Monday, 29 September 2008

The Power of Words and the Wonder of God

Video and audio are now available from the recent Desiring God National Conference: The Power of Words and the Wonder of God.

Speakers include John Piper, Sinclair Ferguson, Mark Driscoll, Bob Kauflin, Dan Taylor and Paul Trip.

Friday, 26 September 2008

All Things For Good: The Best Things Work For Good To The Godly

What are the best things and how do they work for the Christian's good?
Watson answers this question under the following sections:

1) God's attributes work for good to the godly
His power is glorious (Col 1v11) and sustaining. He gives us life and the ability to breathe. It's the power of God that upholds everything!
Deuteronomy 33v29: 'Happy are you, O Israel! Who is like you a people saved by the Lord, the shield of your help and the sword of your majesty!' Being saved brings the happiness of knowing that God is our shield!
God's wisdom instructs us and guides our lives so that if we listen and obey we will never fall into evil. God's goodness leads us to repentance (Rev 2v4). And repentance works for our good because it leads us to Christ the ultimate standard of good! Watson states: 'The goodness of God is a spiritual sunbeam to melt the heart into tears'.

2) The promises of God work for good to the godly
God's promises are the security of our hope. Biblical hope can't disappoint because He has given us the experience of His Spirit (Rom 5v5).
What happens when we feel full of guilt and sin? When the Devil accuses us of having too much sin for God to forgive? We claim and recite the promises of God's character to Him: 'The Lord merciful and gracious' (Exodus 24v6).
What about if we're backsliding? God promises to heal all backslidings (Hos 14v4).
Psalm 34v10 is so comforting. 'Those who seek the Lord shall not lack any good thing'! God promises to make us prosper spiritually by sometimes inflicting us physically.
Happiness is derived from His promises. The psalmist tells us that without the joy that comes from God's promises he wouldn't have been able to continue in suffering (Psalm 119v2).
Responding to God's promises is exercising faith. This faith is the only channel that we can receive blessings from therefore His promises work for our good.

3) The mercies of God work for good to the godly
God's mercies make the hear thankful (Psalm 116v12,13). They make the heart fruitful.
A gracious soul honours the Lord with His substance. He does not do with His mercies, as Israel with their jewels and ear-rings make a golden calf, but, as Solomon did..., build a temple for the Lord.' The good Christian isn't a grave to bury God's mercies but a temple to sing His praises.
When God is merciful to a Christian the Christian wants to feed the poor. He wants to visit orphans and widows (James 1v27).

4) The graces of the Spirit work for good
The fruits of the Spirit make someone attractive. None of the fruits are ugly-all are beautiful!
The graces are evidences of heaven. They give assurance of salvation.
'The saints graces are weapons to defend them, wings to elevate them, jewels to enrich them, spices to perfume them, stars to adorn them, cordials to refresh them.'

5) The Angels for the good of the Saints
Angels are ministering Spirits sent to protect and help (Heb 1v14, Psalm 91v11). Christ was refreshed by an angel when He died (Luke 22v43) and likewise we will be.
At judgement the angels are described as being the reapers of the evil harvest. The angels will get rid of all the enemies of God so that heaven will be a perfect place.

6) The Communion of Saints works for good
Christians are required to cultivate love and good works in each other (Heb 10v24). We should all want to see each other producing fruit. Hence we are working for each others joy (2 Cor 1v24) which is our good!

7) Christ's intercession works for good
Christ has prayed for Christians (John 17) with three requests: that we would be kept from the evil one, that we would be sanctified, that we would be glorified.
Christ lives to go between God and us so that we can approach Him. Through Jesus we have access to and the greatest good-God Himself.

8) The Prayers of the Saints work for good to the godly
We pray for each others good by praying for healing (James 5v15). We pray for our society and nation for the good of the country and the elect (1 Tim 2v1-2).
Peter was prayed for and he was released from jail (Acts 12v5-7).
We pray for God to be glorified-this is the greatest good.

Thursday, 25 September 2008

Praise God for Cigars?

