Friday, December 26, 2008
A number of years ago, I purchased a record album by Porter Wagoner and the Blackwood Brothers Quartet titled The Grand Old Gospel. I am sure it was the mid 60’s. I can’t put my hands on it at this moment, but I do still have it. It has some pretty good country gospel music some of which I like, especially from those days. I think most of you readers know what a 33 and 1/3 RPM record album is --don’t you? I hope I am not that old! Of course, things change, and since Mr. Wagoner, a long time Grand Ole Opry star, died last year, much more of his work has been issued on CD. Its different than most of today’s country gospel music. Most all music has certainly changed, as many other things over the years. I have said recently how I dislike most contemporary music. Much of it is fleshly, worldly, unbiblical, and I believe it dishonors Christ. This could be said about some of the music of earlier years as well, but not as widespread as it is today.
Sadly, not only the contemporary gospel music is “off base” biblically, but the gospel being preached by many preachers has also changed. It is not “Thus saith the Lord” as we always used to hear, but a watered down substitute for gospel truth. Many churches are more interested in entertainment than truth. Often, the great plan is to have a “social club” where everyone is always happy. The problem is that God did not give us His word solely to make us happy. He gave His word to heal us. To teach us. To convict us of sin. Yes, even to make us sad at times. The medicine has been so diluted by many “ministers” that it cures nothing. There is a famine in our land for the pure word of God, as was foretold“Truth has fallen in the street and equity (uprightness) cannot enter”(Isaiah 59:14). “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD”(Amos 8:11). No wonder America is in such poor shape today. There is a new gospel today that has no power. Many professing Christians have “a form of godliness but deny the power thereof” (see 2 Timothy 3:5).
This is the main reason I placed the following introduction on my blogs:“He must increase, I must decrease” (John 3:30). “I am 66 years old, and my desire is to serve God the rest of my days, preaching the old evangelical gospel that Paul and Peter preached, that Calvin preached, that Whitefield preached, that Spurgeon preached, and that Isaac Watts wrote about in his hymns.” This old gospel is not being preached in very many churches today. It has been replaced by a modern imitation. Many would say that we who contend for “the faith that was once delivered to the saints” are “old fuddy-duddies” -- not “with it” -- “behind the times“, etc….
Does truth remain the same, or does truth change? “I am the LORD, I change not” (Malachi 3:6). “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, which was, and which is to come, the Almighty” (Revelation 1:8). “Of His own will begat He us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures” (James 1:18). Yes beloved, all truth is God’s truth. Jesus said “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father but by me” (John 14:6). I contend, based on the Bible, that what was truth 2000 years ago or 1,000,000 years ago is truth today. I must preach the truth, which is Jesus Christ. He is the truth.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Verily, thou art a God that hidest thyself, O God of Israel, the Saviour.” (Isaiah 45:15).
The ancient Turks built their temples open at the top as a testimony to their belief that God could not be confined in them. Those structures were just too small. When King Solomon considered the glorious temple that he would build for God, he asked, “But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, the heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house that I have builded.” (1 Kings 8:27). Then we hear God’s own sizing up of Himself in Isaiah’s prophecy: “Thus saith the LORD, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? And where is the place of my rest?” (Isaiah 66:1). Standing before this truth of the bigness of God, with eyes bulging like a kid in a candy shop, Thomas Watson rejoiced, saying, “If God be infinite, filling heaven and earth, see what a full portion the saints have!” Jacob saw that he had the infinite God for his portion, and in Genesis 33:11 declared, “I have enough!” The saint’s cups runneth over with God!
The astronomer’s professional view and best calculation of space is that it is immeasurably endless. Many refer to the outer spaces as “the final frontier.” The Christian believes there is something beyond the stars-- their eternal home, and Someone bigger than all the stars, the One who created them. To them, God is their Final Frontier, and the Christian is a happy explorer on an eternal quest to chart the regions of Divinity. The ultimate adventure is to be a spiritual Galileo, peeking through the lens of God’s inspired written biography, the eyes bulging from their sockets as the Holy Spirit at the control of the focus, bit-by-bit, brings small pieces of truth, (tiny morsels that such an one as we struggling creatures can digest at a time), truths of an infinite God before their excited eyes. O how this explodes the adrenalin and demands a closer look with more careful consideration!
