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Monthly Archives: December 2013

May You Have a Blessed and Christ-Centered 2014

Dear follower and reader of Scripture Alone,

Thank you so much for following and reading the blog in 2013. Thank you very much also for you comments. I would like also to thank those who rebloged or shared the blog with other readers. I should confess here: “I write so that God’s truth should be read by many, and when you visit the blog, read it and share it with others, I am always glad.”

My prayer is that God will continue to use the blog to His own glory in 2014. By God’s grace, Scripture Alone will continue to “Give a reason for our faith and contend for this faith to the glory of God.”

Once again, thank you very much for reading and following the blog.

May you have a Blessed 2014 and may Christ and His Word richly dwell in you

New year Card

Image from: http://photo.elsoar.com

 
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Posted by on December 31, 2013 in My Life as a Christian

 

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Lecture #2: The Call to the Ministry (Last Session)

In this session, Pastor Spurgeon concludes the lecture, The Call to the Ministry, with the following observation from his personal experience as the head of Pastors College:

“I do not set myself up to judge whether a man shall enter the ministry or not, but my examination merely aims at answering the question whether this institution shall help him, or leave him to his own resources…My heart has always leaned to the kindest side, but duty to the churches has compelled me to judge with sever discrimination. After hearing what the candidate has had to say, having read his testimonials and seen his replies to question, when I have felt convinced that the Lord had not called him, I have been obliged to tell him so.

“Young brethren apply who earnestly desire to enter the ministry, but it is painfully apparent that their main motive is an ambitious desire to shine among men. These men are from a common point of view to be commended for aspiring, but then the pulpit is never to be the ladder by which ambition is to climb.

“Men who since conversion have betrayed great feebleness of mind and are readily led to embrace strange doctrines or to fall into evil company and gross sin, I never can find it in my heart to encourage to enter the ministry, let their professions be what they may. Let them, if truly penitent, keep in the rear ranks. Unstable as water they will not excel.  So, too those who cannot endure hardness, but are for the kid-gloved order, I refer elsewhere. We want soldiers, not fops, earnest laborers, not genteel loiterers.

“I have met ten, twenty, a hundred brethren, who have pleaded that they were sure, quite sure that they were called to the ministry because they had failed in everything else. My answer generally is, “Yes, I see, you have failed in everything else, and therefore you think the Lord has specially endowed you for his service; but I fear you have forgotten that the ministry needs the very best of men; and not those who cannot do anything else.

“We have occasionally had applications at which, perhaps, you would be amazed, from men who are evidently fluent enough, and who answer all our questions very well, except those upon their doctrinal views…I mention it because it illustrates our conviction that men are not called into ministry who have no knowledge and no definite belief. When a young fellow say that they have not made up their minds upon theology, they ought to go back to the Sunday-school until they have. For a man to come shuffling into a college, pretending that he holds his mind open to any form of truth, and that he is eminently receptive, but has not settled in his mind such things as whether God has an election of grace, or whether he loves his people to the end, seems to me to be a perfect monstrosity.”

Here ends, lecture #2.

 

 
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Posted by on December 31, 2013 in My Life as a Christian

 

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Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas from Scripture Alone

xmas cardImage from: christianbook.com

 
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Posted by on December 24, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Lecture #2: The Call to the Ministry (Second Session)

Pastor Spurgeon continues with his lecture…

“The first sign of the heavenly call is an intense, all-absorbing desire for the work.  In order to a true call to the ministry there must be an irresistible, overwhelming craving and raging thirst for telling others what God has done to our own souls…If any student in this room could be content to be a newspaper editor, or a grocer, or a farmer, or a doctor, or a lawyer, or a senator, or a king, in the name of heaven let him go his way.

“We must feel that woe is unto us if we preach not the gospel; the word of God must be unto us as fire in our bones, otherwise, if we undertake the ministry, we shall be unhappy in it and unable to bear the self-denials incident to it, and shall be of little service to those among whom we minister. I speak of self-denials, and well I may; for the true pastor’s work is full of them.  (Therefore), the desire to ministry must be thoughtful one and must be thoroughly disinterested one meaning that if a man can detect, after the most earnest self-examination, any other motive than the glory of God and the good of souls, he must turn aside from it at once.

“In the second place, combined with the earnest desire to become a pastor, there must be aptness to teach and some measure of the other qualities needful for the office of a public instructor.  I do not claim  that the first time a man rises to speak he must preach  as well as Robert Hall did in his later days…If a man be called to preach, he will be endowed with a degree of speaking ability, which he will cultivate increase. If the gift of utterance be not there in a measure at the first, it is not likely that it will ever be developed.

