Monthly Archives: February 2011

The Reality of Hell


Fire! Fire!

by

J. C. Ryle
(1816-1900)

They are preaching up the devil’s old, favorite doctrine!Quantcast

There is such a place as hell. Let no one deceive you with vain words. What people do not like–they try hard not to believe.

1) I know that some people do not believe that there is any Hell at all. They think it impossible, that there can be such a place. They call it inconsistent with the mercy of God. They say that it is too awful an idea to be really true. The devil of course, rejoices in the views of such people. They help his kingdom mightily. They are preaching up the devil’s old, favorite doctrine, “You shall not surely die!” Genesis 3:4

2) I know furthermore, that some do not believe that Hell is eternal! They tell us it is incredible, that a compassionate God will punish people forever. They imagine that He will surely open the prison doors of Hell at last. This also is a mighty help to the devil’s cause.

3) I know also that some believe that there is a Hell–but never allow that anybody is going there! They imagine that . . .

  • all people are good,
  • all are sincere,
  • all mean well, and
  • all, they hope, will go to Heaven when they die!

Alas! what a common delusion is this!

If I never spoke of Hell–I would think I had kept back something that was profitable, and would look on myself as an accomplice of the devil.

Reader, I beseech you, in all tender affection–beware of false views of the subject on which I have been dwelling. Beware of new and strange doctrines about Hell and the eternity of punishment. Beware of manufacturing a god of your own:

  • a god who is all mercy–but not just;
  • a god who is all love–but not holy;
  • a god who has a Heaven for everybody–but a Hell for none;
  • a god who will make no distinction between godly and the ungodly in eternity.

Such a god is an idol of your own imagination! It is as truly an idol–as any snake or crocodile in an Egyptian temple! The hands of your own imagination and sentimentality have made it! It is not the God of the Bible–and beside the God of the Bible, there is no God at all.

JC Ryle (Grace Gems)

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Are you on the narrow road?


Everyone should ask himself:
Have I entered by the narrow gate?
Have I even found it?
Have I even sought it?

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” Matthew 7:13-14

Is everyone who claims to be a “Christian” really saved? In the Bible we are told that if we believe on the Lord Jesus Christ (Believe here meaning trust) we will be saved.  (Acts 16:31) That pretty much says it all. The thief on the cross did not have time to do much of anything but believe, and Jesus promised in Luke 23:43 “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.” So are millions of folks walking the path of belief in Christ to Eternal life? If indeed the broad path leads to destruction many folks are sadly deceived and doomed to a horrible eternal judgment. I am posting a link to a wonderful sermon that really helped explain the answers to these questions and a great little tidbit of wisdom from A.W. Pink and lastly a wonderful article on “False and True Discipleship” by J.R. Miller. Written in 1909 Miller’s words speak with the same urgency today, possibly more so the nearer we come to the return of our Lord.

Sermon from Elizabeth Baptist Church, Pastor Jeff Arthur: Which Gate? Which Way?

Flowery talking–without strict walking

(Arthur Pink, “Christ our Exemplar”)

“Leaving you an example, that you should follow in His steps.” 1 Peter 2:21

“Whoever claims to live in Him–must walk as Jesus did.” 1 John 2:6

If all professors forfeit their claim to a saving interest in Christ, who do not endeavor to sincerely and earnestly imitate Jesus in the holiness of His life–then how small a number of real Christians are there in the world! If flowery talking–without strict walking; if common profession–without holy practice; if Church membership–without denying self and treading the Narrow Way–were sufficient to constitute a Christian–then a large percentage of earth’s population would be entitled to that name.

But if Christ owns none but those who follow the example that He has left–then His flock is indeed a little one. The vast majority of those who claim to be Christians have a name to live–but are dead (Rev. 3:1), being such as walk after the flesh, following the course of this world and yielding their members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin (Romans 6:13). The demands of Christ are too rigid for them–they prefer the Broad Road where the majority are found.

 

False and True Discipleship

Matthew 7:13-29

J. R. Miller, 1909

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”

There are two gates—one narrow and one wide—and two ways corresponding thereto. The easy way is not the right way. This is true in a very wide sense. It is true in the life of a child. There is a broad way of indulgence and indolence—but we know where it leads. There is a way of patient obedience in duty—and the end of this is worthy life and noble character. It is true in young manhood and womanhood. There is a way of pleasure, of ease—which leads to unworthy character. There is a way of self-denial, of discipline, of hard work—and this leads to honor. Then there is a broad way of selfishness and sin—which never reaches heaven’s gates. And there is a way of penitence, of devotion to Christ, of spending and being spent in His service—which end is a seat beside the King on His throne!

