Thursday, April 23, 2009


Our Enemies

The commands in Matthew 5:43-48 and Luke 6:27-36 are, to say the least, difficult... even for the believer. It is another reminder why we MUST depend on the Holy Spirit to mold and shape our attitudes, and cry out to God to put in us a right spirit.

Love your enemies? Bless them? Pray for them? Come on, you've got to be kidding! Let's get back at them by condemning their sin and labeling them in our minds as unworthy of the grace of God. Let's partner with Christian friends in speaking evil of their coalitions and their politicians, inwardly thinking more of ourselves than we ought. Let's fight and debate with them at every turn, and forget about that whole total depravity thing. Let's think of them as fools. So says our flesh, does it not?

But what does Jesus tell us? Love them. Do good to them. Bless them. Pray for them. Lend to them. Turn the other cheek. But wait, Jesus... they will think of us Christians as doormats! But Jesus humbly reminds us of the attitude of the Most High: "... for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful." (Luke 6:35,36)

Remember. Remember. Remember!!! How does He deal with YOU?

Says Bonhoeffer:

"In the New Testament our enemies are those who harbour hostility against us, not those against whom we cherish hostility, for Jesus refuses to reckon such a possibility. The Christian must treat his enemy as a brother, and requite his hostility with love. His behaviour must be determined not by the way others treat him, but by the treatment he himself receives from Jesus; it has only one source, and that is the will of Jesus...

... We are not to imagine that this is to condone his evil; such a love proceeds from strength rather than weakness, from truth rather than fear... If our enemy cannot put up with us any longer and takes to cursing us, our immediate reaction must be to lift up our hands and bless him... Their curse can do us no harm... We are ready to endure their curses so long as they redound to their blessing...

... For if we pray for them, we are taking their distress and poverty, their guilt and perdition upon ourselves, and pleading to God for them. We are doing vicariously for them what they cannot do for themselves. Every insult they utter only serves to bind us more closely to God and them. Their persecution of us only serves to bring them nearer to reconciliation with God and to further the triumphs of love."

When you read that, do you say, "Wow!" I sure do.

Be peculiar. Be extraordinary. Be Christian. Be what you are.
And till next time, may the grace of the Lord Jesus be with you.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied."
- Matthew 5:6

“On the system of ‘Do this and live,’ no peace, and even no true obedience, can ever be attained. It is ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.’ When this belief enters the heart, joy and confidence enter along with it. The righteousness we try to work out for ourselves eludes our impotent grasp, and never can a soul arrive at a true and permanent rest in the pursuit of this object.”
-- Thomas Chalmers

"Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!"
- Psalm 34:8

I believe joy, peace, and confidence come when we work to please God by our obedience -- while simultaneously resting in Christ's perfect righteousness imputed to the elect to assure us of God's love and acceptance. (See Romans 8:16.)

Because of my fallenness and the power of the remaining flesh, I must continually remind myself of this truth. May it be of encouragement to you, if you are in Christ.

"Blessed are the people whose God is the LORD!"
- Psalm 144:15

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Lost Man - "You are dead"

Men must be told that they are dead, and that only the Holy Spirit can quicken them; that the Spirit works according to his own good pleasure, and that no man can claim his visitations or deserve his aid. This is thought to be very discouraging teaching, and so it is, but men need to be discouraged when they are seeking salvation in a wrong manner. To put them out of conceit of their own abilities is a great help toward bringing them to look out of self to another, even the Lord Jesus. The doctrine of election and other great truths which declare salvation to be all of grace, and to be, not the right of the creature, but the gift of the Sovereign Lord, are all calculated to hide pride from man, and so prepare him to receive the mercy of God.

- C.H. Spurgeon (from Lectures to My Students)

Monday, February 9, 2009

Poor in Spirit


In the middle of Bonhoeffer's book, he goes into a brief running commentary on the "Sermon on the Mount," beginning with the Beattitudes.

