Sunday, November 30, 2008

Quotes from C. T. Studd in Africa

A framed verse from Rev. Webb Peploe's vestry:

"I'll preach as though I ne'er shall preach again,
And as a dying man to dying men."

- C. T. Studd Cricketer and Pioneer p.158

"Had I cared for the comments of people, I should never have been a missionary."

"As Michaiah said, 'The word that God gives me to speak I shall speak,' so also the work that God fives me to do I shall strive to accomplish or die in the attempt."

- p.166

"Cursed is he that trusteth in man" does not make a very good pillow for a dying man, but there is much comfort in the other one, "Blessed is he that Trusteth in the Lord."

- p.167

 Sometimes I feel, and especially of late, that my cross is heavy beyond endurance, and I fear I often fell like fainting under it, but I hope to go on and not faint. My heart seems worn out and bruised beyond repair, and in my deep loneliness I often wish to be gone, but God knows best, and I want to do every ounce of work He wants me to do.

- p.184

"Don't go into the study to prepare a sermon -- that's nonsense. Go into your study to God and get so fiery that your tongue is like a burning coal and you have got to speak."

- p.190

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Trusting God - C. T. Studd

Describes battle with African fever, Studd writes:

"Here I was permitted to sample the African fever so frequently as to know it by hear, but without any increase of affection. It was like being repeatedly ducked by the devil, and once I though hae ducked me too much. But as each time on coming up on spluttered out, "Sold again, old chap" he finally got so annoyed that he went and sat down in the sulks and left us alone. That big ducking was an ugly affair: the fever mounted, the weakness increased, all the medicines had failed, and the time for disappearing seemed to have arrived: the darkest hour brought a brilliant flash of memory: "Is any sick let him call for the elders of the Church and let them anoint him with oil," etc.

 Thank God for the saving sense of humor; there was but one elder and he was in his twentieth year; no matter, "One day is as a thousand years." But where was the oil? Neither salad, olive, or even linseed oil did we possess.' What's the matter with lamp oil? What, kerosene? Why not? It is oil, and that is all the Book says, and we cannot afford to be narrow-minded. The elder brought in the lamp oil, dipped his finger, anointed my forehead, and then knelt down and prayed. How God did it I don't know, nor do I care; but this I knew next morning, that whereas I was sick, nigh unto death, now I was healed.

We CAN trust Him too little, but we CANNOT trust God too much!" 

-C. T. Studd Cricketer and Pioneer, p.129, 130

Thursday, November 27, 2008

The God of the Impossible - C. T. Studd

But all this work was carried on against tremendous odds. Not only in India, but for some years previously, C.T. had been a martyr to asthma. He hardly slept except between 2 and 4 a.m. Night after night he was sitting up in a chair fighting for his breath. "Charlie is a wreck," wrote rs. C.T., "and almost the slightest movement brings on asthma." Yet this was the man who by faith stepped out later into the heart of Africa and lived there for eighteen years. No wonder even his own wife was opposed at first. No wonder afterwards her favourite phrase was "The God of the Impossible."

-C. T. Studd Cricketer and Pioneer, p.103

Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Soul-Winner's Life and Work - Charles Spurgeon

