Loving the Truth

by Pastor Patrick Cho

After giving it a lot of careful thought, I have concluded that I do not like Brussels sprouts. If you know me or have ever eaten with me, you might think this strange because when I eat in restaurants I order Brussels sprouts all the time. I thoroughly enjoy Brussels sprout dishes served at many restaurants, but I would still contend that I do not like Brussels sprouts. How is this possible? This revelation came to me when I asked myself if I would enjoy a Brussels sprout in all its naked glory. Would I enjoy a plain Brussels sprout simply cooked without all the accompanying accoutrements? Of course not.

I realized that it is not so much the Brussels sprout that I enjoy but the butter and bacon and caramelized onions and garlic and the other ingredients used to dress a Brussels sprout and make it not only edible but even enjoyable! You must admit that with enough butter and bacon, onions and garlic, you could probably make a bike tire sound somewhat appetizing.

What does this have to do with loving the truth? The truth is everything to a believer. It is by the grace of God, which leads us to the knowledge of the truth, that a person is saved (2 Tim. 2:24-26). Without a proper understanding of the truth, one cannot know God. Jesus emphasizes our need for the truth when He tells His disciples that if they continue in His Word they will know the truth and the truth will set them free (John 8:31-32). Truth is so vital to the believer that the Apostle John equates a person’s salvation to having the truth in them (1 John 1:8; 2:4).

But as you examine Scripture, you also see that true believers not only have the truth, they love the truth, as well. This is one of the marks of saving faith, that a person loves the truth (cf. 2 Thess. 2:9-10). The psalmist gives praise to God and thanks Him for His lovingkindness and truth (Ps. 138:2). Think of how often the psalmist proclaims His love for God’s Word, which is His truth (Ps. 119:47, 48, 97, 113, 119, 127, 140, 159, 163, 167). The sad indictment given in John 3 is that Jesus came as the Light of the world, but people loved the darkness more than the Light (John 3:19).

Many Christians will say that they love the truth, but their lives portray the exact opposite. When you read some of the accounts in Scripture and question God’s good character, when you dismiss biblical principles because to you they are not realistic or practical, when you would rather heed the counsel of your own heart rather than the counsel of the Word of God, you are not loving the truth.

Seeker sensitive ministries across the globe are filling their pews by offering an attractive service – amazing music, appealing stage design, shorter sermons, compelling drama, and delightful food. People will confess their love for Jesus and yet will often stand against clear biblical principles. When they come across scriptural teaching that does not sit well with them, they justify their unbiblical positions by arguing that God must have changed or that the Bible is somehow applied differently today. In the end, people are not submitting to the truth of God but forcing the Bible to fit into their own personal belief systems and agendas. This is not loving the truth. This is going to church because you like the dressing.

One mark of spiritually mature believers is that they love to hear God’s Word preached. Spiritually immature believers place a disproportionate value on the preacher or the delivery. You might prefer some preachers over others because of their style, but do you outright refuse to listen to pastors that do not appeal to you? Or do you find yourself constantly criticizing the delivery of a sermon rather than meditating on its truth?

As believers, we need to be very careful that we do not love the dressing more than the proverbial sprout. Do you love the truth? Do you come to church because you love the Lord and want to hear His Word, or do you come to church merely for social reasons or because you simply enjoy all the frills? With the psalmist, we ought to agree that God’s Word is “more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb” (Ps. 19:10). The truth of God is everything to the believer.

He Openeth, And No Man Shutteth

by Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Revelation 3:7

Jesus is the keeper of the gates of paradise and before every believing soul He setteth an open door, which no man or devil shall be able to close against it. What joy it will be to find that faith in Him is the golden key to the everlasting doors. My soul, dost thou carry this key in thy bosom, or art thou trusting to some deceitful pick-lock, which will fail thee at last? Hear this parable of the preacher, and remember it.

The great King has made a banquet, and He has proclaimed to all the world that none shall enter but those who bring with them the fairest flower that blooms. The spirits of men advance to the gate by thousands, and they bring each one the flower which he esteems the queen of the garden; but in crowds they are driven from the royal presence, and enter not into the festive halls. Some bear in their hand the deadly nightshade of superstition, or the flaunting poppies of Rome, or the hemlock of self- righteousness, but these are not dear to the King, the bearers are shut out of the pearly gates.

