29 July 2009

Take Hold of the Gospel for Yourself

The Men's Discipleship group at my church has been reading Respectable Sins by Jerry Bridges. It's been a good read, well, depending on how you look at it. It's tough to look at those sins we commit daily and gloss over them as if no one, especially the Spirit, notices. Frustration, impatience, self pity, selfishness are just a few of those "respectable sins" we choose to ignore. In his fourth chapter, "The Remedy for Sin," Bridges brings to the forefront some uses of the gospel of which we should take note. The gospel is our remedy for sin, after all.

1. ...the first use of the gospel, as a remedy for our sins, is to plow the ground of our hearts so that we can see our sin.
2. Second, not only does the gospel prepare me to face my sin, it also frees me up to do so.
3. Third, the gospel motivates and energizes me to deal with my sin.

He goes on...We are commanded to put sin to death. It is our duty to do so. But duty without desire soon produces drudgery. And it is the gospel that stokes the fire of our motivation to deal with our respectable and subtle sins. It is the gospel that motivates us to seek to be in our daily experience what we are in our standing before God. ...I urge to commit yourself to a daily, conscious appropriation of the gospel. ..."Preach the gospel to yourself every day." That is what we must do in order to daily, consciously appropriate the gospel (pgs. 34-36).

This is life changing stuff here. I would urge you to do the same, embrace the gospel for yourself every day. I'll go a step further and encourage you to get a hold of this book and read through it slowly so that you may absorb what Bridges has for us his readers. I'll post more later on this book as our group reads through it.


28 July 2009


How do you evangelize? What do you say? What should you say? Stumped on how to share the basics? We shouldn't be but we often are during those situations. Mark Dever sums it up best in his The Gospel and Personal Evangelism where we read: ...the good news is that the one and only God, who is holy, made us in his image to know him. But we sinned and cut ourselves off from him. In his great love, God became man in Jesus, lived a perfect life, and died on the cross, thus fulfilling the law himself and taking on himself the punishment for the sins of all those who would ever turn and trust him. He rose again from the dead, showing that God accepted Christ's sacrifice and that God's wrath against us had been exhausted. He now calls us to repent of our sins and to trust in Christ alone for forgiveness, If we repent of our sins and trust Christ, we are born again into a new life with God (pg. 43).

This a a great read on the who, what, why and how of Evangelism. If you don't have this one - get it, read it and put it to use. Let me know what you think.

25 July 2009

Looking Forward to Tomorrow

I'm looking forward to tomorrow. Are you?

Psalm 84
10 For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness.
11 For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.
12 O LORD of hosts, blessed is the man that trusteth in thee.

Lord's Day 30 Heidelberg Catechism

Lord's Day 30

Scripture Reading: Hebrews 8; 1 Corinthians 10:19-22; 11:17-34

Q. 80. What difference is there between the Lord's supper and the popish mass?
A. The Lord's supper testifies to us, that we have a full pardon of all sin by the only sacrifice of Jesus Christ, which he himself has once accomplished on the cross; and, that we by the Holy Ghost are ingrafted into Christ, who, according to his human nature is now not on earth, but in heaven, at the right hand of God his Father, and will there be worshipped by us. But the mass teaches, that the living and dead have not the pardon of sins through the sufferings of Christ, unless Christ is also daily offered for them by the priests; and further, that Christ is bodily under the form of bread and wine, and therefore is to be worshipped in them; so that the mass, at bottom, is nothing else than a denial of the one sacrifice and sufferings of Jesus Christ, and an accursed idolatry.

Question 81. Who ought to come to the table of the Lord?
Answer. Those who are displeased with themselves for their sins, and who nevertheless trust that these sins have been forgiven them and that their remaining weakness is covered by the passion and death of Christ, and who also desire more and more to strengthen their faith and make their life whole. The unrepentant and hypocrites, however, eat and drink judgement to themselves.

Question 82. Should those be admitted to the Lord's Supper who show by what they say and do that they are unbelieving and ungodly?
Answer. No, that would dishonor God's covenant and bring down God's wrath upon the entire congregation. Therefore, according to the instruction of Christ and his apostles, the Christian church is duty-bound to exclude such people, by the official use of the keys of the kingdom, until they reform their lives.

