Monday, July 26, 2021

Remember Lot's Wife

 Pray diligently for your affections and guard your affections well. Begin to pray today for discernment in order to know what to give your attention, your affections, and your actions. Why? Lot's wife was on the very edge of deliverance and she looked back at the world which she loved and was lost.

"If then (since) you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. (Why?) For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory." (Colossians 3:1-4, NKJV)

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Yesterday is now Today

 


Tuesday, July 20, 2021

The Aim of Our Weekly Gathering Together

 


Church, the aim of of our regular gathering together is to encourage, edify, and equip one another in our faith in order to continue to be faithful, holy, and obedient. The ultimate aim of God and the reason for the existence of this universe is to display the greatness of the character of God. Just as everything that God designed, displayed, divulged, deployed, and does is to reveal His character to the universe, everything that we do through our gathering, singing, praying, teaching, encouraging, edifying, and equipping is to put on display the magnificent, majestic, and marvelous character of our thrice Holy God.

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

How to Benefit From Worship

 In response to those who state that they didn't get anything out of a worship service, please allow me ask four questions:

1. Did I pray along with the prayers in the service in order to make them my own prayers of my heart?
2. Did I sing the hymns with thoughtfulness and prayerfully, paying attention to the words and truths of the verses?
3. Did I listen to the message as carefully and prayerfully as possible in order to know the intent of the message and the application of the message to my own heart?
4. Did I search my own heart for things to Admire/Adore God, for things to Confess as sin and/or transgression against God and His righteous standards, for things to give Thanks to God for either His mercy and/or grace, and for things to Pray for both myself and for others?
If you didn’t do at least those four things and cannot answer them in the affirmative, please do not reveal, share, or complain that you did not “get anything out of the service.”
Please write these questions in the flyleaf of your bible so that you will be constantly reminded to ask yourselves in each service.

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

What Does Conversion Look Like (Part 2)

 What Does Conversion Look Like? (Part 2)

It is my prayer that I do not disappoint you with this post. It may be that conversion is thought of as something that is somewhat nebulous, undefinable, or indescribable. There have been those who have poo-pooed the doctrine of conversion, while others have attempted to wring out a definition suited to personal biases. Quite frankly, conversion is not that difficult to understand.
Matthew 18:3 says, “… “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. [Matt 18:3, NKJV]. The English Standard Version reads, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” [Matt 18:3, ESV] The word “converted” is the Greek word στρέφω. This word is used some 19 times in the New Testament. It carries the meaning of, “to turn, to turn around, to turn one’s self. It is metaphorically used to represent turning one’s self from one’s current course of conduct.
Conversion is very closely related to the term “repent” or repentance. Remember Jesus began his ministry with these words, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” [Matt 3:2, NKJV]. The word Jesus used was the Greek word μετανοέω. This word is used 34 times and was translated as “repent.”
Moulton & Milligan’s Vocabulary of the Greek New Testament states that in the New Testament, μετανοέω is more than just a change of mind, “it indicates a complete change of attitude, spiritual and moral, towards God. The Complete Word Study Dictionary defines μετανοέω as a compound word containing the meaning of “to change one’s place or condition and to exercise the mind, to think, or to comprehend. To repent, to change the mind, to relent.” In a religious sense, μετανοέω implies sorrow for unbelief and sin and a turning from them unto God and the gospel of Jesus Christ. (The Complete Word Study Dictionary, p. 968).
The interesting thing about the meaning of repent is that the moral and spiritual content in both the words μετανοέω and στρέφωcome from Jewish and Christian influence. The Greeks actually had no knowledge or reference to the biblical concept of repentance or conversion. Μετανοέω represents repentance as a change of mind and a turning from sin and στρέφω represents repentance as a turning to God.
What Jesus was calling for in Matthew 3:2 and 4:17 was a call to an inward and radical change of character which results in a change of behavior. This is why conversion is an act of God and not an action produced or generated by the flesh. A dead man cannot repent.
Regeneration is the work of God through the Holy Spirit in the soul of a sinner by the preaching of the gospel. Regeneration is the sovereignly imparted spiritual life to the previously dead sinner where-by God imparts a new nature to the sinner bringing him from death to life. God makes a dead sinner live by an act of grace.
Repentance is the result of regeneration. The first response of a dead sinner having been made alive is repentance. The newly regenerated sinner repents, turns from sin to the living God and believes in Christ as the only means of salvation.
As God grants new life into a dead sinner’s heart by regeneration, God opens the heart, the spiritual eyes, enabling a sinner to see his/her sin and the necessity of Christ’s atoning work. The newly awakened, or reborn sinner sees for the first time his/her sin, is repulsed and anguished by that awareness, cries out to God for salvation or deliverance. This newly reborn-regenerated sinner turns from their sin and turns to God through Christ. The gift of repentance and faith given by God through his regenerative work in the sinner’s soul makes up what we call conversion. Conversion is the product of changed hearts and changed motivations.
Lord willing, we will look at those changed affections and motivations in part 3.

