Saturday, April 25, 2009
Another thought entered my mind but I didn't voice it to the rest. I thought, "Not only has God given Americans over to unbelief, materialism, greed, and apathy, but He's also allowed us to develop into a kind of people that thinks that it's cool, funny, or hip to do the most extreme things we possibly can or that we must test the waters and push the envelope as far as possible so that we can then pride ourselves into thinking that we're actually getting somewhere in life because we've used pragmatism for the purpose of impressing a lot of people to get them to buy our product or our idea." This pragmatic marketing stunt is exactly the downward slide that's taking place in American evangelicalism and it's absolutely killing the gospel. If you doubt that statement, consider the fact that AC/DC's "Highway to Hell" was played at the Easter Service at New Spring Church in Anderson, S.C. I talked to a former co-worker just yesterday about this and he asked me if I saw the entire "church" service so that I could see how passionate Perry Noble was in his message and I said, "No, I was turned off that a so-called church would play a song that used to make me shudder as a 16 year old unbeliever just so that they could please the crowd on Easter morning. I mean, c'mon man, do we really think that playing 'Highway to Hell' as an Easter service 'praise song' is really something that we want to say is pleasing to Jesus just because it increased the size of the crowd?" My buddy was clueless. He had the whole "deer in the headlights look" going on and was just clueless as to what I was talking about. He was just so pumped that Perry Noble was a passionate speaker. So what? Tony Robbins is passionate too, but if he's not consistently passionate about representing Jesus, his passion is directed in the wrong area. You see friends, the point is: that type of religious pragmatism can be likened to the uber ugly fronts above, it may look cool to a lot of people, but it always looks foolish in the eyes of God because it depends upon the folly of man's tricks rather than the God-ordained folly of the cross.
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
John R. W. Stott, Basic Christianity (London: Inter-Varsity, 1958), 108 as quoted in John MacArthur, The Gospel According to Jesus (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2008), 220.
Saturday, April 18, 2009
Here is the four-part series from Dr. MacArthur:
Part four of this series very important because it answers questions critics have posed in defense of Mark Driscoll and sadly, it shows the arrogance of Mr. Driscoll on this issue when confronted. I must confess that I grow weary of having to continually explain to people that Driscoll’s conduct here makes him unfit for pastoral ministry because the continuous use of lewd speech either in private or public is not "above reproach", which is one of the qualifications for a pastor (1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:7). I am also amazed at the silence and excuse making from those in the Reformed world who ought to know better; therefore, don’t miss reading what Dr. MacArthur has to say.
Sunday, April 12, 2009
But verses 25-26 are the key verses of the entire passage, “Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?’” (John 11:25-26) Even though Jesus was getting ready to raise Lazarus physically, His statements about resurrection in verses 25-26 are about a spiritual resurrection. Notice that He says, “he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die.” In Ephesians 2:1-8, we see that the work of Christ is brilliantly displayed in spiritually resurrecting us up from the dead and making us alive in Him by saving us through faith apart from works. We see in verses 8-10 that He saves us not because we’ve done good works but so that we will do good works; works of service for His kingdom, for the building up of the church, works that are pleasing and acceptable to Him (Romans 12:1-2; 2 Cor. 5:9; Eph. 5:7-10; 1 Tim. 2:1-3; Heb. 11:5; 13:21; 1 Peter 2:5; 1 John 3:22).
And my friends, it is because of the physical resurrection of Jesus, that He, as the now ruling King of Kings and Lord of Lords, has the power and authority to make all of these things happen. It is because He, when experiencing glory with the Father as part of the Triune Godhead in eternity past, before He became flesh as a baby in a womb in Bethlehem, He chose us to be in fellowship with Him (Mic. 5:2; John 17:5; Eph. 1:4-5). That is a hard concept for us to grasp because when a person chooses something it means that they make a decision in time. In other words, when a person makes a decision, there was once a time when they had not yet made that decision and a time that existed after they had made that decision; and so, the point is, the entire process of decision making assumes the passage of time. But the Bible tells us that Christ’s sovereign election of believers was before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4-5) and that it occurred in eternity, a place where timeless existence is the norm. To put it in a cliché: Has it ever occurred to you that you have always occurred in the mind of God? Now that’s a truly amazing thought! What’s more amazing is to take note of the fact that just as Jesus is referred to as the “Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Rev. 13:8 NKJ), so also His death and resurrection was eternally in the mind of God (Isa. 46:9-10; Psalm 16:10). And my friends, it is Christ’s powerful resurrection from the dead that builds the entire foundation of Paul’s argument in Ephesians chapter two and makes sense out of what Christ said to Martha in John 11:25-26. With that in mind, let us consider the past, present, and future of the redeemed saint as it relates to the great and glorious work of Christ’s resurrection because it is His physical resurrection that provides the basis for our spiritual resurrection and eventually our physical resurrection. We will look at Ephesians 2:1-7 under 3 points:
I. What We Were (vv. 1-3)
II. What We Have Become (vv. 4-6)
III. What We Will Be (v. 7).
TEACHING & APPLICATION
I. What We Were (vv. 1-3).
Man, by his fall into a state of sin, hath wholly lost all ability of will to any spiritual good accompanying salvation; so as a natural man, being altogether averse from that good, and dead in sin, is not able by his own strength to convert himself, or to prepare himself thereunto.Pagan philosophers have always wrestled with the question of whether man is basically good or evil. But the Scriptures give us the answer, namely that man is described as evil, bad, corrupt, wicked, guilty, and sinful. Man is worse than he can imagine and is worse than he cares to admit. Mankind rejects the doctrine of total depravity/inability because it exposes the ugliness of his own personal sin and the depths of depravity within his own heart. Forensic psychologists have tried to understand the depraved depths of the criminal mind, yet their secular outlook on life denies them the worldview needed to provide the philosophical cash value to understand the depraved depths of their own minds! Thankfully, only God is able to plumb the depths fallen man’s depraved heart (Jer. 17:9) and knows the necessary remedy. But my friends, when the unregenerate sinner denies his own sinful depravity and utter inability to do anything pleasing to God, he suppresses the truth in unrighteousness because his own conscience calls him a liar when he seeks to proclaim his own goodness and it condemns him for his own evil actions (Rom. 1:18; 2:14-15). The unregenerate man seeks to continually suppress the truth of Scripture by proclaiming his own goodness, his own natural abilities to appease the divine, and to exalt his own good works and character over and against the testimony of his own conscience. He does this because he knows deep down inside, that he is totally depraved and when confronted with the reality of Scriptural truth regarding the sorry state of his own soul, he gnashes his teeth and clinches his fist against the God of the Bible because the God of the Bible has him pegged! When the Scriptures honestly and clearly proclaim the state of spiritual death that the unregenerate sinner is willingly enslaved to, and then those same Scriptures go on to command self-examination and repentance of the depraved soul in light of God’s holiness, that makes people very uncomfortable and even angry. However, it is better to be uncomfortable and angry for only a short while rather than be cast into an eternal fire that has been prepared for the devil and his angels (Matt. 25:41).
John MacArthur has said,
Man’s basic trouble is not being out of harmony with his heritage or his environment but being out of harmony with his Creator. His principal problem is not that he cannot make meaningful relationships with other humans beings but that he has no right relationship to God, from whom he is alienated by sin (Eph. 4:18). His condition has nothing to do with the way he lives; it has to do with the fact that he is dead even while he is alive. He is spiritually dead while being physically alive. Because he is dead to God, he is dead to spiritual life, truth, righteousness, inner peace and happiness, and ultimately to every other good thing.2. A Present and Ongoing, Demonically-Influenced Depravity - Some have wondered if the unsaved can be influenced or controlled by demons today. I think we have our answer in verse two where Paul says that the same wicked spirit that influenced Christians before their salvation is the same “spirit now working in the sons of disobedience.” This spirit, “the prince of the power of the air”, is Satan himself, and he and his evil host to one extent or another, controls, influences, and dominates every person who is unsaved. Satan himself is a good leader for those who are spiritually dead and love disobedience to God because he is the supreme example of what it means to be in rebellion against God since he is the personification of what it means to be disobedient to God. Since Satan is the “prince” or ruler of this world’s evil system, and he influences and controls the “minds” of unbelieving people who are part of that system and as such, they are captive to do his will, whether they know it or not (John 8:44; 2 Tim. 2:23-26). Thomas Boston rightly says of such people,
The devil has overcome him, so he is his by conquest, his lawful captive (Isa. 49:24). The natural man is condemned already (John 3:18), and therefore under the heavy hand of ‘him that hath the power of death, that is, the devil.’ He keeps his prisoners in the prison of a natural state, bound hand and foot (Isa 61:1), laden with divers lusts, and chains wherewith he holds them fast. You need not, as many do, call on the devil to take you; for he has a fast hold you already, as a child of wrath.3. We Were People of Wrath - Now, take note of the phrase in verse three “and were by nature children of wrath.” The “were” in that phrase makes all the difference in who you are now as opposed to who you were before Christ saved you. People of wrath never think they are people of wrath. Most of the world thinks they are God’s children, when in reality they are God-hating “children of wrath.” “Children of wrath” is a phrase used by Paul to indicate a people that are enslaved to the devil and devoted to God’s just condemnation.