It is a reason for great thankfulness, that there is a gate into the spiritual and heavenly life—and into heaven at the end. The glorious things are not beyond our reach. They are high, on dazzling summits—but there is a path that leads to them. We must note, however, that the gate is narrow.

Some people say that it is very easy to be a Christian. But really, it is not easy. It was not easy for the Son of God to prepare the way for us. It was necessary for Him to come from heaven in condescending love, and give His own life in opening the way. Jesus said also that any who would reach the glory of His kingdom, must go by the same way of the cross by which He had gone. He said that the one who will save his life—that is, withhold it from self-denial and sacrifice, shall lose it; and that he alone who loses his life—that is, gives it out in devotion to God and to duty—shall really save it (see 16:24, 25). In one of His parables, too, Jesus speaks of salvation as a treasure hid in a field, and the man who learns of the treasure and its hiding-place has to sell all that he has in order to buy the field (see 13:44). In another parable the same truth is presented under the figure of a merchant seeking goodly pearls, who had to sell all his stock of pearls—that he might buy the one peerless pearl (13:45).

The truth of the difficulty of entrance into the kingdom, is put in another way in this Sermon on the Mount. There are two roads through this world and two gates into the eternal world. One of these roads is broad and easy, with a descending grade, leading to a wide gate. It requires no exertion, no struggle, and no sacrifice to go this way. The other road is narrow and difficult—and leads to a narrow gate. To go this way one has to leave the crowd and walk almost alone—leave the broad, plain, easy road—and go on a hard, rugged road that often gets difficult and steep, entering by a gate too small to admit any bundles of worldliness or self-righteousness, or any of the trappings of the old life. If we get to heaven, we must make up our minds that it can be only by this narrow way of self-denial. There is a gate—but it is narrow and hard to pass through.

Jesus forewarned His friends against false prophets who would come to them in sheep’s clothing—but who inwardly would be ravening wolves! There is something fearful in the eagerness of Satan to destroy men’s lives! He resorts to every possible device. He sends his agents and messengers in forms and garbs intended to deceive the simple-minded and unwary. He even steals the dress of God’s own servants, in order to gain the confidence of believers and then destroy their faith and lead them away to death. There always are such false teachers and guides. They try to pass for sheep—but the sheep’s covering is only worn outside, while inside is the heart of a hungry, blood-thirsty wolf!

Many young people in these times fall under the influence of people who have caught smatterings of skeptical talk which they drop in the form of sneers or mocking queries into the ears of their confiding listeners. They laugh at the simple old cradle beliefs which these young Christians hold, calling them “superstitions.” Then they go on to cast doubt upon, or at least to start questions about, this or that teaching in the Bible, or to caricature some Christian doctrine and hold it up in such a light as to make it look absurd. Thus these “false prophets” poison the minds of earnest young believers, and often destroy their childhood faith and fill them with doubt and perplexity!

Jesus makes it very plain in His teaching, that not profession but obedience is the test of Christian life. “Not everyone that says unto Me, ‘Lord, Lord’ shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of My Father.” It is not enough to believe in Christ, intellectually, even to be altogether orthodox in one’s creed. It is not enough to seem to honor Christ before men, praying to Him and ascribing power to Him. Jesus tells us that some at last who thus seem to be His friends, publicly confessing Him—shall fail to enter the heavenly kingdom!

Why are these confessors of Christ, kept out of the heavenly kingdom? What are the conditions of entrance into this kingdom? The answer is given very plainly. Those alone enter the kingdom, who do the will of the Father who is in heaven. No profession, therefore, is true which is not attested and verified by a life of obedience and holiness. “Simply to Your cross I cling” is not all of the gospel—it is only half of it. No one is really clinging to the cross—who is not at the same time faithfully following Christ and doing whatever He commands. To enter into the kingdom of heaven, is to have in one’s heart the heavenly spirit. We must do God’s will. We cannot have Christ for our Savior, until we have Him also as our Master. We pray, “May Your will be done by me on earth, as it is done in heaven.” If the prayer is sincere, it must draw our whole life with it in loving obedience and acquiescence to the Divine will.

The illustration at the close of the Sermon on the Mount, makes the teaching very plain. “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of mine, and does them, I will liken him unto a wise man, who built his house upon a rock.” Everything turns on the doing or not doing of God’s Word. Both the men here described hear the words—but only one of them obeys, and thus builds on the impregnable foundation. These two houses probably looked very much alike when they were finished. Indeed, the house on the sand may have been more attractive and more showy—than the house built farther up on the hillside. The difference, however, lay in the foundations.

