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    This year I will be sharing brief excerpts from the articles, sermons, and books I am currently reading. My posts will not follow a regular schedule but will be published as I find well-written thoughts that should be of interest to maturing Christian readers. Whenever possible, I encourage you to go to the source and read the complete work of the author.

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Facing Adversity

There is some good in adversity I suppose. I often hear the statement that “What doesn’t kill you will make you stronger!” Yet, most sane people I know would rather avoid pain and adversity if possible. There are examples, however, of adversity making people stronger to serve the purposes of God: Take John Bunyan for instance. He was arrested in 1660 for preaching without a license. In prison, he began writing his great book Pilgrim’s Progress. Then there is Alexander Solzhenitsyn. The communists imprisoned him for criticizing them. While suffering in the Gulag (concentration camp), he wrote poems in his head, which he later was able to publish and eventually he wrote the Gulag Archipelago based on his experiences. Consider the story of Joseph in Genesis. First in slavery and then in prison Joseph learned to forgive, to persevere, and perhaps a good dose of humility. These lessons and the hand of God brought Joseph to Pharaoh’s attention and placed him in a position to save his family from starvation.

There are certainly many other examples that could be written about. The Lord, however, provides us with many encouragements in the Scriptures to hold on to as anchors of hope when adversity comes our way. One of my favorites is “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28) A few of many helpful Bible verses in times of trial are listed below:

Proverbs 3:5-6

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

Proverbs 18:10

The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe.

Isaiah 41:10

[F]ear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

John 14:27

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

John 16:33

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

The Gospel In Your Heart

Charles H. Spurgeon

Quoting Charles H. Spurgeon

The Word will make your heart rich with truth, rich with understanding, and then your conversation, when it flows from your mouth, will be like your heart– rich, soothing, and sweet. Make your heart full of rich, generous love, and then the stream that flows from your hand will be just as rich and generous as your heart.

Above all, get Jesus to live in your heart, and then out of your heart shall flow rivers of living water, more rich, more satisfying than the water of the well of Sychar of which Jacob drank. Oh! go, Christian, to the great mine of riches, and cry to the Holy Spirit to make your heart rich unto salvation. So shall your life and conversations be a boon to your fellow man; and when they see you, your face will be like an angel of God. Wise men will stand up when they see you, and men will give you reverence.

The Preacher Under Fire!

John Wilbur Chapman

Criticism of your life’s work is not often easy to listen to. The Minister of the Gospel is no different in this than any other man. Yet, there are judgments made which we all would do well to pause and consider. The following is an excerpt from a message by J. Wilbur Chapman (1859-1917) delivered to preachers at the beginning of the 20th century:

This is a day when the minister is under sharpest fire. By some his motives are questioned, his spirit is censured, and his failure to secure such results as came in days gone by, when the gospel was preached, is used as an argument against him. However, in the midst of such criticism it should not be forgotten that it is, by no means, as easy to preach today as in the olden times. The minister formerly was recognized as a man under authority; his words were generally received as the truth; now the genuineness of his message is sharply questioned, and even his authority is subject to criticism. . . . [O]ne must not only preach his sermon, but he must prove his authority and be ready to substantiate the integrity and genuineness of the Book on the basis of which his message is delivered. But a brighter day will come for the minister, and it is only necessary that he should be watchful in these troublesome times, have the approval of his own conscience in the matter of preaching, and also be sure that he has His approval in whose name he speaks and from whom he has received his call to preach.

As an illustration of the sharpness of the criticism it may be well to note the words spoken by a professor of law, in an Eastern university, in an address before a ministers’ conference:

“The waning power of the pulpit is one of the most lamentable signs of the times. The intellectual pre-eminence of the preacher has passed and gone. The pulpit no longer attracts the brightest minds, and theological seminaries swarm with intellectual weaklings. Pulpit deliverances of our day often lack every element of real oratory; they are largely dreary monologues and complacent soliloquy. The speaker’s wits, instead of being sharpened by adversity and defeat, are blunted by his unvaried weekly duel with an imaginary foe. Our present-day divines are not deficient in the arts of finished elocution, but they have dropped the old theme of salvation from an inherited curse of sin. But when the pulpit has moral earnestness, it rises to the loftiest elevation of eloquent expression. It was homely language of a country deacon speaking to a person who had prayed long and loudly for power…”

