Monday, August 31, 2009

Fighting Five Articles of Interest


Being Faithful to Scripture When Heralding the Gospel by John Hendryx

John explains the importance in handling the Scripture accurately when presenting the Gospel

Dr. Mohler's Blog

How Can a God of Love Send Anyone to Hell by Al Mohler

Video of Al Mohler's sermon on the subject of hell

The Companion of Fools by Tim Challies

We become like the company we keep.

Hip and Thigh

Utilizing Evidence by Fred Butler

Fred explains the difference between presuppositional and evidential apologetics.


Shall We Show Deference to False Pastors by Phil Johnson

Phil Johnson comments on a quote on false pastors taken from J.C. Ryle's Expository Thoughts

Spurgeon Monday: Plenteous Redemption-Semons on Sovereignty


"Christ has redeemed the souls of all his people who shall ultimately be saved. To state it after the Calvinistic form, Christ has redeemed his elect; but since you do not know his elect until they are revealed, we will alter that, and say, Christ has redeemed all penitent souls; Christ has redeemed all believing souls; and Christ has redeemed the souls of all those who die in infancy, seeing it is to be received, that all those who die in infancy are written in the Lamb's book of life, and are graciously privileged by God to go at once to heaven, instead to toiling through this weary world. The souls of all those who were written before all worlds in the Lamb's book of life, who in process of time are humbled before God, who in due course are led to lay hold of Christ Jesus as the only refuge of their souls, who hold on their way, and ultimately attain to heaven; these, I believe, were redeemed, and I must firmly and solemnly believe the souls of none other men were in that sense subjects of redemption. I do not hold the doctrine that Judas was redeemed; I could not conceive my Saviour bearing the punishment for Judas, or if so how could Judas be punished again. I could not conceive it possible that God should exact first at Christ's hands the penalty of his sin, and then at the sinner's hands again. I cannot conceive for a moment that Christ should have shed his blood in vain; and though I have read in the books of certain divines, that Christ's blood is fuel for the flames of hell, I have shuddered at the thought, and have cast it from me as being a dreadful assertion, perhaps worthy of those who made it, but utterly unsupported by the Word of God. The souls of God's people, whoever they may be, and they are a multitude that no man can number—and I could fondly hope they are all of you—are redeemed effectually. Briefly, they are redeemed in three ways. They are redeemed from the guilt of sin, from the punishment of sin, and from the power of sin. The souls of Christ's people have guilt on account of sin, until they are redeemed; but when once redemption is applied to my soul, my sins are every one of them from that moment for ever blotted out."


A Sermon
(No. 351)

Delivered at Exeter Hall, Strand, by the
REV. C. H. Spurgeon.


"With him is plenteous redemption."—Psalm 103:7.

REDEMPTION is a word which has gladdened many ears, when there was no heavenly sound in its blessed chime. Apart from any theological use of it, the word is a very sweet one, and has been melodious to many hearts. In those days when piracy was carried on continually along the coast of Africa, when our fellow Christian subjects were caught by corsairs, and carried away captive, you can well understand how the burdened soul of the manacled slave, chained to the oar of his galley, was gladdened by the hope that possibly there would be redemption. His cruel master, who had forced him into his possession, would not willingly emancipate him; but a rumour came, that in some distant nation they had raised a sum of money to purchase the freedom of slaves—that some wealthy merchant had dedicated of his substance to buy back his fellow-countrymen; that the king himself upon his throne had promised to give a liberal redemption that the captives among the moors might return to their home. Truly I can suppose the hours run happily along, and the dreariness of their toil would be assuaged, when once that word "redemption" had sounded in their ears. So with our fellow-subjects and our fellow-men, who once were slaves in our West India settlements. We can well conceive that to their lips the word redemption must have been a very pleasing song. It must have been well nigh as sweet to them as the marriage peals to a youthful bridegroom, when they knew that the noble British nation would count down the twenty millions of their redemption money; that on a certain morning their fetters should be snapped asunder, so that they should no more go out to the plantations to sweat in the sun, driven by the whip, but they should call themselves their own, and none should be their masters to possess thir flesh, and have property in their souls. You can conceive when the sun of that happy morn arose, when emancipation was proclaimed from sea to sea, and the whole land was at liberty, how joyful must their new-found freedom have appeared. O there are many sonnets in that one word "redemption."
Now, ye who have sold for nought your glorious heritage; ye who have been carried bondslaves into Satan's dominion; ye who have worn the fetters of guilt and groaned under them; ye who have smarted beneath the lash of the law; what the news of redemption has been to slaves and captives, that will it be to you to-night. It will cheer your souls and gladden your spirits, and more especially so when that rich adjective is coupled with it—"plenteous redemption."

This evening I shall consider the subject of redemption, and then notice the adjective appended to the word: "plenteous redemption."
I. First, then, we shall consider the subject of REDEMPTION.

I shall commence in this way, by asking, What has Christ redeemed? And in order to let you know what my views are upon this subject, I would announce at once what I conceive to be an authoritative doctrine, consistent with common sense, and declared to us by Scripture, namely, that whatever Christ has redeemed, Christ will most assuredly have. I start with that as an axiom, that whatever Christ ahs redeemed, Christ must have. I hold it to be repugnant to reason, and much more to revelation, that Christ should die to purchase what he never shall obtain; and I hold it to be little less than blasphemy to assert that the intention of our Saviour's death can ever be frustrated. Whatever was Christ's intention when he died—we lay it down as a very groundwork truth, which ought to be granted to us by every reasonable man—that Christ will most certainly gain. I cannot see how it can be that the intention of God in anything can be frustrated. We have always thought God to be so superior to creatures, that when he has once intended a thing, it must most assuredly be accomplished; and if I have that granted to me, I cannot for a moment allow you to imagine that Christ should shed his blood in vain; that he should die with an intention of doing something, and yet should not perform it; that he should die with a full intention in his heart, and with a promise on the part of God, that a certain thing should be given to him as a reward of his sufferings, and yet should fail to obtain it. I start with that; and I think that everyone who will weigh the matter, and truly consider it, must see it to be so, that Christ's intention in his death must be fulfilled, and that the design of God, whatever that may be, must certainly be carried out. Well then, I believe that the efficacy of Christ's blood knows no other limit than the purpose of God. I believe that the efficacy of Christ's atonement is just as great as God meant it should be, and that what Christ redeemed is precisely what he meant to redeem, and exactly what the Father had decreed he should redeem. Therefore I cannot for one moment give any credence whatever to that doctrine which tells us that all men are redeemed. Some may hold it, as I know they do, and hold it very strongly, and even urge it as being a fundamental part of the doctrine of revelation. They are welcome to it; this is a land of liberty. Let them hold their views, but I must tell them solemnly my persuasion, that they cannot hold such doctrine if they do but well consider the matter; for if they once believe in universal redemption, they are driven to the blasphemous inference that God's intention is frustrated, and that Christ has not received what he died to procure. If, therefore, they can believe that, I will give them credit for being able to believe anything; and I shall not despair of seeing them landed at the Salt Lake, or in any other region where enthusiasm and credulity can flourish without the checks of ridicule or reason.
Starting, then, with this assumption, I beg now to tell you what I believe, according to sound doctrine and Scripture, Christ has really redeemed. His redemption is a very compendious redemption. He has redeemed many things; he has redeemed the souls of his people; he has redeemed the bodies of his people; he has redeemed the original inheritance which man lost in Adam; he has redeemed, in the last place, the world, considered in a certain sense—in the sense in which he will have the world at last.