There were two kinds of ground. There was a wide valley, which was dry and pleasant in the summer days, when these men were looking for building sites. Then way above this valley—were high, rocky bluffs. One man decided to build in the valley. It would cost much less. It was easy digging, and the excavations would be less expensive, for the ground was soft. Then it was more convenient also, for the bluffs were not easy of access. The other man looked farther ahead, however, and decided to build on the high ground. It would cost a great deal more—but it would be safer in the end.

So the two homes went up simultaneously, only the one in the valley was finished long before the other was, because it required much less labor. At last the two families moved into their respective residences, and both seemed very happy. But one night there was a great storm. The rains poured down in torrents until a flood, like a wild river, swept through the valley. The house that was built on the low ground—was carried away with its dwellers. The house on the bluff, however, was unharmed.

These two pictures explain themselves. He who built in the valley is the man who has only profession—but who has never really given his life to Christ, nor built on Him as the foundation. The other man who build on the rock—is he who has a true faith in Christ, confirmed by loving obedience. The storms that burst, are earth’s trials which test every lifethe tempests of death and of judgment. The mere professor of religion is swept away in these storms, for he has only sand under him. He who builds on Christ is secure, for no storm can reach him in Christ’s bosom!

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Love and Doctrine


by John Hendryx

Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples.For great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; he is to be feared above all gods.

For all the gods of the nations are idols, but the LORD made the heavens.

Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and glory are in his sanctuary.

Ascribe to the LORD, O families of nations, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength.

Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; bring an offering and come into his courts.

Worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness; tremble before him, all the earth.

Say among the nations, “The LORD reigns.” The world is firmly established, it cannot be moved; he will judge the peoples with equity.

– Psalm 96: 3-10

All who worship images are put to shame, those who boast in idols— worship him, all you gods!

– Psalm 97:7

Christ is king over all creation. Rejoice and celebrate the greatness of His majesty. He is the one True God and He commands all nations to worship Him in love. All other gods are idols and worthless. But Jesus Christ reigns above all gods. The church is God’s chosen vehicle of blessing to the peoples of the earth – that we would bring them the knowledge of the True God. That all who acknowledge His exclusive kingship will receive pardon for their rebellion against Him.

In the passages above, the term “gods” comprehends whatever is accounted as deity, and in this day of pervasive secularism men account themselves deity, for they trust ultimately in their own reason over Revelation, thus incurring the wrath of God. According to God’s word, idolatry of this kind is the worst type of sin … even worse than murder because it is ultimately the murder of someone’s soul. It is the sin, if held to the end, that men will never be forgiven of. So important is this that God’s exclusivity is placed as the foremost commandment (Exodus 20:3) given to men. When we fail to glorify God, we always end up glorifying something else. And when we trust in our own reason over God’s word, we ascribe majesty to that which has none and bring destruction to the people in the world.

People often wonder why God requires belief in Him … and the reason is really quite simple: because all else done apart from Him is falsehood. God alone is true and when we promote any other cause without glorifying Him in it, we bring harm to others – promote a lie and we murder their souls. So to call people in the world to repentance is the greatest act of love. The gospel declares that all that does not spring from a heart that loves God is hateful, abusive and boastful. All men already know in their heart that those who practice idolatry deserve to die – but they continue to do this and give approval to others who practice the same (Rom 1:32).

The Scriptures make clear that all persons know the truth and suppress it (Rom 1:18) – thus all “good” they do in this world is hurtful to others, because they do not bring glory to God in it. If we abuse others in this way then our purpose serves some lesser harmful purpose such as to glorify self, which ultimately, God says, is not loving our neighbor. John Calvin says, “…the godhead is really and truly found in none but the Maker of the world …those religions are vain and contemptible which corrupt the worship of Him.”

So when a Christian calls people to flee from sin, while it may not win him a popularity contest, it surely is done out of great love for that person, a concern for that person’s eternal welfare. We do great harm to the world when we give idols the honor due to God only, so idolaters are grossly deluded and impiously fashion gods to themselves. Secularists, who trust only in their self-declared authority and preferences, have conspired to believe a lie and they promote this worlds’ harm whenever they so exalt own reason, which has no ground for authority. Men of every age think themselves wise, especially those in our own, but all of our wisdom put together is stupid and will only bring us to ruin. Truth is not determined by the fleeting opinions of men or even a multitude of men. Man can boast in nothing of his own, and as long as we continue to refuse to celebrate God, we despoil Christ the honor due His name.