Interestingly enough, my pastor just began a series on Matthew 5-7, and I always find it exciting how the LORD works. Don't you find that when He teaches us something, it seems to come from multiple directions (preachers, friends, books, etc.)?
"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."
-Matthew 5:3

Of this, Bonhoeffer reminds us that the "poor in spirit" are those who, for the sake of Christ, have lost all -- and their poverty is in losing "even their own selves, and everything that could make them rich... And in their poverty they are heirs to the kingdom." It is not physical poverty, but spiritual poverty that brings the blessing -- no amount of piety or spiritual knowledge alone can save. Only those who come to Christ to be their all in all have the hope of the promises of God.

But then he goes on to say something I found amazingly prophetic. In our culture, the true gospel is often replaced with the "social gospel" of Big Brothers and Sisters, building a Habitat for Humanity home, or caring for the AIDS victims in Africa. We should not let the latter go undone, but the true gospel of Jesus Christ must be preached.

It will not do to feed the hungry physically, yet leaves their souls impoverished -- for it is the soul of man that will live forever. Sandwiches must be accompanied by the good seed of the gospel -- God will then get glory in that.
"This beattitude is poles removed from the caricatures of it which appear in political and social manifestos. The Antichrist also calls the poor blessed, but not for the sake of the cross, which embraces all poverty and transforms it into a source of blessing. [The Antichrist] fights the cross with political and social ideology. He may call it Christian, but that only makes him a still more dangerous enemy."

Preaching of sin, righteousness, and judgment will produce poorness of spirit by the power of the Holy Spirit. But God does not leave us there. In this verse is THE gospel -- the good news!

The Apostle Paul, speaking to the believers in Rome, reminds us, who have been granted mercy:
"But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us."
-Romans 5:8

Do you see how God turns our poorness into joy? For in Christ, ours is the kingdom of heaven!

May the grace of the Lord Jesus be with you.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Obedience to the Call of Jesus


I believe there is great confusion in the church today in regards to the call of Christ. R.C. Sproul addresses this in his essay "The Pelagian Captivity of the Church." Hope you take the time to check it out.

Bonhoeffer addresses this over 70 years ago in his book. Referencing Mark 2:14, he writes:
"THE CALL goes forth, and is at once followed by the response of obedience. The response of the disciples is an act of obedience, not a confession of faith in Jesus."

He goes on to point out the absence in Scripture of a description of the psychological reasons for a man's religious decisions. One would think that the disciples knew of Jesus and His teachings before He called them, but there is nothing to indicate that at all. Why would they immediately follow Him?
"For the simple reason that the cause behind the immediate following of call by response is Jesus Christ himself. It is Jesus who calls, and because it is Jesus, Levi follows at once. The encounter is a testimony to the absolute, direct, and unaccountable authority of Jesus."

"Not a word of praise is given to the disciple for his decision for Christ."

What about us? Are we proud that we are Christians? Are we inwardly boastful that we have "made the decision" to follow Jesus? "Let the one who boasts, boast in the LORD" (1 Cor. 1:31).

I am a Christian today because Christ Himself called me by name, and I responded in obedience -- because it was Christ who called. If you are a Christian, it is for the same reason. Theologians call this the "effectual call" or "irresistible grace." If you are not a follower of Jesus, then Christ has not called you -- and you are still dead in your sins. You are living in disobedience. And your greatest sin is that which prevents you from coming to Christ -- disbelief. This is what Jesus spoke about when he said,
"All that the Father gives me WILL come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out... No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him... no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father." (John 6:36,44,65)

Do you doubt this? Do you really think ALL authority has been given to Jesus (see Matthew 28:18), or do you think his authority is limited by man's "free will?"

Chew over this till next time:
"Only he who believes is obedient, and only he who is obedient believes."
- Dietrich Bonhoeffer

May the grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.

Friday, January 23, 2009

CHEAP Grace v. COSTLY Grace


A few weeks ago I began reading my second book written by Dietrich Bonhoeffer.  Those of you who do not know his story, I would ask you to do some research.  I would not do it justice if I tried to tell you who he was and what he did, but when I think of him I think of the great "cloud of witnesses."  

