Precious Jesus

"Afresh, precious, precious Jesus, I resign this body to You, for doing or suffering, for living or dying. Will You accept it? Will You use me for Your glory more than heretofore, that You may have some little return for all the benefits You have done to me? Oh, do grant this request; my heart longs for it, my spirit pleads for it; and "if You will, You can." You know the hot temptation of which I am the subject. Bring Your glory out of it, and keep me from the evil, and it shall be well." - Ruth Bryan

Monday, October 12, 2015

The label has come off the bottle

Once upon a time (during the second century, to be precise) a man called Montanus mixed a pleasant-tasting poison and put it in a large unbreakable bottle. The poison had the power to reproduce itself so, as long as a few drops remained, it didn’t matter how much of it was used. Given time, the bottle would eventually fill up again. 
Many of the ingredients used by Montanus were actually quite wholesome and it was these that gave his poison its attractive flavour. For example, he was tired of the worldliness of the church of his day and taught that Christians should be red hot, unashamed, sternly self disciplined, filled with self-denial, and radically different from the unconverted. It was this ingredient which persuaded Tertullian (approx. AD 160-230) to drink the poison for a while. The same ingredient also made the Montanists heroes in times of persecution. 
Another tasty ingredient was Montanus’ insistence that believers should understand who the Holy Spirit was and what was his work in their lives. They were not to think that ministers had a monopoly of spiritual experiences. The Holy Spirit had been given to all Christians and had gifted each one of them to make some useful contribution to the building up of Christ’s church. 
But mixed with these beneficial ingredients were additives, which were to prove ruinous to the church’s health. Montanus taught that God had new revelations to give to his people. These could come directly to the Christian without the Scriptures being involved. Yes, God could have dealings with you even when your bible was shut and absent from your thoughts. Indeed, you could have exalted spiritual experiences without your mind being active at all! 
Montanus taught that he himself was a mouthpiece for direct revelations from the Holy Spirit. He refused to believe that prophecies had disappeared from the church, although he accepted that not every Christian had such messages to transmit. He encouraged women to take to the platform, and two of them — Prisca and Maximilla — became second only to himself in declaring that they had the Word of the Lord for his people. 
Once the poison was mixed, Montanus put a label on his bottle. He called it ‘Authentic Christianity’ and it proved to be very popular. Who will ever be able to count the multitude that drank from it during the second century, not only in his native Asia Minor, but later in Europe? During the fourth century the vast majority of Christians in North Africa were completely intoxicated by it. 
 The effects of the poison were quickly seen. It did not necessarily prove fatal, but was always health-destroying. Its effects were similar to those of modern mind-bending drugs. Without exception, people who drank the poison suffered from self-delusion. They sincerely believed that they were speaking in tongues when they weren’t. They thought they were having real experiences of God even when their minds were inactive or unstimulated. Worst of all, they considered that they were eating a healthy diet in meetings where there was little or no exposition of the Bible. Christian after Christian was found to be suffering from spiritual malnutrition. 
The effects of the poison on preachers were equally obvious. They lost their power. Compelling preaching flows from a heart that believes that God speaks in the Bible, everywhere in the Bible, only in the Bible, and nowhere outside of the Bible. Once a preacher nurses the thought that God may perhaps have dealings with his hearers without the biblical text being directly involved, a whole dimension of conviction and directness inevitably disappears from his preaching. 
Besides the awful effects we have mentioned, Montanism was splitting churches everywhere. What could be done about it? Groups of churches began to act. They forcefully stressed that there were no new revelations after the apostolic era and that prophecy in all its forms had disappeared from the church. They could not destroy Montanus’ bottle or stop his poison reproducing itself. So they tore off his label and replaced it with one carrying the single word HERESY. 
On the whole this action worked very well. Some of those who had been drinking from the bottle gave it up, and eventually lost all taste for it. Most other Christians, when they saw the label, kept their distance. There were, of course, always a few who closed their eyes, gulped the poison down, and suffered the inevitable effects. Happily, some of these were rescued by the Reformers and Puritans, who had discovered the perfect antidote to Montanism. It was called the doctrine of the sufficiency of Scripture.
 However, unless you regularly renew the glue, no label will stick for ever. The last three centuries have seen Montanus’ bottle fill up again, while its label has become increasingly loose. It has slipped further and further down the bottle. The warning it gives has become very much harder to see. It is not surprising that more and more people have consumed Montanus’ tasty poison. In fact there has been so much use of the bottle recently that the label has come off altogether. 
But is it right that the health of Christ’s church should be ruined by an ancient toxin? Is it right that Christians throughout the world should experience the self-delusion from which previous generations were so mercifully delivered? Must we again live through an era of powerless preaching and split churches? 
Isn’t it time to firmly stick the HERESY label back on the Montanist bottle? Isn’t there anybody, anywhere, who will bring out the good old Reformed and Puritan antidote — that God speaks in the Bible, everywhere in the Bible, only in the Bible, and nowhere outside the Bible? Is there anything else that will rescue the modern church? 