In the present day and age many exalt love over doctrine as if these two things could be separated. Pop culture recently has become more and more impatient with Christians who show their concern for others by proclaiming the gospel to them. Today it is not seen as love and concern for another’s soul so much as hate for them. But the hatred of evil and false doctrine is not a failure to love, but rather, an essential part of it (1 Cor 13:6). Proclaiming the true gospel is, therefore, not unlike confronting a friend who is a junkie or providing medicine for a fatal disease which we have the cure for. It seems there was a time, not long ago, where the world, while rejecting the gospel, still knew it was done out of love. As an example, there was an episode of Seinfeld which showed that the fictional character Elaine actually understood this. David Puddy, her “Christian” boyfriend, confirms that he is religious and is not concerned that Elaine is not, because he is “not the one going to Hell.” Here is part of their dialogue:

Elaine: David, I’m going to hell! The worst place in the world! With devils and those caves and the ragged clothing! And the heat! My god, the heat! I mean, what do you think about all that?Puddy: Gonna be rough.

Elaine: Uh, you should be trying to save me!

Puddy: Don’t boss me! This is why you’re going to hell.

Elaine: I am not going to hell and if you think I’m going to hell, you should care that I’m going to hell even though I am not.

But recently the rhetoric against Christians has taken a decisive turn, which perhaps is more in line with what the church has historically had to face. Declaring that others need the grace of God is now met with hostility, as if hate were its motive. But as Christians we must never be taken captive by the culture, especially in such a critical matter as people’s souls. If we become reduced to a love that has no content, then the evil one blinds the church to its true purpose.

J.I. Packer once said, “Doctrinal preaching certainly bores the hypocrites; but it is only doctrinal preaching that will save Christ’s sheep.”

Many evangelicals in purpose driven and emerging churches tend to greatly minimize doctrine, and would say they beg to differ with J.I. Packer because they prefer love to doctrine. “We can debate doctrine, they say, and we can spend time differing, but the world is perishing because we do not spend that time showing Love: through doing acts of mercy and godly care.”

While not ever minimizing the need for showing our love through acts of mercy, such a simplistic view has failed to resolve the biblical tension that exists between doctrine and love. Remember, Christianity is primarily about what Christ has done for us, NOT what we do for him. Therefore, love without doctrine minimizes Christ and His work, and exalts what we do. Love, rather, flows out of our new life in Christ and what He has revealed to us about Himself in the Scripture. See what the apostle Paul himself says about the relationship between doctrine and love:

“As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith. The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.” – 1 Tim 1:3-5

The aim of Paul’s charge to Timothy to promote sound doctrine is love, he says. If someone is merely promoting a generic love without biblical content then how are we different than any other moralistic religion in the world? Christianity is not about human attainment, but divine accomplishment. It takes doctrinal exposition to understand the grace of God we have in Jesus Christ. True biblical love is not possible unless we understand grace in all its implications.

The world needs something that it doesn’t naturally want. They may embrace a generic Christian love we express too them, but it is the message of an exclusive Christ that they need and, apart from grace, don’t want… and the proclamation of the message of the gospel is really the greatest way to love people. The medicine may be painful to swallow, because it strips man of all hope in himself, but when we show others that we must take the same medicine, then our sharing the gospel is never condescending. We are all in the same boat. Beggars pointing other beggars to bread. Again the gospel is news about what Christ has done for us not advice about what we do for Him, lest we can boast that something other than the grace of God has saved us.

May the Lord use these thoughts to his glory Amen.

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MUTUAL FORBEARANCE


J. R. Miller

Among all Christian duties, there are few that touch life at more points than the duty of mutual forbearance, and there are few that, in the observance or the breach, have more to do with the happiness or the unhappiness of life. We cannot live our lives solitarily. We are made to be social beings. It is in our communion with others that we find our sweetest pleasures and our purest earthly joys. Yet close by these springs of happiness are other fountains that do not yield sweetness. There often are briars on the branches from which we gather the most luscious fruits. Were human nature perfect, there could be nothing but most tender pleasure in the mutual minglings of life. But we are all imperfect and full of infirmities. There are qualities in each one of us that are not beautiful—many that are annoying to others. SELF rules in greater or less measure in the best of us. In our busy and excited lives, we are continually liable to jostle against each other. Our individual interests conflict, or seem to conflict. The things we do in the earnest pressing of our own business and our own plans and efforts seem at times to interfere with the interests of others. In the heat of emulation and the warmth of self-interest, we are apt to do things, which injure others.

Then, in our closer personal contact, in society and in business relations, we are constantly liable to give pain or offence. We sometimes speak quickly and give expression to thoughtless words, which fall like sparks on other inflammable tempers. Even our nearest and truest friends do things that grieve us. Close commingling of imperfect lives always has its manifold little injustices, wrongs, oppressions, slights and grievances.

