Our Mission : To know Jesus and make Him known to the Glory of God!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Question: If God ordains all things, then why pray?



Should it be said, to what purpose then is prayer?

It is answered, this is the way and means God has appointed, for the communication of the blessings of his goodness to his people; for though he has purposed, provided, and promised them, yet he will be sought unto, to give them to them, and it is their duty and privilege to ask them of him; and when they are blessed with a spirit of prayer, it forebodes well, and looks as if God intended to bestow the good things asked; and which should be asked always with submission to the will of God, saying, “not my will, but thine be done”.

by John Gill

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Mark Driscoll on "Loving the Pastor's Wife"




One of the most important and most overlooked people in a church is the pastor’s wife. She is usually not on the organizational chart, does not have a formal job title or job description, and is an unpaid volunteer. But her ministry can make or break her family and church.

My wife, Grace, is both a pastor’s daughter and a pastor’s wife. Her daddy graduated from Dallas Theological Seminary with men like Chuck Swindoll. He planted a church before she was born, and remained there for over forty years. In conversations with her over the years, I’ve gleaned a lot about the cost a family pays to be in ministry.

In a few mainly prosperity-oriented, religious-type churches, the pastor’s wife is treated as the first lady, with an over-the-top amount of power and deference. However, in most small churches, the pastor’s wife is treated as the last lady, with an over-the-top lack of love and consideration. As a result, she’s the last lady to sit down for a church meal because she’s in the kitchen, the last one to make it in to hear her husband’s sermon because she’s getting hen-pecked by the needy and religious women, the last person to get help when she’s in need because she’s busy looking after everyone else, and the last person to get her husband’s undivided attention because his phone is always ringing with someone who has randomly decided they are more important than her.

Sundays

Many pastors have children. On Sundays, the pastor’s wife is basically a single mother. She gets up early to cook a nice breakfast, chat with her husband, and pray for him before sending him off to preach. She then has to get the kids up and ready, get herself ready, and get the family out the door early enough to not be late to church, because everyone will talk if she’s late. She often does not have a designated parking spot as she should, and upon entering the church she is continually interrupted by people wanting to chat—often including rude people, demanding people, and critics of her husband. She tries to keep an eye on her kids during all of this while carrying a diaper bag and other belongings, and eventually she makes her way into the church service, where it is likely she does not have a seat saved for her. Surely the church can do better than this.

Compensation

Many churches do not factor into the pastor’s compensation the thousands of dollars his family pours back into the ministry. If you want the pastor to live near the church, have a home big enough to entertain, have an extra room for guests, have lots of people over for meetings and meals, and tithe generously to the church, all of that costs money.

On top of that, consider how many birthday, wedding, baby, anniversary, and Christmas presents the pastor’s family has to buy each year. When our church was very young, we spent literally thousands of dollars a year on these expenses, even though the church was not paying us. We had a few thousand people in our home every year and interns living with us, plus a home office. We did so gladly, because we love the church. But we did go into some debt since we had no reserves, and if a car with over two hundred thousand miles broke down, the credit card was our only option.

If your pastor does not work hard and does not give generously, fire him. If he does work hard and does give generously, then compensate him decently and free his family up to be more generous and productive.

On Sundays, the pastor’s wife is basically a single mother.

One of the worst examples I have seen comes from a small church. The pastor was not paid a full salary because their giving was low. His wife worked a job to make ends meet, and the two of them gave all of their life to the service of that church. One of their elders who ran their books asked me to offer consult to the church, as they had not grown in many years. The first thing I asked for was the giving record of the elders. Only two of the six elders had given any money of any decent amount over the entire year—the lead pastor and the bookkeeper. The other four men on the board—all with decent, steady jobs—gave nothing or next to it. But year after year they were fine with letting the pastor’s wife work a taxing job to make ends meet and open up her home week after week to feed and serve people. She was one of the top givers in the church. It was criminal. It is common.

To be sure, most churches do not have a lot of money. Still, even an effort to take care of the pastor and his family means a lot.

Days off, vacations, and holidays

In the Bible, God commands all of his people to take a day off, called a Sabbath. Certainly, people can and do get legalistic and religious about this issue, but the simple fact is if we do not take a voluntary Sabbath, we will eventually take an involuntary Sabbath, as we break down and end up sick and/or hospitalized. For a pastor, Sunday is a workday. This is doubly true if he has evening services on Saturday or Sunday night. He has to set aside another time as his Sabbath.

