Thy Redeemer

by Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Isaiah 54:5

Jesus, the Redeemer, is altogether ours and ours for ever. All the offices of Christ are held on our behalf. He is king for us, priest for us, and prophet for us. Whenever we read a new title of the Redeemer, let us appropriate Him as ours under that name as much as under any other. The shepherd’s staff, the father’s rod, the captain’s sword, the priest’s mitre, theprince’s sceptre, the prophet’s mantle, all are ours. Jesus hath no dignity which He will not employ for our exaltation, and no prerogative which He will not exercise for our defence. His fulness of Godhead is our unfailing, inexhaustible treasure-house.

His manhood also, which he took upon him for us, is ours in all its perfection. To us our gracious Lord communicates the spotless virtue of a stainless character; to us he gives the meritorious efficacy of a devoted life; on us he bestows the reward procured by obedient submission and incessant service. He makes the unsullied garment of his life our covering beauty; the glittering virtues of his character our ornaments and jewels; and the superhuman meekness of his death our boast and glory. He bequeaths us his manger, from which to learn how God came down to man; and his Cross to teach us how man may go up to God. All His thoughts, emotions, actions, utterances, miracles, and intercessions, were for us. He trod the road of sorrow on our behalf, and hath made over to us as his heavenly legacy the full results of all the labours of his life. He is now as much ours as heretofore; and he blushes not to acknowledge himself ‘our Lord Jesus Christ,’ though he is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords. Christ everywhere and every way is our Christ, for ever and ever most richly to enjoy. O my soul, by the power of the Holy Spirit! call him this morning, ‘thy Redeemer.’

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Weekly Links (9/15/2017)

“Real repentance is a new worship. It looks like a changed life, but that changed behavior results from a change of worship, not the other way around. Repentance is being convicted by the Holy Spirit of the sinfulness of our sin— not the badness of our deeds but the treachery of our hearts toward   God. Repentance means hating what we formerly loved and served— our idols— and turning away from   them. Repentance means turning to love God, whom we formerly hated, and serving him instead. It’s a new deepest loyalty of the heart.” (Michael Lawrence, Conversion: How God Creates a People)

by Cesar Vigil-Ruiz

Feliz Friday! Another week has come and gone, and yet the links are new and fresh! Here we go!

  • Professor David Murray posted a one-stop shop for various resources dealing with the issue of depression, placed under the ‘Know-Love-Speak-Do’ rubric of Paul Tripp. This will be one to bookmark for future reference.
  • RTS President Michael Kruger deals with a recent Pew study claiming Protestants are closer to being Catholic than Martin Luther. He deals with the issue of sola fide, and how true, saving faith is expressed in contrast to Roman Catholicism.
  • Pastor of Counseling Brad Hambrick at The Summit Church continues posting on his marriage seminar, this time on intimacy. If you want to watch the videos, go here.
  • Biblical counselor Stuart Scott writes on the pastoral side of the Reformers, noting the lack of emphasis, by many, on their private ministry in counseling their flock. There’s much to glean from, and it’s only part one!
  • Tim Challies writes on the duty of every Christian to be devoted to God, using Princeton theologian B.B. Warfield as a great example of devotion to his wife and, primarily, to God. May your life grow in deeper devotion to Christ and the gospel.
  • Speaking of Challies, he also began a new podcast, called ‘The Art of Godliness’ with Paul Martin, an elder at his church. The first episode focuses on dealing with conflict in the church. This looks very promising.
  • David Mathis considers the question, “Must elders be skilled in teaching?” Reading this will make you more thankful for our elders. Praise God for raising up leaders who teach the Word!
  • Denny Burk, one of the writers of the Nashville Statement, recently clarified the purpose of including the concept of ‘design’ in expressing God’s will for our lives as male and female. Randy Alcorn gives his reasons for signing the statement, and highlights others who have done the same.
  • Fred Butler posted his six-part (thus far) review of Hugh Ross’ book Navigating Genesis: A Scientist’s Journey through Genesis 1-11. Butler is a young-earth creationist, while Ross is a leading old-earth creationist speaker/writer. This can be a great conversation-starter with those in either camp.