“I have heard of a gentleman who had a most intense desire to preach, and pressed his suit upon his minister, until after a multitude of rebuffs he obtained leave to preach a trial sermon. That opportunity was the end  of his importunity, for upon announcing his text he found himself bereft of every idea but one, which he delivered feelingly, and then descended the rostrum. “My brethren,” said he, “if any of you think it an easy thing to preach, I advise you to come up here and have all the conceit taken out of you.”

“I should not complete this point if I did not add, that mere ability to edify, and aptness to teach is not enough, there must be other talents to complete the pastoral character. Sound judgment and solid experience must instruct you; gentle manners and loving affections must sway you; firmness and courage must be manifest; and tenderness and sympathy must not be lacking.

Gifts administrative in ruling well will be as requisite as gifts instructive in teaching well. You must be fitted to lead, prepared to endure, and able to persevere. In grace, you should be head and shoulders above the rest of the people, able to be their father and counselor. Read carefully the qualifications of an elder, given in 1 Timothy 3:2-7, and in Titus 1:6-9. If such gifts and graces be not in you and abound, it may be possible for you to succeed as an evangelist, but as a pastor you will be of no account.

“In order further to prove a man’s call, after al little exercise of his gifts, such as I have already spoken of, he must see a measure of conversion-work going on under his efforts, or he may conclude that he has made a mistake, and therefore, may go back by the best way he can…There must be some measure of conversion-work in your irregular labors before you can believe that preaching is to be your life-work…Brethren, if the Lord give you no zeal for souls, keep to the lapstone or the trowel, but avoid the pulpit as you value your heart’s peace and your future salvation.

“A step beyond all this is however needful in our inquiry. The will of the Lord concerning pastors is made known through the prayerful judgment of his church. It is needful as a proof of your vocation that your preaching should be acceptable to the people of God. God usually opens doors of utterance for those whom he calls to speak in his name…Standing up to preach, our spirit will be judged of the assembly, and if it be condemned, or if, as a general rule, the church is not edified, the conclusion may not be disputed, that we are not sent of God.

“Churches are not all wise, neither do they all judge in the power of the Holy Ghost, but many of them judge after the flesh; yet I had sooner accept the opinion of a company of the Lord’s people than my own upon so personal a subject as my own gifts and graces.”

Professor Spurgeon wraps up the session with this deep insight borrowed from John Newton’s letter to a friend:

“If it be the Lord’s will to bring you into his ministry, he has already appointed your place and service, and though you know it not at present, you shall at a proper time. If you had the talents of an angel, you could do no good with them till his hour is come, and till he leads you to the people whom he has determined to bless by your means. It is very difficult to restrain ourselves within the bounds of prudence here, when our zeal is warm: a sense of the love of Christ upon our hearts, and a tender compassion for poor sinners, is ready to prompt us to break out too soon; but he that believes shall not make haste.”

The lecture to be concluded later…

 

 
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Posted by on December 24, 2013 in My Life as a Christian

 

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“Touch Not my Anointed Ones:” What Does it Really Mean?

“Touch not my anointed ones, do my prophets no harm.” This verse is found in two books of the Bible namely 1 Chronicles 16:22 and Psalm 105:15. In fact, part of Psalm 105 is a repetition of the song of David in which these words were said in 1 Chronicles 16:8-36.

I would contend that this is one of verses that is often prone to abuse. I have heard different servants of God and their followers respectively using this verse to challenge or even scare those who rebuke or points out errors, heresies, or sin in the lives of these “men and women of God.” But if we interpret the verse in its context would we arrive at the implication that “men and women of God” should not be rebuked for any error or heresy or sin? This is the question I am endeavoring to answer in this post.

Understanding any passage of the Bible in its appropriate context is the first and very crucial step in the art and science of interpreting and applying Scripture. Disregard of context in which any passage of Scripture was given leads to all sorts of errors in interpreting and applying biblical truths to our present situation. Thus we should begin with context.  What is the context in which these words, “Touch not my anointed ones, do my prophets no harm” were said.

As already pointed out, we first encounter these words in 1 Chronicles 16:22. They are part of a song of thanksgiving that David together with Asaph and his brothers sang after they brought the Ark of the Covenant into Jerusalem.  For some time, the Ark of the Covenant was outside Jerusalem. But, when David became King of Israel, he together with the elders of Jerusalem agreed to bring the ark to the headquarters of the kingdom of Israel, Jerusalem.  The first time they attempted to do this, they did not follow God’s prescribed procedures of carrying the ark hence Uzzah was killed and the ark was abandoned at the house of Obededom (1 Chronicles 13:1-14). However, on the second occasion, David and Israelites followed God’s instructions and they successfully brought it into Jerusalem.

