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Monday, December 22, 2014

The diagnosis and cure…

Posted by Gary on November 22, 2012

Revelation 3:17-19 “Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see.Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent.”

Modern evangelicals in our culture have gotten money, power, and influence, and it has been like giving whiskey to a two-year-old. But the need of the hour is theological, not political. The arena is the pulpit and the (Lord’s) table, not the legislative chamber. The message is Christ crucified and risen for His chosen sinners and now acknowledged Lord of all. This risen and conquering Christ is the Head of the Church. Before we are equipped to proclaim His lordship to the inhabitants of all the earth, we must live as though we believed it in the Church

We must therefore study the Scriptures and reform our doctrines and beliefs according to the Scriptures. We must then pray, seeking reformation and doctrinal renewal from the sovereign Lord Who alone can bestow it. When the household of God has been cleansed, according to His Word, we will be  qualified to preach the triumph of the Lord Christ to the nations of the world. And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ; and He shall reign for ever and ever” (Revelation 11:15). (Doug Wilson from “Mother Kirk” p.22)

Like Christ or like the world?

Posted by Gary on May 26, 2012

There should be an utter difference between the Christian and the non-Christian….The New Testament regards that as something absolutely basic and fundamental; and, as I see things at the present time, the first need in the Church is a clear understanding of this essential difference… But it has become blurred; the world has come into the Church and the Church has become worldly.

We have been told that we have to make the Church attractive to the man outside, and the idea is to become as much like him as we can. There were certain popular priests during the first world war who mixed with their men, and smoked with them, and did this, that, and the other with them, in order to encourage them. Some people thought that, as a result, when the war was over, the ex-service men would be crowding into the churches. Yet it did not happen, and it never has happened that way.

… When the Church is absolutely different from the world, she invariably attracts it. It is then that the world is made to listen to her message, though it may hate it at first. That is how revival comes. That must also be true of us as individuals. It should not be our ambition to be as much like everybody else as we can, though we happen to be Christian, but rather to be as different from everybody who is not a Christian as we can possibly be. Our ambition should be to be like Christ, the more like Him the better, and the more like Him we become, the more we shall be unlike everybody who is not a Christian. (Martyn Lloyd-Jones: From the Introduction to “The Sermon on the Mount)

A great hospital

Posted by Gary on January 20, 2012

Mark 14:27 “All of you will desert Me,  Jesus told them.”

“We see in this verse, how well our Lord foreknew the weakness and infirmity of His disciples. He tells them plainly what they were going to do. “All of you shall desert Me.” 

Let us take comfort in the thought that the Lord Jesus does not cast off His believing people because of failures and imperfections. He knows what they are.

He takes them, as the husband takes the wife, with all their blemishes and defects, and, once joined to Him by faith, will never leave them. He is a merciful and compassionate High priest. It is His glory to pass over the transgressions of His people, and to cover their many sins.

He knew what they were before conversion: wicked, guilty, and defiled; yet He loved them. He knows what they will be after conversion: weak, erring, and frail; yet He loves them.

He has undertaken to save them, notwithstanding all their shortcomings. And what He has undertaken He will perform.

Let us learn to pass a charitable judgment on the conduct of other believers. Let us not set them down in a low place, and say they have no grace, because we see in them much weakness and corruption. Let us remember that our Master in heaven bears with their infirmities, and let us try to bear with them too.

The Church of Christ is little better than a great hospital. We ourselves are all, more or less, weak, and all daily need the skillful treatment of the heavenly Physician. There will be no ‘complete cures’ until the resurrection day.”

  (J. C. Ryle, “The Gospel of Mark”)

Me first

Posted by Gary on June 20, 2011

Acts 20:35 “In everything I showed you that by working hard in this manner you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.'”

Coming upon twenty years in the pastorate, I am increasingly grateful for believers who live out their life in the church by calling. The way that many approach life in the church is dishonoring to God and sad. “Does this church offer me what I want?” “What can this church do for me?” seems to be the first and most important question that most people ask.

Very few people seem to want to know whether or not God wants them at a church based upon service and sacrifice. Few consider that perhaps He wants to use them to help a church become what He wants it to be and that they will get what they need not by insisting that they get it, but by laying their lives down sacrificially.

There is a selfishness that marks the church-goer of this day that I am afraid belies something, the real absence of discipleship. A good question for every professed believer to ask himself is how much his discipleship resembles the Christians held before us in the book of Acts. The “Me, me” of this day, the insistence that a church offer everything one seeks as the basis for attending is shameful and foreign to Biblical Christianity.

