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Archive for August, 2009

In a comment by a recent visitor to my weblog, he said in part, “People who talk to themselves and hear some sort of messages as Dr. Sproul said, as an advised to those who experience such, will better consult the counsel of Psychiatrists to the earliest possible time.” This was his quick response to my statement that I preach the Gospel to myself daily and so should we all.

I am not aware what context R C Sproul said that for I do not want to misrepresent him in any way. He is one of my favorites and he is a much respected contemporary writer, pastor and theologian. However, I do have a context for my own statement which that visitor did not even bother to inquire, at least, out of courtesy. That is, the Gospel of Jesus Christ is so precious to me that I recall to mind this good news of eternal worth that its message is a must to be consistently incorporated in my study, my prayer, my thoughts and when I evaluate my life everyday.

Surely I share this same daily meditation with most, if not all, Christians. One of them is Jerry Bridges whose books include Transforming Grace, The Discipline of Grace, Trusting God and The Pursuit of Holiness, to mention a few. His 2007 book ‘Respectable Sins’ was briefly featured in another Christian website, Challies.com.  This is not the first time he emphasized the need to preach the Gospel to ourselves. Hereunder is a full text of that post entitled ‘Jerry Bridges Preaches the Gospel to Himself’. It is wise to heed such an advise lest we forget.

 

Jerry Bridges Preaches the Gospel to Himself

In his new book Respectable Sins, Jerry Bridges writes about the important discipline of preaching the gospel to yourself every day. Realizing that many people have heard of this discipline but do not know how to practice it, he provides an overview of how he does so. I found it helpful and trust you will too. What could be more important than beginning each day with a fresh understanding of the great work of the gospel and its application to your life?


Since the gospel is only for sinners, I begin each day with the realization that despite my being a saint, I still sin every day in thought, word, deed, and motive. If I am aware of any subtle, or not so subtle, sins in my life, I acknowledge those to God. Even if my conscience is not indicting me for conscious sins, I still acknowledge to God that I have not even come close to loving Him with all my being or loving my neighbor as myself. I repent of those sins, and then I apply specific Scriptures that assure me of God’s forgiveness to those sins I have just confessed.

I then generalize the Scripture’s promises of God’s forgiveness to all my life and say to God words to the effect that my only hope of a right standing with Him that day is Jesus’ blood shed for my sins, and His righteous life lived on my behalf. This reliance on the twofold work of Christ for me is beautifully captured by Edward Mote in his hymn “The Solid Rock” with his words, “My hope is built on nothing less, than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.” Almost every day, I find myself going to those words in addition to reflecting on the promises of forgiveness in the Bible.

What Scriptures do I use to preach the gospel to myself? Here are just a few I choose from each day:

As far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. (Psalm 103:12)

“I, I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins.” (Isaiah 43:25)

All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone one to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:6)

Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin. (Romans 4:7-8)

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1)

There are many others, including Psalm 130:3-4; Isaiah 1:18; Isaiah 38:17; Micah 7:19; Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 2:13-14; Hebrews 8:12; and 10:17-18.

Whatever Scriptures we use to assure us of God’s forgiveness, we must realize that whether the passage explicitly states it or not, the only basis for God’s forgiveness is the blood of Christ shed on the cross for us. As the writer of Hebrews said, “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins (9:22), and the context makes it clear that it is Christ’s blood that provides the objective basis on which God forgives our sins.

 

 

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The original article – The Power of Repentance – is posted in Apprising Ministries website and the context has to do with seeker-sensitive, Church Growth Movement leaders. I could not just put a link here because it is such a good short post that I decided to share with you a large portion of it quoted herebelow. However, I still recommend that you click on the linked title to take you to the actual website and explore more of Ken Silva’s musings and exposition of the growing apostasy in the Body of Christ.  Also at the bottom of this post, is a link to one way we could pitch in to keep the website going.

For those who joined in the Panoply Series, we read here one example of Satan’s ‘methodeia’ – to cast doubt about God’s gift of repentance through faith in Christ Jesus and the broken power of sin upon the believer’s life.

Keep reading.

