Sunday, September 25, 2005

Flesh-Pleasing Pulpit Opiates

They are a rebellious people, deceptive children, children who donot obey the Lord's instruction. They say to the seers, "Do notsee," and to the prophets, "Do not prophesy the truth to us. Tell us flattering things! Prophesy illusions! Get out of the way! Leave the pathway. Rid us of the Holy One of Israel." Is. 30:9-11

It is a striking fact, that He who was love incarnate; who was mercy's messenger to our lost world; who was named Jesus, because He was to be the Savior of His people; who was the manifestation of God's love to man--delivered, during the course of His personal ministry, more fearful descriptions of Divine justice and the punishment of the wicked, than are to be found in any other part of the Word of God! What can exceed the solemn scene of the parable of the rich man in torments? Hell and destruction are there set openly before us.

No man can fulfill his ministry, therefore, without frequently alluding to the justice of God in the punishment of sin.He must seek to alarm the fears of the unconverted by a representation of the consequences that will follow a state of final impenitence.

Such a subject frequently calls up all the enmity of the carnal mind. To be told, not only that they are sinners--which all will admit in general terms--but that their sins are such as to deserve the wrath of God, such as to expose them to the torments of hell, and such as will infallibly bring them to the bottomless pit--unless they truly repent; to be told again and again that they are hastening to perdition; to have the rod of Divine vengeance shaken over their heads; to have all the dreadful curses of the violated law analyzed, ascertained and announced; to have this done in their hearing, and done frequently; to be made to sit and hear their future eternal doom, and thus to be tormented before their time--is what they cannot, and will not endure! Unable to bear any longer his pointed addresses to the conscience, they will leave his ministry--for the flesh-pleasing pulpit opiates of some flatterer of men's souls, who is too cowardly to trouble the minds, or alarm the consciences of those who love smooth, flattering and delusive preaching.

To be publicly denounced as deserving Divine wrath; to be told that they are sinners to such a degree as to merit the eternal punishment of a holy God; to be reminded that, instead of their fancied good heart, pure nature, and blameless life--they are, in the sight of God, depraved in every faculty and polluted in every part; to be represented as unfit for communion with God here, and for His presence hereafter--all this is so opposed to all their notions, so mortifying to their vain pride, so degrading to their dignity, that they cannot but dislike it. To such a debasement they would not willingly descend; and hence their demand for the teaching of deceit, and the smooth speech of falsehood. What they want is to be flattered into a good opinion of themselves. They hate the doctrine which disturbs their self-delight, and revile the man who attempts to tell them the solemn reality of how vile they are!

(J. A. James, "Dislike to Ministerial Faithfulness Stated and Explained")

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

The Key of Death

"Don't be afraid!" said Christ, "I am the first and the last, the living one. I was dead, but now I am alive forever! I have the keys of the unseen world and of death!" What consolation is there in this sublime declaration! The key of death is never for a moment entrusted out of His hands--and never can be wrested from them! Every time a human being dies, it is by an act of His power, in turning the key which unlocks the gates of death! Our life is under the constant and strict observation of His omniscient eye! He determines the moment when to take the key from His belt, and throw the portals of immortality back on their mighty hinges!

O, what comfort does this impart to us, in reference to our own lives--to know that exposed as we are to all the accidents and diseases of this 'world of changes', and enveloped as we are in darkness as to the consequences of the next step, and the events of the next hour--that we cannot die by a random stroke, or by a blind chance! The key of death must be turned by Him who is infinitely wise, and powerful, and good!

"See, I am the only God! There are no others. I kill, and I make alive! I wound, and I heal, and no one can rescue you from My power!" Deuteronomy 32:39

J.A. James

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Solitude with God

"Commune with your own heart upon your bed and be still" is a wise and healing counsel. But how can it be followed in this day of the newspaper, the telephone, the radio and the television? These modern playthings, like pet tiger-cubs, have grown so large and dangerous that they threaten to devour us all! No spot is now safe from the world's intrusion!"

After He had sent the multitudes away, He went up into the mountain by Himself to pray. When evening had come, He was there alone." Matthew 14:23

-A.W. Tozer-

Monday, September 12, 2005

The High Priest!

How prominent in Israel's story was the High Priest! View his splendid robes. Examine each part of his significant apparel. See on his heart and on his shoulders the names of the twelve tribes. Mark his passing the veil, and entering into the Holy of Holies, not without blood, and burning incense in the sacred place, and sprinkling the mercy-seat, and returning to give blessings to the people. The Truth of every part of this dazzling appearance is Christ. He came, "a High Priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by His own blood He entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us." (Heb. 9:11, 12) How precious, how enlightening, how cheering, is the Old Testament record, when in every sign, and semblance, and type, we see the glorious Person, and the gracious acts of Christ, the Truth!

-Henry Law-

Friday, September 09, 2005

We Must Grow in Understanding

13 For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. 14 But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. Heb. 5 13-14

"There are in the church babes and persons of full age (v. 12–14), and there are in the gospel milk and strong meat. Observe, 1. Those that are babes, unskillful in the word of righteousness, must be fed with milk; they must be entertained with the plainest truths, and these delivered in the plainest manner; there must be line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little, and there a little, Isa. 28:10. Christ despises not his babes; he has provided suitable food for them. It is good to be babes in Christ, but not always to continue in that childish state; we should endeavor to pass the infant state; we should always remain in malice children, but in understanding we should grow up to a manly maturity. 2. There is strong meat for those that are of full age, v. 14. The deeper mysteries of religion belong to those that are of a higher class in the school of Christ, who have learned the first principles and well improved them; so that by reason of use they have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil, duty and sin, truth and error."

-Matthew Henry-

May we all, by God’s grace, continue to strive for maturity in the faith.