This opinion may or may not be correct; the one who gave it evidently thinks it is, and unquestionably he represents a certain element in the Church. Whether true or not, it is the sort of criticism facing the preacher today. It is claimed that we have failed to give sufficient emphasis to the importance of prayer, and we read that this was the secret of true greatness in the pulpit of other days. It is said we have lost our power because we have not given sufficient attention to Bible study; not Bible study in the preparation of sermons, but Bible study in the development of our own spiritual life. Unquestionably the secret of Spurgeon’s power was found just here. During the days of the week we must become saturated with the Scriptures so that on Sunday the message comes flowing forth like the current of a mighty river. Men tell us we have lost this, that we preach about God’s Word, but not the Word itself. (“The Waning Pulpit”)

Are Our Youth Ministries Failing Our Families And The Church?

There are a growing number of people who suggest that today’s youth ministries should be disbanded. They believe the common practice of separating congregations by age for worship and Bible study is “unbiblical.” The National Center for Family Integrated Churches in association with LeClerc Brothers Motion Pictures is now stating their case in the documentary film, “Divided: Is Age-Segregated Ministry Multiplying or Dividing the Church?” See the following trailer:

The documentary follows a young Christian filmmaker on a quest to find answers to why his generation is increasingly turning away from attending church. Recent surveys have shown that as many as 85 percent of young people will leave the church and many never return. In the film, Dr. Voddie Baucham, Jr. of Grace Family Church is interviewed:

Many feel that dividing children from adults at church is an unbiblical concept borrowed from humanistic philosophies. They believe that the adults should gather with the children for worship, which includes preaching. A Biblical example may be found in Deuteronomy 12 where Moses commands the parents to bring whole families to come and worship and sacrifice. Doug Phillips of Vision Forum is also interviewed:

“Divided” will be an uncomfortable eye-opening experience for many. Most youth ministries seek to “entertain” in order to attract youth to their ministry, so that they may teach them the Gospel. However, instead of “training them in the Gospel” they continue to be “entertained” in order to keep up attendance! The result of this strategy is evident when the children turn into adults. The adults want a preacher who entertains them.

The movie “Divided: Is Age-Segregated Ministry Multiplying or Dividing the Church?” may be seen for free at the following link until September 15th, 2011. This movie is a call to repentance and faithfulness. I encourage you to watch it and share it with your friends.

Watch “Divided” here for free until September 15th. . . .

Follow Christ And Waiver Not!

As a Christian, it is easy to become discouraged in a culture where the media treats Christ as a myth; portrays Christians as bigots; and preachers as hypocrites (which is sometimes deserved). We are constantly bombarded by new theories of how to interpret the Bible; just like politicians declare that the Constitution does not really say what it actually says. There are those who believe that the great doctrines of Christianity should be more flexible according to time and place. Yet, the Bible teaches us that we are supposed to change the world – not be changed by the world. Charles Spurgeon discusses how to overcome this discouragement:

Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel, declares the Lord. Be strong, O Joshua, son of Jehozadak, the high priest. Be strong, all you people of the land, declares the Lord. Work, for I am with you, declares the Lord of hosts, according to the covenant that I made with you when you came out of Egypt. My Spirit remains in your midst. Fear not. (Haggai 2:4-5)

Discouragement not only weakens men, but it takes them off from the service of God. It is significant that the prophet said to them, “Be strong, all ye people of the land, saith the Lord, and work.” They had ceased to build: they had begun to talk and argue, but they had laid down the trowel. . . . May the Lord take away discouragement from any of you who now suffer from it! I suppose some of you do feel it, for at times it creeps over my heart and makes me go with heaviness to my work. I believe that God’s truth will come to the front yet, but it hath many adversaries to-day. All sorts of unbeliefs are being hatched out from under the wings of “modern thought.” The gospel seems to be regarded as a nose of wax, to be altered and shaped by every man who wishes to show his superior skill. Nor is it in doctrine alone, but in practice also, that the times are out of joint. . . . To follow Christ fully has gone out of fashion with many of those from whom we once hoped better things. Yet are there some who waver not, some who are willing to be in the right with two or three. For my own part, even should I find none around me of the same mind, I shall not budge an inch from the old truth, nor sweat a hair of fear of its overthrow; but I shall abide confident that the eternal God, whose truth we know and hold, will vindicate Himself ere long, and turn the wisdom of the world into babble, and its boasting into confusion. Blessed is the man who shall be able to stand fast by his God in these evil days. Let us not in any wise be discouraged. “Be strong; be strong; be strong,” sounds as a threefold voice from the Triune God. “Fear not” comes as a sweet cordial to the faint: therefore let no man’s heart fail him.

