Charles H. Spurgeon

Rejoice Always

Whenever a Christian man yields to a mournful, desponding spirit, under his trials; when he does not seek grace from God to battle manfully and cheerfully with trouble; when he does not ask his heavenly Father to give him strength and consolation whereby he may be enabled to rejoice in the Lord at all times, he does dishonor to the high, and mighty, and noble principles of Christianity which are fitted to bear a man up, and make him happy even in times of the deepest affliction. It is the boast of the gospel that it lifts the heart above trouble; it is one of the glories of our religion that it makes us say, “Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vine, the labour of the olive shall fail, and the field shall yield no meat; the flock” shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: yet will I rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.”

—Charles H. Spurgeon

path

A Calibrating Thought

Just today Iraq names a new president which was followed with a double car bombing in Baghdad, Ukrainian prime minister announces his resignation, and Reuven Rivlin is appointed as Israel’s new president.

“He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding; he reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with him” (Dan 2:21-22).

Just today a passenger airplane is reported missing (only a week after MH17). Explosions hit a school that was sheltering civilians in northern Gaza. Norway is preparing for Islamist terrorism. An estimated 360k people will be born, 155k people will die, 52k thefts will occur, 18k burglaries, 11k assaults, over 1200 acts of sexual violence, over 200 kidnappings, nearly 400 sexual offenses on minors, and over 1k homicides. Just today!

May we turn our hearts to Christ and apply the gospel to this day of life:

“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.” (Gal 1:3-5)

So how does one live a God-centered life today from the heart, in this world of economical and political uncertainty, of increasing moral degradation, and of statistical ruin?

The biblical answer is faith. True, living, abiding faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Faith in His provision that redefines every experience. Faith in His promise of future grace that transforms our outlook on all present circumstances. Faith in His substitutionary work that works in and through us. Daily we need this calibration.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. (Pro 3:5-6)

May the words of John Owen encourage your heart as they have mine:

[Faith] empties the soul of its own wisdom, understanding, and fulness, that it may act in the wisdom and fulness of Christ. The only advice for preservation in trials and temptations lies in that of the wise man, Prov. 3:5, “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.” This is the work of faith; it is faith; it is to live by faith. The great [cause of] falling of men in trials is their leaning to, or leaning upon, their own understanding and counsel. What is the issue of it? Job 18:7, “The steps of his strength shall be straitened, and his own counsel shall cast him down.” First, he shall be entangled, and then cast down; and all by his own counsel, until he come to be ashamed of it, as Ephraim was, Hos. 10:6. Whenever in our trials we consult our own understandings, hearken to self-reasonings, though they seem to be good, and tending to our preservation, yet the principle of living by faith is stifled, and we shall in the issue be cast down by our own counsels. Now, nothing can empty the heart of this self-fulness but faith, but living by it, but not living to ourselves, but having Christ live in us by our living by faith on him.

Charles H. Spurgeon

Scientific Statements Not Infallible

Those who have addicted themselves to the study of Nature, and have despised the Word, certainly cannot claim such immunity from mistake as to demand a revision of Scripture interpretation every time they enthrone a new hypothesis. The history of philosophy, from the beginning until now, reads very like a Comedy of Errors. Each generation of learned men has been eminently successful in refuting all its predecessors, and there is every probability that much of what is now endorsed as orthodox scientific doctrine will be entirely upset in a few years’ time. When we remember that one coterie of savants has proved to a demonstration that there is no such thing as mind, and that another has been equally successful in proving that there is no such thing as matter, we are led to ask the question, “When doctors differ, who is to decide?”

—Charles H. Spurgeon

NYC-Andrew-Mace-29

IN not OF the World: A Look at the Missional Movement

Christ’s heart-cry prayer in John 17 brings to focus with unique clarity a very significant tension that has marked the whole history of the church, namely that we are in and not of the world. One danger is to abuse the fact that we are “in the world,” such that we lose our identity in Christ. The other danger is to abuse the fact that we are “not of the world,” such that we lose the purpose of Christ in us for the world. We are “in the world” to glorify Christ and we are “not of the world” to glorify Christ. Therefore we fail to glorify Christ when we confuse either case: we are IN NOT OF THE WORLD.