Here is a dear brother on his dying bed, he has the sweet thought that the Lord enabled him to bring many souls to Jesus, and the expectation when he comes to the gates that many spirits will come to meet him. They will throng the ascent to the New Jerusalem, and welcome the man who brought them to Jesus. They are immortal monuments to his labours. He is wise. Here is another who has spent all his time in interpreting the prophecies, so that everything he read of in the newspapers he could see in Daniel or the Revelation. He is wise, so some say, but I had rather spend my time in winning souls. I would sooner bring one sinner to Jesus Christ than unpick all the mysteries of the divine Word, for salvation is the thing we are to live for. I would to God that I understood all mysteries, yet chief of all would I proclaim the mystery of soul-saving by faith in the blood of the Lamb. It is comparatively a small matter for a minister to have been a staunch upholder of orthodoxy all his days, and to have spent himself in keeping up the hedges of his church; soul-winning is the main concern. It is a very good thing to contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints; but I do not think I should like to say in my last account, "Lord, I have lived to fight the Romanists and the State Church, and to put down the various erroneous sects, but I never led a sinner to the cross." No, we will fight the good fight of faith, but the winning of souls is the greater matter, and he who attends to it is wise. Another brother has preached the truth, but he did so polish up his sermons that the gospel was hidden. Never a sermon was fit to preach, he thought, until he had written it out a dozen times to see whether every sentence would be according to the canons of Cicero and Quintillian, and then he went and delivered the gospel as a grand oration. Is that wise? Well, it takes a wise man to be a thorough orator; but it is better not to be an orator if fine speech prevents your being understood. Let eloquence be flung to the dogs rather than souls be lost. What we want is to win souls, and they are not to be won by flowery speeches. We must have the winning of souls at heart, and be red hot with zeal for their salvation; and then, however much we blunder, according to the critics, we shall be numbered among those whom the Lord calls wise.

The Benefits of an Early Piety - George Whitefield

 First, I am to make good the wise man's proposition, implied in the words of the text, and to show that youth is the fittest season for religion: “Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth.” But to proceed more clearly in this argument, it may not be improper, first, to explain what I mean by the word religion. By this term, then, I would not be understood to mean a bare outward profession or naming the name of Christ; for we are told, that many who have even prophesied in his name, and in his name cast out devils, shall notwithstanding be rejected by him at the last day: nor would I understand by it, barely being admitted into Christ's church by baptism; for then Simon Magus, Arius, and the heresiarchs [heresies, maybe arch-heresies] of old,, might pass for religious persons; for these were baptized: nor yet the receiving the other seal of the covenant, for then Judas himself might be canonized for a saint; nor indeed do I mean any or all of these together, considered by themselves; but a thorough, real, inward change of nature, wrought in us by the powerful operations of the Holy Ghost, conveyed to and nourished in our hearts, by a constant use of all the means of grace, evidenced by a good life, and bringing forth the fruits of the spirit.

“Be steadfast therefore, my brethren, be immovable.” Be not “ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation.” Fear not man; fear not the contempt and revilings which you must meet with in the way of duty; for one of you shall chase a thousand; and two of you put ten thousand of your enemies to flight. And if you will be contented, through grace, to suffer for a short time here; I speak the truth in Christ, I lie not; then may ye hope, according to the blessed word of promise, that ye shall be exalted to sit down with the Son of Man, when he shall come in the glory of his Father, with his holy angels, to judgment hereafter. May Almighty God give every one of us such a measure of his grace, that we may not be of the number of those that draw back unto perdition, but of them that believe and endure unto the end, to the saving of our souls, through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Journal of John Wesley

 But the bare apprehension of it gave me a lively conviction what manner of men those ought to be who are every moment on the brink of eternity. (Written after he saw himself almost die in a storm in his ship heading to America)

We now began to be a little regular. Our common way of living was this: From four in the morning till five each of us used private prayer. From five to seven we read the Bible together, carefully comparing it (that we might not lean to our own understandings) with the writings of the earliest ages. At seven we breakfasted. At eight were the public prayers. From nine to twelve I usually learned German, and Mr. Delamotte, Greek. My brother wrote sermons, and Mr. Ingham instructed the children. At twelve we met to give an account of one another what we had done since our last meeting, and what we designed to do before our next. About one we dined.