Christ has redeemed the souls of all his people who shall ultimately be saved. To state it after the Calvinistic form, Christ has redeemed his elect; but since you do not know his elect until they are revealed, we will alter that, and say, Christ has redeemed all penitent souls; Christ has redeemed all believing souls; and Christ has redeemed the souls of all those who die in infancy, seeing it is to be received, that all those who die in infancy are written in the Lamb's book of life, and are graciously privileged by God to go at once to heaven, instead to toiling through this weary world. The souls of all those who were written before all worlds in the Lamb's book of life, who in process of time are humbled before God, who in due course are led to lay hold of Christ Jesus as the only refuge of their souls, who hold on their way, and ultimately attain to heaven; these, I believe, were redeemed, and I must firmly and solemnly believe the souls of none other men were in that sense subjects of redemption. I do not hold the doctrine that Judas was redeemed; I could not conceive my Saviour bearing the punishment for Judas, or if so how could Judas be punished again. I could not conceive it possible that God should exact first at Christ's hands the penalty of his sin, and then at the sinner's hands again. I cannot conceive for a moment that Christ should have shed his blood in vain; and though I have read in the books of certain divines, that Christ's blood is fuel for the flames of hell, I have shuddered at the thought, and have cast it from me as being a dreadful assertion, perhaps worthy of those who made it, but utterly unsupported by the Word of God. The souls of God's people, whoever they may be, and they are a multitude that no man can number—and I could fondly hope they are all of you—are redeemed effectually. Briefly, they are redeemed in three ways. They are redeemed from the guilt of sin, from the punishment of sin, and from the power of sin. The souls of Christ's people have guilt on account of sin, until they are redeemed; but when once redemption is applied to my soul, my sins are every one of them from that moment for ever blotted out.

"The moment a sinner believes,
And trusts in his crucified Lord,
His pardon at once he receives,
Salvation in full through his blood."

The guilt of our sin is taken away by the redemption of Christ. Whatever sin you may have committed, the moment you believe in Christ, not only will you never be punished for that sin, but the very guilt of that sin is taken from you. You cease to be in God's sight any longer a guilty person; you are reckoned by God as a justified believer to have the righteousness of Christ about you; and therefore, you can say—to recal a verse which we often repeat—

"Now freed from sin I walk at large,
My Saviour's blood's my full discharge;
At his dear feet my soul I lay,
A sinner saved, and homage pay."

Every sin, every particle of guilt, every atom of transgression, is by the redemption of Christ, effectually taken away from all the Lord's believing family.

And mark, next: not only the guilt, but the punishment of sin is taken away. In fact, when we cease to be guilty, we cease to be the objects of punishment altogether. Take away the guilt, the punishment is gone; but to make it more effectual, it is as it were written over again, that condemnation is taken away, as well as the sin for which we might be condemned. "There is, therefore, now, no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus." None of those who were redeemed by Christ can ever be damned; they can never be punished on account of sin, for Christ has suffered their punishment in their stead, and therefore, they cannot, unless God be unjust, be sued a second time for debts already paid. If Christ their ransom died, they cannot die; if he, their surety, paid their debt, then unto God's justice they owe no longer anything, for Christ hath paid it all. If he hath shed his blood, if he hath yielded up the ghost, if he hath "died, the just for the unjust, to bring us to God," how, then, would God be just, and yet the punisher of those whom he has already punished once in the person of Jesus Christ their Saviour? No beloved, through the plenteous redemtion of Christ we are delivered from all punishment on account of sin, and from all guilt which we had incurred thereby.

Moreover the believing family of Christ—or rather, all for whom he died—are most effectually delivered from the power of sin. Oh! there are some who suck in the two truths I have been mentioning, as if they were honey; but they cannot endure this other point—Christ delivers us from the power of sin. Mark you this, then—we affirm it very strongly—no man can ever be redeemed from the guilt of sin, or from the punishment of sin, unless he be at the same time delivered from the power of sin. Unless he is made by God to hate his own sin, unles he is enabled to cast it to the ground, unless he is made to abhor every evil way, and to cleave unto God with full purpose of heart, walking before him in the land of the living, in the strength of the Holy Spirit, such a man has no right to believe himself redeemed. If thou art still under the dominion of thy lusts, O wicked sinner, thou hast no right to think thyself a purchased heir of heaven. If thou canst be drunk, if thou canst swear, if thou canst curse God, if thou canst lie, if thou canst profane the Sabbath, if thou canst hate his people, if thou canst despise his Word, then thou hast no right whatever, any more than Satan in hell, to boast that thou art redeemed; for all the Lord's redeemed are in due time brought out of the house of bondage, out of the land of Egypt, and they are taught the evil of sin, the horrible penalty of it and the desperate character of it in the sight of God. Art thou delivered from the power of sin, my hearer? Hast thou mortified it? Art thou dead unto it? Is it dead unto thee? Is it crucified unto thee, and thou unto it? Dost thou hate it as thou wouldst a viper? Dost thou tread on it as thou wouldst tread upon a serpent? If thou dost, albeit there be sins of frailty and infirmity, yet if thou hatest the sin of thy heart, if thou hast an unutterable enmity to it, take courage and comfort.

The Lord hath redeemed thee from the guilt and penalty, and also from the power of sin. That is the first point of redemption. And hear me distinctly again, lest any should mistake me. I always like to preach so that there can be no mistake about it. I do not want so to preach that you will say in the judgment of charity, he could not have meant what he said. Now, I mean solemnly again to say what I have said—that I do believe that none others were redeemed than those who are or shall be redeemed from the guilt, the punishment, and the power of sin, because I say again, it is abhorrent to my reason, much less to my views of Scripture, to conceive that the damned ever were redeemed, and that the lost in perdition were ever washed in the Saviour's blood, or that his blood was ever shed with an intention of saving them.

2. Now let us think of the second thing Christ has redeemed. Christ has redeemed the bodies of all his children. In that day when Christ redeemed our souls, he redeemed the tabernacles in which our souls dwell. At the same moment when the spirit was redeemed by blood, Christ who gave his human soul and his human body to death, purchased the body as well as the soul of every believer. You ask, then, in what way redemption operates upon the body of the believer. I answer, first, it ensures it a resurrection. Those for whom Christ died, are ensured by his death a glorious resurrection. "As in Adam all die, even so in Christ, shall all be made alive." All men are by virtue of the death of Christ quickened to a resurrection, but even here there is a special property of the elect, seeing that they are quickened to a blessed resurrection, whilst others are quickened only to a cursed resurrection; a resurrection of woe, a resurrection of unutterable anguish. O Christian, thy body is redeemed.

"What though thine inbred sins require
Thy flesh to see the dust,
Yet, as the Lord thy Saviour rose,
So all his followers must."

What! though in a little time I shall slumber in the tomb, though worms devour this body, I know that my Redeemer liveth, and because he lives I know that in my flesh I shall see God. These eyes which soon shall be glazed in death, shall not be always closed in darkness; death shall be made to give back his prey; he shall restore all that he has taken. Lo, I see him there! He hath the bodies of the just locked up in his dungeons; they are wrapped up in their cerements, and he thinks they are secure: he has sealed their tombs and marked them for his own. O death! foolish death! thy caskets shall be rifled; thy storehouses shall be broken open. Lo, the morning is come! Christ hath descended from on high. I hear the trump, "Awake! Awake!" and lo! from their tombs, the righteous start; while death sits in confusion howling in vain, to find his empire all bereft of its subjects, to find all his dungeons rifled of their prey. "Precious shall their blood be in his sight;" precious shall be their bones! their very dust is blessed, and Christ shall raise them with himself. Think of that, ye that have lost friends—ye weeping children of sorrow! your redeemed friends shall live again. The very hands that grasped yours with a death clutch, shall grasp them in paradise; those very eyes that wept themselves away in tears, shall, with eye-strings that never shall be broken, wake up in the noon-day of felicity. That very frame which thou didst sorrowfully convey, with dread attire of funeral, to bury in its tomb—yes, that selfsame body, made like the image of Jesus Christ, spiritualized and changed, but nevertheless the selfsame body, shall rise again; and thou, if thou art redeemed, shalt see it, for Christ has purchased it, and Christ shall not die in vain. Death will not have one bone of the righteous—nay, not a particle of their dust—nay, not a hair of their heads. It shall all come back. Christ has purchased all our body, and the whole body shall be completed, and united for ever in heaven with the glorified soul. The bodies of the righteous are redeemed, and redeemed for eternal happiness.

3. In the next place, all the possessions of the righteous which were lost in Adam are redeemed. Adam! where art thou? I have a controversy with thee, man, for I have lost much by thee. Come thou hither. Adam! thou seest what thou art now, tell me what thou once wast; then I shall know what I have lost by thee, and then I shall be able to thank my Master that all thou didst lose he has freely bought back to all believers. What didst thou lose? "Alas!" cries Adam, "I had a crown once; I was king of all the world; the beasts crouched at my feet and did me reverence; God made me, that I might have supreme command over the cattle upon the hills, and over all fowls of the air; but I lost my crown. I had a mitre once," said Adam, "for I was a priest to God, and ofttimes in the morning did I climb the hills, and sing sweet orisons of praise to him that made me. My censer of praise hath often smoked with incense, and my voice has been sweet with praise.

