The Art of Divine Contentment

“Discontent is to the soul as a disease is to the body: it puts it out of temper and much hinders its regular and sublime motions heavenward”. So said the English Puritan author Thomas Watson.

Over the next few weeks we will be exploring the idea of Christian contentment. Just what exactly is it and what should it look like? How important is it in the Christian’s life and what effect does true contentment have upon the Christian? I have chosen “The Art of Divine Contentment” by Thomas Watson as the text for this series as it is one of the best available on the subject.  Joel Beeke and Randall Pederson share this view, stating in their mammoth ‘introductory’ book “Meet the Puritans” that, “Godly contentment is a theme missing from many pulpits today. A serious reading of this treatise…..would do much to fill this void”.

Before we begin to think about Christian contentment, let’s learn a little bit about Thomas Watson.

Watson was born in Yorkshire, England (c 1620), had a pretty normal upbringing typical of that era and eventually went on to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1642 from Emmanuel College, Cambridge. He was a dedicated scholar, who wrote many books. Some of his best works, alongside our chosen text, include,

–          All Things for Good– A work based on Romans 8:28 that God works all things for the good of the Christian. “If someone asks, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” or “How can I know if I am called by God?,” offer them this book. Its chapters on the love of God, effectual calling, and the purpose of God are especially helpful in understanding Romans 8:28.” (Beeke & Pederson, Meet the Puritans)

–          The Beatitudes–  An exposition of Matthew 5:1-12

–          A Body of Divinity– This is Watson’s magnum opus; his most famous work. In this book Watson follows the question and answer format of the Westminster Shorter Catechism and offers up 176 sermons on the essential teachings of Christianity. One reviewer on Amazon.com says “This book needs to be bought, understood and appreciated. My hope is that it will soon sell like wild-fire spreads.” I couldn’t agree more with that assertion! Buy this book and read it!!

–          The Godly Man’s Picture– In this book Watson describes 24 marks of a godly man including “moved by faith,” “fired with love,” “prizes Christ,” “loves the Word,” “is humble,” “is patient,” and “loves the saints”.

–          The Great Gain of Godliness– Despite having a catalogue of 12,000 books in His library, this is one that Spurgeon wished he had. “This volume would be a great find if we could come at it, for Watson is one of the clearest and liveliest of Puritan authors.” The book is Watson’s exposition of Malachi 3:16-18 and in it he aims “to encourage solid piety an confute the atheists of the world, who imagine there is no gain in godliness.” A  fantastic little volume which combines rich spirituality, nourishing doctrine, and sane practical wisdom coupled with fascinating illustrations and a very pleasant style.

–          The Lord’s Prayer– Initially this was a companion to ‘A Body of Divinity’ but can be read alone without it. Watson continues the question and format method of ‘A Body of Divinity’ in an attempt to explain the petitions of Jesus’ model prayer.

–          The Ten Commandments– Watson’s third volume on the Shorter Catechism which examines the 10 commandments and the moral law as a whole. An extremely valuable work.

Watson was a Presbyterian and expressed his strong Presbyterian views during the Civil War. He was imprisoned in 1651 for his part in a plot to restore the monarchy to the throne however was released and reinstated in 1652. In 1662, due to the Act of Uniformity (a parliamentary act which made all churches adhere to the Anglican Book of Common Prayer and Church of England practices) he was ejected from his pastorate. However, Watson continued to preach in private- in barns, homes, and woods- whenever he had the opportunity.  He then ministered alongside a fellow Puritan giant, Stephen Charnock, at Bishopsgate, until Charnocks death in 1680. He continued to labour until his health failed. He died suddenly in 1686 while engaged in private prayer.

His depth of doctrine, clarity of expression, warmth of spirituality, love of application, and gift of illustration enhanced his reputation as a preacher and writer. This has made him one of the most popular and accessible Puritan writers for the modern reader. Do yourself a favour and get some of his books. You will be enriched and encouraged in your faith if you do so.

Next in the series: An Introduction to Christian Contentment

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The 10 Effects of Believing the Doctrines of Grace

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“These ten points are my personal testimony to the effects of believing in the five points of Calvinism. I have just completed teaching a seminar on this topic and was asked by the class members to post these reflections so they could have access to them. I am happy to do so. They, of course, assume the content of the course, which is available online from Desiring God Ministries, but I will write them here in the hope that they might stir others to search, Berean-like, to see if the Bible teaches what I call “Calvinism.”

1. These truths make me stand in awe of God and lead me into the depth of true God-centered worship.

I recall the time I first saw, while teaching Ephesians at Bethel College in the late ’70′s, the threefold statement of the goal of all God’s work, namely, “to the praise of the glory of his grace” (Ephesians 1:6, 12, 14).

It has led me to see that we cannot enrich God and that therefore his glory shines most brightly not when we try to meet his needs but when we are satisfied in him as the essence of our deeds. “From him and through him and to him are all things. To him the glory forever” (Romans 11:36). Worship becomes an end in itself.

It has made me feel how low and inadequate are my affections, so that the Psalms of longing come alive and make worship intense.

2. These truths help protect me from trifling with divine things.

One of the curses of our culture is banality, cuteness, cleverness. Television is the main sustainer of our addiction to superficiality and triviality.

