RSS

Preach the Whole Counsel of God

I have been reading Charles Bridges’ The Christian Ministry and this quote which he also borrows from another preacher by the name of Bishop Horsley touched and blessed my heart and thought of sharing it with you:

Pray earnestly to God to assist the ministration of the word, by secret influence of the Holy Spirit in the minds of your hearers: and nothing doubting that your prayers are heard, however, mean and illiterate the congregation may be, in which you exercise your sacred functions, fear not to set before them the whole counsel of God. Open the whole of your message without reservation, that every one of you may have confidence to say, when he shall be called upon to give an account of his stewardship – “Lord, I have not hid thy righteousness within my heart; I have not concealed thy lovingkindness and truth from the great congregation.”

This is my prayer for myself and all my brothers who have been called by God to preach the gospel.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on May 27, 2016 in Sound Teaching

 

Tags: , , , , ,

The Power of the Gospel

“Our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit, and with full conviction” ~ 1 Thessalonians 1:5

What does Paul mean when he says “the gospel came not only in word but also in power.” Some have said that the word “power” here refers to miracles since the preaching of the apostles in the First Century and at the beginning of Christianity was accompanied by miracles and wonders as a means of authenticating their true apostleship. This is very possible.

However, I also believe that Paul is talking of a special power that a Christian or a person who hears God’s word experiences as the Holy Spirit is applying the word. I believe it is the special power, which among others things brings conviction of sin and also assurance of salvation.

It is the power that Cleopas and his friend experienced when Christ spoke the word of God to them. Do you remember their words regarding their experience as they heard the word of God from Jesus in Luke 24:32? “And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?” I believe it is this power that the apostle is speaking of in this verse.

It is also the power that we read of when Paul preached to Felix in Acts 24. In Acts 24:25 we read that when Felix heard the gospel being preached to him, he trembled.

All of us who have sat under the preaching of the gospel have experienced this power. But sadly, some like Felix when they hear God’s word, they  tremble but still harden their hearts and don’t believe. But others like  Cleopas and his friend believe and surrender to the power of God’s word.

Which of these two examples describes you well, my friend?  Is it the one of Felix who after he heard the gospel said to Paul, “Go away for the present. When I get an opportunity I will summon you.” Or that of Cleopas and his friend who believed the word of God and returned to the other disciples of Jesus to share what Christ had done and said to them?

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on April 12, 2016 in Sound Teaching

 

Tags: , , ,

Fear Not!

Fear no no noFear is one of the greatest enemies of our  faith and Satan uses it to trouble our souls.  He often creates the worst possible scenarios in our minds to cause anxiety and panic. “What will I do if God should bring me into such and such affliction?” What if I lose my loved one or all my property and money?” What if…?”

However the  LORD in his word reminds us again and again to resist fear.  Charles Spurgeon observes  “FEAR not” is a plant, which grows very plentifully in God’s garden. If you look through the lily beds of Scripture you will continually find, by the side of other flowers, the sweet, “Fear nots” peering out from doctrines and precepts even as violets look up from their hiding among places of green leaves.”

Yet despite Christ’s assurance and encouragement  that we do not succumb to fear, this enemy of our faith continues  to trouble us. Are there some things we need to do in order  to win the battle?   Reading through William Gurnall’s The Christian in Complete Armour  one finds  three great Scriptural truths that will help us overcome this foe.

First, we should remember that every event in our life is the product of God’s providence. The Westminster Shorter Catechism defines God’s providence as,  “His most holy, wise, and powerful preserving and governing all his creatures, and all their actions,” (Q & A 11). No single  Christian falls into poverty, sickness, persecution or any hardship apart from the wisdom and care of our Father (Matt. 10:29)

Secondly, God has promised to never forsake us.” I will never leave you nor forsake you,” (Hebrews 13:5). There is something special about this verse which is hardly noticed in the English translation.  In the original Greek the verse contains five negatives for emphasis and literal translation would lead:  ” I will not, not  leave  you;  not, no never forsake you.” But since in  English language two negatives would destroy each other only single negation is used. If God has such emphasized we must believe his promise without any reservations.

