Friday, December 31, 2010

I SURE CANNOT

The God I worship saves. He does not merely "offer" salvation and leave it up to the "guilty sinner" to make the difference.  If Scripture does not convince you of grace, then I sure cannot improve on Scripture; If the Holy Spirit does not give you a humble heart, then I sure cannot do the work of the Holy Spirit.


The God I worship saves; He does not command repentance, leaving it up to the guilty sinner to make the difference. If Scripture does not convince you of grace, then I sure cannot improve on Scripture; If the Holy Spirit does not give you a humble heart, then I sure cannot do the work of the Holy Spirit.
 

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

UNITY AND PURITY

‎"But Jesus does not just pray for the unity of the Church. He prays for the purity of the Church."

--Dr. R.C. Sproul (Quoted from Onward Christian Soldier pg 212)

ALL BUT DEMIGODS

2. WITHOUT KNOWLEDGE OF GOD THERE IS NOKNOWLEDGE OF SELF



Again, it is certain that man never achieves a clear knowledge of himself unless he has first looked upon God’s face, and then descends from contemplating him to scrutinize himself. For we always seem too  urselves righteous and upright and wise and holy — this pride is innate inall of us — unless by clear proofs we stand convinced of our ownunrighteousness, foulness, folly, and impurity. Moreover, we are not thus convinced if we look merely to ourselves and not also to the Lord, who is the sole standard by which this judgment must be measured. For, because all of us are inclined by nature to hypocrisy, a kind of empty image of  righteousness in place of righteousness itself abundantly satisfies us. And because nothing appears within or around us that has not been contaminated by great immorality, what is a little less vile pleases us as a thing most pure — so long as we confine our minds within the limits of human corruption. Just so, an eye to which nothing is shown but black objects judges something dirty white or even rather darkly mottled to be whiteness itself.
 
Indeed, we can discern still more clearly from the bodily senses how much we are deluded in estimating the powers of the soul. For if in broad daylight we either look down upon the ground or survey whatever meets our view round about, we seem to ourselves endowed with the strongest and keenest sight; yet when we look up to the sun andgaze straight at it, that power of sight which was particularly strong on earth is at once blunted and confused by a great brilliance, and thus we are compelled to admit that our keenness in looking upon things earthly is sheer dullness when it comes to the sun. So it happens in estimating our spiritual goods. As long as we do not look beyond the earth, being quite content with our own righteousness, wisdom, and virtue, we flatter ourselves most sweetly, and fancy ourselves all but demigods.
 
Suppose we but once begin to raise our thoughts to God, and to ponder his nature, and how completely perfect are his righteousness, wisdom, and power —the straight edge to which we must be shaped. Then, what masquerading earlier as righteousness was pleasing in us will soon grow filthy in its consummate wickedness. What wonderfully impressed us under the name of  wisdom will stink in its very foolishness. What wore the face of power will prove itself the most miserable weakness. That is, what in us seems perfection itself corresponds ill to the purity of God.
 
-- John Calvin, Institutes.  B.1. C.1. page 83

100 PERCENT FIELD GOAL

What would you say of a basketball player who made EVERY SINGLE free throw, three pointer, layup, field goal, point he attempted to make? Wilt Chamberlin has the best yearly field goal of 73%, but that was for only one season. The best lifetime percentage is 60%. What about someone who attempts 1 billion shots and makes all 1 billion without fail.

THE LATTER IS THE GOSPEL

Either your Christianity will focus primarily on what you do and the power of your choices and will or else it will focus on what Christ has already done for you. The former is humanism, the latter is the Gospel. ~ Andrew Taylor

Monday, December 27, 2010

THE CONVINCER

The convincer and convicter of men is the Holy Spirit, who may use us as His vessels, but never as His substitute-- not even men so spiritually advanced as I may think myself to be may presume to do His work for Him. His office, permanently filled, is not to be usurped by even the most righteous of believers-- Al Hartman.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

HEART OF STONE

You may heat a stone if you thrust it into the fire, but for how short a time will it retain its heat; and though it glowed just now, how very soon it loses all its warmth and returns again to its native coldness. Such is the heart of man. You may think you have heated it under a powerful exhortation, or in presence of a solemn judgment, but how soon it returns to its natural state!

