10 Out of 10 People Die

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Ray Comfort

Ray Comfort is the George Whitefield of the 21st Century. This is a man that has been so faithful over his Christian lifetime in sharing the gospel to everyone he meets. He exemplifies a man who has no fear of man, is not ashamed of the gospel, and is willing to be obedient to the Lord’s command to “go into all the world and preach the gospel.” He has shaped my life and my love for evangelism.

Click on the link below to watch a short documentary on Ray Comfort…

Feather vs. Bowling Ball

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Every time I am at a water park and I have to climb to the top of a water slide, I ask every kid, “If I drop a bowling ball and a tennis ball from this height, which would land first?”  99% of the time, the kid answers, “Bowling ball.”  And so I inevitably ask, “Why?” To which the kid always replies, “Because it is heavier.”

Isn’t it interesting, that this simple experiment in physics is so against our preconceived notions, but every kid regardless of culture, economic means, intelligence, county of origin, gender, or age could easily do this experiment.

To which I love Sir Isaac Newton in that he could look at God’s world differently and know that an object as heavy as a bowling ball (hard to find bowling alleys back in Newton’s day) would fall at the same rate as a father due to gravity.

So to all my fellow lovers of physics out there (and anyone else who sees the glory of God in science) enjoy the feather vs. the bowling ball.

Quick Links (July 2, 2014)

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Quick LinksThe Apparent Paradox of Sanctification

John MacArthur writes a great blog post about the apparent paradox of sanctification.  Is my sanctification due exclusively to God’s work apart from anything I do or is my sanctification exclusively only my effort in moral obedience to the Scriptures?  The great thing about this apparent paradox is that Paul in Philippians 2:12-13 does nothing to reconcile this issue but rather places these two truths in the sanctification of the believer right next to each other.

How do you overcome sin and live the Christian life?  Is defeating sin something God does in you, or do you defeat it by obeying the commands of Scripture? In other words, is the Christian life an exercise in passive trust or active obedience? Is it all God’s doing, all the believer’s doing, or a combination of both?

The truth is that sanctification is God’s work, but He performs it through the diligent self-discipline and righteous pursuits of His people, not in spite of them. God’s sovereign work does not absolve believers from the need for obedience; it means their obedience is itself a Spirit-empowered work of God.

 

Prayer and God’s Sovereignty (Part 2)

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prayerYesterday, I began to address the difficult topic of how to reconcile God’s sovereignty and prayer.  These questions arose out of a study in Acts 12 that clearly shows that God is sovereign over the entire situation – both in James being martyred as well as Peter being rescued from imminent death.  The passage also demonstrates clearly that even fervent but faithless prayers have great power.

And so the logical question before us is:

If God is sovereign and ordains every detail of history, then why bother to pray?

In the first blog post I addressed logical statements and then questions of prayers of adoration as well as confession.  We can see that prayer in these two cases benefits us more than it benefits God and therefore, the reason to pray in these two ways is for our growth and sanctification.

But what about intercession – praying for someone else’s needs (as the church was doing for Peter in Acts 12) as well as supplication – praying for our own personal needs before God.

In searching Scripture I found two reasons for praying in this way that helps to reconcile God’s sovereignty.

God Commands Us To Do It

Alright, I’ll start out with the one that probably won’t sit well with you or end the conversation.  Although this is the one that should end the discussion.  We pray because God commands us and invites us to pray regardless of the results.  He both instructs us and offers to us the ability to bring our prayers for others and for ourselves before His throne whether the results turn out in our favor or not.

James 5:13-16 states:

Is anyone among you suffering?  Then he must pray.  Is anyone cheerful?  He is to sing praises.  Is anyone among you sick?  Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him.  Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed.  The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.

Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, modeled this for us by praying for Peter in Luke 22:31-32 as well as throughout the gospels.  If God Himself here on earth can pray for others and pray for Himself, then we are to follow His example. Because prayer does affect change because the God who is sovereign, commands us to pray, and uses those prayers to bring about His will.

Concurrence

concurrenceThe second reason that Scripture teaches that can help us reconcile God’s sovereignty with prayer is a thing called concurrence. Concurrence is that the actions of two or more parties can occur simultaneously, or at the same time, and work together even if those parties have different intentions or roles.

