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Archive for December, 2014

How the Three Persons not only do not destroy, but constitute the most perfect unity

December 31, 2014 1 comment

calvin.jpg_7MA21605611-0015How the Three Persons not only do not destroy, but constitute the most perfect unity

19. Moreover, this distinction is so far from interfering with the most perfect unity of God, that the Son may thereby be proved to be one God with the Father, inasmuch as he constitutes one Spirit with him, and that the Spirit is not different from the Father and the Son, inasmuch as he is the Spirit of the Father and the Son. In each hypostasis the whole nature is understood the only difference being that each has his own peculiar subsistence. The whole Father is in the Son, and the whole Son in the Father, as the Son himself also declares, (John 14:10,) “I am in the Father, and the Father in me;” nor do ecclesiastical writers admit that the one is separated from the other by any difference of essence. “By those names which denote distinctions” says Augustine “is meant the relation which they mutually bear to each other, not the very substance by which they are one.” In this way, the sentiments of the Fathers, which might sometimes appear to be at variance with each other, are to be reconciled. At one time they teach that the Father is the beginning of the Son, at another they assert that the Son has both divinity and essence from himself, and therefore is one beginning with the Father. The cause of this discrepancy is well and clearly explained by Augustine, when he says, “Christ, as to himself, is called God, as to the Father he is called Son.” And again, “The Father, as to himself, is called God, as to the Son he is called Father. He who, as to the Son, is called Father, is not Son; and he who, as to himself, is called Father, and he who, as to himself, is called Son, is the same God.” Therefore, when we speak of the Son simply, without reference to the Father, we truly and properly affirm that he is of himself, and, accordingly, call him the only beginning; but when we denote the relation which he bears to the Father, we correctly make the Father the beginning of the Son. Augustine’s fifth book on the Trinity is wholly devoted to the explanation of this subject. But it is far safer to rest contented with the relation as taught by him, than get bewildered in vain speculation by subtle prying into a sublime mystery.

John Calvin-Institutes of the Christian Religion-Book I-Chapter 13-Henry Beveridge Translation

Growth in Grace 8 — Knowledge Must Be Supplied with Self-control

December 30, 2014 Leave a comment

Do you want the male version or the female version? Have you ever heard that question? Or perhaps you have yourself asked that question. You know the difference between the male and female versions of a story.

Take the simple question: Did you go to the store and buy the milk? The typical male would give you a one word answer, Yup.

The typical female answer would involve telling you how hard it was to find a parking place, how she met Sally at the story, how she had not known that Sally worked there, how she noticed that the price of milk had gone down 10 cents, how there was a new girl at the cash register, how that new girl looked a little like the girl you both knew in college, and how she almost put the transaction on credit rather than debit. I am exaggerating—a little!—but you recognize the truth in this illustration. Men can be thick-headedly and frustratingly short. Women can drive you around the block before they tell you what you want to know.

 

 

 

 

Read the entire article here.

The Word of God cannot be understood without a constant and laborious study, without a careful and prayerful scrutiny of its contents

December 30, 2014 1 comment

Arthur Pink“If any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know” (1 Corinthians 8:2).

The Word of God cannot be understood without a constant and laborious study, without a careful and prayerful scrutiny of its contents. This is not to say that it is recondite and obscure. No, it is as plain and intelligible as in the nature of things it can be, adopted in the best possible manner to give instruction in the holy and profound things of which it treats. But none can be instructed by the best possible means of instruction who will not take pains with the same. Promise of understanding is made not to the dilatory and indolent, but to the diligent and earnest, to those who seek for spiritual treasure (Proverbs 2:3, 5). The Scriptures have to be searched, searched daily, persistently and perseveringly, if the minister is to become thoroughly familiar with the whole of what God has revealed, and if he is to set before his hearers “a feast of fat things.” Of the wise preacher it is said, “he still taught the people knowledge, yea, he gave good heed, and sought out,” even “sought to find out acceptable words” (Ecclesiastes 12:9, 10), as if his whole soul was engaged in the discovery of the best mode as well as the best substance of instruction.

