Monday, December 21, 2009
Sunday, December 13, 2009
Sunday, December 6, 2009
Sunday, November 29, 2009
Monday, November 23, 2009
Sunday, November 22, 2009
Saturday, November 14, 2009
What about Music?
We should not reduce a discussion of corporate worship to a discussion about music. Many problems would be avoided if we begin by locating music within the category labeled "the ministry of God's Word". (Col. 3:16) Music is to be a tool for teaching and admonishing one another, thus making it functionally similar to preaching.
Church music must answer the questions we put to church sermons:
1.) Is it doctrinally true?
2.) Does it display Biblical content?
3.) Is it excessively shallow?
4.) Is it theocentric (centered on God)?
5.) Does it accurately represent the character of God?
6.) Is the tone or mood reverential?
Good songs perform the essential service of distilling profound truths into memorable phrases, thereby planting truths deep in our souls. Good hymns remind distracted worshippers of the appropriate things to say to God in worship.
Professors D.G. Hart and John R. Muether point out that the contrast between the church and the world should perhaps be most obvious when the church is worshipping.
Friday, November 6, 2009
Monday, November 2, 2009
In faith, and love, and every grace;
Might more of His salvation know;
And seek more earnestly His face.
Twas He who taught me thus to pray,
And He, I trust has answered prayer;
But it has been in such a way,
As almost drove me to despair!
I hoped that in some favored hour,
At once He'd answer my request;
And by His love's constraining power,
Subdue my sins - and give me rest!
Instead of this, He made me feel
The hidden evils of my heart;
And let the angry powers of hell
Assault my soul in every part!
Yes more, with His own hand He seemed
Intent to aggravate my woe!
Crossed all the fair designs I schemed,
Blasted my gourds - and laid me low!
"Lord, why is this!" I trembling cried,
"Will you pursue your worm to death?"
"This is the way," the Lord replied,
"I answer prayer for grace and faith."
"These inward trials I employ,
From self and pride to set you free;
And break your schemes of earthly joy,
Thay you may seek your all in Me!"
Sunday, November 1, 2009
- to our own weakness. We are not self-sufficient and invincible. We fail and fall, and need constantly to call on God for help.
- to the power of temptation. The powers of darkness are real and are constantly tempting us to sin, to do things our way instead of God's way, relying on Him.
- to the possibility of offending God. We should be afraid of offending such a great God as we serve, concerned that sin might break our communion with Him and tarnish His name before unbelievers.
Sunday, October 25, 2009
Saturday, October 24, 2009
Two reasons are given. First, sermons have begun to be moral lessons, rather than expositions of God's Word. A God-centered, redemptive sermon will allow us to worship. A sermon of this kind will cause us to look heavenward and embrace by faith the God who redeemed us.
Secondly, we have become poor listeners with no expectation of seeing God. "Good listening requires good thinking and good thinking is a chore."
James Stewart: "If in a congregation one soul here and another there may be receiving, as the sermon proceeds, some vision of the majesty of God, some glimpse of the loveliness of Christ, some revelation of personal need beneath the searchlight of the Spirit, is the ministry of the Word to be minimized... Is not such preaching worship?"
Sunday, October 18, 2009
In this section of Philippians, Paul lays out a Christian worldview. This is not quite like the Christian worldview that we see espoused by so many today -- Paul does not expect that the world at large will, or ever can, conform to God's standard of holiness. Paul's Christian worldview can be summed in four points:
- Everything will come out for good to those who love Christ. Paul is confident (v. 19) that his imprisonment will be "to his salvation". Now, Paul is already saved. But the salvation he is refering to is that he will continue to bloom and be sustained. Note the role of prayer in this. Prayer is what God uses to sustain the believer.
- Regardless of what happens, Paul is living for the glorification of Christ. (v20, 21), that Christ would be magnified. This is what brings Paul satisfaction; this is his desire - that Christ would be glorified in him and that the world would see Christ in him.
- It is crucial for Christians to live this life in hope of seeing the Saviour face-to-face in glory. We hold this world loosely; it is not our home. We are looking forward to what the old saints called the "long home", where we will spend eternity living with the Lord.
Paul says it is "very much better" to be with Christ; this could be translated, "far, far, far better".
- Paul, if he is to remain here in this life, is remaining here for the sake of others. (v 22-24) "yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake"
Based on this worldview, Paul offers an admonition: "Conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ." This might be intended to bring to mind the actions of Roman citizens who had been planted into Philippi to bring Rome into that province. These citizens were called to live out their Roman citizenship in Philippi, being examples of Rome to the natives. In such a way, we are to live out our heavenly citizenship here in the world.