An example of concurrence would be in the life of Job. During Job’s life, the Chaldeans stole some of his camels.  The Chaldeans were looking for some hump-backed mammals to add to their mix, Satan was trying to discredit Job’s faith, and God was allowing these things to happen to prove his servant’s faith. All three parties had different intentions and yet all three contributed to the situation concurrently, and God was still sovereign over the entire situation.

The same is true with divine providence and human responsibility.  The same is true with God electing and saving sinners through the preaching of the gospel and His Word.  And the same is true with God’s sovereignty and prayer.

True Biblical Calvinism and reformed theology does not state that humans are mere puppets with no action.  No, God is sovereign over the ends as well as the means and He uses people concurrently to preach His word, pray for the lost, pray fervently over needs and sufferings, and to be part of the means.

God calls us to be as a farmer to plow the fields, sow the seed, and water the land just as we preach the gospel,  pray at all times, and disciple those brothers and sisters in Christ.  And God will work in and through those things to accomplish His perfect and good will all the while being sovereign and in control.

Prayer and God’s Sovereignty (Part 1)

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prayerIn my Sunday School class we are studying the book of Acts.  Two weeks ago we found ourselves in the 12th chapter where Peter is in prison by the hands of Herod Agrippa I.  The church was praying for him “fervently” to God.  Now we do not know in what way the church was praying for him – whether for his deliverance or his faithfulness in the midst of death – but we do know that they were praying purposefully.

Long story short, God answers that prayer by bringing an angel to wake him up (yes, he was asleep while chained between two soldiers), God made the chains fall off his hands, opened prison doors, walked by two other guards at the doors, and opened iron gates.

And when Peter comes back to the house of Mary, the mother of John Mark, where many were gathered praying for him, they do not believe that their prayers had been answered and Peter was at the door.  They literally say to the girl who answered the door, “You must be out of your mind.”

Now during this study, these two clear and concise statements arose:

  • Scripture is clear that God is sovereign and that He rules and reigns and controls all things for His glory and the good of His people.
  • Scripture is also clear that God invites us to come to Him in prayer, bringing our petitions to Him.

And so the logical question arose from our group:

If God is sovereign and ordains every detail of history, then why bother to pray?

And also, if God is causing and working out all things to work together for good to those who love God and are called according to His purpose, then why pray and try to change what God has already ordained as good?

Is prayer not futile first of all and arrogant second of all?

To answer these questions, we must delve a little further.  There are several types of prayer that we can cast before God – adoration, confession, intercession, and supplication.

benefitsPrayer Benefits Us

First let’s take adoration and make some logical statements and questions regarding those statements.  If God is God, then He will be fully glorified regardless of what we do.  He is just fine on His own and He will gain no greater glory by my adoration.

So the logical question is…why do we pray prayers of adoration towards Him?

Scripture teaches that we do because these prayers develop a greater intimate relationship between us and the Father, and the finished work of Christ has allowed us to have a deepening love for God.  Prayers of adoration benefit us in this way more than they benefit God.

Secondly, let’s take confession.  The logical statement is that if God is God and He is omniscient then He knows our actions, thoughts, and words in more real-time and clearer and more completely than we know.

Therefore the logical question is why do we confess our sins upon the Lord if He knows all?

Scripture teaches that we are commanded to confess our sins because it restores our soul to know that we have been forgiven of much regardless of what we do, how great our repentance is, and how sorry we are.  We are forgiven due to the finished work of Christ on the cross and He calls us to cast our sins upon His back for His glory and our restoration.

Again, prayer in these two cases benefits us more than it benefits God.

And He is still sovereign during these two cases of prayer and yet it is beneficial for us to pray.

Tomorrow I will deal with the more difficult of the two types of prayer – intercession (praying for other’s needs) and supplication (praying for our needs) – and how we can reconcile these with the sovereignty of God.

Spurgeon Sunday (June 29, 2014)

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PossimpibleInnovation, originality, relevant, possimpible (alright, that last one is made up) – these are all buzz words for Christianity that most churches, pastors, and evangelical movements are trying to accomplish.  The only problem with these buzz words are that they are diametrically opposed to what Jesus taught His disciples, what Paul taught Timothy, and what the Bible teaches.