The time from dinner to four we spent in reading to those whom each of us had taken in charge, or in speaking to them severally, as need required. At four were the evening prayers; when either the second lesson was explained (as it always was in the morning), or the children were catechized and instructed before the congregation. From five to six we again used private prayer. From six to seven I read in our cabin to two or three of the passengers (of whom there were about eighty English on board), and each of my brethren to a few more in theirs.
At seven I joined with the Germans in their public service, while Mr. Ingham was reading between the decks to as many as desired to hear. At eight we met again to exhort and instruct one another. Between nine and ten we went to bed, where neither the roaring of the sea nor the motion of the ship could take away the refreshing sleep which God gave us.
In the midst of the psalm wherewith their service began, the sea broke over, split the mainsail in pieces, covered the ship, and poured in between the decks, as if the great deep had already swallowed us up. A terrible screaming began among the English. The Germans calmly sang on. I asked one of them afterward, “Were you not afraid?” He answered, “I thank God, no.” I asked, “But were not your women and children afraid?” He replied, mildly, “No; our women and children are not afraid to die.”
Saturday, 7.—Mr. Oglethorpe returned from Savannah with Mr. Spangenberg, one of the pastors of the Germans. I soon found what spirit he was of and asked his advice with regard to my own conduct. He said, “My brother, I must first ask you one or two questions. Have you the witness within yourself? Does the Spirit of God bear witness with your spirit that you are a child of God?” I was surprised, and knew not what to answer. He observed it and asked, “Do you know Jesus Christ?” I paused and said, “I know He is the Saviour of the world.”  “True,” replied he; “but do you know He has saved you?” I answered, “I hope He has died to save me.” He only added, “Do you know yourself?” I said, “I do.” But I fear they were vain words.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Remember the Sabbath Day to Keep It Holy - John Piper

Jesus Didn't Abolish the Sabbath
So Jesus didn't come to abolish the sabbath but to dig it out from under the mountain of legalistic sediment, and give it to us again as a blessing rather than a burden. It is a day for showing mercy and a day for doing good (verse 12). It should not be governed rigidly by narrow definitions of what is work and what is not. It is a day to focus on the Lord. And now Jesus is the Lord of the sabbath (according to verse 8), so it is a day to focus on Jesus. And it is impossible that a day focused on Jesus should be a burden to the believing heart—"Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest!"

-John Piper


Saturday, September 6, 2008

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones - The Studies in the Sermon on the Mount (Ch. 15)

"You are the light of the world." (Matthew 5:14)

The worst things always happen under cover of darkness; even the natural man, degenerate and in a state of sin, would be ashamed of such things in the glare of light. Why? Because light exposes; 'Whatsoever doth make manifest is light.'

Now the Christian 'is the light of the world' in that way. It is quite inevitable, he cannot help it. Just by being Christian he shows a different type of life, and that immediately reveals the true character and nature of the other way of living. In the world, therefore, is like a light being put on, and immediately people begin to think, and wonder, and feel ashamed. The more saintly the person, of course, the more obviously will this take place. He need not say a word; just by being what he is he makes people feel ashamed of what they are doing, and in that way he is truly functioning as light.

reference: Studies in the Sermon on the Mount

by David Martyn Lloyd Jones - 1971

Thursday, September 4, 2008

E. M Bounds - The Necessity of Prayer (Ch. 3)

"Have faith in God," "Trust in the Lord" form the keynote and foundation of prayer. Primarily, it is not trust in the Word of God, but rather trust in the person of God. For trust in the person of God must precede trust in the Word of God. "Ye believe in God, believe also in me," is the demand our Lord makes on the personal trust of his disciples. The person of Jesus Christ must be central, to the eye of trust.

"Why could not we cast him out?" And he said unto them, "This kind can come forth by nothing but by prayer and fasting."

To be much on our knees in private communion with God is the only surety that we shall have him with us either in our personal struggles, or in our efforts to convert sinners.

Trust always operates in the present tense. Hope looks toward the future. Trust looks to the present. Hope expects. Trust possesses. Trust receives what prayer acquires. So that what prayer needs, at all times, is abiding and abundant trust.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Quotes from Paul Washer

  • You're living like someone in whom the Spirit of Christ does not dwell.
-Paul David Washer

  • Preaching is a matter of Life and Death and also how you live as a Christian is a matter of Life and Death.
-Paul David Washer