For reflection and study:
When the priest holds up the cup as being divine it is ________ since this is a false claim.
Is there a Roman Catholic in your life that you can calmly, quietly and lovingly share this truth with (question 80)?
Is there ever a time a believer should not partake of communion?

23 July 2009

Should We Buy Into the Health Wealth and Prosperity Gospel?

Following up on the last post here, let's look at two quotes on the Health Wealth and Prosperity Gospel.

First from John Piper we read,

The health, wealth and prosperity "gospel" swallows up the beauty of Christ in the beauty of his gifts and turns the gifts into idols. The world is not impressed when Christians get rich and say thanks to God. They are impressed when God is so satisfying that we give our riches away for Christ's sake and count it gain (from Don't Waste Your Life page 72).

And from John MacArthur,

The prosperity gospel is absolutely non-biblical. It is an affront to God. The way to power is through suffering and weakness. As Paul said, "For the sake of Christ...I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong." All true servants of Christ learn through the years to embrace the assaults that cut to the heart, the mutinies, the betrayals, the disaffection, the massive disappointment, the heartache, and even the physical pain and suffering because they know all those things work together to destroy self-reliance...Christ is more powerfully revealed in his servants when they bear up under severe affliction...The power of God will be on display in our suffering. We all learn more, far more, from suffering (from Stand, pages 66-67).

What is your way to "power"?

22 July 2009

Where Are You Running To?

We spend a good amount of time running from pain and suffering don't we? In fact, most of our time is spent escaping pain and pursuing pleasure instead. John Piper clarifies our problem when we run from the very thing that God provides for us to draw closer to him: The design of Paul's sufferings was to make radically clear for his soul, and for ours, that God and God alone is the only treasure who lasts. When everything in life is stripped away except God, and we trust him more because of it, this is gain, and he is glorified.

Christians waste their lives trying to escape the cost of love. They do not see that it is worth it. There is more of God's glory to be seen and savored through suffering through self-serving escape. Paul puts it like this: "though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison" (2 Corinthians 4:16-17). "Momentary" refers to a lifetime in comparison with eternity. "Slight" refers to suffering and death compared to the weight of everlasting joy in the presence of God. This is what we gain if we hold fast to Christ. This is what we waste if we don't.

God designs that tribulations intensify our hope for the glory of God..."more than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope" (Romans 5:3-4)...And God, in love, will use whatever trials are necessary to intensify our savoring of his glory. From Don't Waste Your Life, pages 73-74.)

What are you running from? Sickness, personality conflicts at work or church, marital conflicts, dealing with a rebellious child, dealing with your own sin? Don't run, embrace the problem and work through it to see how it will draw you to see and embrace God's glory.

21 July 2009


Driscoll at his best...maybe...

I'm a big joker myself and I agree that he says much that is correct but much is also questionable. Whadaya think?

(HT: Nate Eshelman)

20 July 2009

Trueman on John Owen

Two of my favorite theological dudes in one video. Carl Trueman discussing the importance of John Owen.

18 July 2009

Lord's Day 29 Heidelberg Catechism

Lord's Day 29

Scripture reading: 1 Corinthians 10:3-4; John 6:26-59

Question 78. Are the bread and wine changed into the real body and blood of Christ?
Answer. No. Just as the water of baptism is not changed into Christ's blood and does not itself wash away sins but is simply God's sign and assurance, so too the bread of the Lord's Supper is not changed into the actual body of Christ even though it is called the body of Christ in keeping with the nature and language of sacraments.

Question 79. Why then does Christ call the bread his body and the cup his blood, or the new covenant in his blood? And why does the apostle Paul call the supper a participation in the body and blood of Christ?
Answer. Christ has good reason for these words. He intends to teach us that as bread and wine nourish this temporal life, so too his crucified body and shed blood truly nourish our souls for eternal life. But more important, he intends to assure us, by this visible sign and pledge, that we, through the work of the Holy Spirit, share in his true body and blood as surely as our mouths receive these holy signs in his
remembrance. He also intends to assure us that all his suffering and obedience are as definitely ours as if we personally had suffered and paid for our sins.