‘When I have found intense pain relieved, a weary brain soothed, and calm refreshing sleep obtained by a Cigar, I have felt grateful to God and have blessed His name.’ -Spurgeon

‘Mr Spurgeon, tobacco is the devil!’ said one outraged contemporary. ‘Yes, that’s why I burn it!’ replied the preacher. (Lest the reader is worried, he once told a fellow preacher that if ever he smoked excessively, he would quit smoking immediately. The suspicious colleague asked ‘What would you call smoking to excess?’ ‘Why, smoking two cigars at the same time’, replied Spurgeon.)....

See the latest Merrie Theologian for more thoughts on Smoking to the Glory of God.
More on Spurgeon from this blog here.

All Things For Good: Introduction

The book is based on Romans 8v28:

'And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose'

All things? Does that actually mean everything? Yes says Watson. All things actually means all things. There is nothing that a Christian can go through that does not build Him up and bless Him. Scripture is a feast to the Soul and according to Watson Romans 8v28 is one of the most sweetest dishes.
Why so sweet? 2 reasons:
The certainty of the privilege
We know all things work for our good. How? Not by vague opinion or written doctrine but by God testifying to our Soul. He infallibly speaks and we listen because His voice is sweet (S of S 2v14). 'The Spirit of God imprints heavenly truths upon the heart as with the point of a diamond'. Meaning we know infallibly the truth about life. Facts about the evil of sin and majesty of God and written on our hearts.
The excellency of the privilege
'All the various dealings of God with His children do by a special providence turn to their good'. Every path we walk in we find mercy and therefore it works for our good (Psalm 25v10). The pathway has rough stones and thorns which hurt our naked feet but the scenery and smells of God's glory make any affliction endurable.

All Things For Good: Preface

I started a new book this morning. All Things For Good (buy, read) is written by the Puritan Thomas Watson the 17th Century minister of St Stephen's Walbrook.

Watson writes out of the motivation to resolve two difficulties he observes in the ministry. The first 'to make the wicked sad' in other words to show the non-Christian the awfulnes of their own sin and the judgement. And Secondly 'to make the godly joyful' with the promises of the Word by the Spirit.

So Watson writes:

'To know that nothing hurts the godly, is a matter of comfort; but to be assured that all things which fall out shall co operate for their good, that their crosses shall be turned into blessings, that showers of affliction water the withering root of their grace and make it flourish more; this may fill their hearts with joy till they run over.'

I plan to blog through the book as a co-worker for your joy (2 Cor 1v24) because I've been so blessed by it!

Monday, 22 September 2008

God's Grace

Whitefield's Prayer for Gospel Preachers

“Yea…that we shall see the great Head of the Church once more . . . raise up unto Himself certain young men whom He may use in this glorious employ. And what manner of men will they be? Men mighty in the Scriptures, their lives dominated by a sense of the greatness, the majesty and holiness of God, and their minds and hearts aglow with the great truths of the doctrines of grace. They will be men who have learned what it is to die to self, to human aims and personal ambitions; men who are willing to be ‘fools for Christ’s sake’, who will bear reproach and falsehood, who will labor and suffer, and whose supreme desire will be, not to gain earth’s accolades, but to win the Master’s approbation when they appear before His awesome judgment seat. They will be men who will preach with broken hearts and tear-filled eyes, and upon whose ministries God will grant an extraordinary effusion of the Holy Spirit, and who will witness ‘signs and wonders following’ in the transformation of multitudes of human lives.”

(HT: Worlds Apart)

Friday, 19 September 2008

God's Plan to Capture and Captivate You

Here are the notes from a talk I delivered a few Wednesdays ago for the Student Cafe at Montpelier Place....

· If you start to understand this book [the Bible] it will overwhelm you.
· Scripture has always been doing devastatingly powerful things and is still working today
· I want you (if you’re not a Christian) to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour through the power of this book.

Read Gal 4:4-9
(4) But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law,
(5) to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.
(6) And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, "Abba! Father!"
(7) So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.
(8) Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to those that by nature are not gods.
(9) But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God….

