Daily Archives: July 17, 2020

The Heart in Conflict — The Master’s Seminary Blog

How long has it been since your last conflict? Many of us could count the hours—maybe even minutes. We are sandpaper people in a sandpaper world. Friction is a part of life.

A needy child interrupts your morning devotions. A co-worker unjustly blames you for a failed project. The church critic wants to speak with you about yesterday’s sermon. Your spouse makes plans without consulting the calendar. There are innumerable scenarios in life and ministry where conflict erupts.

Though Eliphaz wasn’t right about much, he was right about man when he said, “Man is born for trouble as sparks fly upward” (Job 5:7).  This saying is trustworthy: whenever two sinners interact, there is a high likelihood of sparks.

In order to handle conflict in a way that glorifies God and promotes reconciliation with others, we must first understand the heart of the issue.

The Source of All Things: A Biblical View of the Heart

Conflict is not primarily the result of personality differences, miscommunication, nor unfortunate circumstances. Those may play a role in escalating or complicating a conflict, but they are not the source. The true source of conflict is the same as the source of all things in life—the heart.

In Scripture, God has revealed the nature of humanity. That is a more significant reality than most people realize. The corollary reality is that the nature of humanity—who we really are—cannot be discovered through secular anthropology, philosophy, medicine, or psychology. In other words, it is impossible for mankind to discover his nature through natural means.


God has given us truth in Scripture that cannot be known by any other means


What has God revealed? All of life—thoughts, desires, intentions, words, actions—arises from the heart (Prov. 4:23). The heart has intentions and purposes (Gen. 6:5; Heb. 4:12). The heart makes plans (Prov. 20:5), offers thanksgiving (Ps. 111:1), speaks (Luke 6:46), hates (Lev. 19:17), forgives (Matt. 18:35), and loves God and others (Matt. 22:34–40). All of life—sin and righteousness—flows from the heart (Prov. 15:28; Mark 7:20–23).

In this context, the heart is not the blood-pumping organ. The heart is the immaterial part of a man or woman synonymous with their spirit or soul (Prov. 2:10; 17:22). It is the inner man (Rom. 7:22; 2 Cor. 4:16) which is either being renewed by the Spirit or corrupted by sin (Eph. 4:22–23). The heart is the deepest part of man, the very control center of life. A person is no more or less than the nature of his heart (Prov. 23:7).

This is why God is concerned first and foremost with the heart (Jer. 17:9–10), and why a new heart is a critical component of the New Covenant (Ezek. 36:26). When God looks for worshippers, He looks for those who worship from the heart, because the heart alone manifests one’s true devotion (Isa. 29:13; John 4:23).

The Primary Occupation of the Heart

As the control center of life, the heart is busy doing a lot of things. But there is one occupation that rises above the rest by design—the heart worships.

Worship is what happens when we ascribe to a person or object the ability to control the world, meet needs, provide protection, bring happiness, and satisfy desires. This is why the world is full of function-specific gods and idols—gods of fertility, war, love, weather, and so on. Humans worship and serve the particular god they truly believe can meet their needs.

No wonder the first and second commandments are at the top of the list (Exod. 20:1–6). We are to have no other gods than the Lord our God, and we are not to look to any created thing as representative of God. We are not to worship or serve anything other than God because there is no other god like our God who can do what God alone can do. Indeed, all other gods are nothing and can do nothing (Deut. 4:28; Ps. 115:4–8).

As the One who searches men’s hearts, the Lord knows when our worship is genuine or false—when it is from the heart or merely on the lips (Isa. 29:13).  No matter what we profess, we worship false gods when our heart turns away from the Lord (Deut. 11:16). Those who serve false gods and worship them refuse to listen to truth because they are committed to following their own heart (Jer. 13:10).


Idols are made in the heart long before the hand carves the wood. (Ezek. 14:4)


Modern western culture is not unlike Athens where Paul was provoked by the multitude of idols (Acts 17). What the world—and, unfortunately, many Christians—calls felt needs are really desires of the heart. There are many legitimate needs and desires—food, shelter, protection, rest, and pleasure—which in their proper context and measure can be satisfied by God-honoring means. But whether legitimate or illegitimate, desires that are disordered or unmeasured lead to idolatry.

Conflicting Desires

This side of Eden, the natural propensity of the human heart is to seek the fulfillment of its desires by any means necessary. Today’s world economy is no less dependent on idols than was Ephesus (Acts 19:24–26). The temple prostitutes of old have been replaced by the endless stream of technology, activities, relationships, and lifestyles. They tempt you to think that your life will be exponentially improved by fractional changes to your possessions or circumstances.

How does any of this relate to conflict? James writes, “What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel” (4:1–2, emphasis added).

The answer to James’ simple and direct question—what causes conflict?—is equally simple and direct.


We have conflict because our desires conflict with God’s and others’


When a driver pulls in front of you, you get angry because you wanted to be in front of them. When your spouse arrives late to dinner, you get agitated because you wanted to eat already. When your child acts up at the grocery store, you get irritated because you just wanted a short, simple grocery trip so you could have time for a nap.

Each and every conflict you have within yourself and with others rises out of a conflict of desires—desires which might even be inherently good, but which are disordered or unmeasured. These desires rule over you as manifested by how they control your thoughts, words, and actions. They have truly become—even if only temporarily—idols of the heart.

Three ways to evaluate your desires

How do you know if your desires are disordered or unmeasured? There are a number of ways one could evaluate desires, but here are three simple questions:

Am I wanting something that violates God’s revealed will?

Scripture contains truths and principles that enable us to determine whether God has commanded, forbidden, or allowed what we desire. If our desires conflict with God’s desires, they are disordered.

Am I willing to sin in order to obtain my desires?

We can want a good thing, but sin in our pursuit of it. If we do, our desire has become unmeasured. We want it too much—even more than we want to honor the Lord.

Do I sin when I don’t obtain my desires?

This is perhaps the most common manifestation of disordered and unmeasured desires for Christians. In many situations our desires are good, and we don’t sin to obtain them, but we sin when we can’t have them. We want our children to obey, but they don’t, so we get angry. We want our spouse to love us in certain ways, but they don’t, so we make them feel our displeasure. We want our church to follow our leadership, but they don’t so we become bitter toward them. We desire a spouse or a certain career or educational opportunity, but God’s providence has not brought it to pass, so we become bitter toward the Lord.

When we want what God doesn’t want, or we sin to obtain what we want, or we sin when we can’t have what we want, we manifest that our heart has promoted those desires to rule over us. We have set up a god above the Lord.

The Only Remedy

Dr. Ernie Baker often says, “If false worship is the problem, true worship is the solution.”

If the true source of our conflicts with each other are disordered and unmeasured desires within us—sin—then we have failed to keep the first and greatest commandment to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength (Mark 12:30).

Some conflicts may represent a momentary lapse of judgment. Others may reveal long-standing and deep-seated desires that have captured the heart. Whatever the case, as you examine your heart and consider the desires at work in your conflict, the starting point in pursuing reconciliation is confessing your disordered or unmeasured desires to the Lord, seeking His forgiveness, and putting your desires in their rightful place—under the lordship and care of Christ.

Making peace with the person on the other end of the conflict will have temporal benefits, but the soul will not be settled until we make peace with God by confessing and repenting of our sinful desires and adopting His desires for our situation and life. What’s more, it is remarkable how putting our desires in their place and adopting Christ’s desires for our situation often—not always—clears the path toward reconciliation with others.

Conclusion

Conflict is inevitable. Until our desires are perfectly aligned to Christ’s in glory, we cannot escape the friction that often happens when two sinners rub shoulders. But if you find that you are involved in frequent and intense conflict, perhaps it is time to examine your heart, asking the Lord to reveal your hidden faults and desires (Ps. 139:23–24).

This is just the start—we haven’t begun to discuss what steps need to be taken with the other person. For that and more in-depth consideration of the principles presented here, see the recommended resources below.

Settling for superficial peace and the ceasing of hostilities is tempting. But the goal of the believer is to glorify God by being conformed to the image of Christ. That can only happen when we deal with the heart first and foremost.

[Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in August 2018 and has been updated.]


