Wow! Supremacy of Christ

Thanks to S.H. from Texas.

Piper: The Supremacy of Christ (Symphonic Jam)

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Calvinism I Agree With

John 3-16This Q & A between Charles Simeon and John Wesley is the kind Calvinism I agree with!

Simeon: “Sir, I understand that you are called an Arminian; and I have been sometimes called a Calvinist; and therefore I suppose we are to draw daggers. But before I consent to begin the combat, with your permission I will ask you a few questions. Pray, Sir, do you feel yourself a depraved creature, so depraved that you would never have thought of turning to God, if God had not first put it into your heart?”
Wesley: “Yes! I do indeed.”
Simeon: “And do you utterly despair of recommending yourself to God by anything you can do; and look for salvation solely through the blood and righteousness of Christ?”
Wesley: “Yes, solely through Christ.”
Simeon: But, Sir, supposing you were at first saved by Christ, are you not somehow or other to save yourself afterwards by your own works?”
Wesley: “No, I must be saved by Christ from first to last.”
Simeon: “Allowing, then, that you first turned by the grace of God, are you not in some way or other to keep yourself by your own power?”
Wesley: “No!”
Simeon: “What, then, are you to be upheld every hour and every moment by God, as much as an infant in its mother’s womb?”
Wesley: “Yes, altogether!”
Simeon: “And is all your hope in the grace and mercy of God to preserve you unto His heavenly kingdom?”
Wesley: “Yes, I have no hope but in Him.”
Simeon: “Then, Sir, with your leave I will put up my dagger again; for this is all my Calvinism; this is my election, my justification by faith, my final perseverance: it is in substance all that I hold, and as I hold it; and therefore, if you please, instead of searching out terms and phrases to be a ground of contention between us, we will cordially unite in those things wherein we agree.”
As for me, that settles it. An advisoray committe presented it’s report to the Southern Baptist Convention recently. It is a good and fair document that you can read HERE. If you get bogged down, just come back and read Mr. Simeon’s questions to John Wesley…

I’m Not A Fatalist (Part 2)

wateringThis post is a continuation from yesterday. So CLICK HERE if you didn’t read it.

Imagine you, your spouse, and two children move to another town to start a new life. Your spouse dies and two children marry people from that town. Then they die and you are left alone as are your in-laws. You have no means of income or supporting yourself, so you move back home with no idea of what to do next. Would you say that is a hard thing to endure?

Or imagine your parents and siblings resent you. It gets so bad your siblings kidnap you and sell you to people from another country. There you are falsely accused of a crime and thrown into prison… forgotten for years (17 to be exact). Would you say that is a hard thing to endure?

What if I told you that in both cases it took exactly those very things happening the way they did for those very people to be blessed beyond measure… for centuries after those things happened?! The first story is the one of Naomi and Ruth. The second story is Joseph in Genesis.

Because those things happened the way they did… Ruth was included in God’s family and became the great-grandmother of King David (From whom Jesus came)! Because those things happened the way they did in Genesis, Joseph provided for the Jewish people to escape a famine… flourish in Egypt… and  eventually Jesus was born of the Jewish nation.

Ruth never knew who her great-grandson would be. Joseph never saw Moses deliver the Children of Israel from bondage. But both were part of the story… A story of redemption. Now consider this…

YOU TOO are part of a story of redemption that took place with Joseph… then Naomi and Ruth and David. Jesus came to redeem all those who would believe. And now the story of redemption continues AND YOU ARE PART OF IT AS A BELIEVER IN JESUS CHRIST! You may be the one who plants a seed… you may be the one who waters a seed… you may tend it… you may be the seed (!)… or you may be the one who sees the harvest. Which one you are doesn’t matter near as much as being part of the story!

Lesson: Be content to be part of God’s plan of redemption… whatever that part is. Glorify God that He is always working… sometimes openly, but most of the time in secret. One day we all will see the complete story. Until then… “We live by faith, not by sight.” I’m not a fatalist… I believe in Divine Providence!

I’m Not A Fatalist! (Part 1)

FTLSMThere is fatalism and then there is providence. Fatalism says what will happen, will happen (“Que sera, sera”). Providence says everything that happens is for a reason. Divine Providence is that everything happens because God wills it for two reasons: 1) His glory, 2) Christian’s ultimate good {Conformity to Christ}.