C. H. SPURGEON

Saturday, December 25, 2010

JOHN NEWTON ON INDWELLING SIN

Quotes from The Letters of John Newton - Indwelling Sin and the Believer


Though sin wars in us — it shall not reign in us. And though it breaks our peace — it cannot separate from his love. Nor is it inconsistent with his holiness, and perfection, to manifest his favor to such poor defiled creatures, or to admit them to communion with himself; for they are not considered as in themselves — but as one with Jesus, to whom they have fled for refuge, and by whom they live a life of faith.
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His power is displayed — in maintaining his own work in the midst of so much opposition, like a spark burning in the water, or a bush unconsumed in the flames.
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They dare not, they will not ascribe anything to themselves — but are glad to acknowledge, that they must have perished a thousand times over — if Jesus had not been their Savior, their Shepherd, and their Shield!
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Whoever is truly humbled — will not be easily angry, nor harsh or critical of others. He will be compassionate and tender to the infirmities of his fellow-sinners, knowing that if there is a difference — it is grace alone which has made it! He knows that he has the seeds of every evil in his own heart. And under all trials and afflictions — he will look to the hand of the Lord, and lay his mouth in the dust, acknowledging that he suffers much less than his iniquities have deserved.


Quotes from The Letters of John Newton - Indwelling Sin and the Believer

John Owen Christologia Preface

JOHN OWEN:   CHRISTOLOGIA

OR  A DECLARATION OF THE GLORIOUS MYSTERY  OF  THE PERSON OF CHRIST — GOD AND MAN:


In his preface writes....

Unto them that believe unto the saving of the soul, he (Jesus) is, he always has

been, precious — the sun, the rock, the life, the bread of their souls —

every thing that is good, useful, amiable, desirable, here or unto eternity.

In, from, and by him, is all their spiritual and eternal life, light, power,

growth, consolation, and joy here; with everlasting salvation hereafter. By

him alone do they desire, expect, and obtain deliverance from that woeful

apostasy from God, which is accompanied with — which containeth in it

virtually and meritoriously whatever is evil, noxious, and destructive unto

our nature, and which, without relief, will issue in eternal misery. By him

are they brought into the nearest cognation, alliance, and friendship with

God, the firmest union unto him, and the most holy communion with him,

that our finite natures are capable of, and so conducted unto the eternal

enjoyment of him. For in him “shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and

shall glory;” (Isaiah 45:25;) for “Israel shall be saved in the Lord with an

everlasting salvation;” they “shall not be ashamed nor confounded, world

without end:” verse 17.

On these and the like accounts, the principal design of their whole lives

unto whom he is thus precious, is to acquaint themselves with him — the

mystery of the wisdom, grace, and love of God, in his person and

mediation, as revealed unto us in the Scripture, which is “life eternal;”

(John 17:3;) — to trust in him, and unto him, as to all the everlasting

concernments of their souls — to love and honor him with all their hearts

— to endeavor after conformity to him, in all those characters of divine

goodness and holiness which are represented unto them in him. In these

things consist the soul, life, power, beauty, and efficacy of the Christian

religion; without which, whatever outward ornaments may be put upon its

exercise, it is but a useless, lifeless carcass. The whole of this design is

expressed in these heavenly words of the apostle: (Philippians 3:8-12:)

“Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of

the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered

the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win

Christ, and be found in him, not having mine own righteousness,

which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ,

the righteousness which is of God by faith: that I may know him,

and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his

sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; if by any means

I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. Not as though I had

already attained, either were already perfect; but I follow after, if

that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of

Christ Jesus.”

This is a divine expression of that frame of heart of that design — which is

predominant and efficacious in them unto whom Christ is precious

TIED MY REBELLIOUS IGNORANT LEGS TOGETHER

My God is a robust Savior, He is not a weak willed confused being with no real power except that which His subjects willingly surrender. All throughout scripture He is shown majestic and holy, glorious and triumphant able to do all that He wills without limitation. Notice when the angel speaks of Him in Matthew 1:21 he says, "...He WILL save HIS people from their sins."

It isn't Mary's obediance we should herald this day, nor the willingness of any of His creatures.

He busted through the door of my stoney heart and wrestled me to the ground like a lost sheep then tied my rebellious ignorant legs together, ...threw me over His shoulders and will carry me all the way home. This God my friends is mighty to save and worthy of my worship, forever and ever and ever! (emphasis mine, my favorite part, thanks Tim!)

