Daily Archives: July 29, 2016

Welcome News For The Distressed Sinner!

The Reformed Reader

Around 1630 Richard Sibbes wrote a great little booklet on the gospel called Christ’s Sufferings For Man’s SinIt’s found in volume one of his Works.  In one section of this booklet Sibbes talked about Christ as an example of holiness and obedience.  Sibbes was not against Christ being an example for us, but he emphasized that “the main comfort we receive from Christ is by way of [his] satisfaction.”  He quoted Bernard:

“I desire indeed to follow Christ as an example of humility, patience, self-denial, etc., and to love him with the same affection that he hath loved me; but I must eat of the Passover-Lamb, that is, I must chiefly feed on Christ dying for my sins”

Sibbes explained this in more detail:

So every true Christian soul desires to follow Christ’s obedience, humility, patience, etc., and to be transformed into the likeness of his blessed…

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Weekly Watchman for 07/29/2016

Not Ashamed of the Gospel: The Cost of Our Silence

Now after John had been taken into custody, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”  Mark 1:14-15 Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also […]

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Persecuted for the Word of God

“And when he opened the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of them that had been slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held.” Revelation 6:9 (ASV) In America, professing to be a Christian or talking about the Word of God might get you a snicker or […]

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Radical Islamic Terrorism

Regardless of the media’s progressive spin on most new stories, the reality is there’s a growing number of radical Muslim terrorists around the world that are lining up to kill “infidels.” They believe in a life awaiting them in “paradise.” While radical organizations like ISIS and Hamas openly brag about their plans for genocide against Christians and Jews, somehow our President just cannot get himself to acknowledge that radical Muslim terrorism is a real threat.

We know the Obama administration has many ties to the Muslim Brotherhood and those ties would increase under a potential Clinton administration, but how real is the threat to American citizens? There are also concerns about a Trump administration but there are many unknowns. For the latest, and a look behind the scenes as well as at world events, we check in with security expert, Ryan Mauro of the Clarion Project.

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A Pastoral Perspective on Leadership

Today, Pastor Randy White joins us for a biblical perspective on leadership in church and politics.

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Wisdom for the Times We Live In

Wisdom without obedience to God is problematic. Dave Wager helps us understand God’s principles for today.

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The Cost of Following Jesus Christ

Gracia Burnham is a real-life example of standing firm in the faith under unimaginable persecution.

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Fed up with false teaching: Calvary Chapel church says “So Long” to the CC Association

CRN has reported on the direction Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa has taken since the passing of CC’s founder Chuck Smith.  (Here, here and here)  Now Amy Spreeman of Berean Research informs us of a troubling incident that occurred in the tiny town of Appleton Wisconsin.  According to Spreeman, there are “eyebrow-raising concerns [that] have not gone unnoticed by news outlets and other Christian groups,” and she lists what the concerns are:

Calvary ChapelCalvary Chapel pastor who warned of false teachings and apostate movements seeping into the Calvary Chapel organization has been removed from his regional leadership position, and is now removing his local congregation out of the Calvary Chapel Association altogether.

Pastor Dwight Douville of Calvary Chapel Appleton Wisconsin was informed last month that he was being removed from his position as a regional leader, a position he’s held for many years. Why? He says because personal friendships have been put above doctrinal truth, muddying the waters of what Calvary Chapels are all about. And because he advocated for maintaining and staying the course while calling out wolves and yeast seeping into Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa and the organization as a whole since the death of founder Chuck Smith.

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Bye Bye Middle Class: The Rate Of Homeownership In The United States Has Hit The Lowest Level Ever

Abandoned House - Public DomainThe percentage of Americans that own a home has fallen to the lowest level ever recorded.  During the second quarter of 2016, the non-seasonally adjusted homeownership rate fell to just 62.9 percent, which was exactly where it was at when the U.S. Census began publishing this measurement back in 1965.  This is not what a “recovery” looks like.  All throughout the Obama years, the percentage of Americans that own a home has gotten smaller and smaller and smaller.  The reason for this, of course, is that the middle class in America is dying.  Last year, we learned that middle class Americans now make up a minority of the population for the first time ever.  In order to have a high rate of homeownership, you need a thriving middle class, and you can’t have a thriving middle class without good paying middle class jobs.  This is why I write about the evisceration of the middle class so extensively, because the U.S. economy is systematically being hollowed out and most Americans don’t understand what is happening. (Read More….)

Hillary’s America: New D’Souza Film Exposes Dems’ Connection to the KKK

Dinesh D’Souza has done it again. Hillary’s America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party has already become the highest-grossing documentary of 2016, and hit number 10 among political documentaries overall.

Source: Hillary’s America: New D’Souza Film Exposes Dems’ Connection to the KKK

The Cure for Perfectionism

But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit. (Romans 7:6)

Romans 7 is the cure for perfectionism.

Some of you live under a crushing burden. Let me try to describe what it is like, and then to show you how what we have been learning here is the truth that will set you free.

You say to yourself, I am a new creation in Jesus Christ. I died and I rose with him. I have a new life in Christ. The Holy Spirit of God lives in me. Therefore I should be able to live a truly holy life.

