Be Zealous

by Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Revelation 3:19

If you would see souls converted, if you would hear the cry that ‘the kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord’; if you would place crowns upon the head of the Saviour, and His throne lifted high, then be filled with zeal. For, under God, the way of the world’s conversion must be by the zeal of the church. Every grace shall do exploits, but this shall be first; prudence, knowledge, patience, and courage will follow in their places, but zeal must lead the van. It is not the extent of your knowledge, though that is useful; it is not the extent of your talent, though that is not to be despised; it is your zeal that shall do great exploits.

  • This zeal is the fruit of the Holy Spirit: it draws its vital force from the continued operations of the Holy Ghost in the soul. If our inner life dwindles, if our heart beats slowly before God, we shall not know zeal; but if all be strong and vigorous within, then we cannot but feel a loving anxiety to see the kingdom of Christ come, and His will done on earth, even as it is in heaven.
  • A deep sense of gratitude will nourish Christian zeal. Looking to the hole of the pit whence we were digged, we find abundant reason why we should spend and be spent for God.
  • And zeal is also stimulated by the thought of the eternal future. It looks with tearful eyes down to the flames of hell, and it cannot slumber: it looks up with anxious gaze to the glories of heaven, and it cannot but bestir itself. It feels that time is short compared with the work to be done, and therefore it devotes all that it has to the cause of its Lord.
  • And it is ever strengthened by the remembrance of Christ’s example. He was clothed with zeal as with a cloak. How swift the chariot-wheels of duty went with Him! He knew no loitering by the way.

Let us prove that we are His disciples by manifesting the same spirit of zeal.

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Romans 7 and the Doctrine of Sanctification

by Josh Liu

Editor’s Note: Josh has once again graciously re-worked a seminary paper (or as I like to call it: “Pastor Mark’ed an article”), this time on the topic of Romans 7. For those who don’t know, this is a somewhat controversial chapter since opinions vary on exactly what Paul intended his readers to understand, given some rather interesting syntactical maneuvers.

On the offhand chance that anyone reading this paper also reads the blog over at the Gospel Coalition, let me just say that Josh absolutely describes Thomas Schreiner’s position qua BECNT accurately, but Dr. Schreiner does seem to have modified his view somewhat since that was published, as seen in his contribution to that blog series. Even theologians change their minds from time to time. But as Dr. Schreiner points out at the end of that article, the different positions aren’t that far apart in the greater context anyhow.

Enjoy!

Resounding Faith

by Pastor Patrick Cho

When one of our members resigns their membership at Lighthouse San Diego, we typically try to schedule an exit interview to bless them and pray for them. Over the years, these exit interviews have been a really sweet way to say goodbye and reaffirm the loving relationships that have been built up through the fellowship of the church. One question we ask during the interview is, “From your perspective, what is something that we can be doing better at Lighthouse?” By far, the most frequent answer is that the church could be more evangelistic.

Why is this a problem? Well, it’s a problem because one of the reasons the church exists is to proclaim the amazing grace of God in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Even our motto at Lighthouse is that we would serve to be a beacon of God’s truth and love! So if our members are not seeing that the church is striving to be evangelistic, then this needs to be more of a focus of our ministry.

But this is also a problem because the measure of a church’s evangelistic ministry is directly proportionate to how evangelistic its members are. If the church’s members were devoted to evangelism and responded to the urgency of reaching souls for Christ, then surely the church would be characterized as evangelistic. In other words, evangelism is not firstly a program. Evangelism is the responsibility of each believer in obedience to the call of Christ and the command of Scripture.

Of course the church could initiate some exciting new evangelistic program. At first, many people might get involved perhaps because of the sheer excitement of it. But over time, we have seen that participation dwindles. The excitement fades. Sadly, enough time passes and the ministry is barely being held together by the faithful few who truly have a heart for it. How can this be avoided? It doesn’t begin with starting newer and better programs. Honestly, it must begin in the pulpit through the faithful preaching of God’s Word. Only there can the Spirit of God work through what is preached to light a fire in the hearts of the church’s members to love what the Lord loves and to commit to what the Lord requires.