A relatively recent movement in the American church may be blurring this distinction and thereby potentially distorting the clarity of the church’s purpose in the world. I am referring to the ‘missional’ movement. What follows is a look at a few essential concerns that should not be overlooked or dismissed when evaluating a ‘missional’ program.

Descriptions and implementations of the ‘missional’ mindset vary, and so it follows that not all points of concern are equally represented in all cases of advocacy and implementation. It should also be noted that a typical ‘missional’ mindset offers a number of healthy challenges to the complacency of many modern conservative American churches. That being said, these challenges are not unique to a ‘missional’ mindset rather they are challenges derived from the Word of God, which has always confronted the church in these areas. Whenever the church has been faithful to apply the Word in the areas of her responsibility to be a witness and messenger of the gospel of Jesus Christ to the world with compassion and an earnest humble care for the people around us, she has likewise been confronted. True need for change in the church in any age will always find its basis in the Word of God rather than in movements, strategies, or human inventions.

In his very concise article, entitled “The Missional Church,”[1] Tim Keller concludes his introductory statements by promoting the need for a new approach to evangelism, “We don’t simply need evangelistic churches, but rather ‘missional’ churches.”[2] Perhaps the greatest distinctive of this new ‘missional’ approach is its interest in culture.

The Influentials Issue of New York Magazine featured Dr. Keller as “the most successful Christian evangelist in the city by recognizing that young professionals and artists are ‘disproportionately influential’ in creating the country’s culture and that you have to meet this coveted demographic on its own terms.”[3]

(1) In as much as a ‘missional’ program promotes the idea that the church must engage in the culture of her community in order to advance repentance from sin and faith in Christ, it is mistaken. This idea is clearly contrary to the thrust and explicit exhortation of the epistles of the NT. The call to personal holiness calls for separation from the world, its ways, profanities, practices, images, and even styles (cf. 2 Cor 6:14-7:1; 1 Pet 1:13-19; 2 Pet 3:11; 1 Tim 2:9; 1 Pet 3:3-4). The notion that we are called to be missionaries to the culture is simply not found in the NT. We are sojourners in a foreign land (cf. Heb 11:13; 1 Pet 1:1; 2:11), knowing that this world is not our home (cf. 2 Cor 5:6-9; Phil 3:20). We recognize that we are missionaries and ambassadors of the gospel of Jesus Christ to the people in the world, but not for the sake of the world’s culture. Making the church more like the world, or the world more like the church, in culture—as experience has taught us in the latter days of the puritans—leads to confusion between outward morals and inward faith in the vicarious substitution of Christ. A fundamental danger is that the central purpose and motivation to call upon the name of Christ is distorted and possibly embellished by non-essential auxiliaries. All peoples, of all cultures, of all time desperately need Jesus Christ, and the common ground of communicating this message is not found in the image of man in man’s culture but in the image of God in God’s creature. Engaging the world begins here and necessarily moves to the innate sin nature of man; not merely the quality of life but the spiritual condition. Sin and enmity against God is truly ubiquitous, transcending all cultural manners and customs, but the gospel more than transcends all manmade boundaries to present the truth of God’s grace in Christ so that it is shown to be relevant to every person on earth. The church must remain unmistakably conscious of the power of the gospel, that it transcends culture and is directly relevant to all people.