Furthermore, we do not always see each other in clear and honest light. We are prone to have a bias toward self, and often misconstrue the bearing, words, or acts of others. Many of us, too, are given to little petulance’s and expressions of ill-humour or bad temper, which greatly lessen the probabilities of unbroken fellowship.

Thus, it comes about that no Christian grace is likely to be called into play more frequently than that of mutual forbearance. Without it, there can really exist no close and lasting friendly relationships in a society composed of imperfect beings. Even the most tender intimacies and the holiest associations require the constant exercise of patience. If we resent every apparent injustice, demand the righting of every little wrong, and insist upon chafing and uttering our feelings at every infinitesimal grievance, and if all the other parties in the circle claim the same privilege, what miserable beings we shall all be, and how wretched life will become!

But there is a more excellent way. The spirit of love inculcated in the New Testament will, if permitted to reign in each heart and life, produce fellowship without a jar or break.

We need to guard first of all against A CRITICAL SPIRIT. It is very easy to find fault with people. It is possible, even with ordinary glasses, to see many things in one another that are not what they ought to be. Then some people carry microscopes fine enough to reveal a million animalcules in a drop of water, and with these, they can find countless blemishes in the character and conduct even of the most saintly dwellers on the earth. There are some who are always watching for slights and grievances. They are suspicious of the motives and intentions of others. They are always imagining offences, even where none were most remotely intended. This habit is directly at variance with the law of love, which thinks no evil.

We turn to the Pattern. Does Christ look upon us sharply, critically, suspiciously? He sees every infirmity in us, but it is as though He did not see it. His love overlooks it. He throws a veil over our faults. He continues to pour His own love upon us in spite of all our blemishes and our ill-treatment of Him. The law of Christian forbearance requires the same in us. We must not keep our selfish suspicions ever on the watch-tower or at the windows, looking out for neglects, discourtesies, wrongs, or grievances of any kind. We must not be hasty to think evil of others. We had better be blind, not perceiving at all the seeming rudeness or insult. It is well not to hear all that is said, or, if hear we must, to be as though we heard not.

Many bitter quarrels have grown out of an IMAGINED slights, many out of an utter misconception, or perchance from the misrepresentation of some wretched gossip-monger. Had a few moments been given to ascertain the truth, there had never been any occasion for ill-feeling.

We should seek to know the MOTIVE also which prompts the apparent grievance. In many cases, the cause of our grievance is utterly unintentional, chargeable to nothing worse than thoughtlessness—possibly meant even for kindness. It is never fair to judge men by every word they speak or everything they do in the excitement and amid the irritations of busy daily life. Many a gruff man carries a good heart and a sincere friendship under his coarse manner. The best does not always come to the surface. We should never, therefore, hastily imagine evil intention in others. Nor should we allow ourselves to be easily persuaded that our companions or friends meant to treat us unkindly. A disposition to look favorably upon the conduct of our fellow-men is a wonderful absorber of the frictions of life.

Then there are always cases of real injustice. There are rudenesses and wrongs, which we cannot regard as merely imaginary or as misconceptions. They proceed from bad temperament or from jealousy or malice, and are very hard to bear. Kindness is repaid with unkindness. We find impatience and petulance in our best friends. There are countless things every day in our associations with others, which tend to vex or irritate us.

Here is room for the fullest exercise of that divinely-beautiful love which covers a multitude of sins in others. We seek to make every possible excuse for the neglect or rudeness or wrong. Perhaps our friend is carrying some perplexing care or some great burden today. Something may be going wrong in his business or at his home. Or it may be his unstrung nerves that make him so thoughtless and inconsiderate. Or his bad health may be the cause. A large-hearted spirit will always seek to find some palliation at least for the apparent wrong.

Another step in the school of forbearance is the lesson of keeping silent under provocation. One person alone can never make a quarrel: it takes two. A homely counsel to a newly-married couple was that they should never both be angry at the same time—that one should always remain calm and tranquil. There is a still diviner counsel, which speaks of the soft answer, which turns away wrath. If we cannot have the soft answer always ready, we can at least learn not to answer at all. Our Lord met nearly all the insults He received with patient uncomplaining silence. He was like a lamb silent before the shearer. All the keen insults of the cruel throng wrung from Him no word of resentment, no look of impatience. As the fragrant perfume but gives forth added sweetness when crushed, so cruelty, wrong, and pain only made Him the gentler and the love that always distinguished Him the sweeter.

It is a majestic power, this power of keeping silent. Great is the conqueror who leads armies to victories. Mighty is the strength that captures a city. But he is greater who can rule his own spirit. There are men who can command armies, but cannot command themselves. There are men who by their burning words can sway vast multitudes who cannot keep silence under provocation or wrong. The highest mark of nobility is self-control. It is more kingly than regal crown and purple robe.