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

The Five Most Disturbing Things About a Benny Hinn Miracle Service

December 29, 2014 Leave a comment

My comment:

I don’t know if these are the five most disturbing things about a Benny Hinn miracle service, but nevertheless they do rank high on the things that are disturbing about Benny Hinn’s miracle services. Notice number 2 of this article. I have also made this same point when writing against Pentecostalism. You can read my previous article right here.

 

 

 

There are a lot of things you should try at least once in your life — skydiving, eating some exotic delicacy, traveling alone. Let me give you one thing not to add to that list: attending a Benny Hinn Holy Spirit Miracle Service.

I recently went to one in New York. Before going, I knew little about Hinn — a man who’s worth some $42 million — other than that he’s a big-deal televangelist among countless charismatic Christians. As someone who’s fairly unfamiliar with that sphere of Christianity, I was mostly just wary of being in a crowd of people speaking in tongues and being slain in the Spirit.

But that turned out to be the least uncomfortable thing about the service. What did happen was so much more upsetting, difficult, and unnerving. If you ever go, here are five unsettling things you’ll experience:

 

 

 

Read the entire article here.

Whatever Happened to Rob Bell

December 29, 2014 3 comments

(Do you remember the name Rob Bell? Have you wondered what happened to him after writing his book “Love Wins?” As of today, he has left the Church and has teamed up with Oprah Winfrey. Go figure.)

 

 

 

(RNS) Rob Bell was once the evangelical It Boy, the hipster pastor with the thick-rimmed glasses and the skinny jeans whose best-selling theology was captured in books with names such as “Velvet Elvis” and “Sex God.”

By 2006, the Chicago Sun-Times wondered aloud whether the Michigan megachurch pastor could be the next Billy Graham.

And then he went to hell.

In 2011, his book “Love Wins” pushed the evangelical envelope on the nature of heaven, hell and salvation. Many dismissed him as a modern-day heretic, unwilling to embrace traditional evangelicals beliefs about the hereafter.

 

 

 

Read the entire article here.

Many profess religion, but they are really of this world

December 29, 2014 Leave a comment

Spurgeon 3IV. And now, lastly, we must briefly apply this in PRACTICE. “They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.” And, first, allow me, man or woman, to apply this to thee. Thou who art of the world, whose maxims, whose habits, whose behavior, whose feelings, whose everything is worldly and carnal, list thee to this. Perhaps thou makest some profession of religion. Hear me, then. Thy boasting of religion is empty as a phantom, and shall pass away when the sun rises, as the ghosts sleep in their grave at the crowing of the cock. Thou hast some pleasure in that professioned religion of thine wherewith thou art arrayed, and which thou carriest about thee as a cloak, and usest as a stalking-horse to thy business, and a net to catch the honor in the world, and yet thou art worldly, like other men. Then I tell thee if there be no distinction between thyself and the worldly, the doom of the worldly shall be thy doom. If thou wert marked and watched, thy next door tradesman would act as thou dost, and thou actest as he does; there is no distinction between thee and the world. Hear me, then; it is God’s solemn truth. Thou art none of his. If thou art like the rest of the world, thou art of the world. Thou art a goat, and with goats thou shalt be cursed; for the sheep can always be distinguished from the goats by their appearance. O ye worldly men of the world! ye carnal professors, ye who crowd our churches, and fill our places of worship, this is God’s truth I let me say it solemnly. If I should say it as I ought, it would be weeping tears of blood. Ye are, with all your profession, “in the gall of bitterness;” with all your boastings, ye are “in bonds of iniquity;” for ye act as others, and ye shall come where others come; and it shall be done with you as with more notorious heirs of hell. There is an old story which was once told of a Dissenting minister. The old custom was, that a minister might stop at an inn, and not pay anything for his bed or his board; and when he went to preach, from place to place, he was charged nothing for the conveyance in which he rode. But on one occasion, a certain minister stopped at an inn and went to bed. The landlord listened and heard no prayer; so when he came down in the morning, he presented his bill. “Oh! I am not going to pay that, for I am a minister.” “Ah!” said the landlord, “you went to bed last night like a sinner, and you shall pay this morning like a sinner; I will not let you go.” Now, it strikes me, that this will be the case with some of you when you come to God’s bar. Though you pretended to be a Christian, you acted like a sinner, and you shall fare like a sinner too. Your actions were unrighteous; they were far from God; and you shall have a portion with those whose character was the same as yours. “Be not deceived;” it is easy to be so. God is not mocked,” though we often are, both minister and people. “God is not mocked; whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”

