Monday, September 25, 2017

Music Monday: Lamb of God by Emerald Hymns

When Will They Learn?

Well, it has happened again. The return of Christ was once again predicted by a group of people because they were big into numbers, who are referred to as Biblical Numerologists. Simply put, these people use a lot of calculations and some math equations to determine when Jesus was going to return. This caught the attention of the media, so I am sure by now many people are either scratching their heads or rolling their eyes because the return of Christ has not happened.

This is not the first time an individual or a group of people predicted Christ is going to return. Remember Harold Camping? He is the radio evangelist who said Christ was going to return on May 21, 2011 then adjusted to October of 2011 because Jesus did not come back. Hal Lindsey in one of his books predicted Christ would return in the 1980's. Obviously, that did not happen.

I could go on and on about who has predicted when Christ will return and there is even a list on who the Antichrist is. As I thought about this and other times when Christ returns, I ask myself, "When Will They Learn?"

When will people who predict that Jesus will return realize they will be wrong? Could they be right when the timing seems right? I am sure many felt that during the days of World War II. The problem when man says Christ is going to return means that everyone is expecting it. Jesus said that no one knows when He will return except God (Matthew 24:36). Jesus also said, "Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect" (Matthew 24:44). The Apostle Paul wrote that the day of the Lord (the return of Christ) will come like a thief in the night (1 Thessalonians 5:2), which means it will be unexpected.

The Bible is clear that no one knows when He will return. It amazes me that these people know more about the return of Christ than Jesus Himself. These people are also adding fuel to the fire of scoffers who will say, “'Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation'” (2 Peter 2:4).

Sad thing is that many will keep guessing the return of Christ until it happens. What is sad is I think (this is just my opinion) I think all the guessing will end and talk about Christ's coming will cease even among the people of God. I do believe Christ will return when no one expects it because the Bible does say He will come at an hour we do not expect.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Nabeel Qureshi's Testimony

Nabeel Qureshi was grew up under the teachings of Islam and was a devout Muslim until God called him to Himself through the power of the gospel. He became a well known Christian Apologetist and spoke to many about the gospel. Sadly, Nabeel recently passed away from stomach csncer. While we rejoice with our brother who met the Savior face to face, we need to remember his family during this time of mourning.

This video is Nabeel sharing on the teachings of Islam and his converstion.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Should A Church Have A Saturday Evening Service?

You have may have been part of the church that has more than one worship service. I know I have. Most of these churches have two or three services on Sunday morning with one on Sunday evening, though some churches have opted out of Sunday night service for a change to meet in homes. Over recent years, one new service has becomes part of church life and that is the Saturday evening worship service. There have been disagreements over whether or not church should have them.

One objection to a Saturday service is Saturday is not the Lord's day. Christians have corporately worshipped the Lord together on Sunday so why have a Saturday evening service. I cannot speak for all churches that do or not do a Saturday evening service, so I am just going to give my opinion if a church should have one.

My answer is it really depends on why churches want a Saturday night service. For example, I use to have a couple of jobs in the past where I would have to work on Sunday morning. I hated not being with my church family on Sunday but they never chastised me for not being there. In fact, I would attend the Sunday evening service which was a different sermon from Sunday morning. There are Christians that are currently going through the same thing where there occupation prevents them from attending Sunday morning so they would attend a Saturday evening sermon. All churches that I am aware of preach the same sermon on Saturday evening and Sunday morning so it doesn't feel that you are attending two different churches.

Some churches have Saturday evening services to get the people who would not attend a Sunday morning service regardless such as the party goers and those who think Sunday morning may be a little too formal. Granted, some people feel this may be a watering down of the gospel message which some churches are guilty of doing, but a healthy church will preach the whole gospel and hopeful encourage those attending a Saturday evening service to serve in their church.

Other churches may do a Saturday evening service because of space or other reasons. I personally don't see anything wrong with a Saturday evening service as long as the Bible is preached and Christ is exalted. Should every church have a Saturday night service? No. I know my church will not have one because we are not a large church, though that might be one thing to look at if we grow, but that is just speculation on my part. Every church should seek what the Lord wants for them and He may not even lead your church to have a Saturday service or even multiple services. However, we should not judge a church that is gospel-centered when they have a Saturday night service.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

What Is Contentment Opposed To?

