18 April 2014

"The Veil Is Not Rolled Up, but Rent"

For believers the veil is not rolled up, but rent. The veil was not unhooked, and carefully folded up, and put away, so that it might be put in its place at some future time. Oh, no! But the divine hand took it and rent it front top to bottom. It can never be hung up again; that is impossible. Between those who are in Christ Jesus and the great God, there will never be another separation. "Who shall separate us from the love of God?" Only one veil was made, and as that is rent, the one and only separator is destroyed. I delight to think of this. The devil himself can never divide me from God now. He may and will attempt to shut me out from God; but the worst he could do would be to hang up a rent veil. What would that avail but to exhibit his impotence? God has rent the veil, and the devil cannot mend it. There is access between a believer and his God; and there must be such free access forever, since the veil is not rolled up, and put on one side to be hung up again in days to come; but it is rent, and rendered useless.

The rent is not in one corner, but in the midst, as Luke tells us. It is not a slight rent through which we may see a little; but it is rent from the top to the bottom. There is an entrance made for the greatest sinners. If there had only been a small hole cut through it, the lesser offenders might have crept through; but what an act of abounding mercy is this, that the veil is rent in the midst, and rent from top to bottom, so that the chief of sinners may find ample passage! This also shows that for believers there is no hindrance to the fullest and freest access to God. Oh, for much boldness, this morning, to come where God has not only set open the door, but has lifted the door from its hinges; yea, removed it, post, and bar, and all!

I want you to notice that this veil, when it was rent, was rent by God, not by man. It was not the act of an irreverent mob; it was not the midnight outrage of a set of profane priests: it was the act of God alone. Nobody stood within the veil; and on the outer side of it stood the priests only fulfilling their ordinary vocation of offering sacrifice. It must have astounded them when they saw that holy place laid bare in a moment. How they fled, as they saw that massive veil divided without human hand in a second of time! Who rent it? Who but God Himself? If another had done it, there might have been a mistake about it, and the mistake might need to be remedied by replacing the curtain; but if the Lord has done it, it is done rightly, it is done finally, it is done irreversibly. It is God Himself who has laid sin on Christ, and in Christ has put that sin away. God Himself has opened the gate of heaven to believers, and cast up a highway along which the souls of men may travel to Himself. God Himself has set the ladder between earth and heaven. Come to Him now, ye humble ones. Behold, He sets before you an open door!

– Charles Spurgeon, "The Rent Veil"

Further Reading
The Parable of the Soils: Giving or Gospel?
The Grand Instrument By Which Souls Are Converted
The Destruction of Pride and the Elevation of Furtick

This 'n' That

photo credit: maxmaria via photopin cc
It's no secret that the world has taken over the so-called "Easter" season. Colorful pastel eggs and fuzzy bunny rabbits tend to line the aisles of Wal-Mart and Target rather than remembrances of a cross or an empty tomb. (Although, if you're at Hobby Lobby or Family Christian Store, maybe you can find something depicting the Easter Bunny at the empty tomb. Like Easter's version of the Santa Claus nativity.) And of course, the seeker-driven churches have taken the world's notion of this time of year and capitalized on it with such gimmicks as egg drops and other various Easter extravaganzas.

While it is a shame that children are more focused on chocolate and bunnies—and chocolate bunnies—than on the Lord Jesus Christ, Christians must remember this: we honor Resurrection Day every Sunday when we gather together to worship our risen Lord and to hear His Word proclaimed. When you remember this, you may find yourself merely shaking your head at the world's pathetic celebration, and discover that every Sunday finds you filled with joy, thanks and praise for a risen Savior.

Further, we must admit that the world's Easter celebration has delivered one wonderful thing for us to enjoy in spite of the chintzy silliness that abounds—candy. I know, I know. My healthy friends are cringing right now even thinking about the pounds of chocolate that must be consumed each year. But who doesn't love Reese's peanut butter eggs, Cadbury creme eggs, Brach's chocolate covered marshmallow bunnies, or my personal past favorite, Cadbury mini eggs? And I cannot neglect to mention those goodies that have stepped in to fill my Easter candy cravings since I swore off dairy and soy: jelly beans (these are my favorite, but they're hard to find) and Peeps. Friends, let's face it, a world without Peeps would indeed be a sad place to live.