That’s all for this week! Again, please be in prayer, as Youth and College Life will be back in their respective Bible studies tonight. Pray for the Spirit of God to open the eyes of those who do not know Christ, and that those who do will be renewed in their love for Him.

Soli Deo Gloria

Spring Up, O Well; Sing Ye Unto It

by Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Numbers 21:17

Famous was the well of Beer in the wilderness, because it was the subject of a promise: ‘That is the well whereof the Lord spake unto Moses, Gather the people together, and I will give them water.’ The people needed water, and it was promised by their gracious God. We need fresh supplies of heavenly grace, and in the covenant the Lord has pledged Himself to give all we require.

The well next became the cause of a song. Before the water gushed forth, cheerful faith prompted the people to sing; and as they saw the crystal fount bubbling up, the music grew yet more joyous. In like manner, we who believe the promise of God should rejoice in the prospect of divine revivals in our souls, and as we experience them our holy joy should overflow. Are we thirsting? Let us not murmur, but sing. Spiritual thirst is bitter to bear, but we need not bear it-the promise indicates a well; let us be of good heart, and look for it.

Moreover, the well was the centre of prayer. ‘Spring up, O well.’ What God has engaged to give, we must enquire after, or we manifest that we have neither desire nor faith. This evening let us ask that the Scripture we have read, and our devotional exercises, may not be an empty formality, but a channel of grace to our souls. O that God the Holy Spirit would work in us with all His mighty power, filling us with all the fulness of God.

Lastly, the well was the object of effort. ‘The nobles of the people digged it with their staves.’ The Lord would have us active in obtaining grace. Our staves are ill adapted for digging in the sand, but we must use them to the utmost of our ability. Prayer must not be neglected; the assembling of ourselves together must not be forsaken; ordinances must not be slighted. The Lord will give us His peace most plenteously, but not in a way of idleness. Let us, then, bestir ourselves to seek Him in whom are all our fresh springs.

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Weekly Links (9/8/2017)

“As children of light, Christians do not reach those trapped in darkness by shrouding their light and acting like darkness; rather, they reach the world by shining brighter and brighter in holiness (Matthew 5: 14-16). The Bible is clear: The church has its greatest impact on the world not when it becomes like the world, but when it stands in counter-distinction to it.” (Nathan Busenitz, Right Thinking in a Church Gone Astray: Finding Our Way Back to Biblical Truth)

by Cesar Vigil-Ruiz

Feliz Friday! May these links help bring you closer to our God and Savior!

  • Erik Raymond starts us off with a great reminder of how God can work in your life through the reading of His Word. Don’t neglect time spent reading what God says to you now…in Scripture.
  • As we come closer to celebrate the day Martin Luther posted his 95 theses (do you know what day that is?), biblical counselor and ACBC Executive Director Heath Lambert decided to follow suit and post his 95 theses, digitally, for an authentically Christian commitment to counseling. Speaking of Luther, Bob Kellemen created a resource page for his new book Counseling Under the Cross: How Martin Luther Applied the Gospel to Daily Life. Included are a number of Luther quotes related to the issue of counseling, and how he related the gospel to sin, suffering, and sanctification. This is a hidden treasure of a post!
  • Continuing from last week, Pastor of Counseling Brad Hambrick continues to highlight his “Creating a Gospel-Centered Marriage” seminars by posting the one on decision-making. Included are overview sheets of some of the lessons they went over. If you prefer video, go here.
  • Tim Lane discusses the emotional intelligence of husbands and in what way Scripture touches on this subject. Tim Challies takes up the challenge of writing on how the wife ought to respect her husband, and what that really means.
  • Paul Tripp writes on the 14 gospel principles from Scripture for parents on how to raise their kids, and why strategies never work. If you don’t have his new book on parenting, this is a very concise summary. Over at the True Woman blog, Tessa Thompson offers some tips on how moms can have joy particularly on Sunday morning. This was a great reminder for me to pray for all the moms at our church. I hope this will be of help to you, moms.
  • In light of the upcoming Sunday School class on peacemaking, I thought I’d include this post on how to forgive a friend who hurt you. This is a great way to begin the conversation with those you may need to talk to, or a way to guide a younger brother or sister in the way of maturity.
  • What does it mean for God to be self-existent, and does it matter? Dr. William Barrick of TMS gives a brief answer. What a great God we serve and worship!