Recommended Resources

The Freedom and Power of Forgiveness by John MacArthur
Help! I’m in Conflict by Ernie Baker
The Peacemaker by Ken Sande
Pursuing Peace by Robert Jones

The substance and ideas in this post are largely taken from a seminar I taught using material produced by Dr. John Street. Most of what I’ve learned in this arena has come from Dr. Street and Dr. Ernie Baker. I am grateful for their faithful teaching and influence in my life.

via The Heart in Conflict — The Master’s Seminary Blog

Liberty Is Suing The New York Times for $10 Million — ChurchLeaders

Liberty University’s defamation lawsuit focuses on an article The New York Times published on March 29, entitled, “Liberty Brings Back Its Students, and Coronavirus, Too.”

via Liberty Is Suing The New York Times for $10 Million — ChurchLeaders

Declassified Strzok Notes Debunk 2017 New York Times Article on Trump Campaign Russia Collusion — National Review

Strzok’s type-written comments on the Times article were declassified by the FBI on Thursday.

via Declassified Strzok Notes Debunk 2017 New York Times Article on Trump Campaign Russia Collusion — National Review

News Roundup & Comment — VCY America

Date:  July 17, 2020
Host:  Jim Schneider
MP3 ​​​| Order

Here’s your weekly glimpse at some of the stories that made the cut for the ’round-up’:

–The Florida State Health Department confirmed Tuesday that some state testing labs had not been disclosing their negative novel coronavirus testing results accurately, skewing the positivity rates dramatically.

–During the peak of the coronavirus pandemic in April/May, Orange County, California, healthcare officials reported inaccurate numbers.

–The New York Times is being sued for 10 million dollars for reporting during the COVID-19 pandemic that students at Liberty University were victims after university officials decided to reopen campus after a break.

–A Chinese virology expert says China’s government was well aware of the deadly nature of the coronavirus long before it admitted that it knew of human to human transmission and that her efforts to ‘blow the whistle’ were muzzled.

–Leaders of a rural Nevada church asking the U.S. Supreme Court to suspend the state’s 50 person cap on religious gatherings.

–The California Department of Health clarified that indoor religious services in the state have been suspended indefinitely.

–The Texas Division of Emergency Management advising residents to consider wearing a mask at all times, even in your own home.

–Senator Rand Paul says every American should assess the risk associated with the coronavirus pandemic and make the choices that suit them.

–The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons says there’s stunning, positive news on hydroxychloroquine that was released in early July.

–White House trade adviser Peter Navarro, tore into Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in a scathing op-ed published Tuesday.

–Cuyahoga County, Ohio, has rolled out a hotline enabling people to snitch on their neighbors who don’t wear masks.

–Senior White House officials reported that U.S. service members would be among the first Americans to receive a COVID-19 vaccine after it’s been licensed.

–There are universities that will be mandating vaccinations.

–Tensions between the U.S. and China appear to be growing by the day and the ‘flash-point’ is the waterways of the South China Sea.

–Early Wednesday Portland, Oregon, protesters began setting up tents in the park near the federal courthouse and barricaded streets to create their own autonomous zone.

–Former U.S. Army Green Beret Kyle Daniels has designed an American flag that thwarts those who try to burn it.

–As gun violence and murders continue to spike in New York City, Mayor Bill DeBlasio declared Wednesday that his city is safe and better because the number of criminals in jail is at the lowest level since 1946.

–White nationalist and child murderer Daniel Lewis Lee was put to death Tuesday morning following a late-night wave of legal disputes that’s come to typify the push to restart the federal death penalty.

–The U.S. carried out its second federal execution this week by killing Wesley Ira Purkey by lethal injection.

–Berkeley, California, moved forward with a proposal to eliminate police from conducting traffic stops and instead send unarmed, civilian city workers.

via News Roundup & Comment — VCY America

Poll Finds 63 Percent Believe Media Is Biased, Has Political Agenda — American Lookout

In recent years, the media has truly let the mask slip.

They always leaned left, but now they don’t even try to hide it anymore. Anyone who watched the way they covered Obama’s presidency, compared to how they cover Trump’s, knows this is true.

A recent poll confirms this.

The Washington Examiner reports:

Spin zone: 63% say media biased, agree with Bari Weiss rip on New York Times

Not only is the political media biased, but it’s sending consumers searching for “news that is accurate, opinions that are vital and debate that is sincere,” according to a new survey that polled on a quote pulled from the resignation letter of the New York Times’s Bari Weiss.

The latest Rasmussen Reports survey found continued dismissal of the media as biased, twice as much by Republicans, 87%, than Democrats, 42%.

It said that 63% “believe most major news organizations in this country have their own political agenda.” Just 27% said news organizations “generally remain impartial.”

The poll followed the resignation of Weiss earlier this week. She issued a scathing letter that said the New York Times has caught clickbait fever and writes only for the liberal audience.

She wrote, “Twitter is not on the masthead of The New York Times. But Twitter has become its ultimate editor. As the ethics and mores of that platform have become those of the paper, the paper itself has increasingly become a kind of performance space.

We see examples of this every day. Just look at how the media covers Andrew Cuomo.

via Poll Finds 63 Percent Believe Media Is Biased, Has Political Agenda — American Lookout

Is Believing in God Like Believing in the Flying Spaghetti Monster? (Video) — Cold Case Christianity

Is belief in God completely irrational? Is it like believing in mythological or fantastical creatures? In this video from J. Warner’s “Quick Shots: Fast Answers to Hard Questions” series on RightNow Media, J. Warner answers this common concern related to the claims of Christianity.

To see more training videos with J. Warner Wallace, visit the YouTube playlist.

via Is Believing in God Like Believing in the Flying Spaghetti Monster? (Video) — Cold Case Christianity

July 17 New Things

 

Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing!
(Isaiah 43:19–19, NIV)

It’s dangerous to assume that you’ll keep getting from life only what you’ve gotten before. God has wonderful ways of giving back purpose and meaning to our lives when we’ve lost it. He gave Jacob a new name, He gave Sarah a new baby (at 90), and He gave David a new song. For Naomi, it came through a relationship with Ruth (one she tried to discourage). Be careful when you avoid people or send them away. They may hold the key to God’s blessing in your life. Listen: “And Ruth said, Entreat me not to leave thee or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge; thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God” (Ruth 1:16).

Naomi thought her only connection to Ruth was through her deceased son, but she was wrong. If you’re very family-oriented, it’s easy to build all your relationships within the family. Then when circumstances change, you feel lost and alone. There are bonds that are stronger than blood; I call them “God-bonds.” The Lord wanted to bless Naomi and allow her to pass her wisdom on to someone worthy of it, so He gave her Ruth. Let God pick your friends!

 

Just keep your heart open, for He has some new things He wants to do and some new people He’d like you to meet in the days ahead.[1]

 

[1] Gass, B. (1998). A Fresh Word For Today : 365 Insights For Daily Living (p. 198). Alachua, FL: Bridge-Logos Publishers.

July 17 Set Free

 

2 Corinthians 5:21

He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

I once heard someone say that, of all men who ever lived, Barabbas should have the best understanding of vicarious substitution. Somebody died in his place. This murderer and thief walked out a free man, the crowds cheering his release. At the same time, an innocent Jesus was sentenced to die.

But Barabbas isn’t the only one who can say that Jesus died in his place. We can all say that Jesus Christ died on that cross for us, just as He did for Barabbas. In the words of 2 Corinthians 5:21, “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” Jesus died that we might live. He was bound that we who are in bondage to sin might be set free.

When word of his freedom came, he had to walk out of that cell to be truly free. Through Christ the cell door has sprung open. All we have to do is say, “I accept what Christ did for me, and I will now live in the light of that truth.” [1]

 

[1] Jeremiah, D. (2002). Sanctuary: finding moments of refuge in the presence of God (p. 208). Nashville, TN: Integrity Publishers.

There Are No Shortcuts to Growth — Ligonier Ministries Blog

Editor’s Note: Originally published in December, 2016.

I’m still amazed whenever I see the bumper sticker that reads, “Visualize world peace.” The idea is that if I, and enough other people, create the right mental picture of peace, it will soon come to pass. It’s astounding that some people actually believe that silly technique will bring about such a desirable goal.

Then, there’s the popular “Coexist” bumper sticker. You may have seen it, the one spelled out with the symbols of different religions—the Islamic crescent forming the C, the Christian cross forming the T, and so on. The idea seems to be that if we religious people would just stop focusing on our differences, we could achieve world harmony. If we understood that our beliefs are all ultimately the same, all of the problems of war and strife would go away.

The funny thing is, we’ll reject such sentiments when they appear on a bumper sticker, but we’ll accept them elsewhere. How many business seminars promise increased profit if we only focus on the positive or visualize a goal? Eastern mysticism, where much of the bumper-sticker theology we’re talking about finds its ultimate origin, dresses it up with more acceptable religious practices. Meditate regularly, repeating a mantra as you visualize the oneness of all things, and the human race will move toward unity. But there’s also a version sold to us as the Christian key for victorious living. Speak your desire, claim it’s yours in Jesus’ name, visualize it will happen, and then it will be yours. Your healing, wealth, relationship success, happy family, improved marriage will come as soon as you name it and claim it or practice the power of positive thinking.