Monday, July 12, 2021

What Does Conversion Look Like (Part 1)

 What Does Conversion Look Like? (Part 1)

Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord’, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, your workers of lawlessness.’ [Matthew 7:21-23, ESV]
As I mentioned yesterday and on a number of previous occasions, I believe these to be the most startling, shocking, and frightening words in all of the New Testament. (And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night [Rev 14:11] runs a close second).
How terrible and disconcerting it will be to hear these words at the final judgment. There will be many after a life of service to the Lord in some form or fashion who will be expecting admission into God’s kingdom turned away and rejected. How can this be?
It is because many who profess to know Jesus, to have accepted Jesus into their hearts, who believe in Jesus, and even love Jesus have no relationship to him or with him. Empty professions of faith, lawless lives, and religious activity do not provide the righteousness required by God for genuine salvation.
For the record, many of the so-called means of presenting the gospel are not even biblical in nature. No where in the bible are we told to “accept Jesus into our hearts.” Nor does the scripture exhort a person to give their heart to God – as a matter of fact it is God who gives a sinner a new heart. The sinner’s prayer is not a ‘sure-fire guarantee’ formula ensuring salvation. Asking Jesus to ‘save you’ without repentance will not gain you heaven. Continuing to live or ‘practice lawlessness’ also is a good indicator of the lack of true salvation. One cannot claim to be a Christian and live according to the desires and works of the flesh, (Galatians 5:19-21). Don’t tell yourself that you are a Christian and remain a drunkard, live immorally, or disobedient to the clear commands of God.
Notice, Jesus said, ‘I never knew you.’ He did not mean that when they showed up expecting entrance into his kingdom that he didn’t know who they were. Jesus used the Greek word οὐδέποτε which means, never, not at any time ever did I, γινώσκω, come to know or have knowledge of, or to become acquainted with. At no time ever did Jesus ever come to know or to have a relationship with the aforementioned people. Regardless of all their protests and claims, professions, and service, Jesus never knew these people in a salvific or redemptive way.
Empty professions and religious works or service are not the means of genuine salvation. I am deeply grieved that I grew up in a religious atmosphere where manipulative means were often employed in hopes of getting people to pray a prayer or ‘to accept Jesus.’ I shudder at the memory of preaching such shallow ‘methods’ of securing converts.
Salvation is a work of God in the lives of sinners. Salvation is a gift given to those whom God chooses to give salvation to. Salvation is a result of God choosing to open the heart of a desperate and dammed sinner, granting him/her the gift of faith and repentance, making a dead sinner alive, and revealing Christ as the only means of salvation.
When God so works in such a life and heart, one is made alive by the work of God, one turns from sin, to the living God, and one’s affections and direction is changed eternally. Therefore, for lack of better of more sophisticated words, may I use my humble and limited vocabulary to simply say that salvation is a transformation of a heart by God, by the Holy Spirit regenerating a dead sinner, based on the sacrificial work of Christ on the Cross. Salvation is not a mere addition to a lawless or sinful live. Salvation without transformation is not salvation.
Just ask the people in Matthew 7:21-23. They called Jesus, κύριος, ‘Lord, Master, owner.’ Not only did they claim and acknowledge him as their Lord or master, they served him in some capacity. Some of them prophesized in Jesus’s name, some of them cast out demons, and others performed some type of miracles. But none of them were transformed by God. None were converted. How do we know? First of all, their profession and performance did not change their lives – they remained lawless. They remained in their sin, their addictions, their rebellion. Second, Christ himself declared that he never had a relationship with them.
My friends, Paul exhorted the Corinthians believers to ‘πειράζωto’ (‘to try, make trial of, test: for the purpose of ascertaining his quality, to try or test one’s faith, virtue, character), Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? —unless indeed you fail to meet the test! [2 Corinthians 13:5, ESV) Be sure God has made you alive in Christ by his glorious power and that you are not merely resting in an empty profession and religious activity. Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift! [2 Corinthians 9:15, EMTV]

Sunday, July 11, 2021

How Do You Know if You Are Converted?

 I am currently preparing a detailed exposition of the Sermon on the Mount. I have arrived at 5:20 which reads, "For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." [Matthew 5:20, ESV]

That should be an extremely startling question to you. As I begin my analysis of this verse, the first question that comes to my mind is, "How do you know if you are converted"? The second and third questions are related - what are the marks or the signs of genuine conversion? What does genuine conversion look like?
Spurgeon is quoted as saying, "A time will come when instead of shepherds feeding the sheep, the church will have clowns entertaining the goats!" This past Sunday, I discovered this to be true. We visited a "church" and sadly they had a very low view of Scripture, however, the pastor had a very high view of himself and his act.
How can a man like that mishandle the word of God so badly and be so proficient at entertaining the crowd that he failed to shepherd the hearts of God's people with the word of God?
Sadly, many "churches" today are filled with goats being entertained by clowns because they are not genuinely converted. Matthew 7:21-23 is one of the most tragic and frightening passage in the New Testament (at least to me).
Jesus' statement to the disciples on that hillside so long ago is almost more relevant today than it was when he made it. In this day of "easy-believeism" and "cheap grace" are you truly converted by God through the power of the Holy Spirit? Will your righteousness exceed the righteousness of the externally holy and compliant scribes and Pharisees?
So, how do YOU know you are genuinely converted? What does genuine conversion look like?