babel. What I really cannot understand is how so many Christians don't get this and still support causes that should make them ashamed. Problems are numerous on both sides of the political spectrum. But how can you not see that so many perverted and unbiblical positions are being championed by the left? If some Christians cannot support the right then fine, just don't support the left either. What ever happened to discernment? What ever happened to us?

I grew up on Sylvan Lake, a beautiful little village in southern Michigan. I lived the life of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. What a great place to grow up as a little boy; what an amazing time that was in our history. The guys I grew up with had two different beaches to swim at. We could go to any number of other docks on the lake to swim off, as well. I could kiss my mom goodbye after breakfast, fly out the door as a six or seven year old, hop on my bike and be gone most of the day… home for lunch and away I’d go again.

We had no fear or even any thought of gang violence, drug pushers, or child predators in those days. We spent our time swimming, boating, water skiing, ice skating, and  playing baseball, basketball, football and ice hockey. We had a community center on a little island connected by a bridge where we could play shuffle board, and table tennis.

My friends were your typical American kids. We were from all sorts of backgrounds— Protestant, Catholic, Jewish and Chaldean—  a true melting pot in America culture. We never locked our doors in those days; things weren’t stolen out of your yard. Respect for authority was fairly normal. It would not have occurred to us in the 1950’s to call the police  any names, throw rocks at those we disagreed, with or yell down those with a different point of view.

I remember the first election that I got personally caught up with. It was the famous Kennedy—Nixon election. I remember people had strong views on these candidates, but there was a civility that accompanied our debates and discussions. What happened to those days?

I never thought I’d live to see the day that patriotism would be viewed as something to be ashamed of. Or that if you believed the Bible you were considered a relic from the dark ages. It never occurred to us in those special days of my youth to worry about what bathroom we should enter. Same-sex marriage was not a hot topic, and the music that made our parents a little nervous was the Four Seasons, The Beach Boys, Mo Town or those four guys with floppy hair singing, “I Want to Hold Your Hand.” What ever happened to us?

I see my friends posting pictures on Face Book of their past, pictures of their childhood, pictures of their fathers who served in the Korean war or World War II. If my Dad could be here now, he would not recognize our country. We have lost our innocence, moral foundation, and our spiritual  connection with the generation that built this country. 

In those idyllic days of my youth, we were not brought up on fear. We were not taught to hate those with different opinions. Christian virtues and character ruled the day, even if you were not a practicing Christian. Now there is a bitter intolerance with anyone who dares disagree with you. The Progressives on the left act and speak as if their opinion is the only one that matters. If you dare differ with these folks, you are demonized as a racist, fascist, extremist, demagogue, or bigot. And boy do they love to paint those on the right as extremists and kooks. Look who's calling the kettle black! They leave little or no  room for disagreement. What ever happened to us?

Our nation was built on the foundation of Judeo—Christian values. When I was in sixth grade at Whitefield Elementary School on Orchard Lake Road in Pontiac, Michigan, we sang Christmas carols at our Christmas programs. It wasn’t considered politically incorrect to talk about Jesus. The Gideons came to our school each year and offered us a New Testament to those who wished to receive it. At Thanksgiving we learned how the Pilgrims worshipped, thanked God for their blessings, and celebrated with the Indians. Today such studies would land teachers out of a job. The Pilgrims are vilified as racists, who stole the land from the Indians. Christopher Columbus is viewed as a genocidal maniac, and on and on it goes. Revisionist history has made love of our country and our past something to be ashamed of. Our roots have been plucked up and our culture is being smothered by false guilt and is suffocating through self loathing. What has become of us?

If I wrote an auto-biography of my life, I would call it “Once Upon A Time On A Lake.” We enjoyed those peaceful, innocent days on Sylvan Lake. We could run over to our friends who lived on Hammond Lake, or Square Lake, or Pine Lake, or Upper and Lower Long Lake, Cass Lake or Huntington Lake. Just about everyone I knew either lived on a lake or knew someone who did.

As I grew up we had friends who were Black, Hispanic, Jewish, Arab, Chaldean—you name it and it was all a part of the melting pot called America. When we hit the 60’s, things began to change. How could a young teenager understand the early beginnings of a real culture war? I became a Christian in 1966. That event changed my life forever. It didn’t take me long to figure out that there were dark forces that were undermining everything in our culture that was Christian, modest, peaceable, pure and decent. The Weathermen, the Students-For-A-Democratic-Society, the Black Panthers, Jane Fonda, the anti-war movement, Tom Hayden and all other sorts of kooks and nuts hit the country like an atom bomb.

