Sunday, October 24, 2010

Grace in time of need

“Help, Lord.” - Psalm 12:1

The prayer itself is remarkable, for it is short, but seasonable, sententious, and suggestive. David mourned the fewness of faithful men, and therefore lifted up his heart in supplication-when the creature failed, he flew to the Creator. He evidently felt his own weakness, or he would not have cried for help; but at the same time he intended honestly to exert himself for the cause of truth, for the word “help” is inapplicable where we ourselves do nothing.

There is much of directness, clearness of perception, and distinctness of utterance in this petition of two words; much more, indeed, than in the long rambling outpourings of certain professors. The Psalmist runs straight-forward to his God, with a well-considered prayer; he knows what he is seeking, and where to seek it. Lord, teach us to pray in the same blessed manner.

The occasions for the use of this prayer are frequent. In providential afflictions how suitable it is for tried believers who find all helpers failing them. Students, in doctrinal difficulties, may often obtain aid by lifting up this cry of “Help, Lord,” to the Holy Spirit, the great Teacher. Spiritual warriors in inward conflicts may send to the throne for reinforcements, and this will be a model for their request. Workers in heavenly labour may thus obtain grace in time of need. Seeking sinners, in doubts and alarms, may offer up the same weighty supplication; in fact, in all these cases, times, and places, this will serve the turn of needy souls. “Help, Lord,” will suit us living and dying, suffering or labouring, rejoicing or sorrowing. In him our help is found, let us not be slack to cry to him.

The answer to the prayer is certain, if it be sincerely offered through Jesus. The Lord’s character assures us that he will not leave his people; his relationship as Father and Husband guarantee us his aid; his gift of Jesus is a pledge of every good thing; and his sure promise stands, “Fear not, I WILL HELP THEE.”

- Charles Spurgeon

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Do we care about the character and nature of God?

Does the average professing Christian truly understand the character and nature of God? Does the average professing Christian even care about the character and nature of God?

Why is it important to understand the character and nature of God?

Matt Chandler has some thoughts. Matt was recently diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. He has undergone surgery and continues to undergo chemotherapy for the cancer that remains.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Eating is Believing - Desiring God

(By Jon Bloom)

. . . Or What Jesus Meant When He Said, “Whoever Feeds on My Flesh and Drinks My Blood Has Eternal Life”
The previous day Jesus had fed 5,000 people with a few loaves and fish. Then that night hewalked miles across the Sea of Galilee before catching up with his disciples in their boat.
The crowd he had fed followed him to Capernaum. And they knew something amazing must have happened. Last evening they had seen Jesus send his disciples away in the only boat available. Now here he was! Only a miracle could have gotten him there that fast. Another reason he should be king!
But just as the momentum was building, Jesus squashed it. To his adoring fans he said,
Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal (John 6:26-27).
Confused, they asked him how they could work to please God. He replied, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent” (v. 29, emphasis mine).
(Note to self: God is not looking for workers, he’s looking for believers.)
Jesus was a hero to the crowd because he had fed them, just like Moses! But Jesus discerned something very wrong about their enthusiasm. They were excited about eating “bread from heaven.” And indeed, Jesus had come to give them bread from heaven. But not that kind of bread. Jesus had not come to give them perishable food for their perishable bodies. He had come to give them imperishable food for their imperishable souls.
So to reveal the food they were really after Jesus began to make statements that sounded very strange. He told them that he was the true bread from heaven that gives life to the world and whoever eats this bread would live forever. Then he said, “And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh” (v. 51).
This sounded weird. It sounded like cannibalism. The crowd balked. And he pressed it even further:
Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink (John 6:53-55).
The “Jesus for King” campaign evaporated. The people walked away shaking their heads. The crazy man wants us to eat his flesh! They completely misunderstood what Jesus was saying.
So what did he mean? Here are the clues:
  • How do you labor for the food that endures to eternal life? Believe in Jesus (v. 27, 29).
  • “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me [in faith] shall not hunger, and whoeverbelieves in me shall never thirst” (v. 35).
  • “For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believesin him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day” (v. 40).
  • “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life” (v. 47).
For Jesus eating is believing; drinking is believing. He promises eternal life to those whobelieve in him.
Believe what? Well, believe everything he says. But, specifically here, believe that his death—the breaking of his body and spilling of his blood—pays in full the penalty for our sin and that his perfect righteousness is freely given to us in exchange for our unrighteousness. That is what John 3:16 means.
Believing this is how we “eat” Jesus’ flesh and “drink” his blood. This is precisely why he instituted the Lord’s Supper: he did not want us to forget the very core of what we believe about him.
When the crowd took offense at his hard words, Jesus said, “The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But there are some of you who do not believe” (vv. 63-64). Some of the Lord’s hard words are designed expose unbelief.
Peter likely did not fully understand what Jesus meant at the time—just like there are plenty of things we don’t fully understand. But Peter didn’t walk away. Instead said to Jesus, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know that you are the Holy One of God” (vv. 68-69).
Let’s you and I imitate Peter.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Tale of two sons: One an atheist, the other a believer