Fatalism is exactly that… FATAL. It kills hope, joy, purpose, and meaning. God’s providence is life! It brings hope, joy, purpose, and meaning. I’m one of those people who believes strongly in Divine Providence for many reasons, but just consider a few (Then we’ll apply them). Believe God!

Eph 1:11 In Him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of Him who works ALL things according to the counsel of His will…

Ro 8:28 God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. 29 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son…

Is 46:9 “Remember the former things long past, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me, 10 Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying, ‘My purpose will be established, And I will accomplish ALL My good pleasure’ 11 Truly I have spoken; truly I will bring it to pass. I have planned it, surely I will do it.

Dan 4:35 All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and He does according to His will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth (That’s you & me!); and none can stay His hand or say to Him, “What have you done?”

Ro 9:15 (God) says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” 16 So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. 18 So then He has mercy on whomever He wills, and He hardens whomever He wills. 21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honored use and another for dishonorable use?

Ps 84:11 The Lord bestows favor and honor.  No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly (Those who are in Christ).

Ro 8:31 If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him graciously give us all things?

What does this mean for us as we live each day? Answer, God is in control of all things… everything… without exception. That means everyone, everywhere, always (Unless you reject His Word as truth). It means everything that happens (Regardless of how we see it at the time) is always good… glorifies God… and is for the ultimate benefit of His children. Nothing is excluded from that truth!

So Christian, take whatever circumstance you are in… no matter what it is… no matter how you feel about it… and praise God in light of His Word! Praise God that no one can do anything more or less to you than God wills which is ALWAYS for your ultimate good (Ps 84:11; Ro 8:31-32)! Banish all sorrow and fear… be done with worry and anxiety! Your God is SOVEREIGN and PROVIDENTIAL. And He loves you!

For Part 2 CLICK HERE.

What Brokenness Looks Like

Brknss“God doesn’t use anyone He doesn’t first break” (Chuck Swindoll). Most seasoned maturing Christians will agree. Here’s the way it sounds from Paul as written in 2 Tim 3:12, “All who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”

All? Yes. Every single one? Yes. Persecution is one way we are broken. And many times GOD is the active One in breaking (Discipline) us.  Consider Hebrews 12:5…

My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, Nor faint when you are reproved by Him; 6 For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines, And He scourges every son whom He receives.” 8 if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children & not sons. 10 He disciplines us for our good, that we may share His holiness. 11 All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.

When God disciplines His children, it is for a good reason… “to share in His holiness.” God goes after our idols that we cling to tightly. He rips them from our hands and heart so that we rely completely on Him alone. If that means He sheds our blood to do it, it will happen. If it causes us weeping, He will do it. All because He is making sure we are conformed to the image of Christ.

What does brokenness look like? Here it is in one word… humility. When a person has been broken, they are not arrogant. They are quick to forgive… they are long suffering with others… they are merciful and gracious. They don’t keep record of wrongs but seek restoration and reconciliation with everyone. They don’t hold grudges or slander others or demand their way.  They aren’t angry or accusing of others. And above all they are unconditionally loving. Oh… one last element… the person will grow in humility. If a person isn’t characterized by those traits, they have not experienced brokenness… completely… yet.

The fruit brokenness produces is ultimately peaceful.

Recognizing False Teachers

wolf-in-sheeps-clothing-300x249From The Gospel Coalition

“There were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you.” (2 Peter 2:1)

There are no “ifs, ands, or buts” in Peter’s words. It’s a clear and definite statement. There were false prophets among the people (of Israel in the Old Testament). That’s a matter of history.

False prophets were a constant problem in the Old Testament, and those who falsely claimed to be prophets of God were to be stoned. The people rarely had the will to deal with them, so they multiplied, causing disaster to the spiritual life of God’s people.

In the same way Peter says, “There will be false teachers among you.” Notice the words “among you.” Peter is writing to the church and says, “There will be false prophets among you.” So he is not talking about New Age people on television. He is talking about people in the local church, members of a local congregation.

There is no such thing as a pure church this side of heaven. You will never find it. The wheat and the tares grow together. Warren Wiersbe writes:

Satan is the counterfeiter. . . . He has a false gospel (Galatians 1:6-9), preached by false ministers (2 Corinthians 11:13-12), producing false Christians (2 Corinthians 11:26). . . . Satan plants his counterfeits wherever God plants true believers (Matthew 13:38).

Authentic or Counterfeit?

