30 January 2015

Justification and Sanctification

Let me show you the essential difference between justification and sanctification. Look at it like this: Justification is an act of God the Father; sanctification is essentially the work of God the Holy Spirit. There is this division of work in the blessed Persons of the Trinity. It is the Father who declares righteous and just. It is the Holy Spirit who sanctifies.

Second, justification takes place outside us, as in a tribunal; sanctification takes place within us, in our inner life. I stand in the court when I am justified, and the judge pronounces that I am free; it is a statement about me, outside me. But sanctification is something that is worked and takes place within.

Third, justification removes the guilt of sin; sanctification removes the pollution of sin and renews us in the image of God.

And therefore, last, by definition justification is a once-and-for-all act. It is never to be repeated because it cannot be repeated and never needs to be repeated. It is not a process but a declaration that we are pronounced just once and forever, by God. Sanctification, on the other hand, is a continuous process. We continue to grow in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord until we are perfect beyond the veil.

So there is nothing quite so erroneous and confusing and unscriptural as to mistake the essential difference between justification and sanctification. That is the whole trouble with Roman Catholic teaching and all Catholic piety. If you confuse sanctification with justification, you will be doubtful as to whether you are justified or not. If you bring in your state and condition and sin that you may commit, then you are querying your justification. But if you realize that justification is forensic, external, and declaratory, you know that you are justified whatever may be true about you.

– Martyn Lloyd-Jones

This 'n' That

Thinking of celebrating with a good,
old-fashioned roller skating party. Who's in?
A couple of days ago, I felt a little bit like celebrating. I finally completed a rather large project that I had been working on for months (okay, one year and a few months, but who's counting?). So, as you can imagine, it felt really wonderful to finish it and yet, at the same time, it felt a little anti-climactic. No confetti dropped from the ceiling, no streamers were thrown, no noisemakers were blasted. It just happened that, after months and months of studying and writing, I hit 'save' for the final time (or at least for the final time that I would be creating new content). It was a silent victory, but a victory nonetheless.

It made me think about the Kingdom, and about that coming day when believers will all stand before the Lord for a judgment of the works they did in this life (2 Corinthians 5:10). A judgment, not of our sin, but of the deeds and fruit that were wrought in us following our salvation. How many, I wondered, who have labored silently for the Lord here on this earth, will be given their reward by Christ Himself before the masses of the redeemed? The world may not celebrate their works, but the Lord knows.

Brethren, we do not have to be 'radical' to be faithful. We do not need to change a nation, or a city, or even a neighborhood. We do not need to draw circles, or brush the hair of strangers, or travel to a third-world country to dig wells to fulfill our calling. No, we are to be faithful where God has placed us, and faithful to heed His call in whatever ministry He would graciously grant to us. Is that ministry your family? Praise God. Is that ministry a church? Praise God. Is that ministry your coworkers? Praise God. Is that ministry your neighbor? Praise God. Regardless of where​ your ministry is or to whom it is directed, the purpose of all of our ministries is the same: To unashamedly call people to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ, and to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.

And what if it is difficult? What if sin continues to weigh you down? What if you are persecuted?
Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Hebrews 12:1–3)
Run on, brothers and sisters, and run well. But don't forget to pause for a moment so you can enjoy your week in review (kind of):

29 January 2015

Becoming Holy

The Scriptures place great emphasis on our part in sanctification, on what you and I have to do. What is the point of the mighty arguments of Paul and the apostles in their letters if sanctification is something that I am to receive? Why the exhortations?

Here is one exhortation from the apostle Peter: "Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul" (1 Peter 2:11). Do you notice what he says? We do not receive our sanctification and are then delivered from theses things. No; he tells us to abstain from them and to keep ourselves from them. And the tragedy is that so many people are spending their lives waiting to receive something, and in the meantime they are not abstaining from these fleshly lusts.

Take a statement from Paul: "Let him that stole steal no more" (Ephesians 4:28). That is what he is to do. He is not to wait to receive something; he is commanded to give up stealing. What can be more specific than that? And people who are guilty of foolish talking and jesting and other unseemly things are not to do them (Ephesians 5:4). "Be not conformed to this world" (Romans 12:2). You do not wait to receive something; if up to this moment you have been conforming to the world, you must stop.

People have often come to me about this and said, "You know, I've been trying so hard, but I can't get this experience." To which the reply is that the Scripture commands you to abstain: "Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded" (James 4:8). And I repeat that these injunctions are quite pointless and a sheer waste of ink if sanctification is something that I can receive. If it is, we would surely be told, "You need not worry about this question of sin–you can receive your sanctification in one act, and all you do then is to maintain it and abide in it." But this is most certainly not the New Testament teaching.

– Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Walking with God Day by Day

25 January 2015

Why the Malarkey/Tyndale/Lifeway Scandal Matters

Pastor Don Green
The following was written by Pastor Don Green of Truth Community Church. Pastor Green has been quite vocal on his Facebook page about the scandal surrounding the book, The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven. In this post, he once again details exactly why this is a situation that is not to be ignored. I urge you to read it and share it.
Yes, the Tyndale House Publishers and LifeWay Christian Resources scandal matters because of their lies, their subsequent cover-up, and their exploitation of Alex Malarkey.