Fast forward three or four decades and we see the full fruits and result of this culture war that has divided us, scared us, and threatens to unravel the very fabric of this amazing country that our forefathers gave us.

I never dreamed I would see the day that so many ideas that are so contrary to the teachings of Jesus and His apostles would have such influence over the people and the nation that I love. This country is more divided than I have ever seen it.

The O.J. Simpson trial revealed to me just how great the racial divide is in our country. I remember the day the verdict in his murder trial came in. I was at a drive-through at McDonalds, and the black girl who handed me my order made racial and condescending remarks about the trial. What shocked me about that trial was how quickly it became about black vs. white, about us vs. them. Somewhere along the line, we lost our sense of true justice and right and wrong. I heard black people say, “Even if O. J. is guilty, I’m glad he got off because it evens the score.” Evens the score? No nation can survive when such thinking has rotted out its core values. For me, this was not about race but about justice, truth, and doing what was right. 

Today everything is about race. We had the first black president who recently left office, and he left our country more racially polarized than ever before. When a president honors, pampers, and encourages “Black Lives Matter,” we cannot hope for true biblical justice, unity, or racial harmony any time soon. And if you don’t support, “Black Lives Matter,” and “open borders,” and if you get nervous about swarms of Muslims entering your country, you are branded a racist, a bigot, and an Islamaphobe. Seriously?

I have a deep love and respect for all races and all people. I believe all men were created in the image of God. Every person has value and life is to be respected and protected. That was the worldview I grew up in. Even if you were not a Christian, our culture reflected those Christian values that we cherished back then. But that is not the case any longer.  Our parents and grandparents would overwhelmingly agree with me. My grandparents would be beyond shocked to think that we practice abortion and call it “women’s rights.” They would be shocked at the public discourse today. They would see the protests, vile speech, vulgar rap music,  the hate- filled rhetoric directed at those who disagree with one’s political views as being disgraceful, disgusting and shameful.  But then again, my grandparents weren’t brought up on political correctness, multiculturalism, anti-nationalism, or taught that their Christian heritage was bigoted and racist. What ever happened to us?

Does anyone who grew up in the 50’s and early 60’s really believe we are better off today? How can anyone seriously think that to have open borders is a good thing? Those of us who are concerned about the spread of Islam are not Islamophobic. To have a phobia is to be scared and frightened about something that does not exist. Just look at the history of this religion, and everywhere it goes it brings bloodshed, violence and chaos. The people who shout the loudest and stomp their feet the most vociferously about the so-called injustice that is being accorded to Muslims by our new president’s temporary ban on seven Muslim nations usually don’t have a clue about what they are talking about. What is wrong with temporarily stopping immigration from danger areas until we can come up with a just and safe plan to protect our nation from those coming in who may do us harm? Do these protesters really understand what the Quran, Sharia law, Islamic honor killings, female genital mutilation, Dhimmi laws and the sordid history of violence and terrorism of this religion is all about? We cannot afford to make any mistakes on this. If this temporary ban prevents just one person from coming and doing us harm, it would be worth it. Would our founding fathers or grandparents have thought it wise to open our border to millions of people who have an alien worldview, whose religion is also a political system of Sharia law, and whose ultimate goal is to bring the whole world into submission to Allah? Certainly not! 

I certainly welcome anyone into our country who is fleeing persecution or is threatened because of their Christian faith. But to open our border to any and all regardless of their intentions makes no sense at all. If we have nothing in our culture worth keeping, if we have no history that is honorable and worth remembering, if we have no spiritual heritage worth preserving— then have at it. Open up the borders to all the third-world countries and lets become a third-world country ourselves and celebrate the values, life styles, and faith of all those who desire to eradicate our faith and culture. If I wanted to live in Beruit, Tehran, Istanbul, or Cairo, I’d move there.

When I saw the huge anti-Trump protests in Washington, D.C. after the election of President Trump, I said to myself, “What has become of us?” People were so filled with hate. They spoke of murder, violence, bombings and insurrection. They used the most filthy and vile speech unfit for any decent viewer, let alone our youth. (All of this to protest the things Donald Trump did in his past and some of his coarse statements made during his campaign run for president.)