My soul, hast thou gathered the rose of Sharon? Dost thou wear the lily of the valley in thy bosom constantly? If so, when thou comest up to the gates of heaven thou wilt know its value, for thou hast only to show this choicest of flowers, and the Porter will open: not for a moment will He deny thee admission, for to that rose the Porter openeth ever. Thou shalt find thy way with the rose of Sharon in thy hand up to the throne of God Himself, for heaven itself possesses nothing that excels its radiant beauty, and of all the flowers that bloom in paradise there is none that can rival the lily of the valley. My soul, get Calvary’s blood-red rose into thy hand by faith, by love wear it, by communion preserve it, by daily watchfulness make it thine all in all, and thou shalt be blessed beyond all bliss, happy beyond a dream. Jesus, be mine for ever, my God, my heaven, my all.

6.15p

Weekly Links (8/11/2017)

“The easiest way you can love the church is simply by showing up. It sounds easy, but most of us have no idea what just being there means to those around us. Your church family is genuinely encouraged by your presence.” (Jaquelle Crowe, This Changes Everything: How the Gospel Transforms the Teen Years)

by Cesar Vigil-Ruiz

Feliz Friday! Well, we come back to providing a number of links that, we hope, will be a blessing to you all, and we promise not to hold anything back! So here are this week’s links!

  • The Gospel Coalition has come out with their new issue of the Themelios journal, and it looks like quite a resource! I’m personally excited to dig into Wingard’s article on being a Reformed compatibilist philosopher (is there any other kind?), McDonald’s article on the incompatibility of natural selection and an epistemology of evil, along with the many, many book reviews! You do not want to miss this!
  • As the school year begins, how do students, especially freshmen, stay strong in the Lord upon moving away for college? Pastor Jon Payne provides five ways.
  • Melissa Cain Travis deals with the dismissal by skeptics that scientists during the time of the Scientific Revolution were devout Christians because of their scientific knowledge. She focuses on Johannes Kepler, but it looks like a series of posts is forthcoming.
  • Professor David Murray is updating his resources page on various topics, and gave a facelift to his page on addictions. There’s a lot to sift through, so make time for this one.
  • Kevin DeYoung apparently stirred up a hornet’s nest in writing a post concerning Christians watching the show ‘Game of Thrones.’ Nicholas Batzig provides some further reflections on the issue. I pray this leads to greater discernment and holiness among God’s people.
  • Biblical counselor David Powlison answers the question, “Is sexual renewal a simple or complex process?” He always points us to wisdom gleaned from Scripture and also provides a story that may speak parallel to where you currently may be.
  • In an excerpt from a sermon, John Piper expresses eight thoughts on the deadliest weapon every believer has against the devil. May we as a church take heed to what is spoken.
  • Mark Johnston provides a theology of vacation from a simple observation of one of Christ’s statements to His disciples while here on earth. Even if summer is coming to an end, may we take our rest the way Christ models for us.

That’s all for this week! Please be in prayer for tonight as we have Bible study for the church, and reports from both the Argentina and Czech Republic teams on Sunday. See you then!

Soli Deo Gloria

Renewing Our Minds for Rejoicing, Pt. 5 – “Think Submissively”

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 submissively to the Lord as Lord, to trust His wisdom, to obey His will, and not challenge either as being defective, nor to bring Him down to our size, which in reality is to put us above Him. If we think submissively, we’re remembering that our future in Christ could not be better! We’re content because of that. We’re secure because of that. And God grants us a peace that surpasses all understanding, one that transcends all analysis, human definitions, rational powers, because you don’t go to people to get it, you go to God to get it. It’s more than all that we can ever ask or imagine on our own. And notice something very important… Paul doesn’t say that if you pray with thanksgiving, then God’s going to answer all your requests the way you want. In fact, he doesn’t say anything about an answer, but that whenever and however the answer may come, God will give us what? Peace in the storms of life. That’s the gracious issue. That’s the sole expectation. So our expectation is not ultimately that He’ll give us a better life or a new job or the gift of marriage or a perfect church or certain type of president or healing of our cancer or nicer body or better parents or even relief, but that our expectation is that God will answer in whatever form He deems best for us… so we can rest in the goodness of that. He’s going to answer our prayers, but we submit ourselves to the truth He’s going to answer in an infinitely better and wiser and greater way that we would ever ask! So we’re not demanding anything, insisting on anything, we just want to know God, trust God, glorify God. Isaiah 26:3-4: “The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace, Because he trusts in You. Trust in the LORD forever, For in GOD the LORD, we have an everlasting Rock.”