God is swept into this. Hence the trifling with divine things.

Earnestness is not excessive in our day. It might have been once. And, yes, there are imbalances in certain people today who don’t seem to be able to relax and talk about the weather.

Robertson Nicole said of Spurgeon, “Evangelism of the humorous type [we might say, church growth of the marketing type] may attract multitudes, but it lays the soul in ashes and destroys the very germs of religion. Mr. Spurgeon is often thought by those who do not know his sermons to have been a humorous preacher. As a matter of fact there was no preacher whose tone was more uniformly earnest, reverent and solemn” (Quoted in The Supremacy of God in Preaching, p. 57).

3. These truths make me marvel at my own salvation.

After laying out the great, God-wrought salvation in Ephesians 1, Paul prays, in the last part of that chapter, that the effect of that theology will be the enlightenment of our hearts so that we marvel at our hope, and at the riches of the glory of our inheritance, and at the power of God at work in us – that is, the power to raise the dead.

Every ground of boasting is removed. Brokenhearted joy and gratitude abound.

The piety of Jonathan Edwards begins to grow. When God has given us a taste of his own majesty and our own wickedness, then the Christian life becomes a thing very different than conventional piety. Edwards describes it beautifully when he says,

The desires of the saints, however earnest, are humble desires: their hope is a humble hope, and their joy, even when it is unspeakable, and full of glory, is humble, brokenhearted joy, and leaves the Christian more poor in spirit, and more like a little child, and more disposed to a universal lowliness of behavior (Religious Affections, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1959, pp. 339f).

4. These truths make me alert to man-centered substitutes that pose as good news.

In my book, The Pleasures of God (2000), pp. 144-145, I show that in the 18th century in New England the slide from the sovereignty of God led to Arminianism and thence to universalism and thence to Unitarianism. The same thing happened in England in the 19thcentury after Spurgeon.

Iain Murray’s Jonathan Edwards: A New Biography (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1987), p. 454, documents the same thing: “Calvinistic convictions waned in North America. In the progress of the decline which Edwards had rightly anticipated, those Congregational churches of New England which had embraced Arminianism after the Great Awakening gradually moved into Unitarianism and universalism, led by Charles Chauncy.”

You can also read in J. I. Packer’s Quest for Godliness (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1990), p. 160, how Richard Baxter forsook these teachings and how the following generations reaped a grim harvest in the Baxter church in Kidderminster.

These doctrines are a bulwark against man-centered teachings in many forms that gradually corrupt the church and make her weak from the inside, all the while looking strong or popular.

1 Timothy 3:15, “The church of the living God [is] the pillar and bulwark of the truth.”

5. These truths make me groan over the indescribable disease of our secular, God-belittling culture.

I can hardly read the newspaper or look at a TV ad or a billboard without feeling the burden that God is missing.

When God is the main reality in the universe and is treated as a non-reality, I tremble at the wrath that is being stored up. I am able to be shocked. So many Christians are sedated with the same drug as the world. But these teachings are a great antidote.

And I pray for awakening and revival.

And I try to preach to create a people that are so God-saturated that they will show and tell God everywhere and all the time.

We exist to reassert the reality of God and the supremacy of God in all of life.

6. These truths make me confident that the work which God planned and began, he will finish – both globally and personally.

This is the point of Romans 8:28-39.

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. 31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died- more than that, who was raised- who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

7. These truths make me see everything in the light of God’s sovereign purposes – that from him and through him and to him are all things, to him be glory forever and ever.

All of life relates to God. There’s no compartment where he is not all-important and the one who gives meaning to everything. 1 Corinthians 10:31.

Seeing God’s sovereign purpose worked out in Scripture, and hearing Paul say that “he accomplishes all things according to the counsel of his will” (Ephesians 1:11) makes me see the world this way.

8. These truths make me hopeful that God has the will, the right, and the power to answer prayer that people be changed.

The warrant for prayer is that God may break in and change things – including the human heart. He can turn the will around. “Hallowed be thy name” means: cause people to hallow your name. “May your word run and be glorified” means: cause hearts to be opened to the gospel.

We should take the New Covenant promises and plead with God to bring them to pass in our children and in our neighbors and among all the mission fields of the world.

“God, take out of their flesh the heart of stone and give him a new heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 11:19).

“Lord, circumcise their hearts so that they love you” (Deuteronomy 30:6).

“Father, put your spirit within them and cause them to walk in Your statutes” (Ezekiel 36:27).

“Lord, grant them repentance and the knowledge of the truth that they may escape from the snare of the devil” (2 Timothy 2:25-26).

“Father, open their hearts so that they believe the gospel” (Acts 16:14).

9. These truths reminds me that evangelism is absolutely essential for people to come to Christ and be saved, and that there is great hope for success in leading people to faith, but that conversion is not finally dependent on me or limited by the hardness of the unbeliever.

So it gives hope to evangelism, especially in the hard places and among the hard peoples.

John 10:16, “I have other sheep that are not of this fold, I must bring them also. They will heed my voice.”

It is God’s work. Throw yourself into it with abandon.

10. These truths make me sure that God will triumph in the end.

Isaiah 46:9-10, “I am God and there is no other. I am God and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, “My counsel shall stand that I will accomplish all my purpose’”

Putting them altogether: God gets the glory and we get the joy.