But it matters for a much greater reason. It is a proxy battle over accountability in the dissemination of biblical truth. Tyndale and LifeWay prefer the present international embarrassment because it is less costly to them than actually eliminating other spiritual tripe from their inventory.

They cannot acknowledge even the most minimal doctrinal responsibility without threatening their business model.

This proxy battle plays out closer to home, too. Other than John MacArthur and Phil Johnson, it's hard (if not impossible) to find a nationally-recognized Christian leader speaking out about this scandal.

Who knows why. Even as an obscure pastor of a small church in the Midwest, I realize you can't get swept up in the latest gossip on Twitter and Christian blogs. There's not time for it and it distracts you from your pulpit.

But isn't it odd that those same men have had time to pontificate on the Ferguson riots, the latest news on the homosexuality front, and most anything else that is socially fashionable? Why is that?

Here's a potential news tip. Many of these men have books in print by the same jokers that brought you The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven, Heaven is for Real, Left Behind, and on it goes. Go to most any nationally-known Christian publisher's website and review their list of authors. You'll see what I mean.

Publishers don't flinch at publishing Kevin Malarkey alongside your favorite Bible teacher. It's about multiplying revenue streams. But for the author/Bible teachers whom we otherwise respect, they face a dilemma. Do they publicly criticize the publisher with whom they have a business lunch scheduled later that month? Do they jeopardize their place on the conference speaking tour or their next book contract by going on the record with a secular reporter who wants a quote for the scandal?

Given a choice, Christian authors with a national audience don't want a smaller publisher who actually cares about doctrine. Smaller publishers lack the marketing and distribution horsepower to push the author up the bestseller list.

So they join forces with the big-name publishers and assume that no one will ever connect the dots.

It's at a time like this when the chickens come home to roost. At a time that most CRIES OUT for a moral voice to unconditionally condemn these publishing hucksters, the Bible teachers who are best able to be heard and could actually influence the direction this scandal takes are nowhere to be found.

So while every major newspaper in North America and Europe has reported on the Tyndale crisis, go to the blogs, websites, and Twitter feeds of your favorite Bible teachers today and you'll find nothing about it.

The one thing you won't have trouble finding is links to their latest books.

I don't believe it's an overt conspiracy. But it's certainly the unspoken culture. Corrupt publishers and otherwise good men have a common interest in seeing this go away.

It's socially uncomfortable and financially unprofitable to say and do the right thing. It would be bad business for author and publisher alike to do anything that suggested that they were accountable to a higher authority than their sales reports and marketing department. In the meantime, a moral opportunity of great consequence for the true Church of Jesus Christ slowly slips into the night while the suits patiently wait for business to return to normal.


Sunday Morning Praise

All Glory, Laud, and Honor

23 January 2015

This 'n' That

Because this post is random, and so is this picture.
Ah, Friday, we meet again. As often happens, in spite of an eventful week, I find myself sitting before my computer, largely unable to determine how I'd like to open this week's post. Instead of a few nice, carefully written paragraphs, then, you simply get to enjoy a few of my random thoughts as they pop into my head. Don't worry, I'm as wary as you probably are, because I'm not quite sure how this is going to work. Let's give it a try, shall we?

So…the Packers lost on Sunday. I know, I know, it's Friday and I should get over it. I'm working on it. Apparently I heal slowly.

Speaking of healing, I think someone must've stolen the anointed Benny Hinn healing hanky I ordered. Guess I'll just have to take Jesse Duplantis' advice and shout the devil away instead of wiping him away.

I have a daily devotional on my desk that is absolute rubbish (it's okay, I knew it was when I bought it. The purchase was intentional). Everyday it tells me how awesome I am. No, I'm not joking. It's kind of making me nauseous just looking at it, actually.

On the flip side, I also have a Martyn Lloyd-Jones devotional on my desk, which seems to help keep the universe in balance.

I was pondering the circumstances of my life this week (or at least some of them), and was absolutely awed at what God has graciously done and is doing, both in the joys and in the trials. And I don't just mean so-called 'big' things, I mean He has been over-the-top faithful in my mundane, everyday life. I am so utterly unworthy, and my praise and thanks just seem to pale in comparison to His goodness. Brethren, do you realize what an amazing God we serve? I love Him, don't you?

This seems like a good time to turn things over and let you sit back and enjoy your week in review (kind of):

22 January 2015

A.W. Pink on the God of Scripture

A.W. Pink; Photo: Wikimedia
How vastly different is the God of Scripture from the “god” of the average pulpit! Nor is the testimony of the New Testament any different from that of the Old: how could it be, seeing that both have one and the same Author! There too we read, “Which in His times He shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords: Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen” (1Timothy 6:15-16). Such an One is to be revered, worshipped, adored. He is solitary in His majesty, unique in His excellency, peerless in His perfections. He sustains all, but is Himself independent of all. He gives to all, but is enriched by none. . . .