So, when it’s his day off or his vacation time with his family (which is so vital), someone else needs to be on call to answer his phone, deal with emergencies, and tend to the flock. A handful of high-drama, demanding church people can ruin an entire pastoral family by constantly calling, dropping by, and otherwise interrupting without due cause during dinner time, days off, and vacations. Such people are selfish and do not understand that when a shepherd has a little flock of family and a big flock of church, he cannot give all his time to one sheep who is just lonely. Such sheep need to hang with the other sheep and give the shepherd a break.

Holidays are also tough times for the pastor’s wife. Unlike most of the women in the church, she cannot enjoy Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Easter, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and other such holidays by having her family all together and going to church. Why? Because her husband has to work on those days every single year. So, pray for her, thank her, and be sympathetic to the continual sacrifice she makes for the good of the whole church.

“Those” women

Those women are legion. Those women are pushy, demanding, and masters at guilt. They try to make the pastor’s wife be their friend, expect her to be at every church event, have some job description they have dreamed up for her (like running the women’s ministry), demand personal email and cellphone access, expect to be in the pastor’s home whenever they like, and seek to get their hand on the rudder of the church through manipulating the pastor’s wife. Those women tend to be quite religious and difficult to deal with.

The truth is, the Bible has no office or job description called “pastor’s wife.” This is because the pastor’s wife is simply to be a Christian church member like everyone else. Her first priorities are to be a godly woman, godly wife, and then godly mother, after which all other duties fall. If she is busy with her family and the ministry she and her husband have, to their children, and the guests they entertain, her plate is more than full. If she desires to use certain gifts to serve in the church and she and her husband think it’s a good idea, then that is fine, but not to be expected. Perhaps, as her children grow up, she may have more time to be involved in more ministry, if that is what she and her husband desire and feel called to.

The Bible has no job description called “pastor's wife.” The pastor’s wife is simply to be a Christian church member like everyone else.

I am blessed to have married a woman who loves both Jesus and the church. She has no desire to work after our children are raised, but she does want to teach and train women more than she is able to today. Today, she is busy with five young children and has only a little time for training women and other ministry in the church. When our children are grown she will give more time to formal ministry in the church as an unpaid church member, just like everyone else, as we agree that’s what God has called her to.

Those women need to know that a pastor’s wife is to be friendly toward all people, but should not be expected to be friends with all people. She, like everyone else, has a right to choose her friends. Whom she spends time with, opens her heart to, invites to her birthday party, and allows into her home is her choice to make.

What’s helpful

In conclusion, I am urging people who love their church and its leaders to pray for and care for the pastor’s wife, whose ministry is so vital, yet overlooked or assumed. Gifts are a good practical way to love the pastor’s wife, but it is even more thoughtful and loving to give her cash or a gift card so she can get what she needs or wants. The purpose of gifts is defeated if her house is filled with a bunch of things she cannot use but feels obligated to display so that when you come over she doesn’t feel rude. Beyond gifts, tell her thanks. Write her thank you cards. Look for ways to ensure she is served and helped on Sundays.

Thankfully, after some painful years in ministry, Mars Hill Church has matured to a wonderful place where Grace and I are well loved and supported. So, this blog post is filled with things we do not need. Yet many pastors’ wives still do need them, and I am hoping that some of you can help be that blessing.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Call to the Unconverted - Josh Williamson

Are you saved? Have your sins been forgiven? It does not matter if you go to church, if you tithe or even do good works. The question remains, Do you know Jesus?

The Pastor’s Priorities

Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching.”

- 1 Timothy 4:13

In our day, there are a host of roles Christians expect their pastors to fill. Many people think the pastor should be an entertainer. Others ask their pastor to be the pragmatist extraordinaire who only delivers “relevant” messages. Some want a life coach to help them attain their best life now, while others seek the corporate magnate who can quickly increase the church’s membership and campus size. There are even those who want their pastor to ignore biblical teaching the culture finds objectionable so that he can join whatever cause is currently in vogue.

God’s Word, however, gives pastors a far different calling, as we see in 1 Timothy 4:13. Paul, the “senior pastor” of the Ephesian church, has appointed Timothy to stand in for him in his absence and do the work for which he would otherwise be responsible. So, what he tells Timothy to do while he is away serves as a good description of a pastor’s calling — indeed, the calling of all elders — which is the public reading of Scripture, exhortation, and teaching.