1. It is opposed to murmuring and repining at the hand of God, as the discontented Israelites often did. If we cannot bear this either in our children or servants, much less can God bear it in us.

2. To vexing and fretting, which is a degree beyond murmuring.

3. To tumultuousness of spirit, when the thoughts run distractingly and work in a confused manner, so that the affections are like the unruly multitude in the Acts, who did not know for what purpose they had come together. The Lord expects you to be silent under His rod, and, as was said in Acts 19:36, “Ye ought to be quiet and to do nothing rashly.”

4. It is opposed to an unsettled and unstable spirit, whereby the heart is distracted from the present duty that God requires in our several relationships—towards God, others, and ourselves. We should prize duty more highly than to be distracted by every trivial occasion.

5. It is opposed to distracting, heart-consuming cares. A gracious heart so esteems its union with Christ and the work that God sets it about, that it will not willingly suffer anything to come in to choke it or deaden it. A Christian is desirous that the Word of God should take such full possession as to divide between soul and spirit (Heb 4:12), but he would not allow the fear and noise of evil tidings to take such a hold in his soul as to make a division and struggling there, like the twins in Rebekah’s womb (Gen 25:22).

6. It is opposed to sinking discouragements. God would have us to depend on Him though we do not see how the thing may be brought about; otherwise, we do not show a quiet spirit.

7. It is opposed to sinful shiftings and shirkings to get relief and help. Thus do many, through the corruption of their hearts and the weakness of their faith, because they are not able to trust God and follow Him fully in all things and always. For this reason, the Lord often follows the saints with many sore temporal crosses as we see in the case of Jacob, though they obtain the mercy. It may be that your carnal heart thinks, “I do not care how I am delivered, if only I may be freed from it.” Your hearts are far from being quiet!

8. The last thing that quietness of spirit is the opposite of is desperate risings of the heart against God by way of rebellion. That is the most abominable. They find in their hearts something of a rising against God. Their thoughts begin to bubble, and their affections begin to move in rebellion against God Himself. This is especially the case with those, who besides their corruptions, have a large measure of melancholy. The devil works both upon the corruptions of their hearts and the melancholy disease of their bodies. Now Christian quietness is opposed to all these things. When affliction comes, whatever it is, you do not murmur or repine, you do not fret or vex yourself.

Adapted from The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment by Jeremiah Burroughs

Around The Web-September 20, 2017

Ultimate Systematic Theology Collection Giveaway

How the Protestant Reformation Started

Don’t Be Caught without a Confession by Michael Reeves

Answering frequently asked questions about The Nashville Statement from Denny Burk

Ask John Piper: Did Adam and Eve Sin Before the Bite?

Must Elders Be Skilled in Teaching? by David Mathis

What to Do If You’re Chronically Frustrated at Church by Brett McCracken

R.C. Sproul shares the story of his conversion which took place 60 years ago this month.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

When Natural Disasters Make Us Think

Many of us have seen natural disasters in our lifetime. They may be earthquakes, tornados, or hurricanes. They are devastating and affect many people. With natural disasters, there is loss whether of property or life. Sometimes both. For most people, especially Christians, natural disasters causes us to think.

One of the common thoughts of natural disasters is why this happens. We live in a fallen world corrupted by the sin of our first parents. The sin of Adam has brought death and even has affected this world which groaning waiting for the sons of God to be revealed (Romans 8:18-23). Sometimes Christians have blamed the sin on a particular people. Take my hometown of Houston, which has been devastated by Hurricane Harvey. There are some that think the sin of the people of the city is what caused the Hurricane to be more severe than originally predicted. Sam Storms wrote, in relation to Hurricane Harvey:

Great natural disasters such as this tell us nothing about the comparative sinfulness of those who are its victims. Please do not conclude that the citizens of southeast Texas are more sinful than any other group of individuals that have not as yet experienced such devastation. Please do not conclude that we are more righteous than the people of Houston because God has thus far spared us from such events. The Bible simply won’t let us draw either conclusion. What the Bible does say is that we all continue to live and flourish not because we deserve it but solely because of the mercy and longsuffering of God. Life is on loan from God. He does not owe us existence and what he has mercifully given he can take back at any time and in any way he sees fit.

