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.