Feeding the Lord’s people a steady diet of truth through the faithful proclamation of His Word is the pastor’s chief job. All Scripture is God-breathed and profitable for the Christian’s spiritual health (2 Tim. 3:14–17), and so the pastor is to make sure his flock learns to hear the Word rightly and apply it practically. This involves the public reading of Scripture in worship as well as exhortation (1 Tim. 4:13), which is the process of explaining the sense of the text and drawing practical applications for the people. Customarily, this is done through the preaching of expository sermons, a practice with a biblical precedent (Neh. 8:8). Finally, pastors are to engage in teaching how the diverse portions of Scripture fit together into one stream of unified doctrine (1 Tim. 4:13).

We will be headed for disaster if we ever think biblical teaching is insufficient for our sanctification. Let us never tire of the meat of God’s Word, and let our pastors never think that they are able to plumb fully the depths of the Scriptures. John Chrysostom says, “It is not possible…ever to exhaust the mind of the Scriptures. It is a well which has no bottom” (ACCNT, vol. 9, p. 193).

Coram Deo

Without even knowing it, our expectations can be part of the problem in the church’s lack of focus on teaching in our day. When we choose churches based simply on the extent of their youth activities or the style of music, we are implicitly saying that the quality of the teaching and the faithfulness of the pastor to biblical preaching are not all that important. Whatever we expect of our preacher, let us expect him first of all to feed us the Word of God.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Q&A: Is it being narrow-minded for Christians to say Christ is the only way?

Well, it certainly can be an expression of narrow-minded-ness for a Christian to say that Christ is the only way. I’ll never forget the first time somebody asked me that. I was in college, and my college professor looked me straight in the eye and said, “Mr. Sproul, do you believe that Jesus is the only way to God?” I wanted to jump out the window or find a hole to hide in because the question put me on the horns of a dilemma. It was a terribly embarrassing situation because I knew what the New Testament said. I knew that Jesus himself had said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No man comes to the Father except by me.” And other passages in the New Testament say, “There’s no other name under heaven through which men may be saved.”

I was aware of those passages of exclusivity that we find in the New Testament and that focus on the uniqueness of Jesus. This professor pressed me on it and asked if I thought Jesus was the only way. If I said yes, then obviously I would be understood by everybody in the class to be an unspeakably arrogant person. I certainly didn’t want that kind of a label during my college career. But if I said no, then I would be guilty of denying that unique exclusiveness that Christ claimed for himself. So I kind of hedged a little bit and tried to whisper my answer and said, “Yes, I believe that Jesus is the only way.” Well, the wrath of that teacher came on my head, and the teacher just began to lay me out and said, “That’s the most bigoted, narrow-minded, arrogant statement I have ever heard.”

When the class was over, I went up to the professor and spoke privately to her. “I know you’re not enthusiastic about Christianity, but do you allow for the possibility that people who are not arrogant and people who are not narrow minded could for some reason or other actually be persuaded that Jesus Christ is at least one way to God?” The professor said, “Oh yes, I can certainly understand that intelligent people could believe that.” It was the nar-row-mindedness that was bothering the professor. I said, “Don’t you understand that I came to the conclusion that Jesus was a way to God, and then I discovered that Jesus was saying that he is the way?”

If I believed that Jesus were the only way to God just because it happened to be my way, then the unspoken assumption would be that whatever R. C. believes must be true. This would exclude anybody who’s not in touch with what R. C. Sproul believes, and this, of course, would be unspeakably arrogant. Why should there even be one way of redemption? Sometimes we act as if God hasn’t done enough.

- R.C. Sproul

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Charles Spurgeon the the Immutability of God's Threatening

Every threatening of God, as well as every promise shall be fulfilled. Talk of decrees! I will tell you of a decree: “He that believeth not shall be damned.” That is a decree, and a statute that can never change. Be as good as you please, be as moral as you can, be as honest as you will, walk as uprightly as you may,—there stands the unchangeable threatening: “He that believeth not shall be damned.” What sayest thou to that, moralist? Oh, thou wishest thou couldst alter it, and say, “He that does not live a holy life shall be damned.” That will be true; but it does not say so. It says, “He that believeth not.” Here is the stone of stumbling, and the rock of offence; but you cannot alter it. You must believe or be damned, saith the Bible; and mark, that threat of God is an unchangeable as God himself. And when a thousand years of hell’s torments shall have passed away, you shall look on high, and see written in burning letters of fire, “He that believeth not shall be damned.” “But, Lord, I am damned.” Nevertheless it says ”shall be“ still. And when a million ages have rolled away, and you are exhausted by your pains and agonies, you shall turn up your eye and still read “SHALL BE DAMNED,” unchanged, unaltered. And when you shall have thought that eternity must have spun out its last thread—that every particle of that which we call eternity, must have run out, you shall still see it written up there, “SHALL BE DAMNED.” O terrific thought! How dare I utter it? But I must. Ye must be warned, sirs, “lest ye also come into this place of torment.” Ye must be told rough things; for if God’s gospel is not a rough thing & the law is a rough thing; Mount Sinai is a rough thing. Woe unto the watchman that warns not the ungodly! God is unchanging in his threatenings. Beware, O sinner, for “it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”

Monday, March 21, 2011

The heathen know that God exists - John Gill

John Gill tells how the native Greenlanders knew of God before Christianity even arrived on their shores.