That’s all for this week! Please pray for the youth and collegians as their Bible studies begin tonight! See you all on Sunday!

Soli Deo Gloria

The Blessing of Serving in Sparklers

by Arthur Wang

My wife and I have been serving in the Sparklers preschool ministry for two years, and with our utmost joy, we can say that God has used this ministry to grow us in the knowledge of God’s truth and in love for God’s people. It has been an incredible blessing to serve and teach.

The preschool ages are such a wonderful stage of a child’s life. As many know, they are also the most fundamental years in development. They are so energetic, silly, curious, and can be very receptive to teaching. In Proverbs 22:6, the Bible says “Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it.” If we establish a strong foundation for the gospel message in each child’s heart, our prayer is that God would use those seeds to someday save them. That said, our Children’s Ministry as a whole emphasizes seizing the time we have with them so that they may learn God’s Word while their parents are in service.

Teaching a group of 20 or so preschoolers can have its challenges. Any small distraction can lead to complete chaos during Sunday school lesson time. I naively thought in the beginning that it would be easier to teach to a preschool audience rather than an adult audience. Let’s just say God humbled me in a very big way. Preparing a lesson that did not dilute God’s Word and yet is understandable to a three to five-year old is no small feat. It involves many hours of preparation and creative ideas to engage the children, using age appropriate terminology. Teaching in Sparklers has taught me to be succinct and concise with God’s Word while at the same time not minimizing the valuable truths of the passages we go over each week.

It involves a lot of patience, love, and understanding the unique traits of each special soul. I pray more prior to when I am scheduled to serve. I pray that God would give me the strength and energy to be super enthusiastic around the children. They may be young, but they are also very perceptive and constantly observing. We need to be good testimonies with the aim to exemplify Christ-like behavior.

Some things I really try to emphasize are God’s attributes. For example, what does the story of Jonah tell us? It is not simply about Jonah, but it is about a forgiving God who gave Jonah not one, but multiple chances. In our lessons, I emphasize who God is (holy and just) relative to who man is (sinful and wretched). Even though there is a huge discrepancy between God and man, God lovingly provided His Son as the sacrifice on our behalf for the sin of all men. How amazing is that? We hope to clearly communicate our need of God to the children, being sure to remind them that we are sinners too.

Preschool-aged children, however small they seem, are capable of learning God’s truth by what we formally teach them during lesson time and by what they observe us say and do outside of teaching time.

Serving in Sparklers has been so much fun and a tremendous blessing. God has taught me that it is only by His mercy and grace that any of us are able to understand the great gospel truths in Scripture. We look forward to not only serve, but to grow alongside other Sparklers staff and the Sparklers’ parents as we continue to study and teach the amazing truth of God.

Renewing Our Minds for Rejoicing, Pt. 6 – “Think Accurately”

by Pastor James Lee

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Philippians 4:4-8)

To think well is to think accurately. We’re commanded to dwell first on “whatever is true”, not on whatever might be true, or whatever we’ve convinced ourselves to be true. But, we’re to dwell on the facts of who God is and what He’s promised, on what the gospel says about our reality. We’re to think accurately about our sinfulness and to think accurately about His amazing grace! Instead of thinking about whatever is true, instead of pondering, mediating, giving our fullest attention to, intentionally and carefully evaluating, and joyfully celebrating whatever is true… when we’re struggling with depression, when we’re not doing well spiritually, when we’re engaged in bitter unforgiveness like Euodia and Syntyche in v.2, whatever is true is exactly NOT what we’re dwelling on. Instead, we tend to dwell on our pride, our unmet expectations, our unfulfilled desires, our vindication, our very real hurts, our immediate relief, our reputation. We’re fixated on falsehood, or selected facts, and not on loving God and loving others. Satan likes to prey on weak minds, seeking to devour us and undermine the unity and witness of the local church. So, the command to think accurately in light of God’s Word is to combat the serious error of thinking only about what’s wrong. Thinking the worst of people and the worst of situations and the worst of our future, is NOT living in a way that takes God at His Word! We’re not consistently resting our hearts and minds with thankful, humble, reliant, prayerfulness and submission, as we see in v.6-7. Unfortunately, instead we’re either believing lies or inventing lies, or we’re trapped in the fear promoted by them, unwilling to trust God and serve others.