Lastly but not least, God in his wisdom conceals the comforts he intends to give us during our trials until we have actually experienced them. Gurnall’s own words say it better:   “God his wisdom conceals the comforts he intends to give you at various stages of your life, so that he may encourage your heart to full dependence upon his promises now. Thus, to try the metal of Abraham’s faith, he let him go on, until his hand was stretched forth to slay Isaac, and then he came to his rescue” (Gen. 22).

So, be of good cheer and fear not but in everything through prayer in Christ’s name bring your fears to the throne of grace where we find strength and comfort.

 
4 Comments

Posted by on February 24, 2016 in My Life as a Christian

 

In the Classroom of God’s Grace

“For the grace of God that brings salvation has  appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world,” Titus 2:11, 12.

Often we we describe God’s grace as his unmerited favor, but how often do we think of this grace also as a teacher of those who are in Christ? I believe mostly it does not cross our minds that all those who have been saved are in a sense in the classroom being taught by grace?

But this is exactly what Apostle Paul tells us in the above text. Grace is our teacher. The root of the   word, “teaching,” used here, in the original language (Greek) can also be used to form a word that describes the one who teaches children (pedagogue), and not just merely teaching them, but training and bringing them up in a particular way. Like little children, grace trains and brings us up in the way and fear of the Lord.

The first thing that grace does as our teacher, according to the text, is to teach us to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts. Ungodliness refers to all sinful things outside us while worldly lusts refer to all kinds of sinful desires within us.

When we have experienced the grace of God, the sinful acts that once looked normal immediately become distasteful and we reject them. The sinful places we frequented thinking that that is where real enjoyment is instantly appear to be what they really are,  asvanity fair. All who have experienced this grace can agree with the poet who once wrote that when you turn your eyes upon Jesus the things of the earth grow strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace.

Grace opens our spiritual eyes to see how depraved we are and we cry out as Apostle Paul in Romans 7:24, “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” Then by the same grace we also cry out, “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord (Rom. 7:25) because through his grace I am able to deny and kill these worldly lusts. By grace I am able to say no to the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh and the pride of life. Contrary to what some teach that grace give us liberty to do everything we please, we realize that grace actually gives us power to deny everything that does not please God.

Secondly, grace as our teacher teaches us to embrace holiness and Paul describes this holiness with three adverbs namely soberly, righteously and godly. Soberly refers to what the Christian does to himself or herself. Righteously refers to the Christian’s relationship with others while godly refers to his relationship to God.

Soberly also means self-control. The grace of God teaches us to control our desires so that they do not lead us to sin. Being sober means exercising self-control in our eating and drinking, in our thinking and speaking, and in our pursuits for various goals in life. As Christians we should never let our desires control us to the extent that we forget that our chief end in this world is to glorify and enjoy God forever. A Christian should never be  to the one who says to himself: “I want this particular thing and I will surely get it not matter whatever it takes whether it is right or wrong.” No friends, being sober means being driven by the grace of God and not the sinful desires of our hearts.

Embracing holiness also means living righteously or justly. If we are business people, it means being honest in our transactions with our clients and customers. If we are employees, it means working with integrity. If we are employers, it means dealing with our employees with dignity and fairness. If we are students, it means studying and doing our assignments honestly and to the best our ability. At home, it means husbands loving their wives and wives to submitting to their own husbands. It means children obeying their parents and parents loving and caring for their children. Charles Spurgeon summarizes it well, “A Christian profession without uprightness is a lie.”

Thirdly, embracing holiness means living godly or piously. It implies to being thankful always for God’s mercy and grace in our lives. It means to honor and glorify God because he is exalted far above us and the rest of the creation, and yet to love him with all our hearts, minds and souls because he is our Father. Again Charles Spurgeon puts it well: “To live godly means that God will enter into all our activities, God’s presence will be our joy, God’s strength our confidence, God’s providence our inheritance, God’s glory the chief end of our being, and God’s law the guide of our conversations.”

But you might look at this verse and say to yourself: “That’s not me! I know that I have repented my sin and believed in Christ but my life has not fully denied ungodliness and fully embraced holiness.”

Well my friend, you need to realize that this work of grace is not automatic, but we have to take deliberate efforts and cooperate with the Holy Spirit to help us grow in grace. You need to constantly use the means of grace, which God has established to help you in your daily work with Christ.