Limited (Actual) Atonement- An Intro

What is Reformed Theology?- A summary by R.C. Sproul

Remember the Poor

Remember the Poor.
Galatians 2:10

“Why does God allow so many of his children to be poor? He could make them all rich if he pleased; he could lay bags of gold at their doors; he could send them a large annual income; or he could scatter round their houses abundance of provisions, as once he made the quails lie in heaps round the camp of Israel, and rained bread out of heaven to feed them. There is no necessity that they should be poor, except that he sees it to be best. The cattle upon a thousand hills are his-he could supply them; he could make the richest, the greatest, and the mightiest bring all their power and riches to the feet of his children, for the hearts of all men are in his control. But he does not choose to do so; he allows them to suffer want, he allows them to pine in penury and obscurity. Why is this? There are many reasons: one is, to give us, who are favoured with enough, an opportunity of showing our love to Jesus. We show our love to Christ when we sing of him and when we pray to him; but if there were no sons of need in the world we should lose the sweet privilege of evidencing our love, by ministering in alms-giving to his poorer brethren; he has ordained that thus we should prove that our love standeth not in word only, but in deed and in truth. If we truly love Christ, we shall care for those who are loved by him. Those who are dear to him will be dear to us. Let us then look upon it not as a duty but as a privilege to relieve the poor of the Lord’s flock-remembering the words of the Lord Jesus, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. Surely this assurance is sweet enough, and this motive strong enough to lead us to help others with a willing hand and a loving heart-recollecting that all we do for his people is graciously accepted by Christ as done to himself.”

(C.H. Spurgeon- Morning and Evening)

Monergism.com’s monthly Focus- Evangelism

logo-mEvangelism

“Evangelism and theology for the most part go separate ways, and the result is great loss for both. When theology is not held on course by the demands of evangelistic communication, it grows abstract and speculative, wayward in method, theoretical in interest and irresponsible in stance. When evangelism is not fertilized, fed and controlled by theology, it becomes a stylized performance seeking its effect through manipulative skills rather than the power of vision and the force of truth. Both theology and evangelism are then, in one important sense, unreal, false to their own God-given nature; for all true theology has an evangelistic thrust, and all true evangelism is theology in action.”
J.I. Packer

Telling People the Truth in Love A Reformed Approach to Evangelism by Dr. Kim Riddlebarger

Puritan Evangelism bby J.I. Packer

Some “Dos and Dont’s” of Evangelism by Dr. Kim Riddlebarger

Reformed Evangelism by Morton Smith

God’s Way: Vision, Compassion and Prayer by Paul Bassett

Law and Gospel, an Important Distinction in Evangelism by Massimo Lorenzini

Hell’s Best Kept Secret…the Law by Ray Comfort (.pdf)

Words to Winners of Souls by Horatius Bonar

Present Day Evangelism by Arthur W. Pink

The Call to Witness by John Calvin

The Art Of Man-Fishing (.pdf) by Thomas Boston

The Soul Winner by Charles Spurgeon

Compel Them to Come In by Charles Spurgeon

Receiving Christ by Michael Horton

But Spiritual Discernment is Wholly Lost Until we are Regenerated by John Calvin

The Call that Brings a Response by Paul Helm

Reformed MP3s on Evangelism by Monergism.com

The Great Commission by Brian M. Schwertley

Holy Ambition: To Preach Where Christ Has Not Been Named by John Piper

What about the Innocent Native who’s never heard about Jesus? by Greg Johnson

The “Very Pernicious and Detestable” Doctrine of Inclusivism by Robert L. Reymond

Gospel-Centered Ministry (.pdf) by Dr. Tim Keller

The Law of Christ as the Fulfillment of the Law of Moses: A Modified Lutheran View (.pdf) by Douglas J. Moo

Human Inability by Charles Spurgeon

Is Jesus Really the Only Way? by John Hendryx

The External and Internal Call by Wilhelmus a Brakel

“… And they sang a new song: “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.” – Revelation 5:9-10

“Let us arouse ourselves to the sternest fidelity, laboring to win souls as much as if it all depended wholly upon ourselves, while we fall back in faith upon the glorious fact that everything rests with the eternal God. ” – C.H. Spurgeon

Thanks again to the guys at Monergism for providing us all with such a great resource.

J.C. Ryle said……

 jc-rlye“The consequences of this widespread dislike to dogma are very serious in the present day. Whether we like to allow it or not, it is an epidemic which is just now doing great harm, especially among young people. It creates, fosters, and keeps up an immense amount of instability in religion. It produces what I must venture to call, if I may coin a phrase, a jellyfish Christianity in the land: that is, a Christianity without bone, or muscle, or power. A jellyfish, as everyone knows who has been much by the seaside, is a pretty and graceful object when it floats in the sea, contracting and expanding like a little delicate transparent umbrella. Yet the same jellyfish, when cast on the shore, is a mere helpless lump, without capacity for movement, self-defence, or self-preservation.