Paul doesn't say, "Follow the rules I have laid out in my other epistles", or "obey the Law given to Moses". Rather he says to live "in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ". Paul recognizes that he is speaking to reasonable, regenerate people who have the mind of Christ.
The crucial element of this admonition is the gospel. Your life will either adorn, or help, the gospel or clash with, or oppose it. Are you a new creature in Christ? Act like it! Do you hate sin because it nailed Christ to the cross? Then kill sin in your own life! Live out what you claim to be, what you are.
"With one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel" Each of the members of the body is striving in unison to encourage and strengthen the whole.
(v28) Do not be afraid of your adversaries. The fact that they are opposing the gospel is a "sign of destruction" to them - a sure omen that they are under "perdition" - continual, eternal destruction. But for Christians, this adversity is a sure sign of our salvation.
(v29) Our belief and our suffering have been given to us by Christ. Our belief - salvation is all of Christ. Our suffering - what we suffer is from his hand and to further His purposes.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Sunday, October 11, 2009
After exhorting the church at Philippi to leave behind mediocrity and strive for excellency, Paul gives an example in his own life. He gives a testimony of how he has poured himself into the ministry, and how he has found great peace and joy in proclaiming Christ is whatever situation he is in.
Text: Philippians 2:12-18
Paul emphasizes three things as being essential to living a joyous, purposeful life of joy in Christ.
- Christ must be proclaimed
It is fairly easy to talk about God and religion. But a true presentation of the gospel must include Jesus Christ. Talking about Jesus will invite scorn and ridicule - the gospel is foolishness to the natural man - but, it is the power of God for salvation. But we must not be afraid of a little scorn, and we cannot water down the message to make it more palatable. Are we so concerned about a little rejection that we are unable to share these glorious truths?
The basic gospel word is all Christ. We have several good examples of a gospel presentation in Acts - chapters 2, 5, 10, 13, and 16 for example. This gospel word consists of presentation of Jesus as a historical fact - his life, death and resurrection - and also includes a call to believe on Him, and a warning for those who reject Him.
- God presents opportunities
Paul presents his imprisonment as an example of how God creates opportunities to share the gospel in all circumstances. He was a prisoner, but his guards were the real "captive" audience! And the Word spread "throughout the whole praetorian guard".
What are our opportunites in our circumstances? For parents, our children are an audience we should not neglect.
- Sharing the gospel of Christ brings peace and joy
Paul rejoices in God's plan and prupose and states that he will rejoice! He as committed himself to do so. It is choice. So we know for a certainty that this life of proclaiming the gospel is a life of joy and rejoicing.
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Text: Philippians 1:9-11
Three observations about Paul's prayer for the Philippians in these verses:
- Paul prays (v.9) that their love would "abound still more and more". We know that love is more than emotion; "Love" is an action verb. Love motivates us toward some action for that thing that we love. We should have love towards God, our pastors, our brothers and sisters, and towards the lost.
Paul prays for their love to abound still more and more. The picture here is like the waves of the sea, continually coming in one after another.
- Paul wants their love to be (v.8) bounded by "knowledge and discernment."
NOT - in ignorance and insensitivity
NOT - in stupidity and hamfistedness
NOT - in sentimentalism and myopic nostalgia
In knowledge - we know that which we love. And knowledge, in Biblical terms, encompasses a knowledge of the facts of the gospel, along with an experimental knowledge of the Christ of the gospel.
In judgment - in insight, ability to discern the excellent thing, a moral perception across the gamut of life's experiences.
- Paul prays (v.10) that they would be able to "discern the things that are excellent". There are good things, better things, and the best things. We should press on to better and better things! For example: we have lots of ways we can use our money to further the kingdom. We can give it to a "good" cause. But we should seek to find the best use for the money (perhaps a more excellent missionary).
Another example: our family devotions. We should seek not just to have good family devotions, but to pour ourselves into our family such that our devotions are excellent.
- Paul prays that they would be "filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus" (v.11). This is a very New Covenant view of our sanctification! There is no mention of a moral code to look to. We are not to evaluate ourselves against a set of laws, and believe that we are righteous because we are measuring up pretty well. But we are to pursue excellence and holiness out of gratitude and love for Christ.
