Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Martin Luther Quotes

I simply taught, preached, wrote God's Word: otherwise I did nothing. The Word of God did it all.

I cannot and will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand, I can do no other, so help me God. Amen.

Faith is a living, daring confidence in God's grace, so sure and certain that a man could stake his life on it a thousand times.

I am more afraid of my own heart than of the pope and all his cardinals. I have within me the great pope, Self.

If he have faith, the believer cannot be restrained. He betrays himself. He breaks out. He confesses and teaches this gospel to the people at the risk of life itself.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Friday, October 26, 2012

You Made Us Your Own

We were ruined in our sin
We were guilty and undone
When Your love reached down with sovereign hands
And beckoned us to come

You sought out the wanderers
Made the prodigals come home
With a lavish feast You welcomed us
For You made us Your own

You have loved us like You love Your Son
We are heirs with Christ, bought by His blood
Oh how great the love that we’ve been shown
We’re Your children now, You made us Your own

We are strangers to the world
But no strangers to Your throne
We draw near You now with confidence
For all our fears are gone

And when Christ our King returns
We’ll meet saints we’ve never known
And forever we will be amazed
That You made us Your own

© 2009 Sovereign Grace Worship (ASCAP)/Sovereign Grace Praise (BMI)

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Keeping an Open Hand

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.
Philippians 2:5-7

Today in chapel, Dr. Brown, missionary to South Africa preached.  The sermon was very encouraging, and I decided to share it with you, my legit followers...

Jesus held on to two things...His relationship to the Father...and His commitment to do the Father's will...

We too should cling to these things as well, and nothing else!  We can hold the things we have in our hand, but we must not grip them.  What things to we cling to?  Our friends, our children (if we have them), our money, our comfort, our leisure, our dreams/plans, our health, our home, our reputation, our ministry, etc.

Although these things I have listed are precious we must be willing to give them up if God's wants us to...

Tests of an open hand:

How do we respond when what we're holding or gripping might be taken away?
The rich young ruler is an example of a man who had a closed hand (Matthew 19:16-22).
Abraham's hand was open to the point where he was willing to offer his son as a sacrifice (Genesis 22:1-14).

 How do we respond when those things ARE taken?
Many Christians often say, "The safest place to be is in the center of God's will."  I forget the exact words that this speaker said, but it was something to the affect of, "what a bunch of bologna!"
Being in the center of God's will could even lead to a martyr's death!  Being in His will could lead us into a country with great poverty, and hard trails...would I be willing to go?
This reminds me of the quote from Chronicles of Narnia...Lucy is asking Mr. Tumnus about Aslan and she says, "Is he safe?"  Mr. Tumnus responds, "No...but he is good."
I'm currently reading a book called "Tortured for Christ" by Richard Wurmbrand.
In the book he's tortured by communists in Romania...and he never gave up his faith.  God gave him the strength, and even the joy to continue working for the gospel in that environment.
God may call us to live a similar life as this...are we willing?

What happens when something is pried from your closed fist?
When something is pried from it...we have a closed fist...
When your hand is open...and something is taken out of our hands...our hands are in the position of worship...
Job...he held onto the things of this world lightly...and when he loses everything...he responds by grieving, and then worshipping...

Hold lightly to the things of this world...cling only to the Father, just like Jesus did...

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Gospel Meditations from Galatians Pt. 3

Then after fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along with me. I went up because of a revelation and set before them (though privately before those who seemed influential) the gospel that I proclaim among the Gentiles, in order to make sure I was not running or had not run in vain. But even Titus, who was with me, was not forced to be circumcised, though he was a Greek. Yet because of false brothers secretly brought in—who slipped in to spy out our freedom that we have in Christ Jesus, so that they might bring us into slavery— to them we did not yield in submission even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you. And from those who seemed to be influential (what they were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality)—those, I say, who seemed influential added nothing to me. On the contrary, when they saw that I had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been entrusted with the gospel to the circumcised (for he who worked through Peter for his apostolic ministry to the circumcised worked also through me for mine to the Gentiles), and when James and Cephas and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given to me, they gave the right hand of fellowship to Barnabas and me, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised. Only, they asked us to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.

But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party. And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?”

Galatians 2:1-14

Well, another week in Galatians here at Northland...this week it was Mr. Belford who preached the message.  I first would like to talk briefly about the point Mr. Belford made in his message, and then I would like to mainly focus on our discussion we had in impact groups today.