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Major Excerpt from The Power of Repentance

By Ken Silva, founder of Apprising Ministries

He said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.” (Luke 24:36-47, NASB)

Dr. Donald Grey Barnhouse was beyond question a very well-respected teacher of the Bible. And below he speaks of:

a Sunday School teacher [who] once asked a class what was meant by the word “repentance.” A little boy put up his hand and said, “It is being sorry for your sins.”

A little girl also raised her hand and said, “Please, it is being sorry enough to quit [sinning].” There is, indeed, a vast difference between the two. That is why the Lord said through [His prophet] Joel — Rend your heart and not your garments (Joel 2:13). (Illustrating Great Themes of Scripture, 128).

As Barnhouse also said:

The [true] born-again Christian, looking upon his heart, is forced to say: If I were but the justice of God, I would send myself to eternal separation from God. If I were but the holiness of God, I would separate myself eternally from that holiness. Then we can understand that only by that redeeming love which came to the cross and bore the stroke of that justice and the separation of the holiness, is it possible for love to redeem us and draw us to Him. (ibid.)

Therein lies another very key aspect of the vicarious penal substitutionary atonement of Jesus on the Cross, which is so vital for us to finally come to understand. And it also just happens to be the very area that Satan and his minions really work so hard to keep Christians from grasping.

The enemy knows that if he can keep you from understanding this, then he can also keep you from being effective in your witness for Jesus in this hour of growing spiritual darkness. A time when even people within the visible church of Jesus Christ themselves are so desperately in need of the power unleashed by God at the Cross.

And here’s what Satan doesn’t want you to discover: When you are regenerated  i.e. “born again” his control over you is completely broken; and you are no longer a slave to the prince of the power of the air. Can you see it now; Satan is only the prince of the power of air—the ruler of…well, nothing!

 

Note from Emmaustrekker: To anyone who may read this post –  if you are a regular visitor of Apprising Ministries and have benefitted from it, please consider making a love gift by linking to this>>>  THANK YOU! 

 

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Just a few days ago I wrote my post entitled ‘Inspiration For A Song’ and a part of it is where the psalmist said that he will declare God’s steadfast love in the morning (Psalm 92:2).  Well, this is what happened to me today, as I set myself – mind, heart and body – to read the Scriptures, particularly Psalm 94 which was the next on my list.  With some concerns troubling my soul, I prayed and read the Scripture, and as I go through the entire Psalm, God’s steadfast love flooded my soul through what is written:

When I thought, “my foot slips,” your steadfast love O Lord held me up. When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul.” – Psalm 94:18-19

After laying my petition to God for the people I pray for daily as well as my own needs, I stood up as a man who has entered into the Lord’s peace for He has truly comforted me.  I am assured of facing the day in His victory; in fact, this has sustained me all through the day even when oppositions faced my way.  Just like the psalmist who knew the enemies of the Lord will not prosper, I went through the troubles of the day unscathe.

As I sit now again during the night watch at my home while rummaging through the events of the day in my mind, I praise the Lord for His faithfulness (Psalm 92:2) for even before the tumult of the day, He has sent His Word for my comfort. Blessed be the Name of my Lord Jesus Christ! He is the Consolation of my heart and of those whose trust is in Him. Amen and amen.

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Never choose to be a worker for God, but once God has placed His call on you, woe be to you if you “turn aside to the right hand or to the left” ( Deuteronomy 5:32  ). We are not here to work for God because we have chosen to do so, but because God has “laid hold of” us. And once He has done so, we never have this thought, “Well, I’m really not suited for this.” What you are to preach is also determined by God, not by your own natural leanings or desires. Keep your soul steadfastly related to God, and remember that you are called not simply to convey your testimony but also to preach the gospel. Every Christian must testify to the truth of God, but when it comes to the call to preach, there must be the agonizing grip of God’s hand on you— your life is in the grip of God for that very purpose. How many of us are held like that?

Never water down the Word of God, but preach it in its undiluted sternness. There must be unflinching faithfulness to the Word of God, but when you come to personal dealings with others, remember who you are— you are not some special being created in heaven, but a sinner saved by grace.

Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do. . . I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” – Philippians 3:13-14 

 

Oswald ChambersOswald J. Chambers (born July 24, 1874 in Aberdeen, Scotland; died November 15, 1917 in Egypt) was a prominent early twentieth century Scottish Protestant Christian minister and teacher, best known as the author of the widely-read devotional My Utmost for His Highest. In 1911 he founded and became principal of the Bible Training College in Clapham in London. In 1915, feeling called to the war effort (World War I), Chambers applied and was accepted as a YMCA chaplain.