Who can forget Pat Robertson condemning the people of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina for allowing the sin of homosexuality to become the norm. There were even some making the same case when the terror attacks happen on 09-11-2001. When our city was going through a drought, one lady told me her son thinks that God is waiting for one person to repent so God can bring the rain. We have to remember that sin does bring consequences but not punishment because Jesus took our punishment.

Another thing that natural disasters make us think is does this mean Jesus is coming soon. That is the blessed hope for Christ to return and yes, all Christians long for that day. Natural disasters does not mark that Jesus is coming. Storms wrote:

We should not look upon such events and conclude that the Second Coming of Christ and the end of history are at hand, but neither should we conclude that the Second Coming of Christ and the end of history are not at hand. What we should do is humble ourselves before the Lord and prepare our hearts for the day of his return, whenever that may be, whether in our lifetime or some distant date centuries from now.

Events like this should make us long for Christ's return and remind us this world is also not our home. Storms said:

Events such as this should remind us that no place on earth is safe and that we will all one day die (unless Jesus returns first). Whether by a peaceful natural death at the age of 90, or by a sudden heart attack at 50, or in a car accident at 15, or by a slow battle with cancer at virtually any age, we will all likewise die. We are not immortal. The only ultimately and eternally safe place to be is in the arms of our heavenly Father from which no hurricane or tsunami or cancer or car wreck can ever snatch us or wrench us free.

Natural disasters should also make Christians think about service to their neighbor. Jesus said the second greatest commandment is to love our neighbor as we do ourselves. We should also seek the welfare of the city whether it was our own or somewhere else. Many of us may not be able to physically go to some places that were hit by a natural disaster, but we can pray and we can give (make sure you know who and where you are giving to). Churches can send people as well. One thing that we can pray for, especially after the events of Hurricane Harvey, is revival in America. Here is another quote from Sam Storms:

Pray that God will use such an event to open the hearts and eyes of not only our nation but every people group on earth that is immersed in paganism, to see the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ and turn in faith to him, lest something infinitely worse than a hurricane and flood befall them: Eternal condemnation. Eternal suffering.

All quotes from Sam Storms were from his article, 10 Things You Should Know about Hurricane Harvey and the Sovereignty of God.

Also check out, What is God Saying to Us? by Tom Ascol

Monday, September 18, 2017

What Contentment Is Not Opposed To?

1. It is not opposed to a due sense of affliction. God gives His people leave to be sensible of what they suffer. Christ does not say, “Do not count as a cross what is a cross”; He says, “Take up your cross daily” (Luke 9:23).

2. It is not opposed to making in an orderly manner our moan to God and to our friends.

3. It is not opposed to all lawful seeking for help in different circumstances, or to endeavoring simply to be delivered out of present afflictions by the use of lawful means—it is but my duty. God is thus far mercifully indulgent to our weakness, and He will not take it ill at our hands if by earnest and importunate prayer we seek Him for deliverance until we know His good pleasure in the matter. Certainly seeking thus for help with such submission and holy resignation of spirit to be delivered when God wills, as God wills, and how God wills—this is not opposed to the quietness that God requires in a contented spirit.

Adapted from The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment by Jeremiah Burroughs

Music Monday: Each Day I Live by Galkin Evangelistic Team


Lyrics:

Verse 1: In darkness I once walked the road that led to death
And to the world I bowed and gave my every breath
Then to the earth He came to seek and save the lost
But I yelled ‘crucify’ and nailed Him to the cross
Bound by my sin and shame
I call upon His name

Chorus: Each day I live safe in His grace
The King of Kings died in my place
Each day I stand set free from sin
My King is crowned, I live in Him

Verse 2: I see the empty tomb, the sting of death undone
My broken life is gone, I’m risen in the Son
A slave of righteousness, no longer bound by sin
I give up all I have, to serve the Servant King
One with the crucified
For by His death I died

Verse 3: And then the day will come, we’ll see our risen Lord
In all His majesty, and we will be restored
In robes of righteousness we’ll stand
before His throne
Our hope at last unveiled, adopted as His own
One with the risen King
For evermore we’ll sing:

Alternate Chorus: Each day we live safe in His grace
The King of Kings died in our place
Each day we stand set free from sin
Our King is crowned we’ll live with Him