It was after this event that David sang this song of thanksgiving to God. Briefly, in this song David gives thanks and praises God for his great and wondrous works. He goes back to the history of Israel and illustrates how God has demonstrated his great deeds starting from Abraham to his time. In recounting God’s wondrous works, he cites an instance when the Israelites came out of Egyptian slavery and began their journey to the Promised Land, Canaan. On this journey, they passed through different nations and kingdoms, and in reference to this David says:

“When you were few in number, and of little account, and sojourners in it, wandering from nation to nation, from one kingdom to another people, he allowed no one to oppress them; he rebuked kings on their account, saying, “Touch not my anointed ones, do my prophets no harm!”

This is the context in which this verse is to be interpreted and applied. Some have argued that since the anointed office in Israel was that of the king, the phrase “my anointed ones” refers to kings of Israel. However, by this time, Israel had no kings. Unless, we interpret it to mean that God was speaking in reference to future kings then this interpretation undoubtedly holds water.  However, I share with John Calvin’s interpretation in which he says that “my anointed” ones or “my prophets” refer to Israel’s patriarchs since one of the patriarchs, Abraham, is also called a prophet in Genesis 20:7.

Having discovered out who “anointed ones” are in the passage, we need next to figure out the meaning of “touch not.”  One major characteristic of Hebrew poetry or songs is parallelism in which the truth of the first line is repeated in the second line but not with the exact same words. This is the instance here. In other words, David could have easily said: “Touch not my anointed ones, touch not my anointed ones.” This would seem unnecessary repetition. For that reason, Hebrew poetry or songs employed parallelism to say the same truth in different words. Hence “touch not” is the same as “do no harm” and the referent of “my anointed ones” is the same as that of “my prophets” namely the patriarchs of Israel or the Israelites who sojourned from Egypt on the way to Canaan.

Therefore, if we are to interpret the verse in its own context, it would mean that God commanded the nations and kingdoms that Israelites were passing through from Egypt to Canaan not to harm them physically but to let them pass through freely and peacefully.  Application of the verse includes the truth that God protects and guards his chosen people or servants. This is what we need to draw from the verse.  Furthermore, from this verse we can deduce that God prohibits any type of physical harm not only to his chosen people but to all people. The Sixth Commandment (Thou shall not kill) and Genesis 9:5, 6 confirm to this truth.

So, “Touch not my anointed ones” has to do with prohibition of physical harm and not rebuke of error, heresy or sin. Nowhere in the Bible has God commanded that we do not rebuke his people or servants. Instead, the Bible encourages us to rebuke error, heresy or sin in love and truth. God used his prophets in the Old Testament to rebuke sin or error or falsehood in the lives of kings and false prophets (2 Samuel 12:1-15; 1 Kings 18:17, 18; 2 Chronicles 16:7-10; Jeremiah 23; Ezekiel 11:16-21).

In the New Testament, Apostle Paul rebuked his fellow Apostle Peter of hypocrisy (Galatians 2:11-14). The Scripture itself tells us that God has given us his word for among other things to rebuke error, heresy or sin: “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof (rebuke), for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work,” (2 Timothy 3:16, 17, italics mine).

God has said, “Touch not or do no harm to my anointed (chosen) ones.”  But he has never said, “Rebuke not my anointed ones even though they commit error, heresy or sin in their lives and ministries.”

 
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Posted by on December 23, 2013 in Sound Teaching

 

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Lecture #2: The Call to the Ministry (First Session)

Our professor, Charles Spurgeon, just finished his lecture #1, two days ago. Today, he is bringing us his second lecture which he has entitled, “The Call to the Ministry.” This lecture will be divided into three sessions. The first one is more of an introduction. In the second session, the professor will lecture on 5 essentials to be considered in ascertaining a call to the ministry. He will conclude the lecture in the third session by sharing his personal experiences to aspirants for the ministry.

“Any Christian has a right to disseminate the gospel who has the ability to do so; and more, he not only has the right, but it is his duty to do so as long as he lives (Rev. 22:17). The propagation of the gospel is left, not to a few, but to all the disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ according to the measure of grace entrusted to them by the Holy Spirit, each man is bound to minister in his day and generation, both to the church and among unbelievers.

“Indeed, this question goes beyond men, and even includes the whole of the other sex; whether believers are male or female, they are all bound, when enabled by divine grace, to exert themselves to the service, however, need not take the particular form of preaching-certainly, in some cases it must not, as for instance in the case of females, who public teaching is expressly prohibited (1 Tim. 2:12; 1 Cor. 14:34).