  • So we’re thinking well as we sing, “Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to know, it is well, it is well with my soul.”
  • So we’re thinking well as we confess, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You alone have words of eternal life.”
  • So we’re thinking well as we live out our calling, “Whether we eat or drink or whatever we do, we do all to the glory of God!”
  • So we’re thinking well as we proclaim to ourselves and others, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding, but in all your ways, acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.”
  • So we’re thinking well as we praise God, “Though the fig tree should not blossom And there be no fruit on the vines, Though the yield of the olive should fail And the fields produce no food, Though the flock should be cut off from the fold And there be no cattle in the stalls, Yet I will exult in the LORD, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.”
  • So we’re thinking well as we pray, “Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name, Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven, give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for Thine is the power and glory forever and ever! Amen and Amen and Amen!”

“God Hath Made Me To Laugh…”

by Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Genesis 21:6

It was far above the power of nature, and even contrary to its laws, that the aged Sarah should be honoured with a son; and even so it is beyond all ordinary rules that I, a poor, helpless, undone sinner, should find grace to bear about in my soul the indwelling Spirit of the Lord Jesus. I, who once despaired, as well I might, for my nature was as dry, and withered, and barren, and accursed as a howling wilderness, even I have been made to bring forth fruit unto holiness. Well may my mouth be filled with joyous laughter, because of the singular, surprising grace which I have received of the Lord, for I have found Jesus, the promised seed, and He is mine for ever. This day will I lift up psalms of triumph unto the Lord who has remembered my low estate, for ‘my heart rejoiceth in the Lord; mine horn is exalted in the Lord; my mouth is enlarged over mine enemies, because I rejoice in Thy salvation.’

I would have all those that hear of my great deliverance from hell, and my most blessed visitation from on high, laugh for joy with me. I would surprise my family with my abundant peace; I would delight my friends with my ever-increasing happiness; I would edify the Church with my grateful confessions; and even impress the world with the cheerfulness of my daily conversation. Bunyan tells us that Mercy laughed in her sleep, and no wonder when she dreamed of Jesus; my joy shall not stop short of hers while my Beloved is the theme of my daily thoughts. The Lord Jesus is a deep sea of joy: my soul shall dive therein, shall be swallowed up in the delights of His society. Sarah looked on her Isaac, and laughed with excess of rapture, and all her friends laughed with her; and thou, my soul, look on thy Jesus, and bid heaven and earth unite in thyjoy unspeakable.

6.15a

Weekly Links (8/4/2017)

by Stephen Rodgers

Well, the missions teams are back and August is upon us, which means that our annual hiatus is over! So without further ado, here are the links to the freely-available resources for July and August.

  • Everything is Possible by Jen Bricker (audiobook) – I’m not personally familiar with Jen Bricker or her story, but her autobiography is available for free this month from christianaudio.com.
  • Why I Am a Christian by John Stott (Logos resource) – I am familiar with John Stott however, and this is a truly excellent introduction to the Christian faith.
  • Tabletalk Magazine (free articles) – As always, Tabletalk is something you don’t want to miss. The July issue was titled “Entertainment” and the August issue is titled “Giving an Answer.”
  • The English Reformation (free magazine) – The latest edition of Credo Magazine continues their theme of “The Reformation” in the context of church history, and this issue focuses particularly on the activities and consequences of the English Reformation.
  • 9Marks Journal (free articles) – Since I last mentioned them, the folks over at 9Marks have had not one but two separate journals published: one on the topic of Pastoring Singles and another on the topic of Church Mergers and Plants.

That should hopefully keep everyone busy for a while at least! I hope everyone had a restful and productive hiatus…but it sure is good to be back.

Pro Rege

As They Grow, I Grow

by Nelson Kha

It is crazy how six months has gone by since my first day in the Sonlight ministry. For those who know me, I have always been very involved with the music ministry at the church, but the thought of working with kids has never been at the forefront of my mind. Just a little over a year ago, I prayed and asked God to reveal to me where He could use me to help and serve in other ministries other than the praise ministry. The timing was perfect because in the last few members meetings, Ryan shared during the ministry updates that the Sonlight ministry was in need of some help due to the large number of children now at the church. In the little time I have been involved with Sonlight, there are a few things that I was able to glean from it, including how the Sonlight ministry has been a profitable time for me.

“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6)

Being at the church for close to 8 years now, I have been given the wonderful privilege of seeing many of the children grow from infants to toddlers, and now to school-age children. They know the Bible! They know the stories! I can recount quite a handful of incidents in which even the youngest ones can retell what they have learned in the last few months. Sometimes, they even remember the stories and lessons better than me! In addition to the teaching time, the Sonlight ministry does a great job having supplemental activities and discussion times when the kids can further participate in applying the lesson to their day-to-day lives. It is during those moments that we as teachers can be a little more intentional with them, helping them better understand the Bible lessons and apply them to their lives. Now at this point, whether they have come to an understanding of the gospel or not, what is encouraging is seeing the children ministries at our church hold fast to the Word and raising the children up in the knowledge of our Lord. As the children continue to learn to love the Lord and others, it’s also a personal reminder for me to love in the same way and consider the lessons being taught.

