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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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Respecting God’s Judgment

R.C. SproulR.C. Sproul:

One of the most poignant episodes of the judgment of God occurred in the Old Testament case of Eli. Eli was a judge and priest over Israel. He was, for the most part, a godly man. But his sons were wicked and profaned the house of God. Eli rebuked them but did not fully restrain them. God revealed to Samuel that He would judge the house of Eli:

“Behold, I will do something in Israel at which both ears of everyone who hears it will tingle. In that day I will perform against Eli all that I have spoken concerning his house, from beginning to end. For I have told him that I will judge his house forever for the iniquity which he knows, because his sons made themselves vile, and he did not restrain them.” (1 Sam. 3:11-13)

When Eli persisted in asking Samuel what God had said, Samuel finally told him. When Eli heard the words, he said: “It is the Lord. Let Him do what seems good to Him” (v. 18).

What seemed good to God was to punish the house of Eli. Eli recognized the Word of God when he heard it because he understood the character of Him whose word it was. A God before whom we need to have no fear is not God but an idol made by our own hands.

Eli said: “It is the Lord. Let Him do what seems good to Him.” Can you make this affirmation from the depths of your heart in difficult times as well as good times?

The mission, passion and purpose of Ligonier Ministries and Dr. R.C. Sproul is to help people grow in their knowledge of God and His holiness. For more information, please visit www.ligonier.org or call them at 800-435-4343.
© R.C. Sproul. All rights reserved.

Grote Industries granted an Injunction against the Federal Government’s Health Insurance

Grote IndustriesOn Jan. 30, the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals granted an injunction against the federal government’s health insurance contraceptive mandate to Grote Industries, a Catholic-owned business, reversing a lower court’s ruling that earlier dismissed the business’ lawsuit.

Grote, which creates vehicle components, is a family-owned company based in Indiana. The company self-insures its 1,148 full-time employees, and the Grote family objects to the mandate’s required coverage for contraceptives, abortifacients, and sterilization.

Continue reading here. . . .

Iranian-Born Christian Pastor Tortured in Tehran Prison

IslamAn Iranian-born pastor who is a U.S. citizen is undergoing physical and mental torture in a notoriously brutal Tehran prison while an international campaign for his release mounts, according to the American Center for Law and Justice.

Saeed Abedini was sentenced to eight years in prison for establishing a network of Christian house churches years ago and for “attempting to sway Iranian youth away from Islam.” Since his conviction Jan. 27, Abedini has not been allowed to communicate with his wife and two children who live in the United States.

Read more at Baptist Press. . .

Silence in the Face of Evil

Dietrich BonhoefferGerman theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945):

“Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”

We Must Assert Our Rights

George Washington at Valley ForgeGeorge Washington (1774):

“[T]he crisis is arrived when we must assert our rights, or submit to every imposition, that can be heaped upon us, till custom and use shall make us as tame and abject slaves.”

The Deep Implications of Sin

Quoting R.C. Sproul:

Have you ever considered the deeper implications of the slightest sin, of the most minute peccadillo? What are we saying to our Creator when we disobey Him at the slightest point? We are saying no to the righteousness of God. We are saying, “God, Your law is not good. My judgment is better than Yours. Your authority does not apply to me. I am above and beyond Your jurisdiction. I have the right to do what I want to do, not what You command me to do.” (The Holiness of God)

Listen to Jesus Christ

Only God endures and is the unchanging God. The God who spoke to men of old is the God of the ages, the God whose history runs through the Bible and who has been guiding it since the beginning. It is truly His Word. Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones urges us to listen to the words of Jesus Christ:

This phrase, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of things that are shaken—that is, things that have been made—in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire. (Hebrews 12:27-29 ESV)

Very well, there is the great negative message of the Bible, that man will never succeed in building a durable and a lasting and a solid kingdom. These things can all be shaken as we are witnessing it and worse is going to happen. There is one kingdom that cannot be moved, that cannot be shaken. ‘Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace’. What is this? Here we are now in our proper world. We know not what tomorrow may bring forth. What are we to do? Is there any message? Is there anything that comes anywhere to give me some understanding and a word of hope? There is. What is it, what can I bank on tonight? What should I listen to and hold on to when everything is collapsing round and about me?