Thursday 17.7.08

HBC Missions Conference
Session 9 – Paul David Washer

  • I submit to you that David was not the most clean among God's people. He was not the most orderly or tidy with regard to the law of God. He did not dot every i nor did he cross every t but no one had a heart like him.  
  • You may be as clean and precise and civilized and respectable in your reformed Christian life and not at all be pleasing to God. 
  • Do you know Him enough to honor Him?
  • Is your heart so given?
  • Or would you trade the seeking after God for a good book?
  • Would you trade the seeking after God for a TV or a radio program or this or that?
-Paul David Washer

Friday 18.7.08

HBC Missions Conference
Session 9 – Paul David Washer

  • Isn't that a horrid thing to say about ourselves? I mean if we were to commit a crime I would have to say that being able to delight in almost anything other than just tarrying in the presence of God is the worst crime.
  • I did not want anything from her but her!
  • I do not want anything from God but God!
  • Do you remember when that governed your life as a new believer?
  • Or did it ever govern your life?
  • When the only thing you thought about was Him, that was it.
  • You had no greater aspirations of being used, no desire for greater ministry.
  • You just wanted Him.
  • Remember when you got into the word and it wasn't because you had a sermon to prepare or you needed to learn some things or there were some doctrinal problems or you knew that to progress as a useful servant you had to continue on in the things of the word of God?
  • Do you remember when you just got into the word because you wanted to hear something from God?
  • You wanted to know something about Him.
  • Do you remember when you just prayed because of Him?
  • Is a heart burning for Him?
  • Who are You? I want to know You.
  • We should not be pleased when we've preached a good sermon.
  • I must leave Him and come to you. I must leave you in a few minutes and go back to Him.
  • O God, make me like Your Son!
  • I must have You!
  • I must be filled with You!
  • The midnight watch will be dear.
  • Help me Lord and I will be helped.
-Paul David Washer

Quotes from John MacArthur

Sunday 13.7.08

● John Piper & John MacArthur: Conversation at the Desiring God Conference

  • If you concentrate on the depth of your ministry then God will take care of the breadth of it.
-John F. MacArthur

  • All you can control is effort. You can not control outcome.
-John F. MacArthur

  • We have to be content with effort and leave outcome to the Lord. And that's where you're going to find your contentment.
-John F. MacArthur

  • Tomorrow opens up a new opportunity to live fully in the presence of Jesus Christ.

John Piper - Jesus Christ our Treasure

The critical question for our generation—and for every generation—is this: If you could have heaven, with no sickness, and with all the friends you ever had on earth, and all the food you ever liked, and all the leisure activities you ever enjoyed, and all the natural beauties you ever saw, all the physical pleasures you ever tasted, and no human conflict or any natural disasters, could you be satisfied with heaven, if Christ were not there?

- John Piper

source: Thoughts On The Way

Richard Sibbes - Prayer

"It is atheism to pray and not to wait in hope."

-Richard Sibbes 

source: Thoughts On The Way

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

E. M. Bounds - The Necessity of Prayer (Ch. 2)

Mark 11:23-24 

And shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatever he saith.
Therefore I say unto you, All things whatsoever ye pray and ask for, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.

The American Revised Version renders the twenty-fourth verse of the eleventh chapter of Mark, thus: "Therefore I say unto you, All things whatsoever ye pray and ask for, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them." Perfect faith has always in its keeping what perfect prayer asks for. How large and unqualified is the area of operation-the "All things whatsoever! " How definite and specific the promise-"Ye shall have them!"

The statement of our Lord about faith and prayer quoted above is of supreme importance. Faith must be definite, specific; an unqualified, unmistakable request for the things asked for. It is not to be a vague, indefinite, shadowy thing; it must be something more than an abstract belief in God's willingness and ability to do for us. It is to be a definite, specific, asking for, and expecting the things for which we ask. Note the reading of Mark 11:23:

And shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatever he saith.

Just so far as the faith and the asking is definite, so also will the answer be. The giving is not to be something other than the things prayed for, but the actual things sought and named. "He shall have whatsoever he saith." It is all imperative, "He shall have." The granting is to be unlimited, both in quality and in quantity.