The recent death of the Crocodile Hunter comes to mind. The outstanding quality of his character that seemed to stand out most in the minds of them who observed him was his passionate enthusiasm as he encountered, and interacted with animals and nature. It has been said that he died doing the thing that he loved the most. Should not this be the description of every true believer as they experience their close encounters and examinations of the great God of the universe? Should it not be said of each one who explores Divinity, “His quest for God was so passionately displayed in his life until the day he died doing the thing that he loved the most!”
There are two extremes that many professing believers have fallen captive to: emotionalism that entertains rather than worships, and motionless-ism that lullabies rather than stirs. Genuine and honest God-quests that result in revelations of God in His Word by the Holy Spirit, moves the seeker to worship and not to slumber.
How Big Is God?
He is too big to be contained between the covers of the Bible. The Bible tells us some things but not everything about God. As we behold God, in the general sense, through His amazing creation which He wrought by His powerful spoken word, it is like watching those aforementioned stars without telescopic aid. We then turn to His written Word and behold Him by special revelation sufficient to save. Watching stars without a telescope answers a few questions we may have. Watching the stars with a telescope answers many more questions, but also brings a multitude of other stars into the picture generating even more questions. After the explorer has reached his journey’s end upon planet earth, his effort of exploration will continue in heaven throughout eternity, never reaching an end as the study of God goes on (Ephesians 2:7). The Christian is a perpetual student, the Holy Spirit is the expert Teacher, the Bible is the only reliable textbook, and God is the endless subject.
How Big Is God?
He is too big to be explained. In Romans 11:33, the Apostle Paul was examining and declaring God. Suddenly, this, the mightiest man of revelations who has ever lived, cried out, “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out.” Paul here realizes that he is in over his head, his feet are not touching bottom, he is treading water! This prince of all preachers understood that his task to proclaim God was above and beyond his ability. God has actually called men to do the impossible; but do it they must! How can men explain the unexplainable, tell the untellable, describe the indescribable? The wonder of it all is that though God cannot be sufficiently explained, yet He can be gloriously experienced and thoroughly enjoyed. Vance Havner used to say, “I can’t explain electricity, but I’m not going to sit around in the dark till I can.”
How Big Is God?
He is too big that one could find a place to hide from Him. “Whither shall I go from thy spirit? Or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand hold me. If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me.” (Psalms 119:7-11). God inhabits all places at all times, thus every soul walks corum deo- in the presence of God, before the face of God, under the eye of God.
These former observations having been considered, yet we must understand that, while no man can hide from the omnipresent One, God can yet hide from men. As a matter of fact, He remains invisible, inaudible, and undetectable until He chooses to make Himself known to any soul. “Verily thou art a God that hidest thyself, O God of Israel, the Saviour.” (Isaiah 45:15). God is hidden to the fallen sinner until He is pleased to reveal Himself to the saving of his soul. That revelation will never come apart from Jesus Christ, “Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature.” (Colossians 1:15). “No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.” (John.1:18). The big, one and only, true and living God, can and will go unobserved and concealed from sight until the day of the sinner’s salvation, or his damnation, which ever comes first! Thereby will God be seen in the face of Jesus Christ, His only begotten Son, who is both Savior and Judge (Acts 4:12; 17:31).
Friday, December 05, 2008
"For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord" (Luke 2:11). What glorious words these were, heralded by "the angel of the Lord" to those Judean shepherds some two thousand years ago! There are many today who can quote this verse about Christ's birth, yet how few there are who really know what it means. Do you really know the purpose for the Lord Jesus Christ coming into this world? Well, the text tells us in no uncertain terms just why Jesus was born -- He came as "a Saviour."
WHY WE NEED A SAVIOUR
Most people are totally unaware that they need Christ to save them. "Saved from what?,” many in the world boastfully ask. It is a good question, and needs answering clearly. We need to be saved because by nature, by choice, and by practice we are sinners in the sight of a holy God. Scripture repeatedly affirms this:
"They have all turned aside, they have together become corrupt; there is none who does good, no, not one" (Psalm 14:3). "Truly every man at his best state is altogether vanity" (Psalm 39:5). "Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity; and in sin my mother conceived me" (Psalm 51:5). "For there is not a just man on earth who does good and does not sin" (Ecclesiastes 7:20). "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?" (Jeremiah 17:9).