(2) In as much as a ‘missional’ program promotes the idea that part of the church’s commission and responsibility is to change culture and meet the social needs of the unbelieving world, it is mistaken. The whole notion of the ‘Incarnational’ purpose of the church to indiscriminately serve the physical needs of the world at large is unfounded in the NT. The church is expressly called to meet the needs of the ‘one anothers’ but her mission is not to attend to the physical comfort and satisfaction of the world. The general notion that spiritual needs are met through meeting physical needs is repeatedly demonstrated as untrue in the NT (cf. Luke 17:12-19; John 6). When the whole city of Jerusalem suffered from famine, the church was called to gather a collection for the church only (cf. Acts 11:28-30; Rom 15:25-26; 1 Cor 16:1; 2 Cor 8:1-24). That the church is charged with the responsibility to care for her own is abundantly clear. The church is designed to display a radical love and care for one another, such that the world would see the mark and testimony of Christ and be drawn (cf. John 13:34-35; 1 John 3:10-17). The church is a spiritual community that should display a kind of unity and bond of love distinct from the world and its communities (cf. John 17:20-26; Eph 2:12-22; 3:6, 21; 4:1-6, 15-16; etc.). This is evident in Acts as we see in Acts 2:44-45 that “all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need.” This is a picture of the church ‘sharing’ in wealth and provisions to ensure that all among them who had need were cared for. This is explicitly attested to in Acts 4:34-35, “For there was not a needy person among them, for all who were owners of land or houses would sell them and bring the proceeds of the sales and lay them at the apostles’ feet, and they would be distributed to each as any had need.” What is particularly striking is that immediately following the amazing picture of love and meeting physical and material needs within the church in Acts 2:44-45, we see Peter tell a man lame from birth that, “I do not possess silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you: In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene–walk!” (Acts 3:6). Now this does not mean that individual Christians can harbor a hard and insensitive heart toward those in the world who are without, but it does challenge our loose mindset. So the church is charged with overt care materially for the needs of its own, while commands to meet the material needs of the unbelieving world are absent. This too does not mean that the church’s love, even for its own, can be abused. For instance, only widows who were clearly identified as possessing evident faith and character consistent with Christ-likeness were admitted support by the church (cf. 1 Tim 5:9-16). Moreover, the church’s unique care and love for one another does not negate personal responsibility and stewardship over one’s own life—even in the church (cf. 2 Thess 3:10-13; 1 Tim 5:8). In conclusion, the church’s commission is to ‘make disciples’ through the preaching of the gospel and the teaching handed down by the apostles (cf. Matt 28:19-20); this is the means through which the needs of people are met, both spiritual and physical. Spiritual and physical needs should not be confused in our ministry to the world, but the very use of the term ‘incarnational’ invites confusion. The ‘Incarnation’ of the Son of God is altogether unique to Christ supremely for the matchless purpose of atonement (Heb 9:5-10; 1 Pet 2:24). The Son of God took on flesh not to profit our flesh but our souls. Christ’s Incarnation was to meet our spiritual need not improve our physical quality of life. The Resurrection is what gives us hope for a physical future without the curse and corruption of sin. While I trust that the intentions are motivated by compassion, I believe that we would be wise to avoid using terms like ‘incarnational’—some things belong to the ministry of God alone.

(3) In as much as a ‘missional’ program promotes the idea that social services are to be considered equal to the ministry of the Word, it is mistaken. Keller suggests that “in a ‘missional’ situation, lay people renewing and transforming the culture through distinctively Christian vocations must be lifted up as real ‘kingdom work’ and ministry along with the traditional ministry of the Word.”[4] Similar to the last point, the church must strive to differentiate between her deeds of compassion and her priority to the understanding, living, and proclaiming of the Word of God (cf. Acts 6:1-7). The church is charged to hold “fast the word of life” and rather than correct a crooked and perverse generation, she is to “be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world”(Phil 2:15-16). The church’s commission is to live and deliver the only message that can truly change lives; we are not charged to change our environment, and doing so is not fulfillment of our commission.