Charles H. Spurgeon-The Character of Christ’s People-Delivered on Sabbath Morning, November 22, 1855

Definitions of Doctrine-Volume 1-Chapter 4-The Decrees of God

December 26, 2014 1 comment

CHAPTER 4-THE DECREES OF GOD

By the decree of God is meant His purpose or determination with regard to future events. It means that things come to pass according to a Divine purpose rather than by a fixed natural law or blind fate or capricious chance. To deny the decrees or foreordination of God is practically to dethrone Him. It puts Him on the sidelines as an interested but helpless spectator to what is going on.

“A universe without decrees would be as irrational and appalling as would be an express train driving on in the darkness without headlight or engineer, and with no certainty that the next moment it might not plunge into the abyss” (A. J. Gordon).

“Plan and purpose as we may, the plans and purposes will turn only to the final end which God has predetermined” (Henry).

“We give thanks to God for blessings which come to us through the free actions of others, but if God has not purposed these blessings, we owe thanks to others and not to God” (A. H. Strong).

“The Scriptures make mention of the decrees of God in many passages and under a variety of terms. The word ‘decree’ is found in #Ps 2:7: “I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee.” In #Eph 3:11 we read of His ‘eternal purpose’: “According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord”; In #Ac 2:23 ‘determinate counsel and foreknowledge’: “Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain”; In #Eph 1:9 of his ‘good pleasure’: “Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself.” God’s decrees are called His ‘counsel’ to signify they are consummately wise. “Counsel is mine, and sound wisdom: I am understanding; I have strength” (#Pr 8:14). They are called God’s ‘will’ to show He was under no control, but acted according to His own pleasure. “Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will” (#Eph 1:5). When a man’s will is the rule of his conduct; it is usually capricious and unreasonable; but wisdom is always associated with ‘will’ in the Divine proceedings, and, accordingly, God’s decrees are said to be the ‘counsel of His own will” (A. W. Pink).

“Victor Hugo, recognizing the overruling divine hand, said, ‘Waterloo was God.’ God in the exercise of His infinite wisdom and power, so personally directs and controls the free actions of men as to determine all things in accordance with His eternal purpose” (E. H. Bancroft).

POSITIVE AND PERMISSIVE DECREES

All things were not decreed in the same sense. Sinful acts of men were not decreed in the same sense as were righteous acts. God is the efficient cause of all that is good, while evil is only permitted and directed and overruled for His glory. The sinful acts of men which God decreed permissively will certainly be done, but in doing them men are giving expression to their own inherent depravity. “Surely the wrath of man shall praise thee: the remainder of wrath shalt thou restrain” (#Ps 76:10). The good deeds of men are decreed efficiently, which means that God works in them “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure” (#Php 2:13).

“Careless seems the great avenger;
History’s pages but record
One death grapple in the darkness,
Twixt old systems and the Word.
Truth forever on the scaffold;
Wrong forever on the throne;
But that scaffold sways the Future;
And, behind the dim unknown
Standeth God, within the shadow,
Keeping watch above His own.”

—Lowell.