We’re looking for the right technique, the secret that will turn our wishes into reality. We laugh at the world’s spiritual magic, only to baptize it and practice it ourselves. We’ll read Scripture hoping to find the shortcut to spiritual growth while missing the true but non-shortcut answer—the key is not in the Bible; it is the Bible.

One reason we look for spiritual shortcuts is related to our modern age where shortcuts and rapid results abound. We can quickly relieve pain with medicine, find our way to restaurants with our smartphones, and get immediate answers to our questions online. These aren’t inherently bad things, but they tend to foster false expectations. If technology can relieve our illnesses and make our jobs easier, it surely can give rest to our souls, right?

We assume the answer is yes, and there are all too many “experts” out there who’ll encourage that assumption. Just look at the self-help section at your local bookstore, even at your local Christian bookstore. Book after book promises to hold the key to our happiness in twelve steps or less. The fact that none of the promises pan out doesn’t deter people from buying those books or new authors from repackaging old, ineffective answers in fancier dress.

But we can’t ultimately blame our search for shortcuts on modern technology. Our innate desire since the fall for autonomy, to be masters of our own fates, drives us to search out soul-building techniques that will improve us. We see our faith not as an end in itself but as a means to greater fulfillment. Evangelists routinely implore people to come to Christ, saying that He will make them happier, more confident in themselves, and more spiritual. Jesus becomes a means to improve our marriages and finances while releasing us from all manner of compulsions and negative character traits.

Can Christ do all those things? Of course He can. But Jesus is not a means to other ends—He is the end, the goal of our lives. He doesn’t come into our lives to give us special techniques to make our lives better; He works in and through us, changing us for the sake of His glory. He provides believers no mystic secrets to take them to a higher plane of spirituality. There’s no hidden truth available to only a few, no method that guarantees quick maturity in Him as long as we master it.

We’re saved by grace alone and justified by faith alone, but having been saved, we don’t just wait around to die. Christianity is about spiritual growth as well, and spiritual growth involves effort—the hard work of sanctification. We manifestly don’t work for our regeneration or our justification. Both acts are monergistic, accomplished by God alone. Only the Holy Spirit can change our hearts. Only the righteousness of Christ, the righteousness of the Son of God secured by His perfect obedience to the Father, can secure our right standing before God. Sanctification, however, includes our efforts. We say it is synergistic because both God and we are doing something. Yet, we aren’t equal partners. God wills and works in us according to His good pleasure so that we progress in holiness (Phil. 2:12–13). But as God works in us, we work as well, pursuing Him in prayer, relying on the means of grace—the preached Word and the sacraments—seeking to be reconciled to those we have offended. There’s no shortcut for sanctification. It’s a process, and one that all too often seems overly plodding, with progress taking years to discern.

God’s work is easy for Him. He doesn’t look for shortcuts because He never grows weary. We get tired and frustrated, however. We’re tempted to look for the simple path, the quick answer, the effortless way forward. But there is none. Sanctification requires diligently attending to the means God has given us. The growth may be slow, almost imperceptible at times, but it is sure.

No technique of the devil’s can stop the process of Christ making us into His image. Those whom He calls He sanctifies.

Casually attending to the things of the Lord will not result in our nurture. Visualizing or seeking a secret formula won’t help. We must work out our salvation with fear and trembling, knowing that Christ, by His Spirit, is working in us.

Dr. R.C. Sproul was founder of Ligonier Ministries, founding pastor of Saint Andrew’s Chapel in Sanford, Fla., and first president of Reformation Bible College. He was author of more than one hundred books, including The Holiness of God. This post was originally published in Tabletalk magazine.

via There Are No Shortcuts to Growth — Ligonier Ministries Blog

July 17, 2020 Evening Verse Of The Day

Alertness

For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah. For as in those days which were before the flood they were eating and drinking, they were marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away, so shall the coming of the Son of Man be. Then there shall be two men in the field; one will be taken, and one will be left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken, and one will be left. Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming. (24:37–42)

Jesus used the Flood to illustrate the point He was making about the coming of the Son of Man, namely, that the attitude that prevailed during the days of Noah … before the flood will also characterize most people living during the end time just before Christ returns. They will not be expecting His coming and will not care about it. Despite the perilous signs and wonders, they will simply be unconcerned about the things of the Lord, especially the prospect of His imminent return to judge them.

Many people doubtless will try to explain the extraordinary end-time phenomena on a scientific and rational basis, expecting to discover a natural cause for the cataclysms. Like their counterparts today, they will look everywhere for answers except to the Word of God.

At Jesus’ first coming, most men refused to recognize Him for who He was. He healed every sort of disease, cast out demons, made water into wine, stilled a raging storm, and raised the dead, but even most of His own people refused to believe in Him. In fact the Jewish religious leaders were so determined to discredit Jesus that they accused Him of casting out demons in the power of Satan (Matt. 12:24).

Sinful, materialistic, hypocritical, godless mankind is willfully blind to God’s truth, no matter how compelling that truth may be. And when God’s truth exposes their wickedness, they make every effort to oppose and condemn it.

On one occasion “the Pharisees and Sadducees came up” to Jesus, “and testing Him asked Him to show them a sign from heaven. But He answered and said to them, ‘When it is evening, you say, “It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.” And in the morning, “There will be a storm today, for the sky is red and threatening.” Do you know how to discern the appearance of the sky, but cannot discern the signs of the times?’ ” (Matt. 16:1–3). By that time in His ministry the Lord had performed hundreds, perhaps thousands, of miracles, all of which testified to His divinity and His messiahship, yet those religious leaders refused to acknowledge Him. Because their hearts were determinedly set against Jesus, no sign could have brought them to belief. He therefore said to them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign; and a sign will not be given it, except the sign of Jonah” (v. 4). As Jesus explained on an earlier occasion, the sign of Jonah was His resurrection from the dead (12:39–40). That sign did not convince unbelievers, either. Just as most of their forefathers had done, they shut their minds to God’s Word and God’s messengers, even ignoring the teaching and miracles of the very Son of God. Worse even than ignore Him, they put Him to death.

During the time of the Tribulation, mankind will be hardened to sin and ungodliness as never before in history. As evil men get worse and worse (2 Tim. 3:13), the world then becomes spiritually darker and even physically darker. Unbelieving people will more intensely indulge their sins and more vehemently oppose God’s truth and God’s people. During the Tribulation the Holy Spirit will be removed from the earth, and evil and Satan will be unrestrained (2 Thess. 2:6–7). During the fifth trumpet judgment, demons bound in the bottomless pit will be unleashed on the earth to wreak unprecedented torment on unbelieving mankind, being forbidden to harm God’s people (Rev. 9:1–5).

As people run amok in sin and every form of debauchery and ungodliness, they will become more and more impervious to God’s truth and resentful of His standards of righteousness. They will be so vile, wretched, and preoccupied with sex, drugs, alcohol, materialism, and pleasure seeking that they will believe every explanation for the end-time signs except the one given in Scripture. Rather than turning to God in repentance, they will curse Him (Rev. 9:21).

In the days of Noah before the Flood, they were eating and drinking, they were marrying and giving in marriage. While Noah built the ark, he also preached (2 Pet. 2:5), but the people were just as unconcerned about his preaching as about the ark he was building, thinking both were meaningless and absurd. They laughed when he spoke of the coming flood. They had never seen rain, much less a flood, because until that time the earth was apparently covered by a vapor canopy that provided all the moisture necessary for life to flourish. Because they had never seen such a calamity, they discounted the idea that it could happen. They therefore went about their daily routines of eating and drinking and of marrying and giving in marriage. It was business as usual until the day Noah entered the ark and it started to rain.

Even when his prediction began to be fulfilled before their eyes, they did not take his warning to heart. Noah had built and preached for 120 years, yet without having the slightest impact on anyone outside his immediate family. The people were so untouched by God’s truth that they did not understand their perilous situation until the flood came and took them all away into a godless eternity. Flood translates kataklusmos, which means deluge or washing away, and is the term from which the English cataclysm is derived. Only after it was too late did the people of that generation understand their tragic destiny.

That is precisely the attitude and response that will prevail before the coming of the Son of man. The perilous signs, the abomination of desolation, the disruption of the heavenly bodies, and the preaching of God’s witnesses during the Tribulation will have no effect on the majority of men. They will see God’s signs but attribute them to natural causes or to supernatural causes apart from God. They will hear His Word, in one instance supernaturally preached worldwide by an angel (Rev. 15:6–7), but they will respond with disdain or indifference. They will heed neither warnings nor appeals from God up until the very moment the Son of Man appears to confront them in righteous judgment.