As a Christian, I don’t support any wicked thing Donald Trump has done. I call him to repentance for any speech or behavior that has broken the laws of God. But I do point out the blatant hypocrisy of these protesters. Where were they when President Clinton was impeached for his sexual predatory practices and the many women he groped, raped, and took advantage of? Where were they when Hillary Clinton and President Obama blamed the deaths of our ambassador in Libya on a video instead of on Islamic terrorism? Madonna cried out at the protest in Washington D.C., “I’m outraged.” Get serious! As a father of five children and  thirteen grandchildren, I’ve been outraged at her filth and vulgar lifestyle for a long time. Any woman who attended that rally and protest, if she has even the tiniest amount of decency, should be absolutely ashamed. What has become of us?

I received an article  written by a pastor entitled “How to Live Under an Unqualified President.” I agreed with most of what he said. The problem, however, is that based on that article nearly every president we have ever had would be unqualified to lead this nation. What has become of us?

I look back at my boyhood with nostalgic sadness. The great divide between those days and these days of my old age seems like an unfathomable gulf. The only bridge that can reconnect us with the values, convictions, faith and the hope we had in those days long ago is the bridge of God’s Word. Not until we are not ashamed to call ourselves Christians again, not until we are willing to walk with the Son of God and allow His gospel, His teachings, His laws and ethics to be our guide and our foundation will we be able to recover what we have lost. Not until people finally say to people like Madonna, “Just shut up! We’ve had enough of your vile and lewd behavior. We’ve had enough of your non-sense.” Not until we have people who are willing to embrace the absolutes of God’s holy law and repudiate the relativism of this Post-Modern generation will we see the recovery of all that we have lost.

When I see the hatred, the division, the prejudice, the policies based on false guilt and name calling, I look back wistfully at the days of my youth and I ask myself, “What has become of us?”

Monday, January 23, 2017

A Praying Crusader

Defending The Faith

The Reason For Contending For The Faith

The first reason that I give you for defending the historic Christian faith is that it is under attack. From the moment in the Garden of Eden when the serpent raised a question about the truthfulness of God’s Word and asked, “Has God indeed said…?” to this present hour the faith has been under siege. The enemies of the Christian faith are many. The attacks come from every sector of society, from godless philosophies, false religions, humanistic reasoning, sinful unbelief and the vicious opposition from atheists and skeptics. All of these opponents are driven by Satanic powers the fuel their hatred and resistance to God an His Word.

So pervasive is the anti-Christian bias today and the viciousness of the attacks on the Christian faith that one observer of Western culture made these observations:

“…to call yourself a Christian in contemporary Britain is to invite pity, condescension or cool dismissal. In a culture that prizes sophistication, non-judgmentalism, irony and detachment, it is to declare yourself intolerant, naive, superstitious and backward…In his wonderful book Unapologetic, the author Francis Spufford describes the welter (rolling waves) of prejudice the admission of Christian belief tends to unleash. ‘It means that we believe in a load of bronze-age absurdities. It means that we don’t believe in dinosaurs. It means that we’re dogmatic. That we’re self-righteous. That we fetishise pain and suffering. That we advocate wishy-washy niceness. That we promise the oppressed pie in the sky when they die… That we build absurdly complex intellectual structures, full of meaningless distinctions, on the marshmallow foundations of fantasy… That we destroy the spontaneity and hopefulness of children by implanting a sick mythology in young minds…’And that’s just for starters. If we’re Roman Catholic we’re accessories to child abuse, if we’re Anglo-Catholics we’re homophobic bigots curiously attached to velvet and lace, if we’re liberal Anglicans we’re pointless hand-wringing conscience–hawkers, and if we’re evangelicals we’re creepy obsessives who are uncomfortable with anyone enjoying anything more louche than a slice of Battenberg.” 

What is true in Great Britain is also true in the United States. Western Civilization was once the bed rock of Christianity but is now the breeding grounds of unbelief, skepticism, atheism, and agnosticism. To call yourself a Christian is to announce you are either an idiot or a bigot. Call yourself a Muslim, a Buddhist, a Hindu or Sikh and you will be respected as an enlightened one.  But God forbid you call yourself a Christian in this age of anti-Christian bias.

A second reason to contend for the historic Christian faith is because it is the precious truth from God and it is worthy of the defense of all of God’s people who are the beneficiaries of this great gospel and the precious blessings that it brings to us. Western Civilization is facing a total collapse because the church in Europe and America have not risen to the occasion to defend the faith. We are therefore losing many of the great blessings that our forefathers won for us.