'These are thy glorious works, parent of good,
Almighty, thine this universal frame,
Thus wondrous fair; thyself how wondrous then;'

Oft have I bidden misty exhalations, sun, and moon, and stars, sing to his praise; daily have I bidden the herds upon the hills low out his glories, and the lions roar his honours; nightly have I told the stars to shine it out, and the little flowers to blossom it forth: but ah! I lost my mitre, and I, who was once a priest to God, ceased any longer to be his holy servant." Ah! Adam, thou hast lost me much; but yonder I see my Saviour; he takes his crown off his head, that he may put a crown on my head; and he puts a mitre on his head, to be a priest, that he may put a mitre on my head too, and on the head of all his people; for, as we have just been singing,

"Thou hast redeemed our souls with blood,
Hast set the prisoners free;
Hast made us kings and priests to God,
And we shall reign with thee."

Just what Adam lost: the kingship and the priesthood of Christ, is won for all his believing people. And what else didst thou lose, Adam? "Why, I lost paradise." Hush, man! say nothing upon that; for Christ hath bought me a paradise worth ten thousand such Edens as thine. So we can well forgive thee that. And what else didst thou lose? "Why, I lost the image of my Maker." Ah! hush, Adam! In Jesus christ we have something more that that; for we have the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ, and sure that is even better than the image of the Maker, for it is the very dress and robe that the Maker wore. So, Adam, all that thou hast lost I have again. Christ has redeemed all that we sold for nought. I, who have sold for nought a heritage divine, shall have it back unbought,—the gift of love, says Christ, e'en mine. Oh! hear it, then! The trump of Jubilee is blown; Christ hath redeemed the lost possesions of his people.

4. And now I come to the last thing that Christ has redeemed, though not the last point of the discourse. Christ has redeemed this world. "Well, now," says one, "that is strange, sir; you are going to contradict yourself flatly." Stop a moment. Understand what I mean by the world, if you please. We do not mean every man, in it; we never pretended such a thing. But I will tell you how Christ has redeemed the world. When Adam fell God cursed the world with barrenness. "Thorns also and briars shall it bring forth unto thee, and in the sweat of thy brow shalt thou eat bread." God cursed the earth. When Christ came into the world they twisted a crown made of the cursed thorn, and they put that on his head, and made him king of the curse; and in that day he purchased the redemption of the world from its curse; and it is my very belief, and I think it is warranted by Scripture, that when Christ shall come a second time, this world will become everywhere as fertile as the garden of Paradise used to be. I believe that Sahara, the literal desert, shall one day blossom like Sharon, and rejoice like the garden of the Lord. I do not conceive that this poor world is to be a forlorn planetary wanderer for ever; I believe that she is yet to be clothed with verdure, such as she once wore. We have evidences in the beds of coal underneath the earth, that this world was once much more fertile than it is now. Gigantic trees once spread their mighty arms, and I had almost said one arm of a tree in that day would have builded half a forest for us now. Then mighty creatures, far different from ours, stalked through the earth; and I believe firmly that a luxuriant vegetation, such as this world once knew shall be restored to us, and that we shall see again a garden such as we have not known. No more cursed with blight and mildew, with no more blast and withering, we shall see a land like heaven itself—

"Where everlasting spring abides,
And never withering flowers."

When Christ cometh he shall do even this.
In the day of the fall, too, it is currently believed that animals for the first time received their ferocious temperament, and began to fall on each other; of this we are not sure; but if I read Scripture rightly, I find that the lion shall lie down with the kid, and that the leopard shall eat straw like the ox, and that the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice den. I do believe that in millenial years that are coming, and coming soon, there shall be known no more devouring lions, no blood-thirsty tigers, no creatures that shall devour their kind. God shall restore to us again, and even to the beasts of the field, the blessing which Adam lost.
And, my friends, there is a worse curse than that which has fallen on this world. It is the curse of ignorance and sin: that, too, is to be removed. Seest thou yonder planet? It is whirling along through space—bright, bright and glorious. Hearest thou the morning stars sing together, because this new sister of theirs is made? That is the earth; she is bright now. Stay! Didst remark that shadow sweep across her? What caused it? The palnet is dimned, and on her face there lies a sorrowful shadow. I am speaking, of course, metaphorically. See there the planet; she glides along in ten-fold night; scarce doth a speck of light irradiate her. Mark again, the day is not come, when that planet shall renew her glory, but it is hastening amain. As the serpent slips its slough, and leaves it behind it in the valley, so yon planet hath slopped its coulds, and shone forth bright as it was before. Do you ask who hath done it? Who hath cleared away the mist? Who hath taken away the darkness? Who hath removed the clouds? "I have done it," says Christ, the sun of righteousness; "I have scattered darkness, and made that world bright again." Lo, I see a new heaven and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. To explain myself, lest I should be mistaken, I mean this. This world is now covered with sin, ignorance, mistake, idolatry, and crime; the day is coming when the last drop of blood shall be drunk by the sword; it shall be no more intoxicated with blood; God shall make wars to cease unto the ends of the earth. The day is coming—oh that it were now!—when the feet of Christ shall tread this earth. Then down shall go idols from their thrones; down superstitions from their pinnacles; then slavery shall cease; then crime shall end; then peace shall spread its halcyon wings over all the world; and then shall you know that Christ hath died for the world, and that Christ hath won it. "The whole creation," says Paul, "groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now;" waiting for what? "waiting for the redemption;" and by the redemption, I understand what I have just explained to you, that this world shall be washed of all her sin; her curse shall be removed, her stains taken away and this world shall be as fair as when God first struck her from his mind; as when, like a glowing spark, smitten from the anvil by the eternal hammer she first flashed in her orbit. This Christ has redeemed; this, Christ shall, and most assuredly must have.
(Please click here to continue reading, "Plenteous Redemption")

Friday, August 28, 2009

Fighting Friday: Helps Against Temptation by Thomas Brooks




(The following is an excerpt from Thomas Brooks' "Precious Remedies Against Satan's Devices")

Satan is a spirit of mighty abilities; and his abilities to lay snares before us are mightily increased by that long experience of his. He has had time enough to study all those ways and methods which tend most to ensnare and undo the souls of men. He has made it his whole study, his only study, his constant study to find out strategems to entangle and overthrow the souls of men. When he was but a young serpent, he did easily deceive and outwit Eve; but now he is grown that 'old serpent' as John says in Rev. 12; he is as old as the world and is grown very cunning in experience. If Satan has such a world of devices to ensnare the souls of men, then, instead of wondering that so few are saved, sit down and wonder that any are saved, that any escape the snares of this cunning fowler.

I intend to set before you some special helps against all his devices.

Now, to prevent objections, I shall first lay down this proposition:

Though Satan has his devices to draw souls to sin, yet we must be careful that we do not lay all our temptations upon Satan, that we do not wrong the devil, and father upon him that is to be fathered upon our own base hearts. Man has such an evil root within him, that were there no devil to tempt him, no wicked men in the world to entice him, yet that cursed sinful nature that is in him would draw him to sin, though he knows beforehand that the wages of sin is eternal death.

The whole frame of man is out of frame: the understanding is dark, the will cross, the memory slippery, the affections crooked, the conscience corrupted, the tongue poisoned, and the heart wholly evil, only evil, and continually evil. Should God chain up Satan, and give him no liberty to tempt the sons of men to vanity or folly, yet they would not, they could not but sin against Him by reason of that cursed nature that is in them. Satan has only a persuading sleight, not an enforcing might. He may tempt us, but without ourselves he cannot conquer us. In every sin our hearts carry the greatest stroke: the fire is our wood, though it be the devil's flame. Satan can never undo a man without himself; but a man may easily undo himself without Satan. Don't excuse yourself by your accusing him.

Now for the helps I want to offer.

1. Walk by rule. He that walks by rule walks most safely, most honorably, most sweetly. When men throw off the Word, then God throws off them, and then Satan takes them by the hand, and leads them into snares at his pleasure. He that thinks himself to be too good to be ruled by the Word, will be found too bad to be owned by God; and if God do not or will not own him, Satan will by his strategems overthrow him. They that keep to the rule, shall be kept in the hour of temptation, Rev. 3:10, "Because thou hast kept the word of My patience, I also will keep thee in the hour of temptation."