During the Tribulation there will be multitudes won to Christ (Rev. 7:9–14), including the 144,000 Jewish witnesses who will preach His gospel (Rev. 7:1–8), and there will be marvelous revival in the nation of Israel (Rom. 11:26). But that time will be dominated not by belief but by unbelief, not by holiness but by wickedness, not by godliness but by ungodliness. It will be epitomized by secularism and false religion, even as most of the world is today, but to an immeasurably worse degree.

Like the people of Noah’s day, the generation of the Tribulation will be warned and warned and warned again. Some of them will have been warned many times before the Tribulation, while the church is still on earth proclaiming the gospel.

When the Son of Man finally appears in His second-coming judgment, then there shall be two men in the field; one will be taken, and one will be left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken, and one will be left. Jesus is giving a figure parallel to the unbelievers of Noah’s day being taken away by the judgment through the Flood. When He returns, one will be taken to judgment and the other will be left to enter the kingdom. This is the same separation described in the next chapter by the figures of sheep and goats (25:32–46). The ones left will be Christ’s sheep, His redeemed people whom He will preserve to reign with Him during the Millennium.

But even until the very end, as Peter declared in his sermon at Pentecost, just “before the great and glorious day of the Lord shall come … it shall be that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Acts 2:20–21). In that final moment when the King comes to establish His kingdom, some people will turn to Christ in sincere faith and be redeemed. They will be set apart as the Lord’s sheep by the angels and will inherit the kingdom prepared for them.

Therefore be on the alert, Jesus said, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming. The phrase be on the alert translates a present imperative, indicating a call for continual expectancy.

When the Lord comes, the ungodly will be swept away, having forever lost their opportunity for salvation. Just as believers today do not know at what time the Lord is coming to take them to Himself in the rapture, the generation alive during the Tribulation will not know the exact time of His appearing to judge the ungodly and to establish His kingdom.

Malachi envisioned believers in the last day apparently discussing among themselves the possibility that they would inadvertently and mistakenly be separated out with the wicked and be condemned. But “the Lord gave attention and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the Lord and who esteem His name. ‘And they will be Mine,’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘on the day that I prepare My own possession, and I will spare them as a man spares his own son who serves him.’ So you will again distinguish between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve Him” (Mal. 3:16–18).

Peter declared,

For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment; and did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a preacher of righteousness, with seven others, when He brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; and if He condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to destruction by reducing them to ashes, having made them an example to those who would live ungodly thereafter; and if He rescued righteous Lot, oppressed by the sensual conduct of unprincipled men (for by what he saw and heard that righteous man, while living among them, felt his righteous soul tormented day after day with their lawless deeds), then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation [or trial], and to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment. (2 Pet. 2:4–9)

Christians at that time must be alert, even though they will be secure and have no cause for dread.[1]


42 This is the only call to “keep awake” in Matthew’s version of the discourse (except for its inappropriate insertion at 25:13; see comments there), as compared with its insistent repetition in Mark 13:33–37 (together with the related charge to avoid sleep in the verb agrypneō). The following parables, with their message about being prepared in advance and living a continuously good life, suggest that Matthew had a less frenetic approach to “readiness” than Mark (and Paul; see 1 Thes 5:1–7), and the acceptance in 25:5 that it is alright to sleep suggests a different perspective. But the call to be ready at any time is nonetheless appropriately symbolized by staying awake, as the simile in the next verse will show.

The event for which they must be ready is described as the day when “your lord comes.” The language anticipates the following parable (vv. 46, 50) where the kyrios is the returning master of the slaves; so also in 25:19. Indeed in the parallel at Mark 13:35 this kyrios is explicitly the “master of the house” (referring back to a different mini-parable in Mark 13:34 which Matthew does not include). But the Christian reader will naturally identify the “Lord” as Jesus, and so will think of the “day” (cf. v. 36) of the parousia of the Son of Man, even though the term parousia will not be used again. In its place here is the ordinary verb erchomai, “come,” but not now with the accompanying terms “the Son of Man” and “on the clouds of heaven” which in v. 30 indicated a primary allusion to the enthronement scene in Dan 7:13–14. In v. 44 the same verb will be used with the Son of Man as subject and clearly also with reference to the parousia as here, and it may be that in these uses of erchomai we have an allusive hint that the parousia may be viewed as a further and final fulfillment of that enthronement vision. That would tally with the use of Dan 7:13–14 language in 19:28 and 25:31–34 with reference to the “new age” and the final judgment (see comments on 10:23): the heavenly authority of the Son of Man which is to be demonstrated through the events of the Roman war according to v. 30 will be finally consummated in his parousia at the end of the age. But that may be to read too much into so everyday a word as erchomai here, especially when the following parable gives it a sense quite appropriate to the story line without demanding also an OT allusion.[2]


Ver. 42.—Watch therefore. The end will be sudden, the final separation will be then completed; be ye therefore always prepared. Few exhortations are more frequently and impressively given than this of the duty and necessity of watchfulness. Of course, the Christian has to watch against many things—his own evil heart, temptation, the world, but most of all he must watch and be always looking for the coming of his Lord; for whether he be regarded as Redeemer, Deliverer, or Judge, he will come as a thief in the night. What hour. Very many good manuscripts and some late editors read “on what day.” This is probably the genuine reading, “hour” being an alteration derived from ver. 44. What (ποίᾳ) means of what kind or quality—whether sudden, immediate, or remote.[3]


42. Watch therefore. In Luke the exhortation is more pointed, or, at least, more special, Take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and the cares of this life. And certainly he who, by living in intemperance, has his senses overloaded with food and wine, will never elevate his mind to meditation on the heavenly life. But as there is no desire of the flesh that does not intoxicate a man, they ought to take care, in all these respects, not to satiate themselves with the world, if they wish to advance with speed to the kingdom of Christ. The single word watch—which we find in Matthew—denotes that uninterrupted attention which keeps our minds in full activity, and makes us pass through the world like pilgrims.

In the account given by Mark, the disciples are first enjoined to take heed lest, through carelessness or indolence, ruin overtake them; and next are commanded to watch, because various allurements of the flesh are continually creeping upon us, and lulling our minds to sleep. Next follows an exhortation to prayer, because it is necessary to seek elsewhere the supplies that are necessary for supporting our weakness. Luke dictates the very form of prayer; first, that God may be pleased to rescue us from so deep and intricate a labyrinth; and next, that he may present us safe and sound in presence of his Son; for we shall never be able to reach it but by miraculously escaping innumerable deaths. And as it was not enough to pass through the course of the present life by rising superior to all dangers, Christ places this as the most important, that we may be permitted to stand before his tribunal.

For you know not at what hour your Lord will come. It ought to be observed, that the uncertainty as to the time of Christ’s coming—which almost all treat as an encouragement to sloth—ought to be felt by us to be an excitement to attention and watchfulness. God intended that it should be hidden from us, for the express purpose that we may keep diligent watch without the relaxation of a single hour. For what would be the trial of faith and patience, if believers, after spending their whole life in ease, and indolence, and pleasure, were to prepare themselves within the space of three days for meeting Christ?[4]


42. The practical conclusion to be drawn from vv. 36–41 is that of constant readiness, which will also be the focus of the rest of the chapter and of 25:1–13. The parallel verse in Mark (13:35) is the conclusion to a short parable about a door-keeper, which Matthew omits (no doubt because it makes the same point as Matthew’s longer parable in vv. 45–51). Your Lord (kyrios) is in the Marcan version ‘the master (kyrios) of the house’, referring back to the parable; Matthew has drawn out the latent Christological overtones of the word (cf. on 7:21).[5]


42. Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.

The coming of the Son of Man:

  1. The warning. Christ’s coming is compared to that of a thief in the night. Seems disparaging, but is remarkably apt (1 Thess. 5:2–4). The dispensation under which we live is emphatically that of night, in comparison with the dispensation which is to be introduced at the day of the Lord, &c. The plans of the housebreaker are all laid beforehand, and yet studiously concealed. So the coming of the Lord and the day of His appearing are fixed with infinite wisdom, but kept secret with a profound reserve. That mystery wears a pleasing or repulsive aspect, according to the preparedness of those to whom the Master comes.
  2. The caution. It is remarkable that the Evangelist Luke, while omitting the parable, gives us the most lucid account of its application (Luke 21:34).