Most admirable was the reasoning of a wild Greenlander, which he declared to a missionary to be the reasoning of his mind before his conversion; he said to him, “It is true we were ignorant heathens, and knew nothing of God, or a Saviour; and, indeed, who should tell us of him till you come? but thou must not imagine that no Greenlander thinks about these things. I myself have often thought: a “kajak” (a boat) with all its tackle and implements, does not grow into existence of itself; but must be made by the labour and ingenuity of man; and one that does not understand it would directly spoil it. Now the meanest bird has far more skill displayed in its structure, than the best “kajak”; and no man can make a bird: but there is still a far greater art shown in the formation of a man, than of any other creature. Who was it that made him? I thought myself that he proceeded from his parents, and they from their parents; but some must have been the first parents; whence did they come? common report informs me, they grew out of the earth: but if so, why does it not still happen that men grow out of the earth? and from whence did this same earth itself, the sea, the sun, the moon, and stars, arise into existence? Certainly there must be some Being who made all these things; a Being that always was, and can never cease to be. He must be inexpressibly more mighty, knowing, and wise, than the wisest man. He must be very good too, because that everything that he has made is good, useful, and necessary for us. Ah, did I but know him, how would I love him and honour him! But who has seen him? who has ever conversed with him? None of us poor men. Yet there may be men too that know something of him. O that I could but speak with such! therefore,” he said, “as soon as ever I heard you speak of this great Being, I believed it directly, with all my heart; because I had so long desired to hear it.”

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Thursday, March 17, 2011

St. Patrick's Day - How Patrick Became a Saint

Question: What is Blaspheming the Holy Spirit?

Therefore I say to you, any sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven men, but blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven. And whoever shall speak a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whoever shall speak against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, either in this age, or in the age to come. (Matthew 12:31–32)

Few passages of Scripture have been more misinterpreted and misunderstood than these two verses. Because of their extreme seriousness and finality; it is critical to understand them correctly.

Jesus first stated that any sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven men. Although blasphemy is a form of sin, in this passage and context the two are treated separately-with blasphemy representing the most extreme form of sin. Sinhere represents the full gamut of immoral and ungodly thoughts and actions, whereas blasphemy represents conscious denouncing and rejection of God. Blasphemy is defiant irreverence, the uniquely terrible sin of intentionally and openly speaking evil against holy God or defaming or mocking Him (cf. Mark. 2:7). The Old Testament penalty for such blasphemy was death by stoning (Lev. 24:16). In the last days blasphemy will be an outstanding characteristic of those who rebelliously and insolently oppose God (Rev. 13:5–6; 16:9; 17:3).

But even blasphemy, Jesus says, is forgiven, just as any other sin is forgiven when it is confessed and repented of. An unbeliever who blasphemes God can be forgiven. Paul confessed that, “even though [he] was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor,” he was nevertheless “shown mercy, because [he] acted ignorantly in unbelief; and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus” (1 Tim. 1:13–14). “Christ Jesus came into the world,” the apostle continues, “to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all” (v. 15). Peter blasphemed Christ with curses (Mark 14:71) and was forgiven and restored.

Even a believer can blaspheme, since any thought or word that sullies or defames the Lord’s name constitutes blasphemy. To question God’s goodness, wisdom, fairness, truthfulness, love, or faithfulness is a form of blasphemy. All of that is forgivable by grace. Speaking to believers, John said, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

There is one exception, however: blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven. Even the person who blasphemes Jesus, who dares to speak a word against the Son of Manshall be forgiven. Son of Mandesignates the Lord’s humanity, which He experienced in His time of humiliation and servitude during the incarnation. A person’s perception may not allow him to see more than the Lord’s humanity, and if he only misjudges at that level and speaks against Him in His humanness, such a word against the Son of Man can be forgiven. When a person rejects Christ with less than full exposure to the evidence of His deity, he may yet be forgiven of that sin if, after gaining fuller light, he then believes.