 

Alas! It is a vivid type of much religion of this day of which the leading principle is- No dogma, no distinctive tenets, no positive doctrine. We have hundreds of jellyfish clergymen who seem not to have a single bone in their body of divinity. They have no definite opinions; they belong to no school or party; they are so afraid of extreme views that they have no views at all. We have thousands of jellyfish sermons preached every year, sermons without an edge or a point or a corner, smooth as billiard balls, awakening non sinner, and edifying no saint. We have legions of jellyfish young men annually turned out from our universities, armed with a few scraps of second hand philosophy, who think it a mark of cleverness and intellect to have no decided opinions about anything in religion, and to be utterly unable to make up their minds as to what is Christian truth……

 

And last and worst of all, we have myriads of jellyfish worshippers- respectable churchgoing people who have no distinct and definite views about any point of theology. They cannot discern things that differ any more than colour blind people can distinguish colours. They think everybody is right and nobody wrong, everything is true and nothing is false, all sermons are good and none are bad, every clergyman is sound and no clergyman is unsound. They are tossed to and fro, like children, by every wind of doctrine; often carried away by any new excitement and sensational movement; ever ready for new things, because they have no firm grasp on the old; and utterly unable to render a reason of the hope that is in them…..Never was it more important for laymen to hold systematic vies of truth, and for ordained ministers to enunciate dogma very clearly and distinctly in their teaching”

 

J.C. Ryles’ words are eerily prophetic for today’s generation don’t you think? I try my best not to be overly critical of certain movements because I myself am still young and learning, but I think the words of “the Bishop” are an apt description of the Emergent movement. Such leaders in that movement include Brian McClaren, Rob Bell, Doug Pagitt and Leonard Sweet. They’re the ‘big boys’ in the movement so to speak, and their theology certainly is deconstructionist ‘jellyfish’ theology. It is scary how J.C. Ryle, and Spurgeon, foresaw the days in which we now live. Spurgeon and Ryle’s actions against this became known as the ‘Downgrade Controversy’ as they spoke out valiantly against the slippery slope of theological liberalism that was sweeping the United Kingdom. Higher Criticism of the Biblical texts was growing and many were straying away from the truths of the Bible.

 

Today we see the same (or is it just a continuation of what began in the late 1800’s?). Rob Bell says our theology should be like a ‘spring on a trampoline’ rather than a brick wall; by that he means flexible and changeable according to the times. Brian McClaren says people can become followers of Jesus yet remain in their hindu/buddhist worship. Hhhmmmm….. if that’s so then why did Paul not continue on in his zealous Pharisaical Jewish beliefs? What relationship can Christ have with Belial? None! What relationship can a Hindu or Buddhist have with Christ? God says we are to have no other God before Him….so why would the Lord allowfor one to remain in the worship of a false deity? Ryle is right in what he says about the impact such beliefs have on young people. I’ve seen the confusion and doubt first hand. I hear myself saying the following quite frequently these days…..’we would do well to take heed of these wise words’ once spoken by Ryle don’t you think?

Monthly Focus- Doctrine of Election

Two weeks ago I returned to my old University in England to visit some of my friends who are still in attendance and to speak at the Christian Union I attended whilst I was there. It was great to receive this invite, and a real privilege to be able to spend a lot of time in God’s word in preparing my talk. The title of the Talk/Preach given me was “Seeing Christ Clearly” and it was a 20 minute exposition of Mark Chapter 8. An issue that came out in the talk was the doctrine of election and the sovereignty of God. In Mark Chapter 8 Peter confesses Christ as being Lord, however in the parallel account in Matthew we see that Peter only sees this because God has opened his eyes to it. Jesus says “Blessed are you Simon bar Jonah for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.”

University CU’s are made up of Christians from differing backgrounds. Some are from Reformed Evangelical churches, some are from Arminian Free Churches and some are from downright zany and strange churches. Thus, this means that many have been brought up with good teaching and others, sadly, with bad. Needless to say after I spoke some of the students were inquisitive in seeking to understand this doctrine. Some found it difficult to understand why God would let anyone be born if he was just going to send them to hell. An apt question to ask would you not agree? I thus decided it would be a good idea to gather some resources regarding this doctrine. Thankfully my task has been made much easier by the old faithful over at Monergism.com. This month they are doing a focus on then Doctrine of Election. The wealth of material on this website is astounding and every believer should have it on their favourites list. Most of the information below is from Monergism, simply because it is the best material on the issue. Please do take the time to read some these articles as they will, God-willing, give you a better understanding of Scripture and of our God who is Sovereign in all things- even Salvation.

Union with Christ begins with God’s pretemporal decision to save his people in and through Jesus Christ. This union, further, is based on the redemptive work for his people which Christ did in history. Finally, this union is actually established with God’s people after they have been born, continues throughout their lives, and has as its goal their eternal glorification in the life to come. We go on, then, to see union with Christ as having its roots in divine election, its basis in the redemptive work of Christ, and its actual establishment with God’s people in time.
– Anthony Hoekema

“God elected believers; but He chose them that they might be so, not because they were already so…Neither are we called because we believed, but that we may believe; and by that calling which is without repentance it is effected and carried through that we should believe.”
– Augustine Treatise On The Predestination of the Saints Chap. 38

” …the conversion of a sinner being not owing to a man’s self determination, but to God’s determination, and eternal election, which is absolute, and depending on the sovereign Will of God, and not on the free will of man; as is evident from what has been said : and it being very evident from the Scriptures, that the eternal election of saints to the faith and holiness, is also an election of them to eternal salvation; hence their appointment to salvation must also be absolute, and not depending on their contingent, self-determining Will.”
– JONATHAN EDWARDS

Unconditional Election by Brian Schwertley

What is Election? by Dr. Sam Storms

Election – God Chooses His Own by J.I. Packer

Are There Two Wills in God? by John Piper

Misunderstandings of the Doctrine of Election by Wayne Grudem

Election by Charles Spurgeon

Unconditional Election by Loraine Boettner

The Doctrine of Election by A.W. Pink

God’s Sovereignty in the Salvation of Men by Jonathan Edwards – The sovereignty of God is His absolute, independent right of disposing of all creatures according to His own pleasure.