2. Take heed of grieving the Holy Spirit. It is the Spirit of God that is best able to discover Satan's plots against us; it is only He that can point out all his snares, and enable men to escape those pits that he has digged for their precious souls. Be sure the Spirit be not grieved by your enormities, nor by your refusing the cordials He sets before you, nor by slighting and despising His gracious actings in others.

3. Labor for more heavenly wisdom. Though there is no fear of knowing too much, there is much fear in practicing too little. There are many knowing souls, but there are but a few wise souls. There is oftentimes a great deal of knowledge where there is but little wisdom to improve that knowledge. Ah! souls, you have need of a great deal of heavenly wisdom to see where and how Satan lays his snares, and wisdom to find out proper remedies against his devices, and wisdom to apply those remedies seasonably, inwardly and effectually to your own heart, that so you may avoid the snares which that evil one has laid for your precious souls.

4. Make present resistance against Satan's first motions. It is safe to resist, it's dangerous to argue. Eve argues, and falls in paradise; Job resists, and conquers upon the dunghill. He that will play with Satan's bait, will quickly be taken with Satan's hook. The promise of conquest is made over to resisting, not to arguing: "Resist the devil, and he will flee from you," James 4:7. Ah, souls! were you better at resisting than at disputing, your temptations would be fewer.

5. Labor to be filled with the Spirit. The Spirit of the Lord is a Spirit of light and power; and what can a soul do without light and power "against spiritual wickedness in high places?" (Eph 4:12). That is a sweet word of the apostle, "Be filled with the Spirit" (Eph 5:18); i.e., labor for abundance of the Spirit. He that thinks he has enough of the Holy Spirit, will quickly find himself vanquished by the evil spirit.

Satan has his snares to take you in prosperity and adversity, in health and sickness, in strength and weakness, when you are alone and when you are in company, when you come on to spiritual duties and when you come off from spiritual duties; and if you are not filled with the Spirit, Satan will be too hard and too crafty for you, and will easily and frequently take you in his snares, and make a prey of you in spite of your souls. Therefore labor more to have your hearts filled with the Spirit, than to have your heads filled with notions, or your shops with wares, your chests with silver, or your bags with gold; so shall you escape the snares of this fowler and triumph over all his plots.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Fighting Five Articles of Interest

Leading the Way

Thirteen Heresies in the Shack by Michael Youssef

Michael Youssef's sermon: "The Shack Uncovered" on the thirteen heresies found in the popular book "The Shack".

Irish Calvinist

Thinking about Mark Driscoll, Robert Schuller, & the Gospel by Erik Reymond

Erik comments about Mark Driscoll's recent appearance at Robert Schuller's Crystal Cathedral.

Dr. Mohler's Blog

Are We a Nation of Hindus? by Al Mohler

Has America forsaken its Christian roots and began to drink from the poison well of Hinduism?


Telling Sinners How to Be Saved by Dan Phillips

Dan Phillips comments on the answers given on a previous post, "What Must I Do To Be Saved?"


Unpacking Forgiveness by Chris Brauns

The author of the book "Unpacking Forgiveness" comments on the Kelsey Grammer situation involving the recent parole hearing of Grammer's sister's murderer.

Possessing the Treasure: Motives in Christian Ministry by Mack Tomlinson

I received the following article today from some dear friends. I knew immediately that I had to use it somehow on Possessing the Treasure. A major part of our ministries must be self-examination. We need to see if we and our ambitions are driving our ministries or if God is. We must examine our motives for everything we commit to. As you read the article below I pray that God will prick your heart as He did mine to look deep into what is driving what we do in His name. – Mike Ratliff

by Mack Tomlinson
I have often been challenged in my own heart before the Lord to check my motives in all things regarding serving Christ. Because it’s not only about what I believe and what I do in kingdom service–of paramount important is the question WHY. Why am I doing what I am doing–what are the hidden motives of my heart? Why do I do what I do and why do I say what I say?

The glory of God has been re-emphasized in recent years and rightly so. But now its almost “popular” to talk about God’s glory. It’s becoming an evangelical fad that’s very cool; its “IN” to speak much about God’s glory, reading and quoting Jonathan Edwards or John Piper about the glory of God, the supremacy of Christ, and “it being all about Him.”

These days, it’s “in” to imitate the theology of whoever happens to be the most popular current author, preacher, theologian, or conference speaker. It’s “in” to always attend the Desiring God Bethlehem conference, the Together for the Gospel conference, the True Church conference, the Bentley conference, the Arkansas conference, or the Heartcry Missions conference; it’s the cool thing to do these days because surely everyone who is anyone goes there, right? (if I’ve left out your favorite conference, then include it as well.)

Its so easy to get caught up in such conferences that preach about God and His glory. So we get used to using the lingo about the glory of Christ and tossing around all the right terms. And there right before us lies a subtle trap. It’s very possible to do those things so that others will believe we are deep, solid, and theologically accurate. The right thing begins to be driven by wrong motives. And therein lies the danger. Listen closely and consider.

I believe much of what we see in professing American evangelicalism, including all the Reformed movements and the conservative and family-oriented ministries, is driven by self-centered and man-centered motives and not by motives for God alone.

If the secrets and motives of the hearts of all were fully disclosed and could suddenly be seen, we would probably see that many are trying to steal glory from God for themselves by speak about His glory. And the stealing of His glory is due to wrong inner motives in the heart that motivate much of what is done in ministry. What do I mean? I mean simply this.

A man can preach eloquently about the true God, when ironically, what is actually motivating that man to preach about God’s glory is that he wants to be known as a man who talks greatly about God. A man can develop a preaching ministry that is very popular, well-done with excellence, which seems so sound and good, and yet he is primarily motivated by secret desires to be a popular preacher. He wants success and wants to be known. He wants a cutting-edge ministry that is growing and growing. And he steers everything toward that. When he’s driven by such motivation, he and those who work for him will be blind to it, but the discerning soul will see it because flesh always shows itself to be flesh.

A Bible teacher can teach in a very gifted way the deepest truths revealed in the Bible, and communicate them exceptionally (He’s a fabulous communicator!), but the hidden motive is the desire to be known and liked as an excellent teacher so he can build a bigger and bigger ministry. You see, its the personal reputation he’s after, and he’s using truth about God as his means to a self-centered end, all because of wrong motives.
(Please click here to continue reading, Motives In Christian Ministry)

Grace To You Thursday: The Persecution and Endurance of Christians, Part 2

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Way of the Master: Jehovah's Witness-Is Jesus Michael the Archangel?

Fighting Five Articles of Interest

Reaction and Revulsion of a Holy Nature by Tim Challies

Our reaction to sin should mirror God's reaction to sin.

Reformation Theology

Distinguishing Between Moral and Natural Inability by John Samson

John Samson posts a quote on moral and natural inability from James Montgomery Boice's book: The Doctrines of Grace.
Primary and Secondary Doctrines by John Samson

The distinction between primary and secondary doctrines found in Scripture.
Ligonier Blog

Recognizing that the Earth is the Lord's by R.C. Sproul

Enjoying and recognizing that the world and everything in it belongs to God.

Dr. Mohler's Blog:

Wearing the Disguise of Faithfulness by Al Mohler

Same sex unions and consecration of homosexual bishops accepted by the Lutheran Church.

"FIGHTING MAD" or other articles of interest

Possessing the Treasure

Should Christians Dialogue with Apostates? by Mike Ratliff

Should Christians debate or dialogue with apostates?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

John MacArthur Interview: Case Against R-Rated Church (Sermon Audio)

Way of the Master (YouTube): Jehovah's Witnesses, Parts 1 & 2


Yahoo Video: In The Name of Jehovah - Understanding Jehovah's Witnesses

YouTube: Is Jesus The Archangel Michael? (Way of the Master)

YouTube: What Is the Gospel? (John MacArthur)

A.W. Pink: The Holy Spirit-The Spirit Uniting to Christ (17/32)

Chapter 17

The Spirit Uniting to Christ

Two Kinds of Union
One of the principal ends or designs of the Gospel is the communication to God’s elect of those benefits or blessings which are in the Redeemer; but the communication of benefits necessarily implies communion, and all communion as necessarily presupposes union with His Person. Can I be rich with another man’s money, or advanced by another man’s honors? Yes, if that other be my surety (one who pledges himself as liable for my debt), or my husband. Peter could not be justified by the righteousness of Paul, but both could be justified by the righteousness of Christ imputed to them, seeing they are both knit to one common Head. Principal and surety are one in obligation and construction of law. Head and members are one body; branch and stock are one tree, and a slip will live by the sap of an-other stock when once engrafted into it. We must, then, be united to Christ before we can receive any benefits from Him.