GOD’S SECRET AND REVEALED WILL

The decrees of God belong to His secret will; the commands of God belong to His revealed will. “The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law” (#De 29:29). God’s secret will is the rule of His actions; His revealed will is the rule of our actions. God’s secret will embraces all things; His revealed will embraces all we ought to do. The secret will of God is His program, according to which all things come to pass; His revealed will gives us our program according to which we are to work.

The decrees of God are not addressed to men, and have nothing to do with human responsibility. It may be that God has decreed a poor crop year, but that is no reason for failure to plant and cultivate. God may have decreed a famine, but that does not justify idleness. God may have decreed the death of the writer this year, but that does not keep him from regarding the laws of health and safety. God decreed the death of His Son, but that did not make it the duty of men to crucify Him.

GOD’S DECREES AND FREE AGENCY

God’s decrees determine the free actions of men, that is, the decree makes their actions certain but not a necessity. God’s decrees are not executed by compelling man’s will, therefore they are not inconsistent with man’s freedom. “For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done” (#Ac 4:27,28). God’s decree made the death of Christ certain, but it laid no necessity upon any man. None of the men were compelled to do the foul deed. In crucifying the Lord of glory they were giving free expression to their thoughts and feelings toward Him. They were fulfilling the Scriptures, and executing God’s eternal purpose, without knowing it: “Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory” (#1Co 2:8). “I speak not of you all: I know whom I have chosen: but that the scripture may be fulfilled, He that eateth bread with me hath lifted up his heel against me” (#Joh 13:18). “But they cried out, Away with him, away with him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Shall I crucify your King? The chief priests answered, We have no king but Caesar” (#Joh 19:15).

GOD’S DECREES ARE ETERNAL

If God has any purpose concerning the happenings of the universe it must, of necessity, be eternal. To deny this is to suppose some unforeseen event that made it necessary for God to change His purpose. All of God’s purposes were formed in wisdom, and since he has power to execute them, there is no reason for any change. “Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world” (#Ac 15:18). “Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:” (#Isa 46:9,10).

PRACTICAL VALUE OF THE DOCTRINE

It magnifies God in His wisdom, power, and sovereignty. It puts Him on the throne where He should be and is ever and always. There are no crises with God, no perplexing problems to ponder, no forces beyond His control. He moves with majestic step toward the consummation of His eternal purpose in Christ to the praise of His glory.

The believer is humbled at the sight of such a great God, and his soul is bowed in adoring wonder and worship. It will save the believer from undue familiarity with God in prayer and other acts of devotion. Some men pray as if God were on their level; to them He is not the August Being the Scriptures represent Him to be. Much of the poetry and other literature coming out of this war is too irreverent and merely represents God as a sort of comrade in arms. But the Scriptures say that “God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, and to be had in reverence of all them that are about him” (#Ps 89:7).

“This doctrine is one of those advanced teachings of Scripture which requires for its understanding a matured mind and a deep experience. The beginner in the Christian life may not see its value or even its truth, but with increasing years it will become a staff to lean upon. In times of affliction, obloquy, and persecution, the church has found in the decrees of God, and in the prophecies in which these decrees are published, her strong consolation. It is only upon the basis of the decrees that we can believe: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (#Ro 8:28) or pray: “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven” (#Mt 6:10).” A. H. Strong.

 

C. D. Cole-Definitions of Doctrine-Volume 1

Merry Christmas 2014

December 25, 2014 2 comments

300px-Gerard_van_Honthorst_001

 

Merry Christmas: from Reformed on the Web.

C. H. Spurgeon’s Prayers-Prayer 19

December 25, 2014 Leave a comment

GOD’S UNSPEAKABLE GIFT.

O LORD, many of us feel like the lame man at the Beautiful Gate of the temple. Come by this way and make the lame ones perfectly sound. O Lord, Thou canst do by Thy servants today what Thou didst by them in the olden time. Work miracles of mercy even upon outer court worshippers who are too lame to get into the holy place.