Election by J.C. Ryle

The Doctrine of Election by John Calvin

Corporate and Individual Election in Romans 9: A Response to Brian Abasciano ((.pdf) by Thomas R. Schreiner

Election: Individual vs. Corporate by Monergism.com

John MacArthur Answers Key Questions About Election (mp3) by Voice of the Sheep

Unconditional Election by Dr. Arturo Azurdia III

What is the doctrine of Election? (MP3) by Dr. Tim Keller

“Scripture is the school of the Holy Spirit, in which, as nothing is omitted that is both necessary and useful to know, so nothing is taught but what is expedient to know. Therefore we must guard against depriving believers of anything disclosed about predestination in Scripture, lest we seem either wickedly to defraud them of the blessing of their God or to accuse and scoff at the Holy Spirit for having published what it is in any way profitable to suppress; Whoever, then, heaps odium upon the doctrine of predestination openly reproaches God, as if he had unadvisedly let slip something hurtful to the church”
John Calvin (III, XXI, 3-4, pp. 924, 926).

Steve Camp’s Blog- Check it out

The Below articles are taken from Steve Camps’ blog Camp On This and I just HAD to put all three on. Some wonder why I blog, and such articles as those below answer that question. I don’t blog to build a reputation or seek the applause of men. Rather I blog because it keeps me sharp. It keeps me learning, it keeps me in the Word of God and it also allows me to gather resources that I will use in the future. My sole prayer is that God would use it for his own glory and that people will be blessed/brought/built up in their faith through it. I think the 3 articles below allow for the possibility of all 3.

ASSURANCE
…our joy and confidence in salvation wrought by the Lord Jesus Christ

The Gift of God’s Son, the Guarantee of All Other Blessing
He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? -Romans 8:32

He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all–how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? -Romans 8:32

Since God did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t God, who gave us Christ, also give us everything else? -Romans 8:32

“When God calls a sinner, He does not repent of it. God does not, as many friends do, love one day and hate another; or as princes, who make their subjects favorites and afterwards throw them into prison. This is the blessedness of a saint; his condition admits of no altercation. God’s call is founded upon His decree, and His decree is immutable. Acts of grace cannot be reversed. God blots out His people’s sins, but not their names.” -Thomas Watson

“If our religion be of our own getting or making, it will perish; and the sooner it goes, the better; but if our religion is a matter of God’s giving, we know that He shall never take back what He gives, and that, if He has commenced to work in us by His grace, He will never leave it unfinished.” – C.H. Spurgeon

“God commended his love towards us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” If, then, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, will he freely give us all things. “All things!” How comprehensive the grant! “According as his Divine power has given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness.” Holding the security in the hand of faith, you may repair to your Heavenly Father, and ask for all that you need. So to speak, God has bound himself to withhold no good thing from you. He is pledged, and from that pledge he will never recede, to grant you all you need. What is your demand? Is it the Spirit to seal, to sanctify, to comfort you? Then draw near and ask the gift. “For if you who are evil know how to give good things to your children, how much more shall your Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?” Is it pardon? Then ask it. He who provided the sacrifice for sin, will he not freely bestow the forgiveness of sin? Is it grace? Having given you the Reservoir of grace, is he not as willing and “able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work?” Is it comfort? Having given you the “Consolation of Israel,” will he not prove to you the “God of all comfort?” Is your necessity temporal? Are your circumstances adverse? Filled with forebodings of approaching difficulty, the cruse of oil and the barrel of meal dwindling, are you anxious and fearful? Take your temporal need to God. What! will he bestow the higher blessings of grace, and withhold the inferior ones of providence? Never! And can you press to your believing heart the priceless, precious, unspeakable gift of his Son, and yet cherish in that heart the gloomy, misgiving, thought of God’s unwillingness and inability to supply all your need?” – Octavius Winslow

“For non-reformed theologies…”at the end of the day, the security of the believer finally rests with the believer. For those in the opposite camp [Reformed], the security of the believer finally rests with God — and that, I suggest, rightly taught, draws the believer back to God himself, to trust in God, to a renewed faith that is of a piece with trusting him in the first place.” – D.A. Carson

From the “Hymnbook of Heaven”:
1 Samuel 2:9; Nehemiah 9:16-19; Psalm 31:23, 32:7,23,28-33, 38, 84:5-7, 89:30-33, 94:14, 97:10, 121:7, 125:1; Proverbs 2:8; Isaiah 40:30, 54:4-10; Jeremiah 32:38-42; Matthew 18:6, 12-14, 24:22-24; Luke 1:74, 22:32; John 3:36, 4:13, 5:24, 6:37-40, 51, 8:31, 10:4, 8, 27-29, 17:11, 15; Romans 6:1-4, 7:24-8:4, 28-39, 11:29, 14:14; 1 Corinthians 1:4-9, 3:15, 10:13; 2 Corinthians 1:22, 5:5; Ephesians 1:11-14, 4:30; Philippians 1:6; Colossians 3:1-4; 1 Thessalonians 5:23; 2 Thessalonians 3:3-5; 2 Timothy 1:12, 4:18; Hebrews 3:14, 7:25, 10:14, 36-39, 13:5; 1 Peter 1:3-5; 2 Peter 3:8; 1 John 2:19, 3:9, 5:4, 13, 18; Jude 1, 24.

