Friday, January 30, 2009
Most people would resent being told that they delighted in EVIL... They would indignantly ask if we supposed them to be moral perverts. But that is not always the case. A person may be completely chaste, and yet delight in evil. The Bible says in Jeremiah 17;9 that ''the heart is DECEITFUL above all things'' and what the Bible says is not open to any argument; the plain teaching of Scripture decides the point once and for all, and beyond its verdict, there is no appeal. What, then, does the Bible say/ So far from the Bible denying that there is any delight to be found in sin, it expressly speaks of ''the pleasures of sin.'' The Bible warns that those pleasures are for ''but a season'' [HEBREWS 11;25], and the aftermath is painful, and not pleasant; and unless God intervenes in HIS SOVEREIGN GRACE,they shall entail eternal torment. Also, The Word refers to those who are ''lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God [2 Tim. 3;4]. This discordant note is struck often in Scripture. It mentions those who ''love vanity'' [Psalm 4;2]; ''him that loveth violence'' [PSA. 11;5]; ''thou lovest evil more than good'' [PSA. 52;3];''HE LOVED LIES''[PSA. 62;4]; ''scorners delight in their scorning'' [PRO. 1;22]; ''they which delight in their abominations [ISA. 66;3]; ''their abominations were according as they loved'' [Hosea 9;10]; ''if any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him'' [I JOHN 2; 15]. To love sin is far worse than to commit it, for a man may be suddenly tripped up or commit it through fraility. The Fact is that we are not only born into this world with an evil nature, but with hearts that are thoroughly in love with sin. Sin is our native element. We are wedded to our lusts, and of ourselves are no more able to alter the bent of our corrupt nature than we could shange our skin color, or the leopard his spots. But what is an impossibility with man, is possible with our God [LUKE 18;27], and when God takes us in hand, He begins by saving us from the pleasure, or love of sin. This is the great miracle of grace, for the Almighty stoops down and picks up a loathsome leper from the dunghill, and makes him a new creature in Christ, so that the things he once loved he now hates, and the things he once hated, he now loves. God begins by saving us from ourselves. He doesn't save us from the penalty until He has delivered us from the love of sin. You may ask, how this miracle of grace is accomplished, or more specifically, What does it consist of/ NEGATIVELY, NOT BY ERADICATING THE EVIL NATURE, nor even by refining it. POSITIVELY, BY COMMUNICATING A NEW NATURE, which loathes that which is evil, and delights in all that is truly good. To be more specific, FIRST, God saves His people from the pleasure, or love of sin, by putting His holy awe in their hearts, for ''the fear of the Lord is TO HATE EVIL'' [PROV. 8;13], and again, ''the fear of the Lord is to depart from evil'' [PROV. 6;6]. SECOND, God saves His people from the pleasure of sin by communicating to them a new and vital principle; ''the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit [ROM. 5;5], and where the love of God rules the heart, the love of sin is dethroned. THIRD, God saves His people from the love of sin by The Holy Spirit's drawing their affections unto things above, thereby taking them off the things which formerly enthralled them. THE BELIEVER'S STRUGGLE If on the one hand, the unbeliever hotly denies that he is in love with sin, many a believer is hard put to persuade himself, that he HAS BEEN SAVED from the love thereof. With an understanding that has been partly enlightened by The Holy Spirit, he is better able to discern things in their true colors. With a heart that has been made honest by grace, he refuses to call sweet bitter. With a conscience that has been sensitized by the new birth, he more quickly feels the workings of sin and the hankering of his affections for that which is forbidden. Moreover, the flesh remains in him, unchanged, and as the raven constantly craves carrion, so this corrupt principle in which our mothers conceived us, lusts after and delights in that which is the opposite of holiness. It is these things which occasion and give rise to the disturbing questions that clamor for answer within the genuine believer. The sincere Christian is often made to seriously doubt if he HAS BEEN delivered from the love of sin. Questions like these agitate his mind; ''Why do I so readily yield to tempation/ Why do the vanities and vanities of the world attract me still/ wHY DO I chafe against restraints placed on my lusts/ Why do I find mortification [ROMANS 8;13] so difficult and distasteful/ COULD THESE THINGS BE, IF I WERE A NEW CREATURE IN CHRIST/ Could such horrible experiences happen, if God saved me from the pleasures of sin/'' What do you say to these questions/ How is this distressing problem to be solved/ THE BELIEVER'S ASSURANCE How may one be assured that he has been saved from the love of sin/ Let's point out, first, that the presence of that within us, which still lusts after and delights in evil things, IS NOT INCOMPATIBLE with our having been saved from the love of sin. It is part of the mystery of the Gosoel that those who be saved are yet Sinners in themselves. THE PRINCIPLE OF FAITH IN THE HEART DOES NOT CAST OUT UNBELIEF. Faith and doubts exist side by side with a quickened soul, as seen in these words, ''Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief'' [MARK 9;24]. In like manner the Christian may pray, ''Lord, I long after holiness; help my lustings after sin.'' He can pray this because of the 2 opposing natures within him. The presence of faith can be known, not by the ceasing of unbelief, buy by it's OWN fruit and works. fruit may grow amid the thorns, as flowers among weeds, and yet it is fruit nonetheless. Faith exists amidst many doubts and fears. Notwithstanding outside and inside forces, faith still reaches out after God. FAITH CONTUNUES TO FIGHT REGARDLESS OF DEFEAT AND DISCOURGAEMENT. Faith's presence is seen, when it causes one to come before God as AN EMPTY-HANDED BEGGAR beseeching Him for mercy and blessing.