Thursday, September 14, 2017

The Forensic Nature of the Gospel

The forensic nature of justification is that sinners are declared righteous before God. This is a legal act, a verdict handed down by the courts of heaven. Whereas the sinner has nothing in which to boast—no inherent righteousness, nothing to offer, nothing that will please God (cf. Rom. 3:10-18; Isa. 64:6, etc.)—God pardons the sinner, thus treating them as though they are righteous, even though they are unrighteous. In truth, God cannot and will not declare a person righteous by their own merits because it would be a supreme act of injustice! As we’ve seen, apart from God, humans are terrible law-breakers, unregenerate wretches, sons of disobedience, spiritually dead. No human judge would let a mass murderer go free simply because he paid his taxes on time! In the same way, God will not overlook our trespasses and sins on the basis of our religious activities or our good deeds. He declares, “by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight” (Rom. 3:20). Rather, justification is “a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus” (v. 24). Jesus tells the parable of two men, a Pharisee and a tax-collector, who come to worship God in the temple.

The Pharisee boasts about his ability to keep God’s Law and accomplish a righteousness on his own. But the tax-collector, ashamed of his sin, has all he can do to beg the Lord, “Be merciful to me, the sinner!” Jesus declares, “I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other” (Luke 18:13-14). While the Lord sits as judge, exercising His decrees, there is a part to be played for those who would be justified. The key element in salvation and justification is faith. According to Hebrews 11:1, faith is “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Paul makes note of the faith of Abraham, “being fully assured that what [God] had promised, He was able also to perform” (Rom. 4:21). It’s not what we call “blind faith,” rather, it is confident belief in the promises of God, and in His ability to keep them. And the Bible says that faith is the active agent at work; it is the key that opens the lock. We are justified by faith in Jesus Christ (Rom. 3:28; 5:1; Gal. 3:11, 24), and not by our own efforts to justify ourselves. Even as far back as Genesis 15:6, we see Abraham who “believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” Luther writes: “Wherefore it ought to be the first concern of every Christian to lay aside confidence in works and increasingly to strengthen faith alone and through faith to grow in the knowledge, not of works, but of Christ Jesus, who suffered and rose for him.”8 Sinners are not saved by works, rather, “by grace [we] have been saved through faith” (Eph. 2:8). And God, who is Himself just, is “the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (Rom. 3:26).

Adapted from Why We're Protestant by Nate Pickowicz

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

The Focus of the Gospel is Jesus Christ

In Galatians 2, the apostle Paul recounts an episode which occurred between him and the apostle Peter. He notes that “when Cephas [Peter] came to Antioch,” Paul confronted him publicly (v. 11). But, what would cause two apostles to square off? What issue could be so dire? He notes in verse 14, that it was a critical issue; an issue pertaining to “the truth of the gospel.” There was great confusion, and Peter was at the center of the dilemma. A delegation of Jewish leaders had come from Jerusalem. It is believed that the delegation was made up of Judaizers—those who maintained that salvation consisted of more than simply faith in Jesus Christ, but also strict adherence to Mosaic rituals and regulations. Further, these Jewish legalists would no doubt have held onto the practice of strict separation from all non-Jews, as they had done for many years. Their arrival in Antioch caused great fear in Peter (v. 12), because he, along with other Jewish Christians, had embraced the Gentile Christians as brothers and sisters in the Lord. In response to the arrival of the Jewish delegation, Peter began to withdraw from fellowship with the Gentiles. In fact, the majority of Jews in Antioch followed his lead, and began to separate.

This effectively created the illusion of a two-class division: the Jewish Christians being the more spiritual; the Gentile Christians being less spiritual. When Paul heard about it, he was furious. Immediately, he recognized the behavior as hypocrisy (v. 13), and took action against the ring leader, Peter. Paul notes that this self-imposed separation created confusion, as it muddied the waters with regards to the gospel. Peter was, in effect, preaching another gospel (cf. Gal. 1:8-9), and Paul confronts him “because he stood condemned” (v. 11). Paul poses the question, “If you, being a Jew, live like the Gentiles and not like the Jews, how is it that you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?” (v. 14).