So you set your mind to that task. You say, I am going to get it right as a wife and as a mother. I am going to get it right as a husband, father, leader. I am going to live as Christ calls me to live and as the Holy Spirit empowers me to live.

And yet somehow you never do. What actually happens is that you spend a great deal of time worrying when you should be trusting, and you find that you are constantly frustrated with yourself for not being a better Christian.

All over the congregation, there will be women and men who recognize that description. The problem for the perfectionist is that she takes seriously the power of Christ, but does not adequately consider the ongoing presence of sin.


However far you progress in the Christian life, you will always be dependent on Jesus’ grace.
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There’s more to sin than wrong actions that you can put behind you when they have been confessed and forgiven. There’s more to it than that. We have been learning from Romans 7 that sin is a power. It is an impulse that resides in you, and even though you are a Christian, this impulse remains in you.

As long as you are in this life, you will never become the perfect Christian. You will never be able to say, “I did it! I lived the life that God has called me to live!” Thank God for that, because if you did, you would have lost sight of your need for a Savior!

However far you progress in the Christian life, you will be, till your last breath in this life, a sinner who depends wholly on the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ to save you. You need him as much on your best day as you do on your worst. When you see that, you will be delivered from the crushing burden of perfectionism.

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Godly Compassion for Hurting People

2 Samuel 9:1-13

Code: B160729

by John MacArthur

“The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning” (Lamentations 3:22-23). Scripture often uses high and lofty expressions of God’s great compassion. But what does that compassion look like in tangible human terms? And are God’s people able to replicate His compassion?

The Old Testament furnishes a wonderful, practical, real-life illustration of God’s compassion in the account of David and Mephibosheth. Mephibosheth, a grandson of Saul, was permanently disabled. From a human perspective, he seemed the least likely person on earth for David to befriend and show kindness to.

He was the sole surviving male heir of Saul, the one person left on earth who might have tried to claim that the throne belonged to him by birthright. He was living in exile when David found him—forgotten, fearful, and essentially an outcast. He did not seek David’s favor, nor did David have any legal obligation to him. Yet David showed him extreme kindness in a way that epitomizes godly compassion, and perfectly reflects what Christian ministry to hurting people should look like.

David and Saul could hardly have been more different. Saul—towering, stately, physically robust—had been the people’s choice to be Israel’s king, but he had failed miserably and sinned egregiously, so God rejected him. God’s choice to be his successor (and to establish the kingly line that would eventually produce Israel’s Messiah) was David—small in stature, still in his youth, shepherding his father’s flocks when Samuel anointed him as king. Of course, Saul knew full well that God had rejected him and blessed David. Saul’s murderous contempt for David was well known, and his rage and paranoia eventually drove him mad.

He pursued David relentlessly with the aim of killing him. Saul thus squandered his power and his kingly authority, opposing God. This continued for years, until Saul’s armies were defeated by the Philistines. Saul himself was mortally wounded during that battle, and he finally fell on his own sword. “Thus Saul died with his three sons, and all those of his house died together” (1 Chronicles 10:6).

One of Saul’s sons who died that day was Jonathan. Even though Saul had made himself David’s sworn enemy, Jonathan had become David’s closest earthly friend. In the wake of that disastrous battle with the Philistines, David mourned greatly not only for Jonathan but also for Saul (2 Samuel 1:17).

That David would have any compassion at all toward Saul or his family was extraordinary. Saul made David’s life enormously difficult for years, forcing him into nomadic exile, causing David to live in caves and on the run.

Moreover, it was common for Middle-Eastern kings in circumstances like David’s to kill off all surviving family members from the previous dynasty in order to prevent any threat of insurrection and eliminate possible claimants to the throne. It is significant that David’s behavior toward the house of Saul was the exact opposite. He had made a covenant with Jonathan years before, promising that he would extend his lovingkindness to Jonathan’s offspring and preserve them as Jonathan had done for David (1 Samuel 20:15-17).

And that is why in 2 Samuel 9, we read an extended account of David’s kindness to the one remaining descendant of Jonathan, a disabled son named Mephibosheth. That part of the story begins when David, conscious of the covenant he had made with his friend, asked, “Is there yet anyone left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan’s sake?” (2 Samuel 9:1).

One of Saul’s former slaves named Ziba identified Mephibosheth, saying, “There is still a son of Jonathan who is crippled in both feet” (2 Samuel 9:3). In the panicked aftermath of Saul and Jonathan’s deaths, Mephibosheth’s nurse attempted to usher him to safety. In her haste, the boy fell, or he was dropped—Scripture is not specific about the nature of his injury (2 Samuel 4:4). Either way, the fall resulted in a permanent disability to Mephibosheth, who for the rest of his life would be unable to walk normally or earn a living for himself.

It was not until David had finally defeated the Philistines and ascended to the throne without rivals that he inquired about Saul’s offspring. By then, evidently, some years had elapsed, and Mephibosheth was living “in the house of Machir the son of Ammiel in Lo-debar” (2 Samuel 9:4). Enough time had gone by that now Mephibosheth was old enough to have a young son of his own (2 Samuel 9:12). Lo-debar was east of the Jordan, and it is very likely that Mephibosheth had gone into hiding there precisely because he had been afraid David would come after him.