Now there are two kinds of union between Christ and His people: a judicial and a vital, or a legal and a spiritual. The first is that union which was made by God between the Redeemer and the redeemed when He was appointed their federal Head. It was a union in law, in consequence of which He represented them and was responsible for them, the benefits of His transactions redounding to them. It may be illustrated by the case of suretyship among men: a relation is formed between the surety and that person for whom he engages, by which the two are thus far considered as one—the surety being liable for the debt which the other has contracted, and his payment is held as the payment of the debtor, who is thereby absolved from all obligation to the creditor. A similar connection is established between Christ and those who had been given to Him by the Father.

But something farther was necessary in order to the actual enjoyment of the benefits procured by Christ’s representation. God, on whose sovereign will the whole economy of grace is founded, had determined not only that His Son should sustain the character of their Surety, but that there should be also a vital as well as legal relation between them, as the foundation of communion with Him in all the blessings of His purchase. It was His good pleasure that as they were one in law, they should be also one spiritually, that Christ’s merit and grace might not only be imputed, but also imparted to them, as the holy oil poured on the head of Aaron descended to the skirt of his garments. It is this latter, this vital and spiritual union, which the Christian has with Christ, that we now purpose to treat of.

Internal "Drawing"
The preaching of the Gospel by the ambassadors of the Lord Jesus is the instrument appointed for the reconciling or bringing home of sinners to God in Christ. This is clear from Romans 10:14 and 1 Corinthians 1:21, and more particularly from 2 Corinthians 5:20, "Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God." But, as we have pointed out, the mere preaching of the Word—no matter how faithfully—will never bring a single rebel to the feet of Christ in penitence, confidence, and allegiance. No, for that there must be the special and supernatural workings of the Holy Spirit: only thus are any actually drawn to Christ to receive Him as Lord and Savior: and only as this fact is carefully kept prominently before us does the blessed Spirit have His true place in our hearts and minds.

"Thy people shall be willing in the day of Thy power" (Ps. 110:3). It is by moral persuasion—"with cords of a man" (Hosea 11 :4)—that the Holy Spirit draws men to Christ. Yet by moral persuasion we must not understand a simple and bare proposal or tender of Christ, leaving it still to the sinner’s choice whether he will comply with it or not. For though God does not force the will contrary to its nature, nevertheless He puts forth a real efficacy when He "draws," which consists of an immediate operation of the Spirit upon the heart and will whereby its native rebellion and reluctance is removed, and from a state of unwillingness the sinner is made willing to come to Christ. This is clear from Ephesians 1:19, 20 which we quote below.

"And what is the exceeding greatness of His power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of His mighty power, which He wrought in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places." Here is much more than a mere proposal made to the will: there is the putting forth of Divine power, great power, yea the exceeding greatness of God’s power; and this power has a sure and certain efficacy ascribed to it: God works upon the hearts and wills of His people "according to the working of His mighty power, which He wrought in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead"—both are miracles of Divine might. Thus God fulfills "all the good pleasure of His goodness, and the work of faith with power" (2 Thess. 1:11). Unless the "arm of the LORD" is revealed (Isa. 53:1) none believe His "report."

Spiritual Union
Spiritual union with Christ, then, is effected both by the external preaching of the Gospel and the internal "drawing" of the Father. Let us now take note of the bands by which Christ and the believer are knit together. These bands are two in number, being the Holy Spirit on Christ’s part, and faith on our part. The Spirit on Christ’s part is His quickening us with spiritual life, whereby Christ first takes hold of us. Faith on our part, when thus quickened, is that whereby we take hold of Christ. We must first be "apprehended" (laid hold of) by Christ, before we can apprehend Him:

Philippians 3:12. No vital act of faith can be exercised until a vital principle is first communicated to us. Thus, Christ is in the believer by His Spirit; the believer is in Christ by faith. Christ is in the believer by inhabitation; the believer is in Christ by implantation (Rom. 6:3-5). Christ is in the believer as the head is in the body; we are in Christ as the members are in the head.

"He that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit" with Him (1 Cor. 6:17). The same Spirit which is in the Head is in the members of His mystical body, a vital union being effected between them. Christ is in Heaven, we upon earth, but the Spirit being omnipresent is the connecting link. "For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles" (1 Cor. 12:13)—what could be plainer than that? "Hereby know we that we dwell in Him, and He in us, because He hath given us of His Spirit" (1 John 4:13). Thus, Christ is unto His people a Head not only of government, but also of influence. Though the ties which connect the Redeemer and the redeemed are spiritual and invisible, yet are they so real and intimate that He lives in them and they live in Him, for "the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death" (Rom. 8:2).

"But if the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by His Spirit that dwelleth in you" (Rom. 8:11), and this, because the Spirit is the bond of union between us and Christ. Because there is the same Spirit in the Head and in His members, He will therefore work the same effects in Him and in us. If the Head rise, the members will follow after, for they are appointed to be conformed unto Him (Rom. 8:29)—in obedience and suffering now, in happiness and glory hereafter. Christ was raised by the Spirit of holiness (Rom. 1:4), and so shall we be—the earnest of which we have already received when brought from death unto life.
(Please click here to continue reading, "The Spirit Uniting to Christ")

Monday, August 24, 2009

Wall Street Journal: Did Reagan try to Convert Gorbachev? by James Mann

It was the question that preoccupied President Ronald Reagan: Was Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev a religious believer? Reagan held a series of summits with Gorbachev from 1985 to 1988, and as their meetings proceeded, Reagan sometimes speculated to his aides that Gorbachev's use of phrases such as "God bless" might be an expression of religious faith. Many of the summit sessions involved large groups of U.S. and Soviet officials, discussing issues like arms control and regional conflicts. But in one-on-one talks with Gorbachev outside the presence of other senior officials like Secretary of State George Shultz, Reagan sometimes ventured off in directions of his own. The eternal optimist, Reagan was convinced that Gorbachev was capable of changing the Soviet system, and he thought the key to such a turnaround might be religion. Finally, during their fourth summit meeting in 1988, Reagan launched into a private conversation with Gorbachev, one that he promised the Soviet leader he would deny had ever taken place.
It was during the first one-on-one session in Moscow that Reagan engaged in a bold but questionable endeavor well beyond his mandate as president of the United States. According to the memo of their conversation, which was based on notes taken by two Reagan aides and has now been declassified and made available at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, Calif., Reagan secretly attempted to persuade Gorbachev of the existence of God.

The meeting opened with pleasantries. Both men agreed that they and their countries had come a long way since their first summit in Geneva three years earlier. Gorbachev then immediately turned to a surprise for which Reagan was not prepared: He read aloud and handed the president a written statement he wanted the two governments to sign during the summit that would commit the United States and the Soviet Union to "peaceful coexistence." Reagan said vaguely that he liked the idea and would talk it over with his advisers; he handed the piece of paper over to one of his note takers, Thomas Simons. Gorbachev's proposal would become the subject of considerable acrimony over the following days.

The two men next revived their running debate about human rights. Reagan handed Gorbachev a list of names of Soviet citizens he believed were victims of repression in one fashion or another. As in the past, Gorbachev countered by arguing that America could be criticized for its own human-rights abuses as well.
Suddenly, Reagan switched the subject to religion. He told Gorbachev that what he was about to say would be considered entirely secret. According to the notetakers, Reagan told Gorbachev that "if word got out that this was even being discussed, the President would deny he had said anything about it." To emphasize this point, Reagan said again a few minutes later that "if there was anyone in the room who said he had given such advice [to Gorbachev about religion], he would say that person was lying, that he had never said it."
In planning for the Moscow summit, Reagan had discussed with his aides the idea of focusing on freedom of religion. He had worked with aides on some talking points to use with the Soviet leader; he had honed these ideas during a stay in Helsinki. Once he was alone with Gorbachev, the president began with a plea on behalf of religious tolerance in the Soviet Union. He praised Gorbachev for easing slightly the rules for the Russian Orthodox Church. According to the notes of the meeting: "The President asked Gorbachev what if he ruled that religious freedom was part of the people's rights, that people of any religion -- whether Islam with its mosque, the Jewish faith, Protestants or the Ukrainian Church -- could go to the church of their choice."