People will fight for and defend the things that are precious to them. If the doctrine of free justification, electing love, and regeneration are precious to your soul then we should rise up with all other defenders of the faith, who through the centuries, have gone forth boldly to “earnestly contend for the faith that was once delivered to the saints.

A third reason we should defend the faith is because we are commanded to do so. Here are a few verses where we see the command of the Lord to defend the Christian faith against all her enemies.

But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who ask you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.” I Peter 3:15

“…I found it necessary to write to  you exhorting you to earnestly contend for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.” Jude 3.

Casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.” II Corinthians 10:5.

We must not forget that negligence in this area is not merely a sign of laziness or dereliction of duty it is a sin.

A fourth reason for contending for the faith is that failure to do so is not only sinful disobedience but it leaves the Christian church weak and vulnerable to spiritual attacks and defeats. History reveals wide swaths of years where the Christian faith was either destroyed, debilitated, or so distracted that it could be said that it was rendered useless. A church that ceases to fight for the truth is a church that is doomed to die.  An anemic and lukewarm Christianity is a perfect recipe for apostasy and spiritual declension. Let’s look at our responsibility for defending the faith.

Without a rigorous and prompt defense of the faith, without an exposure of false doctrine and false teachers, without a vigilant leadership within the church the Christian community will be marginalized and eventually compromised. This calls for pastors and all Christian leaders to be watchful and alert. There must be an active defense of the Historic Christian faith. And this is not just for Christian leaders. All believers must join the fight for truth in an age of error and confusion.

A fifth reason for contending for the faith is because so many who have gone before us were willing, not only to contend for the faith, but were also willing to lay down their lives for the precious truths that we have in the Word of God. One pastor commented on the faith that we are called upon to defend:

“The faith that we cherish was preserved for us with the blood of hundreds of reformers. From 1555 to 1558 Queen Mary, the Catholic ruler in England, had 288 Protestant reformers burned at the stake—men like John Rogers, John Hooper, Rowland Taylor, Robert Ferrar, John Bradford, Nicholas Ridley, Hugh Latimer, and Thomas Cranmer. And why were they burned? Because they stood by a truth…

May we all as Bereans be prepared to defend the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints!

God bless you all,

Pastor Dickie

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Questions to Ask a Muslim to Determine if He is a Moderate or an Extremist

  1. If militant Islam is the problem and moderate Islam is the solution, how does one differentiate between these two forms of Islam?
  2. If Islam is a religion of peace why does so much violence follow it all over the world and all through history?
  3. Do you condemn terrorism? 
  4. Do you condone or condemn the Palestinians, Chechens, and Kashmiris who give up their lives to kill enemy civilians? 
  5. Will you condemn by name as terrorist groups such organizations as Hamas,  Hizbullah, Islamic Jihad, Isis, and al-Qaida?
  6. Should Muslim women have equal rights with men (for example, in inheritance shares or court testimony)?
  7. Is jihad, meaning a form of warfare, acceptable in today's world? 
  8. Do you accept the validity of other religions? 
  9. Do Muslims have anything to learn from the West? 
  10. Should non-Muslims enjoy completely equal civil rights with Muslims? 
  11. May Muslims convert to other religions? 
  12. Do you believe that religious freedom should be allowed in Islamic countries, such as Saudi Arabia, where the building of Christian churches and owning a Bible is against the law?
  13. May Muslim women marry non-Muslim men? 
  14. Do you accept the laws of a majority non-Muslim government and unreservedly pledge allegiance to that government? 
  15. Should the state impose religious observance, such as banning food service during Ramadan? 
  16. When Islamic customs conflict with secular laws (e.g., covering the face for drivers' license pictures), which should give way? 
  17. Do you accept the legitimacy of scholarly inquiry into the origins of Islam.
  18. Do you accept the concept of freedom of speech that would allow a critical discussion of the prophet Mohammad? 
  19. Who was responsible for the 9/11 suicide hijackings? 
  20. Do you accept enhanced security measures to fight militant Islam, even if this means extra scrutiny of yourself (for example, at airline security)? 
  21. Do you agree that institutions accused of funding terrorism should be shut down, or do you see this a symptom of bias? 
  22. Do you accept that Western countries are majority-Christian and secular or do you seek to transform them into majority-Muslim countries ruled by Islamic law? 
  23. How do you explain the overwhelming silence of the Muslim leaders, nations, and communities when terror attacks take place in Western Countries?