Every natural man lies under the displeasure of God; and that is heavier than mountains of brass. Although he be pleased with himself, and others be pleased with him too, yet God looks down on him displeased. . . His person is under God’s displeasure; ‘Thou hatest all workers of iniquity (Psa 5.5). A godly man’s sin is displeasing to God, yet his person is still ‘accepted in the beloved’ (Eph 1.6). But ‘God is angry with the wicked every day’ (Psa 7.11). A fire of wrath burns continually against him in the heart of God. They are as dogs and swine, most abominable creatures in the sight of God. Though their natural state be gilded over with a shining profession, yet they are abhorred of God; and are to him as a smoke in his nose (Isa 65.5), and lukewarm water, to be spewed out of his mouth (Rev 3.16); whited sepulchres (Matt 23.27); a generation of vipers (Matt 12.34); and a people of his wrath (Isa 10.6). . . He hates their persons, and so has no pleasure in, but is displeased with their best works (Isa 66.3), . . . Their duty as done by them is ‘an abomination to the Lord’ (Prov 15.8). And as men turn their back on those with whom they are angry, so when the Lord refuses communion with the natural man in his duties, it is a plain indication of His wrath.And so, the very hostility, malice, and hatred toward God that makes up the present spiritual condition of the unbeliever is also the former spiritual condition of the God-lover, and that is what Paul wants to emphasize in Ephesians two. God lovers only have to be encouraged and properly taught and they will continue to grow and bear good spiritual fruit that blesses the church and glorifies God. This brings us to point number two.
II. What We Have Become (vv. 4-6).
3. Christ Raises the Spiritually Dead – But God . . . made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved) . . .”. Christ raises the spiritually dead because spiritually dead people have to be made alive so that they can be enabled to respond to the truth of the gospel. You want to know why spiritually dead people think the gospel is bunk? It’s because spiritually dead people don’t have the ability to receive things that are associated with true spiritual life (
III. What We Will Be (v. 7).
“I saw in the right hand of Him who sat on the throne a book written inside and on the back, sealed up with seven seals. 2 And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, "Who is worthy to open the book and to break its seals?" 3 And no one in heaven or on the earth or under the earth was able to open the book or to look into it. 4 Then I began to weep greatly because no one was found worthy to open the book or to look into it; 5 and one of the elders said to me, "Stop weeping; behold, the Lion that is from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has overcome so as to open the book and its seven seals." 6 And I saw between the throne (with the four living creatures) and the elders a Lamb standing, as if slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God, sent out into all the earth. 7 And He came and took the book out of the right hand of Him who sat on the throne. 8 When He had taken the book, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each one holding a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. 9 And they sang a new song, saying, "Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. 10 "You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth." 11 Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne and the living creatures and the elders; and the number of them was myriads of myriads, and thousands of thousands, 12 saying with a loud voice, "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing." 13 And every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them, I heard saying, "To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever." 14 And the four living creatures kept saying, "Amen." And the elders fell down and worshiped.” (Revelation 5:1-14)CONCLUSION
For those of you who are still lost and enslaved to your sins, you must be raised to spiritual life by the resurrection power of Christ or else my efforts in talking to you are no better than talking to a brick wall. My friend, if you are convicted of your sins by what you’ve heard today, if you are weary from carrying your sins, if you are plagued by guilt because your own conscience continually condemns you of the ungodly things that you have done, then turn from your sins, and follow Christ (Matt. 16:24). I pray that God will enable you to do just that, because it is only after you’ve been given the ability by God to see your own sin-sickness that you run to the Great Physician, Christ Jesus for spiritual healing. Jesus said that He did not come to call the self-righteous, but sinners to repentance (Lk. 5:31). My friend, are you still displaying a bit of self-righteous by thinking that you are good enough to get into heaven by your own bootstraps? My friend, the very fact that you would still think there is something within your own depraved soul that merits the grace of God shows that you are still in the bonds of iniquity; that you are still stiff-necked and hard of heart as you clinch your fist and shake your pathetic self-righteousness in God’s face! I pray that you’ll repent and place your faith in Christ because your arrogance will cause you to store up more of God’s anger; an anger that will burn against you on the day of judgment with unhindered fury! (Psa. 7:11;
O’ Christian, is it not a tremendous blessing to ponder the great love that God has blessed you with through the resurrected Christ? You know that you can’t earn heaven’s blessings and you’re grateful for God’s electing, sovereign, and saving grace applied to your soul through the power of the resurrected Christ. You are eternally grateful to God for calling you into the Kingdom by His Holy Spirit (John 6:44; Rom. 8:29-30). You realize there’s nothing you can ever do to repay God for His great love, and so you show your eternal gratitude by following His ways, by praising His name, and by using your spiritual gifts to build up His church, realizing that it is solely by His grace that you are a vessel of mercy, fashioned by His hands to be a trophy that displays His saving love. What a great and wonderful resurrected Christ we have! What great power is present in Christ’s resurrection power! It is no wonder that Isaiah calls him our “Mighty God” (Isa. 9:6).