“Not in the clamor of the crowded street,

Not in the shouts and plaudits of the throng,

But in ourselves, are triumph and defeat.”

There are times when silence is golden, when words mean defeat, and when victory can be gained only by answering not a word. Many of the painful quarrels and much of the bitterness of what we call so often “incompatibility of temper” would never be known if we would learn to keep silence when others wrong us. We may choke back the angry word that flies to our lips. The insult unanswered will recoil upon itself and be its own destruction.

There is also a wonderful opportunity here for the play of good nature. There are some people whose gracious attitude always comes to their relief when they observe the gathering of a storm, and they will have a little story ready, or will suddenly turn the conversation entirely away from the inflammable subject, or will make some bright or playful remark that will cause the whole trouble to blow off in a hearty laugh.

It would seem possible for all to learn to bear insults or grievances in some of these ways, either in silence—not sullen, thunder-charged, but loving silence—or by returning the soft answer which will quench the flame of anger, or by that wise tact which drives out the petulant sentiment by the expulsive power of a new emotion.

There are at least two motives, which should be sufficient to lead us to cultivate this grace of forbearance. One is that no insult can do us harm unless we allow it to irritate us. If we endure even the harshest words as Jesus endured His wrongs and revilings, they will not leave one trace of injury upon us. They can harm us only when we allow ourselves to become impatient or angry. We can get the victory over them; utterly disarm them of power to do us injury, by holding ourselves superior to them. The feeling of resentment will change to pity when we remember that not he who is wronged, but he who does the wrong, is the one who suffers. Every injustice or grievance reacts and leaves a stain and a wound. All the cruelties and persecutions that human hate could inflict would not leave one trace of real harm upon us, but every feeling of resentment admitted into our hearts, every angry word uttered, will leave a stain. Forbearance thus becomes a perfect shield, which protects us from all the cruelties and wrongs of life.

The other motive is drawn from our relation to God. We sin against Him continually, and His mercy never fails. His love bears with all our neglect, forgetfulness, ingratitude and disobedience, and never grows impatient with us. We live only by His forbearance. The wrongs He endures from us are infinite in comparison with the trivial grievances we must endure from our fellow-men. When we think of this, can we grow impatient of the little irritations of daily fellowship? We are taught to pray every day, “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.” How can we pray this petition sincerely and continue to be exacting, resentful, revengeful, or even to be greatly pained by the unkind treatment of others?

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The Sacrifice of True Love.


I have been thinking about Love a lot lately.

With Valentine’s Day quickly approaching, it seems thoughts of love are on the minds of many people. I have seen magazine articles and blog posts about romantic love, read facebook updates from single friends about love lost or love’s disappointments. Warm, thoughtful posts by newlyweds and flirty posts by folks who are looking in all the wrong places cover the walls of some of my facebook friends.  This is the month that most Americans celebrate romantic love, whatever that might mean to them.  Every human being needs love and companionship and I understand the need to express that but there is a love much greater and far deeper than anything that could be expressed with a candy heart or a box of chocolate.

Over the years I have had to make a few adjustments in how I view true love. It’s wonderful to see a married couple who love each other and stand by that union, the love we express for our family members, children, pets and friends is wonderful and is a blessed gift that we often take for granted.   As a Christian it’s taken me a long walk down the road of maturity in Christ to learn exactly what Christian love is, or should be all about. For many years growing up I was well aware that my home life was not the source of much love on my behalf. This lack of love led me down all sorts of wrong paths, wrought with false hopes and many tears. I learned that Mom’s don’t always love their Daughters.  Brother’s and Sisters are often not close. Men leave, friends can be fickle  and that ultimately no one really owes you anything, let alone kindness or love. I learned that love comes in many forms, but the only love that is lasting is God’s love. For many years of my young adult hood I helped take care of my Father who had a Major stroke and suffered eventually from Dementia. It was a long tough road and romantic love, though it showed up in my life a few times, never quite had the strength to weather my choice in loving my Dad through his illness.

I learned that loving people is much harder than receiving it. Not until I was saved did I totally understand God’s sacrifice of His one and only begotten Son, and I am still coming to terms with how monumental that sacrifice was, and how as a Christian I am called to love people with that same Agape love that God showed a sinner like me. Love that has no strings, no rewards or even personal satisfaction. This is not a love that tolerates sin or heresy, but a love that in Christ calls me to love even my enemies. That’s a pretty tall order, and one that I am just beginning to understand. I may never have warm fuzzy feelings about someone who hurts or is mean to me, but I have to give them the same patience and mercy that God has given me and that’s tough.