But the blasphemy against the Spirit was something more serious and irremediable. It not only reflected unbelief, but determined unbelief-the refusal, after having seen all the evidence necessary to complete understanding, even to consider believing in Christ. This was blasphemy against Jesus in His deity, against the Spirit of God who uniquely indwelt and empowered Him. It reflected determined rejection of Jesus as the Messiah against every evidence and argument. It reflected seeing the truth incarnate and then knowingly rejecting Him and condemning Him. It demonstrated an absolute and permanent refusal to believe, which resulted in loss of opportunity ever to be forgiven … either in this age, or in the age to come. Through this age (all of human history), such rejection is unforgivable.The age to come implies that through all of eternity there will be no forgiveness. In the age of human history and in the age of divine consummation, no forgiveness.

Scripture is clear that during His ministry on earth our Lord was submissive to the Father (John 4:34; 5:19–30) and empowered by the Spirit (Matt. 4:1; Mark 1:12; Luke 4:1, 18; John 3:34; Acts 1:2; Rom. 1:4). Peter said that God anointed Jesus of Nazareth “with the Holy Spirit and with power” (Acts 10:38).

Those who spoke against the Holy Spirit were those who saw His divine power working in and through Jesus but willfully refused to accept the implications of that revelation and, in some cases, attributed that power to Satan. Many people had heard Jesus teach and preach God’s truth, as no man had ever taught before (Matt. 7:28–29), yet they refused to believe Him. They had seen him heal every kind of disease, cast out every kind of demon, and forgive every kind of sin, yet they charged Him with deceit, falsehood, and demonism. In the face of every possible evidence of Jesus’ messiahship and deity, they said no. God could do nothing more for them, and they would therefore remain eternally unforgiven.

- John MacArthur

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Shaking Up Bible Prophecy (Earthquakes) - Gary DeMar

"For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are but the beginning of the birth pains." (Matthew 24:7-8 ESV)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

John Gill on Natural Revelation


There is nothing in the whole creation the mind can contemplate, the eye look upon, or the hand lay hold on, but what proclaims the Being of God.

When we look up to the heavens above us; the surrounding atmosphere; the air in which we breathe, which compresses our earth, and keeps it together; the stellar space, and spreading sky, bespangled with stars of light, and adorned with the two great luminaries, the sun and moon, especially the former, that inexhaustible fountain of light and heat; and under whose benign influences, so many things are brought forth on earth; whose circuit is from one end of the heaven to the other; and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof: when we consider its form, magnitude, and virtue; its proper distance from us, being not so near us as to scorch us; nor so remote as to be of no use to us; the motion given it at first, in which it has proceeded without stopping, but once as is supposed, in the days of Joshua; a motion it has had now almost six thousand years; the course it has steered, and steers, so that all parts of the earth, at one season or another, receive benefit by it; and the way it has been guided in, without varying or erring from it all this while.

Whoever reflects on these things, must acknowledge it to be the work of an all wise and almighty agent, we call God; and that it must be upheld, guided, and directed by his hand alone. When we take a view of the earth, of the whole terraqueous globe, hanging on nothing, like a ball in the air, poised with its own weight; the different parts of it, and all disposed for the use of man; stored with immense riches in the heart of it, and stocked with inhabitants upon it; the various sorts of animals, of different forms and shapes, made, some for strength, some for swiftness, some for bearing burdens, and others for drawing carriages, some for food and others for clothing: the vast variety of the feathered birds that cut the air; and the innumerable kinds of fishes that swim the ocean.

The consideration of all this will oblige us to say, “Lord, thou art God, which hast made the heaven, earth, and sea; and all that in them is” (Acts 4:25). In short, there is not a shell in the ocean, nor a sand on the shore, nor a spire of grass in the field, nor any flower of different hue and smell in the garden, but what declare the Being of God: but especially our own composition is deserving of our notice; the fabric of the body, and the faculties of our souls. The body, its form and shape; while other animals look downwards to the earth, “os homini sublime dedit Deus”, as the poet says, man has a lofty countenance given him, to behold the heavens, to lift up his face to the stars; and for what is this erect posture given him, but to adore his Creator? And it is remarkable that there is a natural instinct in men to lift up their hands and eyes to heaven, when either they have received any unexpected mercy, by way of thankfulness for it; or are in any great distress, as supplicating deliverance from it; which supposes a divine Being, to whom they owe the one, and from whom they expect the other.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Looking for a good Study Bible?