 A “whiskey-Calvinist” is tongue-in-cheek term used by some Calvinist Baptist pastors in the
 John MacArthur, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary on Ephesians, (Chicago, Ill: Moody Press, 1986), 52-53.
 The phrase “now working” translates nu/n evnergou/ntoj, a present active participle indicating continuous, ongoing, and active controlling influence of a demonic spirit working within the minds of the unregenerated “sons of disobedience.” The use of evn for “in” indicates an intimate, controlling, influence working in the “sons of disobedience.”
 Thomas Boston, Human Nature In Its Fourfold State, (
 Ibid., 154.
 The phrase “But God . . .” at Eph. 2:4a consists of three words in the underlying Greek text: o` de. qeo,j, lit. “But the God . . .”.
 “He made us alive together” in verse 5 translates the singular verb sunezwopoi,hsen, the aorist active third person singular of suzwopoie,w.
Friday, April 03, 2009
Thursday, April 02, 2009
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, self-control; against such things there is no law." Galatians 5:22-23The believer's motivation for patience is the same motivation for peace and joy: we have been reconciled to God. We have been called to have joy even in the midst of difficult circumstances, because we look forward to the hope of Heaven and have the comfort of God our Father. Because of that reconciliation, we are at peace with God. That peace should naturally flow into our relationships and interactions with other people, which brings me to the last verse I quoted in the article on peace:
“Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” Romans 12:16-18How can we, being sinful beings, live in harmony with other sinful beings? There are bound to be feelings hurt, toes stepped on, wrongs done, lies told, things forgotten, things stolen, and every other kind of sin imaginable committed. This has been the case throughout human history. Even if you just focus on family life, even in a Christian home, you see instances of anger and people sinning against one another. How can we possibly "live peaceably with all" as we are called to do?
The answer is patience.
"Then Peter cam up and said to him [Jesus], 'Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?' Jesus said to him, I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.'" Matthew 18:21-22When others sin against us, even if it is the same sin over and over again a hundred times, we must treat them with patience and kindness (which is our topic for next time). The definition of patience is "the quality of being patient, as the bearing of provocation, annoyance, misfortune or pain, without complaint, loss of temper, irritation, or the like." (www.dictionary.com)
"Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices! Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil." Psalm 37:7-8How many of us can say that when we are being provoked, we bear it without complaint? Without losing our temper? Without being even the least bit irritated? None of us can.
But God has done so with us.
"The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance." 2 Peter 3:9Even though we were breaking God's law and provoking him to righteous anger, he was patient with us so that we who are his elect would be able to come to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. We are as much deserving of eternal judgment in Hell as the next person, but God chose to bestow his mercy on us, and patiently waited until the time when we would receive this gift, and patiently endured the "vessels of wrath" in order that we might receive it.
"Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory--even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?" Romans 9:21-24Even now, he is enduring patiently this sinful world, storing up wrath which he will finally pour out on the unregenerate. But he will not do so yet because not all of his elect have heard the call and been born again, and he does not want one of them to be lost.
"But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost [of sinners], Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life." 1 Timothy 1:16This is the patience, the eternal patience, that God has been exercising since the beginning of the world. And keep in mind, patience is an exercise. It is not passive. Another definition of patience from Dictionary.com is this: "quiet, steady perseverance; even-tempered care; diligence."
Patience is not resignation, an attitude of futility, laziness, or lack of initiative. Being patient is not an excuse for a lack of activity. I start seething whenever someone's excuse for sitting around doing nothing is that they are "waiting on the Lord." Then I have to rebuke myself for being impatient.
But, to borrow a quote from Alex and Brett Harris in their book Do Hard Things, we should "hustle while we wait." A correct attitude of patience and waiting on the Lord places the future in God's hands, while we actively serve in our present roles to the best of our abilities. Even if we don't know what the next step of our lives should be, we can use wherever we are now to grow in obedience, sanctification, character, perseverance, and responsibility. This is good stewardship.
From all of this, I have concluded that there are two kinds of patience:
1. The kind we exercise towards others when they annoy us that keeps us from yelling at them or biting their heads off.
"And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all." 1 Thessalonians 5:142. The kind we exercise towards God as we trust him and wait on him to reveal the next step of his plan for us.
"Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths." Proverbs 3:5-6
"Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!" Psalm 27:14
"For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation. He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken." Psalm 62:1-2