Lessons after lessons, you will normally see the kids excited to participate and hear God’s Word being taught. They would come in the room, sign-in, grab their seats and are excited to learn. At times I wonder about our own attitude when it comes to hearing God’s Word preached. Do we share the same enthusiasm as these kids do? Why not? Seeing their excitement is definitely refreshing and it is an area where I am being challenged to cultivate an enthused and excited attitude towards the Word of God.

A typical day in Sonlight usually starts with the lesson being taught during first hour. Currently, we are studying through the book of Acts, though we did take a small break during the Easter season. What was helpful though was that the kids were able to follow-up with the life of Christ, then continue on with how the early church was started after Christ’s ascension. Like Ryan’s past Beacon article mentioned, this journey through Acts shed some light into God’s work in Paul’s life and in how God intended to accomplish the mission to make disciples of all nations through the vehicle of his Church. My prayer is that as we finish up our study in Acts, God will use the remaining time to teach the children to see how He intends to draw all nations to Himself and through it, they may see the sovereignty of God. After the lesson, we usually have an activity, which consists of either a game or something that will supplement the lesson. This is a good time for the kids to expel some of that pent-up energy! Right after that, we have a time of praise and then go straight into second hour. Second hour is usually where we have snack time and really get to know the kids during table time. As I mentioned before, this is where the teachers can help the kids apply the Bible lesson to their lives, as well as a chance for us to get to know the kids better.

As this school year concludes and promotion Sunday approaches, I highly encourage those that have been on the fence on whether to serve in a new ministry to serve in Sonlight! This ministry is a great place to witness God’s saving work in the lives of future generations, growing them to love Him and His people. As these kids continue to grow (physically and spiritually), God continues to use them and this ministry to grow myself. I can’t help but say that it is truly a sanctifying process, as I sometimes feel like I gain more from it than what I put in. Long story short, join us!

July Hiatus (2017)

by Stephen Rodgers

As we’ve done in years past, we’ll be taking a brief hiatus for the month of July. In case anyone is curious as to the reasons behind that, in no particular order they are:

  • This is a time where a number of our members who support the Beacon directly and indirectly are unavailable: many collegians are out of town, summer mission team members are out of the country, etc.
  • This is a time where we like to give our pastors, elders, and ministry coordinators a little bit of a break from writing articles. Some use it to catch up, others to get ahead, but they really do appreciate a few weeks off. And this year, some of them are also out on the mission field.
  • Last but not least, this gives us on the Beacon staff an opportunity to update, upgrade, and generally tweak some of the code under the hood, without the fear that we’ll inadvertently bring the site down and prevent you from receiving fresh content. (We just inadvertently bring down the site and prevent you from receiving any content whatsoever…just kidding…mostly).

In the meantime, I’d encourage you to take the opportunity to explore and catch up on some past articles you may have missed.  Here’s a few of my favorites:

That’s it for now. See you in August!

Pro Rege

Missions Monday #14 – AR Prayer Requests

by Josh Liu

Robert Murray M’Cheyne once said, “a man is what he is on his knees before God, and nothing more.” No one ought to presume that they are able to accomplish anything apart from the sovereignty and power of God, and prayer is a means of such dependence. As the missions teams labor and prepare to leave, we all must depend on God through prayer. Regardless of what occurs on these trips, we consider it a failure if we do not go in dependence on God (through prayer).

While the Czech Republic and Argentina team members go, evangelize, and serve, it is the responsibility of the church to pray–for the church is the team. As a church, we unite in prayer in carrying out the Great Commission of making disciples. Please labor in praying for the ministry of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ in the following areas.

For IBM Tucuman

  • The raising up and maturing of faithful godly leaders
  • The spiritual edification of the members
  • The biblical and gracious confrontation of sin
  • The exposing of unrepentant sin and false professions
  • For financial, physical, and spiritual provision for the church
  • For the IBM Tucuman Family Retreat – For the Holy Spirit to work through His Word to bring deep conviction, encouragement, and transformation

For the Evangelism Campaign

  • Working with saved, faithful translators
  • Opportunities to plant, water, and sow seeds of the Gospel
  • Souls to be saved
  • Mobilization of IBM members

For Pastor Jorge and his Family

  • Spiritual encouragement and strength
  • Perseverance and faithfulness in ministry
  • Wisdom in leading and shepherding

For the San Diego Team

  • Spiritual and physical preparation and protection
  • Unity and commitment to peacemaking
  • Preaching of God’s Word