In this passage there are primarily two stories that are told.  Both involving a situation where this group of Jews tries to say that new Gentile believers must be circumcised.  It is said that, "to them we did not yield in submission even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you."  The gospel was in question in both stories, and true to his convictions, Paul does not yield.  The gospel must never be compromised!  It is everything to the Christian!

This is one way in which I truly admire Franklin Graham.  His father, Billy Graham, has compromised the gospel, but Franklin has not.  He has on multiple occasions, even on public TV, stood firm with the gospel as it is presented to us in the Bible.  We too should do this!

Now I want to transition into what we discussed in our Impact Groups.  We mainly focused on the 2nd story.  The first question we were asked by our leader was, what exactly did Peter do?

It says that he "drew back and separated himself..."  Our leader brought out a good point...does he say anything?  He might have, but the Bible doesn't say he did.  His actions spoke though.

Picture this...Paul and Barnabas return from their first missionary journey.  They're in Antioch, at their sending church, and they're giving their report about their journey, and the churches they established.  Peter (Cephas) comes to Antioch, probably to rejoice with them over the success of Paul and Barnabas' journey.  They're having a "banquet" where the people of the church, both Jews and Gentiles, are eating and having a great time of fellowship.  They're enjoying the unity that the gospel and salvation in Christ has provided for them.  Up till Jesus came...Jews and Gentiles did not associate with one another.  A Jew was considered unclean if they had fellowship with a Gentile.  Through the gospel, however, and the message Jesus delivered to Peter (Acts 10:9-33), God had revealed that the Jews should no longer consider the Gentiles unclean, but that they should take the gospel to the Gentiles.

Peter, the very one who this message was delivered to..."drew back and separated himself," because he feared the circumcision party.  This was a group of Jews that tried to tell Gentiles that they must be circumcised in order to be a true Christian.

We've already addressed how we should react when we see people doing things such as this...the gospel must be defended!  We see this in Paul's reaction.  But how about us, in today's we do something similar to what Peter did?

I know I do...and I see it far too often in churches I've been in...

We live this separated Christian lifestyle...unwilling to open ourselves up to the world, and reach out to the lost.  We're content to do our "church" thing every Sunday, and never even blink at the homeless man on the street...or the drug addict we see at the convenience store...or the woman at the grocery store who's in the depths of dispair because she's struggling with the guilt of aborting her unborn child.

Frankly...we don't care...we don't want to get "messy" by becoming involved in reaching out to them.  We draw back and separate ourselves out of fear...

We may not compromise the gospel with our words...but we compromise it with our actions.  We're saying, "you have to clean yourselves up before I'll talk to you, or invite you to church."

I'm pretty sure Peter did not intend to compromise the gospel...but that's what his actions did...

I know growing up, every time I heard a sermon preached on this passage, it focused on Peter...on the fact that he did it...and the conclusion was made that we should never do what Peter did...but we think that we've never done that.  The truth is...we're just like Peter too many careful about pointing fingers...because when you do...there are three pointing back at you...

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Gospel Meditations from Galatians Pt. 2

For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man's gospel. For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ. For you have heard of my former life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God violently and tried to destroy it. And I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people, so extremely zealous was I for the traditions of my fathers. But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with anyone; nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me, but I went away into Arabia, and returned again to Damascus.Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas and remained with him fifteen days. But I saw none of the other apostles except James the Lord's brother. (In what I am writing to you, before God, I do not lie!) Then I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia. And I was still unknown in person to the churches of Judea that are in Christ. They only were hearing it said, “He who used to persecute us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” And they glorified God because of me.
Galatians 1:11-24 (ESV)

As I did a post about a few weeks ago, we are currently going through a study in the book of Galatians at Northland.  This week we were in the above passage.  The sermon was preached by Dr. Sam Horn, president of Central Baptist Theological Seminary and previous administrator at Northland.  I'm going share with you all what he was a great blessing.

What does Paul say about the gospel?

It's authority derives from it's source:
  • It was not received from men (1:11).
  • It came God (1:12).
The power behind a pure gospels is seen in it's affect:
  • The gospel turned Paul from a devout and zealous Jew, a hater and destroyer of Christers, to a Christ proclaimer (1:13 & 14).  He probably considered himself to be on level with Elijah, destroying the prophets of Baal.  To him these people [Christians] were preaching falsely, and turning people away from the truth...they had to be stopped.
  • The very thing he once persecuted he now followed.  His focus switches to God..."But when he [God]..." (1:15).  The power of God in the lives of people...what great things it can do!
  • He did not need to consult with anyone, for God had spoken to him directly (1:16).
The proclamation of the gospel must be at the center of our lives!