Charles Spurgeon On The Best Of Books

Quoting Charles H. Spurgeon:

The best books of men are soon exhausted–they are cisterns, and not springing fountains. You enjoy them very much at the first acquaintance, and you think you could hear them a hundred times over- but you could not- you soon find them wearisome. Very speedily a man eats too much honey: even children at length are cloyed with sweets.

All human books grow stale after a time- but with the Word of God the desire to study it increases, while the more you know of it the less you think you know.

The Book grows upon you: as you dive into its depths you have a fuller perception of the infinity which remains to be explored. You are still sighing to enjoy more of that which it is your bliss to taste.

Benjamin Rush On National Crimes That Will Require National Punishment

Quoting Benjamin Rush (Signer of the Declaration of Independence):

Remember that national crimes require national punishments, and without declaring what punishment awaits this evil, you may venture to assure them that it cannot pass with impunity, unless God shall cease to be just or merciful. (Source: Benjamin Rush, An Address to the Inhabitants of the British Settlements in America Upon Slave-Keeping (Boston: John Boyles, 1773), p. 30.)

The Greatness Of The Cross

For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. (1 Corinthians 1:18)

Some in our day would avoid speaking of the cross altogether. It is as if they are too sophisticated to think about or discuss the blood that Christ shed. They do not want to talk about blood or sacrifice because they believe modern man to be so civilized that he is now beyond all this. They would leave this talk of the cross behind. The cross, however, embodies truth that was relevant and necessary then and continues to be so now. To avoid the cross is to avoid Christ. The incarnation of Christ was wonderful, but by itself it cannot save. We must look fully at the life of the crucified One Who hung on the cross at Gethsemane to know the greatness of God’s grace and the greatness of what His Son did for us.

Modern man tries to get away from the cross of Christ and its perfection or to change its meaning into something allegorical to suit his own needs. Such a position denies the cross and its saving power. Our faith does not do the work of the cross. Faith acknowledges that the cross saves. Faith comes to see the glorious work of the cross and to accept the completed propitiation with confidence. Faith is giving up the ineffective efforts to do something in order to induce God to love and pardon us. The cross of Jesus Christ is sufficient and there is no other means of knowing God or enjoying relationship with Him.

Some are disturbed that acknowledging the cross is recognition of the complete absence of any righteousness in us. The whole work of salvation is His from the first to the last. The work of the cross is the work of the Son of God. A crucified Christ is to be the subject of all preaching and teaching. The true Christian will always need the cross as he faces life’s problems.

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24)

The Christian And Discouragement

It is easy to become discouraged in this present world whether you are a Christian or not. Sometimes Christians are discouraged by their own personal failures. This often happens when we evaluate our efforts to serve God, the church, and others as inadequate. Charles H. Spurgeon reminds us that our strength is in God’s Hands:

“Yet now be strong, O Zerubabbel, saith the Lord; and be strong, O Joshua, son of Josedech, the high priest; and be strong, all ye people of the land, saith the Lord, and work: for I am with you, saith the Lord of hosts: according to the word that I covenanted with you when ye came out of Egypt, so my spirit remaineth among you: fear ye not.” (Haggai 2:4-5)

By the mouth of His servant Haggai stern rebukes were uttered, and the whole people were aroused. . . .

The present times are, in many respects, similar to those of Haggai. History certainly repeats itself within the church of God as well as outside of it; and therefore the messages of God need to be repeated also. The words of some almost-forgotten prophet may be re-delivered by the watchman of the Lord in these present days, and be a timely word for the present emergency. We are not free from the worldliness which puts self first and God nowhere, else our various enterprises would be more abundantly supplied with the silver and the gold which are the Lord’s, but which even professing Christians reserve for themselves. When this selfish greed is conquered, then comes in a timorous depression. Among those who have escaped from worldliness there is apt to be too much despondency, and men labor feebly as for a cause which is doomed to failure. This last evil must be cured. . . .

To begin with, here is DISCOURAGEMENT FORBIDDEN. Discouragement comes readily enough to us poor mortals who are occupied in the work of God, seeing it is a work of faith, a work of difficulty, a work above our capacity, and a work much opposed.