It’s as almost as though Jesus was concerned lest some might foolishly fall into the trap of worshiping his blood relatives! Indeed, here is Jesus’ own condemnation of the error of adoration and veneration of Jesus’ mother. They do not hold a special place in the kingdom of God, but are like all those who do the will of God. Yet Catholicism, as can be seen from this event, continues to elevate Mary improperly to the status of, in effect, a goddess to whom prayers are offered.
Benedict XVI did not even omit to provide a sacrifice to this de facto goddess. It is reported that, “In a gesture of filial love, the Pope then offered the Madonna a golden rose.” One is reminded immediately of the similar offerings presented by the Philistines to the Ark of the Covenant in the Old Testament, particularly given Catholicism’s claim (or at least the claim of her apologists) that Mary is the “ark of the New Covenant.”

 

“Our fathers worshiped in this mountain, and you people say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.” Jesus *said to her, “Woman, believe Me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. “You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. “But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” -John 4:20-24



by A.W. Tozer

What Is Not Acceptable?
THE STARK, TRAGIC FACT IS THAT THE EFFORTS of many people to worship are unacceptable to God. Without an infusion of the Holy Spirit there can be no true worship. This is serious. It is hard for me to rest peacefully at night knowing that millions of cultured, religious people are merely carrying on church traditions and religious customs and they are not actually reaching God at all. (Whatever Happened to Worship?, p. 46)

The manner in which many moderns think about worship makes me uncomfortable. Can true worship be engineered and manipulated? Do you foresee with me the time to come when churches may call the pastor a “spiritual engineer?” (Whatever Happened to Worship?, p. 85)

You are not worshipping God as you should if you have departmentalized your life so that some areas worship and other parts do not worship. This can be a great delusion—that worship only happens in church or in the midst of a dangerous storm or in the presence of some unusual and sublime beauty of nature around us. I have been with some fellows who became very spiritual when they stood on the breathtaking curve of a steep mountain cliff! (Whatever Happened to Worship? p, 124)

It is impossible for any of us to worship God without the impartation of the Holy Spirit. It is the operation of the Spirit of God within us that enables us to worship God acceptably through that Person we call Jesus Christ, who is Himself God.

So worship originates with God and comes back to us and is reflected from us, as a mirror. God accepts no other kind of worship. (Whatever Happened to Worship?, pp. 44-45)

I can offer no worship wholly pleasing to God if I know that I am harboring elements in my life that are displeasing to Him. I cannot truly and joyfully worship God on Sunday and not worship Him on Monday. I cannot worship God with a glad song on Sunday and then knowingly displease Him in my business dealings on Monday and Tuesday.

I repeat my view of worship—no worship is wholly pleasing to God until there is nothing in me displeasing to God. (Whatever Happened to Worship? pp. 124-125)

Lessons from Cain
There are many kinds of worship that God cannot accept. Cain’s worship in the Old Testament was not accepted because he did not acknowledge the necessity of an atonement for sin in the relationship between God and fallen man. (Whatever Happened to Worship?, p. 40)

The kind of worship Cain offered to God has three basic and serious shortcomings:

First is the mistaken idea that God is a different kind of God than what He really is. This has to do with the person and the character of the sovereign and holy God. How can anyone ever worship God acceptably without knowing what kind of God He really is? Cain surely did not know the true character of God. Cain did not believe that the matter of man’s sin was eternally important to God.

Second is the mistake of thinking that man holds a relationship to God that in fact he does not. Cain casually assumed that he was deserving of acceptance by the Lord without an intermediary. He refused to accept the judgment of God that man had been alienated from his God by sin.

Third, Cain in the Old Testament record, and with him an unnumbered multitude of men and women since, have mistakenly assumed that sin is far less serious than it really is. The record is plain, if men and women would only look at it and consider it. God hates sin because He is a holy God. He knows that sin has filled the world with pain and sorrow, robbing us of our principle purpose and joy in life, the joy of worshipping our God!