“I do not, however, in this lecture allude to occasional preaching, or any other form of ministry common to all the saints, but to the work and office of the bishopric (pastor), in which is included both teaching and bearing rule in the church, which requires dedication of a man’s entire life to spiritual work, and separation from every secular calling (2 Tim. 2:4); and entitles the man to cast himself for temporal supplies upon the church of God, since he gives up all his time, energies, and endeavors, for the  good of those over whom he presides (1 Cor. 9:11; 1 Tim. 5:18).

Professor Spurgeon then goes no to highlight the importance of God’s call to ministry rather than self-calling, so to speak. He writes, “No man may intrude into the sheepfold as an under-shepherd; he must have an eye to the chief Shepherd, and wait his beck and command. Or ever a man stands forth as God’s ambassador, he must wait for the call from above; and if he does not so, but rushes into the sacred office, the Lord will say of him and others like him, “I sent them not, neither commanded them; therefore, they shall not profit this people at all, says the Lord,” (Jer. 23:32).”

Spurgeon at this juncture cites instances of prophets Isaiah (Is.6:8), Jeremiah (Jer. 1:4-10), Ezekiel (Ezk. 2:1-3; 3:1-4), and Daniel who had been called into ministry by God. He then applies the truths regarding the calling of these prophets to the present day. “In the present dispensation, the priesthood is common to all the saints; but to prophecy, or what is analogous to be moved by the Holy Ghost to give oneself up wholly to the proclamation of the gospel, is, as a matter of fact, the gift and calling of only a comparatively small number; and surely these need to be sure of the rightfulness of their position as were the prophets; and yet how can they justify their office, except by a similar call?”

“Brethren, I trust you may be able one day to speak of the flock over whom “the Holy Ghost has made you overseers” (Acts 20:28), and I pray that every one of you may be able to say with the apostle of the Gentiles, that your ministry is not of man, neither by man, but that you have received it of the Lord (Gal. 1:1). In you may that ancient promise be fulfilled, “I will give them pastors according to mine heart,” (Jer. 3:15)…As the Lord Jesus went up to the Mount and called to him whom he would, and then sent them forth to preach (Mark 3:13), even so may he select you, call you upward to commune with himself, and send you forth as his elect servants to bless both the church and the world.”

The first session of this lecture ends here…

 

 

 
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Posted by on December 19, 2013 in My Life as a Christian

 

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Pray That Your Character and Ministry Agree

Pastor Spurgeon continues with his lecture entitled, “Minister’s Self-Watch.” For the last two classes, he has lectured on two points namely that a minister or any servant of Christ must be a converted man and have vigorous piety. Today, he concludes the lecture with this final point: a minister or any servant of God should take care THAT HIS PERSONAL CHARACTER AGREES IN ALL RESPECTS WITH HIS MINISTRY. Let’s listen and learn from our professor. Please note that taking notes from the lectures is strictly encouraged although there will be no exams at the end.

“As actions, according to the proverb, speak louder than words, so an ill life effectually drown the voice of the most eloquent ministry…Abhor, brethren, the thought of being clockwork ministers who are not alive by abiding grace within, but are wound up by temporary influences; men who are only ministers for the time being, under the stress of the hour of ministering, but cease to be ministers when they descend the pulpit stairs. True ministers are always ministers.

“It is a horrible thing to be an inconsistent minister…if holiness be wanting, the ambassadors dishonor the country from whence they come, and the prince from whom they come…the life of a preacher should be a magnet to draw men to Christ, and it is sad indeed when it keeps them from him. Sanctity in a minister is a loud call to sinners to repent, and when allied with holy cheerfulness it becomes wondrously attractive.

“You must be a man of God, not after the common manner  of men, but ‘after God’s own heart; and men will strive to be like you, if you be like to God: but when you only stand at the door of virtue, for nothing but to keep sin out, you will draw into the folds of Christ none but such as fear drives in.

“When we say to you, my dear brethren, take care of your life, we mean be careful of even the minute of your character. Avoid little debts, unpunctuality, gossiping, nicknaming, petty quarrels, and all other of those little vices which fill the ointment with flies. The self indulgence which have lowered the repute of many must not be tolerated by us. The familiarities which have laid others under suspicion, we must chastely avoid. The roughness which have rendered some obnoxious, and the fopperies which have made others contemptible, we must put away.

“Even in your recreations, remember that you are ministers. When you are off the parade you are still officers in the army of Christ, and as such demean yourselves. But if the lesser things must be looked after, how careful should  you be in the great matters of morality, honesty, and integrity! Here the minister must not fail. His private life must ever keep good tune with his ministry, or his day will soon set with him, and the sooner he retires the better, for his continuance in his office will only dishonor the cause of God and ruin himself.

“Brethren, the limits of a lecture are reached, and we must adjourn.”

 
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Posted by on December 16, 2013 in My Life as a Christian

 

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