Though increasingly rare, it is a joy to see individual Christians and families who are most concerned about whether or not God has called them to a local church body and whose basis of answering that question is not what is in it for them. God has His children/servants who by faith believe it is better to labor and receive than to only seek to receive.

What joy there is in seeing a church become something, what a privilege to have a role in helping a church become what God wants it to be.

Power

Posted by Gary on May 10, 2010

U.S. Capitol Building detail by Kevin Burkett1 Chronicles 29:11-12 “Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, indeed everything that is in the heavens and the earth; Yours is the dominion, O Lord, and You exalt Yourself as head over all. Both riches and honor come from You, and You rule over all, and in Your hand is power and might; and it lies in Your hand to make great and to strengthen everyone.”

Last week I joined my daughter and her grade school class on a trip to Washington D.C. to tour the Capitol and visit the Smithsonian. As we walked about I saw what was the appearance of power everywhere. Dark suits, attaches, sunglasses back on the head, clusters of people outside of meeting rooms, names of influential people on office doors, to those whose hearts and lives are bound up in this world I am sure it is very impressive.

As I went through my day it was increasingly obvious that this is the place of action and those involved in it think themselves movers and shakers. But in truth, Washington and those in it do not know what power is nor do they possess it. Power belongs to God.

It was striking to me as I looked on the people in the suits with the briefcases that time is rolling over them like it has over every other Washington power broker in the past whose bodies are now being eaten by worms and whose souls have already gone to their place either to heaven by the mercy of the all-powerful God or to hell to receive there forever the justice of God.

WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

Trusting in princes-redux

Posted by Gary on February 5, 2010

I find that the concern in me regarding today’s Christians and their political pursuits does not cease. I wrote an initial post entitled, “Trusting in Princes” to express my concern and revisit the topic today.

I understand fully that for now we are creatures of this world and much of our life must be taken up with the things of this world. We have to eat, work, sleep and have obligations that come from living in this world, this is all granted. Yet, the Bible commands the Christian to keep his focus, efforts and affections on the things above as much as possible (Colossians 3:1-2).What we think about, what we become joyful over or unhappy about reveals more than anything where we have placed our affections and trust.

I would ask Christians in our day to examine themselves to find out how much their thoughts, affections and trust are tied to the political happenings of this world compared to the things above and the gospel.

For example, how much do we find ourselves thinking about healthcare reform in comparison to thinking about how many people will die this day and enter eternity separated from Christ? How much time do we spend beefing up on political happenings compared to time beefing up on knowledge of Scripture, Christian living and theology? Are you more angry about the government czars appointed by the President than you are that 45,000,000 million babies have been slaughtered by our nation since the early 1970’s? Are you really angry about abortion? What have you ever done about it? How much do you know about the battle that surrounds abortion in comparison to what you know about the battles being fought in congress?

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Trusting in princes

Posted by Gary on October 31, 2008

Psalm 146:3  “Do not trust in princes, in mortal man, in whom there is no salvation.”

image My question is very simple, “How much control did the believers of the New Testament era have over the government that ruled them?” The answer: virtually none. Here is another question, “What accusation did the non-believing world make against the Christians of the first century?”

Acts 17:6  “These who have turned the world upside down have come here too.”

How could this be? You mean that the Caesars of the first century were not Christians? There was not a Christian/conservative majority in the Roman senate? Believers were not collecting signatures on petitions against ungodly laws? How could they ever have turned the world upside down without any hand on the political steering wheel? Could it be that their faith was in God?

We are well into another election cycle and I grieve. American Christians are blind, blind to the fact that we have reduced the Christian faith down to a political movement. Oh, we are in high places no doubt. We are rubbing shoulders and throwing weight around. Someone please tell me what this has all done to promote and further the gospel.

What does the average unbeliever think of Christianity in our nation today? They believe it is all about political control and power. Who are we winning? I believe with all my heart that what we have done these past few decades is something to be repented of. Our trust is in princes and the power of this world. Who are we kidding? In what way are we turning the world upside down? We are powerless and our political grasping is proof that it is so.

What matters to us is the Supreme Court, control of Congress and the White House. What will we have if we were to have all these? We will still have a nation of people estranged from God but by golly, we’re going to legislate them into the kingdom. We have nearly forfeited our opportunity to share the gospel of Christ, hardly anyone believes that this is what we are after anymore. The unbeliever thinks to himself, “This is about you imposing your way of life on me” and he is right. We are not after heart change and knowledge of Christ, if we were our reliance would be on God not on political power.

I come to my questions again. Someone please tell me how the Christians of the New Testament turned the world upside down without relying on political power? Why are we not seeking the power that they had? How have we come to think that we have found a better way? Thank God that His purposes cannot be thwarted despite how determined His people are to do so.