This man says, it is a word, ‘this word. Yet once more, He has already said: ‘See that ye refuse not him that speaketh’ [Hebrews 12:25]. This man’s message is this, that amidst the babel of voices in our world, there is another word – and the essence of wisdom is to listen to this word. It is the word that was spoken by Jesus Christ and which made him say: ‘Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away’ [Matthew 24:35]. Or which the Apostle Peter quoted in these words, it is the same thing but in the graphic manner of the Apostle Peter. He tells these Christians that they have become Christians ‘by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever’ [I Peter 1:23]. Then listen: ‘For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man’ – British Empire and every other glory – ‘all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower thereof falls away: But the word of the Lord endures for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you’ [I Peter 1:24-25]. It is the word I am preaching to you now, it is the word my friend is going to preach, the word, this word.

What is it? Why is this word durable? Why is this word better than the word of the philosophers, the scientists, the politicians, the sociologists, and the educationalist? Why is this the only word I should listen to? The answer is, it is the word of the Lord; it is the word of God. My dear friends, are you not tired of the words of men? (“A Kingdom which cannot be Shaken”)

Thoughtlessness

From J. C. Ryle:

“Not thinking is one simple reason why thousands of souls are thrown away forever into the Lake of Fire. Men will not consider, will not look ahead, will not look around them, will not reflect on the end of their present course, and the sure consequences of their present days, and wake up to find they are damned for a lack of thinking. Young men, none are in more danger of this than yourselves. You know little of the perils around you, and so you are careless how you walk. You hate the trouble of serious, quiet thinking, and so you make wrong decisions and bring upon yourselves much sorrow.”

God is Just

Quoting Thomas Jefferson, 1871:

“I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that His justice cannot sleep forever.”

Cain and Able Were Brothers

No man believed so firmly in the philosophy of development and progress than H G Wells, the novelist. Wells was a scientific humanist who believed that the advance of knowledge, culture, and science would create an earthly paradise. When the Second World War broke out, he wrote his last book with this very significant title, Mind at the End of Its Tether. He simply did not understand what he considered to be the failure of human progress. Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones explains:

This phrase, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of things that are shaken—that is, things that have been made—in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire. (Hebrews 12:27-29 ESV)

I need not tell you that we are meeting together tonight in a time of great confusion, a time of grave and terrible crisis. Everybody is aware of this; you cannot read a paper, you cannot listen to a news bulletin without hearing of some added crisis, some new problem, and some fresh tragedy. The world is in an alarming state and condition. We are truly in an age of exceptional crisis. But I want to put to you that we are not only in a time and age of crisis, we are living in a time when all of us are being tested, and all of us have been sifted and examined and proved. What I mean by that is this, that the state of the world tonight is testing the outlook, the point of view, of every one of us who is in this congregation. Indeed of everybody that is in the world. Everybody has got some view of life, even the most thoughtless people, people who scarcely ever think at all, they have got a kind of philosophy and their philosophy is not to think. What is the use of thinking?’ they say. So they have got their point of view, their point of view is ‘Let us eat drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die’. So I am saying that everybody’s point of view, everybody’s attitude towards life, is on trial at the moment. . . .

So I put that as my first question: Are you surprised at the fact that the world is as it is at this very moment? Or, let me phrase that in a slightly different way: Are you disappointed that the world is as it is? Not only surprised but disappointed, because again there are many people in the world who are grievously disappointed at the present state of affairs. And they are disappointed for this reason, that having adopted the kind of idealistic philosophy, or view of life, which was very popular in the last century – you know that idea that believed in evolution, or progress and development, the view which said that as the result of popular education which came in 1870 and all the marvelous scientific advances and discoveries, more travel, ability to mix with other nations – they were very confident that the twentieth century was going to be the golden century, the crowning century of all the centuries! Did not Tennyson write about the coming of the parliament of men and the federation of the world, of the days when men would beat their swords into ploughshares and war would be no more? War, we were told – and they taught this, not only the poets but the philosophers and the politicians – war, they said, was due to the fact that people did not know one another. . . . They had forgotten, you see, that Cain and Abel were brothers. . . . (“A Kingdom Which Cannot Be Shaken”)

The Wrath of Hell

From the pen of Jonathan Edwards:

Hell is a place where God manifests his displeasure and wrath. Everything in hell is hateful. There is not one solitary object there that is not odious and detestable, horrid and hateful. There is no person or thing to be seen there, that is amiable or lovely; nothing that is pure, or holy, or pleasant, but everything abominable and odious.

There are no beings there but devils, and damned spirits that are like devils. Hell is, as it were, a vast den of poisonous hissing serpents – the old serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and with him all his hateful brood!