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Pray often, for prayer is a shield to the soul, a sacrifice to God, and a scourge to Satan. Prayer will cease a man from sin, or sin will cease a man from prayer.”

 

John BunyanJohn Bunyan (1628-1688) was a Puritan preacher and writer born in Elstow, England. He wrote The Pilgrim’s Progress during his twelve-year imprisonment in Bedford jail. Upon his release, he became the pastor of a church in Bedford, England.  The Pilgrim’s Progress is, on some accounts, the most widely read book in the English language and has been translated into more languages than any book except the Bible.

 

 

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Psalm 92 
(a Song for the Sabbath)
1 It is good to give thanks to the Lord,
to sing praises to your name, O Most High;
2 to declare your steadfast love in the morning,
and your faithfulness by night,
3 to the music of the lute and the harp,
to the melody of the lyre.
4 For you, O Lord, have made me glad by your work;
at the works of your hands I sing for joy.
 5 How great are your works, O Lord!
Your thoughts are very deep!
6 The stupid man cannot know;
the fool cannot understand this:
7 that though the wicked sprout like grass
and all evildoers flourish,
they are doomed to destruction forever;
8 but you, O Lord, are on high forever.
9 For behold, your enemies, O Lord,
for behold, your enemies shall perish;
all evildoers shall be scattered.
10 But you have exalted my horn like that of the wild ox;
you have poured over me fresh oil.
11 My eyes have seen the downfall of my enemies;
my ears have heard the doom of my evil assailants. 
12 The righteous flourish like the palm tree
and grow like a cedar in Lebanon.
13 They are planted in the house of the Lord;
they flourish in the courts of our God.
14 They still bear fruit in old age;
they are ever full of sap and green,
15 to declare that the Lord is upright;
he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.

Inspiration

The psalmist begins by an intention springing from his heart that sings, “it is good to give thanks to the Lord”. Through this inspiration, the elements of the song are brought together. Realities that has happened to him permeates the song, but more so, are these realities understood as the works of the One who sustains him at all times – the LORD.

Men today draws inspiration from many places, situations, things and memories. You only need to listen to a lyricist or musical composer or even a poet, whenever they reveal their sources – from the mundane to the esoteric. Not so with the psalmist;  in verse 2, God’s unchanging love and faithfulness displayed in  His work are manifested in the psalmist’s experience. Today, we have the Holy Spirit-inspired Psalm 92  as part of the Scriptures for us. God’s specific deeds in focus are scrolled out in the succeeding verses:

  • Verses 5 – 9:  God’s sovereignty even over wicked men and the wrath reserved for them at the appointed time.
  • Verses 10 – 15:  In contrast to the preceding verses, we read God’s sustaining grace and kindness on the psalmist even to old age.

These have become the contents for the inspired song which he purposed to be sang on the Sabbath, a day that  God’s people are commanded to take rest from their labors and meditate upon the Lord and His work.  Today, a type of Sabbath is entered into for those who trust and obey the Lord Jesus Christ who has given us eternal rest by His salvation through His finished work on the cross and resurrection.  In Jesus alone, we have peace with God – in Him we have entered God’s rest by faith.

As it is written:

Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it. For good news came to us just as to them, but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened.  For we who have believed enter that rest…” – Hebrews 4:1-3

For this reason, we join the psalmist in his declaration of praise to God:

For you have made me glad by your works; at the works of your hands, I sing for joy”- Psalm 92:4

Rest from enemies

The enemies still surround and perhaps are still plotting evil against the psalmist but  he knows that God is his enemies ultimate foe, and they will never prosper, whether in the immediate or in the future. In the Lord he finds his rest.  Rest is not the absence of trouble, but rest is knowing that all events at all times are in God’s hands and those who take refuge in Him are safe.

Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” – Exodus 14:13-14

When God, through His servant Moses, was about to deliver the Israelites from the hands of the Pharoah, He sent His word of comfort and assurance for the people, that they may not be overwhelmed and be witnesses to the hand of God that brought down destruction upon their enemies.  Moses is a type of our Lord Jesus Christ.  In the Lord, salvation and reprieve from enemies is assured, whether physical or spiritual.  The term ‘you only have to be silent’ is another way of commanding them to trust in Him. And to trust means to be believe what He said and be assured of the fulfillment His promise.