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
When God begins to apply salvation to the elect sinner, He begins by saving him from the pleasure or love of sin, long before He delivers him from the penalty or punishment of Sin. This is necessarily so, because it would neither be an act of holiness, nor of righteousness were He to give a full pardon to one who was yet a rebel against Him, and who loves that which He hates. God is a God of order, and nothing more evidences the perfections of His works than their orderliness. Now, the question arises, ''How does God save His people from the pleasure of sin/ The answer is; ''By imparting to them a nature which hates evil and loves holiness.'' This takes place when they are born again, so that salvation begins with regeneration. You see, fallen man can never perceive his desperate need of salvation, nor come to Christ for it, until he has been renewed by the Holy Spirit. Solomon wrote in Ecc. 3;11, that ''He hath made everything beautiful in his time.'' Much of the beauty of God's spiritual handiwork shall be lost to us, unless we duly oberve their ''time.'' The Holy Spirit emphasized this in Romans 8;29-30. In verse 29 Divine foreordination is announced, while verse 30 states how it is actualized. How strange it is that with this before them, many preachers begin with our justification, instead of with that effectual call [from death to life, our regeneration] which precedes it. Regeneration must first take place in order to lay a foundation for our justification. Justification is by faith [ACTS 13;39; ROMANS 5;1; GAL. 3;8],and the sinner must be divinely quickened before he is capable of believing savingly. Preachers today are so thoroughly imbued with free-willism, that they have departed from the sound evangelism pf our forefathers. The radical difference between Arminianism and Calvinism is that arminianism revolves around the creature, whereas Calvinism has the Creator as its centre of orbit.
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
I. A QUESTION OF AUTHORITY-GALATIANS 1;11-12; 2;2-''But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by revelation of Jesus Christ.'' ''And I went up by revelation.'' If the CHRISTIAN FAITH IS NOT A REVELATION OF GOD it is merely another religion; possibly the best, but still one of the many, on the human level, subject to man's alterations and altercations. The Judiazers of Paul's day wanted to make the Christian faith a revised version of the Jew's religion, subject to its regulations and requirements. Then it would be THEIR Religion; they could keep it within the realm of their own reasoning. Their successors of our day are doing the same. What the CHRISTIAN FAITH NEEDS is a return to its birthright--an authoritative revelation. Take it, or leave it ALONE.... THE DAMASCUS ROAD EXPERIENCE To discredit Paul's message, these Judiazers must discredit the man. He is not an apostle, they said; he cannot qualify; he has never seen the risen Lord. Paul devotes a chapter and a half to a detailed refutation of this charge. He had seen the Lord, as He revealed Himself on the DAMASCUS ROAD. He had also heard the Lord speaking to him. It was a crisis experience. From being determined to destroy the faith, he became its most ardent and convincing advocate. Paul was no neurotic, easily swayed; he was schooled in all the learning of his day. This right-about-face, traced as it is here in Galatians to its supernatural source, was utterly disconcerting to the enemies of the faith, as indeed it has been ever since. A CHRIST-CENTERED VIEWPOINT From that day forward Paul was a changed man. He had a new outlook upon life. He experienced an utter reversal of values; ''What things were gain to me''--his attainments in the Jewish religion--''those I counted loss for Christ'' [Phil. 3;7, with vv 4-6]. What he formerly prized he now esteems as dung--PHIL. 3;8-9-[TURN]. Paul's repeated ''but'' carries the antithesis of a crisis experience. No trends here; no groping for something better. He knows himself taken out of the column of self-effort [V. 3], and flesh-confidence to the column of God's beneficiaries in the bestowment of His righteousness. It was a clear-cut break with OUR SIDE over to HIS SIDE. Not by a process of reasoning but ''by revelation of Jesus Christ'' Paul acquired a complete system of Christ-centered thinking and living. Through Christ's words from heaven, ''Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me/'' [ACTS 9;4], he saw Christ indwelling His Church, fully identified with HIS PEOPLE, SUFFERING IN