Faith is not an abstract belief in the Word of God, nor a mere mental credence, nor a simple assent of the understanding and will; nor is it a passive acceptance of facts, however sacred or thorough. Faith is an operation of God, a divine illumination, a holy energy implanted by the Word of God and the Spirit in the human soul---a spiritual, divine principle which takes of the supernatural and makes it a thing apprehendable by the faculties of time and sense.

Before prayer ever starts toward God; before its petition is preferred, before its requests are made known-faith must have gone on ahead; must have asserted its belief in the existence of God; must have given its assent to the gracious truth that "God is a rewarder of those that diligently seek his face." This is the primary step in praying. In this regard, while faith does not bring the blessing, yet it puts prayer in a position to ask for it, and leads to another step toward realization, by aiding the petitioner to believe that God is able and willing to bless.


E. M. Bounds - The Necessity of Prayer (Ch. 1)

John 14:12-14

Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask anything in my name, I will do it.

 How wonderful are these statements of what God will do in answer to prayer! Of how great importance these ringing words, prefaced, as they are, with the most solemn verity! Faith in Christ is the basis of all working, and of all praying. All wonderful works depend on wonderful praying, and all praying is done in the name of Jesus Christ. Amazing lesson, of wondrous simplicity, is this praying in the name of the Lord Jesus! All other conditions are depreciated, everything else is renounced, save Jesus only. The name of Christ-the person of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ-must be supremely sovereign, in the hour and article of prayer.

 When we pray, "Give us this day our daily bread," we are, in a measure, shutting tomorrow out of our prayer. We do not live in tomorrow but in today We do not seek tomorrow's grace or tomorrow's bread. They thrive best, and get most out of life, who live in the living present. They pray best who pray for today's needs, not for tomorrow's, which may render our prayers unnecessary and redundant by not existing at all!

 True prayers are born of present trials and present needs. Bread, for today, is bread enough. Bread given for today is the strongest sort of pledge that there will be bread tomorrow. Victory today, is the assurance of victory tomorrow. Our-prayers need to be focused upon the present. We must trust God today, and leave the morrow entirely with him. The present is ours; the future belongs to God. Prayer is the task and duty of each recurring day-daily prayer for daily needs.

 As every day demands its bread, so every day demands its prayer. No amount of praying, done today, will suffice for tomorrow's praying. On the other hand, no praying for tomorrow is of any great value to us today. Today's manna is what we need; tomorrow God will see that our needs are supplied. This is the faith which God seeks to inspire. So leave tomorrow, with its cares, its needs, its troubles, in God's hands. There is no storing tomorrow's grace or tomorrow's praying; neither is there any laying-up of today's grace, to meet tomorrow's necessities. We cannot have tomorrow's grace, we cannot eat tomorrow's bread, we cannot do tomorrow's praying. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof; and, most assuredly, if we possess faith, sufficient also, will be the good.


Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Glory of God - The Heavens Declare His Glory

Psalms 19:1-2  
 1 The heavens are telling of the glory of God;
   And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.   
2 Day to day pours forth speech,
   And night to night reveals knowledge.

Romans 1:20-23
20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.

21 For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.

22 Professing to be wise, they became fools,

23 and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.


Thursday, August 28, 2008

Jesus - our Forgiver

Luke 7:48 Then He said to her, "Your sins have been forgiven."

Has there ever been a man who could forgive sins but Jesus? In the history of mankind, besides Jesus, has there ever been a man who claimed the absoulte authority of the heaven and the earth and all that is in them, and say, "you need forgiveness because you have sinned against me and you've been sinning ever since you were born. Unless I forgive you, you will perish."