Spurgeon Monday: Intercessory Prayer

(Note: This concludes the Spurgeon series on Job. A new series on Spurgeon's sermons on the Sovereignty of God: "Sermons on Sovereignty" will start next Monday.)

Intercessory Prayer

A Sermon
(No. 404)

Delivered on Sunday Morning, August the 11th, 1861 by the

At the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington

"And the Lord turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends."—Job 42:10.

THE LORD turned the captivity of Job." So, then, our longest sorrows have a close, and there is a bottom to the profoundest depths of our misery. Our winters shall not frown for ever; summer shall soon smile. The tide shall not eternally ebb out; the floods retrace their march. The night shall not hang its darkness for ever over our souls; the sun shall yet arise with healing beneath his wings,—"The Lord turned again the captivity of Job." Our sorrows shall have an end when God has gotten his end in them. The ends in the case of Job were these, that Satan might be defeated, foiled with his own weapons, blasted in his hopes when he had everything his own way. God, at Satan's challenge, had stretched forth his hand and touched Job in his bone and in his flesh, and yet the tempter could not prevail against him, but received his rebuff in those conquering words, "Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him." When Satan is defeated, then shall the battle cease. The Lord aimed also at the trial of Job's faith. Many weights were hung upon this palm tree, but it still grew uprightly. The fire had been fierce enough, the gold was undiminished, and only the dross was consumed. Another purpose the Lord had was his own glory. And God was glorified abundantly. Job had glorified God on his dunghill; now let him magnify his Lord again upon his royal seat in the gate. God had gotten unto himself eternal renown through that grace by which he supported his poor afflicted servant under the heaviest troubles which ever fell to the lot of man. God had another end, and that also was served. Job had been sanctified by his afflictions. His spirit had been mellowed. That small degree of tartness towards others, which may have been in Job's temper had been at last removed, and any self-justification which once had lurked within, was fairly driven out. Now God's gracious designs are answered, he removed the rod from his servant's back, and takes the melted silver from the midst of the glowing coals. God doth not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men for nought, and he shows this by the fact that he never afflicts them longer than there is a need for it, and never suffers them to be one moment longer in the furnace than is absolutely requisite to serve the purposes of his wisdom and of his love. "The Lord turned again the captivity of Job." Beloved brother in Christ, thou hast had a long captivity in affliction. God hath sold thee into the hand of thine adversaries, and thou hast wept by the waters of Babylon, hanging thy harp upon the willows. Despair not! He that turned the captivity of Job can turn thine as the streams in the south. He shall make again thy vineyard to blossom, and thy field to yield her fruit. Thou shalt again come forth with those that make merry, and once more shall the song of gladness be on thy lip. Let not Despair rivet his cruel fetters about thy soul. Hope yet, for there is hope. Trust thou still, for there is ground of confidence. He shall bring thee up again rejoicing from the land of thy captivity, and thou shalt say of him, "He hath turned my mourning into dancing."

The circumstance which attended Job's restoration is that to which I invite your particular attention. "The Lord turned again the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends." Intercessory prayer was the omen of his returning greatness. It was the bow in the cloud, the dove bearing the olive branch, the voice of the turtle announcing the coming summer. When his soul began to expand itself in holy and loving prayer for his erring brethren, then the heart of God showed itself to him by returning to him his prosperity without, and cheering his soul within. Brethren, it is not fetching a laborious compass, when from such a text as this I address you upon the subject of prayer for others. Let us learn today to imitate the example of Job, and pray for our friends, and peradventure if we have been in trouble, our captivity shall be turned.

Four things I would speak of this morning, and yet but one thing; I would speak upon intercessory prayer thus—first, by way of commending the exercise; secondly, by way of encouraging you to enlist in it; thirdly, by way of suggestion, as to the persons for whom you should especially pray; and fourthly, by way of exhortation to all believers to undertake and persevere in the exercise of intercession for others.

I. First, then, BY WAY OF COMMENDING THE EXERCISE, let me remind you that intercessory prayer has been practiced by all the best of God's saints. We may not find instances of it appended to every saint's name, but beyond a doubt, there has never been a man eminent for piety personally, who has not always been pre-eminent in his anxious desires for the good of others, and in his prayers for that end. Take Abraham, the father of the faithful. How earnestly did he plead for his son Ishmael! "O that Ishmael might live before thee!" With what importunity did he approach the Lord on the plains of Mamre, when he wrestled with him again and again for Sodom; how frequently did he reduce the number, as though, to use the expression of the Puritan, "He were bidding and beating down the price at the market." "Peradventure there be fifty; peradventure there lack five of the fifty; peradventure there be twenty found there; peradventure there be ten righteous found there: wilt thou not spare the city for the sake of ten?" Well did he wrestle, and if we may sometimes be tempted to wish he had not paused when he did, yet we must commend him for continuing so long to plead for that doomed and depraved city. Remember Moses, the most royal of men, whether crowned or uncrowned; how often did he intercede! How frequently do you meet with such a record as this—"Moses and Aaron fell on their faces before God!" Remember that cry of his on the top of the mount, when it was to his own personal disadvantage to intercede, and yet when God had said, "Let me alone, I will make of thee a great nation," yet how he continued, how he thrust himself in the way of the axe of justice, and cried, "Spare them, Lord, and if not," (and here he reached the very climax of agonizing earnestness) "blot my name out of the Book of Life." Never was there a mightier prophet than Moses, and never one more intensely earnest in intercessory prayer. Or pass on, if you will, to the days of Samuel. Remember his words, "God forbid that I should sin against the Lord, in ceasing to pray for you." Or bethink you of Solomon, and of his earnest intercession at the opening of the temple, when, with outstretched hands he prayed for the assembled people; or if you want another royal example, turn to Hezekiah with Sennacherib's letter spread out before the Lord, when he prayed not only for himself, but for God's people of Israel in those times of straits. Think ye, too, of Elias, who for Israel's sake would bring down the rain that the land perish not; as for himself, miracles gave him his bread and his water, it was for others that he prayed, and said to his servant, "Go again seven times." Forget not Jeremy, whose tears were prayers—prayers coming too intensely from his heart to find expression in any utterance of the lip. He wept himself away, his life was one long shower, each drop a prayer, and the whole deluge a flood of intercession. And if you would have an example taken from the times of Christ and his apostles, remember how Peter prays on the top of the house, and Stephen amidst the falling stones. Or think you, if you will, of Paul, of whom even more than of others it could be said, that he never ceased to remember the saints in his prayers, "making mention of you daily in my prayers," stopping in the very midst of the epistle and saying, "For which cause I bow my knee unto the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ." As for the cloud of holy witnesses in our own time, I will hazard the assertion that there is not a single child of God who does not plead with God for his children, for his family, for the church at large, and for the poor ungodly perishing world. I deny his saintship if he does not pray for others.

But further, while we might commend this duty by quoting innumerable examples from the lives of eminent saints, it is enough for the disciple of Christ if we say that Christ in His holy gospel has made it your duty and your privilege to intercede for others. When he taught us to pray, he said, "Our Father," and the expressions which follow are not in the singular but in the plural—"Give us this day our daily bread." "Forgive us our debts"; "Lead us not into temptation"; evidently intending to set forth that none of us are to pray for ourselves alone, that while we may have sometimes prayers so bitter that they must be personal like the Saviour's own—"Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me"; yet, as a rule, our prayers should be public prayers, though offered in private; and even in secret we should not forget the church of the living God. By the mouth of Paul how frequently does the Holy Ghost exhort us to pray for ministers! "Brethren," says Paul, "pray for us"; and then after exhorting them to offer prayers and supplications for all classes and conditions of men, he adds, "And for us also that we may have boldness to speak as we ought to speak." While James, who is ever a practical apostle, bids us pray for one another; in that same verse, where he says, "Confess your sins the one to the other," he says, "and pray one for another," and adds the privilege "that ye may be healed," as if the healing would not only come to the sick person for whom we pray, but to us who offer the prayer; we, too, receiving some special blessing when our hearts are enlarged for the people of the living God.