The sad tragedy of our current cultural situation in the West is that most people are so intimidated by Islam that to even think of asking these kinds of questions of a Muslim is unthinkable.

Think, however, that if there was a sizable Christian community anywhere in our country that believed similarly to Islamic doctrine how they would be harassed, dismissed, persecuted, scoffed at and made the brunt of endless jokes on late night TV talk shows.

In the West we are seeing an increasing attack on Christian culture while calling for more tolerance of the Islamic culture. 

 "But he that sinneth against me wrongeth 
his own soul: all they that hate me
 love death."
Proverbs 8:36

Friday, September 30, 2016

The Doctrines of Grace

This book is from the larger book on the doctrines of grace. This is just one chapter from that book. I cannot even begin to say how precious these truths are to my soul. I did not find the Lord He found me. God's electing love is the reason any of us have a home in heaven. Praise be to God for the great things He has done.

Is The New Birth Controlled By Man Or By God?
John 3:1-8
In John Chapter three we have the thrilling story of a Pharisee named Nicodemus who came at night to see Jesus. The text says,
 “There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 2 This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, "Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him." 3 Jesus answered and said to him, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." 4 Nicodemus said to Him, "How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?" 5 Jesus answered, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not marvel that I said to you, 'You must be born again.' 8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit."
  Why this man came at night is not told us, but we have a pretty good idea what might have influenced him to do so. Nicodemus was a Pharisee and and the Pharisees were highly respected religious leaders in Israel. Perhaps because of his position, he did not want to b e seen conversing with Jesus. In any case, It is very apparent that something disturbed this man and prompted his curiosity about Jesus. No doubt he saw some of the miracles that Jesus performed or heard about them from the many witnesses who saw them. Perhaps Nicodemus was struggling with the question, “Could this be the promised Messiah?” I think it is safe to conclude that Nicodemus was deeply stirred in his soul by the ministry of Christ. He may have been thinking, “If this man is the Messiah, how can we be right with God? 
In the text we see that Nicodemus makes a statement, "Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.” He does not raise any questions. But Jesus, knowing the heart of all men read his mind and cut right to the chase with His response. Jesus answered the unasked question which He knew was disturbing the  heart of this religious leader of Israel. Three times in this passage Jesus tells this man that he must be born again. This is puzzling to Nicodemus and he asks for clarification. “Can a man who is grown go back into the womb of his mother to be born again?” It is clear by his question that he is clueless as to what Jesus means by the spiritual work of God in the soul that we call the new birth. Jesus even rebukes him by asking, “Are you a spiritual leader in Israel and do not know these things?”  
Jesus then proceeds to explain the spiritual work of being born again by comparing it to natural birth. Just as a man is born physically, he must also be born spiritually. That which is born of the flesh is flesh and that which is born of the Spirit is Spirit. With solemn and serious words, Jesus warns Nicodemus that he must be born again. We know from reading the Scriptures that no one can go to heaven if they have not been born again. Just as John tells us in Chapter one that those who receive Christ have been born of God, so too in this text, John recounts the words of the Master to Nicodemus that we must be born again. 
But in verse eight, John gives us a statement that Jesus made about the new birth that is matchless in its clarity. Jesus said, “The wind blows where it wishes,and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from or where it goes. So is  everyone who is born of the Spirit.” What could be more clear than this verse? Jesus is telling Nicodemus that just as we cannot control the movements of the wind, or tell it to blow this way or that way, so it is with the new birth. The new birth is under the control of the Holy Spirit. There can and should be no ambiguity on this point. Jesus could not have said this in any other way to make it clearer. The new birth is not something we do; it is something God does through the Holy Spirit for us. 
Again, I repeat that if this were the only verse in the Bible that spoke of the nature of our salvation, it would be sufficient to convince us of the Doctrines of Grace.  This verse tells us that the new birth, just like the wind, is under the total control of a sovereign God. There can be no debate about what Jesus told Nicodemus in this passage. Jesus told Nicodemus, “You must be born again.” And He clearly tells Nicodemus that the new birth is something God does for man, not something man does for God.

Here is an excellent article on how to plead with God for your soul. May the Lord bless you all as you seek His face.