 Stuart Olyott

The right use of the Lord's day

Unconverted people do not have much interest in the right use of the Lords day and countless Christians are confused about it. This confusion will not go away until we all take on board eleven important facts. 


 1. When the Bible says 'Sabbath', it does not mean 'Saturday'. 'Sabbath' is not the name of a day of the week. The word is used to describe a sort of day, a day of rest from work. Although Old Testament years were 365 days long, every year began with a Sabbath day (Lev. 23:4-1 6). Certain other fixed dates could never be Sabbaths (Exod. 12:1-28, Lev. 23:15). To make sure that this happened, the calendar had to be adjusted regularly. We know from history that this was done by adding within the year extra Sabbaths which ran consecutively. To identify 'Sabbath' with 'Saturday' is thus an error. It is only since the definitive Jewish calendar adjustment of AD 359 that Jewish Sabbaths have always fallen on the day we now call 'Saturday'. 

2. The Sabbath is not a Jewish institution. God instituted it at creation (Gen. 2:1-3). It is his gift to mankind (Mark 2:27).
 3. The Ten Commandments are in a different class from all the other laws found in the Scriptures. God wrote them with his own finger. His fourth commandment is positive, the longest and most detailed of the ten, and links the Godward and manward, and moral and ceremonial aspects of the Law (Exod. 20:8-11, 31:18). 
4. The Sabbath was important to our Lord Jesus Christ. The Bible tells us nothing of his habits, except that it was his custom to go to the synagogue on the Sabbath (Luke 4:1 6). He announced that he was Lord of the Sabbath day (Mark 2:28). To say that there is no longer any Sabbath day is a denial of the Lordship of Christ. 
5. The Lord of the Sabbath transferred it to the first day of the week. This is the day on which he rose from the dead (John 20:1-18), appeared to His disciples (John 20:19, 26), and poured out His Spirit (Acts 2:1). 
6. The apostles and the early church kept the first day of the week distinct (Acts 20:7, 1 Cor. 16:2). To avoid confusion, the Greek New Testament calls the Jewish Sabbath 'the Sabbath' and calls the first day of the week 'the first of the Sabbaths' (Matt. 28:1, Mark 16:2,9, Luke 24:1, John 20:1,19, Acts 20:7, 1 Cor. 16:2). Some people believe that this is a Greek idiom simply meaning 'the first day of the weekly cycle', but there is almost no evidence for this. We must face the facts: the first day of the week is a Sabbath day. It is also known as 'the Lord's day' (Rev. 1:10).
 7. Throughout church history, it is Sunday that has been observed as the Christian Sabbath. The documentary evidence goes back to AD 74 and it is unanimous. During the worst persecutions, people suspected of being Christian were asked 'Dominicum servasti?' ('Do you keep the Lord's day?') True believers answered: 'I am a Christian; I cannot omit it.' What would believers answer today? 
8. It is actually immoral not to keep the Sabbath Day. The fourth commandment, which reminds us of this, is in a code that also forbids idolatry, murder, stealing, lying and coveting. The fourth commandment has never been withdrawn, and never will be (Matt. 5:18). To break one point of the law is to be guilty of all (James 2:10). The violation of the Sabbath brings the judgment of God (Neh.13:15-22). 
9. The Sabbath is a day of joy and gladness (Ps. 118:24, 122:1). God's Word calls it 'a delight' (Isa. 58:13). God gave it to be a blessing to us all (Mark 2:27-28). Speaking of the gospel age, Isaiah says, 'Blessed is the man . . . who keeps from defiling the Sabbath' (Isa. 56:2). 
10. The blessings of the Sabbath are there for all to see: it reminds fallen men and women that there is a God whom they should worship; it gives believers the opportunity to gather around the Word, and thus it maintains their spiritual life; it provides opportunities for gospel witness; it strengthens family ties; it permits a whole nation to rest; it promotes health . . . and so the list could go on. 
11. In the Old Testament, godly men like Moses, Amos, Hosea, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Nehemiah contended for the Sabbath. Church history is full of others who have done the same. What is stopping us from following their example? 