Discouragement is very natural: it is a native of the soil of manhood. To believe is supernatural, faith is the work of the Spirit of God; to doubt is natural to fallen men; for we have within us an evil heart of unbelief. It is abominably wicked, I grant you; but still it is natural, because of the downward tendency of our depraved hearts. Discouragement towards good things is a weed that grows without sowing. To be faint-hearted and downcast happens to some of us when we are half drowned in this heavy atmosphere, and it also visits us on the wings of the east wind. It takes little to make some hands hang down: a word or a look will do it. I do not, therefore, excuse it; but the rather condemn myself for having a nature prone to such evil.

Discouragement may come and does come to us, as it did to these people, from a consideration of the great things which God deserves at our hands, and the small things which we are able to render. . . . Have you not felt the depressing weight of what is so surely true? Brethren, all that we do is little for our God; far too little for Him that loved us and gave Himself for us. For Him that poured out His soul unto death on our behalf the most splendid service, the most heroic self-denial, are all too little; and we feel it so. Alabaster boxes of precious ointment are too mean a gift. It does not occur to our fervent spirit to imagine that there can be any waste when our best boxes are broken and the perfume is poured out lavishly for Him. What we do fear is that our alabaster boxes are too few, and that our ointment is not precious enough. When we have done our utmost in declaring the glory of Jesus, we have felt that words are too poor and mean to set forth our adorable Lord. When we have prayed for His kingdom we have been disgusted with our own prayers; and all the efforts we have put forth in connection with any part of His service have seemed too few, too feeble for us to hope for acceptance. Thus have we been discouraged. The enemy has worked upon us by this means, yet he has made us argue very wrongly. Because we could not do much, we have half resolved to do nothing! Because what we did was so poor, we were inclined to quit the work altogether! This is evidently absurd and wicked. The enemy can use humility for his purpose as well as pride. Whether he makes us think too much or too little of our work, it is all the same to him as long as he can get us off from it. . . .

But, brethren, we must not allow this sense of littleness to hamper us; for God can bless our littleness, and use it for His glory. (Sermon: “The Abiding of the Spirit the Glory of the Church”)

Avoiding Temptation

Quoting John Owen:

Our great Pattern hath showed us what our deportment ought to be in all suggestions and temptations. When the devil showed Him “all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them,” to tempt Him withal, He did not stand and look upon them, viewing their glory, and pondering their empire…. but instantly, without stay, He cries, “Get thee hence, Satan.” Meet thy temptation in its entrance with thoughts of faith concerning Christ on the cross; this will make it sink before thee. Entertain no parley, no dispute with it, if thou wouldst not enter into it.

Benjamin Rush On Education

Benjamin Rush

Quoting Benjamin Rush (Signer of the Declaration of Independence):

We profess to be republicans, and yet we neglect the only means of establishing and perpetuating our republican forms of government, that is, the universal education of our youth in the principles of Christianity by the means of the Bible. For this Divine Book, above all others, favors that equality among mankind, that respect for just laws, and those sober and frugal virtues, which constitute the soul of republicanism. (Source: Benjamin Rush, Essays, Literary, Moral and Philosophical (Philadelphia: Printed by Thomas and William Bradford, 1806), pp. 93-94.)

Presenting Christianity As Something Charming

Dorothy L. Sayers is one of my favorite mystery writers and she was also a Christian with a very keen insight into the importance of doctrine. Below, she explains why doctrine is so important:

And when he is come, he will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they believe not on me; of righteousness, because I go to the Father, and ye see me no more; of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.(John

Dorthy Sayers

16:8-11)

Teachers and preachers never, I think, make it sufficiently clear that dogmas are not a set of arbitrary regulations invented a priori by a committee of theologians enjoying a bout of all-in dialectical wrestling. Most of them were hammered out under pressure of urgent practical necessity to provide an answer to heresy. And heresy is, as I have tried to show, largely the expression of opinion of the untutored average man, trying to grapple with the problems of the universe at the point where they begin to interfere with his daily life and thought. To me, engaged in my diabolical occupation of going to and fro in the world and walking up and down in it, conversations and correspondence bring daily a magnificent crop of all the standard heresies. As practical examples of the “life and thought of the average man” I am extremely well familiar with them, though I had to hunt through the Encyclopedia to fit them with their proper theological titles for the purposes of this address. For the answers I need not go so far: they are compendiously set forth in the creeds. But an interesting fact is this: that nine out of ten of my heretics are exceedingly surprised to discover that the creeds contain any statements that bear a practical and comprehensible meaning.