For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, whom we proclaimed among you, Silvanus and Timothy and I, was not Yes and No, but in him it is always Yes. For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory. And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.” – 2 Corinthians 1:19-22

Our arch enemy, Satan, is already defeated at the cross and we are realizing this day by day in our lives as the Lord sanctifies us through His Word through the active working of the Holy Spirit. And on God’s appointed day of Christ’s return, this enemy alongwith all wickedness will be cast into the lake of fire.

The psalmist identifies the enemy as stupid and foolish (v. 5-6) for they do not know that they are against God who has anointed him (v.10). Strong evidence points the authorship of the psalm to David despite the absence of any direct attribution to him. He wrote in an earlier psalm that many are his foes and at the time he penned this, he is still plagued by them.  This time though, he writes with his eyes set on God’s greatness, bringing him strength and assurance of God’s steadfastness.

Longevity

David now reflects on the longevity of life marked with fruitfulness that God has blessed him (v.12-14). It does not effectively say that he is already old by the time he wrote this, but it conveys to the reader his confidence of God’s sustaining grace (v. 15).

Indeed the Lord has given many of His people long life, not only during biblical times but also today.  Yet, as God is sovereign, not everyone who trusts in Christ Jesus may live long, but every child of God is given the assurance of a full life – full of God’s steadfast love and faithfulness.

Someone said that it is not the years in our life but the life in our years. In Jesus, we may not necessarily count scores of years, but we can be sure of recounting His sufficient and abounding grace each day.  And in the end, the more we know Him through His word and work, the more we are grounded in the security we find in Him. Of His sheep, He confirmed,

I know them, and they follow me and I give them eternal life and they shall never perish,and no one shall snatch them out of my hand” – John 10:26-27.

You see my dear reader, the psalmist speaks of God’s judgment on the wicked. Truth is, we are all God’s enemies and as indicated in the psalm, our days are counted and fiery judgment awaits us in the end.  Our sin has earned us the wrath of the Almighty. Jesus said that we should not be afraid of man who can put the body to death, but rather we should fear God who alone can cast both body and soul into the fire (Matthew 10:28).  In order that God’s wrath can be appeased, Jesus Christ, the Son of God humbled Himself by becoming a servant, clothing Himself with human flesh through the virgin birth, took our place – the place of God’s enemy – and upon Himself God’s wrath was poured at the cross. He was crushed for our inquity. The innocent for the guilty, He died our death.  He satisfied the righteous demand of God and upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with His stripes we are healed (Isaiah 53:5; 1 Peter 2:24).

If you have not trusted in the Person and work of Jesus Christ, you certainly remain under His wrath (John 3:18).  Similarly, as the psalmist declared in verse 7, you may think your life is prospering, but in reality you have fattened your heart with sinful indulgence for the day of slaughter (James 5:5).

God commands you to repent and believe the Gospel of His only begotten Son – who is both Lord and Christ – that by His saving work through the eternal Spirit, you may enter God’s peace, being fully assured of eternal life, His steadfast love and faithfulness all the days of your life, while waiting for the inheritance of the fullness of the kingdom that is to come.

So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood. Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured. For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come. Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name” – Hebrews 13:12-15

Finally Psalm 92 is a song truly fitting for those who rest in the love and faithfulness of the  Lord Jesus Christ, and together with the psalmist, we sing:

It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praises to your name, O Most High!” – Psalm 92:1 

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Christian ‘Yoga’, contemplative spirituality/mysticism, spiritual formation movement, New Age,  theosophy, ecumenism, Purpose Driven, pragmatism, relativism, Emergent Christianity and universalism…these are but a few yet the most significant  serious errors and heresies that has made in-roads into evangelicalism in at least the last few decades in increasing potency though not necessarily in chronological order. 