May the Christ child be celebrated today as not the great enabler but King! His last words... "It is finished".



-- Tim Haufler

NOT THY FAITH

‎"It is not thy hold on Christ that saves thee; it is Christ. It is not thy joy in Christ that saves thee; it is Christ. It is not even thy faith in Christ, though that be the instrument; it is Christ’s blood and merit."

- Charles H. Spurgeon

Friday, December 24, 2010

DARKER FOULER

Let the Stable Still Astonish

Let the Stable still astonish:
Straw -- dirt floor, dull eyes,
Dusty flanks of donkeys, oxen;
Crumbling, crooked walls;
No bed to carry that pain,
And then, the child,
Rag-wrapped, laid to cry
In a trough.
Who would have chosen this?
Who would have said: “Yes,
Let the God of all the heavens
and earth
Be born here, in this place”?
Who but the same God
Who stands in the darker, fouler
rooms
of our hearts
and says, “Yes,
let the God of Heaven and Earth
be born here --
in this place.”
Leslie Leyland Fields

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

SECRET TO ACCOMPLISH

the duties God requires of us are not in proportion to the strength we possess in ourselves. Rather, they are proportional to the resources available to us in Christ. We do not have the ability in ourselves to accomplish the least of God’s tasks. This is a law of grace. When we recognize it is impossible to perform a duty in our own strength, we will discover the secret of its accomplishment. But alas, this is a secret we often fail to discover.

--John Owen

Monday, December 20, 2010

DESIGNED FOR GOD

Tomato Sauce was designed for Lasagna, Spaghetti, and Pizza...not for painting walls, staining furniture, or cleaning clothes; Likewise Music was designed for God's Glory and God's Pleasure...not for the secular world to make money, become famous, and entertain themselves; what waste and misuse of a gift.

REJOICE IN THE LORD

My Joy is not based on sinners.

My Joy is not based on sinners, whether it be other sinners, or my old nature considered dead.

It is not based on my performance as it relates to intellectual progress, athletic progress, financial progress, ministry exposure, ministry reception.

My Joy IS based on the Sovereign, the Savior;

My Joy IS based on...

who HE is: Fully God, Fully Man, King, Messiah, Sovereign, Savoir, Lion, Lamb.

what HE has accomplished: incarnate, life, cross, death, burial, resurrection, ascension, enthronement.

what HE has accomplished: redemption, atonement, propitiation, preservation of His Bride.

where HE is: at the right hand of the Father, in glory, with adoration and exultation.

what HE has promised: to return, to rescue, to restore, to reign, to vindicate His Holiness, Righteousness, Glory, Name.

that He is...... who He is......without me, my contribution, my effort, my intentions, my zeal, my tears.

Circumstances change, Christ does not.

Rejoice in the Lord always....and I again I say, Rejoice IN THE LORD.

Friday, December 17, 2010

THE ONLY WAY

One thinks he could serve God much better if he were more prospered temporally...another if only he could have more society and Christian fellowship. But, my reader, the only way to serve God better is to be content with the place in which He has put you, and therein get a better heart!

~AW Pink

A TRUE PURITAN

A true Puritan is one whose heart is warmed by the Lord's sweet communion,
whose esteem is bent to the ground, facedown in His awesome presence,
whose mind is captured by the words of the Word Incarnate,
whose will succumbs to the sovereignty of God Almighty,
whose bones burn with the fire of the Holy Spirit,
whose desires are inflamed with the pleasures of the Great I Am,
who knows that he is yet incomplete, wretched, undeserving, unworthy, still persevering, still longing, still in dire need of His tender mercies and steadfast love.

A true Puritan doesn't yet know that indeed he is one.

– A Reformed sister in India, who wishes to remain anonymous.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

OBJECT LESSON

When asked to give examples of sin, one little boy raised his hand, when called on, he didnt say a word, he simply slapped the boy next to him on the back of the head. (via Ndivhuwo Rembuluwani)

CONFLICT

‎"You are but a poor soldier of Christ if you think you can overcome without fighting and suppose you can have the crown without conflict."

- John Chrysostom

(Of course the overcoming and crown are from Christ, not our fighting or conflict)

CHRIST HIMSELF

‎"All promises are either Christ himself, or by Christ, or from Christ, or for Christ. All promises that ever were made to God's people, they were either of Christ Himself, when He was promised, or such as were promised for Christ."

