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Archive for the ‘truth’ Category

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In our worship service yesterday, we sang Stuart Townsend and Keith Getty’s song “In Christ Alone.” It’s a song I think is destined to become a classic – the church will be singing it four hundred years from now, in other words. It’s theologically sound and weighty, as well as musically  excellent.

In Christ alone my hope is found,
He is my light, my strength, my song;
This Cornerstone, this solid Ground,
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My Comforter, my All in All,
Here in the love of Christ I stand. 

In Christ alone! – who took on flesh,
Fullness of God in helpless babe.
This gift of love and righteousness,
Scorned by the ones He came to save:
Till on that cross as Jesus died,
The wrath of God was satisfied –
For every sin on Him was laid;
Here in the death of Christ I live. 

There in the ground His body lay,
Light of the world by darkness slain:
Then bursting forth in glorious day
Up from the grave He rose again!
And as He stands in victory
Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me,
For I am His and He is mine –
Bought with the precious blood of Christ. 

No guilt in life, no fear in death,
This is the power of Christ in me;
From life’s first cry to final breath,
Jesus commands my destiny.
No power of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand:
Till He returns or calls me home,
Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand. 

Stuart Townend & Keith Getty Copyright © 2001 Thankyou Music (Adm. by CapitolCMGPublishing.com excl. UK & Europe, adm. by Integrity Music, part of the David C Cook family, songs@integritymusic.com) 

It’s my anthem because it reflects my thinking as a Christian. It’s who I am based on what the Lord Jesus Christ has done for me and in me. To Him be all the glory!

It’s our anthem as the church of Jesus Christ for the very same reason. It’s who we are based on what He’s done for us and in us. In Him alone we live and stand. To Him be the glory!

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Many of us in the church have heard, or read,  a lot about “social justice” recently. Words such as “intersectionality,” “identity politics,” “white privilege,” and racism have been thrown around quite liberally.

This Leftist ideology (which some call Cultural Marxism) has made its way into the evangelical church through several popular websites, authors, pastors, and thinkers. In my opinion, it’s deadly and could have a devastating effect. In fact, we’ve already seen a few fractures which may take awhile to heal – if ever.

A document has been written and published to bring clarity to these issues. The Statement on Social Justice and the Gospel was written by John MacArthur, Voddie Bauchum, Phil Johnson, and James White among others. It’s well-written, well-thought out and, most importantly, thoroughly biblical.

Part of the introduction says,

“Specifically, we are deeply concerned that values borrowed from secular culture are currently undermining Scripture in the areas of race and ethnicity, manhood and womanhood, and human sexuality. The Bible’s teaching on each of these subjects is being challenged under the broad and somewhat nebulous rubric of concern for “social justice.” If the doctrines of God’s Word are not uncompromisingly reasserted and defended at these points, there is every reason to anticipate that these dangerous ideas and corrupted moral values will spread their influence into other realms of biblical doctrines and principles.”

Please read it. You can also sign it if you’re so inclined (I did). This is an important time for the church in the United States.

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There are other circumstances in which those who are pious should stand firm in peace and patience. Such qualities should extend to every situation that we encounter in this life. No one, then, has properly denied himself except the one who has abandoned himself to the Lord so that every aspect of his life will be governed by his will. The person thus composed in soul will neither judge himself to be miserable, nor will he spitefully complain against God for his lot in life, come what may.

The true necessity of having such a disposition is clear if you consider how many unforeseen events we are exposed to in this life. We are continually harassed by one illness or another; the plague advances; we are cruelly vexed by the calamities of war; frost and hail render the land barren and leave us with little, devouring our expectations for the year’s crop. Wife, parents, children, and close relatives are snatched away by death; homes are consumed by fire. These are events which make men curse their lives, despise the day they were born, hold in contempt heaven and its light, rage against God, and, being fluent in blasphemies, accuse God of unfairness and cruelty. But the believer must in these circumstances consider the mercy and the Fatherly kindness of God. If the believer, then, should see his house made lonely by the loss of those nearest to him, even then he must not stop praising the Lord. Rather, he must turn himself to this thought: “The Lord’s grace continues to dwell in my home and will not leave it desolate.” If the believer should see his crop consumed by drought, disease, or frost, or trampled down by hail and famine threaten him, even then he must not despair within his soul, nor should he become angry toward God. Rather, he must persist with confidence in this truth: “But we your people, the sheep of your pasture, will give thanks to you forever” (Ps. 79:13). God, then, will provide for us, however barren the land. If the believer should be afflicted by illness, he must not be so stung by the severity of his hardship that he erupts in impatience and demands from God an explanation. Rather, he must, considering the justice and gentleness of God’s discipline, recall himself to patience.

Indeed, the believer should accept whatever comes with a gentle and thankful heart, because he knows that it is ordained by the Lord.

(A Little Book on the Christian Life, by John Calvin; translated by Aaron Dendinger an Burk Parsons, Reformation Trust, 2017, pp. 51-53)

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Unknown

Matt Smerthurst makes the point that a Christian is defined by newness. Because of God’s grace:

  • We have a new heart (Ezek. 26:26)
  • We’ve experienced a new birth (John 3:3)
  • We are a new creature (2 Cor. 5:17)
  • We have new life (Rom. 6:4)
  • We have new desires (Gal. 5:22-24)
  • We have a new family (Mark 3:35)
  • We have new foes (Luke 21:17)
  • We have a new service (Rom. 7:6)
  • We have a new struggle (Gal. 5:17)
  • We have a new name (Rev. 2:17)
  • We have a new hope (2 Pet. 3:13)

If any man be in Christ, he is a new creation. Behold, the old has passed away; the new has come!