Charles Spurgeon himself battled this mentality in his day:

What can you do, you children, playing with your little wooden swords – what can you do against men covered from head to foot with the steel mail of the habit of sin?…Teach your children more and more the pure Word of God!

And preachers, do not try to be original, but be content to take of the things of Christ and show them to the people – for that is what the Holy Spirit Himself does, and you will be wise to use His method and His sword.

No sinner around you will be saved except by the knowledge of the great truths contained in the Word of God.  No man will ever be brought to repentance, to faith, and to life in Christ, apart from the constant application of the truth through the Spirit.

The Suffering on the Cross

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The Cross

What was a crucifixion? Let us try to realize it, and understand its misery. The person crucified was laid on his back on a piece of timber, with a cross-piece nailed to it near one end – or on the trunk of a tree with branching arms, which answered the same purpose. His hands were spread out on the cross-piece, and nails driven through each of them, fastening them to the wood. His feet in like manner were nailed to the upright part of the cross. And then, the body having been securely fastened, the cross was raised up, and fixed firmly in the ground. And there hung the unhappy sufferer until pain and exhaustion brought him to his end – not dying suddenly, for no vital part of him was injured – but enduring the most excruciating agony from his hands and feet, and unable to move.

Such was the death of the cross. Such was the death that Jesus died for us! For six long hours He hung there before a gazing crowd, naked, and bleeding from head to foot – His head pierced with thorns – His back lacerated with scourging – His hands and feet torn with nails – and mocked and reviled by His cruel enemies to the very last.

Let us meditate frequently on these things. Let us often read over the story of Christ’s cross and passion. Let us remember, not least, that all these horrible sufferings were born without a murmur. No word of impatience crossed our Lord’s lips. In His death, no less than in His life, He was perfect. To the very last, Satan found nothing in Him. (John 14:30.)

J.C. Ryle  Expository Thoughts on the Gospels: Matthew, [Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1986], 390, 391. {Matthew 27:27-44}

Digging Deeper into Acts (Chapter 4)

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actsRead Acts 4

Introduction

In Acts 4:1-12, we find that the priests, captain of the temple guard, and the Sadducees are not happy (of course, because they are “sad-you-see”) with Peter, John, and the apostles are preaching in the name of Jesus and so many are being converted (over 15,000 now).  And so they grab Peter and John and Peter, under control of the Spirit, faces persecution directly and preaches the gospel.  He preaches that they were guilty and there is “salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men which we must be saved.”

In Acts 4:13-22, the Sanhedrin were faced with a tough situation.  They knew that the apostles had broken no laws and they had performed verifiable, true miracles but they had to stop the preaching the incriminating truth that they had executed an innocent man.  And so they tell the Peter and John to stop talking.  But Peter and John say “we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.”

In Acts 4:23-37, Peter, John, and the others pray for boldness to speak the word of God and trust in God’s sovereign plan (vs. 28).  And therefore, they continued to speak with power and conviction and people were being saved and changed from the inside-out.

questions1(1)Questions:

  1. What do you read was the main reason why Peter and John were put into jail and so angered the Jewish leadership?
  2. Most of us have not had leadership or a judge bring us before them angry at us preaching the gospel, but you may have had a friend or family member who became enraged or angry at you simply telling the gospel to them.  What do you believe is at the heart of their anger?  (Romans 3:9-20 may help in answering this tough question)
  3. Take a minute and think about the exclusivity of Christ (vs. 12).  Many people hate that Christianity says there is only one way.  Why is this a glorious truth?
  4. We see in the apostles prayer for boldness, that God is in control “to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose predestined to occur.”  How does God’s sovereignty strengthen you in the times of persecution and hardship?
  5. The believers in the book of Acts are being changed significantly and is growing in practical holiness (generosity, kindness, love for others, etc).  How has God been growing you in practical holiness?

digging deeper

Digging Deeper

Read this blog post titled “One Way.”  Reflect on the terms “Only Christ.”

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