While I studied scripture and pondered these things I found two really great sermons from my Church and I have included the links below for you to listen if you choose. I also included an amazing story of courage and sacrifice about a Christian Brother named Dirk Willems. I cannot imagine the sacrifice he was called to make, but his life was a stunning example of true love. The drawing at the top of the page is about him and his story.

Christian Love Part 1

Christian Love Part 2

Late in the winter of 1569, Dirk Willems of Holland was discovered as an Anabaptist, and a thief catcher came to arrest him at the village of Asperen.

Running for his life, Dirk came to a body of water still coated with ice. After making his way across in great peril, he realised his pursuer had fallen through into the freezing water.1

Turning back, Dirk ran to the struggling man and dragged him safely to shore. The thief catcher wanted to release Dirk, but a burgomaster – having appeared on the scene – reminded the man he was under oath to deliver criminals to justice. Dirk was bound off to prison, interrogated, and tortured in an unsuccessful effort to make him renounce his faith. He was tried and found guilty of having been rebaptised, of holding secret meetings in his home, and of allowing baptism there – all of which he freely confessed.

“Persisting obstinately in his opinion”, Dirk was sentenced to execution by fire. On the day of execution, a strong east wind blew the flames away from his upper body so that death was long delayed. The same wind carried his voice to the next town, where people heard him cry more than seventy times, “O my Lord; my God”. The judge present was “finally filled with sorrow and regret”. Wheeling his horse around so he saw no more, he ordered the executioner, “Dispatch the man with a quick death.”

“If I could speak in any language in heaven or on earth but didn’t love others, I would only be making meaningless noise like a loud gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I knew all the mysteries of the future and knew everything about everything, but didn’t love others, what good would I be? And if I had the gift of faith so that I could speak to a mountain and make it move, without love I would be no good to anybody. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would be of no value whatsoever. Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged. It is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. Love will last forever. There are three things that will endure—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.”  1 Corinthians 13

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Christians and the Potential Dangers of Social Media


Timely and well written post from the Sola Sisters blog on Christianity, Doctrine and Social Networking.

Doctrine matters, so much so that the Bible warns us repeatedly to study our Bible, know it’s contents and defend it no matter the consequences. But we are also told to tell the truth in love…..I hate to quote Dionne Warwick but it’s something some folks, like one of her songs says have “just too little of.”
Kindness and mercy should always go hand in hand with truth…we should treat our neighbor with the same Grace that God has so mercifully shown us.

Cristians and the Potential Dangers of Social Media

Recently on my Facebook page I posed this question:

Which of these scenarios would be MOST likely to harden the heart of a lost person peering into our Christian camp, and observing our inner workings:

(1) A Joel Osteen feel good sermon?

(2) Rick Warren’s works righteousness?

(3) The Emergent Church’s antinomianism?

(4) A Doctrinally Precise Blogger who publicly interacts with other Christians with malice and bitterness, and yet refuses to be reconciled?

The comments in response to this question proved to be very thought-provoking, and I will go further here and state that the reason I posed this question is because, while navigating the waters of Facebook, I have run into an issue I had not anticipated.  I’ll get to that, but let me do a little background work first.

I will be the first to say that right doctrine about God is a wonderful thing.  The reason that “right doctrine” about God matters is that all people have doctrine about God (except for atheists), but only right doctrine about God actually has saving power.

doc·trine, noun, \ˈdäk-trən\ – a codified set of beliefs accepted as authoritative by some group

Let me explain.  I had doctrine about “God” as a Hindu, as a Buddhist, and as a pagan (the three flavors of false religion that I kept circling back to as a lost person wandering the world seeking truth).  I believed all my beliefs very sincerely, but I was very sincerely wrong.  I was very sincerely deceived.  And on the Day of Judgment, I would have been standing there with my mouth hanging open, dumbfounded that what I had held to so dearly had been a lie, and that I was headed to hell.

So right doctrine about God is crucial. It is imperative for people to understand that there is a holy, sovereign creator God who made them, and to whom they are beholden.  This God is holy and perfect in every way, and because of this, sinful man cannot be in his presence without being consumed in flames, destroyed by God’s holy wrath against sin. And right there is the great problem that all of mankind faces: how to find a way to enter into the presence of this holy God when there is a burden of sin that cannot be gotten rid of.  And what exactly is sin? We only need to look at the Ten Commandments to understand what sin is:

Honor God above all things (#1 & #2)

Do not bear false witness (#9)

Do not steal (#8)

Do not murder (which Jesus more fully defined as anger in one’s heart toward another) (#6)