What Sinners Should Plead with God
by Ralph Erskine

  1. Plead his promise, Ezek 36:26,27. "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws." It is a free, gracious promise: cry to him to make good that word to you, seeing he has said, "Once again I will yield to the plea of the house of Israel and do this for them." ver. 37. Tell him, that now you are come to inquire, and request him to do it.
  1. Plead your own feebleness and inability to help yourselves; this was the impotent man's plea at the pool of Bethesda, John 5:6,7 "When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, 'Do you want to get well?' 'Sir,' the invalid replied, 'I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.'" So say you, Lord, I have lain many years with this dead plagued heart, beside the open fountain of your blood; I am unable to move to it of myself; I have none to put me in: ordinances cannot do it; ministers cannot do it; you must put to your helping hand, or else the work will remain unperformed.
  2. Plead his power, in a sense of your own weakness. Do you feel the power and multitude of your corruptions within you? Say with Jehoshaphat, "Lord I have no might against this great company; neither know I what to do: but mine eyes are upon you." With you all things are possible. Though I may despair of help in myself and others; yet, you have forbid me to despair of help in you. You said, Let there be light, and there was light; therefore say, let there be faith, and it will immediately take place; for faith is your work and your gift: it is "the work of God that we believe: by grace we are saved, through faith, and that not of ourselves, it is the gift of God.”
  1. Plead your necessity, your extreme need of Christ and of faith in him. O man, there is not a starving man that needs food so much as you need Christ: there is not a wounded man that needs a physician; a shipwrecked man that needs a plank; a dying man, with the death rattle in his throat, that needs breath so much, as you need Christ. O then, cry, "Give me Christ, or else I die." I may live without friends, without wealth, and honour, and pleasure; but I cannot live without Christ, and without faith. Plead his power; how easy it is for him to help, saying, as Psalm 80:1 "you who sit enthroned between the cherubim, shine forth!" It will cost you no more pain to work faith in me, than it does the sun to shine forth. Yea, he can more easily put forth his power and grace, than the sun can dart out its beams. It is no trouble nor loss to the sun to shine forth, so neither will it be to him, to show his power and mercy: a look, or a touch, will do it; since he can so easily do it. You may cry with hope; he will never miss an alms bestowed on a beggar, out of the ocean of his bounty. Nay, as the sun, the more it shines displays its glory the more; so will he gain glory by putting forth his power to help you.
  1. Plead his mercy, and the freedom and extension of it. Plead the freedom of his mercy, that needs no motive, and expects no worth: it runs freely, so that the mountains cannot stop the current of it, no more than the rocks can stop the ebbing and flowing of the sea. Plead the extension of his mercy to others: he had compassion on men's bodies, that came to him for healing, and will he not have compassion upon souls, that come to him for life? Is not mercy the work that he delights in? The perfection of his nature, he takes pleasure to display.
  2. Plead Christ's commission, Isa. 61:1, that he came "to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners." Cry, Lord, here is a poor prisoner, a locked and bound up heart; here is employment for you. O loose and knock off my fetters, and bring my soul out of prison. O here is a naked sinner for you to cover, a wounded soul for you to cure, a lost sheep for you to seek and save; and was not this your errand? You came to seek and save that which was lost. And will you not find a lost sinner, that desires to seek you through your grace? Plead his commission under the broad seal of heaven; for, "Him has God the Father sealed." And plead the value of his blood, and merit of his righteousness: and upon that ground whereby all grace is purchased: plead for faith and grace to receive Jesus Christ the Lord.

Thus I have laid before you some directions, in order to the receiving of Christ. O cry for grace to follow them, and put them in practice, so you may indeed close the bargain with him. O shall all these directions be lost, and Christ be still slighted and rejected! O friends, you cannot please God better, than by coming to Christ and embracing the offer of him; and you cannot please the devil better than by refusing the offer of Christ; and putting him off with delays, till you perish in your unbelief.

And now, after all that has been said, what are you resolved upon? Will you receive Christ or not? Our glorious Lord and Master has sent us to pose you man, woman, and demand whether you will receive him or not? O! what answer shall we return with? Must we go and say, that all this people, upon no terms, will receive him; none of them are for precious Christ? Oh! God forbid! shall he not see the travail of his soul, who travailed through all the armies of God's wrath for you, and gave his soul an offering for your sin? O give your soul to him, saying, Lord, in spite of the devil and of unbelief, through grace I will open my heart and arms to receive Christ! The Lord himself help you to receive him, and walk in him.

Monday, September 5, 2016

The Holy Spirit's Work In Our Lives

This material on the Holy Spirit is from my book "The Foundations Of Godly Living."