In other words, the Jewish Christians had been experiencing the benefits of Christian liberty, not adhering to the minutiae of the Mosaic law. Essentially, they were now living like the Gentiles. But upon the arrival of the Judaizers, Peter effectively reversed his stance, separating from the Gentiles specifically because they were not obeying Mosaic law. He was now placing a burden of law-keeping on them that he himself had been freed from through the redeeming work of Christ, along with the rest of the Christian fellowship. And Paul calls it like it is: hypocrisy. He presses Peter on “the truth of the gospel,” reminding him of the most essential truth—a truth that Peter no doubt knew very well—“that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus” (v. 16). In fact, in order to emphasize his point, he restates the phrase two more times: “even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we may be justified by faith in Christ, and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law shall no flesh be justified.” Thankfully, we know that Peter repented, and the truth of the gospel was upheld. The notion that people are justified by faith apart from works is prevalent in the New Testament, but it would need to be rescued from a thousand years of obscurity, as it is the focal point of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Adapted from Why We're Protestant by Nate Pickowicz

Monday, September 11, 2017

09-11-2007

On September 11, 2001, our country was attacked by terrorists who hijacked airplanes with the intent to kill thousands. Two hit the World Trade Center, one hit the Pentagon, and the other crash in Pennsylvania. Many on that day were sacred. I remember hearing what happened as my day began thinking the person telling me was kidding when in reality it was not.

I know many of you have your own personal stories that happened on that day. You may have even have lost a friend or someone in your family on that day. For me, September 11th has a more personal touch, but I am not referring to the day in 2001. I am referring to what happened on this day 10 years ago. On the evening of September 11, 2007, as my wife and I were ready to call it an evening, I reached by to my neck and discovered two lumps. I had no idea what was going. I told my wife and she said to call the doctor the next day, which I did. Thankfully, he saw me the next day and referred me to a neck and nose specialist who said it could nothing which we can remove with no long term effects or it could be leukemia.

Two days after my son's birthday, I went in for surgery to have one of the lumps removed for it to be biopsied. I was told we were not expected to get the results for a week. Well, we got them the next day. It turned out I have Hodgkin's Lymphoma, which is a cancer of the lymphoids. I was told over the phone, this is the best cancer to have because it has the best success rate as far as treatment.

I was told I had stage 2 Hodgkin's Lymphoma after a bone marrow biopsy (those do hurt even though you have been given a local anesthetic). I started chemo about a week following the biopsy. I had no idea what was going to happen. I kept thinking who was going to take care of my wife, will my son be mad at God for taking his dad, and who will walk my daughter down the aisle.

After five months of treatment, I had a PET scan where the doctor informed me the cancer was gone. I did one more month of treatment just to be on the safe side. My last chemo treatment was March 28, 2008, which you can tell, that was over nine years ago. I praise God for healing me and continuing to give me good health, but I also praise God for happened to me spiritually after the treatments.

I was questioning if what I believed about God was correct, in others words, was my theology sound. Somehow, by God's providence, I came across a post by Tim Challies that simply said Christians cannot live on Christian Living books alone, which is what I had a majority of in my library. After careful research, I began to listen to different preachers and have read more deep, theological books. By the grace of God, I discovered what I held as good theology was false. For example, I blamed myself for my cancer. I blamed myself for something I did to tick God off. That is what the health and wealth preachers will tell you just like Job's three friends tried to do.

By God's grace, I also discovered Reformed Theology. I started reading John Owen, John MacArthur, John Piper, R.C. Sproul, John Calvin, and more authors that it will take me forever to list. I looked at the Bible more intently than just reading it in a devotional setting. I rejected preachers who I once listened to as well authors I once read. God gave me renewed love for Him and His Word. My family and I grew closer during that time as well.

I do want to say that just because I went through cancer, it doesn't mean I am a super Christian. There is no such thing. I am not perfect nor have been already made perfect. I still struggle in the flesh and have temptations just like any other believer. I am still growing in the grace of Christ while falling flat on my face at the same time.

I share my story, not to get everyone to feel bad for me or think why am I am important. The Bible says to rejoice with those who rejoice. This day reminds me of where God has brought me and the grace He has given me since that day. The Bible also says to weep with those who weep. There are people hurting right now whether from cancer or a natural disaster. We must weep with them and pray from them.

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