Paul is a writing a letter to a church in Galatia
v8 Paul looks back to what the Galatians were before becoming Christians

1. Not knowing God-
They didn’t have any understanding
They didn’t want to find the real God.

2. Enslaved to things that are not gods- you have to worship something
· Not knowing God always leads to being enslaved to something else
· You’re enslaved to whatever you think God is
· Sin is worshipping everything as God that is not God.
· Enslaved= captured by something that makes you think gives you life (it tells you that it satisfies but never does). You have to serve that god because you believe in it’s preciousness and quality = drugs, alcohol, pornography, getting a good job, education, fashion/clothing, your sex life, food, family, reputation, the thoughts your friends have of you. Everyone serves a god like this.

3. What does the real God think? We worship tiny-created things and adore them as if they were amazing then reject Him- and He is amazing. He’s angry because of that.
We’re supposed to be loving Him and we love everything else in His place and so we are screaming ‘we hate you God’. God will send you to Hell for that. We all deserve to burn for offending spectacular beauty.

But God offers power to change.
Power to stop worshipping other ‘stuff’ as if it is God and to start worshipping Him because He is God.
Power to get things in perspective.
Power to be forgiven so that we can worship Him.

It’s all about Jesus…

God didn’t give up on the world or abandon it-he didn’t divorce His creatures-we’re made in His image
He became a man
He became like us:
1. Born of a woman: he was a real human-ate, coughed, got tired, and went to the loo, suffered in a world full of loneliness and hurt
2. Born under the law-obligated to obey it like us.

· To redeem those under the law:
1. You can’t obey the law perfectly-Jesus can and did.
2. Jesus offers His perfect obedience to you

What’s the point of it all? V5
· To love your Dad
· God wants you in His family –he’s got a birth certificate with your name on it.
· Jesus died for your ‘worship of other god’s’ so that you could know the pleasure of enjoying Him.

What happens if you accept? V6, 7
The Holy Spirit = God, lives in you to help you and comfort you
Then you can say ‘Abba Father’- shows an intimate connection
What was your Dad like? God is a million times better.
You become God’ Son and an heir.

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Who did Christ Die For?

''The Father imposed His wrath due unto, and the Son underwent punishment for, either:

All the sins of all men.
All the sins of some men, or
Some of the sins of all men.

In which case it may be said:
a. That if the last be true, all men have some sins to answer for, and so, none are saved.

b. That if the second be true, then Christ, in their stead suffered for all the sins of all the elect in the whole world, and this is the truth.

c. But if the first be the case, why are not all men free from the punishment due unto their sins?

You answer, Because of unbelief. I ask, Is this unbelief a sin, or is it not? If it be, then Christ suffered the punishment due unto it, or He did not. If He did, why must that hinder them more than their other sins for which He died? If He did not, He did not die for all their sins!"

John Owen

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

God Smacks with a Loving Face

Proverbs 3:11-12:

My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.

Monday, 15 September 2008

Saturday, 13 September 2008

Advice for New Christians

The following is something I wrote in a letter to a friend. Thought it might bless others if posted here...
  • Everything you do must be done with a love for God (1 Cor 13v1-7). Notice in verse 3 Paul claims that if someone is to be martyred without love it’s of zero use.
  • Give yourself to memorizing the Bible. Hide the Word in your heart to deter from sin (Psalm 119v11). You need to fight Satan with scripture. Therefore try to remember 4 scriptures every week. Find a method that suits you. Make sure you remember the reference as well as the content of the verse.
  • Make yourself happy in God. This means thinking about God’s beauty to motivate you to worship. You can’t glorify God without enjoying Him. Christ should be so attractive to you that everything else looks like rubbish (Phil 3v8).
  • Make sure you exhort someone and someone exhorts you. Hebrews 3v13 states that we can be hardened by sin; inviting someone to point out your own sin to can prevent this.
  • Speak about what Jesus has been doing for and in you with people in your Church. Look at the last part of Luke 6v45: If your heart is full of Jesus, if you love Him more than anything else you will have to speak about Him because He’s wonderful!
  • Revelation 2 v1-4. This church were acting outwardly in a good way but not loving God. You can be living a good moral life and be quenching the Holy Spirit. What do you desire? If the heart does not desire God, God is not pleased. Pleasing God is being pleased with Him.
  • Don’t stop seeking more of the Holy Spirit. See Eph 3v19: Paul prays this for Christians! You don’t have the fullness of the Spirit when you are first saved. Although you have the Holy Spirit you need to be constantly seeking more of the His power (Eph 5v18).