III. The precept. A personal preparation for the coming of our Lord is to be regarded as a matter of imminent motive with us all. You may be deceived as to the signs; but you are not to be negligent of the event. “Watch and pray.” Watchfulness is the habit of keeping the eye constantly alive to events; prayer is the habit of keeping the heart constantly lifted up to God. Taking into account the conditions under which we are admonished to watch and pray, the intent becomes palpable that things we are not permitted to know beforehand will be gradually unfolded to us as the events are about to transpire. But the chief motive defies analysis. The holy instinct of loving hearts prompts that ardent expectancy with which “hope” anticipates the appearing of the Lord. (B. W. Carr.)

Watchfulness:

  1. The unexpected arrival. 1. Of what person? 2. In what manner? 3. For what purpose? 4. At what time? Date unknown (ver. 36), knowledge might induce carelessness, &c.
  2. The unforeseen disclosure. 1. To many, of the character of others. It will be a day of great surprises. We only judge by appearances. God knows thought, intention, character. 2. To many, of their own destiny. Judge not. Leave the judgment with God.

III. The needful watching. 1. With increasing prayer. 2. With unfaltering diligence. 3. With unfailing patience. Biding the Lord’s time submissively. He will not always tarry. (J. C. Gray.)

Temptations demand watchfulness:

  1. Temptations may enter the senses without sin, for to behold the object, to touch, or taste, is not to commit sin, because God Himself hath thus ordered and framed the senses by their several instruments and organs. He hath kindled up light in the eyes, He hath digged the hollow of the ear, for hearing, and hath shut up the taste in the mouth or palate, and hath given man his senses very fit for the trial and reward of virtue. Therefore, we may make a covenant with our eye, bridle our taste, bind our touch, purge our ears, and so sanctify and consecrate every sense unto the Lord, which is indeed to watch.
  2. They may enter the thoughts, and be received into the imagination, and yet, if we set our watch, not overcome us; for as yet they are but, as it were, in their march, bringing up their forces; but have made no battery or breach into the soul. III. The sense and fancy may receive the object with some delight and natural complacency, and yet without sin; if we stand upon our guard, and then oppose it most, when it most pleads for admittance. (Anthony Farindon.)[6]

24:42 “be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming.” This parable is paralleled in Luke 12:39–40. The emphasis on being ready (cf. v. 43, 44) and the uncertainty of the time (cf. vv. 39, 47, 49, 50; 25:5, 13) are recurrent themes in the chapter. The uncertainty of the time provides motivation for the continued readiness of each generation of believers.[7]


The lesson is clear: 42. Be on the alert, therefore, because you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. To be (constantly) on the alert or watchful—a Greek word from which the proper name Gregory (the watchful or vigilant one) is derived—means to live a sanctified life, in the consciousness of the coming judgment day. Spiritual and moral circumspection and forethought are required; preparedness is necessary. The watchful person has his loins girded and his lamps burning (Luke 12:35). It is in that condition that he looks forward to the coming of the Bridegroom. For more on this subject of watchfulness and its implications see N.T.C. on I and II Thessalonians, pp. 124, 125. Note that Jesus refers to himself as “your Lord.” So glorious, powerful, and clothed with authority and majesty is he; also, so condescending, so closely united with those whom he is pleased to call his own, and who are loyal to him. Cf. Isa. 57:15. Let them therefore persevere in being vigilant.[8]


24:42. Therefore means, “because the time of my return will be sudden and unpredictable.” This is the central turning point in the discourse. As Noah spent time and energy preparing for the Flood, so people living prior to Christ’s return must spend themselves in being alert and ready for his coming.

The command is, Keep watch (cf. 1 Cor. 16:13; 1 Thess. 5:6; 1 Pet. 5:8; Rev 3:2–3; 16:15). The reason for this exhortation to continual diligence was in the preceding teaching (24:36–41), which Jesus summarized in the next clause, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. “Your Lord” is significant, drawing attention to the fact that we do not belong to ourselves. Rather it is our master and creator who will return. He will call us to account.[9]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1985). Matthew (Vol. 4, pp. 72–76). Chicago: Moody Press.

[2] France, R. T. (2007). The Gospel of Matthew (pp. 941–942). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publication Co.

[3] Spence-Jones, H. D. M. (Ed.). (1909). St. Matthew (Vol. 2, p. 443). London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company.

[4] Calvin, J., & Pringle, W. (2010). Commentary on a Harmony of the Evangelists Matthew, Mark, and Luke (Vol. 3, pp. 160–161). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

[5] France, R. T. (1985). Matthew: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 1, pp. 351–352). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[6] Exell, J. S. (1952). The Biblical Illustrator: Matthew (pp. 553–554). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

[7] Utley, R. J. (2000). The First Christian Primer: Matthew (Vol. Volume 9, p. 202). Marshall, TX: Bible Lessons International.

[8] Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Gospel According to Matthew (Vol. 9, pp. 870–871). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[9] Weber, S. K. (2000). Matthew (Vol. 1, p. 407). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

How Can Christians Express the Truth of Human Dignity during a Global Crisis? — Ligonier Ministries Blog

In a world that often rejects the value of human life, COVID-19 gives Christians the opportunity to express the dignity of all of God’s image-bearers. From our livestream event Made in the Image of God, John MacArthur points out how believers can respond to our confused culture.

If you have a biblical or theological question, just visit to ask your question live online.

via How Can Christians Express the Truth of Human Dignity during a Global Crisis? — Ligonier Ministries Blog

July—17 The Poor Man’s Evening Portion

 

And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled.—Acts 24:25.

And wherefore did Felix tremble? Did Paul, who was then preaching to him, charge him with any particular sins? It doth not appear that he did. Neither is it probable that a poor prisoner would have been permitted so to have done. But the truth is, God’s holy word, by Paul’s preaching, and the man’s own guilty conscience, which Felix himself applied, so met together, that the conscious sinner could not refrain. The very thought of a future judgment, and a day of account, crossing the mind of a guilty conscience, will be enough to damp the mirth of the sinner in the midst of his jollity. Every man, more or less, must have thoughts now and then of an hereafter. Man, by nature, is a creature compelled to look forward. He is for ever proposing to himself prospects that are to arise. Hence, men of the world are sending out into the highways and lanes of the city to invite men like themselves to kill time, and to gild the passing hour: and while they can do this, fill up the moment, and drown thought, it is all very well. But when the idea of a judgment to come riseth within, and the very apprehension that things will not always be as they now are, starts up, the alarm, like the handwriting upon the wall of the impious monarch, instantly takes effect, and a trembling follows. (Dan. 5:5.) My soul! learn hence (and if well learned, it will be a blessed improvement of thine evening’s meditation) that outward circumstances, be they what they may, go but a little way to give inward comfort. It matters not what men possess, if those possessions have not the sanctifying blessing of the Lord upon them. Where Jesus is not, there can be no real enjoyment. All the world of creature comforts are not sufficient to afford real happiness. Hence Felix, a governor, trembled, while Paul, a prisoner, rejoiced. Hence many an aching heart in a noble house. Shall not such views endear Jesus to thee, my soul, still more? Shall they not make thee very cheery over thy comforts; and make thee truly jealous, that thou wilt not allow thyself one enjoyment, where Jesus is not first seen in that enjoyment, and where he doth not sweeten, and form the whole of it? Make him the sum and substance of all blessedness, and then thou wilt find that godliness, indeed, is profitable to all things: “it hath the promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come!”[1]

 

[1] Hawker, R. (1845). The Poor Man’s Evening Portion (A New Edition, pp. 215–216). Philadelphia: Thomas Wardle.

Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones on Preparing for Death — by Rev Iain Murray — Banner of Truth USA

I am very grateful to two very old and dear friends of my family.

Firstly, to Iain Murray for agreeing to the publication of his address, which as far as I know has never been published before, though some elements of it are in his biography of the Doctor. Below is the transcription of a talk Iain gave to a ministers fraternal in 1982, shortly after Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones went to glory. I am, secondly, also grateful to Ann Winch for suggesting the idea of this article and for transcribing the tapes. The words in italics below are where particular stress and emphasis were placed by Iain in the original recording.

Many of the readers of this article will be familiar with Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones, one of the most influential evangelical preachers and writers of the C20th,  but for those who may not be, I attach a short biographical note at the end.

How strange in Gods’ providence and how timely that in the month in which, more than any other over the last 75 years, we have been inescapably thinking as a world about death, that this article should emerge and be published. It is about a vital topic for all, Christian or not: preparing for death.

May God use this powerful talk to enable us all to prepare for death and meeting God. I can best sum the message up in a quote from Dr Lloyd-Jones in the passage below:–

The Christian is not afraid of death because he has the assurance that he will not be left alone. . . Death is not parting only but more, it is meeting and though it is an experience we have never passed through we have the assurance that nothing can separate us from the love of Christ and that at death we will meet with him.