The kind of worship offered by Cain is inadequate, without real meaning. Bringing it as an issue to our own day under the New Testament, I assure you that I would not knowingly spend an hour in any church that refuses to teach the necessity of the blood atonement for sin through the cross and the merits of the death of our Lord Jesus Christ! (Whatever Happened to Worship?, pp. 41-42)

Emptiness of the Average Church Service
It will be seen how empty and meaningless is the average church service today. All the means are in evidence; the one ominous weakness is the absence of the Spirit’s power. The form of godliness is there, and often the form is perfected till it is an aesthetic triumph. Music and poetry, art and oratory, symbolic vesture and solemn tones combine to charm the mind of the worshiper, but too often the supernatural afflatus is not there. The power from on high is neither known nor desired by pastor or people. This is nothing less than tragic, and all the more so because it falls within the field of religion where the eternal destinies of men are involved. (The Divine Conquest, [now titled The Pursuit of Man], p. 90)

The Whole Life Must Worship God
It is possible to worship God with our lips and not worship God with our lives. But I want to tell you that if your life doesn’t worship God, your lips don’t worship God either. (Sermon, “Doctrine of the Remnant,” Chicago, 1957)

The total life, the whole man and the whole woman, has got to worship God. Faith and love and obedience and loyalty and conduct and life—all of these are to worship God. If there is anything in you that doesn’t worship God, then there isn’t anything in you that does worship God very well. If you departmentalize your life and let certain parts of you worship God but other parts of you do not worship God, you are not worshipping God as you should. It is a great delusion that we easily fall into the idea that in church or in the presence of death or in the midst of sublimity that we are spiritual. (“The Chief End of Man,” Sermon #6, Toronto, 1962)

There is Samaritan worship
Samaritan worship is heretical worship in the correct meaning of the term. A heretic is not a man who denies all of the truth, he’s just a very persnickety man who picks out what he likes and rejects the rest. Heresy means I take what I like and I reject what I don’t like. (“The Chief End of Man,” Sermon #3, Toronto, 1962)

There is nature worship
It is the poetry of religion. It is the high enjoyment and the contemplation of the sublime. We have an awful lot of nature worshipers and worshipers of God through nature, which is a better way of saying it. It is a high enjoyment, a concentrating of the mind upon beauty as distinct from the eye and the ear. If your ear hears music, that’s beauty. If your eye sees beauty, that’s art. But if you think beautiful thoughts without music or art, that’s poetry and you write that down. Some people mistake rapt feeling for worship. (“The Chief End of Man,” Sermon #3, Toronto, 1962)

Some mistake the music of religion for worship
Whatever elevates the mind and raises to near rapture the soul, that’s supposed to be worship. (The Chief End of Man, Sermon #3, Totonto, 1962)

Not all worship is acceptable with God. And there is a lot of worship in our cultured society that God will never receive in this world or the next. There is religious experience that God will never accept. There is the warm feeling of personal friendships with religious people. There is the sound of the organ and the beauty of the hymns. But apart from truth and the Holy Ghost there is no true worship. (“The Chief End of Man,” Sermon #3, Toronto, 1962)

You cannot worship just as you please
This is one of the tricks of the devil and a very favorite pet of unconverted poets and unconverted people with a bump of sublimity on their head but without the new birth. They teach that we just worship God any way we want to worship God and all will be well. Authentic religious experience is altogether possible apart from redemption. It’s entirely possible to have authentic religious experience and not be a Christian and not be converted and be on our way to eternal hell. You remember that Cain had an experience—an authentic religious experience. He talked to God and God talked to him. It is possible to have an experience with God and yet not have a saving experience with God. It is possible to worship and yet not worship aright. (“The Chief End of Man,” Sermon #3, Toronto, 1962)

Worship has to be in the Spirit and by the Spirit
The notion that just anybody can worship is all wrong. The notion that we can worship without the Spirit is all wrong. The notion that we can crowd the Spirit into a corner and ignore Him, quench Him, resist Him and yet worship God acceptably is a great heresy which we need to correct. Only the Holy Spirit knows how to worship God acceptably. (“The Chief End of Man,” Sermon #8, Toronto, 1962)

Worship Comes Before Work
It may be set down as an axiom that if we do not worship we cannot work acceptably. The Holy Spirit can work through a worshipping heart and through no other kind. We may go through the motions and delude ourselves by our religious activity, but we are setting ourselves up for a shocking disillusionment some day.

Without doubt the emphasis in Christian teaching today should be on worship. There is little danger that we shall become merely worshipers and neglect the practical implications of the gospel. No one can long worship God in spirit and in truth before the obligation to holy service becomes too strong to resist. Fellowship with God leads straight to obedience and good works. That is the divine order and it can never be reversed. (Born after Midnight, pp. 125-126)

Whatever keeps me from the Bible is my enemy, however harmless it may appear to be. Whatever engages my attention when I should be meditating on God and things eternal does injury to my soul. Let the cares of life crowd out the Scriptures from my mind and I have suffered loss where I can least afford it. Let me accept anything else instead of the Scriptures and I have been cheated and robbed to my eternal confusion. (That Incredible Christian, p. 82)

A Hard Message
If there is anything in me that does not worship God, then there is nothing in me that worships God perfectly! I do not say that God must have a perfection of worship or He will not accept any worship at all. I would not go so far; if I did, I would rule myself out. And we would all hang our harps on the willows and refuse to sing the songs of the Lord in a strange land. But, I do say that the ideal God sets before us is that we should worship as near to perfectly as we can. And that if there are areas in my being that are not harmonious and that do not worship God, then there’s no area in my being that worships God perfectly. (The Tozer Pulpit, Book 1, p. 55)

See to it that there isn’t a spot or an hour or a place or a time or a day or a location that isn’t consecrated and given over to God. You’ll be worshipping Him—and He’ll accept it! (The Tozer Pulpit, Book 1, p. 53)

 

The Three Stages of Grace

We’ve died once to the penalty of sin:

Titus 2:11 ¶ For the grace of God has appeared, with salvationa for all people,

Saved by grace.