(4) In as much as a ‘missional’ program promotes the idea that the church must eliminate distinctions between the church and the world around her, it is mistaken. Again, Keller writes, “The missional church avoids ‘we-them’ language, disdainful jokes that mock people of different politics and beliefs, and dismissive, disrespectful comments about those who differ with us.”[5] While many ‘conservatives’ in the church are guilty of inappropriate slander and arrogant condescension toward those of our communities who maintain opposing political and social views, to argue that the church is obligated to avoid ‘we-them’ language is the wrong solution to a problem that requires biblical rebuke and correction of the heart. An effort to eliminate real distinctions between ‘the saints’ and ‘the world’ is misleading at best and in essence runs contrary to Scripture. The Bible is abundantly clear that the church and the world are distinctly different, and are called to be increasingly so through sanctification. Therefore, the real question is not “is there distinction?,” but rather where and what constitutes a biblical ‘we-them’ understanding? Nor is the issue a matter of merely using or not using ‘we-them’ terminology, it is an issue of understanding core differences in a person’s nature. The answer is certainly not found in the idea that the church is to be distinct in all points of culture and environment, for we are indeed “in the world” (John 17:11). However, in this heart-cry prayer of Christ, He overtly draws attention to the distinction of His disciples and ‘the world’ when He says, “I ask on their behalf; I do not ask on behalf of the world, but of those whom You have given Me; for they are Yours” (John 17:9). He then makes it clear that this distinction applies to all who will abide in the same faith as His immediate disciples, “I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word” (John 17:20). Therefore, though the church is in the world it is not of the world, and thus a real spiritual ‘we-them’ distinction exists. This understanding is in accord with Christ’s prayer, “I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth” (John 17:15-17). At this point, it is critical to notice that Jesus here overtly connects His own approach, as a missionary to the world, to theirs, and emphasizes the importance of consecration (a set-apart devotion to God) in both, “Sanctify [consecrate] them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified [consecrated] in truth” (John 17:17-19). This is for the purpose that the church (‘we’) may be one—singularly devoted to the proclamation of the word of Christ—so that the world (‘them’) may believe the gospel (cf. John 17:21). Thus, according to Christ, the gospel is promoted by the distinction of His church in her unity of love and service for the promotion of God-centeredness in the world. So rather than diminishing distinctions between the world and the church in an effort to promote the gospel, we ought to be cultivating distinctions in the right areas. We must not neglect to utilize every means available to reach the world, to speak to them where they are, to communicate on their frequency, and be sensitive of every hindrance to the gospel, but this is not the same as eliminating distinctions between the church and the world around her. The church should not offend the world through stumbling blocks that stem from arrogance and insensitivity (her message and faithfulness to it ought to be the only stumbling block presented), but let it be known that the world and the church are, and should be, distinctly different (John 15:19; Rom 12:2; Gal 6:14; Titus 2:12; James 1:27; 1 John 2:15-16).

(5) In as much as a ‘missional’ program promotes the idea that the priorities of the local church during the time of assembly must change in order to serve skeptical and unbelieving souls, it is mistaken. This, of course, does not imply that communication and interaction during the assembly be unwelcoming or intentionally negligent of those who are skeptical or unbelieving. It does mean, however, that the church gathers to worship God and serve ‘one another’ (the saints), and she scatters to witness and proclaim Christ in the world—these two should not be confused.

In summary, in as much as a ‘missional’ church promotes biblical convictions to reach the lost and present a radical Christ-like testimony to the world around her, she is fulfilling her commission given to her by her Lord. The matters of proclaiming Jesus Christ and Him crucified, addressing sin, death, judgment, justice, hell, mercy, grace, love, humility, repentance, redemption, reconciliation, regeneration, new birth, faith, forgiveness, fellowship, gratitude, praise, newness of life, sanctification, corporate holiness, edification of the saints, eagerly longing for the Lord’s return, resurrection, eternal life, the new heavens and new earth, worship, and God-centeredness is the churches charter. All of these realities transcend culture and are therefore not gated by cultural barriers. This is where our emphasis and focus should be. In as much as redeemed people influence the world around them through the fruit of the Spirit in their lives, degrees of the surrounding culture may change, but the order of change is ever so significant. The church, through the Spirit of God, serves in the work of directly changing people, who then change culture. The choices and lives of people change culture—not church programs. So the church changes culture through changed people not through changed priorities. If the people change, you will have a changed culture; if the culture changes, you may have the same people.

While there are certainly some elements of the ‘missional’ approach that are clearly biblical in principle and good for us to be challenged by, the mindset in general misses the heart and obscures the priorities of the NT church. For these very basic reasons, caution should be exercised when evaluating the approach.


APPENDIX

Proponents of ‘missional evangelism’ typically classify four different kinds of churches (see below).[6] But this sets up a false dichotomy. To say that a particular ministry either “ignores” or “loves”–in the same way–the church or the culture is to impose unbiblical categories on our thinking. It also fails to properly differentiate the manner of love we ought to have for the church and the world. The more precisely biblical conclusion would be that a ministry loves the saints (church) with a peculiar love while laboring to demonstrate compassion, sympathy, and genuine concern for our fellow human beings who are both in and of the world. No one should be ignored, but our level of love, commitment, and responsibility will vary.