The Practical Implications of Being Filled 
with the Holy Spirit

When we are filled with the Holy Spirit, we will be conformed to the image of Christ, and we will develop personal godliness. I have been privileged to have known some of the most godly servants of the Lord over the years. Some of these men and women have been such outstanding Christians and have lived lives that are truly astonishing in their zeal and devotion to Christ. Some of these believers have had to overcome great hardships and handicaps, yet they lived in such a way as to be an amazing testimony and credit to the Lord they loved and adored. What was the secret behind their great devotion to Christ? I can say that without a doubt it has been their deep spirituality that came from the filling and anointing of the Holy Spirit. Spiritual people are like Christ. When the Holy Spirit is working in our lives, He goes to great lengths to conform us into the image and likeness of Christ. British scholar and author C. S. Lewis, in his book Screw Tape Letters, allows the Devil to make the point of how God is making His children replicas of Jesus Christ His Son. The Devil sarcastically says:

“One must face the fact…an appalling truth. He really does want to fill the universe with a lot of loathsome little replicas of Himself—creatures, whose life, on its miniature scale, will be qualitatively like His own.”7

One of the joys of my own life over the years has been at those times that I have been approached by people outside of the faith who asked me what was it that made me different? What was the secret or the reason for the joy in my life? How thrilling to tell them that the life they see in me is a result of my being born again and having been indwelled by God’s Holy Spirit. Every true Christian should be able to share similar stories of how their life touched the lives of others by their example of love and joy in Christ. If this has never happened to you-ask yourself, “why?”

The reason Paul commands his readers to be filled with the Spirit on a daily and continual basis is that we need God’s strength in order to live spiritual lives. No one is filled with joy, peace, love, kindness, etc. all the time. When we fail to obey this command, we can quickly slip back into the flesh and begin to live lives that are unspiritual. A life dominated by the flesh is a life that is doomed to destruction. You remember what Paul said concerning those who practice the works of the flesh, “… those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” Galatians 5:21. Listen carefully, those who live in the flesh will die.

Two verses that speak to the need of living a spiritual life are Romans 15:13, and Psalm 42:1-2. Romans 15:13 says, “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” The Apostle Paul makes it clear to the church at Rome that joy, hope and peace come from the filling of the Holy Spirit. The Psalmist also gives us his testimony in Psalms 42:1-2, “As the deer pants for the water brooks, so pants my soul for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God When shall I come and appear before God?” This spiritual longing for God comes from the indwelling Holy Spirit. Do you have such a longing for God? Would you describe your spiritual life as one of intense and passionate longing for the reality of God in your life? May you search you heart and see if these things are a reality in your life. If you have no     passion for Christ in your life, you should consider whether or not you have really been born again.

Let me summarize the implications of the filling of the Holy Spirit. If we are filled with the Spirit and are under His control, we should be the best husbands, wives, friends, workers, citizens, and people that others  ever meet. The Christian testimony of those who truly know the Lord is that they are characterized by these spiritual fruits that Paul mentions in Galatians 5:22-23. If our lives were characterized by love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control would not the world be amazed by the difference they would see in each of us? The fact that there is so little difference between the professing Christian and the person of the world who is not professing the Christian faith should alarm us. Pastors must realize that perhaps many of the people in their churches may be unsaved believers or they may be living very sub-par lives even though they profess to know the saving grace of Jesus Christ. In every generation the world needs to see a genuine and consistent Christian testimony from those who are followers of Jesus Christ. When Christian profession and Christian living do not measure up, the result will be a lack of credibility before the watching world. Each professing believer should grieve if they are a part of this problem. 

Steps to Being Filled with the Holy Spirit

  First, what we need to do is realize that being filled with the Holy Spirit is a command. This is not just a suggestion. We are commanded to be filled by the Holy Spirit every day of our lives. 

Second, we must have a desire to live a holy and godly life. Jesus taught us in the Beatitudes, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness for they shall be filled

Third, we need to humbly ask the Holy Spirit Who indwells us to fill us and take control of our lives. This means yielding to Him and allowing His presence to empower us.  Ask the Holy Spirit to fill you, to take control of your life, and to enable you to live a godly life. Romans 12:1-2 tells us, “I beseech you  therefore brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” C. H. Spurgeon had this to say about asking God to fill us with His Holy Spirit:

“I want to remind you of those blessed words of the Master, "Every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?" You see, there is a distinct promise to the children of God, that their heavenly Father will give them the Holy Spirit if they ask for His power; and that promise is made to be exceedingly strong by the instances joined to it. But he says, "How much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?" He makes it a stronger case than that of an ordinary parent.”8

Fourth, yield your life moment by moment to the Lord and walk in the Spirit. Obedience to the commandments of God and a desire to live in holiness is essential to a Spirit-filled life.

