Wednesday, June 26, 2013

If You Are Hesitant To Come To Christ...

If you are hesitant to come to Christ, the 18th century New England pastor and author, Jonathan Edwards, has some questions you should ask yourself. These are found in his work, The Excellency Of Christ (1738). I got this information from Justin Taylor's June 26, 2013 Between Two Worlds blog.
·         What are you afraid of, that you dare not venture your soul upon Christ?
·         Are you afraid that he cannot save you, that he is not strong enough to conquer the enemies of your soul?
·         But how can you desire one stronger than “the almighty God”? as Christ is called, Isa. 9:6.
·         Is there need of greater than infinite strength?
·         Are you afraid that he will not be willing to stoop so low as to take any gracious notice of you?
·         But then, look on him, as he stood in the ring of soldiers, exposing his blessed face to be buffeted and spit upon by them!
·         Behold him bound with his back uncovered to those that smote him!
·         And behold him hanging on the cross!
·         Do you think that he that had condescension enough to stoop to these things, and that for his crucifiers, will be unwilling to accept of you, if you come to him?
·         Or, are you afraid that if he does accept you, that God the Father will not accept of him for you?
·         But consider, will God reject his own Son, in whom his infinite delight is, and has been, from all eternity, and who is so united to him, that if he should reject him he would reject himself?
·         What is there that you can desire should be in a Savior, that is not in Christ?
·         Or, wherein should you desire a Savior should be otherwise than Christ is?
·         What excellency is there wanting?
·         What is there that is great or good; what is there that is venerable or winning; what is there that is adorable or endearing; or, what can you think of that would be encouraging, which is not to be found in the person of Christ?
·         Would you have your Savior to be great and honorable, because you are not willing to be beholden to a mean person?
·         And, is not Christ a person honorable enough to be worthy that you should be dependent on him?
·         Is he not a person high enough to be appointed to so honorable a work as your salvation?
·         Would you not only have a Savior of high degree, but would you have him, notwithstanding his exaltation and dignity, to be made also of low degree, that he might have experience of afflictions and trials, that he might learn by the things that he has suffered, to pity them that suffer and are tempted?
·         And has not Christ been made low enough for you? and has he not suffered enough?
·         Would you not only have him possess experience of the afflictions you now suffer, but also of that amazing wrath that you fear hereafter, that he may know how to pity those that are in danger, and afraid of it?
·         This Christ has had experience of, which experience gave him a greater sense of it, a thousand times, than you have, or any man living has.
·         Would you have your Savior to be one who is near to God, that so his mediation might be prevalent with him?
·         And can you desire him to be nearer to God than Christ is, who is his only-begotten Son, of the same essence with the Father?
·         And would you not only have him near to God, but also near to you, that you may have free access to him?
·         And would you have him nearer to you than to be in the same nature, united to you by a spiritual union, so close as to be fitly represented by the union of the wife to the husband, of the branch to the vine, of the member to the head; yea, so as to be one spirit?
·         For so he will be united to you, if you accept of him.
·         Would you have a Savior that has given some great and extraordinary testimony of mercy and love to sinners, by something that he has done, as well as by what he says?
·         And can you think or conceive of greater things than Christ has done?
·         Was it not a great thing for him, who was God, to take upon him human nature: to be not only God, but man thenceforward to all eternity?
·         But would you look upon suffering for sinners to be a yet greater testimony of love to sinners, than merely doing, though it be ever so extraordinary a thing that he has done?
·         And would you desire that a Savior should suffer more than Christ has suffered for sinners?
·         What is there wanting, or what would you add if you could, to make him more fit to be your Savior?

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Knowledge Of God: A Great Medicine