ALL THAT THEY SUFFERED. In the silent years that followed, the quiet times spent in ARABIA [GAL. 1;17], this realization of identification matured into the intimate conception of the Church as the body of which Christ is the Head [EPH. 1;22-23; COL. 1;18;etc]. A head and body constitute an organism. It is complete in itself, with its own laws of growth, ''building itself up in love'' [see EPHESIANS 4;12-16]. A GREAT CONCEPTION IS THIS.... NOTHING can be added to a body.... Controlled by its head, it requires no external laws for its regulation. The Christian life is Christ-centered and Christ-controlled. So constituted, it is self-sufficient. Paul will defend its sufficiency against all comers. MAN SEEKS FREEDOM OF THOUGHT The chief enemy of the Gospel is human nature. Man is proud. He is especially proud of his own thinking. HE DOESN'T WANT TO BE TOLD.... He dislikes having a supernatural revelation handed to him; it leaves no room for speculation. He likes to ''discover truth''; then IT'S HIS, Something he can be proud of. Many Who willingly acknowledge that man's MORAL NATURE IS PERVERTED BY SIN--the evidence is incontrovertible--still refuse to realize, that man's MENTAL processes are likewise warped, biased and undependable because of sin. The Corinthians prided themselves on their thinking. Read 1 CORINTHIANS 1-2 for God's estimate of human thinking that set aside divine wisdom, climaxing in a statement of man's utter incapacity for spiritual things; I CORINTHIANS 2;14--''But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of GOD; for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them because they are spiritually discerned''. Today's average preacher is feeding his mind upon human thoughts; and, naturally,these mold his own thinking and preaching, when the charge is, ''Preach the Word.'' The reason men today, repudiate Paul's theology and turn to the teaching of Jesus is clear. By ridding themselves of a supernatural interpretation of those teachings, climaxing in His death and resurrection-they leave themselves free to give their own interpretation. THEY ARE FREE TO SPECULATE AS TO WHAT JESUS TEACHINGS should MEAN FOR ''THE MODERN MIND.'' What we need today is a renewed fear of God's anathema upon all perversions of the Gospel;only this will bring us back to its unadulterated purity.
Monday, January 26, 2009
GALATIANS 3;24-''Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith.'' God has left us but one way into His favor, namely, by faith and by faith alone. If we resolve to do our very best, all that we can do leaves under law with its unmet demands, therefore, under the curse of the law, even death and condemnation. We are still on OUR SIDE, with no ability to get ourselves out of our trouble. Only faith will transfer to us to HIS SIDE, where He can deal with us in grace, as His own children, heirs of His gracious promises, partakers of His own life, possessed of His Holy SPIRIT. This conclusion is definite and decisive, with no middle ground, sealed to us by this solemn, summary declaration, found in GALATIANS 3;22--''But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.'' This verse is saying the Scripture has everything completely imprisoned under sin,so that the promise might be given the believers through faith in Jesus Christ. If the Bible speaks God's Mind, and it does, then all who think to commend themselves to God by their conduct, all who seek to come into HIS FAVOR BY TRYING TO BE GOOD, are simply trying to get out of prison. THEY ARE GUILTY OF attempted jail-break... They are making their condition worse, inviting a more severe sentence. There is but one way out. WHAT IS JUSTIFICATION BY FAITH/ All that man can do leaves him helplessly on Our Side, lawfully ''imprisoned under sin.'' IF ANYTHING IS TO BE DONE ABOUT IT GOD WILL HAVE TO DO IT. So the Scriptures mercilessly show man his condition that, ceasing from his own doings, he may fasten his attention upon what God has done--done to lift man over onto His Side, JUSTIFIED FROM all these ugly charges against him. Justification, then, has three steps; 1-Man has sinned, and God declares ''all under sin,'' deserving the death penalty. 