And this pursuit of excellence is the word for today. Being done with being satisfied with where we are today! Seeking to know more, experience more, of Him! Christ is at work within us -- there is no need to settle for mediocrity!
"Sitting in the presence of the Holy One of Israel and engaging Him in the holy dialogue that we call worship should surely excite the worshipper's emotions." - (pg 6)
"Worship is an act of the understanding, applying itself to the knowledge of the excellency of God, and actual thoughts of His majesty. It is also an act of the will, whereby the soul adores and reverenceth His majesty, is ravished with His amiableness, embraceth His goodness, enters itself into an intimate communion with this most lovely Object, and pitcheth all his affections upon Him" - Stephen Charnook
One of the most-discussed elements of worship is the role of feelings and emotions. Surely, emotions are affected in our worship. "The problem comes when emotional stimulation is mistaken for true worship. This leads to emotional experiences being sought as ends in themselves, rather than Holy Spirit-inflamed emotions experienced as a by-product of God-directed worship." - (pg 7)
Healthy worship, in contrast, results in the Word of God arousing faith in the worshipper, in part by promoting confidence and certainty regarding things not seen. "That faith causes the believer to worship; he thanks God, praises God, prizes God, and adores God. Word-driven thanking, praising, prizing and adoring erupts from the heart and mobilizes the affections." - (pg 7)
What is the worshipper's ultimate goal? It should not be to achieve a feeling or emotional high, rather it should be to render unto God the glory due His name. "The worshipper worships as an end in itself, not as a means to the end of being emotionally happy." (pg 8)
The role of the Word of God in worship cannot be overstated. "The Holy Spirit normally works in conjunction with (and not independent of) God's Word. If we want the Holy Spirit to move in our worship services then we must have Word-saturated worship services. How do we quench the Spirit? By quenching the Word!" (Eph. 6:17; compare John 3:5-6 and 1Pet 1:23-25; compare Eph 5:18-19 and Col 3:16-17; compare John 14:16-17, 26, John 15:26, 16:13-14, 17:17, Ps 119:142, 160 and 2Tim 2:15) - (pgs 7-8)
"A consequence of Word-based worship is that we sometimes meet with God in surprising ways - it may not be a comfortable emotion - it may be conviction of sin before a holy God. When this does happen we will see that God's rod and staff do comfort us (Ps 23:4) and God's sin-exposing holiness posesses its own soul-arresting beauty (Ps 50:1-3)." - (pg 10)
Sunday, October 4, 2009
Friday, October 2, 2009
Looking for God in all the Wrong Places, An Appeal for Word-Based Corporate Worship, by Robert G. Spinney, is an excellent little booklet that summarizes much of what we believe about worship. The following few posts are a summary of this booklet put together by one of our members. Many of the phrases and sentences in this summary are taken directly from the author, and most are put in quotation marks, but there may be instances where a sentence was taken directly from the booklet and accidentally not put in quotation marks.
In the past 40 years Christians have begun separating praising and worshipping from preaching and teaching. Why?
There are two main reasons. The first reason is a growing sense that worship is exclusively emotional. Singing stirs the emotions, but preaching does not. The second main reason stems from the Word of God being deemphasized.
The author's main thesis is "to reclaim an approach to worship that could be called Word-based worship; this helps to create what could be called a Word-driven church; this calls for Word-based worshippers."
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Every true believer will persevere, and that by the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit, preserving him by the inward workings on the heart and mind of the believer. It is inconceivable that God would elect a man, Christ would die for that same man, and yet we would finally fall away by returning to his unbelief.
It is not inconceivable, however, that a man might make a false profession, give some temporary evidence of conversion and finally return to his unbelieving condition. American, evangelical churches are full of such "Christians", and an unbiblical, unsound and largely unspoken belief system has developed among Amercian protestant churches to accomodate the presence of these "worldly Christians." Church policies and practices have been compromised to attract these "lukewarm" believers and the fruit of their position is usually the fact that they do not persevere, and sooner or later they abandon their faith altogether or become totally indifferent to any real Christian commitment.
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
So God, through regeneration, lovingly draws men to the Saviour by the loving administration of the Holy Spirit through the application of the Holy Scriptures to the soul of poor helpless sinners, resulting in their inevitable conversion to Christ. God, who cannot fail in anything He determines to do, draws those whom He has chosen, to the foot of the cross.
Saturday, August 1, 2009
Matthew 1:21 "And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call His name Jesus: for He shall save His people from their sins."