In the verse 39 of the same chapter, the pharisee who had invited Jesus said to himself, "If this man were a prophet He would know who and what sort of person this woman is who is touching Him, that she is a sinner." It is important to realise that the pharisee did not realise that he himself was also a sinner and he needed forgiveness from Jesus also. The pharisee regarded the woman as a sinner and an outcast and he regarded himself as a righteous man. This kind of thinking is prevalent. Most people do not regard themselves as sinners because they do not want to create any guilty feelings and unnecessarily make themselves with depressing thoughts. After all, they are not too bad because they haven't commited murder, theft or adultery. Many churchgoers, I believe, err too in this regard. Although they may call themselves as sinners in the church's boundary, they do not truely realise they are REALLY sinners and that they are TRUELY BAD. Most people have only a vague concept of sin and this is probably because they haven't taught on sin much at all. The doctrine of sin is not preached and the biblical records on sin only seem to them as stories that are far from reality.

Jesus says, "your sins are forgiven," Jesus speaks now and will speak until He comes again. Everyone is commanded to open their eyes and open their ears to see the reality that they are sinners and they need forgiveness desperately. Forgiveness is granted to everyone who repents. Yes, you need to repent and I need to repent. These are the first words that Jesus spoke, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." (Matthew 3:2) Why does Jesus command us to "repent:"? Because he will forgive those who repent. He will forgive you, if you repent. Repentance is not a one time event that occurs at the conversion. True Christians repent till they die and go home to be with Jesus.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

The gospel: Christ and Him crucified (2)

1 Corinthians 2:2
"For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified."

This is probably one of the most important conviction that Paul had in mind whenever he went out to preach the gospel. This verse was Paul's reality. He knew what the important matter was and that was the salvation of souls. Paul knew that if someone was to be saved. That person must have put faith in the Lord Jesus, and that faith could only come from hearing and hearing by the word of Christ (Romans 10:17).

And what did Paul's preaching constitute? It was a message of a great scandal. God became a man and he died a horrible death on the cross by His own people. The message is not friendly and it seems almost ridiculous for anyone to believe such a message. However we learn that Paul was not ashamed of Jesus' gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes (Romans 1:16).

To maximize his gospel presenting, he literally had to know nothing but the gospel and preach nothing but Christ crucified because if Paul starts to teach people about morality, philosophy, deep theology or wondrous mysteries of God, people may become moral, philosophical or wise yet they may still come short of the glory of God and never be saved.
It is the gospel that is the power of God unto salvation and it is the faith by grace that a person is justified in the sight of God. It takes as much effort for a Harvard scholar to believe in the gospel of Jesus Christ as does an Aborigine living in the desert of Australia. 
The kind of people that God desires are not just a moral type nor a theologically wise type. He may ignore all these types of people who believe that they are right with God in their own eyes.  So then what kind of people does God look at? We have an answer in the prophecies of Isaiah 66:2.
"But to this one I will look,
 To him who is humble and 
 contrite of spirit, and who 
 trembles at My word."
God wants a humble person, not a proud person. God desires a person who is contrite of spirit, not haughty in spirit. God looks to a person who trembles at His word, and not a person who ignores His word.
These words also characterise our Lord Jesus. He was humble, obedient to His Father even to death for He knew that there was not a moment when Father was not looking at Him and Jesus was always beholding His Father. The prayer was His life. He often went away into a mountain or wilderness to pray in secret.
Coming back to the main verse of 1 Corinthians 2:2, Paul preached, first of all, Jesus. He preached who Jesus was. Paul presented the life of Jesus to people. He told people who this Son of God was and what He did while He was on the earth. The reason for that is that by knowing who Jesus was, people could believe that there was such a person. However, acknowledging His existence and accepting the facts about Jesus were not enough. That was not a saving faith.
Then the next half of the verse gives us the essence of the gospel, "Christ crucified." This is of utter importance to everyone who belongs to Christ or to anyone who desires to come to put faith in Jesus. A person must believe that Jesus was crucified and at the same time the person must believe that his former sins were now obliterated with the crucifixion of Jesus. Jesus was raised from the dead and likewise the person becomes a new person the moment he truly put his faith in Christ's death and resurrection for the atonement ie the gospel.
Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a NEW CREATURE; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. (2 Corinthians 5:17) 
It would be a hypocritical thing if after the person had put faith in Jesus and still commit sins and lived a rebellious, unrighteous life. That alone gives the evidence he is not a new creature and the Bible is true, he REALLY is not a new creature.
We know that salvation is the work of God. And we know that when God looks at a person and saves a person, that person, out of his heart, produces certain characteristics. We have looked at some of these traits; humility, contrition of spirit and fear of God. 
The implication of Paul's teaching is that we should always constantly remind ourselves of the good news that we have come to know Jesus and believed His work on the cross for our sins and that we are now new creatures. Our former sinful lives passed away; behold new things have come.
Lastly, I want us all to examine our lives to see if we have any unconfessed sin in our lives. I pray that God will help us to turn away from our former sins and live a life pleasing to the Lord. Let us not deceive ourselves, I pray in Jesus' name. Amen.