Many are now understandably afraid of dying of Coronavirus on their own: but friends we have this mighty assurance from the Lord Jesus himself that if we are his, we will never be left alone.

* * *

His [Dr Lloyd-Jones’s] Ministry ended abruptly at the beginning of March 1968. He was seriously ill and had a major operation. He wonderfully recovered from that operation, and returned to the Westminster fraternal the following October and gave an address on preaching. God had restored him and he was full of his old vigour.

It was only in the Summer of 1979 that there were signs of his health failing. He was unable to go to his beloved Ministers’ Conference in Bala that Summer. Neither could he go to the Westminster Conference later in the year. In the November of 1979 he said that he was conscious of getting old, and there were symptoms that his health was not good. I saw him in November 1979 and key things stand out about that meeting. The first was that he hoped to go to a clinic in Florida for treatment, as he realized his health was deteriorating. He had not been in the States since 1969 and had not expected to go again but he had heard of the good work being done in a particular clinic and hoped to go around December 1979. As he spoke about that proposed visit, it was reminiscent of the words in Daniel 3 (though he had not consciously applied this text) as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were facing death: ‘Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, but if not we will not serve thy gods.’ Lloyd-Jones said ‘I hope to go and derive benefit from the treatment and carry on as before, but if not I shall do what I can.’

But as it turned out, he was not well enough to go and never crossed the Atlantic again, but he was perfectly satisfied with either alternative. I did not see him personally until 1980, and by that time there was a very apparent change in him. He was obviously weak, had lost a great deal of weight. He sat quietly in his chair in his room at home at Ealing (London), but when he began conversation that day he was more fervent than I had seen him for a long time. I don’t think I was ever more moved than at the conversation we had that day in March 1989. He was not speaking of possible treatment or recovery but the subject that was largest in his conversation was Preparation for God — that was his subject.

And he began with referring to some words by the famous Doctor Thomas Chalmers. He had said that it was greatly to be desired that before death that Christians have time to prepare. . . time to disengage themselves, time to withdraw from the busyness. . . that so occupies them, and that if we live three score years and ten, and if we reach the seventh decade, that decade should be like a Sabbath — a preparation for heaven.

Then the Doctor (Lloyd-Jones) said ‘I agree with Chalmers absolutely. We don’t give enough time to death and to going on — it is a very strange thing this. Death is the one certainty, and yet we don’t think about it. We are too busy. We just allow life and circumstances so to occupy us but we don’t stop and think. I am grateful to God that I have been given this time. People say about sudden death that it is a wonderful way to go, but I have come to the conclusion that that is quite wrong. I think the way we go out of this world is very important. The hope of sudden death is based upon the fear of death. It is the hope of wanting to slip through death rather than to face it.’

Brethren, I wish you could have heard him speak on those words. Death, he said, ‘should be faced victoriously.’ Then he said ‘I am grateful therefore for this experience, and maybe my present trouble is to give me this insight. My great desire now is therefore that I might be able perhaps to bear a greater testimony than ever before’ (meaning in the face of death). He wanted to face death with Christian testimony. In the course of this conversation, I mentioned a Christian who had died gloriously but who had lived rather feebly, and I said to the Doctor, wouldn’t it have been a great thing if he had lived as he had died? I got a mild rebuke! He was not impressed with that statement because he detected something in it. He said, ‘Don’t underestimate dying — death is the last enemy. (He repeated this twice). Men may live well who do not die victoriously — whereas to die gloriously is a great thing. It is idiotic that men do not prepare to die.’ He then referred to George Whitefield‘s conversation with one of the Tennant brothers in New Jersey when, even though he was still in his twenties said he was ‘ready to go.’ There was much more said, but above all he was full of thankfulness for having been given time to prepare to die.

When I left him on that day in March 1980, I scarcely knew whether I would see him again, I hardly thought that it was possible unless I made haste. However not only did a few of us see him again, but we saw him in the pulpit again. Those who heard him in Glasgow will not forget it! — from the 2nd Psalm. . . and filled with tremendous earnestness and passion on the words ‘Kiss the Son lest he be angry. . .’ That sermon is on tape, and after that sermon I saw him do something that I never saw him do before — he had to sit on the pulpit steps — it was quite amazing that he was there. I believe he had gone to encourage the many younger ministers who were there. Then he went by car to preach in Wales on the Sunday evening. And so from June 1980, his public work was really finished. He attended the last fraternal in a venue in London later in the year. He was not seen in public after that. He was at home in Ealing and also at his son-in-law’s in Cambridge a little while, where he took a walk or two, but that was the end of being away from home (Ealing). He was at home in Ealing, apart from a few brief visits to hospital. He was never confined to bed. To the end of his life, except for one exception which I will refer to soon, he had all his faculties. His memory was in full strength until the end — a wonderful thing and a great blessing. He didn’t spend a day in bed. He sat in his chair quietly in his room.

I saw him then in July of 1980. When I arrived in his room he had a text. It was a text for me, and a text he had obviously been preaching to himself: ‘And the 70 returned again with joy saying “Even the devils are subject unto us through Thy name.” In this (said our Lord) rejoice not, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven.’ The lesson of the text, he said, is that if we are living upon what we do, if our happiness is based upon our preaching or our service for Christ, there is something deeply wrong with it. ‘Not in this,’ says our Lord, ‘but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.’ The ultimate test of a preacher is what he feels like when he cannot preach. It is a real snare for the preacher to live upon preaching. People say to me now ‘It must be very sad for you not to be able to preach.’ ‘Not at all,’ he would reply ‘I was not living upon preaching. I can and do rejoice.’ It was a great privilege to hear him say that. He went on to say that though he could no longer preach, God was helping him to pray. It was moving to know how many of you brethren he was praying for — some of you know you were in his prayers, others of you don’t know — a great number of men in the ministry of the Gospel. He was rejoicing in the quietness that God had given him, with more time to pray and he was not downcast that he was not preaching.

At that same time in July 1980 he spoke again about dying. He said ‘We could face it like this. First, we all have to die — that is a fact, it is common sense. But where does Christianity come in? The Christian is not afraid of death because he has the assurance that he will not be left alone. Then he focused on the parable of Dives and Lazarus, and focused particularly on the verse, ‘And the beggar died and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom. The angels (he said) came! I believe in the ministry of angels and think of it more and more. Death is not parting only but more, it is meeting and though it is an experience we have never passed through, we have the assurance that nothing can separate us from the love of Christ, and that at death we will meet with him.’

He spoke of an old man at his first congregation at Sandfields, and the Doctor was at his death-bed, and the man was at the extremity of life and suddenly he threw up his arms and his face shone, and he was already meeting the Lord before he had gone. The Doctor spoke of the reality of that: ‘We are going to be with Christ.’ ‘Our greatest trouble is that we really don’t believe the Bible. . . exactly what it says — exceeding great and precious promises. We think we know it, but we do not really appropriate this and actually believe it is true. Here we have no continuing city. Our light affliction that is but for a moment. We have to take these statements literally. They are facts, they are not merely ideas.’ Then he said, as it were, not merely to me, but to all of us. ‘This is what I feel — you people have got to emphasize it more and more.’

In October I saw him again in his home. There was a further change in his health. He was sitting still in his chair as he was in July, but this time he wasn’t rising to his feet. He was patently weaker, and on that day in October, he was full of the subject of the wonder of the grace of God, and more than once the hymn ‘My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name’ and the next verse that ‘His covenant, his blood support me in the whelming flood. When all around my soul gives way he then is all my hope and stay.’

He referred to the words of old Daniel Rowland at his death ‘A poor old sinner saved by grace’, and much more of similar vein. By January of 1981 — of this year — the thing that struck me in meeting him in January, was the extraordinary seriousness which characterised him. People said that the Doctor didn’t laugh much, and I suppose that’s true, but he smiled a great deal didn’t he? But you know, I never knew him smile as much as towards the end of his life, when he’d lost so very much weight and was very thin and emaciated towards the end, and his smiles were more and more pronounced and his face (without exaggeration) often seemed to glisten. He was desperately serious.

Then at the beginning of February I saw him twice again, and that was the last conversation I had with him face to face. I spoke to him on the phone after that, but not face to face. He was quite evidently going down and he knew that — he simply did not know how long it would be. But throughout February, he was moving around until the last week. At the beginning of the last week of the month, it became clear that he was losing the power to speak. He didn’t suddenly lose it, but gradually his breath went.