  Ignores the Church Loves the Church
Ignores the Culture Street Preacher Fundamentalist
Loves the Culture Campus Crusader Missional Church

 

The following chart helps to identify core distinctives of ‘missional evangelism’ as compared to what has been held to be the traditional commission of evangelism:

Traditional vs. Missional Evangelism[7]
by Mark Driscol (from Radical Reformission)

Traditional Missional
Believe in Jesus, then join a church Belong to a church, then you believe in Jesus
Gospel is information that is presented A friendship is necessary to preset the Gospel
Hearers are asked to make a decision Friends see the Christian life and are asked to participate
Gospel is present in the church,
but non-believers are not
Gospel is present and lived out in friendships
Convert is trained for ministry by being separated from culture Convert is trained in a church that is connected to the culture
Conversion happens to outsiders,
friends are viewed as outsiders
Conversion happens to friends
of the church inside

 

Resources:


Notes:

[1] Tim Keller, “The Missional Church,” June 2001, http://www.redeemer2.com/resources/papers/missional.pdf(accessed August 26, 2011).
[2] Keller, 1.
[3] Biographical sketch of Tim Keller, http://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/articles/bio/timkeller.html (accessed August 26, 2011).
[4] Keller, 2.
[5] Ibid. It should be noted that Keller later states, “Today, however, it is much more illuminating and helpful for a church to define itself over against ‘the world’–the values of the non-Christian culture.” So while Keller says that we should avoid ‘we-them’ language, he seems to agree that our ‘values’ are different. His point regarding disrespect goes without saying but does not furnish biblical evidence in favor of a ‘missional’ approach.
[6] While this is explained in many places, the best is in Mark Driscoll, The Radical Reformission (Grand Rapids: Zondervon, 2004), 19-23.
[7] Notes from TH701 (Theology of Evangelism) course at The Master’s Seminary (2010).

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The Brotherhood of Believers

In meditating on John 17, and the emphasis that Christ places on the ‘oneness’ of His redeemed, my heart is reminded of the great importance of the local assembly of saints. The church, despite all our personal flaws and failings, is a marvelous creation of God.

I share the following excerpt, taken from the book Basic Bible Studies by Francis Schaeffer, to offer an encouraging reminder of the blessedness of the communion of the saints:

When we take Christ as Savior we are immediately justified, and we immediately have a new relationship with God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. When we come into this new relationship with the triune God, all those who have ever trusted Christ as their Savior are our brothers and sisters. This has been usually spoken of as “the communion of saints.”

  • Matthew 23:8 Not all men are brothers, according to the biblical use of that word. We are all created by God. As all are descendants of Adam and Eve, all men are “my kind” and are to be carefully treated as neighbors (Luke 10:27–37). But in the terms of the Bible, we are brothers to those who have Christ as their Savior and therefore have God as their father.
  • Galatians 6:10 We are to do good to all men, but there is a clear line between the “family of believers” and others.
  • Ephesians 2:19 Before we took Christ as our Savior, we were strangers and foreigners. But when we became Christians, we were made fellow-citizens and members of God’s household with all others who had done the same.
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:14, 15 Again we are told to do good to all people, but again it is made clear that there is a distinction between those who are the “family of believers” and others.
  • 1 Peter 2:17 We have a special relationship to those who are brothers in Christ.
  • 1 John 1:3 A person cannot have true spiritual fellowship with Christians until he has heard the facts of the gospel and has acted upon those facts by accepting Christ as his Savior.
  • Revelation 19:10 The brethren are defined as those who hold to the testimony of Jesus.
  • John 13:30, 34, 35 Judas, who did not believe on Christ, had left the table before this command for special love among Christians was given.
  • John 21:23 It is clear that “brethren” as used here speaks of believers.
  • Acts 9:17 Saul was considered a “brother” only after he had taken Christ as his Savior.
  • Acts 21:17 Only the fellow-believers were “the brothers.”
  • 1 Corinthians 7:12 In this passage the man is a believer and therefore a brother. The wife is not a believer and therefore is not included in this term.

There are three practical aspects of the brotherhood of believers.