With these facts in mind, we can see that, for us, Sunday is the God-ordained day of rest. It is the day that embodies all that is permanent and universal in the fourth commandment. So how are we to use Sunday? To answer this question properly, we must speak both negatively and positively. 


We should not copy the Pharisees. The Sabbath goes all the way back to creation. For a while, it wore Old Testament clothes. It then took them off, and today it wears New Testament clothes. This means that we are not to impose upon it Mosaic regulations which have passed away, such as those found in Exodus 35:2-3 or Numbers 15:32- 36. Nor are we to have in mind any man-made list of do's and don'ts, such as in Matthew 12:1-2. In addition to the Mosaic legislation, the Pharisees added all sorts of rules of their own. To them, rubbing grain in your hand was the same as threshing. They also had rules about how much weight you could carry, and how far you could walk on the Sabbath day. Behind all their rules was a certain mindset; and it is a mindset that has no place in the life of a New Testament Christian. We should not work. In the Bible, the word 'work' means much more than earning your living. It also refers to the day-to-day duties of our lives, to our recreation, and to the thought that lies behind these things. As far as possible, all these things are to be put aside, both by ourselves and those who are answerable to us. This is not because they are sinful or unholy, but because God has commanded that they should be done on the other six days of the week (Exod. 20:8-11). We should not be idle. God's rest after creation was not inactivity, but a ceasing from one sort of activity (John 5:17). Sunday is to be a holy resting from one set of objectives so that we can pursue some very different objectives. It is not a day for lazing around. 


We should meet up with other Christians, both formally and informally (Acts 2:1, 20:7, John 20:26, Prov. 27:17, Rom. 1:12). The Bible does not lay down any sort of timetable for Sunday, but the principle is clear. It is not a day to spend alone, or only with the family. 

We should meet together specifically for edification, that is, for building one another up in the things of God. Whatever else may take place in this respect, nothing is more important than the teaching of the Word and the observance of the Lord's Supper (Acts 20:7). 
We should evangelise. The day of Pentecost began with a Christian assembly for mutual help and encouragement, but the Spirit's coming also consecrated the day to evangelism. His coming may be seen as a pledge of his blessing in this connection (Acts 2). 
We should engage in works of mercy. It is lawful to do good on the Sabbath day, especially to save life, to heal, and to work for the spiritual welfare of others (see Luke 6:9, Matt.12:5, 10-13, Luke 13:10-17, 14:1-6, John 5:6-9,16-17). Sunday commemorates the greatest act of mercy of all time. Every one of us can think of countless ways of doing good to people, but this aspect of Sunday observance is now largely forgotten. Those who find Sunday 'boring' are nearly always people who have become self-centered. 
We should engage in works of necessity. We must not narrow these down just to those things which are necessary for our survival, otherwise we would spend the whole day doing little else but breathing! The Sabbath was made for man - in other words, it was made for his welfare. There is no tension between keeping the Sabbath and pursuing our best interests (see Matt. 12:1-8,11-12). Go on, enjoy the day! In addition to the activities we have already mentioned, surround yourself with friends, prepare a good meal for them, talk, walk, laugh, pray, admire God's creation, and go to bed with a glad and thankful heart.