The Westminster Shorter Catechism Question and Answer 88 describes these means of grace to us. It asks, “What are the outward means whereby Christ communicates to us the benefits of redemption?” The answer reads, “ The outward and ordinary means whereby Christ communicates to us the benefits of redemption are, his ordinances, especially the word, sacraments, and prayer; all of which are made effectual to the elect for salvation.

How is your study and meditation of the Bible? The Psalmist says that blessed is the man who delights in the law of God and in it he meditates day and night. He will be like a tree planted by the rivers of water that brings its fruit in time. Are you seeking this means of grace to help you deny ungodliness?

What about prayer? How regularly are you praying that Christ will transform you to be more and more like him? How often are you on your knees imploring the Holy Spirit to help you to deny ungodliness and embrace holiness? You need all the means of grace, which God has provided for you to help you grow and excel in the classroom of grace. 

 
2 Comments

Posted by on February 12, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

He Abhors Not the Virgin’s Womb

The second hymn on the list is “O Come, All Ye Faithful.” Originally written in Latin by Francis Wadde (1711-1786) but translated into English by Frederick Oakley and William Brooke in 1841. The second verse of the carol goes:

God of God, Light of Light

Lo, he abhors not the Virgin’s womb:

Very God, begotten, not made

Have you ever wondered how it was like for God to freely choose to humble himself and become a baby in a womb? The all-powerful God becoming a helpless baby who is fully dependent on her mother. How incomprehensible this is! Little wonder then that Francis could not also help but marvel as well and say, “See he does not despise his state of being a baby in Mary’s womb.”

Probably, Francis had Philippians 2:6, 7 in mind as he wrote down these lyrics: “Who (Christ), 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.”

Christmas is a really wonder, but it is not a wonder that leaves us confused. Instead, it fills us with gratitude and adoration. So, O, come all you who believe in Christ and let’s us adore him. Adore him not only on December 25 but all the days of our lives.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on December 22, 2015 in Christianity and theology

 

Tags: , , , ,

…Far as the Curse is Found

It’s Christmas season once again, and the airwaves are filled Christmas hymns and carols. Although not all these hymns and carols are sound, there are some that have deep and sound theological truths. As we approach Christmas I would like us to take some time to reflect on these songs.

The first hymn on the list is Joy to the World which was composed and written by Isaac Watts in the 18th Century and is based on Psalm 98. The third verse goes:

No more let sins and sorrows grow,

nor thorns infest the ground;

he comes to make his blessings flow

far as the curse is found,

far as the curse is found,

far as the curse is found.

What a wonderful truth we have in these lyrics. When sin entered the world through Adam, it brought a curse on human race and the rest of creation (Gen. 3:14-19; Rom. 8:19-22). However, Christ came to reverse the curse so that man could be reconciled with God. He redeemed us from the curse by becoming a curse himself on our behalf (Gal. 3: 13).

Now through him, the curse is removed and we enjoy all heavenly blessings in him (Gal. 3:14; Eph. 1:3). This is why Watts declares that Christ came to make his blessings flow far as the curse is found. In Christ, all those who were once cursed are declared righteous and there is no single part in their life that remains under a curse, for they become a new creation in him.

Oh, what a great message of joy we need to carry to the whole world.

 
2 Comments

Posted by on December 21, 2015 in Christianity and theology

 

Tags: , , ,

Marks of a True Church

How do I know a true church? Or does it really matter which church I go to? These are important questions because a church is not just a club that one belongs to. Christ established the church for the purpose of salvation and sanctification of all who believe so that at the end of time he might present them to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle (Eph. 5:27).

So, how do I know a true church? Well, before tackling this question, it is important to clarify on the onset that we will never have a perfect church in this world. It is only in glory that we will have it as Ephesians 5:27 tells us; nevertheless, we can still find a true church. The true church is characterized by three main things or marks namely the faithful preaching of the Bible, proper administration of the sacraments, and proper exercise of church discipline as taught in the Scriptures.

First, a true church is where the Bible is preached faithfully (Acts 20:27). Now, almost all churches and even cults claim to preach the Bible. However, if you go to a church where the preacher  uses a text of the Bible as a springboard to teach his own thoughts or ideas that is not faithful preaching. Faithful preaching recognizes that the Bible is holy and inerrant word of God hence the preacher strives to present its truths as they have been revealed to us without adding or subtracting from them.