- Richard Sibbes

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

CONDITIONS MET

For Tulip-Deniers, Regeneration is not an act of God's Grace, but a reaction of God to the sinners who employed their ability to meet the condition/command of placing faith in Christ; Like their mother-Rome, and cousin-Mormon, grace gets them started, but it is up to them to make the most of God's offer, and in the end it is the sinner's ability to make the difference.

2 Nephil 25:23.....for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do. (throw the term grace around, but redefine it)

NOT BY FORCE OF WILL

May God's grace grant me to become one who can admit his faults, yet persevere to "press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus" (Ph.3:14), not by force of will, but by faith in the grace of Him who called you, who will also faithfully do it (1Th.5:24).

(based on material from Al. H.)

Monday, December 13, 2010

FAILING TO INTEGRATE

There is SO-O-O much Scripture that I have sorely failed to integrate in my worldview...for example...

The Bible says, "The greatest among you shall be your servant." yet in my mind for 10 years I have still held different standards; The Bible does not say...The greatest among you shall be your: apologists, intellect, writer, published au...thor, speaker, prolific reader, greek scholar" and yet I have in some level coveted these goals more than serving; It is almost like what Jesus told to Nicodemus in paraphrase and new application, "You claim to be a Seminary student and pastor of 10 years, and you do not understand this, how shall you understand heavenly things, if you do not understand the basics?"

BETTER FOR THEM

“How sad is their condition that have a knowledge of Christ, and yet as to themselves it had been better they had never had it! Many there be that content themselves with an unpractical, ineffectual, and merely notional knowledge of him; of whom the apostle saith, “It had been better for them not to have known,” 2 Pet. 2: 21. It serves only to aggravate sin and misery; for though it be not enough to save them, yet it puts some weak restraints upon sin, which their impetuous lusts breaking down, exposes them thereby to a greater damnation.”

~ John Flavel

SCRIPTURE SUPPLIES

"The pastor ought to have two voices: one, for gathering the sheep; and another, for warding off and driving away wolves and thieves. The Scripture supplies him with the means of doing both."

~ John Calvin

Saturday, December 11, 2010

OUR BEST CANNOT

[The bad news] is that the best efforts of the best Christians, on the best days, in the best frame of heart and mind, with the best motives fall short of that true righteousness and holiness that God requires. Our best efforts cannot satisfy God's justice.

- Michael Horton

CONSTANT LOOKING

Let your constant motto be, "looking unto Jesus;" looking to Him just as you are; looking unto Him when faith is feeble; looking unto Him when faith is tried; looking unto Him when faith is declining; yes, looking unto Him when you fear you...... have no faith. Look up, tried and tempted soul! Jesus is the Author, the Sustainer, and He will become the Finisher of your faith. All you need is in Him; one glimpse, dim though it be, of His cross, one touch, trembling though it be, of His garment, will lift you from your lowest depths, lighten your heaviest burden, gild your darkest prospect.

~ Octavius Winslow

Friday, December 10, 2010

WE ARE THE ROMAN

We are the Roman Soldier who hurled the whip repeatedly to the bleeding back of Jesus. (Our old nature is; of course in Christ we are a new creation.)

I NEED THEE EVERY HOUR

Scripture is like water and bread. 12 ounces of water/milk and 2 slices of bread at 8 a.m. might last you 2 hours, and your body will be needing more fluid and food (Scripture). The need is based upon the weakness of the body, and meant to picture our constant need of Jesus to be our strength.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

LOOKING UNTO JESUS

- “It is ever the Holy Spirit’s work to turn our eyes away from self to Jesus; but Satan’s work is just the opposite of this, for he is constantly trying to make us regard ourselves instead of Christ. He insinuates, "Your sins are too great for pardon; you have no faith; you do not repent enough; you will never be able to continue to... the end; you have not the joy of his children; you have such a wavering hold of Jesus." All these are thoughts about self, and we shall never find comfort or assurance by looking within.


But the Holy Spirit turns our eyes entirely away from self: he tells us that we are nothing, but that "Christ is all in all." Remember, therefore, it is not thy hold of Christ that saves thee—it is Christ; it is not thy joy in Christ that saves thee—it is Christ; it is not even faith in Christ, though that be the instrument—it is Christ’s blood and merits; therefore, look not so much to thy hand with which thou art grasping Christ, as to Christ; look not to thy hope, but to Jesus, the source of thy hope; look not to thy faith, but to Jesus, the author and finisher of thy faith. We shall never find happiness by looking at our prayers, our doings, or our feelings; it is what Jesus is, not what we are, that gives rest to the soul.