This is the reason our theme for 2017 is “Resounding Faith” from 1 Thessalonians 1:8, where the Bible says, “For the word of the Lord has sounded forth from you, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith toward God has gone forth, so that we have no need to say anything.” The key phrase is “sounded forth.” It means to ring out and describes the blasting of a trumpet. The reputation of the Thessalonians was that they were faithful in their proclamation of the gospel to the extent the Apostles were hearing about their faith throughout all of Greece.

But what led to the Thessalonians’ commitment to being a faithful witness? It wasn’t some clever church program. They simply recalled the drastic life change that took place when God rescued them from their idolatry. They maintained a keen awareness of the effect of the gospel in their lives not just to bring them to salvation but also with its ongoing application. In v. 5, the Apostle Paul testifies of the power of the gospel and the work of the Spirit in their lives to bring about radical change. In v. 9, the actual transformation wrought by the gospel in their lives is undeniable. They had turned to God from serving idols. Having experienced so great a salvation, testifying to the grace of God became a natural outflow of their lives.

As we unpack this theme throughout the year, hopefully it will challenge the church to consider: 1) Do you regularly preach the gospel to yourself remembering how the Lord brought about radical change in your life? 2) Do you seek to grow in your understanding of the biblical theology of salvation so that you can better know who God is, what He does, and what He requires of you? and 3) Does your testimony and experience of conversion fuel your evangelism? I’m praying that the teaching we work through this year will cause the church to be bolder in their witness taking risks of faith to tell others about Jesus because of what is at stake.

Ye That Love The Lord Hate Evil

by Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Psalm 97:10

Thou hast good reason to ‘hate evil,’ for only consider what harm it has already wrought thee. Oh, what a world of mischief sin has brought into thy heart! Sin blinded thee so that thou couldst not see the beauty of the Saviour; it made thee deaf so that thou couldst not hear the Redeemer’s tender invitations. Sin turned thy feet into the way of death, and poured poison into the very fountain of thy being; it tainted thy heart, and made it ‘deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.’ Oh, what a creature thou wast when evil had done its utmost with thee, before divine grace interposed! Thou wast an heir of wrath even as others; thou didst ‘run with the multitude to do evil.’

Such were all of us; but Paul reminds us, ‘but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.’ We have good reason, indeed, for hating evil when we look back and trace its deadly workings. Such mischief did evil do us, that our souls would have been lost had not omnipotent love interfered to redeem us. Even now it is an active enemy, ever watching to do us hurt, and to drag us to perdition.

Therefore ‘hate evil,’ O Christians, unless you desire trouble. If you would strew your path with thorns, and plant nettles in your death-pillow, then neglect to ‘hate evil’; but if you would live a happy life, and die a peaceful death, then walk in all the ways of holiness, hating evil, even unto the end. If you truly love your Saviour, and would honour Him, then ‘hate evil.’ We know of no cure for the love of evil in a Christian like abundant intercourse with the Lord Jesus. Dwell much with Him, and it is impossible for you to be at peace with sin.

‘Order my footsteps by Thy Word,
And make my heart sincere;
Let sin have no dominion, Lord,
But keep my conscience clear.’

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Weekly Links (2/24/2017)

“God chooses to glorify himself in and through human beings, first and foremost through his own Son become man, but also through his chosen people called to share his glory in union with Christ.” [(David VanDrunen, God’s Glory Alone—The Majestic Heart of Christian Faith and Life: What the Reformers Taught…and Why It Still Matters (The Five Solas Series)]

by Cesar Vigil-Ruiz

Feliz Friday! All thanks be to God for sustaining us this week to worship Him in spirit and in truth. I found some great links for you, so make sure you grab a seat and enjoy what’s coming your way!

That’s all for this week! Please be in prayer for flocks this week, as we will be reviewing this past Sunday’s message, as well as the upcoming Care in Action event tomorrow. See you all on Sunday!