Faithful preaching also is not afraid of offending people with the truth. It doesn’t seek to please men at the expense of God’s word. It proclaims that all men are sinners in need of a savior, Jesus Christ, who after saving them by grace through faith also calls them to walk in holiness by his grace. Faithful preaching regards growing in grace, faith and knowledge of Christ and not material or physical prosperity as the main goal of our salvation in this world (2 Peter 3:18). So, a true church always believes that preaching is the major element of worship that should not be compromised or underrated at all.

Secondly, a true church is where there is faithful administration of sacraments. The Bible clearly teaches that there are two sacraments, which were established by Christ himself namely baptism and the Lord’s Supper or Holy Communion (Matthew 28:19; Luke 22:19). A true church makes sure that these ceremonies are always observed according to the directions given to us in the Scriptures for they are one of the means that God uses to grant grace to his people. They are “channels of grace” as some have said.

A true church, therefore, does not allow people who are living in open sin and rebellion against God to receive these sacraments, yet at the same time it encourages all who have made profession of faith and are striving to walk in the manner worthy of their gospel calling to come and participate in these ordinances, particularly, the Holy Communion after humbly examining themselves (1 Cor. 11:28).

A couple of years ago, somebody shared with me a story of a pastor who announced to his congregation that the following Sunday they will have the Lord’s Supper and every one from the community was welcome. Well, this might sound as being gracious but it is complete rebellion against the standards laid out in the Scriptures regarding the Lord’s Table. It is a deliberate provocation of God’s judgment. It is also an act of “blasphemy” as Calvin rightly puts it, “For it is very true that he to whom its (Lord’s Supper) distribution has been committed, if he knowingly and willingly admits an unworthy person whom he could rightfully turn away, is as guilty of sacrilege as if he had cast the Lord’s body to the dogs.” (Institutes of the Christian Religion 4.12.5).

Thirdly, a true church is where church discipline is practiced according to the teaching of Scriptures (Matt. 1815-22). This, sadly, is a mark that is fast diminishing in a number churches. There are some churches that chicken out or deliberately ignore to discipline members who have going astray in sin and refuse to repent. If a church cares so much to keep their members irrespective of whether they are living their lives according to God’s will, then, you be afraid and do not be part of it.

But what do we mean by church discipline. Let me explain it with an illustration of a family. When children in a family misbehave, parents discipline them according to the offence committed. If the offence is minor, the chastisement or reprimand is also minimal. But if the offence is a major one, the punishment or rebuke is also severe. The same applies to the church. The church being a larger family, its members might commit various sins, which require a rebuke and correction from the church. Some sins are minor so a pastor and sometimes with some elders will correct the person in private. Others sins are major and public hence the Church should openly rebuke the sin in its strongest terms and even excommunicate the member if he is unrepentant after being spoken to.

In a case where the church has been forced to excommunicate a member, three goals are intended to be achieved. First, it is to reclaim the person back to the Head of the Church, Jesus Christ. Through this act the church trusts that the Holy Spirit will work in the heart of the member to bring him back to the Lord in repentance (1 Cor. 5:5). Secondly, it helps to maintain the purity of the church. By expelling the unrepentant sinner, the church intends to guard against the corruption of the entire body since an undisciplined member might act as an encouragement to others to live in sin. Lastly, excommunication aims at protecting the testimony  of the church in the world. Those who refuse to repent and deliberately continue in sin should not claim to be part of the body of Christ since their lives and actions reject Christ’s teaching (1 Cor. 5:9-13).

Now, although a true church practices proper administration of discipline, it should also be borne in mind that no single church enjoys disciplining its members just as parents do not enjoy the actual act of disciplining their children. But this being an essential mark of a true church, churches should not chicken out from it for “All who desire to remove discipline or to hinder its restoration – whether they do this deliberately or out of ignorance – are surely contributing to the ultimate dissolution of the church” (John Calvin, Institutes 4.13.1) .

So, my friend, a true church is where you will find all these three marks. Not just one or two of them, but all of them. If you find or are in a church that ignores any of these marks, you should be afraid! In fact, I would encourage you to leave it if you are already a member. If you are not yet a member then do not go near again for it is not a true church.

A true church is not just a building but people called by Christ to live in holiness by his grace.

 
3 Comments

Posted by on October 26, 2015 in Uncategorized

 
 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,218 other followers