Friday, August 22, 2008

The gospel: Christ and Him crucified (1)

1 Corinthians 2:1
"And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God."

He is now speaking to the Corinthian Christians that he did not come to them with superiority of speech or of wisdom.

When I read and re-read this verse, I thought that Paul was contradicting himself as he obviously taught high theology. His wording in Romans and Ephesians reveal that his knowledge of the law and the prophets is profound. His knowledge of the mysteries of God is also extensive, for example, he teaches us about the marriage relationship between the bridegroom, Jesus, and the bride, the church, in Ephesians 5. However as we will see soon, when he talks about superiority of speech and wisdom, he means something completely different.

It would be helpful to define the speech and wisdom that Paul is referring to. First of all, this speech and wisdom caused sectarianism. in the preceding chapter, Paul condemned the sectarianism among Corinthians. Many of them obviously lacked the true knowledge of the gospel of Jesus Christ because people divided themselves into different sects. Some said, "I am of Paul," while others said, "I am of Apollos," and another said "I of Cephas," and "I of Christ."

It is noteworthy that the exact same thing has been happening throughout the Christian history. The great schism had divided the church into Eastern Orthodox church and Roman Catholic church in the 11th century, Luther had initiated the reformation in the 16th century and many protestant denominations had arisen afterwards resulting in more than 38,000 Christian denominations. The fine points of the doctrinal differences result in schism after schism.

So what is the source of all these divisions? Paul answers, "Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?" The source of dissension is the wisdom of the world. And this wisdom of the world includes not only the world's wisdom such as philosophy and science but also theology and specifically Christian theology. Paul asked rhetorically, "Where is the scribe?" Of course the scribe is a person who transcribes the word of God and has an extensive knowledge of the word of God. But if this knowledge does not lead us to Christ and cause dissension, it may well be the wisdom that God has made foolish.

So now we come back to the main verse. We learn that Paul did not come to Corinthians to teach them truths(the gospel) in a sophisticated manner as Greek philosophers would do nor in a complex, burdensome manner as Jewish scribes would do. But he simply proclaimed to them the testimony of God that Christ died for many for forgiveness of sins and that He rose again on the third day vindicating the name of God who is just and justifier of those who put faith in Him.

Paul preached the gospel. He did not preach the gospel like Greek philosophers nor like Jewish scribes although he was both a philosopher and theologian. As in verse 2, Paul,"determined to know nothing among Corinthians except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified." And the gospel is "foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us (Paul and believing Corinthians) who are being saved it is the power of God."

And lastly it is written,
(Isaiah 29:14)

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The gospel: Jesus owns us

1 Corinthians 6:20
For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.

How easy it is to think that we are living our own lives independent of any divine influence.

We have been bought! It is hard to think in terms of buying and selling with regard to human bodies. But certainly in times of Paul, people knew exactly what that meant! Slavery was quite prevalent in Paul's time and Paul is indeed speaking in that context.

Paul exhorts the Corinthians to understand that they have been bought by Jesus. Jesus bought Corinthians. And He paid the price with His own life by shedding His own blood on the cross.

What motivated Jesus to buy Corinthians and me? The motivation that comes from His infinite love for God's glory (His name) and for His people. God is love as John said in his first letter.