All of man’s estate from birth hopelessly marred in the fathomless effects of sin. By nature we are all children of wrath, sons of disobedience, slaves to sin; with the only merits of our righteousness compared to the riches of dirty, filthy rags. From the moment of our conception in the womb– we are completely sinful. The wages of sin is death; all who sin die. That is why even infants die; they are sinful, sinners, and worthy of eternal perdition (Roms. 5:12-19).

What about infants who die; the mentally handicapped; or those who are ignorant of and have never heard the gospel? Are they given an exemption from the effects of sin, eternal judgment and punishment, and the righteous justice of a holy God? Are they somehow insulated from eternal wrath because of their age, mental capacity, and ignorance and that salvation is granted to them due to their “state of being” and not due to the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ?
Those that assert that all babies who die receive instant heaven, do so to sooth the aching hearts of grieving parents (which we all understand). But our hope beloved in the tragic death of an infant is not in the destiny of the child, but in the character of God. A baby’s perceived “innocence” affording them instant heaven is only an accommodation afforded by the sentimental whims of man. “In sin my mother conceived me” (Psalm 51:5). We are all sinners (including children) not because we commit acts of sin; but because we are sinful to the core of our being – by nature. There is not a God-sized hole within us that needs filling by divine intervention. Our entire being is corrupt–and it is the same for our children.

Someone’s age is not that which insulate one against God’s holy divine judgment anymore than someone’s mental cognation or ignorance from not hearing the good news of the gospel. Something are still a mystery to us beloved and we must leave them in the just hands of a righteous God. It would be wrong for any of us to be inflexibly dogmatic on the guaranteed eternal salvation of all infants, all who are mentally handicapped, and all those who die in the ignorance of never hearing the gospel. Those that do, IMHO, out of good motives, are promising false hope. And that promise is not up to us, but only up to God Himself.

We need to be born again. Paul leaves no doubt in the bankrupt abilities of man and the greatness of the grace of our God in salvation: “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9). “The grace of God has appeared bringing salvation…” and without grace, there is no hope of eternal life.

Grace is “hard” to live by; for grace robs man of his glory, of all boasting in his own abilities to be made acceptable to God, and dashes his religious pride to the ground. Grace strips us self-confidence, perfectionism, and our own goodness. Grace crushes our arrogance and exalts Christ; lifts holiness and dashes human morality

We die daily to the power of sin:

Titus 2:12 instructing us to deny godlessness and worldly lusts and to live in a sensible, righteous, and godly way in the present age,

Sanctified by grace.

No man through human effort can perfect himself. “Having begun in the Spirit are you trying to perfect yourself in the flesh?” (Gal. 3:3). It is a temptation for any of us once we have tasted of the fount of God’s grace in salvation, to then revert back to a life of works in our sanctification. Paul says here in Titus that grace is our teaching; “instructing us to deny…” We are new creations in Christ, but yet we are incarcerated in unredeemed flesh (Romans 7). The things we want to do, we don’t do; and the things we don’t want to do, we do. “O wretched man am I” Paul says in the midst of this struggle.

Sanctification does and must flow from genuine regeneration; but we must remember beloved, it is all of grace.

One day we will be free from the presence of sin:

Titus 2:13 while we wait for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. Titus 2:14 He gave Himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to cleanse for Himself a special people, eager to do good works.

Glorified by grace.

Grace will see us through til the end. “Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.” (Jude 1: 24-25) 

Charles Spurgeon- Repentance Unto Life

Charles SpurgeonBy “Repentance unto life,” I think we are to understand that repentance which is accompanied by spiritual life in the soul, and ensures eternal life to every one who possesses it. “Repentance unto life,” I say, brings with it spiritual life, or rather, is the first consequent thereof. There are repentances which are not signs of life, except of natural life, because they are only effected by the power of the conscience and the voice of nature speaking in men; but the repentance here spoken of is produced by the Author of life, and when it comes, it begets such life in the soul, that he who was “dead in trespasses and sins,” is quickened together with Christ; he who had no spiritual susceptibilities, now “receives with meekness the engrafted word;” he who slumbered in the very center of corruption, receives power to become one of the sons of God, and to be near his throne. This I think is “repentance unto life,”—that which gives life unto a dead spirit. I have said also, this repentance ensures eternal life; for there are repentances of which you hear men speaks which do not secure the salvation of the soul. Some preachers will affirm that men may repent, and may believe, and yet may fall away and perish. We will not consume our time by stopping to expose their error this morning; we have often considered it before, and have refuted all that they could say in defense of their dogma. Let us think of an infinitely better repentance. The repentance of our test is not their repentance, but it is a “repentance unto life;” a repentance which is a true sign of eternal salvation in Christ; a repentance which preserves us through this temporary state in Jesus, and which when we are passed into eternity, gives us a bliss which cannot be destroyed. “Repentance unto life “is the act of salvation of the soul, the germ which contains all the essentials of salvation, which secures them to us, and prepares us for them.

– Charles H. Spurgeon