These are laws that, if we are honest with ourselves, we have broken, not once or twice, but many, many times throughout our lives.  This is the sin debt that, unpaid, will cause us to be consumed in the presence of God.  But God in his infinite mercy made a way for wretched sinners to be reconciled to  a high and holy God.  He sent his Son Jesus, the God man who was born of a virgin, to live the perfect life that we could not live ourselves, and to then offer his own life up as a ransom for many (Matt 20:28, Eph 5:2).  He was tortured and crucified on a cross as a sacrifice for all who would repent and believe.  And the proof that this sacrifice was acceptable and pleasing to God was that Jesus rose from the dead after three days.  You see, He had done what none of us could do.  We’ve broken God’s laws, and “the wages of sin is death” (Rom 6:23).  But because Jesus lived a perfect, sinless life, death could not hold him (Acts 2:24):

“Where, O death, is your victory?

Where, O death, is your sting?” (1 Cor 15:55)

For all those who humbly bend the knee and confess their sinfulness and need of a Savior, the Lord will graciously save and pardon.  And not only that, neither will death have victory over us. God promises to bring to heaven all those who have been reconciled to him through Jesus’s sacrifice to live with him forever in heaven (1 Thess 5:10). This is amazing good news!  And these are the doctrines that are precious, true and life-giving. Without knowing and understanding and bending the knee to these truths, people are doomed.

Which brings me back to the peculiar problem I have encountered on that infamous social media network known as Facebook.  I’ll admit it, I went onto Facebook perhaps a bit naïve.  You see, I was found and “friended” by people on Facebook (if you’re on FB, you know how it works) who made all the right “professions”and so I clicked “Confirm!” “Confirm!” “Confirm!” with great abandon.  How wonderful, I thought, to find such precious Christian fellowship…and on a social network, of all places!

But some of these newfound “friends,” who at first blush appeared to be brothers and sisters in Christ began to do very confusing things.  Their “confessions of faith” were right…..but something was off.  They had every doctrinal i dotted and t crossed, but when they would show up on threads concerning doctrinal issues, they often proved to be contentious and mean-spirited. This shocked me!  And I wasn’t quite sure how to handle it.  But more importantly, I knew this was not in keeping with the higher standard that Christians are called to:

“I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and gentle as doves.” (Matt 10:16)

As someone who became a born-again Christian relatively late in life, I have many friends from my past who are dear to me and who I know are not saved. I have therefore purposefully made contact through Facebook with family members and old friends, MANY of whom are lost. And one of my reasons for doing this is so that I might be a witness to them, because I dearly love them and desire for them to be saved. I often post things that are clearly intended to provoke people into thinking through perhaps preconceived notions about Christianity, and hopefully, to start asking questions.

So, what happens when they start asking questions? I have to say that I have been deeply dismayed to have some of these FB friends who are professing Christians – and who have surgically precise doctrine –  show up with guns blazing, taking people apart with their words, when often, people are just asking questions.

This is why I wrote this note on Facebook, because this issue is near and dear to me.

Can we not contend for the faith with a loving and gentle spirit – even over doctrinal issues?

Yes, doctrine is important – critically important. But love is important also – critically important.

“We will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church.” (Eph 4:15)

“If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.” (James 1:26)

“Do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature.” (Gal 5:13)

“As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.  Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” (Eph 4:1-3)

“Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.” (Gal 5:24-26)

“I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (Eph 4:1-3)

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Move, I beg You, upon my disordered heart


A Puritan Prayer

O Holy Spirit,
Move, I beg You, upon my disordered heart.
Take away my unruly desires and hateful lusts.
Lift the mists and darkness of unbelief. Brighten
my soul with the pure light of truth. Make it . . .
fragrant as the garden of paradise,
rich with every goodly fruit,
beautiful with heavenly grace,
radiant with rays of divine light.
Be my . . .
comforter,
light,
guide,
sanctifier.

Take of the things of Christ and show them to my
soul. Through You may I daily learn more of His . . .
love,
grace,
compassion,
faithfulness,
beauty.
Lead me to the cross and show me . . .
His wounds,
the hateful nature of evil,
the power of Satan.

May I there see my sins as . . .
the nails which transfixed Him,
the cords which bound Him,
the thorns which tore Him,
the sword which pierced Him.

Help me to find in His death—the
reality and immensity of His love.

Open for me the wondrous volumes of truth in His
death. Increase my faith in the clear knowledge of . . .
atonement achieved,
redemption completed,
guilt done away,
my debt paid,
my sins forgiven,
my soul saved,
hell vanquished,
heaven opened,
eternity made mine.

O Holy Spirit, deepen in me these saving lessons.
Write them upon my heart, that my walk be . . .
sin-loathing,
sin-fleeing,
Christ-loving

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