Post Tenebras Lux — “After darkness, light”

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Sunday, March 13, 2011

Sabbath Sermon - The Beast of Revelation Identified! (Apologetics Group)

Speculation abounds in Christianity today over the issue of End Times. In recent months we have seen many national disasters and all this has increased speculation over the question of "Is this the end times?" This Christian Sabbath I have decided to post a video from the Apologetics Group and presented by Dr. Kenneth Gentry which examines the prophecies concerning the end. Please take the time to watch this video, and be prepared to have your views challenged.


You can purchase the full DVD here

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Australia’s First Preacher.

Rev. Richard Johnson, a thirty-two year old Englishman, and graduate of Cambridge University, arrived in New South Wales with the first fleet in January 1788. As the first, and for some time the only Christian preacher in Australia, Johnson had sole responsibility for the spiritual needs of the infant white population.

His flock numbered over one thousand souls and was made up of the governor, Captain Arthur Philip with his staff, and a large number of convicts (568 males, 191 females with 13 children).

Within a month of Johnson’s arrival the first service of public worship in Australia was organised for Sunday, February 3, 1788 at 10am with Governor Philip ordering that ‘No man to be absent on any account whatever.’ That first service was held by ‘a great tree’ close to the harbour with Johnson preaching from Ps.116:12,13 “What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits toward me? I will take the cup of salvation and call upon the name of the Lord.’

While no record of what Johnson said on that historic occasion exists, Lieutenant Ralph Clark, who was present at the service, reported. “We had a very good sermon . . . the behaviour of the convicts was regular and attentive.” Moreover in the first piece of Christian literature written in Australia, Johnson tells us of how he preached to his congregation : “I do not address you as Churchmen or Dissenters, Roman Catholic or Protestants, as Jews or Gentiles . . . But I speak to you as mortals and yet immortals . . . The gospel proposes a free and gracious pardon to the guilty, cleansing to the polluted, healing to the sick, happiness to the miserable and even life for the dead.”

Rev. Richard Johnson, an Englishman, an Anglican, and Australia’s first preacher not only believed the biblical gospel but preached it in all of its glorious fullness.

In December 1788, Rev. Johnson along with his wife Mary, celebrated their first Christmas on Australian soil.

It can hardly have been the happiest of festive seasons for them both. Life in the colony was hard and the Johnsons fully shared in those hardships. Life in the colony was hard and the Johnsons fully shared in those hardships. In October 1788, they had moved into their ‘first’ home, a hut made from cabbage tree palms and rushes (it would be three years before they lived in a brick house) at Sydney Cove and it was there in that same month that they buried their first child.

Nonetheless the Johnson’s persevered in their adopted homeland and on that first Christmas we find Australia's first preacher going about the Master’s business.

His journal entry for Sunday, December 28, 1788 informs us that he “Rose about 4 o’clock. At five took boat; went to Rose Hill; arrived about eight o’clock; between nine and ten began public service. Preached from 2nd chap. Eph.17. After sermon I distributed some books among the convicts. Returned about three o’clock, and arrived at Sydney about eight. Bless God, O my soul, for this day’s mercies and protection.”

Johnson’s text at that service was Ephesians 2:17. It reads “And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh”. It is a text whose chief subject is the Lord Jesus Christ. In particular, it refers to Christ in his role as our mediator. As mediator, Christ is the one who makes peace between God and man. He is the mediator who reconciles man to his holy God.

As Hebrews 2:17 declares concerning the Saviour “Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people”.

Christ in his role as our great high priest has made reconciliation for our sins. On our behalf and to our eternal benefit he has obtained peace with God for us.

But Johnson’s text not only alludes to Christ as the ultimate priest who obtains peace with God for us but also declares him to be the prophet who comes and preaches peace to us. How can this be as Christ was bodily absent from the earth in the time of the apostles and remains absent to this day? How does Christ preach peace to sinful man who is at enmity with God? He does so through his church. He is with his church always and particularly with its faithful preachers.

Men like Australia’s first preacher, Richards Johnson, who set forth Jesus Christ as humanity’s only hop and emphasised in their preaching the necessity of saving faith in Christ. Through such pulpiteers of the past and preacher of the present Christ comes and preaches peace to all.

Today, as you have read this article, let me ask you,

Do you know Richard Johnson’s Saviour?

Are you at peace with your God?

Are you trusting in Christ and his finished cross work for your salvation?

We encourage you to do so and to hearken to the words of the prophet Isaiah, “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.”

When you do so you will discover for yourself that Christ is not only the priest who obtains salvation, and the prophet who proclaims salvation, but the king who governs the recipients of salvation. With the Hymn writer you will be able to say,

King of my life, I crown thee now,

Thine shalt the glory be;

Lest I forget thy thorn-crowned brow,

Lead me to Calvary.