Instead, David requested that Mephibosheth be brought to him. “Mephibosheth, the son of Jonathan the son of Saul, came to David and fell on his face and prostrated himself. And David said, ‘Mephibosheth.’ And he said, ‘Here is your servant’” (2 Samuel 9:6).

David immediately made it clear to Mephibosheth that his intentions were entirely merciful, borne out of his love for the young man’s father. “Do not fear, for I will surely show kindness to you for the sake of your father Jonathan, and will restore to you all the land of your grandfather Saul; and you shall eat at my table regularly” (2 Samuel 9:7). This was amazingly generous. David not only made provision for Mephibosheth’s physical and material needs (2 Samuel 9:9–11), but in effect adopted him: “Mephibosheth ate at David’s table as one of the king’s sons” (2 Samuel 9:11).

Mephibosheth’s response reflects the shame he bore and the unusual humility that is often characteristic of people who have lived as social outcasts for many years: “What is your servant, that you should regard a dead dog like me?” (2 Samuel 9:8). “Dead dog” was, of course, a term of extreme contempt. To call someone a “dog” in that culture was bad enough. To call someone a “dead dog” implied double uncleanness. This was just about the worst imaginable term of derision, and Mephibosheth applied it to himself. He had no sense of significance whatsoever—most likely because of his crippling injury and because he had been an outcast, in isolation for years. He was unaccustomed to favorable treatment from anyone, much less the powerful and popular king whom Mephibosheth’s own grandfather had relentlessly persecuted.

By right, David could have taken over everything that belonged to Saul. He was the new king. Instead, he gave Saul’s possessions back to Mephibosheth and put Saul’s one-time servant Ziba, his sons, and his servants in Mephibosheth’s employ: “You and your sons and your servants shall cultivate the land for him, and you shall bring in the produce so that your master’s grandson may have food” (2 Samuel 9:10). That verse also records that Ziba had fifteen sons and twenty servants, so thirty-five men immediately went to work to cultivate Saul’s land! It established a lucrative business for Mephibosheth.

We have an amazing postscript at the end of the chapter, reiterating what verse three already told us: “Now he was lame in both feet” (2 Samuel 9:13). The reiteration of that fact conveys a tone of amazement. Indeed, from a human perspective it is remarkable that the grandson of David’s enemy, already living the life of a fugitive and an outcast, utterly lacking in any form of self-respect—someone who had nothing whatsoever to offer David in the way of service or honor—would be not only accepted by the king himself, but also elevated to a position of highest privilege in the royal household, alongside David’s own sons.

David’s mercy, love, and kindness toward Mephibosheth are exemplary. It is an example all Christians should follow in our ministry to our culture’s outcasts—including disabled, disadvantaged, and otherwise disempowered people who are our neighbors.

Notice carefully that David’s mercy to Mephibosheth was not a token expression. He did not merely write an encouraging letter or make a one-time gift of alms. He gave his heart to Mephibosheth. He shared the palace with him; he gave up his own resources for him; he gave his life to him. He brought him into the palace, set him up in business, and made him one of his own.

Why did he do this? It was not only because of his love for Jonathan. The language of verse three is important: “Is there not anyone of the house of Saul to whom I may show the kindness of God?” He consciously wanted to exemplify God’s kindness.

That is precisely what he did. David’s actions are the very picture of God’s grace to sinners. Just as David showed kindness to Mephibosheth for the sake of Jonathan, God is generous to believers for Christ’s sake. In other words, all the benevolence and tender mercies God bestows on us are given to us not because we deserve His favor. We don’t deserve it. But because of His love and because we belong to Christ by faith, we are the recipients of divine blessings that rightfully belong to Him. That’s what grace is all about, and as we’ll see next time, it’s what was ultimately exemplified in the life of Christ.

 


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Does the Doctrine of Hell Make God Unjust?

JusticeAwhile ago, I posted some selections of Jonathan Edwards’ famous sermon, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” As it happens, three weeks ago was the 275th anniversary of the greatest sermon preached on American soil. If you haven’t read that post, I would invite you to read what I’ve called America’s greatest sermon for America’s greatest need, extraordinarily relevant for our nation today.

Sermons and teaching like that represented in Edwards’ sermon tends to generate several objections, including the notion that it is unjust for God to punish those who die in their sins for eternity in hell. I want to respond to that objection today.

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Common Grace: Myth vs. Reality

Possessing the Treasure

I have reached a very important crossroad. If you have been following my posts over the last several weeks then you know that I have been focusing on what genuine Salvation looks like, its source, and comparing it with man’s version of it that does not save. Of course, how do we do that? We go to God’s Word. We use the words of our Lord, the Apostles and Church Fathers and the Reformers and good men of faith who have come since to help us clarify God’s truth from every attempt that our enemy makes to cloud the issue, to sow confusion and keep people in the dark. Yes, God’s truth shines the light of our Lord in the darkness of our enemy and his seed’s lies that have created a form of “Christianity” that looks genuine, but is not. Many call it “Churchianity.” I make no apologies that…

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