One of the last times he spoke was this: His consultant had come to see him — a Christian man who used to attend Westminster Chapel. The consultant was speaking with him but Lloyd Jones was not talking, but he could say a great deal, as you know, by nodding his head and by his look. The consultant said that he wanted to give him some antibiotics. The Doctor just shook his head. ‘Well,’ said the consultant. ‘When the Lord’s time comes, even though I fill you up to the top of your head with antibiotics, it won’t make any difference.’ The Doctor still shook his head. ‘I want to make you more comfortable,’ the consultant said. The Doctor said nothing, but shook his head. The consultant replied, ‘You know it grieves me to see you sitting here weary and worn and sad.’

That was too much! ‘Not sad!’ the Doctor said! It must have been one of the last things he said. Throughout the rest of that week, he gradually lost all power of speech. And yet, without speaking, he was in full communication by smiles, by gestures — it’s hard to describe, but he spoke with his face, and I’m sure there was not a moment when there was not communication. Sometimes, of course, he wrote on a bit of paper. On the Thursday, he wrote to Mrs. Lloyd-Jones and her daughter ‘Don’t pray for healing. Don’t hold me back from the glory.’ It’s hard to read that note. Those that knew his handwriting often found it hard to read! But this was particularly hard — except for the word glory. That stood out in the sentence.

Friday of that week, he was meeting with a few people — he was full of smiles. On Saturday he was lower — semi-conscious for several hours of the day — and then by late in the evening on Saturday, it was evident to Mrs Lloyd-Jones he was unconscious. He was still sitting in his chair in his usual place, but he was unconscious. Now, it is a very wonderful thing that Mrs. Lloyd-Jones, right to the end, had been able to get him up in the morning — help to dress him — no one else was needed until that one evening of his life, as it proved to be — there was no way she could get him to bed. He was unconscious, sitting quietly just there in his chair. So Mrs. Lloyd-Jones and her daughter determined to ring the Ambulance people. They came quite quickly, and in God’s goodness they were wonderfully kind, carried him to the bedroom, undressed him, and put him to bed in perfect ease and quietness and comfort, and after he had been in bed for just a short time and Mrs. Lloyd-Jones had gone out, he came round and his daughter Anne was there and at once he knew exactly what was happening, but he was obviously looking for Mrs. Lloyd-Jones round the room — she wasn’t there. And then she came in and asked him if he would like a cup of tea and he nodded, and he drank half a cup of tea and they had a beautiful half hour with him and quietly he went to sleep. And that’s how he went home. Mrs. Lloyd-Jones woke up beside him in the morning and he had gone.

That text in Psalm 37 is so appropriate — it was an abundant calm and peace.

I [Iain Murray] want to draw out a few things. Some of the reading he got through in his lifetime was wonderful, but to the end he was reading! It’s a great rebuke to us. The aged Apostle Paul in his prison, requested the cloak to be brought which he had left at Troas — and especially the parchments. The Doctor was like that, he really loved to read, right to the end. He read McCheyne’s division of Bible every day — he had done that since the beginning of the 1930’s. The reading on that last day — Saturday in February — 1 Corinthians 15 was the last passage open on his knee. He believed every minister should read through the whole Bible at least once a year. He read morning, noon, and night. If he could go on exhorting us, he would exhort us to let nothing interfere with our reading. To feed the souls of men we must ourselves be prepared and cut off things that would prevent our doing this.

The theme that he spoke of so very frequently was the wonder to him of the guiding hand of God — the Providence of God. I don’t think he spoke on anything more than that — the way God intervenes and the way God does things that he [Lloyd-Jones] never for a moment imagined. . . At 24, he was smitten with conviction of sin and began to discover that he had never been a Christian at all. He wrote at that time, ‘I shudder when I realise how unworthy I am — how ignorant of the dark hidden recesses of my soul, where all that is devilish and hideous reigns supreme.’ Then, by 1925,  rejoicing in the wonder of the Gospel. Then, irresistibly, he was compelled to enter the work of the Ministry (leaving his medical career). He would wish to impress upon us all that we must also always know and believe God’s hand is day by day upon his people. He is concerned for us. ‘Be careful for nothing’ was a text he quoted very often, ‘Be anxious for nothing — God’s faithfulness, God’s love, they are invincible. We have no business to be dismayed.’ He took a long-term view of things: ‘We mustn’t get disturbed, alarmed at what’s happening at the moment. All is in God’s hands, he reigns. We can be peaceful and commit all to him.’ He said that after he had gone, God would care for his ministers: God was in control.

Biographical Note

Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones was born in 1899, just a few days before the turn of the C19th into the 20th. Born and raised in Wales, he trained as a medical doctor and achieved notable success in his profession before responding to God’s call to enter the Christian ministry. First in Wales at Aberavon (Port Talbot) and then from 1939 at Westminster Chapel in London, his powerful biblical preaching, ‘Logic on Fire‘, converted and influenced tens of thousands. His books and recorded sermons since his death have continued to have a enormous impact. Through him and others under God, there came in the second half of the c20th a wonderful worldwide revival in Reformed preaching and literature, the latter notably initiated through the Banner of Truth Trust. Dr Lloyd-Jones died on St David’s Day (1st March) 1981 and was buried at Newcastle Emlyn, near Cardigan, Wales. I, and thousands of others, attended a moving memorial service at the Chapel the next month. If you would like to find out more about Lloyd-Jones, the best place is the two volume biography published by the Banner of Truth and written by Rev Iain Murray. Iain Murray co-founded the Banner of Truth Trust and was the assistant minister to Lloyd-Jones at Westminster Chapel.


This article was first published on God, Gold, and Generals, the blog of Jeremy Marshall, and has been reproduced by kind permission.

via Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones on Preparing for Death — by Rev Iain Murray — Banner of Truth USA

July 17th The D. L. Moody Year Book

 

Pray without ceasing.—1 Thessalonians 5:17.

IT was in November or December when those men of Judah arrived at Sheeshan (Nehemiah 1:1, 2), and Nehemiah prayed on until March or April before he spoke to the king. If a blessing doesn’t come to-night, pray harder to-morrow, and if it doesn’t come to-morrow, pray harder, and even then, if it doesn’t come, keep right on, and you will not be disappointed. God in heaven will hear your prayers, and will answer them. He has never failed, if a man has been honest in his petitions and honest in his confessions. Let your faith beget patience. God is never in a hurry, said St. Augustine, because He has all eternity to work.[1]

 

[1] Moody, D. L. (1900). The D. L. Moody Year Book: A Living Daily Message from the Words of D. L. Moody. (E. M. Fitt, Ed.) (pp. 120–121). East Northfield, MA: The Bookstore.

Open Hearts in a Closed World Online Women’s Conference Session Videos — Michelle Lesley

Did you get a chance to “attend” the Open Hearts in a Closed World online women’s conference this week? If you forgot about it, didn’t know about it, or missed a session or two, here are all the teaching and breakout sessions. (Any questions about the conference? Please contact the conference organizers here.)

Monday, July 13
Worship: CityAlight
Teaching Session: Brooke Bartz- What Is Service?
Breakout Session: Danielle Stringer – Lettering Art

Watch on Facebook     ~     Watch on Instagram (IGTV) Part 1Part 2

 

Tuesday, July 14
Worship: CityAlight
Teaching Session: Susan Heck-
5 Truths Which Must Be Remembered When Using One’s Spiritual Gifts
Breakout Session: Jasmin Davis-
Decorating on a Budget

Watch on Facebook     ~     Watch on Instagram (IGTV) Part 1Part 2

 

Wednesday, July 15
Worship: CityAlight
Teaching Session: Penny Amack-
Serving God From, and In, the Home
Breakout Session: Jess Owinyo- Bullet Journaling

Watch on Facebook     ~     Watch on Instagram (IGTV) Part 1Part 2

 

Thursday, July 16
Worship: CityAlight
Teaching Session: Erin Coates-
Service and Sound Doctrine
Breakout Session: Karie Rodgers- Hospitality

Watch on Facebook     ~     Watch on Instagram (IGTV) Part 1Part 2

 

Friday, July 17
Worship: CityAlight
Teaching Session: Michelle Lesley-
Servanthood vs. Celebrity
Closing Session: Brooke Bartz

Watch on Facebook     ~     Watch on Instagram (IGTV) Part 1, Part 2 (not yet available)

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via Open Hearts in a Closed World Online Women’s Conference Session Videos — Michelle Lesley

Complete Moron Doesn’t Realize Social Justice Activists Changed The Definition Of Every Word Last Week — The Babylon Bee

BILOXI, MS—Really smart experts everywhere are pulling their hair out with frustration due to thousands of uneducated people not realizing leading voices in critical theory and social justice activism changed all the definitions of every meaningful word in the English language just a few days ago.

Tensions escalated today when Dale Smithers, a Facebook user from Mississippi, wrote the comment: “I dunno… as I white man, I don’t think I’m a racist or that America is a racist country.”