If we would at once overcome Satan and have peace with God, it must be by "looking unto Jesus." Keep thine eye simply on him; let his death, his sufferings, his merits, his glories, his intercession, be fresh upon thy mind; when thou wakest in the morning look to him; when thou liest down at night look to him. Oh! let not thy hopes or fears come between thee and Jesus; follow hard after him, and he will never fail thee.”

~ C.H. Spurgeon

Let your constant motto be, "looking unto Jesus;" looking to Him just as you are; looking unto Him when faith is feeble; looking unto Him when faith is tried; looking unto Him when faith is declining; yes, looking unto Him when you fear you...... have no faith. Look up, tried and tempted soul! Jesus is the Author, the Sustainer, and He will become the Finisher of your faith. All you need is in Him; one glimpse, dim though it be, of His cross, one touch, trembling though it be, of His garment, will lift you from your lowest depths, lighten your heaviest burden, gild your darkest prospect.

~ Octavius Winslow

Saturday, December 4, 2010

DOUBLE IMPUTATION

"Our sins, when laid upon Christ, were yet personally ours, not his; so his righteousness, when put upon us, is yet personally his, not ours."

- John Bunyan

Thursday, December 2, 2010

THE VERY ESSENCE

Arminianism is the very essence of Popery. Christopher Ness of St. John's College, Cambridge, a Puritan divine, in his treatise "An Antidote Against Arminianism," recommended by the great Dr. John Owen, writes...

"As blessed Athanasius sighed out in his day, 'The world is overrun with Arianism; so it is the sad sigh of our present times, the Christian world is overrun, yea, overwhelmed with the flood of Arminianism; which cometh as it were, out of the mouth of the serpent, that he might cause the woman (the Church) to be carried away of the flood thereof.' [Rev. 12.15.]

He quotes Mr. Rous, Master of Eton College, as saying, 'Arminianism is the spawn of Popery, which the warmth of favour may easily turn into frogs of the bottomless pit,' and Dr. Alexander Leighton who calls Arminianism 'the Pope's Benjamin, the last and greatest monster of the man of sin: the elixir of Anti-Christianism; the mystery of the mystery of iniquity; the Pope's cabinet; the very quintessence of equivocation.'"

http://www.truecovenanter.com/gospel/arminianism_another_gospel.html

BAPTISM LINKS

1) A Critical Evaluation Of Paedobaptism: http://www.founders.org/library/welty.html

2) Is Acts 2:39 A Prooftext For Paedobaptism?: http://gavinortlund.wordpress.com/2009/04/14/is-acts-239-a-valid-prooftext-for-paedobaptism/

3) Infant Baptism And Acts 2:39: http://www.sfpulpit.com/2008/03/28/infant-baptism-and-acts-239/

4) Credobaptism And Covenant Theology: http://psalm45publications.com/articles/credo-baptism-and-covenant-theology/

5) The Case For Believer's Baptism: http://www.gregboyd.org/essays/the-case-for-believers-baptism/

6) Why I Believe In The Baptism Of Disciples Alone -- A Credobaptist Apologia: http://www.internetmonk.com/archive/credobaptism

7) Review Of "The Biblical Doctrine Of Infant Baptism" By Pierre Marcel - Reviewed By Fred A. Malone: http://www.founders.org/journal/fj35/reviews.html#marcel

8) Infant Baptism And Acts 15:1-29: http://www.sfpulpit.com/2008/03/31/infant-baptism-and-acts-151%E2%80%9329/

9) Infant Baptism And The Doctrine Of Divine Adoption: http://expositorythoughts.wordpress.com/2008/03/13/infant-baptism-and-the-doctrine-of-divine-adoption/

10) A Reformed Baptist View Of I Cor. 7:14: http://www.eng.auburn.edu/~sjreeves/personal/1cor.html

11) Infant Baptism And The Regulative Principle Of Worship: http://www.founders.org/journal/fj35/article1.html

12) Baptism And Covenant Theology: http://www.reformedreader.org/rbb/chantry/bc.htm