Thursday, September 08, 2005

Pride and Insanity

Let his heart be changed from that of a man, let him be given the heart of a beast. Daniel 4:16

This verse is taken from the midst of a dream that king Nebuchadnezzar had concerning himself. The king had grown strong and the kingdom he ruled was prospering, but pride was in his heart. It is interesting that the Lord punished his pride with seven years of insanity, by taking his heart of a man and figuratively gave him the heart of a beast.

There is a parallel in today’s society. We have said that God is dead. We don’t need him. We are autonomous. This is pride parading as wisdom, but look what has happened because of it. If God does not exist then we must live in a closed system of cause and effect, making us merely beasts on the earth with no purpose or reason for our lives. Death becomes the end and no matter what you do in this life you will still cease to exist. After death it’s over, all you’ve done, all you believed go into oblivion. The insanity comes in when people who hold this worldview still live like there is a reason for it. Hence, pride has led to insanity.

May it only be for a season as in Nebuchanezzar’s case. May we eventually step out of our insanity and may understanding return to our society that we may bless the most high, and give praise and honor to Him who lives forever. In Jesus Christ there is life, there is reason, and there is purpose. We may live our abundant lives for Him, and in the end, only the Christian can legitimately cry out, “death were is your sting? Grave where is your victory?”

-Doug Eaton-

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Empty Confidence in the Flesh

Our Lord had no need to undertake the bearing of the cross except to attest and prove his obedience to the Father. But as for us, there are many reasons why we must pass our lives under a continual cross… We readily esteem our virtue above its due measure. And we do not doubt, whatever happens, that against all difficulties it will remain unbroken and unconquered. Hence we are lifted up to stupid and empty confidence in the flesh; and relying on it, we are then insolently proud against God himself, as if our own powers were sufficient without his grace.

He can best restrain this arrogance when he proves to us by experience not only that great incapacity but also the frailty under which we labor. Therefore, he afflicts us either with disgrace or poverty, or bereavement, or disease, or other calamities. Utterly unequal to bearing these, in so far as they touch us, we soon succumb to them. Thus humbled, we learn to call upon His power, which alone makes us stand fast under the weight of afflictions.

-John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion-

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Does The Word Change Your Heart?

There are delusive signs of spiritual health and vigor.

Increased ability and disposition to 'talk of religion' in the way of explaining and defending its doctrines, maybe mistaken for an increased influence of it in the heart. Yet this may be nothing but the working of pride, or an effusion of vanity.

To have a knowledge of the truths of Scripture, without an experience of their influence upon the heart, is only walking to the bottomless pit with the torch of truth in our right hand!

J. A. James

Monday, September 05, 2005

Burdens and Rest

“Oh That I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest. Psalms 55:6

David found himself again at the foot of the Lord crying out in restlessness for deliverance. Rest is what he was seeking, and as he longs for this rest he cries out for a means of escape. This world gives us plenty of opportunity to cry out in the same manner. Whether it be our toil that daily besets us, family problems, illnesses, or the frequent visits of our own failures, rest is elusive. The Lord said take my yoke upon you and I will give you rest. It’s amazing how a burden can bring rest. We see this in Genesis when Jacob is blessing his sons and he says

Issachar is a strong donkey
Lying down between two burdens;
He saw that rest was good,
And that the land was pleasant;
He bowed his shoulder to bear a burden
And became a band of servants.

Issachar and the tribe that came from him were of the working class. They see that rest is good and they bowed their shoulder to bear a burden. We too should follow their lead, realizing that rest is good and that it is found in becoming servants.

Christ took upon Himself all of our wrath, shame and sin. He bore on the cross the true burden of our sin, we simply bear the light burden of living in a sinful world as His children. The wrath that was inflicted on Christ caused God to turn away from Him. There is no greater place of despair, and no rest could be found in that moment. We as people of God bear such a light burden in comparison. In this world we may suffer shame, disease, and struggle with our own sinfulness. Which may cause us to despair but this is a light burden to bear because our condemnation comes to us from within ourselves or other people, but never from God.

As you seek rest today do it by bowing your shoulder to the yolk of Christ, and become His servant. As you toil, labor, and deal with the issues of this sinful world, rest in the knowledge that He has bourn the real burden. Rest also in the knowledge that when you have on the yolk of Christ, redemption is certain. Redemption from this world, and redemption from your own sinful nature, when at last our sojourn ends and we see Him face to face.

-Doug Eaton-

Friday, September 02, 2005

The Balm Of Gilead

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Matt. 5:4

Many people use this verse to speak about life’s tragedies, and when we mourn over these things we will be comforted. But the greatest thing we have to mourn over is our sin, and if Christ can comfort us in this tragedy, then every other tragedy will pale in comparison and be absorbed into that comfort also. The foundation of all our hope and comfort is found in the death and resurrection of our Lord. For on the cross the price for our sin was paid, and in the resurrection the victory is found. There is no tragedy in this life that will bring us to our knees in mourning that is as significant of a problem as our sin, and when our greatest problem is cured, the comfort spreads to the lesser ones like a soothing balm. In vain we search for many medicines to cure our many wounds, when there is only one medicine that is effective and it will comfort them all. It is the balm of Gilead: the Blood of Christ.

-Doug Eaton-

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Man-Made Ministers

The ministry has been very often degraded into a 'trade'.

They are 'selected by man', they are crammed with literature; they are educated up to a certain point; they are turned outready dressed; and persons call them 'ministers'.

I wish them all God-speed, every one of them; for as good Joseph Irons used to say, "God be with many of them, if it be only to make them hold their tongues." Man-made ministers are of no use in this world, and the sooner we get rid of them the better.

-Charles Spurgeon-