May God give you the grace this day to take Jesus for your Saviour and crown him King of your life.

Source

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Question: How Was There Salvation During the Old Testament Period?

Letter from D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones To Mr R. C. Sellers, 24 May 1962.

With regard to your question, the answer is this. It is made clear in Romans 3:25, 26 that God’s forgiving and passing over the sins of people in the Old Testament was in the light of our Lord’s death. Then there is a parallel statement of this in Hebrews 9:5–15, and especially verse 15. You have the same point, of course, in verses 39 and 40 of Hebrews 11. Then there is the crucial statement in John 8:56: ‘Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad.’ When you take that in connection with Romans 4:17–24 and Galatians 3:6–29, it is clear that there is only one way of salvation, and that it is always in and through Christ and His work. Acceptance of and submission to the sacrificial teaching under the old dispensation was an acceptance of God's way of salvation. They realised that these were but types of something that was to come. The fact that their understanding and apprehension were incomplete makes no difference.

God announced from the very beginning that there was but this one way of salvation. That is why everything in the Old Testament points forward to this. I do hope that this will be of some help to you. Please do not hesitate to write to me whenever you like, or if I can help in a conversation at any point I shall be more than delighted.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Justification - Martyn Lloyd-Jones

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. (Romans 8:28-30 ESV)


THE next term for our consideration is "Justified." This, as we have seen, is always associated with belief and faith. The term Thas become familiar--"Justification by faith only." That they are in a state of justification, or justified, is true of all who believe, who exercise faith. Christian people are often troubled and confused about "foreknowledge" and about the "calling"' but no Christian should ever be in trouble concerning justification, for it is the foundation of our whole position and standing with God. The first four chapters of this Epistle to the Romans are devoted to this subject of "justification by faith only." The apostle introduced it in the 17th verse of the let chapter; but because of the failure of the Jews to see it, and a corresponding failure on the part of the Gentiles, he had to argue it out in detail and demonstrate it with a multiplicity of proofs in those four chapters.
Justification in its essence is a legal or forensic term, a term that belongs to the realm of the Law Court. It means "to declare just," and "to declare righteous." It is the opposite ofcondemnation. The Christian has moved from a state of "condemnation" to one of "justification." For this reason the Apostle starts this 8th chapter by saying, "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus." He is taking up again the argument he had left off at the end of chapter 5, where he had been working out some of the consequences of justification. His constant emphasis concerning this is that it is something which is done by God, "Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified." In other words we do not justify ourselves before God. God justifies us, and He does it--and this is the argument of the first four chapters--entirely apart from us and our works. It is not the result of any merit that is in us. One verse that states this clearly and beyond any doubt is the 5th verse in the 4th chapter: "But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness." God justifies the "ungodly"; not the "righteous," but the "ungodly."

He argues the same point in chapter 5, verses 6-8: "When we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." It is the action of God, and exclusively the action of God. This is the central argument of this Epistle. It is the declaration made by God concerning those who believe in Christ. We are justified in Christ, but through faith and belief. The belief is the instrument.

Let us emphasize again certain other aspects of this doctrine. Justification does not merely mean forgiveness. It includes forgiveness, but it is much bigger than forgiveness. It means in addition that God declares us to be entirely guiltless; He regards us as if we had never sinned at all. He pronounces us to be just and to be righteous. In doing so He is answering any declaration that the Law may make with respect to us. It is the judge upon the bench not merely saying that the prisoner at the Bar is forgiven, but that he pronounces him to be a just and righteous person.

In justifying us God tells us that He has taken our sins and our guilt, and has "imputed" them to, "put them to the account of," the Lord Jesus Christ and punished them in Him. He announces also that, having done that, He now puts to our account, or "imputes" to us, the perfect righteousness of His own dear Son. The Lord Jesus Christ obeyed the Law perfectly; He never broke it in any respect. He gave a full and a perfect satisfaction to all its demands. That full obedience constitutes His righteousness. What God does is to put to our account, to put upon us, the righteousness of Jesus Christ. In declaring us to be justified, God proclaims that He now looks on us, not as we are, but as clothed with the righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ. A hymn by the Moravian Count Zinzendorf, and translated by John Wesley, expresses it thus:

Jesus, Thy robe of righteousness
My beauty is, my glorious dress;
'Midst flaming worlds, in this arrayed,
With joy shall I lift up my head.