If I tell them it is an article of faith that the same God who made the world endured the suffering of the world, they ask in perfect good faith what connection there is between that statement and the story of Jesus. If I draw their attention to the dogma that the same Jesus who was the Divine Love was also Light of Light, the Divine Wisdom, they are surprised. Some of them thank me very heartily for this entirely novel and original interpretation of Scripture, which they never heard of before and suppose me to have invented. Others say irritably that they don’t like to think that wisdom and religion have anything to do with one another, and that I should do much better to cut out the wisdom and reason and intelligence and stick to a simple gospel of love. But whether they are pleased or annoyed, they are interested; and the thing that interests them, whether or not they suppose it to be my invention, is the resolute assertion of the dogma. . . .

I believe it to be a grave mistake to present Christianity as something charming and popular with no offence in it. Seeing that Christ went about the world giving the most violent offence to all kinds of people it would seem absurd to expect that the doctrine of His Person can be so presented as to offend nobody. We cannot blink the fact that gentle Jesus meek and mild was so stiff in His opinions and so inflammatory in His language that He was thrown out of Church, stoned, hunted from place to place and finally gibbeted as a firebrand and a public danger. Whatever His peace was, it was not the peace of an amiable indifference; and He said in so many words that what He brought with Him was fire and sword. That being so, nobody need be too much surprised or disconcerted at finding that a determined preaching of Christian dogma may sometimes result in a few angry letters of protest or a difference of opinion on the Parish Council. (“Creed or Chaos?”)

The Importance Of Time

From the sermons of John Angell James:

“Be very careful, then, how you live–not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” (Ephesians 5:15-16)

Paul implies that a man can give no greater proof of folly, nor more effectually act the part of a fool, than to waste his time. While on the other hand, a just appreciation and right improvement of time is among the brightest displays of true wisdom.

We must value time correctly, and improve it diligently.

Time is the most precious thing in the world. God distributes time miserly–by the moment–and He never promises us another moment! We are to highly value, and diligently to improve the present moment, by the consideration that for anything we know, it may be our last.

Time, when once gone, never returns. Where is yesterday? A moment once lost, is lost forever!

We should never forget that our time is among the talents for which we must give account at the judgment of God. We must be tried not only for what we have done–but for what we neglected to do. Not only for the hours spent in sin–but for those wasted in idleness. Let us beware of wasting time.

It might stir us up to diligence in the improvement of our time, to think how much of it has been already misspent. What days, and weeks, and months, and years, have already been utterly wasted, or exhausted upon trifles totally unworthy of them. They are gone, and nothing remains of them but the guilt of having wasted them. We cannot call them back if we would. Let us learn to value more highly, and to use more kindly, those days which remain.

How much of our time is already gone–and how little may be yet to come? The sands of our hour-glass may be almost out! Death may be at the door!

When you begin a day, you don’t know that you shall end it! When you lie down, you don’t know that you shall rise up! When you leave your house, you don’t know that you shall ever return!

For what is your life? It is even as a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes! Life is a bubble that rises, and shines, and bursts! We know not in any one period of our existence–but that it may be the last. Surely, surely, we should then improve our time, when we may be holding, for anything we know, the last portion of it in our hands!

You are immortal creatures, and must live forever in torment or in bliss! And certainly you cannot be forming a right estimate of the value of time, nor be rightly employing it, if the soul be forgotten, salvation neglected, and eternity left out of consideration! (“Redeeming Time” 1825)

Only A Step From Tyranny. . . .

John Paul Jones

An article in Canada Free Press by Kelly O’Connell recently caught my attention. O’Connell’s article is titled “What is Liberty, That We May Defend It?” Kelly O’Connell is an author and attorney. Born on the West Coast and raised in Las Vegas, he matriculated from the University of Oregon. He labored for the Reformed Church in Galway, Ireland until he returned to America and attended law school in Virginia. While there, he earned a JD and a Master’s degree in Government.

According to O’Connell, our government is not only misleading us; it is “making foolhardy economic decisions, then treating citizens alarmed at record deficits like madmen.” Our rights are being violated and the Constitution is ignored or treated like a joke. America’s political class is only interested in being re-elected to the “gravy train” by betraying the people who elected them. Is our liberty in danger? O’Connell writes:

America’s greatness is being worn away like a mighty boulder turned to sand by a thousand dripping streams. America was made great by its ideas, fleshed out in the Declaration and Constitution, which created a powerful Republic based on Natural Law and Natural Rights. Yet, we currently stand at the precipice of a socialist devolution, a mere democracy of the misinformed, fearful and conquered.