But there are many who feel like that man when he was restored. We would follow our Restorer, the Prince of Life, into the temple, leaping and walking and praising God. He has gone into the temple in the highest sense, up to the throne of God. He climbs, and we would follow, up the steps of the temple one by one, made meet. We would come nearer and nearer to the throne of God.

O Lord, Thou hast done such great things for us that we feel the drawings of Thy love. “The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying: Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love, therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.”

Draw us nearer, Lord, draw us into the inner Sanctuary; draw us within the place which once was hidden by the veil which Christ has rent; bring us right up to the throne of grace, and there beholding the glory of God above the Mercy Seat may we have communion with the Most High. Heal all our diseases and forgive us all our trespasses.

Still, Lord, though healed of a former lameness so that now we have strength, we need a further touch from Thee; we are so apt to get dull and stupid; come and help us, Lord Jesus. A vision of Thy face will brighten us; but to feel Thy Spirit touching us will make us vigorous. Oh! for the leaping and the walking of the man born lame. May we today dance with holy joy like David before the Ark of God. May a holy exhilaration take possession of every part of us; may we be glad in the Lord; may our mouth be filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing, “for the Lord hath done great things for us whereof we are glad.”

Today help Thy people to put on Christ. May we live as those who are alive from the dead, for He is the quickening Spirit; and may we feel Him to be so. Is any part of us still dead, Lord quicken it. May the life which has taken possession of our heart take possession of our head; may the brain be active in holy thought; may our entire being, indeed, respond to the life of Christ, and may we live in newness of life.

We would fain fall down on our faces and worship the Son of God today. It is such a wonder that He should have loved us; and He has done such wonderful things for us and in us that we may still call Him God’s unspeakable gift. He is unspeakably precious to our souls. Thou knowest all things, Lord; Thou knowest that we love Thee. May that love bubble up today like a boiling cauldron, may our hearts overflow; and if we cannot speak what we feel, may that holy silence be eloquent with the praise of God.

Lord, send Thy life throughout the entire Church. Lord, visit Thy Church, restore sound doctrine, restore holy and earnest living. Take away from professors their apparent love for frivolities, their attempts to meet the world on its own ground, and give back the old love to the doctrines of the cross, the doctrines of the Christ of God; and once more may free grace and dying love be the music that shall refresh the Church, and make her heart exceeding glad.

Just now when the earth is waking up to life, Lord, wake up dead hearts; and if there are seeds of grace lying dormant in any soul may they begin to bud, may the bulb down at the heart send forth its golden cup and drink in of the light, the life of God. Oh! save today. “Thy King in the midst of Thee is mighty: He will save.” Our very heart is speaking now much more loudly and sweetly than our lips can speak. Lord save sinners; great High Priest have compassion on the ignorant and such as are out of the way. Great Shepherd of the sheep gather the lambs within Thine arm; find out the lost sheep; throw them on Thy shoulders and bring them home rejoicing.

We ask that everywhere there may be great numbers added to the Church. Thou who didst bring in five thousand so soon, bring in five thousand in many and many a place. We read the statistics of Thy Church with great sorrow; how small an increase! Lord multiply us with men as with a flock; increase the people, and increase the joy. Make us to joy before Thee as the joy of harvest.

Lord, we pray for our country with all our heart; and as Thou biddest us we pray for those in authority, for the Sovereign as supreme, for the Court of Parliament, for all magistrates and rulers. We pray also for the poorest and the down-trodden. The Lord look upon the poor of this world, and make them rich in faith, and comfort them in heart by the Holy Ghost. The Lord save the nation. Let Thy light and Thy truth go forth to the most distant parts of the earth; “let the people praise Thee; O God let all the people, praise Thee.” Give us the times of refreshing. May we have a visit from Christ by the power of His Spirit; and until He come may there be a blessed halcyon time of peace and salvation.

“Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth, as it is in heaven.” And do Thou come Thyself, great King. May our eyes, if it please Thee, behold Thee on earth; but if not, if we fall asleep ere that blessed array, we can say, “I know that my Redeemer liveth; and though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God.”