The Count proceeds in the hymn to defy anyone and anything to bring a charge against us, because we are clothed and robed with this "righteousness" of the Lord Jesus Christ. Such, then, is the meaning of justification, and it is entirely the action of God. It is, I repeat, the forensic, legal declaration of God that we are not only forgiven but guiltless, and that as we are clothed with the righteousness of Christ we shall continue in that condition. In other words, we are given a new standing and a new status in the presence of God.

Monday, March 7, 2011

The Authority of Scripture - Martyn Lloyd-Jones




An extract from a sermon on: "Stand therefore having your loins girt about with truth" Ephesians 6.14

There can be no doubt whatsoever that all the troubles in the Church to-day, and most of the troubles in the world, are due to a departure from the authority of the Bible. And, alas, it was the Church herself that led in the so-called Higher Criticism that came from Germany just over a hundred years ago. Human philosophy took the place of revelation, man's opinions were exalted and Church leaders talked about 'the advance of knowledge and science', and 'the assured results' of such knowledge. The Bible then became a book just like any other book, out-of-date in certain respects, wrong in other respects, and so on. It was no longer a book on which you could rely implicitly.

There is no question at all that the falling away, even in Church attendance, in this country is the direct consequence of the Higher Criticism. The man in the street says, 'What do these Christians know? It is only their opinion, they are just perpetrating something that the real thinkers and scientists have long since seen through and have stopped considering'. Such is the attitude of the man in the street! He does not listen any longer, he has lost all interest. The whole situation is one of drift; and very largely, I say, it is the direct and immediate outcome of the doubt that has been cast by the Church herself upon her only real authority. Men's opinions have taken the place of God's truth, and the people in their need are turning to the cults, and are listening to any false authority that offers itself to them.

We all therefore have to face this ultimate and final question: Do we accept the Bible as the Word of God, as the sole authority in all matters of faith and practice, or do we not? Is the whole of my thinking governed by Scripture, or do I come with my reason and pick and choose out of Scripture and sit in judgment upon it, putting myself and modern knowledge forward as the ultimate standard and authority? The issue is crystal clear. Do I accept Scripture as a revelation from God, or do I trust to speculation, human knowledge, human learning, human understanding and human reasons Or, putting it still more simply, Do I pin my faith to, and subject all my thinking to, what I read in the Bible? Or do I defer to modern knowledge, to modern learning, to what people think today, to what we know at this present time which was not known in the past? It is inevitable that we occupy one or the other of those two positions.

The Protestant position, as was the position of the early Church in the first centuries, is that the Bible is the Word of God. Not that it 'contains' it, but that it is the Word of God, uniquely inspired and inerrant. The Protestant Reformers believed not only that the Bible contained the revelation of God's truth to men, but that God safeguarded the truth by controlling the men who wrote it by the Holy Spirit, and that He kept them from error and from blemishes and from anything that was wrong. That is the traditional Protestant position, and the moment we abandon it we have already started on the road that leads back to one of the false authorities, and probably ultimately to Rome itself. In the last analysis it is the only alternative.

People will have authority; and they are right in so thinking. They need authority because they are bewildered; and if they do not find it in the right way they will take it in the wrong way. They can be persuaded even though they do not know the source of the authority; in their utter bewilderment they are ready to be persuaded by any authoritative statement. So that it comes to this, that we are back exactly where Christians were 400 years ago. The world talks about its advance in knowledge, its science, and so on, but actually we are going round in cycles, and we are back exactly where Christians were 400 years ago. We are having to fight once more the whole battle of the Protestant Reformation. It is either this Book, or else it is ultimately the authority of the Church of Rome and her 'tradition'! That was the great issue at the Protestant Reformation. It was because of what they found in the Bible that those men stood up against, and queried and questioned and finally condemned the Church of Rome. It was that alone that enabled Luther to stand, just one man, defying all those twelve centuries of tradition. 'I can do no other' he says, because of what he had found in the Bible. He could see that Rome was wrong. It did not matter that he was alone, and that all the big battalions were against him. He had the authority of the Word of God, and he judged the Church and her tradition and all else by this external authority.

We are back again in that exact position, and I am concerned about the matter, not only from the standpoint of the Church in general, but also from the standpoint of our own individual experiences. How can we fight the devil? How can we know how we are to live? How can we answer the things we hear, the things we read, and all the subtle suggestions of the devil? Where can I find this truth that I must gird on, as I put on all this armour of God? Where can I find it if I cannot find it in the Bible? Either my foundation is one of sand that gives way beneath my feet, and I do not know where I am, or else I stand on what W. E. Gladstone called 'The Impregnable Rock of Holy Scripture'.