Our minds are a battlefield, but the key to our lives is our hearts. That battle rages for the conquest of our hearts. And the command center of our minds is involved in a very real spiritual war, so it’s not that we merely let “Jesus take the wheel”, but that we acknowledge His Lordship over all of us… including over our minds, especially how we think. He’s called us to actively, not passively respond. It’s not the heresy of “let go and let God”, but it’s dependent responsibility. Thus, we’re fully responsible for how we think.

Yes, we’re influenced, and not all of that is within our control. Nevertheless, no one puts a gun to our head to make us give into whatever worldly or false influence we currently choose to believe. To dwell on whatever is true, is to think accurately from the authoritative standard of God’s Word, especially in the context of our relationship with Him. John 17:17 declares, “Your word is truth.” The Greek word for “true” is truth in its broadest, most comprehensive sense, namely divine truth. So it’s not just parts that we like or that serve our self-exalting agendas, but it must be ALL of the truth of God! Truth begins and ends with the Lord. Anything and everything not in line with His truth is by virtue false and anti-Christ, and let every man be proved a liar. Therefore, it ends up proving self-destructive, though it promises happiness, never ruin?!

Godly living comes from godly thinking. That’s axiomatic. And the converse is true as well, ungodly living always comes from ungodly thinking. That’s why Paul commands us in Romans 12:2, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind.” That’s why John also commands us in 1 John 2:15-16, “Do not love the world or the things in the world (world here meaning anti-God world system not people or creation). If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world- the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions- is not from the Father but is from the world.” It may include good things that we make into idols when we elevate them above the Lord. So if we’re going to be cultivating contentment and joy in our lives, it can’t be divorced from what’s in our hearts and what’s in our minds. But all of us, every one of us, has pockets of bad theology. In different areas, we’re blind to unbiblical thinking. We need to be in a process of continually renewing our minds in progressive sanctification. That doesn’t happen once for all, like our justification, it’s ongoing.

The Bible is very clear that our lives are the product of our thoughts. Proverbs 23:7 states, “For as he thinks within himself, so he is.” Turn to Mark 7:20-23 “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.” In other words, garbage in, garbage out. What we think, what we say, how we act, reveals what’s in our hearts. And so does what we intake, what we eat, what we entertain, what we read, what we watch, what we think most about. In that sense, they expose us, not excuse us!

John MacArthur said,

“Paul’s call for biblical thinking is especially relevant in our culture. The focus today is on emotion and pragmatism, and the importance of serious thinking about biblical truth is downplayed. People no longer ask ‘Is it true? but rather ‘Does it work?’ and ‘How will it make me feel?’… Too many people go to church not to think or reason about the truths of Scripture, but to get their weekly spiritual high; to feel that God is still with them. Such people are spiritually unstable because they base their lives on feeling rather than on thinking.”

In his book, Your Mind Matters, the late John Stott adds,

“Indeed, sin has more dangerous effects on our faculty of feeling than on our faculty of thinking, because our opinions are more easily checked and regulated by revealed truth than our experiences.”

We can’t immediately control how we feel. For example, I can’t command you to, “Be sad, be happy, be angry”, as though we could flip a switch. Thus, in shepherding others, we exercise a certain patience and grace with people until their feelings catch up, so to be speak, to be in line with the truth. But the good news is that we can (and must) influence over time… how we think… and thus come to even impact how we feel, by biblical thinking.