In Sunday morning’s message we talked about the importance of getting to know God. I would like to offer to you a prod in that direction by way of a powerful quote.  In Chapter One of his classic book, Knowing God, J. I. Packer shares the following January 7, 1855 sermon introduction from the twenty year old Charles Haddon Spurgeon at New Park Street Chapel in Southwark, England:
It has been said by someone that “the proper study of mankind is man.” I will not oppose the idea, but I believe it is equally true that the proper study of God’s elect is God; the proper study of a Christian is the Godhead. The highest science, the loftiest speculation, the mightiest philosophy, which can ever engage the attention of a child of God, is the name, the nature, the person, the work, the doings, and the existence of the great God whom he calls his Father.
There is something exceedingly improving to the mind in a contemplation of the Divinity. It is a subject so vast, that all our thoughts are lost in its immensity; so deep, that our pride is drowned in its infinity. Other subjects we can compass and grapple with; in them we feel a kind of self-content, and go our way with the thought, “Behold I am wise.” But when we come to this master science, finding that our plumbline cannot sound its depth, and that our eagle eye cannot see its height, we turn away with the thought that vain man would be wise, but he is like a wild ass’s colt; and with solemn exclamation, “I am but of yesterday, and know nothing.” No subject of contemplation will tend more to humble the mind, than thoughts of God….
But while the subject humbles the mind, it also expands it. He who often thinks of God, will have a larger mind than the man who simply plods around this narrow globe…. The most excellent study for expanding the soul is the science of Christ, and Him crucified, and the knowledge of the Godhead in the glorious Trinity. Nothing will so enlarge the intellect, nothing so magnify the whole soul of man, as a devout, earnest, continued investigation of the great subject of the Deity.
And whilst humbling and expanding, this subject is eminently consolatory. Oh, there is, in contemplating Christ, a balm for every wound; in musing on the Father, there is quietus for every grief; and in the influence of the Holy Ghost, there is a balsam for every sore. Would you lose your sorrow? Would you drown your cares? Then go, plunge yourself in the Godhead’s deepest sea; be lost in his immensity; and you shall come forth as from a couch of rest, refreshed and invigorated. I know nothing which can so comfort the soul; so calm the swelling billows of sorrow and grief; so speak peace to the winds of trial, as a devout musing upon the subject of the Godhead. It is to that subject that I invite you this morning.

And, it is to that glorious subject I invite you each and every day of your life. It is the essence of our eternal life. “And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” (John 17:3)

Sunday, June 16, 2013

We're On The Right Track

During the Sunday sermon we made the case that idolatry is at the heart of all sin. One of the passages of the Bible we did not mention, yet also serves as a marker we are heading the right direction is Deuteronomy 28:47: “Because you did not serve the LORD your God with joyfulness and gladness of heart, because of the abundance of all things.” Here we find out that just before entering the Promised Land Moses warns Israel against turning away from God with the result they would end up being the recipients of his curses rather than his blessings. The man of God explains in this verse one of the reasons that will stand behind such sin, if it were to happen, is a lack of joy and gladness of heart toward God. 

Here we find great wisdom out of the Old Testament, namely the affections and desires of our heart will determine the emphases and great themes of our life. If we lack the delight in God he deserves, most likely we will “love evil more than good” (Psalm 52:3),  take pleasure in doing wrong, and…enjoy the twisted ways of evil” (Proverbs 2:14, NLT), rather than loving God, his Word, and his ways (Deuteronomy 6:5; Psalm 1:2; 119:72). 

Since we will not love God if we don’t trust in him (cf. Psalm 91:14; 1 John 5:1-5), we must fight the good fight to trust in him (1 Timothy 6:12) and so grow our love for God. This and only this will lead us to put to death sin that has at its core those things that function as our gods in the place of the true God (Colossians 3:5). 

So, may we grow in the knowledge of and love for our great God and Savior!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The Danger Of Sin

Recently New Testament scholar, D. A. Carson, commented that one of the hardest things about speaking to college students currently is that they have very little concept of sin. “Oh, they know how to do it quite well,” he went on. But it is almost as if they can no longer grasp the fact that they truly are sinners. I would add that this description tends to fit for many in other seasons-of-life also. With this blindness to sin also comes ignorance about the danger of sin.

Recently I ran across the following poem by the seventeenth century English Puritan, John Bunyan (author of Pilgrim’s Progress) that is designed to remedy this malady. Read carefully what he says about the subject. I will offer a brief italicized explanation after each stanza.

Sin is the living worm, the lasting fire;
Hell seen would lose its heat, could sin expire.
Better sinless in hell, than to be where
Heaven is, and to be found a sinner there.
One sinless with infernals might do well,
But sin would make of heaven a very hell.

The eternal presence of sin (and God’s wrath for sin) is
what makes hell so horrible. This is so much the case
that hell would lose is horror without it and heaven
would lose its glory if sin were present there.

Look to thyself then, keep it out of door,
Lest it get in and never leave thee more.

Don’t allow sin to enter into your life. It can
become habitual and difficult to remove.

Fools make a mock at sin, will not believe
It carries such a dagger in its sleeve;
How can it be, say they, that such a thing,
So full of sweetness, e’er should wear a sting?
They know not that it is the very spell
Of sin, to make them laugh themselves to hell.

Some think sin is not a big deal—even laughing at it
and making fun of it. Such persons tend to think
life is all about finding pleasure apart from God. As
they are having a good time, they numb themselves
to it, never turn to the solution of Christ, and set
their course for eternal conscious punishment in hell.

Look to thyself, then, deal with sin no more,
Lest He who saves, against thee shuts the door.

Don’t allow sin so to blind you that you never turn to
Christ and find out that someday it is too late to do so.