But, brethren, I shall not stay to quote the texts in which the duty of praying for others is definitely laid down. Permit me to remind you of the high example of your Master; he is your pattern; follow ye his leadership. Was there even one who interceded as he did? Remember that golden prayer of his, where he cried for his own people, "Father, keep them, keep them from the evil!" Oh what a prayer was that! He seems to have thought of all their wants, of all their needs, of all their weaknesses, and in one long stream of intercession, he pours out his heart before his Father's throne. Bethink you how, even in the agonies of his crucifixion, he did not forget that he was still an intercessor for man. "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." Oh, remember, brethren, it is your Saviour's example to you today, for there before the throne, with outstretched hands, he prays not for himself, for he has attained his glory; not for himself, for he rests from his labours, and has received his everlasting recompense; but for you, for the purchase of his blood, for as many as are called by his grace, yea, and for those who shall believe on him through our word—

"For all that come to God by him,
Salvation he demands;
Points to the wounds upon his heart,
And spreads his bleeding hands."

Come, brethren, with such an example as this, we are verily guilty if we forget to plead for others.
But I will go a little further. If in the Bible there were no example of intercessory supplication, if Christ had not left it upon record that it was his will that we should pray for others, and even if we did not know that it was Christ's practice to intercede, yet the very spirit of our holy religion would constrain us to plead for others. Dost thou go up into thy closet, and in the face and presence of God think of none but thyself? Surely the love of Christ cannot be in thee, for the spirit of Christ is not selfish. No man liveth unto himself when once he has the love of Christ in him. I know there are some whose piety is comfortably tethered within the limits of their own selfish interests. It is enough for them if they hear the Word, if they be saved, if they get to heaven. Ah, miserable spirit, thou shalt not get there! It would need another heaven for thee, for the heaven of Christ is the heaven of the unselfish, the temple of the large-hearted, the bliss of living spirits, the heaven of those who, like Christ, are willing to become poor that others may be rich. I cannot believe—it were a libel upon the cross of Christ, it were a scandal upon the doctrine which he taught—if I could ever believe that the man whose prayers are selfish has anything of the spirit of Christ within him. Brethren, I commend intercessory prayer, because it opens man's soul, gives a healthy play to his sympathies, constrains him to feel that he is not everybody, and that this wide world and this great universe were not after all made that he might be its petty lord, that everything might bend to his will, and all creatures crouch at his feet. It does him good, I say, to make him know that the cross was not uplifted alone for him, for its far-reaching arms were meant to drop with benedictions upon millions of the human race. Thou lean and hungry worshipper of self, this is an exercise which would make another man of thee, a man more like the Son of Man, and less like Nabal the churl. But again; I commend the blessed privilege of intercession, because of its sweet brotherly nature. You and I may be naturally hard, and harsh, and unlovely of spirit, but praying much for others will remind us we have, indeed, a relationship to the saints, that their interests are ours, that we are jointly concerned with them in all the privileges of grace. I do not know anything which, through the grace of God, may be a better means of uniting us the one to the other than constant prayer for each other. You cannot harbour enmity in your soul against your brother after you have learned to pray for him. If he hath done you ill, when you have taken that ill to the mercy seat, and prayed over it, you must forgive. Surely you could not be such a hypocrite as to invoke blessings on his head before God and then come forth to curse him in your own soul. When there have been complaints brought by brother against brother, it is generally the best way to say, "Let us pray before we enter into the matter." Wherever there is a case to be decided by the pastor, he ought always to say to the brethren who contend, "Let us pray first," and it will often happen that through prayer the differences will soon be forgotten. They will become so slight, so trivial, that when the brethren rise from their knees they will say, "They are gone; we cannot contend now after having been one in heart before the throne of God." I have heard of a man who had made complaints against his minister, and his minister wisely said to him, "Well, don't talk to me in the street; come to my house, and let us hear it all." He went, and the minister said, "My brother, I hope that what you have to say to me may be greatly blessed to me; no doubt I have my imperfections as well as any other man, and I hope I shall never be above being told of them, but in order that what you have to say to me may be blessed to me let us kneel down and pray together." So our quarrelsome friend prayed first and the minister prayed next, both briefly. When they rose from their knees, he said, "Now, my brother, I think we are both in a good state of mind; tell me what it is that you have to find fault with." The man blushed, and stammered, and stuttered, and said, he did not think there was anything at all, except in himself. "I have forgotten to pray for you, sir," said he, "and of course I cannot expect that God will feed my soul through you when I neglect to mention you at the throne of grace." Ah, well, brethren, if you will exercise yourselves much in supplication for your brethren you will forgive their tempers, you will overlook their rashness, you will not think of their harsh words; but knowing that you also may be tempted, and are men of like passions with them, you will cover their faults, and bear with their infirmities.

Shall I need to say more in commendation of intercessory prayer except it be this, that it seems to me that when God gives any man much grace, it must be with the design that he may use it for the rest of the family. I would compare you who have near communion with God to courtiers in the king's palace. What do courtiers do? Do they not avail themselves of their influence at court to take the petitions of their friends, and present them where they can be heard? This is what we call patronage—a thing with which many find fault when it is used for political ends, but there is a kind of heavenly patronage which you ought to use right diligently. I ask you to use it on my behalf. When it is well with you, then think of me. I pray you use it on the behalf of the poor, the sick, the afflicted, the tempted, the tried, the desponding, the despairing; when thou hast the King's ear, speak to him for us. When thou art permitted to come very near to his throne, and he saith to thee, "Ask, and I will give thee what thou wilt"; when thy faith is strong, thine eye clear, thine access near, thine interest sure, and the love of God sweetly shed abroad in thy heart—then take the petitions of thy poor brethren who stand outside at the gate and say, "My Lord, I have a poor brother, a poor child of thine, who has desired me to ask of thee this favour. Grant it unto me; it shall be a favour shown unto myself; grant it unto him, for he is one of thine. Do it for Jesus' sake!" Nay, to come to an end in this matter of commendation, it is utterly impossible that you should have a large measure of grace, unless it prompts you to use your influence for others. Soul, if thou hast grace at all, and art not a mighty intercessor, that grace must be but as a grain of mustard-seed—a shrivelled, uncomely, puny thing. Thou hast just enough grace to float thy soul clear from the quicksand, but thou hast no deep floods of grace, or else thou wouldst carry in thy joyous bark a rich cargo of the wants of others up to the throne of God, and thou wouldst bring back for them rich blessings which but for thee they might not have obtained. If thou be like an angel with thy foot upon the golden ladder which reaches to heaven, if thou art ascending and descending, know that thou wilt ascend with others' prayers and descend with others' blessings, for it is impossible for a full-grown saint to live or to pray for himself alone. Thus much on commendation.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Fighting Five Articles of Interest

Dr. Mohler's Blog

Rethinking Abortion - - Two Unexpected Witnesses by Al Mohler

Insight into abortion from two unlikely sources: Kourtney Kardashian and Newsweek reporter, Sarah Kliff.

Reformation Theology

He Gave Gifts to Men (Eph. 4:8) by John Samson

John Samson explains the biblical meaning of seeking God

Institute for Nouthetic Studies Blog

Foul Water from Polluted Springs by Jay Adams

Why Christians need to stand up against false teachers/teaching, and the consequences of their action when they don't.

Fools by Jay Adams

What are the three meanings of the term "fool" in the book of Proverbs?

Ligonier Blog

Finding God by R.C. Sproul

More insight from R.C. Sproul on the biblical meaning of seeking God.

"FIGHTING MAD" or other articles of interest

Press On Until Glory

Family First by Leon Brown

The importance of putting God and family first before evangelism.

Fighting Friday: Remember Lot! by J.C. Ryle

Remember Lot!


J. C. Ryle

“He lingered.”—Genesis 19:16


First published by Drummond's Tract Depot, Stirling, Scotland

Who is this man that lingered?—Lot, the nephew of faithful Abraham. And when did he linger?—The very morning Sodom was to be destroyed. And where did he linger?—Within the walls of Sodom itself. And before whom did he linger?—Under the eyes of the two angels, who were sent to bring him out of the city.

