“Like A Ship Driven Along By Its Sail”

“God has declared in the gospel that whenever we come to him, we are to call upon him freely and openly as our Father, who has adopted us as his children. If we do not have this assurance, the thought of serving God will make us grind our teeth.

If, however, we are persuaded that God looks upon us favourably; if, though we are weak and can do nothing worthy of his approval, he accepts us in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, then we will surely be filled with courage.

We will be like a ship’s sail that has been stretched and filled by the breeze! Thus, our hearts will run to obey him, like a ship driven along by its sail, when we know that God delights in us and accepts our works, not wanting us to be compelled into servitude. He is happy for us to be his children, and that we desire to obey him.”
Sermons on Galatians (Gal 5:1-3)

The Bridge That Will Hold Any Weight

“The bridge of grace will bear your weight, brother. Thousands of big sinners have gone across that bridge, yea, tens of thousands have gone over it. I can hear their trampings now as they traverse the great arches of the bridge of salvation. They come by the thousands, by their myriads, e’er since that day when Christ first entered His glory.

They come and yet never a stone has sprung in that mighty bridge. Some have been the chief of sinners and some have come at the very last of their days but the arch has never yielded beneath their weight. I will go with them, trusting to the same support. It will bear me over as it has for them.”

– Charles Spurgeon

The Gods We Worship Show Us What We Treasure

Tim Challies has some good observations on the pervasive idolatry of our culture, such as that was exhibited yesterday, that makes us no different than the worshippers of many gods in a country like India:

The Idolatry of Pluralism

The Idolatry of Pluralism

Jackson’s service was an representation of just the kind of pluralism that has marked India. Everybody involved wanted to invoke God’s name, as you’re supposed to do when remembering a loved one, but it was clear that most of them invoked a god made in their own image. Even those who spoke of Jesus or who prayed to Jesus did so without any clear reference to the Jesus of the Bible. They spoke of a Jesus who accepts all and even (or perhaps especially) those who had rejected him. Never did Michael Jackson give any evidence of putting his faith in Jesus Christ, yet those who watched were assured, time and again, that he was now safe in the presence of the Lord, waiting there for the rest of us to arrive. Words and phrases invoked God and used the Christian lexicon but without any reference to the gospel, the true gospel, the gospel that saves. Lost men declared to other lost men untruths about the god they wish for, not the God who is.

During the singing of the old song We Are the World, those who watched saw religious symbols from all faiths spinning across a video screen, blurring, blending their lies to the already blind.

All faiths are the same, don’t you know? Why dwell on such petty distinctions? God is whoever you want him (or her or it) to be. We are the world. We are god.

What surprised me more than anything was the genuine grief, the genuine mourning, of those who attended the memorial service. Of course his brothers and sister and daughter were distraught, but so too were many of the fans who so loved him. On the radio I heard an interview with a woman from Toronto who attended a screening of the service. She told how when she heard of Jackson’s death she collapsed and was inconsolable, at least until she could go to a tattoo parlor and have “Gone too soon” tattooed onto her body; that was the beginning of the healing process. She had brought her young son to the memorial service so he could see his mother’s love for this man she so venerated. All across North America, all across the world, there are similar stories of worship. Can we call it anything other than worship? I don’t think this is too strong a word. For many people, Jackson was a god; for many people celebrity is idolatry.

Yesterday we saw idolatry of a whole different order yet idolatry that is so similar to what I saw in The Story of India. There are some who, in their idolatry, bow low before gods of wood and stone and burnished bronze. There are others who, in their idolatry, live vicariously through celebrities and who bow low before the spirit of the age. Michael Jackson’s funeral, where God’s name was invoked and where Jesus’ name was supposedly held high, was as vivid an expression of idolatry as was the footage of hordes of Indian Hindus dancing with joy and veneration before their statues. One is a base idolatry, the other is sophisticated and proper. Both are the same ancient sin, the same ancient rebellion against the one true God.

Are You Pretty Safe?

This clip convicted me to take risks for Jesus:

Francis Chan also has a book, Crazy Love, that is available for free download till August 1st in audio format from Christianaudio.com. I’m listening to it and it is powerful and edifying so far.

Christ Reigns In Hell Also

C. H.
Image via Wikipedia

Mark Dever writes, “Here’s how Charles Spurgeon did it on Oct. 30, 1859 as a 24-year-old preacher. He was talking about the many crowns of Christ (from Rev. 19:12) and he was speaking of crowns of dominions and victorys and thankfulnesses. And in the crowns of dominion, he extolled Christ’s crowns of dominion in heaven, hell and earth. And this is how he talked about Christ’s reign in Hell:

“It is the iron crown of hell, for Christ reigneth there supreme. Not only in the dazzling brightness of heaven, but in the black impenetrable darkness of hell is his omnipotence felt, and his sovereignty acknowledged; the chains which bind damned spirits are the chains of his strength; the fires which burn are the fires of his vengeance; the burning rays that scorch through their eyeballs, and melt their very heart, are flashed from his vindictive eye. There is no power in hell besides his. The very devils show his might. He chaineth the great dragon. If he give him a temporary liberty, yet is the chain in his hand, and he can draw him back lest he go beyond his limit. Hell trembles at him. The very howlings of lost spirits are but deep bass notes of his praise . While in heaven the glorious notes shout forth his goodness; in hell the deep growlings resound his justice, and his certain victory over all his foes. Thus his empire is higher than the highest heaven, and deeper than the lowest hell.” C. H. Spurgeon, “The Savior’s Many Crowns” Oct. 30, 1859, printed in New Park Street Pulpit, vol. 5, p. 450.”

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Between a Rock and a Hard Place

Joel Tetreau puts into words what I’ve been feeling the last 5 yrs. or so about where I “fit” in fundamentalism:

Discomfort with Movements on the “Right” and “Left”

“Historically speaking, all churches that are orthodox in their faith and militant about the gospel are in a sense fundamentalist churches. Fundamentalism has been right about many important things over the years. In its struggle with liberalism, it was right about a pure gospel. In its struggle with New Evangelicalism, it was right about the clear gospel. SVBC has an apreciation (sic) for its separatist heritage. From the very beginning we have been a bit different than your typical fundamental church. We are excited about historic Fundamentalism as an idea; however, we have not been nor continue to be as equally excited about Fundamentalism as a movement.

Too much modern-day Fundamentalism is riddled with leadership abuse, ecclesiastical politics, schisms over nonessentials, and the problem of equating men’s standards with the doctrines of God. So in a sense we find ourselves between two worlds. On the one hand we are uncomfortable with the main of Evangelicalism (especially New Evangelicalism) with its ecumenicalism and adoption of the world. On the other hand, we are uncomfortable with much of the fundamentalist movement and its propensity toward self-righteousness.

We have found that as we follow after Christ, we make more friends with those who are walking in the same direction we are. We are grateful for those relationships and frankly find real “koinonia” with those sister ministries. That is far superior in our opinion than making ourselves “fit” within a movement that dishonors God in one form or another.”