Instead of thinking constantly about what we’re missing and who’s not giving it to us, we’re to think actively about how rich we are in Christ! His prophets, apostles, preachers, and the Lord Jesus Himself were always admonishing, “Do you not know, have you not heard, do you not understand?” No surprise, that Scripture describes the unsaved mind as depraved, fleshly, hostile to God, blinded by Satan, foolish, ignorant, defiled, but Romans 10:17 says faith comes from hearing the word of Christ! That’s really the beginning of the gift and opportunity of renewing our minds, our salvation! So if you’re a true Christian, you are able to do and enjoy something the rest of the world cannot. Yes, they can grow their intellect, but they can’t in of themselves, renew their mind. That’s the opportunity given to every single believer from day one! 1 Peter 1:13 exhorts us, “Prepare your minds for action!” We’re to love God with all our hearts, soul, strength, and MIND! Dr. Robert Somerville encourages us and invites us to rejoice, “The sphere, in which your joy as a believer exists, is totally unrelated to your circumstances of life or your feelings about them, but related to your unassailable, unchanging relationship to your sovereign Lord.” To think joyfully is the beginning of thinking accurately, and to think accurately is the joyful joy of thinking joyfully. Rejoice!

Weekly Links (9/4/2017)

by Stephen Rodgers

You all know the drill by now: new month, free stuff. Here we go:

  • Between Heaven & the Real World by Steven Curtis Chapman (free audiobook) – This appears to be the auto-ish-biography of a popular Christian singer. Some people might enjoy that, and if you’re one of them, it’s free this month.
  • NIV Application Commentary: Mark by David E. Garland (free Logos book) – There’s a free commentary this month if you happen to be a Logos user.
  • Soul Winning (free Tabletalk magazine) – Ok, so Tabletalk has gotten a bit more complicated. Apparently now it has its own website that you can peruse, which probably means that all the links we’ve gathered here for years are now going to break (they have a new archive link as well). Tabletalk is actually good enough that it’s worth fixing them instead of just deleting those posts though.
  • Themelios 42.2 (free journal) – Technically this came out last month, but I don’t remember if we sounded the trumpets or not. In any event, there’s a new edition of TCG’s journal available.

Enjoy!

Help, Lord

by Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Psalm 12:1

The prayer itself is remarkable, for it is short, but seasonable, sententious, and suggestive. David mourned the fewness of faithful men, and therefore lifted up his heart in supplication-when the creature failed, he flew to the Creator. He evidently felt his own weakness, or he would not have cried for help; but at the same time he intended honestly to exert himself for the cause of truth, for the word ‘help’ is inapplicable where we ourselves do nothing. There is much of directness, clearness of perception, and distinctness of utterance in this petition of two words; much more, indeed, than in the long rambling outpourings of certain professors. The Psalmist runs straight-forward to his God, with a well-considered prayer; he knows what he is seeking, and where to seek it. Lord, teach us to pray in the same blessed manner.

The occasions for the use of this prayer are frequent. In providential afflictions how suitable it is for tried believers who find all helpers failing them. Students, in doctrinal difficulties, may often obtain aid by lifting up this cry of ‘Help, Lord,’ to the Holy Spirit, the great Teacher. Spiritual warriors in inward conflicts may send to the throne for reinforcements, and this will be a model for their request. Workers in heavenly labour may thus obtain grace in time of need. Seeking sinners, in doubts and alarms, may offer up the same weighty supplication; in fact, in all these cases, times, and places, this will serve the turn of needy souls. ‘Help, Lord,’ will suit us living and dying, suffering or labouring, rejoicing or sorrowing. In Him our help is found, let us not beslack to cry to Him.

The answer to the prayer is certain, if it be sincerely offered through Jesus. The Lord’s character assures us that He will not leave His people; His relationship as Father and Husband guarantee us His aid; His gift of Jesus is a pledge of every good thing; and His sure promise stands, ‘Fear not, I WILL HELP THEE.’

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