  Fifth, you must confess any known sin in your life and ask the Holy Spirit to give you the desire and the power to live the Christian life. When you sin, immediately confess it to the Lord and yield to the Holy Spirit to enable you to walk with God. 

Sixth, and finally, you must receive the Spirit by faith. Jesus told His disciples that if we ask anything according to His will, He will grant it to us. We know it is the will of God that we are filled, controlled, and empowered by the Holy Spirit to live a godly life. Therefore, we can have full assurance that the Lord is delighted to grant us this filling with His Spirit, for this is His will for our lives.
One Christian leader pleaded with his people to be filled with the Holy Spirit. 

“…be filled with the Spirit. Seek to be more and more under His blessed influence. Strive to have every thought, and word, and action, and habit, brought under obedience to the leadings of the Holy Spirit. Grieve Him not by inconsistencies and conformity to the world. Quench Him not by trifling with little infirmities and small besetting sins. Seek rather to have Him ruling and reigning more completely over you every week that you live. Pray that you may yearly grow in grace, and in the knowledge of Christ. This is the way to do good to the world. An eminent Christian is a light-house—seen far and wide by others, and doing good to myriads, whom he never knows. This is the way to enjoy much inward comfort in this world, to have bright assurance in death, to leave broad evidences behind us, and at last to receive a great crown.”9

Let us all strive to be filled with the Holy Spirit every day of our lives. Being filled with the Holy Spirit is one of the foundational truths of godly living. Without the filling of the Holy Spirit, we cannot live a godly life.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Robert Murray M'Cheyne of Dundee, Scotland

The life of Robert Murray M'Cheyne of Scotland is one of the most precious stories of a godly pastor who lived for the glory of God and who pursued holiness and likeness to Christ with a passion. Here are a number of his quotes that will give you a good sense of the heart of this man of God. You can get a free e-book on his life if you go to Amazon. The biography of M'Cheyne by Anrew Bonar is a superb read. 

In the more recent history of the Christian church there has not been a man so noted for personal holiness quite like the saintly Scottish pastor Robert Murray McCheyne of Dundee, Scotland. When he died the secular papers said of this man that “Jesus has walked among us.” 

I want to share with you tonight some thoughts on this special man of God that I trust will be a blessing to all of you.

Quotes by M'Cheyne

"Pray for me, that I may be made holier and wiser--less like myself, and more like my heavenly Master; that I may not regard my life, if so be I may finish my course with joy. This day eleven years ago, I lost my loved and loving brother, and began to seek a Brother who cannot die."

"Read part of the life of Jonathan Edwards. How feeble does my spark of Christianity appear beside such a sun! But even his was a borrowed light, and the same source is still open to enlighten me."

"If nothing else will do to sever me from my sins, Lord, send me such sore and trying calamities as shall awake me from earthly slumbers. It must always be best to be alive to thee, whatever be the quickening instrument."

"Life itself is vanishing fast. Make haste for eternity."

"Do everything in earnest--if it is worth doing, then do it with all your might. Above all, keep much in the presence of God. Never see the face of man till you have seen his face who is our Life, our All."

"Take heed to thyself. Your own soul is your first and greatest care."

"Keep up close communion with God. Study likeness to him in all things..."

"I know well that when Christ is nearest, Satan also is busiest."

"I feel there are two things it is impossible to desire with sufficient ardour--personal holiness, and the honour of Christ in the salvation of souls."

"It is not great talents God blesses so much as great likeness to Jesus. A holy minister is an awful weapon in the hand of God."

"Live near to God, and so all things will appear to you little in comparison with eternal realities."

"Even those that are most deeply concerned about their souls do not see the millionth part of the blackness of their hearts and lives."

"Every wave of trouble has been wafting you to the sunny shores of a sinless eternity."

" not think any sin trivial; remember it will have everlasting consequences."

"Go on, dear brother; but an inch of time remains, and then eternal ages roll on for ever--but an inch on which we can stand and preach the way of salvation to a perishing world."

"One smile from Jesus sustains my soul amid all the storms and frowns of this passing world. Pray to know Jesus better."

"Do not fear the face of man. Remember how small their anger will appear in eternity."

~Robert Murray McCheyne (1813-1843),