I. The first practical aspect is that brothers in Christ should be a spiritual help to each other.

  • Romans 12:10 Christians should love one another and should desire the advancement of their brothers above their own advancement.
  • 1 Corinthians 12:26, 27 Christians should sorrow when other Christians suffer, and should rejoice when other Christians have joy.
  • Romans 15:30; 2 Corinthians 1:11 Christian brothers are to pray for each other.
  • Ephesians 4:15, 16 When individual Christians become what they should be, the Church becomes what it should be. Each Christian has something to contribute to this.
  • Ephesians 5:21–6:9 The brotherhood of believers should be the predominant factor between Christians in all the relationships of life. This is true of husbands and wives, children and parents, servants and masters, employees and employers. In all such relationships we are also brothers and sisters. See Song of Solomon 4:9, 10, 12—there is a double relationship of sister and bride.
  • Ephesians 6:18 Christians should pray for each other and for all Christians. The brotherhood of believers cuts across the lines of nationality, race, language, culture, social position, and geographical location.
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:11 The two great spiritual helps which brothers in Christ should be to each other are that of encouraging one another and edifying one another. The latter means helping other Christians to be what they should be in doctrine and life.

II. The second practical aspect is that brothers in Christ should be a material help to each other.

  • Acts 11:29 From the earliest days of the Church, Christians gave of their material goods to help those brothers in Christ who had less materially, even those at great geographical distance.
  • 2 Corinthians 8:4 This is one illustration of many examples given in the New Testament of Christians giving money to help other Christians in material need.
  • Romans 12:13; Titus 1:8; Philemon 5, 7, 22 One form of practical help is by giving hospitality.
  • 1 John 3:17, 18 There is no use talking about Christian love if we do not help our brothers in Christ when they have material needs.
  • Acts 5:4 The Christians helped each other materially, but they did it voluntarily. Each man kept the right of personal property and possession.

III. The third aspect is that brothers in Christ should enjoy the fellowship and companionship of each other.

  • Acts 2:42, 46 From the earliest days of the Church, the Christians had daily fellowship with each other.
  • Ephesians 4:1–3; Colossians 2:1, 2 True Christians should try to have fellowship together in love and peace.
  • Hebrews 10:25 It is the direct command of our Lord that after we have become Christians, we should meet together for worship with other Christians. This was not just to be a passing thing in the early days of the Church, but should continue even until Christ comes back again. This verse says we should be especially careful to keep this command as we come toward the time of the second coming of Christ. If we have accepted Christ as our Savior, we have the responsibility to search out a Bible-believing group of God’s people, where there is right doctrine and real community in love, and meet with them. We should not join ourselves to just any group that calls itself Christian, but one where the teaching is truly biblical, where discipline is maintained concerning life and doctrine, and where there is true community. If there is no such group geographically available (and there are such places), then prayerfully before the Lord we should find even a small number to meet for worship, prayer, study, encouraging one another, and to have community.

We have seen that the brotherhood of believers crosses all the lines of space. It also crosses all the lines of time.

Hebrews 12:22, 23 his brotherhood includes not just Christians on the earth today, but Christians who are in Heaven.

[Francis A. Schaeffer, The Complete Works of Francis A. Schaeffer: A Christian Worldview, vol. 2 (Westchester, IL: Crossway Books, 1982), 355–358.]

Joseph Caryl

Grafted into Christ

A crab tree will never yield pleasant fruit, until you change the nature of it. Take a crab tree and plant it in the best soil that you have, and water it, and dress it, and prune it as much as you can, yet this crab tree will bear nothing but crabs, sour fruit, until you come to graft it; and then your grafting of it changes the nature of the stock, and it has another principle, and so then it brings forth good fruit. … Take the best natured person in the world and plant him in the best soil, in the best ground, in church ground; plant him in the house of God, and there let him be watered by holy doctrine, and let him be cultivated every day, but still he will bring forth nothing but unsavory fruit, until he himself is changed. Though he is under all those spiritual means, yet until those means have wrought effectually in him, his actions are all unsavory.

It is only by our implantation into Jesus Christ that we become fit to do good that is acceptable to God.

It is this that makes the change. For as in nature the graft changes the stock, so in grace, the stock changes the grafted branch. As we are grafted into Christ, He changes the branch; being planted into Christ, by the power of the Spirit, we are then made like Him, and then we shall bring forth fruits of righteousness, which are to the glory of God.