So go ahead and indulge in that chocolate bunny, but only once a year. As for praising the Lord Jesus Christ for His death and resurrection—indulge in that daily.

Okay, now that I have a cavity from even thinking about all those empty, but wonderfully delicious calories, why don't you grab a handful of jelly beans, then come back here and enjoy your week in review (kind of):

15 April 2014

The Parable of the Soils: Giving or Gospel?

photo: Global Crop Diversity Trust via photopin cc
The Word-Faith teachers love your money. They love your money more than you love your money and they'll do whatever it takes to get your money into their pocketbooks. Yes, they will do anything, including perverting and distorting the revealed Word of God.

Most are familiar with the ever-popular concept of "sowing a seed." Mr. Word-Faith Charlatan needs your money. He needs to convince the confused, unregenerate masses to willingly hand over their money. The masses—narcissistic, worldly, sinful, fallen, gullible, lost people that they are—will do anything to attain the fleeting treasures and comforts of this world, and Mr. Word-Faith Charlatan knows it. So he makes promises.

"Need healing? Have faith. Sow a seed."

"Financial trouble? Trust God with your finances. Write the first check to Him and the rest will be cared for and your debt will be paid in abundance. Sow a seed of faith today."

Of course, when the deceived television viewer writes his check to "God," he is told to write it to Mr. Word-Faith Charlatan's ministry because said ministry is doing "God's" work. Yes, just sow your seed and you will be repaid thirty, sixty, perhaps even one hundredfold.

Wait—doesn't that sound familiar? Who else promised a crop of thirty, sixty or a hundredfold?
He began to teach again by the sea. And such a very large crowd gathered to Him that He got into a boat in the sea and sat down; and the whole crowd was by the sea on the land. And He was teaching them many things in parables, and was saying to them in His teaching, “Listen to this! Behold, the sower went out to sow; as he was sowing, some seed fell beside the road, and the birds came and ate it up. Other seed fell on the rocky ground where it did not have much soil; and immediately it sprang up because it had no depth of soil. And after the sun had risen, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away. Other seed fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked it, and it yielded no crop. Other seeds fell into the good soil, and as they grew up and increased, they yielded a crop and produced thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold.” And He was saying, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
Mark 4:1–9
That's right, it was Jesus. Well, then, if those are Jesus' words, then Mr. Word-Faith Charlatan must be speaking truth! Right? Not so fast. . .

11 April 2014

This 'n' That

photo credit: roseannadana via photopin cc
I hate to jinx it, but I think it's finally safe to say that Spring is here. Wait a second while I go check to make sure it didn't start snowing after I wrote that. Nope! Sun is still shining (and for those of you who are panicking, don't worry, I don't actually believe in jinxes).

I love Spring. The allergies I could do without, but in general, Spring and Fall are my two favorite seasons. There's something about the bright colors that start to arrive in late March and April that just makes everything seem a bit lighter, even if life is still delivering trials. By far the things that bring me the most joy in this all-too-brief season are the scintillating songs of the birds (yes, I alliterated on purpose) and the brilliant beauty of the flowers. Over the past couple of weeks in particular, I have noticed day after day the magnificence of daffodils.

They seem to be everywhere—not just in the neighbor's landscaping, but along the side of the road. And not merely along well manicured highways, either. The streets I drive are far from glamorous. Run-down and dirty would be two words that are far more appropriate. Yet a few days ago, as I turned a familiar corner that is decorated by weeds and trash, I noticed another gem: daffodils. There, in the middle of french fry wrappers and cigarette butts was a random, wonderful clump of daffodils. Perhaps they are wild. Perhaps they are the last remaining vestiges of city council efforts from days long ago. Regardless of how they originally were planted, the fact remains that they are God's creation and they are stunning.