**Repost and Update**

Christopher Hitchens (on the left) is an outspoken atheist and fierce critic of religion. He has written books such as God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything. You can also see many of his debates on You Tube. As many of you already know, he has a quick wit and a sharp tongue, which is a good thing, because many of his arguments against theism are very poor.

Then there is his younger brother Peter Hitchens. Peter's latest book is titled, The Rage Against God: How Atheism Led Me to Faith. As you can tell by the titles of these two books, the Hitchens brothers see life through very different prisms.


The Hitchens brothers recently participated in a debate on Religions at the Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion and Public life.

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How Scientism Creates an Intellectually Unsophisticated Culture – Justin Taylor

After refuting the claim by Hawking and Mlodinow (The Grand Design) that natural laws are consistent with creation appearing from nothing, J.P. Moreland explains why the influence of Hawking and Mlodinow’s claims are troubling:
In previous times when average people knew more philosophy, these claims would simply be laughable because they are philosophical assertions being made by scientists who have little or no philosophical training. Thus, however brilliant they are in their own field, Hawking and Mlodinow are laypersons when it comes to the relevant issue at hand.
But we live in a scientistic culture. When a scientist speaks, he is taken to be an authority irrespective of what the topic is. And that attitude reflects poorly on the educational level of the public.
Thus, the deeper issue for me in all this is not whether or not the universe could come into existence from nothing without a cause. It is, rather, the scientism that lies at the heart of Western culture. I have long believed that philosophical naturalism, with its unjustified scientism, has helped to create an intellectually unsophisticated culture, and this is one reason why I think this way.
(“Scientism” is a term roughly for the belief that only scientific truths can be rationally assessed and believed, or at at least that they are the most rational and objective.)

Sunday, October 3, 2010

From grace to glory: The promise of a faithful God

“He will give grace and glory.”
- Psalm 84:11

Bounteous is Jehovah in his nature; to give is his delight. His gifts are beyond measure precious, and are as freely given as the light of the sun. He gives grace to his elect because he wills it, to his redeemed because of his covenant, to the called because of his promise, to believers because they seek it, to sinners because they need it. He gives grace abundantly, seasonably, constantly, readily, sovereignly; doubly enhancing the value of the boon by the manner of its bestowal.

Grace in all its forms he freely renders to his people: comforting, preserving, sanctifying, directing, instructing, assisting grace, he generously pours into their souls without ceasing, and he always will do so, whatever may occur. Sickness may befall, but the Lord will give grace; poverty may happen to us, but grace will surely be afforded; death must come but grace will light a candle at the darkest hour. Reader, how blessed it is as years roll round, and the leaves begin again to fall, to enjoy such an unfading promise as this, “The Lord will give grace.”

The little conjunction “and” in this verse is a diamond rivet binding the present with the future: grace and glory always go together. God has married them, and none can divorce them. The Lord will never deny a soul glory to whom he has freely given to live upon his grace; indeed, glory is nothing more than grace in its Sabbath dress, grace in full bloom, grace like autumn fruit, mellow and perfected. How soon we may have glory none can tell! It may be before this month of October has run out we shall see the Holy City; but be the interval longer or shorter, we shall be glorified ere long. Glory, the glory of heaven, the glory of eternity, the glory of Jesus, the glory of the Father, the Lord will surely give to his chosen. Oh, rare promise of a faithful God!

Two golden links of one celestial chain:
Who owneth grace shall surely glory gain.

- Charles Spurgeon