When I buy a laptop. It belongs to me the moment I pay the price. I can open it and use it whenever I want to. And if someone wants to use it, they need my permission before they can use them. Likewise God is sovereign over us and if the satan wants to harm me, he needs God's permission to do so. We read about this truth in the book of Job. I know that the laptop belongs to me and I'm always aware of that fact. Then the laptop can be used in no other way than that I will it to be used.

I use my laptop and the laptop responds in an exact fashion I use it. Of course, it can be infected with a virus and may even malfunction sometimes. But it is still mine and I will fix it until it becomes normal again. The laptop is not free from harmful websites and neither are we free from sinful temptations.

I love my laptop and I'm happy that I have a laptop to use to help me work and enjoy many things that a laptop offers. God is also happy to have us. He is at work in us both to will and to work for His good pleasure.

Now this is a simple illustration to help us see that Jesus owns us, our body, soul, mind and heart. Our Lord has paid the price and we cannot imagine how large a sum He had to pay but we can be sure that He's overjoyed to have us.

We work not for our own lusts but for Him. I am happy that I am used by God to advance His kingdom. It is a simple thing; I am used by God because I have faith in God. He's delighted to have me and the same for you all Christians.

I hope my illustration helps us to realise that we are in reality doulos(slaves) of our Kurios(Lord).

Although many translations of the Bible translate the Greek word, doulos as a servant or bond-servant, it actually means "a slave." And the Lord is the master of slaves. I'd be happy to be a slave if my lord is infinitely good and loving. And He is indeed infinitely gracious and merciful.

And the second half of the verse says "therefore glorify your God in your body." He didn't say, "glorify God in your spirit, mind, heart or soul." Paul knew that people would not fully appreciate the importance of glorifying God if they were told in abstract terms. Our bodies are not separate from our mind, heart, spirit and soul. Out of our hearts, we do something good and also do something sinful. With the same mouth we praise God and also curse our neighbours. We do what is already in our hearts. If someone steals, covetousness was in his heart. If someone commits adultery, sexually immoral thoughts and feelings were in that person. Likewise if we have love inside us or is part of us, we give alms, forgive a person who is indebted to us and speak kindly to people regardless of their race, nationality and background. It reminds us of Jesus' saying in Matthew 7,

 16 You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they?

 17 So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. 
 20 So then, you will know them by their fruits. 

How do we know if someone is a Christian? By their fruits!
If someone says he is a Christian and has love for God and yet he swears, mocks others, drinks a lot and is sexually immoral, then we can be sure that he is a bad tree by looking at his bad fruits. But he may say, "but I have love for God and I believe in Him!"
Ok what does Jesus say with regard to this question?

 18 A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit.

If the fruits are bad, he is not a good tree. He is a BAD tree. He must repent and turn away from his sins and seek God's mercy on the face of Jesus Christ. 

What if he doesn't repent and continues to produce bad fruits? What happens to a bad tree?

 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.

Jesus answers that every bad tree will be thrown into hell.

It is important to realise that we glorify God in our body because we have love for God in our hearts ie. we love God. And not the other way around, ie. glorify God and that is loving God. The latter attitude would be what hypocrites do. Pharisees thought that they were honouring God because they kept His commandments in a most hypocritical and ridiculous ways.

Let us glorify God in our body. I watch myself constantly and think through what I am doing. I ask myself, "is this glorifying God?" If yes, I do it. If not, I don't do it. Does watching this R-rate movie glorifying God? No. Ok. I don't watch it. But before I even ask that question, I already know in my heart that certain movies badly influence my thought life. So I reject watching this movie or that programme. I should be also cautious that I don't become a hypocrite. I shouldn't say, "I'm not watching these movies but other Christians are watching so I'm more spiritual than them and God loves me more because I don't sin like other guys do."

But rather I should talk to these guys in a kind and loving way and let them see for themselves whether what they are doing and watching is glorifying God. And that is what Paul did to Corinthians in his letter of the first Corinthians.

And lastly,

seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." (Matthew 6:33)

I believe this will keep us on the right path. 

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