13) An Exegetical/Syntactical Exegesis Of Collosians 2:11-12: http://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&q=cache:KLqjqtEryFgJ:www.reformedreader.org/RBTRII.1.Col.2.Barcellos.RPM.doc+Richard+Barcellos+Colossians+2:11&hl=en&gl=us&pid=bl&srcid=ADGEESjRrfr_WrJqKGvTREfdDGl5Kh6Z3JPsL6LDBCZ-pAzpiNoKhU2f0Mp6yn4JDzfzgklSv9QkdRj1GYNgeKVFIV0WX9Tvd149otzXqxabPXIhkW_wJW0QVuTcSYzsjgDota2CX73k&sig=AHIEtbRlMLWIoQ-qQDuW42R4zDxQor817A

14) More Links On The Subject: http://www.reformedontheweb.com/baptismaldebates.htm

SBC STATS

http://www.worldviewweekend.com/worldview-times/article.php?articleid=832
Southern Baptists, an Unregenerate Denomination (Part 1)

by Jim Elliff

"How are you doing?"
"Pretty well, under the circumstances."
"What are the circumstances?"
"Well, I have a very effective arm. It moves with quite a bit of animation. But then I have my bad leg."
"What's wrong with it?"
"I guess it's paralyzed. At least it doesn't do much except twitch once a week or so. But that's nothing compared with the rest of me."
"What's the problem?
"From all appearances, the rest is dead. At least it stinks and bits of flesh are always falling off. I keep it well covered. About all that's left beyond that is my mouth, which fortunately works just fine. How about you?"

Like the unfortunate person above, the Southern Baptist Convention has a name that it is alive, but is in fact, mostly dead (Rev. 3:1). Regardless of the wonderful advances in our commitment to the Bible, the recovery of our seminaries, etc., a closer look reveals a denomination that is more like a corpse than a fit athlete. In an unusual way, our understanding of this awful reality provides the most exciting prospects for the future-if we will act decisively.

The Facts
Although the Southern Baptists claim 16,287,494 members, on average only 6,024,289 people (guests and non-member children included), a number equal to only 37% of the membership number, show up for their church's primary worship meeting (usually Sunday morning). This is according to the Strategic Information and Planning department of the Sunday School Board (2004 statistics). If your church is anything like normal, and is not brand new, your statistics are probably similar. In other words, if you have 200 in attendance on Sunday morning, you likely have 500-600 or even more on your roll. Many churches have an even worse record.

Discerning who among us is regenerate is not an exact science, but a closer look at these numbers will at least alert us to the fact that most Southern Baptists must certainly be dead spiritually. That is so, unless, of course, you claim that there is no difference between a believer and a non-believer.

In the average church you can cut the 37% Sunday morning attendance by about two-thirds or more when counting those interested in a Sunday evening service, or other gatherings held in addition to the principal meeting of the church. In 1996, the last time the SBC kept these statistics, the number of Sunday evening attenders was equal to only 12.3% of the membership (in churches that had an evening meeting). One might ask what makes us claim that the rest are Christians, if they involve themselves with God's people only on such a minimal, surface level? How are they any different from the people who attend the liberal church down the street-the "church" where the gospel is not even preached?

And remember that the numbers of those attending include many non-member children and guests, often making up a third of the congregation's main meeting attendance. When all factors are considered, these figures suggest that nearly 90% of Southern Baptist church members appear to be little different from the "cultural Christians" who populate other mainline denominations.

To make matters worse, we tell a lot more people that they are true Christians (because they prayed a prayer sincerely) than we can convince to be baptized. Our largest pizza supper may bring in a hundred new "converts," but we will likely get only a few of those on the roll. After that, the percentages that I have been mentioning kick in. In other words, if you compare all who we say have become Christians through our evangelistic efforts, to those who actually show signs of being regenerate, we should be red-faced. In the Assembly of God's 1990s "Decade of Harvest," out of the 3.5 million supposedly converted, they showed a net gain of only 5 new attenders for every 100 recorded professions. When one considers all of our supposed converts, including those who refuse to follow Christ in baptism and who never join our churches, our numbers are much the same. Doesn't anybody see that there is a serious problem here?

Let me illustrate in rounded figures by looking at some of the churches where I have preached as a guest speaker. Each could be any Baptist church in any city. In one church, with 7,000 on the active roll, there were only 2000 in attendance on Sunday morning, and a mere 600-700 on Sunday evening. When you account for those attenders who are not members of this flagship church (i.e. guests and non-member children), you have about 1500 actual members coming in the morning and 500 or so in the evening. Where are the 5,500 members who are missing on Sunday mornings? Where are the 6,500 who are missing in the evening?