John 17:6-9 "I have manifested Thy name unto the men which Thou gavest Me out of the world: Thine they were, and Thou gavest them Me; and they have kept Thy word. Now they have known that all things whatsoever Thou hast given Me are of Thee. For I have given unto them the words which Thou gavest Me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from Thee, and they have believed that Thou didst send Me. I pray for them; I pray not for the world, but for them which Thou hast given Me; for they are Thine."
John 16:13-14 "Howbeit when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth: for He shall not speak of Himself; but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak: and He will show you things to come. He shall glorify Me: for He shall receive of Mine, and shall show it unto you."
Now, no one is imagining that the value or worth of Christ's atonement is in any way limited. His death is sufficient to atone for all the sinners in 10,000 worlds. It is the intent of the atonement in the mind and purpose of the triune God that limits it. If Christ bore the sins of every man, then all men are free of their guilt. God will not require a second death, i.e. the sinner's death, to atone for a sin that is paid for by the death of the eternal Son of God. It is finished! What gross injustice to lay the sins of all mankind on the head of the Savior and then punish the sinner for sins that were already borne on Calvary!
In Romans 9:22, Scripture argues that "God, willing to show his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction:" Apparently, God's justice is an important part of His divine nature and He is willing to display it on "vessels of wrath." God is altogether unlike the contemporary concept which elevates man and diminishes the very nature of God.
Some in our day quote 2 Peter 3:9 which says, ..."not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." Their intent, of course, is to prove that God is not willing that any single person should perish, but that every person should come to repentance. Such an interpretation, however, does violence to both Scripture and to the nature of God. A close look at the context will tell you that Peter is talking to the elect, whom he calls "beloved" in verse 8. Again in verse 9, he says that God is longsuffering to us-ward, meaning to Peter and his fellow believers.
Equally damaging is the idea that God wants to save every one (universalism), but he is unable to for some imagined problem of violating the all-mighty human "free-will".
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
The Scriptures also teach that these "elect" persons are chosen unconditionally - that is to say, they have done nothing, nor could they do anything to merit this election. God has chosen those whom He chooses for reasons which are hidden in the will and purposes of God. But this much we know - God set His love on a particular people before the world began and predestinated them to be His adopted children through Jesus Christ for his own glory. This is our only hope for our evangelism, our preaching, and our praying.
Ephesians 1:3-7 "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: according as he hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;"
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
This doctrine of total depravity declares that men are dead in sin* and by inference means that mean can do nothing to please God, just as a dead corpse can do nothing or in any way cooperate with its surroundings.
The "total" aspect of the doctrine means simply that the depravity extends to every part of man's nature: his intellect, his emotions, and his will.
This does not mean that all men are equally bad, not that any man is as bad as he could be, not that any one is entirely without some virtue.
What it does mean is that since the fall, all mankind is under the curse of sin, and that they are wholly unable to love God or do anything to deserve salvation.
* Ephesians 2:1-3 "And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others."
John 3:19 "And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil."
Romans 8:7,8 "Because the carnal [natural] mind is enmity [at war] against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God."
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Let all that you do be done in love.
I Corinthians 16:13-14
We believe that there is one God eternally existent in three persons – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. He is omnipotent, that is, He is all-powerful. He is omnipresent, that is, He is present throughout creation but not limited by it. He is omniscient, that is nothing is hidden from His sight. He is completely free and sovereign in the salvation of His people. We believe the God we serve is holy, righteous, good, severe, loving and full of mercy. He is the Creator, Sustainer, and Governor of everything that has been made.
We believe in the true deity and full humanity of our Lord Jesus Christ, in His virgin birth, in His sinless life, in His miracles, in His vicarious and atoning death through His shed blood, in His bodily resurrection, in His ascension to the right hand of the Father and in His personal return in power and glory.
We believe in the full deity of the Holy Spirit acknowledging Him together with the Father and the Son as Creator of the world in six 24-hour days and Redeemer of his people.
We believe that because of Adam’s sin all mankind is in rebellion against God. For the salvation of such lost and sinful men, regeneration by the Holy Spirit is absolutely necessary and without it faith is impossible.
We believe that salvation is by grace through faith alone and that faith without works is dead.
We believe in the present ministry of the Holy Spirit, by whose indwelling the Christian is enabled to live a godly life.
We believe in the resurrection of both the saved and the lost, those who are saved to the resurrection of life and those who are lost to the resurrection of damnation.
We believe in the spiritual unity of all believers in our Lord Jesus Christ.