Soli Deo Gloria

We’re Not Our Own

by Pastor James Lee

Frank Sinatra once sang, “I’ll do it my way.” Miley Cyrus now sings, “This is our house, this is our rules… we run things, things don’t run we, don’t take nothing from nobody.” Is it any surprise that one of the first things that comes from the lips of our children is “mine”, and keeps coming from ours, just in a more sophisticated way? That’s me. That’s you. That’s all of us. Let’s be honest about it. I believe we would all agree that there is no shortage of things to repent of on a daily basis in light of His grace. At the very least, we are far more independently minded than we realize, especially as those who publicly profess Jesus as “Lord”… with the added irony, that we succumb by default to some temporal servitude elsewhere. We’re not nearly as “free” as we boast, but when life hits our self-appointed demi-god status, we get upset with said freedom. Our remaining flesh insists on being captains of our own ship. That’s the madness, insanity, idolatry, irrational nature of our shackled “emancipation”. The tune of our Western post-Enlightenment edict screams the maxim “It’s My life! My choice! My body!” Of course, we know it’s nothing new. It’s as old as sin, “Did God actually say… you will not surely die!” Yet, that’s the song of our own arrogance and self-sufficiency when it surfaces. Whether we’re teenagers yelling at our parents because we think we know better, or we question God’s perfect wisdom by worrying, or we think we deserve better in life, or the ways we approach church commitment, or how we disregard godly counsel for what we want, or assume that something is ultimately our accomplishment and possession – our degrees, our opportunities, our homes, our money, our stuff… Thus, we tend to enthrone our own timetables, expectations, desires, standards, not with a conviction of accountability to God, but with an attitude of autonomy from Him.

But we’ve never been our own. And what we have has never been our own. Thus, every time we think that, we believe the age old lie of our supposed self-autonomy. We couldn’t create ourselves, let alone sustain ourselves. We live and breathe as the universe is held by His personal power without a sweat. We need to eat and sleep. God doesn’t need. We struggle to consistently love others like we would want to. We can’t figure out our problems that we ourselves created, only to have the audacity to blame God despite everything good He has given us and everything bad that we puny and fallible and limited and fallen sinners have made a muck of all on our own. It’s a divine miracle and mercy that Louis Armstrong can sing “It’s a Wonderful World.” It’s not as bad as it could be, but we looked at the creation, and knowingly suppressed the truth about the Creator (Romans 1:18ff). In the midst of that blindness, our loving God intervened!

If left to myself, I would have never sought after God – I did not find Him; He found me! He did not stumble across me by accident or hope or wait for me to ask for His mercy or wish that I as a spiritually dead person (Eph 2:1) with no desire for Him at all, then would somehow one day “return the favor.” Rather, He set His loving affections on the criminally undeserving and stopped us from continuing on the path we were on. Romans 5:8 declares, “But God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” He has loved us, loves us, knows all our sorrows, cares for us as we experience the consequences of our own sin and of living in this fallen world. He commits to love us, and we’ve done nothing to merit or earn it. He set His affections on us, formed us in our mother’s wombs, preserved us, called us, saved us, gave us new life! Creationally, not just consequently by redemption, we’re not our own. Our lives belong to the Lord!

Here are at least 8 reasons why we’re both joyfully and soberly not our own:

1. We’re Not Our Own… Because We Were Never Our Own

  • Genesis 1:27 – God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.
  • Revelation 4:11 – “Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created.

2. We’re Not Our Own… Because He Chose to Redeem Us Before We Ever Came to Be

  • Ephesians 1:3-4 – Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.
  • 1 Corinthians 1:30-31 – He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, whom God made our wisdom and our righteousness and sanctification and redemption. Therefore, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

3. We’re Not Our Own… Because We Have Been Freed to His Loving Lordship

  • 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 – Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.
  • Galatians 5:13 – “Do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh.”

4. We’re Not Our Own… Because He Bought Us Back At An Incomprehensible Cost

  • Romans 8:32 – He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?
  • 1 Peter 1:17-19 – If you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth; knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.