Another church had 2,100 on the roll, with 725 coming on Sunday morning. Remove guests and non-member children and the figure drops to 600 or less. Only about a third of that number came out on Sunday evening, representing less than 10% of the membership. Yet another church had 310 on the roll with only 100 who attended on Sunday morning. Only 30-35, or approximately 10%, came to the evening worship service.

These are all considered fine churches. All have an extremely competent level of leadership and vision. Some shut-ins and those who are sick, out of town, or in the military, certainly affect the figures a little. But those who are justifiably absent are not enough to alter the bleakness of the picture, especially when we remember that these numbers represent people who have been baptized and have publicly declared their allegiance to God and the Body of Christ. Even if you generously grant that the 37% are all true believers (an estimation that most pastors would say is way off the mark), one still has a church membership that is more dead than alive. If we are honest, we might have to ask ourselves, "Do Southern Baptists believe in a regenerate membership?"

Missing Christians are No Christians
What do these facts and figures, as general as they are, suggest? First, they reveal that most of the people on our rolls give little evidence that they love the brethren-a clear sign of being unregenerate (1 Jn. 3:14). It is impossible to believe that anything like real familial affection exists in the hearts of people who do not come at all, or who only nominally check in on Sunday morning as a cultural exercise. Love is the greatest mark of a genuine believer (1 Jn.3:14-19). Attendance alone does not guarantee that anyone is an authentic believer, but "forsaking the assembling," is a serious sign of the unregenerate heart. The phrase: "They went out from us, because they were never of us" (1 Jn. 2:19) may have doctrinal overtones, but it nonetheless represents many on our membership rolls.

Second, these numbers suggest that most of those who do not attend (or who only come when it is convenient), are more interested in themselves than God. To put it in Paul's words, they are "fleshly-minded" and not "spiritually-minded" (Rom. 8: 5-9). The atmosphere that most pleases them is that of the world and not God. They can stand as much of God as makes them feel better about themselves, and they find a certain carnal security in "belonging" to a local church. But beyond that, they will politely resist getting involved. They use the church, but are not really a part of it. For some, the extent of what they can take is an Easter service now and then; for others it is an occasional sterile (and somewhat Pharisaical) trip to church on appropriate Sunday mornings as fits into their schedule. But their apathy towards regular and faithful church attendance betrays their true affections. The fact is, you do what you love to do.

Third, the numbers indicate that some people have joined other denominations and our churches have not kept up with their movements-a sign of inadequate pastoral oversight and the built-in deficiencies of the "inactive membership" concept. I'm quite certain Paul never dreamed of "inactive membership." Embarrassingly, some left on the rolls are dead-physically! It goes without saying that a dead person is about as inactive as one could be! But others, though presumably alive physically, have disappeared without a trace. I believe it was our beloved Dr. Roy Fish of SWBTS who said, "Even the FBI could not find some of them." Yet, if we want to claim them as members, we are responsible to keep up with them.

All of these people have "prayed the prayer" and "walked the aisle." All have been told that they are Christians. But for most, old things have not really passed away, and new things have not come. Most are not new creatures in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17). In too many cases, obvious signs of an unregenerate heart can be found, such as bitterness, long-term adultery, fornication, greed, divisiveness, covetousness, etc. These are "professing believers" that the Bible says are deceived. "Do not be deceived" the Bible warns us concerning such people (see 1 Cor.6:9-11; Gal. 5:19-21; 6: 7-8; Eph. 5:5-6; Titus 1:16; 1 Jn. 3:4-10; etc.).

Jesus indicated that there is a good soil that is receptive to the gospel seed so as to produce a fruit-bearing plant, but that the "rocky ground" believer only appears to be saved. The latter shows immediate joy, but soon withers away (Mt. 13:6, 21). This temporary kind of faith (which is not saving faith, see 1 Cor.15:1-2) is rampant among Southern Baptists. In The Baptist Faith and Message we say we believe that saving faith is persistent to the end. We say we believe in the preservation and perseverance of the saints (once saved, always persevering). In other words, if a person's faith does not persevere, then what he possessed was something other than saving faith.