 by Stuart Olyott, the Pastoral Director of the Evangelical Movement of Wales. [Reproduced by kind permission of the Evangelical Magazine]


This fourth Commandment makes it clear that God is to be worshipped in the home, which, of course, inculcates the practice of family worship. It is addressed more specifically than any of the other nine Commandments to heads of households and to employers, because God requires them to see to it that all under their charge shall observe the Sabbath. To them, more immediately, God says, "Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy." It is to be strictly set apart to the honor of the thrice holy God, spent in the exercises of holy contemplation, meditation, and adoration. Because it is the day which He has made (Ps. 118:24), we must do nothing to unmake it. This Commandment forbids the omission of any duties required, a careless performing of the same, or a weariness in them. The more faithfully we keep this Commandment, the better prepared shall we be to obey the other nine.
Three classes of works, and three only, may be engaged in on the "Holy Sabbath." Works of necessity, which are those that could not be done on the preceding day and that cannot be deferred till the next—such as tending to cattle. Works of mercy, which are those that compassion requires us to perform toward other creatures—such as ministering to the sick. Works of piety, which are the worship of God in public and in private, using with thankfulness and delight all the means of grace which He has provided. We need to watch and strive against the very first suggestions of Satan to corrupt our hearts, divert our minds, or disturb us in holy duties, praying earnestly for help to meditate upon God’s Word and to retain what He gives us. The Lord makes the sacred observance of His Day of special blessing; and contrariwise, He visits the profanation of the Sabbath with special cursing (see Neh. 13:17, 18), as our guilty land is now proving to its bitter cost.
"A Sabbath well spent, brings a week of content
And strength for the toils of the morrow;
But a Sabbath profaned, whate’er may be gained
Is a certain forerunner of sorrow."

A.W. Pink

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Responsible Watchmen



Thoughts from the Word of God-
By Pastor Jeff Warix

So thou, O son of man, I have set thee a watchman unto the house of Israel; therefore thou shalt hear the word at my mouth, and warn them from me.
 Ezekiel 33:7

Yesterday we made the connection between “the watchmen on the wall” with the modern day responsibility of all believers to spread the good news of grace. But just what specific responsibility do we carry in this huge assignment?

For a person to come to Christ, the Holy Spirit uses the Word of God, and convicts them of their sinful condition. He is the one who prepares the heart. However, ours is the role of prayerfully informing our fellow man of their sinful condition and its impending judgment. We then share the essence of the gospel, which we do by using the Word of God [faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word]. Our success in sharing does not depend upon the unsaved to accept it. 


So it is essential to understand that our role is not to convict, nor to save. It is to share the news. When we fully comprehend our role, and the role of the Holy Spirit with the Word of God, we are freed to do our specific part: TO BE RESPONSILBE WATCHMEN FOR CHRIST. We must do this with faith in God’s way of saving and prayerfully seek to share this gospel with an encouraging and loving approach. For it is the “goodness of God [which] leadeth thee to repentance”.

Lord give us appointments made by you to share the good news with others. May we do so faithfully and joyfully!

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Is this really persecution?

This is an excellent article from Crystal at journeying to Christ. I hope you will take some time to read it....

I read a sermon by a reformed preacher that had me mentally shaking my head. This preacher is very knowledgeable in Scripture. I haven’t listened to very many of his sermons, haven’t read very many of them, but the ones that I have…until today…were all very good. But today…I was left wondering about this man’s beliefs.

He spoke about the Supreme Court’s ruling on gay marriage and the ‘persecution’ that did, and will continue, to follow that ruling. What troubled me most in this sermon was how this preacher said that as a result of that ruling…the ‘church’ is being persecuted. He gave examples of ‘Christian’ colleges that changed their policies to be allowed to continue to receive government funding. He spoke of the ‘persecution’ of his ‘church’ building in them possibly losing their tax exempt status. He said they have a nice piece of property and wondered how long they would be allowed to not pay property taxes on it.

I’m going to go ahead and say at this point...the loss of tax exempt status is NOT persecution. I’m going to go further and say that I don’t believe anyone that accepts such a status can truly be a Christian organization.