What do I do with all this?
  • We must value the gospel above all else!
  • Display the gospel to all nations!
  • We must protect the purity of the gospel at all cost!
    • Paul was willing even to defend it against his friend (2:11-14).
    • There will be times where we will have to do this as well.
Let us be overwhelmed by the power of the gospel to change lives!  Never get over this...

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Shout to the North

Men of faith rise up and sing
Of the great and glorious King
You are strong when you feel weak
In your brokeness complete

Shout to the North and the South
Sing to the East and the West
Jesus is saviour to all
Lord of heaven and earth

Rise up women of the truth
Stand and sing to broken hearts
Who can know the healing power
Of our awesome King of love

We've been through fire we've been
through rain
We've been refined by the power of his name
We've fallen deeper in love with you
You've burned the truth on our lips

Rise up church with broken wings
Fill this place with songs again
Of our God who reigns on high
By His grace again we'll fly

Written by Martin Smith ©1995 Curious? Music UK

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Answers for a "New Atheist"...

Yesterday we had Dr. Bennet who works with Frontline Missions preach in chapel here at Northland.  He used to be on staff at Northland, both as an administrator and as a professor.  He still comes to Northland a few times a year to teach 1-2 week block classes.  Every time he preaches it is so awesome...his preaching is so deep but practical...and it's always something I really need to hear...

I would like to share what he preached on today.  Like I said, it was something I desperately needed to hear...I've been struggling in my mind lately with different doubts about God and His goodness.  I believe in being real on this blog...and that involves admitting my own struggles...I was struggling particularly in the area of how a loving gracious God could allow such bad things in this world to happen...

This summer at camp helped a lot, as the whole summer was about Faith, and the temptation we have to give it up because of trials...but I was still struggling with some aspects of it all in my mind...

Basically his whole premise was addressing ideas of "New Atheists" and how we, as Christians, can combat these arguments...I would like to share what he talked about...

The Objection of the New Atheists
New Atheists main argument against the existence of God is the fact that so many bad things seem to happen in this world with what seems to be little or no intervention by God.  In particular some New Atheists have cited the acts of Nazis against Jews and other groups they exterminated.  In Richard L. Rubenstein's book After Auschwitz, he says, "A God who tolerates the suffering of even one innocent child is either infinitely cruel or hopelessly indifferent" (p. 87).  Many have also cited the Old Testament command that God gave to the Children of Israel to destroy the Canaanites when they entered the Promised Land.  Why would God command His people to do this?

Well, I will address what would seem to be God's silence on the Holocaust later, but first I would like to address the argument about the Canaanites.  Dr. Bennet told a story about the kinds of things that the Canaanites did in their worship of their god Molech.  He described how they worshipped him and made sacrifices to him...and this story is quite horrible...if you do not wish to read it, skip to the next paragraph...I wouldn't blame you, but if you think you can stomach it, read on.  They made a metal idol of their god with moveable arms...beneath the idol there was a furnace that would heat the idol up to the point where it glowed.  They would then offer their children as sacrifices to Molech (often these were babies) by placing the child in the arms of Molech...the Child would begin screaming in agony, but his screams could not be heard over the wailing of the worshippers who were often cutting themselves to gain favor with Molech.  The statues arms would then be lifted so that the child would drop into the furnace.  This is where the references in the Bible are made to "passing through fire."

When we consider acts like this, that were so can we consider the command that God made for the Children of Israel to destroy them to be an unjust action?!

The Problem of Consistency
If God does not exist...the question becomes, whose standards to we use for right and wrong?  There is in us an inherent knowledge of what is right and wrong, if God did not put that there, who did?  If there was no moral law engrained in us, wouldn't there be anarchy ruling the world?

Also...if God does not do we explain our moral outrage at the events of the Holocaust?  If we had no moral compass to base our beliefs off of, we wouldn't care about the extermination of millions of people.  If there is no God, and there is no moral compass in us, how can we be outraged at murder, but not think twice at a lion killing an antelope?