Those in hell hate God, and Christ, and angels, and saints in heaven; and not only so, but they hate one another, like a company of serpents or vipers, not only spitting out venom against God, but at one another, biting and stinging and tormenting each other.

All things in the wide universe that are hateful shall be gathered together in hell, as in a vast receptacle provided on purpose, that the universe which God has made may be cleansed of its filthiness, by casting it all into this great sink of wickedness and woe.

It is a world prepared on purpose for the expression of God’s wrath. He has made hell for this; and he has no other use for it but there to testify forever his hatred of sin and sinners, where there is no token of love or mercy. In hell, there is nothing there but what shows forth the Divine indignation and wrath.

Every object shows forth wrath. It is a world all overflowed with a deluge of wrath, as it were, with a deluge of liquid fire, so as to be called a lake of fire and brimstone, and the second death. (“Charity and its Fruit”)

Biblical Knowledge

Quoting Thomas Brooks:

“Reader, remember this: if your biblical knowledge does not now affect your heart, it will at last, with a witness, afflict your heart. If it does not now endear Christ to you, it will at last provoke Christ the more against you. If it does not make all the things of Christ to be very precious in your eyes, it will at last make you the more vile in Christ’s eyes.”

Secrets of the Heart

God is so infinite in wisdom that all things are naked to His eyes. Nothing stirs in the world except God knows its intent, purpose, and eventual outcome. Thomas Watson (1620-1686) discusses what this means concerning men’s hearts:

And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. (Hebrews 4:13 ESV)

If the secrets of our hearts are unveiled and unmasked, walk as in the eye of God. Methinks that of Hagar should be a Christian’s motto, Thou God seest me. And David’s prospect should be ever in our eye, Psalm 16.8. ‘I have set the Lord always before me:’ some set their bags of money always before them, others set the fear of men always before them; but a wise Christian will set God, and judgment, and eternity always before him. If indeed God’s eye were at any time off from us, we might take the more liberty; but if all things be naked, and open to his eye, we cannot sin but in the face of our Judge. Oh then reverence this eye of God. . . .

The eye of God should be ever in our eye; this would be as a counter poison against sin: nor is it enough to prune sin, viz. to cut off the external acts, but kill the root. Crucify complexion sins; let not thy heart sit brooding upon sin. Again, let God’s omniscience deter thee from hiding sin. . . . Men think to walk in the dark, and to carry their sins under a canopy, that no eye shall see them: as those that have bad eyes think that the sky is ever cloudy, whereas the fault is not in the sky, but in their eyes; so when the prince of the world hath blinded men’s eyes, because there is darkness within, they think it is dark abroad too, and now the sky is cloudy, God cannot see: but remember, all things are naked: do not go about to hide sin: confess, confess, it is a work proper for the day. Confession doth that to the soul which the surgeon doth to the body; it opens a spiritual vein, and lets out the bad blood. The only way to make God not see sin, is to see it ourselves, but not with dry eyes; point every sin with a tear. . . .

It is a whetstone to duty. O thou Christian that art much in private, that settest hours apart for God, (a sign he hath set thee apart) thou sheddest many tears in thy closet: the world takes no notice; but remember, God’s eye is upon thee, thy prayers are registered, thy tears are bottled up, ‘and he that sees in secret will reward thee openly.’ How should this add wings to prayer, and oil to the flame of our devotion? (“God’s Anatomy upon Man’s Heart”)

The Sexual Revolution

The following consists of excerpts from an excellent article by Michael Wagner which may be viewed in its entirety through the link below:

We all want different things. And because of our fallen natures, many of our wants are for things that will harm us and those around us—we lust after power, sex, other people’s possessions, even revenge. If everyone simply pursued their own desires, it’s hard to see how civilization could survive.

Fortunately for us, God has provided rules for living—the Ten Commandments—that restrict these desires so that they don’t harm others. The Law helps to make harmonious social life possible. Rules make civilization possible—no rules, no civilization.

But many today don’t like rules and this is especially true with regard to sexual behavior. So-called “Victorian” sexual morality has been accused of being the cause of psychological “hang-ups”; Biblical morality is seen as the source of much human suffering. The solution, in this view, can only be found in individual and societal sexual liberation. The “need” to break out of the confining and suffocating constraints of traditional morality was thus a major impetus to what has been called the “Sexual Revolution,” a significant social development in the Western countries whereby modern liberal views of sexual attitudes and behavior replaced the traditional norms of Western civilization. This revolution, and the attitudes and behaviors it promoted, has been embraced by the political, academic and media establishments, as well as many common citizens. It was the Sexual Revolution that led to the legalization of abortion and the widespread acceptance of divorce, promiscuity, pornography, homosexuality and cohabitation without marriage, basically a shopping list of many current social problems. . . .