How would you recognize counterfeit Christianity?

In 2 Peter 1 we read about genuine believers. And in 2 Peter 2 we read about counterfeit believers. If you put these chapters side by side you will see the difference between authentic and counterfeit believers.

1. Different SourceWhere does the message come from?

Peter says, “We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1:16). And then he says the false teachers exploit you “with stories they have made up” (2:3). So the true teacher sources what he says from the Bible. The false teacher relies on his own creativity. He makes up his own message.

2. Different MessageWhat is the substance of the message?

For the true teacher, Jesus Christ is central. “We have everything we need for life and godliness in Him” (1:3). For the false teacher, Jesus is at the margins: “They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them” (2:1).

Notice the word secretly. It’s rare for someone in church to openly deny Jesus. Movement away from the centrality of Christ is subtle. The false teacher will speak about how other people can help change your life, but if you listen carefully to what he is saying, you will see that Jesus Christ is not essential to his message.

3. Different PositionIn what position will the message leave you?

The true Christian “escapes the corruption in the world caused by evil desires” (1:4). Listen to how Peter describes the counterfeit Christian: “They promise . . . freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity, for a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him” (2:19). The true believer is escaping corruption, while the counterfeit believer is mastered by it.

4. Different CharacterWhat kind of people does the message produce?

The true believer pursues goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brother kindness, and love (1:5). The counterfeit Christian is marked by arrogance and slander (2:10). They are “experts in greed” and “their eyes are full of adultery” (2:14). They also “despise authority” (2:10). This is a general characteristic of a counterfeit believer.

5. Different AppealWhy should you listen to the message?

The true teacher appeals to Scripture. “We have the word of the prophets made more certain and you will do well to pay attention to it” (1:19). God has spoken, and the true teacher appeals to his Word.

The false teacher makes a rather different appeal: “By appealing to the lustful desires of sinful human nature, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error” (2:18). So the true teacher asks, “What has God said in his Word?” The false teacher asks, “What do people want to hear? What will appeal to their flesh?”

6. Different FruitWhat result does the message have in people’s lives?

The true believer is effective and productive in his or her knowledge of Jesus Christ (1:8). The counterfeit is “like a spring without water” (2:17). This is an extraordinary picture! They promise much but produce little.

7. Different EndWhere does the message ultimately lead you?

Here we find the most disturbing contrast of all. The true believer will receive “a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1:11). The false believer will experience “swift destruction” (2:1). “Their condemnation has long been hanging over them and their destruction has not been sleeping” (2:3).

Jesus tells us that there will be many who have been involved in ministry in his name, to whom he will say, “Depart from me; I never knew you” (Matthew 7:21). Who are these people? Surely Peter is describing them in this passage.

Don’t Be Naïve

We must not be ignorant: “There will be false teachers among you” (2:1). So how do we apply this warning?

First, Peter’s plain statement reminds us that the church needs to be protected. Among the many wonderful people who come to through the doors of the church each year, some would do more harm than good.

They may seem the nicest of people, but they do not believe in the authority of the Bible or the exclusivity of salvation in Christ. We welcome such people, because they need Christ as much as we do, but we must not allow them to have influence in the church.

Second, skeptics will always be able to point to hypocrisy and inconsistency in the church. They’ve always done it, and they always will. One of the strangest reasons for not following Christ goes like this: “I’ve seen people in the church who are hypocrites.” So you will not follow Christ because some people who claim to do so are hypocrites?

The existence of the counterfeit is never a good reason for rejecting the genuine. Peter essentially tells us, “Of course there are counterfeit Christians. Of course there are teachers who do the church more harm than good. What else would you expect in this fallen world? Grow up! Don’t be naïve! Don’t miss what’s real simply because you have seen the counterfeit.”

Point to 2 Peter 2:1 the next time you meet someone hiding behind this excuse.

HE IS RISEN!

Empty_TombWhat more can He say than to you has been said? No words of mine can surpass what is written in Scripture about Jesus’ resurrection!

Luke 24:1 But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. 2 And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3 but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. 5 And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? 6 He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, 7 that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.” 8 And they remembered his words, 9 and returning from the tomb they told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. 10 Now it was Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told these things to the apostles, 11 but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. 12 But Peter rose and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; and he went home marveling at what had happened.

1 Cor 15:13 If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. 16 If the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. 51 Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. 53 For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. 54 When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” 55 “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” 56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 58  Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.