—Joseph Caryl

Thomas Watson

Causa Prima

The causa prima (i.e. first cause), and impulsive cause, [of our salvation] was free grace. It was love in God the Father to send Christ, and love in Christ that He came to be incarnate.

Love was the intrinsic motive.

Christ is God-man, because He is a lover of man. Christ came out of pity and indulgence to us: non merita nostra, sed misera nostra (Augustine)–‘Not our deserts, but our misery’ made Christ take flesh. Christ’s taking flesh was a plot of free grace, and a pure design of love.

God Himself, though Almighty, was overcome with love. Christ incarnate is nothing but love covered with flesh. As Christ’s assuming our human nature was a master-piece of wisdom, so it was a monument of free grace.

—Thomas Watson

dad-father-day

A Father’s Day Prayer

In a society of diminishing respect for God and His design we need all the more to be reminded of the importance of God-centered honor in our homes.

God considers the honoring of parents by their children to be of great significance. It is a commandment of God: “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise)” (Eph 6:2).

Since the father has been charged by God as the representative steward of his family, having primary responsibility to guide them, it is of very high importance that fathers lead their children properly.

God blessed Abraham as “the father of us all” (Rom 4:16) and said concerning him: “For I have chosen him, that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing righteousness and justice, so that the LORD may bring to Abraham what he has promised him” (Gen 18:19). This is the responsibility of fathers, to lead their children and households after them to keep the way of the Lord.

The following link shares a prayer that was prayed at Trinity Bible Church on Father’s Day, 2013: A Father’s Day Prayer

Jonathan Edwards

Glory of the Trinity in Redemption

God designed to accomplish the glory of the blessed Trinity in an eminent degree. God had a design of glorifying himself from eternity; yea, to glorify each person in the Godhead.

The end must be considered as first in order of nature, and then the means; and therefore we must conceive, that God having professed this end, had then as it were the means to choose; and the principal mean that he adopted was this great work of redemption. It was his design in this work to glorify his only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ; and by the Son to glorify the Father: John 13:31, 32. “Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in him. If God be glorified in him, God also shall glorify him in himself, and shall straightway glorify him.”

It was his design that the Son should thus be glorified, and should glorify the Father by what should be accomplished by the Spirit to the glory of the Spirit, that the whole Trinity, conjunctly, and each person singly, might be exceedingly glorified.

The work that was the appointed means of this, was begun immediately after the fall, and is carried on till, and finished at, the end of the world, when all this intended glory shall be fully accomplished in all things.

—Jonathan Edwards

 

Jonathan Edwards

Avoid Offending the Majesty of Heaven

It is evident that we ought not only to avoid sin, but things that expose and lead to sin; because this is the way we act in things that pertain to our temporal interest.

Men avoid not only those things that are themselves the hurt or ruin of their temporal interest, but also the things that tend or expose to it. Because they love their temporal lives, they will not only actually avoid killing themselves, but they are very careful to avoid those things that bring their lives into danger; though they do not certainly know but they may escape.

They are careful not to pass rivers and deep waters on rotten ice, though they do not certainly know that they shall fall through and be drowned. They will not only avoid those things that would be in themselves the ruin of their estates—as setting their own houses on fire, and burning them up with their substance; taking their money and throwing it into the sea, etc.—but they carefully avoid those things by which their estates are exposed. They have their eyes about them; are careful with whom they deal; are watchful, that they be not overreached in their bargains, and that they do not lay themselves open to knaves and fraudulent persons.

If a man be sick of a dangerous distemper, he is careful to avoid every thing that tends to increase the disorder; not only what he knows to be mortal, but other things that he fears may be prejudicial to him.

Men are in this way wont to take care of their temporal interest. And therefore, if we are not as careful to avoid sin, as we are to avoid injury in our temporal interest, it will show a regardless disposition with respect to sin and duty; or that we do not much care though we do sin against God.

God’s glory is surely of as much importance and concern as our temporal interest.

Certainly we should be as careful not to be exposed to sin against the Majesty of heaven and earth, as men are wont to be of a few pounds; yea, the latter are but mere trifles, compared with the former.

—Jonathan Edwards