Bless every Sunday-school teacher, every tract distributor, every open-air preacher. Bless, we pray Thee, all Bible-women and nurses, deacons and missionaries of the City Mission, Bible readers and all others who in any way seek to bring men to Christ. O God the Holy Ghost, work mightily, we pray Thee; flood the world with a baptism of Thy power, and “let the whole earth be filled with a knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.” We ask all in that dear name which made the lame man whole, which is sweet to God in heaven and dear to us below; and unto Father, Son and Holy Ghost be glory,

C. H. Spurgeon’s Prayers

The Wednesday Word: Motivated by Grace Alone

December 24, 2014 Leave a comment

The daughter of one of the attendees at The Gospel of Grace Conference in Yadgir , India

In attempts to help congregations grow in the Lord, it is easy for pastors to cross the line between grace and works. To my shame I have to admit that I’ve crossed that line oftentimes … and I’m not alone. Sometimes we pastors find ourselves trying to motivate our listeners by the Law and its demands instead of by the gospel. However, it takes no spirituality whatsoever to get behind the pulpit and demand change as we warn about bad habits and lax living. But, this is not gospel preaching!

For example, in our zeal to see God’s people grow in grace we can continually demand repentance. Yet, the doctrine of repentance, although vital, saves no one. Granted, no one is saved without it, but repentance is not the gospel. It is the gospel of Christ alone that is the power of God unto salvation, not the gospel plus our repentance (Romans 1:16).

Here’s the gospel truth, the Good News is neither a call nor a demand to repent. In fact, the gospel is not even a demand that we change our lives. Indeed, the gospel is not a demand to do anything. In the gospel, all demands were laid on Christ and He fulfilled them all.

So let’s say it again, nowhere in the scriptures do we discover that the gospel is about our repentance. Along these lines, Charles Spurgeon once said, “You must not expect that you will be perfect in ‘repentance’ before you are saved. No Christian can be perfect. ‘Repentance’ is a grace. Some people preach it as a condition of salvation. Condition of nonsense! There are no conditions of salvation. God gives the salvation himself.”

(CHS Repentance unto Life: Sermon # 44, New Park Street Pulpit).

The gospel is not the story of what we must do, it is the story of what has already been done in history, by the Lord Jesus Christ. Far from being about us or anything we can do, the gospel is about the perfections of the doing and dying of Christ.

The gospel is not about how we behave, it is about Christ’s behaviour in our place and stead. The gospel is not even a demand that we give up worldliness. Indeed, there are no demands at all in the gospel.

One old time preacher put it like this, “The Gospel is not good advice to be obeyed, it is good news to be believed.” He was right! But as preachers, it is easier, at times, for us to demand that the flock obey the Word rather than for us to preach the accomplishment and person of Christ. It’s easier to demand personal righteousness than to hold forth an invisible, alien righteousness that is ours by faith alone.

Nowhere, in scriptures, do we find the gospel presented to us as a duty or a call to reformation. So why is our preaching so full of demands and devoid of the gospel? Behavioural demands, unless bathed in the gospel are a toxic diet to feed the flock of God.

This gospel, by the Spirit, produces godly desires in its hearers and under its preaching God’s people become a grateful people who desire to follow and obey the Lord Jesus Christ.

And that’s the Gospel Truth!

A special greeting goes out to Pastor Devadas who forwards the Wednesday Word to seventy pastors in his state of Andhra Pradesh, India. Also, a big welcome to the pastors and leaders from Karnataka who have signed up to receive these gospel messages.

Many thrilling things are happening both in Ireland and India. Will keep you posted.

Gospel Blessings

Miles

www.milesmckee.com 

Please feel free to forward, post and blog etc. the Wednesday Word (without changing the content of the actual message)

Thanks to those of you who by your giving and prayers make this ministry possible. You are a blessing!