Friday, 12 September 2008

God Knows Us

'And to us who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope that is set before us in the gospel, how unutterably sweet is the knowledge that our Heavenly Father knows us completely. No talebearer can inform on us, no enemy can make an accusation stick; no forgotten skeleton can come tumbling out of some hidden closet to abash us and expose our past; no unsuspected weakness in our characters can come to light to turn God away from us, since he knew us utterly before we knew Him and called us to Himself in the full knowledge of everything that was against us. 'For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the Lord that hath mercy on thee.''

A. W. Tozer from chapter 10 of 'The Knowledge of the Holy'.

Saturday, 6 September 2008

5 Scriptures that clearly prove Christ is Divine

These scriptures state explicitly that Christ is God. * There are other scriptures that prove He is God by inference.

1) John 1v1: 'In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God'.
The Word is evidently Christ from the immediate context. See John 1v14.

2) John 20v28: 'And Thomas answered and said to Him, 'My Lord and my God!''

3) Romans 9v5: 'of whom are the fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, the eternally blessed God'.

4) Philippians 2v6: 'who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God'.
Verse 5 of the same chapter shows that the above verse is speaking about Christ..

5) 1 John 5v20: 'And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.'

The five are easy to remember and useful when chatting to a Mormon or Jehovah's Witness.

Scriptures are taken from the New King James version of the Bible.

*Update: When I say 'Christ is God' I mean that Christ is equally God as the Father and Son are. In other words the trinity are the Godhead meaning they share the same perfect will, mind emotions, and attributes. Saying this the trinity are distinct in their individual functions. An example in terms of salvation: the Father decrees or plans salvation, the Son accomplishes salvation by dieing on the Cross, and the Holy Spirit applies salvation by enabling faith and repentance in the believer. Not accepting that the individual members of the trinity have distinct functions is a heresy called Modalism.

'God eternally exists as three persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and each person is fully God, and there is one God.' -Wayne Grudem

Thursday, 4 September 2008

Why do you want to become a Christian?

Don't become a Christian to get out of Hell. Jesus is not your escape route. He's not a ticket. He's not there so you don't burn. Christ is God. You need to beleive that He is wonderful and beautiful. Become a Christian because Christ is lovely not because Hell is horrible...

Let Piper explain:

Facebook people: See

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Thanks for Praying!

Camp last week was great! Prayers were answered, some kids became Christians (hooray!) and while others grew in their faith. God was good especially to me by enhancing my prayer life. He gave me specific burdens for individuals so that I would respond by praying long and hard for their souls.

Other highlights include:
  • Leading evening Bible studies for a group of question-asking teenagers
  • Late night banter with Mark and Cat
  • Meeting new kids and getting to know others I didn't know too well
  • Observing the example of godly leaders
  • Enjoying the preaching series in Song of Solomon
  • Mocking Becky for her welshness ;-)
  • Meeting Eddie and having a long chat about Spiritual gifts over coffee and muffins
  • Praying with campers
  • Swimming with the little Nowak kids
  • Hearing powerful testimonies from people who have been radically transformed by Jesus
  • Singing (badly) a host of Disney songs with Kirsty and Beth over dinner
  • Playing Mafia with teenagers high on sugar
  • Confiscating cigarette's (Sorry Bryony!)
  • Eating Irish Nando's
  • Morning prayer meetings with leaders
  • Walks to the beach with Cat
  • Hearing and answering genuine questions
  • Buying Thomas Manton's Sermons on Hebrews 11 for £7
  • Viewing the countryside of Northern Ireland
  • Listening to Driscoll on Jeremiah 29 with teenagers and then discussing godly ways to date and pursue relationships
  • Knowing that God works all things for my good and his glory!