2-God provided a Sinlless One, having no need to die for Himself but purposing to take our death penalty upon Himself. This He did, and God accepted of His death, in that He raised Him from the dead. 3-All who will accept what HE HAS DONE for them and come over ''into Christ.'' Good is free to declare righteous in His sight, and deal with them as such. By faith they have changed sides; they are now on His Side, in His favor. That is, JUSTIFICATION IS A DECLARATIVE ACT ON GOD'S PART. He has declared us all sinners ''in Adam''; now HE IS FREE TO DECLARE us all righteous ''in Christ.'' FAITH ALONE CAN MAKE THE TRANSFER. The Westminister divines stated it well; ''Justification is an act of GOD'S FREE GRACE, WHEREIN he pardoneth all our sins,and accepteth us as righteous in His sight, only fot the righteousness of Christ imputed to us, and received by faith alone.'' This stament is supported by many scriptures, such as; EPHESIANS 1;7; ROMANS 3; 24; 4;6; 5;18; GALATIANS 2;16; II CORINTHIANS 5;21. ''By faith alone'' is especially enforced by these; ''Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law''; ''Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness'' [ROMANS 3;28; 4;4-5]. It is clearly evident that God's plan is such as admits no admixture of man's efforts; on man's part they are futile;on God's part they are an offered affront. Why is the ''faith alone'' principle so offensive to man/ Why does he so persistently revert to the law principle/ Faith alone hurts his pride; law affords him an opportunity to do something. He will accept God's plan of salvation if only he can do something toward it. God says, No. Take it by faith, or leave it alone. THE GOSPEL PAUL PREACHED The ppreaching that brought salvation to these Galatian Christians is recorded in ACTS 13;14-43. Having first of all obtained audience with the children of Israel, Paul rehearsed with them God's dealings with their fathers through Moses and David, leading on to David's greater Son, pointing out that they had fulfilled the Scripture in putting Him on the cross, but that God also had fulfilled the Scripture in raising Him from the dead. Having dwelt upon these two great saving facts--''Who was delivered for our offebces, and was raised again for our justification''--Paul comes quickly to his conclusion, that salvation is to be had only in HIM; ACTS 13;38-39-''Be it known therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins; and by Him all that believe are justified from all things, from which they could not be justified by the law of Moses'' [ACTS 13; 38-39]. NOTE THE TWO ALLS; ''All justified from all,''; something which no law and no adherence to law could accomplish. Why/ LAW'S FATAL FUTILITY The great desideratum of human existence is LIFE. There is nothing man values so highly as life. Not having life, he has nothing. At any cost man must have life. THE INDICTMENT OF LAW IS THAT IT CANNOT MEET THIS, man's greatest need; it cannot produce life. Man is spiritually dead--''dead in trespasses and sins''-and law leaves him dead. Do,do, do all that the law demands,yet all the doing fails to generate a spark of life. So we read; ''If there had been a law fiven which could make alive, verily righteousness would have been of the law'' [GALATIANS 3;21]. The notable fact is that man, in a scientific age, has never been able by scientific process to produce life. God still holds the secret of life within His own wisdom and power, yes, within Himself. God is life; God is its source. Man's story is that he began with God-breathed life. God ''breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul'' [Genesis 2;7]. The life man had was God's life, God-breathed, God-imparted. God was its source. But man allowed Satan and sin to separate him from God, from his source of life, even though he was warned, ''in the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die'' [Genesis 2;17]. That day his spiritual life was snuffed out, and his physical life was shortened to a brief sopan of years. That is Man's history, a history of death, death, death and darkness. What he desperately needs is life, and the light which life enables him to see. So, now, ''what the law could not do. . .God sending his own Son'' delivered us from this state of death by placing us under the control of the Spirit's life; ''For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law--the control--of sin and death'' [ROMANS 8;2-3, with 7;24]. So the Gospel is this; The same God Who breathed life into man, at the beginning brings the Good News to life-bereft man, saying, ''I am come that they might have life'' [JOHN 10;10]. ''I am the life'' [JOHN 14;6]. How shall we obtain this life/ Work for it/ No, indeed; even our physical life did not come that way. Be good for it/ We have no goodness; that comes with the life. No, it must be a gift. ''I give unto them eternal life''; ''The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord'' [JOHN 10;28; ROMANS 6;23].