In John 2:23-25 Jesus was the center-piece for what turned out to be a mass evangelism experience in which a large number of people "believed" in Him. Yet He did not entrust Himself to even one of them because "he knew their hearts." Is it possible that we have taken in millions of such "unrepenting believers" whose hearts have not been changed? I say that we have. Our denomination, as much as we may love it, is on the main, unregenerate. Even if you double, triple, or quadruple my assessment of how many are true believers, we still have a gigantic problem. It is naive to believe otherwise.

There are those who would say that such people are "carnal Christians" and don't deserve to be thought of as unregenerate. It is true that the Corinthian believers (about whom this phrase was used; see 1 Cor. 3:1-3) acted "like mere men" in their party spirit. Christians can commit any sin short of that which is unpardonable.

Undoubtedly, however, Paul did suspect that some of the Corinthians were unbelievers, for he later warns them about such a possibility in 2 Cor.12:20-13:5. A long-term and unrepentant state of carnality, is, after all, the very description of the unregenerate (Rom. 8:5-14, 1 Jn. 3:4-10, etc.). In calling some people "carnal" Paul did not mean to imply that he was accepting as Christian a lifestyle that he clearly describes elsewhere as unbelieving. He wrote, in the same letter: "Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God. Do not be deceived" (1 Cor. 6:9-11, etc.). Apparently there were some, even then, who were deceived into thinking that an unrighteous man or woman who professes faith in Christ could really be a Christian!

Is Follow-up the Problem?
A great mistake is made by blaming the problem on poor follow-up. In many churches there is every intention and effort given to follow-up, yet still the poor numbers persist. One church followed up "by the book," seeking to disciple people who had been told they were new converts during the crusade of an internationally-known evangelist. The report of the pastor in charge was that none of them wanted to talk about how to grow as a Christian. He said, "In fact, they ran from us!" I have known some churches to go to extreme efforts to disciple new believers. We must do this. Yet, like the others, they generally have marginal success. They have learned to accept the fact that people who profess to have become Christians often have to be talked into going further, and that many, if not most, simply will not bother. Authentic new believers can always be followed up, however, because they have the Spirit by which they cry, "Abba Father" (Rom. 8:15). They have been given love for the brethren, and essential love for the beauty and authority of the Word of God. But you cannot follow-up on a spiritually dead person. Being dead, he has no interest in growth.

It was the preaching of regeneration, with an explanation of its discernible marks, that was the heart of the Great Awakening. J. C. Ryle, in writing of the eighteenth century revival preachers, said that they never for a moment believed that there was any true conversion if it was not accompanied by increasing personal holiness. Such content was the staple of the greatest of awakening preaching throughout the history of revival. Only such a powerful cannon blast of truth could rock the bed of those asleep in Zion.

Copyright © Jim Elliff Permission granted for photocopy and internet transmission. For other uses, write info@ccwonline.org.



(This part of 1 of 2 parts).



More of Jim's articles may be found at www.CCWonline.org.

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NOT THE GIFT OF GOD

Arminians on the other hand believe that man has the natural power of will to exercise faith on Christ. Sinners are therefore urged to make decisions for Christ. On this foundation of sand multitudes build their hope for eternity. The decisionist conversion is but the exercise of the unrenewed will. The faith in Christ professed is not the gift of God.

The joy experienced is the joy of the stony-ground hearers. The hope cherished is not the good hope through grace, but the hope of the hypocrite that shall perish. All the religious activity which follows, is not of the Spirit but of the flesh.

"Many will say to Me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Thy name? and in Thy name have cast out devils? and in Thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from Me ye that work iniquity." (Matt. 7: 22, 23).

SOURCE: http://www.reformed.org/calvinism/index.html?mainframe=http://www.reformed.org/calvinism/misc/arminian_another_gospel.html

POPE AND HIS ARM

‎"The charge on which many of the Protestant martyrs were burnt at the stake was that they held to the doctrine of predestination and rejected the Arminian and Popish doctrine of free will."

--Augustus M. Toplady

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

SALVATION BY WORKS

“The doctrine of justification itself, as preached by an Arminian, is nothing but the doctrine of salvation by works…”

Charles H. Spurgeon

ASK GOD

‎"We should ask God to increase our hope when it is small, awaken it when it is dormant, confirm it when it is wavering, strengthen it when it is weak, and raise it up when it is overthrown." ~ John Calvin