Areas of American life coming under threat of tyranny are too numerous to detail, but include free speech, religion, separation of powers, government spending, foreign policy, private property, etc. . . .

According to Ellis Sandoz, in A Government of Laws, Political Theory, Religion, and the American Founding, the Founders believed Liberty is premised upon a few irreplaceable things. One is Rule of Law. Another is limited government, established through the Founder’s Constitution, based on Natural Law and Natural Rights. Of course, the strength of America expressed in capitalist Liberty made possible individual prosperity, which fostered our aiding the world, and building ourselves into an impregnable, free land—as the Founders hoped it would. Finally, the Founders believed free people needed to remain virtuous to avoid a proliferation of laws, degrading into tyranny. This virtue was premised upon the Bible’s standards and Christian religion as a foundation for morality.

John Stuart Mill wrote On Liberty, stating the principal: “over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign.” Mill also expressed the Harm Principle—that everyone has a right to do anything they like as long as it harms no one else. Mill encapsulates a standard that even the simple, young or agnostic can understand—that Liberty must be defended, and expanded, while government is shrunk, if we are to remain a free and prosperous people.

Please consider reading the entire article by Kelly O’Connell here. . . .

We Need Real Christians!

Maurice Roberts

Do you know if you really are a Christian? Maurice Roberts explains his method of discernment:

“And I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not; I will lead them in paths that they have not known: I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them.” (Isaiah 42:16)

“I will make darkness light before them.” In other words, God is telling us he is going to open blind eyes and shine in blind hearts and give them understanding of the truth. Now we get beautiful stories of this all throughout the Bible. Let’s take two. Take the man born blind in John chapter 9 – born blind, really blind, physically blind in his case, and it wasn’t his fault. Jesus said it’s not something he’s to be blamed for or his parents; it’s for God’s sake, for the glory of God that this man was born blind. And Jesus said to the blind man, “Go to the pool of Siloam [which was in Jerusalem] and wash.” And the man did as he was told. And when you do what God says you will always get a blessing – always. You try it if you’re not sure. When you know it’s your duty to do something and God gives you advice in his Word, always do what God says and you will certainly get a blessing – always. So this blind man set off, went to the pool of Siloam, and here it was. I don’t know how he did it – with a bucket or with his hands – got water, poured it on his face. “Go and wash in the pool of Siloam.” Immediately his eyes were opened and he saw everything. And he came back and he said, “Come and see a man; this man must be the Son of God.” Well that’s what happened, you see. When you have your eyes opened then you know that Jesus is the Son of God – that’s what you know immediately. You don’t need to have a PhD in Biblical Studies to know that Jesus is God. As soon as your eyes are open you know him – he’s mine! He’s my Lord! He’s washed my heart; he’s given me new understanding. And people dance for joy – I’ve found Christ!

Or take another example. Take Zacchaeus whom we meet in one of the Gospels. He was a little man, short in stature, couldn’t see over the heads of the crowd, and Jesus was passing by down the street and Zacchaeus couldn’t see him because he was too small. So this man – he was very rich actually – climbed up a tree. Can you believe that – a rich man climbing up a tree to have a look at Jesus Christ? That’s what he did. And up inside the boughs of the tree he saw Jesus was there and, to his amazement, Christ stopped and he looked up. “Zacchaeus,” he says, “come down; I must come to your house today.” He came down quickly, and as he came down he had a new heart given him. He came to know Christ as his Savior. Jesus put forth that wonderful power to save him. And Christ went into his house and this man made a meal for him, no doubt, and this was what Zacchaeus said: “Lord, if ever I’ve taken money from anybody under false pretences, I’ll give it them back fourfold” (four times over). And Jesus said, “salvation has come to this house; he also is a child of Abraham.” You see how Jesus knew that? It was because the man was repenting. He was now being honest. He was a rich man before and I dare say he had used his power as a tax collector to exploit his position and gain money without justification from people. But now, you see, he’s repenting; he’s giving it back. His changed life shows he’s got a new heart.

Now that’s how you know if you’re a Christian. A real Christian is one who wants to do what is right, to do what is honest. That’s the proof of being a Christian, to be sincere and upright. That’s the proof that Christ has changed your life. (Sermon: “God’s Grace to Blind Sinners”)

 

 

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