I hope to make a few posts on the profound things I read in this most recent book I'm reading, THE COST OF DISCIPLESHIP.  

He begins the book speaking of "cheap grace" v. "costly grace."  He writes:
"Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession, absolution without personal confession.  Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.
Costly grace is the treasure hidden in the field; for the sake of it a man will gladly go and sell all that he has.  It is the pearl of great price to buy which the merchant will sell all his goods.  It is the kingly rule of Christ, for whose sake a man will pluck out the eye which calls him to stumble, it is the call of Jesus Christ at which his disciple leaves his nets and follows him."
Have you been shown grace, been born again, and adopted into the family of God?  If so, what is the grace costing you?  He goes on to say:
"The only man who has the right to say that he is justified by grace alone is the man who has left all to follow Christ.  Such a man knows that the call to discipleship is a gift of grace, and that the call is inseparable from the grace."
And the Word of God says:
"For by grace you have been saved through faith.  And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.  For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." (Ephesians 2:8-10)
I would ask you to consider how discipleship is used as a means of grace -- that God would use to equip us to walk in the good works that God has beforehand prepared for us... understanding that we in fact were "created in Christ Jesus."  Makes one think of "the new man," does it not?

More later, LORD willing.  Till then, may the grace of the Lord Jesus be with you all.  Amen.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Repentant Faith???

The two great graces essential to a saint in this
life, are faith and repentance. These are the two
wings by which he flies to heaven...

Moist tears of repentance dry up sin—and quench
the wrath of God. Repentance is the nourisher of
piety—and the procurer of mercy.

- Thomas Watson

Certainly all who are orthodox Christians will understand the importance of having repentant faith -- for there are none who are children of God without it.  Thus, the name of my blog stresses the importance of both sides of the coin which must rest in the palm of the justified believer.

The great saving faith which the Holy Spirit will wrought in the heart of every one of God's elect will certainly produce repentance, because one who trusts and follows his LORD can no longer follow after their lusts and passions and desires of the flesh.  And because of the power of the remaining flesh, daily repentance is required as we continually look to the One who sought us and bought us with His redeeming blood.  When one is found in Christ, repentant faith is their mark.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Memorizing God's Word

Greetings to all who might stumble across my new blog.  It was only months ago that I discovered what the word "blog" means, and I am still not sure I know the accurate definition.  But at any rate, I hope to share my thoughts and musings about various topics that come up.  

I suppose many in our great land make resolutions at the beginning of the new year, and I am no exception.  I made the lofty goal for myself (at least for me it is) to memorize more of Scripture this year -- shooting for one new verse a day.  I know that may sound crazy to many, but can it really be that tough?  Well, here it is the 19th of January and I have somewhat memorized 16... so I'm not that far behind.

If you'd like to join me and write more of God's Word on your heart, here are my techniques.  Pick a subject... like humility, service, holiness, etc... and then find verses in the Bible that speak to your heart and that teach important things on that subject.  Write them down on 3x5 cards or a pocket-sized notebook.  

When memorizing, do this:  Read aloud the subject, the scripture reference, then the text, then again the scripture reference.  Do this 10 times.  Then try it without looking 10 times.  Then throughout the day try to recall it again.  Keep your notebook or a few of the cards with you at all times, so when you're in line somewhere, or put on hold on the phone, or stuck in traffic, you can work on your memory verses -- and hence, you can prepare your minds for action (see 1 Peter 1:13).  


"SERVICE, Mark 10:45, For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many, Mark 10:45."

I hope on Sundays (as one way of obeying God's 4th commandment) to review all the verses I've learned from the previous week.  And on the 1st Sunday of each month, review all other verses from weeks prior.  (I hope that made sense.)

Hope to hear from anyone who has taken this on before.  I'm always looking for advice on how to grow in holiness and respond appropriately to the grace that has been given me.  May this be an encouragement for you to do the same.

Till next time, may the grace, love, and fellowship of the Triune God be with you all.