With the spread of pornography, and at the same time a dramatic increase in the production of adult literature (i.e. immoral literature), came a basically simultaneous liberalization of obscenity laws, often through judicial interpretation. . . .

Divorce went from a necessary evil to a positive good almost overnight”. Promiscuous sex outside of marriage was seen as a major component of “freedom” by proponents of sexual liberation. And as one would expect, such behavior led to a large number of “unwanted pregnancies.”

What to do? Well, kill the babies, of course. The problem was that abortion was commonly restricted or even illegal in most jurisdictions.

Many states in the USA had laws against abortion, for example. So these laws needed to be overturned. The US Supreme Court obliged by striking down all abortion laws in that country in the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973. . . .

According to this view of the world, Christianity is the killjoy of life. It compels people to restrain their natural sexual appetites, which can only legitimately be expressed within monogamous marriage. Supposedly this causes Christians to be “repressed,” leading to various social and psychological problems. Sexual liberation (that is, throwing off Christian moral restraint) leads to relaxed, well-adjusted people. And these people can freely enjoy the good things in life—you know, like promiscuity, pornography, divorce and abortion. Isn’t that appealing?

No. The rules stipulated in the Ten Commandments lead to the good life, not a so-called “liberation” from the Commandments. All people are sinful, and so all people experience problems in their lives, including Christians. But those problems cannot be alleviated by throwing away God’s rules for human living. Quite to the contrary, in fact. Biblical morality is a sure guide to the good life. The happiness promised by the Sexual Revolution is a fraud. Surely that should be apparent by now. (“NO RULES, NO CIVILIZATION: The Sexual Revolution left us free . . . to be Miserable”)

Copyright Michael Wagner 2008

Read this entire article from the April 2008 issue of Reformed Perspective magazine. . . .

The Tomb Of Jesus

Excerpts from the sermon “The Tomb of Jesus” by Charles H. Spurgeon:

“Come; see the place where the Lord lay.” (Matthew 28:6)

I shall commence my remarks this morning by inviting all Christians to come with me to the tomb of Jesus. “Come; see the place where the Lord lay.” We will labor to render the place attractive, we will gently take your hand to guide you to it; and may it please our Master to make our hearts burn within us while we talk by the way. . . .

Come, then, for ’tis the shrine of greatness, ’tis the resting-place of the man, the Restorer of our race, the Conqueror of death and hell . . . Ask me the greatest man who ever lived—I tell you the man Christ Jesus was “anointed with the oil of gladness above his fellow.” If ye seek a chamber honored as the resting-place of genius, turn in hither; if ye would worship at the grave of holiness, come ye here; if ye would see the hallowed spot where the choicest bones that e’er were fashioned lay for awhile, come with me, Christian, to that quiet garden, hard by the walls of Jerusalem. . . .

Yea, more, I will further urge you to this pious pilgrimage. Come, for angels bid you. Angels said, “Come, see the place where the Lord lay.” The Syriac version reads, “Come, see the place where our Lord lay.” Yes, angels put themselves with those poor women, and used one common pronoun—our. Jesus is the Lord of angels as well as of men. Let me lead thee by the hand of meditation, my brother; let me take thee by the arm of thy fancy, and let me again say to thee, “Come, see the place where the Lord lay.”. . .

It is in a pleasant garden, far from the hum of Jerusalem; the noise and din of business will not reach thee there; “Come, see the place where the Lord lay.” It is a sweet resting spot, a withdrawing room for thy soul, where thou mayest brush from thy garments the dust of earth and muse awhile in peace.

Thus I have pressed the invitation; now we will enter the tomb. Let us examine it with deep attention, noticing every circumstance connected with it.

And, first, mark that it is a costly tomb. It is no common grave; it is not an excavation dug out by the spade for a pauper, in which to hide the last remains of his miserable and over wearied bones. It is a princely tomb; it was made of marble, cut in the side of a hill. . . .