The average preacher, today, is only a ''moral officer'' in his church. To him it is not a commission from Heaven to preach the unsearchable riches of Christ to dying people; it is just a matter of building up his church, getting along with his folks, marrying the young, burying the dead, collecting his salary, drawing his breath and letting his congregation go to Hell. Now, let's see the position of a God-called pastor, as set forth in God's Word, as he walks before God and before his people and leads them. FIRST, He is instructed to ''Preach the Word; be instant in season, out of season, REPROVE, rebuke, exhort with all long-suffering and doctrine.'' A God-called pastor is to REPROVE, that is, to lay blame on, to rebuke, to persuade, to convince, to convict, to disclose the hearts of both saints and sinners, to lay bare the guilty hearts. This isn't pleasant. Many times this is embarrassing. SECOND, He is to REBUKE both saint and sinner; rebuke means to reprimand, to give a sudden blow. It means to sharply reprove or censure, so that the individual is checked, and made to think and turn his steps toward the Lord. The God-called man will lay aside all his feelings; he will not court the love or favor of any man, so that he may deliver GGood's message without compromise. Elijah is an example, when he walked into Ahab's court one day and delivered God's message to that wicked king. John Baptist is another example, when he stood and rebuked the Pharisees by calling them a ''GENERATION OF VIPERS,'' and when he stood before Herod and rebuked him sharply for living with his brother's wife. THIRD, a God-called pastor is to EXHORT, that is, he is to urge by appeal or by argument, that the individual may throw himself on the side of truth and Christ, and he is to do this with all longsuffering, patience and doctrine-that is, the teaching of God's Word. In other words, he is to wield the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God with authority. A God-called pastor, according to Titus 1;13, will rebuke SHARPLY; ''Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith; not giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men, that turn from the truth.'' Then he is to speak with AUTHORITY, according to Titus 2;15-''These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee.'' God's messenger stands with a message from Heaven, from the courts of the King, and he is to deliver it regardless of how man may take it. Lastly, he is to rebuke OPENLY. ''Them that sin rebuke before all, that others may fear'' [1 Timothy 5;20]. This is no easy task. THE AVERAGGE PASTOR TODAY, HAS NO VOICE OF AUTHORITY, because he is afraid either of his job, or his salary, or a clique of men in the church, or of a petticoat who controls him, or else, he is afraid of a rotten spot in his life might be exposed.
Sunday, January 25, 2009
--''THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIIT IS FAITH, MEEKNESS, TEMPERANCE.''--''The fruit of The Spirit is FAITH''--God has dealt every man a measure of natural faith. However, Saving Faith is His gift to His elect [Ephesians 2;8-9]. The Greek word here can be rendered as ''Faithfulness.'' WHERE DOES FAITHFULNESS COME FROM/ It is an attribute of God. God is faithful. ''Great is thy faithfulness'' [Lam.3;23]. Under the New Covenant this Faithful One has found a way of living in us to make His faithfulness a characteristic of His children. A man says, I'm so undependable; I disappoint myself and my friends.'' A worthy confession for ALL of us... We can all distrust ourselves. But the Holy Spirit in living us is a complete remedy. The Holy Spirit makes a man wholly dependable, in keeping engagements with promptness, in keeping promises, in meeting obligations, so that, staying on His side whhere He can work, we display His faithfulness in us, to the praise of the glory of His grace. ''THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT IS MEEKNESS.'' Meekness is the spirit of humility. Of Himself our Lord says,''I am meek and lowly of heart'' [Matthew 11;29]. Paul beseeches the proud Corinthians ''by the meekness and gentleness of Christ'' [2 Cor. 10;1]. Our Lord's earthly life was one long refusal of pride and self-seeking climaxing in the voluntary self-abasement of The Upper Room and The Cross. God seeks humility in His children; it is the cornerstone of Christian character. ''God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble'' [James 4;6]. Man is naturally proud. Pride is in his nature. Turning to James 4;5 we find the Spirit ''lusts'' against the proud, in His desire to make man humble. Left to himself, on Our Side of the cross, the self-effort will continually crop out in native pride. When we live on His Side the Spirit graciously takes all this native tendency in hand and produces a humble meekness that displaces pride. ''The fruit of the Spirit is Temperance''. Where does this temperance or self control come from/ Surely, we think, this is somethiing I must do for myself. But, no; thiis, too, is the Spirit's business. ''I'' would fail, so He has taken over even this. The Greek word has a prefix, EN, in. It means to be controlled by an inward strength, an inward mastery. it is an IN-control, in the realm of the spirit, where the Spirit does His work. IT DEALS WITH SELF DESIRES. Spirit-controlled you will be genuinely, inwardly self-controlled.