5. We’re Not Our Own… Because He Adopted Us Despite Who We Once Were

  • 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 – Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.
  • Galatians 4:4-5 – “But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.”

6. We’re Not Our Own… Because We Belong to Him Completely and Eternally

  • Romans 6:5,11 – For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection… So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
  • John 10:28-29 – I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.

7. We’re Not Our Own… Because We Now Embrace Him Willingly, We Love Him!

  • 1 Peter 1:6-9 – In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls.
  • 1 John 4:18-19 – There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us.

8. We’re Not Our Own… Because He’s Left Us Here With a Privileged Mission to Fulfill

  • Acts 1:8 – “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
  • 1 Peter 2:9 – But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

True freedom is being enslaved to the Lord, and anything outside that is a self-deception that leads to disaster. As a young Christian, I remember hearing Jay Adams ask the question, “Where is the train most free: ‘confined’ to the tracks, or ‘free’ to roll on the dirt?” We were designed by our Good Creator to enjoy the freedom and joy of living in a trusting and submissive relationship to Him. There is a dramatic contrast between the Absaloms, “Oh that I were king,” and John the Baptists, “He must increase, I must decrease.

Alexander Maclaren explained, “Liberty does not mean doing as you like, it means liking as you ought, and doing that. He only is free who submits to God in Christ, and thereby overcomes himself and the world and all antagonism, and is able to do that which it is his life to do.” James Montgomery Boice wrote, “There is no such thing as absolute freedom for anyone. No human is free to do everything he or she may want to do. There is One Being in the universe who is totally free, of course. That is God. But all others are limited by or enslaved by someone or something. As a result, the only meaningful question in this area is: Who or what are you serving? … Since you and I are human beings and not God, we can never be autonomous. We must either be slaves to sin or slaves of Jesus Christ. But here is the wonderful and very striking thing: To be a slave of Christ is true freedom.” Jesus Himself warned in Matthew 6:24, “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.”

For the child of God, what a joy to confess, that we’re not our own! We belong to the Lord who loves us! What gratitude overflows and strong security to say that we are who we are, by the grace of God! John Piper said, “When we belong to Jesus, we’re finally able to make God look glorious in our lives.” The greatest happiness in life is to be a slave of the glorious Christ! To be a slave of Christ is true freedom!

Are They Israelites? So Am I.

by Charles Haddon Spurgeon

2 Corinthians 11:22

We have here A PERSONAL CLAIM, and one that needs proof. The apostle knew that His claim was indisputable, but there are many persons who have no right to the title who yet claim to belong to the Israel of God.

If we are with confidence declaring, ‘So am I also an Israelite,’ let us only say it after having searched our heart as in the presence of God. But if we can give proof that we are following Jesus, if we can from the heart say, ‘I trust Him wholly, trust Him only, trust Him simply, trust Him now, and trust Him ever,’ then the position which the saints of God hold belongs to us-all their enjoyments are our possessions; we may be the very least in Israel, ‘less than the least of all saints,’ yet since the mercies of God belong to the saints AS SAINTS, and not as advanced saints, or well-taught saints, we may put in our plea, and say, ‘Are they Israelites? so am I; therefore the promises are mine, grace is mine, glory will be mine.’ The claim, rightfully made, is one which will yield untold comfort. When God’s people are rejoicing that they are His, what a happiness if they can say, ‘So AM I!’ When they speak of being pardoned, and justified, and accepted in the Beloved, how joyful to respond, ‘Through the grace of God, SO AM I.’

But this claim not only has its enjoyments and privileges, but also its conditions and duties. We must share with God’s people in cloud as well as in sunshine. When we hear them spoken of with contempt and ridicule for being Christians, we must come boldly forward and say, ‘So am I.’ When we see them working for Christ, giving their time, their talent, their whole heart to Jesus, we must be able to say, ‘So do I.’ O let us prove our gratitude by our devotion, and live as those who, having claimed a privilege, are willing to take the responsibility connected with it.

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