But, though it is a costly grave, it is a borrowed one. I see over the top of it, “Sacred to the memory of the family of Joseph of Arimathea;” yet Jesus slept there. Yes, he was buried in another’s sepulcher . . . It was a borrowed tomb; and why? I take it, not to dishonor Christ, but in order to show that, as his sins were borrowed sins, so his burial was in a borrowed grave. Christ had no transgressions of his own; he took ours upon his head; he never committed a wrong, but he took all my sin, and all yours, if ye are believers; concerning all his people, it is true, he bore their griefs and carried their sorrows in his own body on the tree; therefore, as they were others’ sins, so he rested in another’s grave; as they were sins imputed, so that grave was only imputedly his. . . .

Let us not weary in this pious investigation, but with fixed attention observe everything connected with this holy spot. The grave, we observe, was cut in a rock. Why was this . . .? O! my soul, canst thou find a spiritual reason? Christ’s sepulcher was cut in a rock. . . . The sepulcher stands, I believe, entire to this day; if it does not naturally, it does spiritually. The same sepulcher which took the sins of Paul, shall take my iniquities into his bosom, for if I ever lose my guilt, it must roll off my shoulders into the sepulcher. It was cut in a rock, so that if a sinner were saved a thousand years ago, I too can be delivered, for it is a rocky sepulcher where sin was buried—it was a rocky sepulcher of marble where my crimes were laid forever—buried never to have a resurrection.

You will mark; moreover, that tomb was one wherein no other man had ever lain. Christopher Ness says, when Christ was born, he lay in a virgin’s womb, and when he died, he was placed in a virgin tomb; he slept where never man had slept before. The reason was that none might say that another person rose, for there never had been any other body there, thus a mistake of persons was impossible. . . .

[L]et us stoop down once more before we leave the grave, and notice something else. We see the grave, but do you notice the grave-clothes, all wrapped and laid in their places, the napkin being folded up by itself? Wherefore are the grave-clothes wrapped up? The Jews said robbers had abstracted the body; but if so, surely they would have stolen the clothes; they would never have thought of wrapping them up and laying them down so carefully; they would be too much in haste to think of it. Why was it then. . . So at the precise hour, the decreed instant, Jesus Christ . . . came forth in his pure and naked innocence, perhaps to show us that as clothes were the offspring of sin—when sin was atoned for by Christ, he left all raiment behind him—for garments are the badges of guilt: if we had not been guilty we should never have needed them. . . .

I . . . bid you stand and see the place where the Lord lay with emotions of deep sorrow. Oh come, my beloved brother, thy Jesus once lay there. He was a murdered man, my soul, and thou the murderer. . . .

I slew him—this right hand struck the dagger to his heart. My deeds slew Christ. Alas! I slew my best beloved; I killed him who loved me with an everlasting love. . . .

Ah! we may indeed regret our sin, since it slew Jesus . . . Thy sin slew him, but his divinity raised him up. Thy guilt hath murdered him, but his righteousness hath restored him. Oh! he hath burst the bonds of death; he hath unit the cerements of the tomb, and hath come out more than conqueror, crushing death beneath his feet. Rejoice, O Christian, for he is not there—he is risen. . . .

And now, Christian brethren, “Come, see the place where the Lord lay,” to learn a doctrine or two. What did you see when you visited “the place where the Lord lay?” “He is not here; for he is risen.” The first thing you perceive, if you stand by his empty tomb, is his divinity. The dead in Christ shall rise first at the resurrection: but he, who rose first— their leader, rose in a different fashion. They rise by imparted power. He rose by his own. He could not slumber in the grave, because he was God. . . .

A second doctrine here taught well may charm thee, if the Holy Spirit applies it with power. Behold his empty tomb, O true believer: it is a sign of thine acquittal, and thy full discharge. If Jesus had not paid the debt, he ne’er had risen from the grave. He would have lain there till this moment if he had not cancelled the entire debt, by satisfying eternal vengeance. O beloved, is not that an overwhelming thought . . . ?

One more doctrine we learn, and with that we will conclude—the doctrine of the resurrection. Jesus rose, and as the Lord our Savior rose, so all his followers must rise. . . . O my soul, dost thou now dread to die? Thou wilt lose thy partner body a little while, but thou wilt be married again in heaven; soul and body shall again be united before the throne of God. The grave—what is it? It is the bath in which the Christian puts the clothes of his body to have them washed and cleansed. Death—what is it? It is the waiting-room where we robe ourselves for immortality. . . .

Come; view the place then, with all hallowed meditation, where the Lord lay. Spend this afternoon, my beloved brethren, in meditating upon it, and very often go to Christ’s grave, both to weep and to rejoice. (No. 18, April 8, 1855)

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