At that ignorant statement, thousands of well-educated voices at universities around the country suddenly cried out in terror and refused to be silent.

“I literally just can’t with this guy,” said Xandace Bertheratrix, Dean of Race and Gender studies at NYU. “Doesn’t he know that whiteness isn’t a race but a system of oppression, and that maleness isn’t a gender but a system of oppression, and that America isn’t a place but a system of oppression, and that it’s literally impossible for those things to not be racist? I mean, come on, man!” Dr. Bertheratrix barely got her sentence out before hyperventilating and collapsing on the floor.

Unfortunately, the NYU staff overheard Xandace use the non-inclusive phrase “come on, man.” She was quickly carried off by campus social justice enforcers.

Further investigation revealed the horrifying truth that Smithers didn’t even know the definition of any of these terms:

  • Queerantagonism
  • Non-consensual co-platforming
  • Brown fragility
  • Microinvalidations
  • Mathematx
  • Intercorporeality
  • Autoethnography

He has been ordered to take reeducation courses or his farm will be canceled.

via Complete Moron Doesn’t Realize Social Justice Activists Changed The Definition Of Every Word Last Week — The Babylon Bee

The Face Mask Placebo

Article Image
 • LewRockwell.Com – By Bill Sardi

Health Authorities Admit Face Masks Don’t Halt Infectivity But The Fearful Masses Need Something To Handle Public Anxiety. Even The New England Journal Of Medicine Admits The Futility Of Wearing Face Masks To Protect Against COVID-19 Coronavirus.

What is desperately needed are valium-laced face masks with drug-laced inserts to facilitate the continued aerosol delivery of anti-anxiety medications directly into the lungs.  Public anxiety over a contrived threat from a mutated coronavirus has the masses acting like frightened sheep.

You mean face masks aren’t going to protect me from getting the dreaded COVID-19 coronavirus?  Answer: They are not.
You mean face masks don’t really keep me from spreading the infection to others?  Answer: No.

Here are direct quotes from The New England Journal of Medicine April 1, 2020 report on universal face masking to protect against transmission of the COVID-19 Coronavirus:

“We know that wearing a mask outside health care facilities offers little, if any, protection from infection…

“The chance of catching Covid-19 from a passing interaction in a public space is… minimal….

“…During the care of a patient with unrecognized Covid-19…. A mask alone in this setting will reduce risk only slightly, however, since it does not provide protection from droplets that may enter the eyes or from fomites on the patient or in the environment that providers may pick up on their hands and carry to their mucous membranes (particularly given the concern that mask wearers may have an increased tendency to touch their faces)…..  

“…Universal masking alone is not a panacea….  

“The extent of marginal benefit of universal masking over and above these foundational measures is debatable….  

“Expanded masking protocols’ greatest contribution may be to reduce the transmission of anxiety.”

In fact, by wearing masks you may be delaying others from developing memory antibodies for long-lasting protection against viral infection so our society can return to normal.

Predicted food shortages from fearful employees not showing up for work and closure of restaurants reducing demand for foodstuffs, resulting in tons of food being thrown away, could be more of a threat to human life than the virus.

Modern medicine has issued absurd directives in failed efforts to control spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.  But will the mindless masses ever catch on?

People wearing face masks while walking alone on the sidewalk or while driving an automobile alone have become examples of mindless stupidity.  With no one within a dozen feet, the ignorant masses wear face masks.

The news media makes it appear face masks are mandatory (by law), but unless some law has been passed in a State legislature, it is only a guideline.

Health authorities now concede that mandated measures to halt the spread of this mutated virus are only to provide peace of mind — face masks are only an anxiety reliever.  Short of mass valium or xanax prescriptions for all, face masks will do.  But just imagine if there is a shortage of face masks?  What will the masses then do?

Disinfection of grocery store carts is also useless.  The CDC issued a belated bulletin the COVID-19 virus is not spread by contact with contaminated surfaces.  Viruses aren’t even alive.  You can’t kill them like you can bacteria.  They only replicate once inside a living cell in your body.

Rich Ministries In The Age of COVID PPP Funds Were Designed To Save Jobs, But Are They Really Fattening Coffers? | Ministry Watch

John Gray is senior pastor of Relentless Church in Greenville, S.C.  He’s known for his fiery preaching and his lavish lifestyle.  He recently bought his wife a $200,000 Lamborghini Urus as an anniversary gift.

With the release of data by the Small Business Administration last week, he is now also known as the leader of a church that took more than $1-million in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funds.

Gray’s Relentless Church is not alone.  Religious organizations, including churches and Christian non-profits, received at least $6-billion in COVID relief funds.

Plenty of ministry experts, including conservatives who are generally opposed to taking government funds for church and ministry work, believe it is OK for ministries to take PPP funds.  These include Marvin Olasky with the World Magazine; John Stemberger, who runs the Florida Family Policy Council; and Russell Moore, with the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Chuck Bentley’s Crown Financial Ministries did not take funds and wrote a white paper warning other ministries against taking the funds, nonetheless said that taking PPP funds “is not a sin.”  Neither does he believe that this money will create long-term dependency on the government.  “This money is a temporary grant,” he said.  “I don’t think there’s going to be a gotcha or an entrapment from people who go ahead and accept the funds.”

However, in order to get the PPP funds, an applicant must affirm: “Current economic uncertainty makes this loan request necessary to support the ongoing operations of the Applicant.”

It’s hard to see how a pastor who can afford a $200,000 Lamborghini would need government funds to support ongoing operations.  However, Bentley said the level of uncertainty back in March and April may have motivated some organizations to apply for the funds as a “safety net.”  He says he hopes such organizations, organizations that ended up not needing the money to support ongoing operations, would pay back the money rather than receive it as a grant.  Paying the money back would be, Bentley said, “a positive and powerful witness.”

MinistryWatch examined the list of churches and ministries that received at least $2-million to see if there was a real need.

Elevation Church received between $2- and $5-million in PPP funds despite generating more than $91-million in revenue last year and generating more than $24-million in profit (revenue less expenses).  The assets of the Charlotte-based megachurch exceeded $114-million at the end of 2019.

Ligonier Ministries also took between $2- and $5-million in PPP funds.  Though significantly smaller than Elevation Church, with revenue of just over $31-million in 2017, the last year for which we have data available.  The profit margin for Ligonier was significantly greater, with “revenue less expenses” of about $9.4-million.  Ligonier also spent $4.2-million on fundraising, a number that was more than 13 percent of its total revenue.

Summit Church received between $2- and $5-million in PPP funds even though it generated $36.6-million in revenue and cleared $8.9-million (revenue minus expenses) for the fiscal year ending in August of 2019.

Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City also received at least $2-million in PPP funds even though its revenue exceeded expenses by $8.3-million in 2018 (the most recent year available).  The church also listed net assets exceeding $69-million.

Not all the ministries receiving PPP funds were as flush with cash as those mentioned above.  Here’s a rundown of ministries and churches that received at least $2-million in PPP funds whose financial position is less healthy than the ones listed above:

Willow Creek Community Church received more than $5-million in PPP funds, but its financial position is perhaps the most dire of those on this list.  In 2018 its expenses exceeded revenue by nearly $18-million.  The organization has already experienced significant staff layoffs and, before the COVID crisis forced all churches on-line, attendance at the Chicago-area megachurch has fallen significantly because of recent scandals associated with the church.  Still, Willow Creek’s net assets still approach $200-million.

Mariners Church, a megachurch in Irvine, Calif., generated $31.7-million in revenue in 2019, but its expenses exceeded $38.6-million, for a loss of $6.9-million.  Despite this significant loss, Mariners net assets still exceed $100-million.

Other ministries receiving loans of between $5- and $10-million is Reformed University Fellowship, a well-known campus ministry that is a subsidiary of the Presbyterian Church in America.  Joyce Meyer Ministries also received a PPP loan of at least $5-million, as did Oklahoma City-based Life Church, led by pastor Craig Groeschel.

Other well-known churches and ministries receiving at least $2-million in funds include:  New Life Church (Conway, Ark.),  Jews for Jesus, Shadow Mountain Community Church (led by well-known radio and TV preacher David Jeremiah), David C. Cook (a large evangelical book and music publisher), 12Stone Church (an Atlanta megachurch), Mission Aviation Fellowship, Harvest Bible Chapel (formerly led by James MacDonald), Kanukuk Ministries (which operates Christian summer camps near Branson, Mo.), Potters House (T.D. Jakes) and Oak Cliff Bible Church (Tony Evans).

Source: Rich Ministries In The Age of COVID PPP Funds Were Designed To Save Jobs, But Are They Really Fattening Coffers?