God creates beauty even in the midst of ugliness. Whether it is a trial of persecution or pain, or even bearing the consequences of your own sin, He causes all things to work together for the good of those who love Him and who are called according to His purpose. And the ultimate picture of beauty amid sin? The cross. Surrounded by scoffing and mocking, hate and spite, there bled Jesus Christ, Lord of all. Is there a more beautiful reality than the atoning sacrifice of our Lord and Savior dying for our ugly, wretched, wicked, sins? Is there anything more glorious, more indescribable than redemption? Is there anything more precious than the blood of Christ?

Well, perhaps that was not my most skillful segue, but it mimics the randomness of my thoughts this week. I hope you'll take notice of the beauty of God's creation in the coming days. Even more, I hope you'll not forget to look to the cross and to the One whose righteousness has been imputed to you so that the ugly death of sin would not stain your soul.

With that, I also hope you enjoy your week in review (kind of):

10 April 2014

The Willing Submission of Jesus Christ

J.C. Ryle
When Christ died, He died of His own voluntary free will. He uses a remarkable expression to teach this: "I lay down my life that I might take it again. No man taketh it from Me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again."

The point before us is of no mean importance. We must never suppose for a moment that our Lord had no power to prevent His sufferings, and that He was delivered up to His enemies and crucified because He could not help it. Nothing could be further from the truth than such an idea. The treachery of Judas, the armed band of priests' servants, the enmity of Scribes and Pharisees, the injustice of Pontius Pilate, the rude hands of Roman soldiers, the scourge, the nails, and the spear—all these could not have harmed a hair of our Lord's head, unless He had allowed them. Well might He say those remarkable words, "Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and He shall presently give Me more than twelve legions of angels. But how, then, shall the Scripture be fulfilled?" (Matt 26:53).

The plain truth is, that our Lord submitted to death of His own free will, because He knew that His death was the only way of making atonement for man's sins. He poured out His soul unto death with all the desire of His heart, because He had determined to pay our debt to God, and redeem us from hell. For the joy set before Him He willingly endured the cross, and laid down His life, in order that we, through His death, might have eternal life. His death was not the death of a martyr, who sinks at last overwhelmed by enemies, but the death of a triumphant conqueror, who knows that even in dying He wins for Himself and His people a kingdom and a crown of glory.

Let us lean back our souls on these mighty truths, and be thankful. A willing Savior, a loving Savior, a Savior who came specially into the world to bring life to man, is just the Savior that we need. If we hear His voice, repent and believe, He is our own.

– J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on John, vol. 2 (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 2009), 214–5.

Further Reading
Beth Moore Prophesies a Coming 'Outpouring,' Warns of 'Scoffers'
Dedicated Pastors Produce Discerning Sheep
Actively Seeking Holiness

05 April 2014

A Word to Parents

Parents, your children have souls which God expects you to nourish with at least as much care as you lavish on their physical needs. Who will teach them if not you? No one is surprised to hear that a ship put out to sea without a compass has sunk or run aground. Why should we be surprised to see children wander far from God, when they have received no spiritual direction?

We see a pattern set for us by the saints of old. David, busy king that he was, thought it his solemn responsibility to instruct his son in the ways of the Lord: "Know thou the God of they father, and serve him with a perfect heart and with a willing mind" (1 Chron 28:9). And what need I tell you of Timothy's mother and grandmother, who taught him the Scriptures from the time he was a child? I believe a man calls in question his own Christianity if he does not bother to acquaint his child with God and the way that leads to Him. I will even go so far as to say I have never known a true saint who was not deeply concerned about his child's relationship with the heavenly Father.

You will give a poor account at the Last Day if all you can say is, "Lord, here are my children, I bred them gentlemen and left them wealthy." What a mocking witness to your own folly that you would do so much for that which rusts, and nothing for a knowledge of God unto salvation, which endures forever!