Questions for the New Atheist
How much justice do we want?  Those that make the argument that, if God were real, He would have intervened to stop the much justice do they want?  We are sinful human beings who rebelled against the very God who created us.  We do not even deserve to live, and yet God allows us to.  This is mercy.  This is not something that Dr. Bennet argued, but I think it to be a very convincing one...who's to say that God didn't intend for us to be the enactors of justice against the Nazis.  Too many countries heard rumors of what was happening in the Third Reich...but we didn't want to believe it.  We thought it was too horrible to be true...and yet it was.  Eventually we were the enactors of justice, but we came so late that approximately 11 million people had already died.

Justice will come for the evil, either now, or later.  Too often we want to see justice served right away.  We want to see the bad guy go down before he ever has a chance to hurt anyone.  The truth is, if the bad guy does not receive justice here, he will surely receive it in the hereafter.  God is all powerful, and He decides when justice is served.

Is God not powerful enough to turn our trials into a blessing?  Trials come, and they will continue to come.  I know, in my life, I don't learn much without them.  God has taught me some amazing thing through trials He's brought into my life.  God is powerful...He knows what He's doing!  Romans 9:20 says, But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?”  

If God is vicious and uncaring, why did He go to the cross?  One of the most well known verses in the bible is John 3:16.  That very verse says that God so loved us, that He sent his son to die for us.  Would an uncaring, unloving God, do such a thing? would be absurd.  Even before Jesus went to the cross, we constantly witness times where His love was displayed in His actions towards those interacted with during His earthly ministry.  In Luke 19, verses 41-44 Jesus weeps over the destruction He knows will come to Jerusalem.  Also in John 11 we find the shortest verse in the Bible...Jesus wept.  He weeps in this verse, not over the death of Lazarus, because He's about to raise him from the dead, He weeps because he is greatly moved by the mourning He sees the people participating in.  This is a God of love.  A God who is patient with people who do not deserve it.

I hope and pray that this was an encouragement to believers, and that God might use it to touch the heart of those who have yet to believe...

Friday, October 5, 2012

East to West

by:  Casting Crowns

Here I am, Lord, and I'm drowning in your sea of forgetfulness
The chains of yesterday surround me
I yearn for peace and rest
I don't want to end up where You found me
And it echoes in my mind, keeps me awake tonight
I know You've cast my sin as far as the east is from the west
And I stand before You now as though I've never sinned
But today I feel like I'm just one mistake away from You leaving me this way

Jesus, can You show me just how far the east is from the west
'cause I can't bear to see the man I've been come rising up in me again
In the arms of Your mercy I find rest
'cause You know just how far the east is from the west
From one scarred hand to the other

I start the day, the war begins, endless reminding of my sin
Time and time again Your truth is drowned out by the storm I'm in
Today I feel like I'm just one mistake away from You leaving me this way

I know You've washed me white, turned my darkness into light
I need Your peace to get me through, to get me through this night
I can't live by what I feel, but by the truth Your word reveals
I'm not holding on to You, but You're holding on to me
You're holding on to me

Jesus, You know just how far the east is from the west
I don't have to see the man I've been come rising up in me again
In the arms of Your mercy I find rest
'cause You know just how far the east is from the west
From one scarred hand to the other
One scarred hand to the other
From one scarred hand to the other

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Gospel Mediations from Galatians

This semester at Northland we started what are called "Impact Groups."  It's a group of guys from rooms that are next to each other in the dorms.  We meet every Wednesday with two faculty members and a GA (Graduate Assistant).  It's like a small group/accountability group kind of thing.  For the whole year we're going through Galatians, and this week we were in Galatians 1:6-10:

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ.  But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.  As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.  For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.

This passage led us to discuss just exactly what the gospel is.  There were some things we discussed that I really wanted to share on here...

First of all, the question our leader asked us, was why did Jesus go to the grave?  Why did he have to be buried?  He died, and that was necessary for our salvation, but what's the significance of being buried for us?
The reason why is that it emphasizes his death.  He was buried in a sealed tomb for three days.  This proves that He truly died, and that He didn't just faint.  This death was a necessary part of the substitution...He was taking our place...tasting death so that we wouldn't have to...what a glorious and amazing thing!

The 2nd thing I want to share, is our leader asked us why it was necessary for him to appear to people? Why didn't He just rise again and go right up into heaven?
Just like his burial proved his appearing to people proved His life.  This was a continuation of the substitution...he had to rise in order to conquer the grave for us.  God came down and raised Him...this proved He was who He said He was.

Final thoughts...getting the gospel right is the most important thing for us as is everything to us.  It is what saved us, and it is what sustains is what motivates us...

It is so simple that a child can believe it, but we can and should spend our entire lives meditating on it and growing in our understanding of it.