These inspired verses plainly declare man's total depravity (corruption) before the Most High God. Even though you may think you are essentially good, it is not so. "There is none righteous, no, not one; there is none who seeks after God. There is none who does good, no, not one" (Romans 3:10-12). We must believe God's verdict against the entire human race, confessing that we are by nature nothing but "wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores" (Isaiah 1:6), and that we deserve only "wrath" and "the righteous judgment of God" (Romans 2:5). Eternal destruction awaits all the impenitent (Matthew 5:22; 25:41,46). And for this reason Christ Jesus came, for "Jesus" means "Saviour," for the work of Christ actually does "save his people from their sins" (Matthew 1:21), thus all of God's elect are saved from God's holy wrath (Romans 5:9).
HOW THE SAVIOUR SAVES US
You are not here being informed what you must do to save yourself. No such God-dishonoring advice will be given here! "Salvation is of the Lord" (Jonah 2:9), both in its origin and completion, in its conception and accomplishment. Men do not do their part to help Jesus save them. Our Lord Jesus Christ is the only Saviour of sinners! We do not in any sense add to His substitutionary work (2 Corinthians 5:21). If He does not save you, you will be eternally lost! But the blood of Christ shed at Calvary actually redeems every single one of those given to Him in covenant by His Father. "I have finished the work which you have given me to do," prayed our great Redeemer (John 17:4). And we are "redeemed" to God "with the precious blood of Christ" (I Peter 1:18-20; 3:18).
Yes, God the Father elected a people (Ephesians 1:4; 2 Thessalonians 2:13), God the Son redeemed that same number (John 10:14-16; 17:2, 9-10, 19-20), and God the Holy Spirit invincibly and effectually calls each one of them (and no more) to experientially partake of this salvation, by His quickening and regenerating power (John 3:3-8; 6:37, 44, 63, 65; Titus 3:5). We willingly and gladly repent of our sins and believe on Christ after regeneration, for then we have a nature capable of performing these spiritual acts, which the natural man does not have. Repentance and faith are both gifts or graces of the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:31; 11:18; Ephesians 2:8-10; Philippians 2:13). "And how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God" (I Thessalonians 1:9).
Man is fallen and sinful, but God is free and sovereign. No fallen creature can save himself or help save himself. "Salvation belongs unto the Lord. Your blessing is upon your people" (Psalm 3:8). Man does not earn salvation, but is simply the recipient of it, by sovereign love, sovereign mercy, and sovereign grace. "So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy" (Romans 9:16). That spells sovereignty! God is absolutely sovereign in salvation.
WHAT A SAVIOUR IS KING JESUS
The Lord of life and glory came to this earth as a Babe to Bethlehem's manger. He lived a perfect and sinless life, magnified and honored God's holy law in every detail, then died a substitutionary death for His sheep (Isaiah 53:6), was buried, rose again the third day (1 Corinthians 15:3-4), ascended back to heaven, and now intercedes for His own (Hebrews 7:25). At an appointed day and hour (known only to God, Matthew 24:36), "this same Jesus" (Acts 1:11) will return to this earth "with power and great glory" (Matthew 24:30), for He is even now "King of kings, and Lord of lords" (I Timothy 1:17; 6:15; 19:16).
Truly, the Bible only knows of one Saviour, the One announced to the shepherds long ago (Luke 2:11). Notice that this "Saviour" is "Christ the Lord." The Saviourhood of Christ is never to be separated from His Lordship. He saves because He has power to save (Isaiah 63:1), and because He is God (Titus 3:4, "God our Saviour," and 3:6, "Jesus Christ our Saviour"). No less than twenty-four times does the New Testament denominate Christ as "Saviour." If He saves, and He alone, then certainly He is to have all the praise! "Worthy is the Lamb" (Revelation 5:9-14), not "worthy is the will of man," or "worthy is the creature." Many sing, "Jesus Saves," but really don't believe it!
We were lost, but Christ finds us (Luke 15:3-7). We were dead, but King Jesus gives us life (John 5:21, Ephesians 2:1,5). We were blind, but the Lord gives us sight and light (2 Corinthians 4:4-6). "For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost" (Luke 19:10). Christ came not "to seek to save" or to save those who "seek" Him, but to actually "seek and save" His people, "lost" in Adam's fall. Oh poor sinners, trust Him, look to Him, and to Him only, for "None but Jesus, none but Jesus, can do helpless sinners good."
"Man of sorrows," what a name! For the Son of God who came! Ruined sinners to reclaim! Hallelujah! What a Saviour!