For further discussion:
What is the differnce bewtween what is explained here and Martin Luther's view of Communion?
What Scriptural warrant is there for using grape juice instead of wine in th Lord's Supper?

15 July 2009

Catch The Vision

I just finished reading Catch The Vision, Roots of the Reformed Recovery by John J. Murray. It was a great read. Short and concise, it offered a good overview of the reformed recovery in the 20th century. The author highlights the people and events, often unrelated to one another, that gave rise to the recovery. Perhaps the most important chapter is the final chapter where the author transitions from tracing the history to offering some practical insights of where the recovery succeeded and where it fell short. And perhaps, what are response today should be to those shortfalls. Without giving away too much, Murray cites how the recovery succeeded in three areas:

1. We have a record of what God can do through a leader in the most difficult times [referring to Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones]
2. We have an abiding armoury of Reformed truth
3. We have witnessed a worldwide spread of Reformed theology

Conversely, as the recovery fell short of the vision, he lists three areas of focus so that we may charge ahead :

1. It is vital to maintian a full-orbed witness to the Reformed faith
2. It is vital to maintian zeal for church reform
3. It is vital to recover the creation and covenant view of the family

Here he cites such notables as B.B. Warfield, C.H. Spurgeon and Carl Trueman as testimonies of where our emphasis should be and how movement forward should be initiated and maintained.

At only 12 bucks this is a great Summer read. Don't let this pass you by.

11 July 2009

Lord's Day 28 Heidelberg Catechism

Lord's Day 28

Scripture Readings: Mark 14:22-24, 1 Cor. 10:16-17; 11:23-25; Hebrews 10:10-12

Question 75. How does the Lord's Supper remind and assure you that you share in the one sacrifice of Christ on the cross and in all his gifts?
Answer. In this way: Christ has commanded me and all believers to eat of this broken bread and to drink of this cup. He has thereby promised: First, as surely as I see with my eyes the bread of the Lord broken for me and the cup shared with me, so surely his body was offered and broken for me and his blood was shed for me. Second, as surely as I receive from the hand of the one who serves and actually taste the
bread and the cup of the Lord which are given me as sure signs of the body and blood of Christ, so surely he feeds and nourishes my soul to everlasting life with his crucified body and shed blood.

Question 76. What does it mean to eat the crucified body of Christ and to drink his shed blood? Answer. It means to accept with a believing heart the whole passion and death of Christ, and by it to receive forgiveness of sins and eternal life. In addition, it means to be united more and more to his blessed body by the Holy Spirit dwelling both in Christ and in us that, although he is in heaven and we are on earth, we are nevertheless flesh of his flesh and bone of his bone, always living and being governed by one Spirit, as the members of our bodies are governed by one soul.

Question 77. Where has Christ promised that he will feed and nourish believers with his body and blood just as surely as they eat of this broken bread and drink of this cup?
Answer. In the institution of the Lord's Supper which reads: "...that the Lord Jesus, on the night when he was betrayed, took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, 'This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.' In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, 'This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.' For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes." This promise is repeated by Paul in these words: "The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a sharing in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a sharing in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.

For discussion:
Do we as Reformed people believe in the real presence of Christ in the elements?
Is there a time when a believer should pass on taking communion?

10 July 2009

Piper on Calvin

We've heard from Carl Trueman, now let's watch John Piper share some thoughts on Calvin's influence.

Trueman on Calvin

On this 500th anniversary of Calvin's Birthday let's here from Carl Trueman on what shaped Calvin's thinking.

09 July 2009

Spurgeon on Calvin(ism)

As tomorrow we celebrate the 500th anniversary of John Calvin's birthday a few appropriate quotes from Charles Spurgeon might be in order.

I am not a Calvinist by choice, but because I cannot help it.

I believe nothing merely because Calvin taught it, but because I have found his teaching in the Word of God.

Some seem to believe in a kind of free agency which virtually dethrones God, while others run to the opposite extreme by believing in a sort of fatalism which practically exonerates man from all blame. Both of these views are utterly false, and I scarcely know which of the two is the more to be deprecated. We are bound to believe both sides of the truth revealed in the Scriptures, so I admit that, when a Calvinist says that all things happen according to the predestination of God, he speaks the truth, and I am willing to be called a Calvinist; but when an Arminian says that, when a man sins, the sin is his own, and that, if he continues in sin, and perishes, his eternal damnation will lie entirely at his own door, I believe that he also speaks the truth, although I am not willing to be called an Arminian. The fact is, there is some truth in both these systems of theology.