Matthew recorded these words of the One true Lord and Savior – Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of the Living God – now enscripturated in the Bible’s New Testament, about the two gates set before all men:

Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is [wide and] easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” – Matthew 7:13-14

Lighthouse Trails Research newsletter recently brought my attention to an article published by Newsweek  in its end August 2009 issue about a survey of those who claim to be Christians and how far they have wandered away from the absolute truths of God’s Word.  Although the country in focus is the USA, I am certain that this is but a good sampling of the widespread reality.  Having been in touch with numerous Christians of different nationalities, I have personally heard the kinds of erroneous doctrines that have peppered some of their beliefs already. The most common of which are mysticism, pragmatism and the purpose-driven types. Mysticism particularly finds its roots in Hinduism but it has clothed itself with Christian terms that a good number of Christians became unsuspecting victims and are being tossed to and fro by every wind of these demonic doctrines.

Now the assurance for true believers is what Jesus said about His sheep.  They will listen to His voice [through the Word] and they will flee from other voices [false teachers] (John 10:3-5). Also Paul wrote to the believers in Corinth that God allows factions [in verse 19 – Greek: hairesis, from where we get the English word heresy] in order to visibly distinguish true from false believers (1 Corinthians 11:18-19).

This article below is not only informative, but should serve as a warning to the Church of how currently widespread the effects of false doctrines and the need for vigilance through the serious study of the Word and sincere prayer to God for the Holy Spirit’s continual work to empower believers of the Lord Jesus Christ to be discerning. And we should not be passive bystanders but must always contend for the truth. As it is written,

Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.” – Jude 3-4

 

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NEWSWEEK Published Aug 15, 2009

From the magazine issue dated Aug 31, 2009

 

WE ARE ALL HINDUS NOW  by Lisa Miller

America is not a Christian nation. We are, it is true, a nation founded by Christians, and according to a 2008 survey, 76 percent of us continue to identify as Christian (still, that’s the lowest percentage in American history). Of course, we are not a Hindu—or Muslim, or Jewish, or Wiccan—nation, either. A million-plus Hindus live in the United States, a fraction of the billion who live on Earth. But recent poll data show that conceptually, at least, we are slowly becoming more like Hindus and less like traditional Christians in the ways we think about God, our selves, each other, and eternity.

The Rig Veda, the most ancient Hindu scripture, says this: “Truth is One, but the sages speak of it by many names.” A Hindu believes there are many paths to God. Jesus is one way, the Qur’an is another, yoga practice is a third. None is better than any other; all are equal. The most traditional, conservative Christians have not been taught to think like this. They learn in Sunday school that their religion is true, and others are false. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the father except through me.”

Americans are no longer buying it. According to a 2008 Pew Forum survey, 65 percent of us believe that “many religions can lead to eternal life”—including 37 percent of white evangelicals, the group most likely to believe that salvation is theirs alone. Also, the number of people who seek spiritual truth outside church is growing. Thirty percent of Americans call themselves “spiritual, not religious,” according to a 2009 NEWSWEEK Poll, up from 24 percent in 2005. Stephen Prothero, religion professor at Boston University, has long framed the American propensity for “the divine-deli-cafeteria religion” as “very much in the spirit of Hinduism. You’re not picking and choosing from different religions, because they’re all the same,” he says. “It isn’t about orthodoxy. It’s about whatever works. If going to yoga works, great—and if going to Catholic mass works, great. And if going to Catholic mass plus the yoga plus the Buddhist retreat works, that’s great, too.”

Then there’s the question of what happens when you die. Christians traditionally believe that bodies and souls are sacred, that together they comprise the “self,” and that at the end of time they will be reunited in the Resurrection. You need both, in other words, and you need them forever. Hindus believe no such thing. At death, the body burns on a pyre, while the spirit—where identity resides—escapes. In reincarnation, central to Hinduism, selves come back to earth again and again in different bodies. So here is another way in which Americans are becoming more Hindu: 24 percent of Americans say they believe in reincarnation, according to a 2008 Harris poll. So agnostic are we about the ultimate fates of our bodies that we’re burning them—like Hindus—after death. More than a third of Americans now choose cremation, according to the Cremation Association of North America, up from 6 percent in 1975. “I do think the more spiritual role of religion tends to deemphasize some of the more starkly literal interpretations of the Resurrection,” agrees Diana Eck, professor of comparative religion at Harvard. So let us all say “om.”

Find this article at http://www.newsweek.com/id/212155 © 2009

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