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It’s the desire of every true Christian to pursue holiness, to live a life that’s pleasing and honoring to God. Psalm 119, which is a 176-verse song dedicated to God’s Word, talks a lot about holiness and the pursuit of it. There’s a direct connection between the two.

Psalm 119:9 asks the question, “How can a young man (or anyone else for that matter) keep his way pure? ” Next comes the answer: “By living according to Your word.” Purity is the result of obedience to God’s Word.

Verse 11 adds action to the truth expressed in verse 9: “I have hidden Your word in my heart that I might not sin against You.” One of the most important ways to pursue a life of holiness is to hide God’s Word in our heart. But what does that mean?

First, it’s a personal commitment“I have hidden” means that I myself and making a decision to do something, and it’s not one-time only but rather an ongoing commitment. “I have, and will continue to, hide God’s Word in my heart.”

Second, it involves God’s Word. Notice the psalmist says, “Your word” which means God’s Word. When Psalm 119 was written, “Your word” meant the Torah (the first five books of the Bible) primarily. Today “Your word” refers to all 66 books of the God-inspired Scripture. What we hide in our hearts is God’s Word, not our own or someone else’s.

Third, it involves the meaning of hiding God’s Word“Hidden” means “treasure” and “meditate,” but carries the idea of careful reflection. Hiding God’s Word doesn’t refer to reading at a service level or even devotionally. It refers to memorizing and meditating on God’s Word in such a way that it becomes hidden in our heart. In other words, we know it “by heart” as the saying goes.

Fourth, it involves the goal. The result is “that I might not sin against You.” Hiding God’s Word in our heart advances our spiritual health and holiness. It will change your thinking which will, in turn, change your behavior. It’s how the pursuit of holiness takes place.

As someone has said, “The Bible will keep you from sin or sin will keep you from the Bible. “

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“Encourage one another daily” (Hebrews 3:13)

We are drowning in false teaching and false doctrine. It’s hard to get away from, both inside and outside of the church. You could call it a spreading cancer and that might be too kind. False doctrine deceives and distracts people, and it can send them to Hell.

There is a way to combat it, however. God has not left us as orphans, but has given us His Word – the Bible – as a bulwark and defense against false teaching and false teachers of every kind. There’s an interesting episode in Acts 17 that illustrates it: “The brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. Now these (the Bereans) were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures to see whether these things were so” (vv. 10-11).

The Bereans listened to what Paul and Silas taught, and received it, but then went to God’s Word to check it out – to see if it was true or not. Think about it: they tested the apostle Paul against the Scriptures! This is how to combat false doctrine. We examine, or diligently search, the Scriptures to see whether or not the things we’re reading or hearing are consistent with it. If they are, we keep it. If they aren’t, we get rid of it.

The encouragement, therefore, is to know the Bible well enough to be able to detect counterfeits. We don’t have to be taken in by false teachings or false teachers. Be a Berean!

Here’s something you can do: When you read a book that has Bible references in it (whether they’re written out or simply cited), look them up. Read the verse, for sure, but also read the context that surrounds the verse. Ask yourself if the verse, as well as the context, supports what the author is saying. Yes, it will take you longer to read the book, but you’ll be doing the work of a Berean and guarding yourself against false doctrine.

We’re drowning in false teaching, but we don’t have to be counted among those who drown.

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recycle

Here in the Pacific Northwest, recycling is a big deal. A really big deal. Sometimes, I’ll tell people from outside the region that we take recycling so seriously that we’ll be arrested if we don’t do it properly (that may happen someday, I know).

In our neighborhood, the garbage is picked up every Monday morning, while the recycling and yard waste alternate weeks. Last night – Sunday – I went through the weekly ritual of rolling the bins out to the street. I was at the curb when I noticed something unusual: there weren’t any garbage or recycling bins at the curb in our cul-de-sac. Not one.

So, rather than just leaving them and going back into the house, I began to have some doubts. “It is Sunday, right?” Yes, I know it was Sunday. We began our day at church and spent most of the rest of the day with a group of friends from church. “Is tomorrow a holiday?” No, it wasn’t. If it would have been, nothing would have been picked up. “Do we still have garbage and recycling pickup?” Yes, we do. I knew the answers to all of those questions, but because I didn’t see the other bins, I began to wonder.

This relatively small and ordinary experience illustrates something true for all of us. If we believe something, such as the fact that Jesus is the only way to heaven, but nobody in our office or our school or our family believes it, we begin to wonder if maybe they’re right and we’re wrong. (Let me say, it’s entirely possible that someone could be wrong if no one else holds their view, but it’s also possible that everyone else could be wrong.)

There are things of which we can be absolutely certain because God has revealed them to us. These things are true whether or not anyone believes them, or whether or not we believe them for that matter. In Romans 3:1-4a, Paul writes, “Then what advantage has the Jew? Or what is the benefit of circumcision? Great in every respect. First of all, that they were entrusted with the oracles of God. What then? If some did not believe, their unbelief will not nullify the faithfulness of God, will it? May it never be! Rather, let God be found true, though every man be found a liar.” We should not doubt, disbelieve, or question what God has revealed to us, even if no one, or very few, believe it.

Postscript: About an hour after I rolled out the bins, I heard the familiar sound of other bins being rolled to their respective curbs. Sure enough, both the garbage and recycling bin were empty this morning.

 

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