They are all Calvinists there, every soul of them. They may have been Arminians on earth; thousands and millions of them were; but they are not after they get there, for here is their song, “Salvation unto our God, which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.”

07 July 2009

What Book Book Brought You To Calvinism?

A short time ago the guys over at the Reformed Forum did a show on which book got you started on Calvinism and what's the story that goes with it. I thought it would be great to ask that question here. For me, believe it or not, it was An Eschatology of Victory by Marcellus Kik. I'm sure someone is asking how an eschatology book got me started. As the story goes, back in my dark years, I was a dispensationalist. I called my Pastor at the time to inquire of him some piece of information on the subject and I was told that he did not hold to dispensationalism. "I'm a postmillennialist." I was floored. Couldn't believe it. He loaned me his copy of EOV which got me further into Reformed theology. What I didn't know at the time was that he was steadily converting to Reformed theology by reading Joy Unspeakable by Martin Lloyd-Jones. (So I guess, indirectly, that book got me into Reformed theology as well.) The rest is history - I've been Reformed and reading Reformed theology ever since. What's your story? What's that book that got deep into Reformed theology? I want to hear from all of you.

05 July 2009

The Lord's Day

This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.
Psalm 118:24

04 July 2009

Lord's Day 27 Heidelberg Catechism

Lord's Day 27

Scripture Reading: Genesis 17; Acts 2:39; Galatians 3:23-29; Colossians 2:11-12

Question 72. Does the outward washing with water itself wash away sins?
Answer. No, only the blood of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit cleanse us from all sins.

Question 73. Why then does the Holy Spirit call baptism the washing of rebirth and the washing away of sins?
Answer. God has good reason for these words, intending to teach us that the blood and Spirit of Christ wash away our sins just as water washes away dirt from our bodies. But more important, God intends to assure us, by this divine pledge and sign, that the washing away of our sins spiritually is as real as physical washing with water.

Question 74. Should infants, too, be baptized?
Answer. Yes. Infants as well as adults are in God's covenant and belong to God's people. They, no less than adults, are promised the forgiveness of sins through Christ's blood and the Holy Spirit who gives faith. Therefore, by baptism, the sign of the covenant, infants should be received into the Christian church and should be distinguished from the children of unbelievers. This was done in the Old Testament by circumcision, which was replaced in the New Testament by baptism.

For reflection and discussion:

What potential harm exists from an incorrect view of baptism?
What are the implications of this view verses "believer's baptism"?

03 July 2009

It's Not My Job

When I was a young man I had had a belly full of being told to win souls for Christ. I was sick and tired of hearing it, I was sick of being a "salesman for God" I thought. It was tremendously freeing to come to the knowledge that it is not up to me to "win souls for Christ." The Holy Spirit does the work, I'm just the spokesman. I was recently reminded of this when I came across a great quote from Al Mohler on this issue. We are heralds assigned to preach a message, not salesmen charged to market a product (Tabletalk, June 2002, pg.16). How astounding and reassuring it is that we have no part in our salvation; it is completely monergistic. Soli Deo Gloria.

According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love....Eph. 1:4

01 July 2009

Just Another Opinion...

As tragic as Micheal Jackson's death is, the endless media coverage is even more so. Carl Trueman paints an accurate picture: I never liked Jackson's music but he was clearly a hugely popular and talented entertainer. And he continues to entertain in death -- not just because his records can be played but, at least for a week or two, because the media are able to play his death as one more big showbiz event, burying the tragedy of real death, real bereavement, and really shattered and terminated relationships under the schmaltz of the faux-bereavement of his fans through the sanitizing and distancing medium of television and video. Of course, the response to his death by the people on the street says a lot about the importance of entertainment in our age, indeed, about the idolatries of the modern world. But is also tells us something about the entertainment media. Like casinos in Las Vegas, come rain or shine, the House always wins.