Reader, the words are solemn, and full of food for thought. I trust they will make you think. Who knows but they are the very words your soul requires? The voice of the Lord Jesus commands you to “remember Lot’s wife.” (Luke xvii. 32.) The voice of one of His ministers invites you this day to remember Lot.

Let me try to show you,—

I. What Lot was himself:

II. What the text already quoted tells you of him:

III. What reasons may account for his lingering:

IV. What kind of fruit his lingering brought forth.

I. What was Lot?

This is a most important point. If I leave it unnoticed, I shall perhaps miss that class of professing Christians I want especially to benefit. You would perhaps say, after reading this paper, “Ah, Lot was a poor, dark creature,—an unconverted man,—a child of this world!—no wonder he lingered.”

But mark now what I say. Lot was nothing of the kind. Lot was a true believer,—a real child of God,—a justified soul,—a righteous man.

Has any one of you grace in his heart?—So also had Lot.

Has any one of you a hope of salvation?—So also had Lot.

Is any one of you a “new creature”?—So also was Lot.

Is any one of you a traveller in the narrow way which leads unto life?—So also was Lot.

Do not think this is only my private opinion,—a mere arbitrary fancy of my own,—a notion unsupported by Scripture. Do not suppose I want you to believe it, merely because I say it. The Holy Ghost has placed the matter beyond controversy, by calling him “just,” and “righteous” (2 Peter ii. 7, 8), and has given us evidence of the grace that was in him.

One evidence is, that he lived in a wicked place, “seeing and hearing” evil all around him (2 Peter ii. 8), and yet was not wicked himself. Now to be a Daniel in Babylon,—an Obadiah in Ahab’s house,—an Abijah in Jeroboam’s family,—a saint in Nero’s court, and a righteous man in Sodom, a man must have the grace of God.

Another evidence is, that he “vexed his soul with the unlawful deeds” he beheld around him. (2 Peter ii. 8.) He was wounded, grieved, pained, and hurt at the sight of sin. This was feeling like holy David, who says, “I beheld the transgressors, and was grieved, because they kept not Thy word.” “Rivers of waters run down mine eyes, because they keep not Thy law.” (Psalm cxix. 136, 158.) Nothing will account for this but the grace of God.

Another evidence is, that he “vexed his soul from day to day” with the unlawful deeds he saw (2 Peter ii. 8.) He did not at length become cool and lukewarm about sin, as many do. Familiarity and habit did not take off the fine edge of his feelings, as too often is the case. Many a man is shocked and startled at the first sight of wickedness, and yet becomes at last so accustomed to see it, that he views it with comparative unconcern. This is especially the case with those who live in towns and cities. But it was not so with Lot. And this is a great mark of the reality of his grace.

Such an one was Lot,—a just and righteous man, a man sealed and stamped as an heir of heaven by the Holy Ghost Himself.

Reader, before you pass on, remember that a true Christian may have many a blemish, many a defect, many an infirmity, and yet be a true Christian nevertheless. You do not despise gold because it is mixed with much dross. You must not undervalue grace because it is accompanied by much corruption. Read on, and you will find that Lot paid dearly for his “lingering.” But do not forget, as you read, that Lot was a child of God.

II. Let us pass on to the second thing I spoke

of. What does the text, already quoted, tell us about Lot’s behaviour?

The words are wonderful and astounding: “He lingered;” and the more you consider the time and circumstances, the more wonderful you will think them.

Lot knew the awful condition of the city in which he stood; “the cry” of its abomination “had waxen great before the Lord” (Gen. xix. 13): and yet “he lingered.”

Lot knew the fearful judgment coming down on all within its walls; the angels had said plainly, “The Lord hath sent us to destroy it” (Gen. xix. 13): and yet Lot knew that God was a God who always kept His word, and if He said a thing would surely do it. He could hardly be Abraham’s nephew, and live long with him, and not be aware of this. Yet “he lingered.”

Lot believed there was danger,—for he went to his sons-in-law, and warned them to flee: “Up!” he said, “Get you out of this place; for the Lord will destroy this city.” (Gen. xix. 14.) And yet “he lingered.”

Lot saw the angels of God standing by, waiting for him and his family to go forth. And yet “be lingered.”

Lot heard the voice of those ministers of wrath ringing in his ears to hasten him. “Arise! lest thou be consumed in the iniquity of the city.” (Gen. xix. 15.) And yet “he lingered.”

He was slow when he should have been quick,—backward when he should have been forward,—trifling when he should have been hastening,—loitering when he should have been hurrying,—cold when he should have been hot. It is passing strange! It seems almost incredible! It appears too wonderful to be true! But the Spirit writes it down for our learning. And so it was.

And yet, reader, there are many of the Lord Jesus Christ’s people very like Lot.

Mark well what I say. I repeat it that there may be no mistake about my meaning. I have shown you that Lot “lingered,”—I say that there are many Christian men and Christian women in this day very like Lot.

There are many real children of God who appear to know far more than they live up to, and see far more than they practise, and yet continue in this state for many years. Wonderful that they go as far as they do, and yet go no further!

They hold the Head, even Christ, and love the truth. They like sound preaching, and assent to every article of Gospel doctrine, when they hear it. But still there is an indescribable something which is not satisfactory about them. They are constantly doing things which disappoint the expectations of their ministers, and of more advanced Christian friends. Marvellous that they should think as they do, and yet stand still!

They believe in heaven, and yet seem faintly to long for it;—and in hell, and yet seem little to fear it. They love the Lord Jesus; but the work they do for Him is small. They hate the devil; but they often appear to tempt him to come to them. They know the time is short; but they live as if it were long, They know they have a battle to fight; yet a man might think they were at peace. They know they have a race to run; yet they often look like people sitting still. They know the Judge is at the door, and there is wrath to come; and yet they appear half asleep. Astonishing they should be what they are, and yet be nothing more!

And what shall we say of these people? They often puzzle godly friends and relations. They often cause great anxiety. They often give rise to great doubts and searchings of heart. But they may be classed under one sweeping description: they are all brethren and sisters of Lot. They linger.

These are they who get the notion into their minds, that it is impossible for all believers to be very holy and very spiritual. They allow that eminent holiness is a beautiful thing. They like to read about it in books, and even to see it occasionally in others. But they do not think that all are meant to aim at so high a standard.

At any rate, they seem to make up their minds it is beyond their reach.

These are they who get into their heads false ideas of charity, as they call it. They would fain please everybody, and suit everybody, and be agreeable to everybody. But they forget they ought first to be sure that they please God.

These are they who dread sacrifices, and shrink from self-denial. They never appear able to apply our Lord’s command, to “cut off the right hand and pluck out the right eye.” (Matt. v. 29, 30.) They spend their lives in trying to make the gate more wide, and the cross more light. But they never succeed.

These are they who are always trying to keep in with the world. They are ingenious in discovering reasons for not separating decidedly, and in framing plausible excuses for attending questionable amusements, and keeping up questionable friendships. One day you are told of their attending a Bible reading: the next day perhaps you hear of their going to a ball. They are constantly labouring to persuade themselves that to mix a little with worldly people on their own ground does good. Yet in their case it is very clear they do no good, and only get harm.

These are they who cannot find it in their heart to quarrel with their besetting sin, whether it be sloth, indolence, ill-temper, pride, selfishness, impatience, or what it may. They allow it to remain a tolerably quiet and undisturbed tenant of their hearts. They say it is their health, or their constitutions, or their temperaments, or their trials, or their way. Their father, or mother, or grandmother, was so before themselves, and they are sure they cannot help it. And when you meet after the absence of a year or so, you hear the same thing.

But all, all, all may be summed up in one single sentence. They are the brethren and sisters of Lot. They linger.

Ah, reader, if you are a lingering soul, you are not happy! You know you are not. It would be strange indeed if you were so. Lingering is the sure destruction of a happy Christianity. A lingerer’s conscience forbids him to enjoy inward peace.

Perhaps at one time you did run well. But you have left your first love,—you have never felt the same comfort since, and you never will till you return to your first works. Like Peter, when the Lord Jesus was taken prisoner, you are following the Lord afar off; and, like him, you will find the way not pleasant, but hard.

Come and look at Lot. Come and mark Lot’s history. Come and consider Lot’s lingering, and be wise.
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