Such a God cannot be found out by searching. He can be known only as He is revealed to the heart by the Holy Spirit through the Word. It is true that creation demonstrates a Creator so plainly that men are “without excuse”; yet, we still have to say with Job, “Lo, these are parts of His ways: but how little a portion is heard of him? but the thunder of His power who can understand?” (26:14). . . .

The God of Scripture can only be known by those to whom He makes Himself known. Nor is God known by the intellect. “God is Spirit” (John 4:24), and therefore can only be known spiritually. But fallen man is not spiritual; he is carnal. He is dead to all that is spiritual. Unless he is born again, supernaturally brought from death unto life, miraculously translated out of darkness into light, he cannot even see the things of God (John 3:3), still less apprehend them (1 Corinthians 2:14). The Holy Spirit has to shine in our hearts (not intellects) in order to give us “the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6). And even that spiritual knowledge is but fragmentary. The regenerated soul has to grow in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus (2 Peter 3:18). The principal prayer and aim of Christians should be that we “walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God” (Colossians 1:10).

–A.W. Pink, The Attributes of God

Further Reading
The Narrow Gate
Man's Predicament and God's Salvation
Mormons Launch 'He Is the Gift' Initiative

18 January 2015

Equipping Eve: What Happens When We See Beth Moore Teach the Bible

Dreams, visions, voices—are these the best ingredients for biblically sound teaching? A recent Christianity Today article upholds Beth Moore as a favorable example of a female Bible teacher. This leads us to ask in this latest episode of Equipping Eve: What happens when we see Beth Moore teach the Bible?

Click here to listen to the latest episode of Equipping Eve.

Additional resources for this episode of Equipping Eve can be found here.

Sunday Morning Praise

My Jesus, I Love Thee

16 January 2015

This 'n' That

photo credit: Tiger Girl via photopin cc ​
Between Perry Noble's 'word from the Lord'-derived Christmas Eve sermon, and Beth Moore's ongoing claims to personal, direct revelation, and others within professing evangelicalism who would affirm their personal conversations with the God of the universe, there has been quite a bit of chatter (actual chatter, not 'gee, I think that might have been God giving my heart a little squeeze') about the nature of how God speaks today and whether or not impressions, instincts, and nudges can originate from Him.

'Don't put God in a box!' is an argument I hear quite often (and, quite frankly, I'd really appreciate it if continuationists, postmoderns, and undiscerning Christians would adopt a new slogan. This one is pretty tired). Well, how about I contain Him not in a box, but a book? A book that, incidentally, He Himself wrote as holy men were carried about by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:21).
God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. (Hebrews 1:1–2)
For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, such an utterance as this was made to Him by the Majestic Glory, “This is My beloved Son with whom I am well-pleased”-- and we ourselves heard this utterance made from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain. So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts. But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God. (2 Peter 1:16–21)
All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16–17)
Is that okay? Is it okay for me to 'limit' God, as it were, within the confines of His holy Word? Look, I get it. Sometimes we just 'feel led' (if you'll forgive the expression) to do or say something, and it turns out that God, in His providential, sovereign plan and timing, ordained that circumstance to further His perfect plan. But that doesn't mean that God was talking to you personally and directly outside of Scripture. Let's be careful with our terms, shall we, brethren? Because when we say that 'God told me' to do or say or write something, we tread into very precarious waters.

Think with me for a moment—if I say, 'God told me' to write this blog post, what does that ultimately imply? It implies that this blog post has all the authority of the written Word of Scripture. 'No, no,' you argue, 'God speaks to me, but I would never elevate that experience higher than the Bible.'

My friend, if you think that God is speaking to you directly and personally, but you do not elevate that as high as Scripture, then you sin. Does God ever speak with less authority? Does He say, 'Hey, Jim, I want you to make note of this and act on it, but just know that I'm not speaking with my full authority as the Lord of all here'? Really, if you think about it, to view God in this way is to view Him as little more than the pope. The pope, after all, holds quite a bit of earthly authority, but He only speaks 'infallibly' when he's speaking ex cathedra (in Catholic theory and tradition, anyway). Do you see how illogical and ridiculous it is for us to apply the same thinking to the Lord and King of the universe? Worse, do you see how utterly blasphemous it is for us to do so?

Causing further confusion amid these claims to revelation is the fact that the recipients of these alleged 'words from the Lord', while claiming to not elevate such words above Scripture, also do not want anyone to question those words. After all, these words and thoughts came from God. Again, this returns us to the issue of authority. Either God speaks authoritatively or He does not. You cannot have it both ways, so pick one. If you believe He speaks authoritatively at all times that He speaks, and you believe that He is still giving revelation today, then buy a Bible with a lot of blank sheets in the back so that you can keep adding to Scripture each time your liver shivers. If you don't believe He speaks authoritatively, then stop calling Him God and stop waxing eloquent about what you think He told you. In either instance, if you think He is still providing ongoing revelation, you probably should stop talking, open your Bible, and do some prayerful study and examination.

Now...wait...hold on just a minute...is that you, Lord? What's that? You want the readers to stop listening to the murmurs of their deceitful heart and hungry tummy and instead want them to pause and enjoy their week in review (kind of)? Well, okay then. I can't argue with that. Here's your week in review (kind of):