05 February 2016

This 'n' That

What are the signs of true "repentance" in the sight of God?

First, I tell you, there is always sorrow with it. No man ever repents of sin without having some kind of sorrow with it. More or less intense, it may be, according to the way in which God calls him, and his previous manner of life, but there must be some sorrow. We do not care when it comes, but at some time or other it must come, or it is not the repentance of the Christian...What I would have you understand is, that there must be some real sorrow. If the prayer may not be vocal, it must be secret. There must be a groan if there is no word; there must be a sigh if there be no tear, to show the repentance, even though it be but small.

There must be in this repentance, I think, not only sorrow, but there must be practice—practical repentance.

Many people are very sorry and very penitent for their past sins Hear them talk. "Oh!" they say, "I deeply regret that ever I should have been a drunkard; and I sincerely bemoan that I should have fallen into that sin; I deeply lament that I should have done so." Then they go straight home; and when one; o'clock on Sunday comes you will find them at it again. And yet such people say they have repented. Do you believe them when they say they are sinners, but do not love sin? They may not love it for the time; but can they be sincerely penitent, and then go and transgress again immediately, in the same way as they did before? How can we believe you if you transgress again and again, and do not forsake your sin? We know a tree by its fruit, and you who are penitent will bring forth works of repentance...True "repentance" will yield works meet for repentance," it will be practical repentance.

Yet farther. You may know whether your repentance is practical by this test. Does it last or does it not? Many of your repentances are like the hectic flush upon the cheek of the consumptive person which is no sign of health. Many a time have I seen a young man in a flow of newly acquired, but unsound godliness, and he has thought he was about to repent of his sins. For some hours such an one was deeply penitent before God, and for weeks he relinquishes his follies. He attends the house of prayer, and converses as a child of God. But back he goes to his sins as the dog returns to his vomit. The evil spirit has gone "back to his house, and has taken with him seven others more wicked than himself; and the last state of that man is worse than the first." How long has your penitence lasted? Did it continue for months? or did it come upon you and go away suddenly? You said, "I will join the church—I will do this, that, and the other, for God's cause." Are your works lasting? Do you believe your repentance will last six months? Will it continue for twelve months? Will it last until you are wrapped in your winding-sheet?

Yet again, I must ask you one question more. Do you think you'll repent of your sins if no punishment were placed before you? or do you repent because you know you shall be punished for ever if you remain in your sins? Suppose I tell you there is no hell at all; that, if you choose, you may swear; and, if you will, you may live without God. Suppose there were no reward for virtue, and no punishment for sin, which would you choose? Can you honestly say, this morning, "I think, I know, by the grace of God, I would choose righteousness if there were no reward for it, if there were nothing to be gained by righteousness, and nothing to be lost by sin." Every sinner hates his sin when he comes near to the mouth of hell; every murderer hates his crime when he comes to the gallows; I never found a child hate its fault so much as when it was going to be punished for it. If you had no cause to dread the pit—if you knew that you might give up your life to sin, and that you might do so with impunity, would you still feel that you hated sin, and that you could not, would not, commit sin, except through the infirmity of the flesh? Would you still desire holiness? Would you still desire to live like Christ? If so—if you can say this in sincerity—if you thus turn to God and hate your sin with an everlasting hatred, you need not fear but that you have a "repentance" which is "unto life."

—Charles Spurgeon, "Repentance Unto Life"
Good stuff, isn't it? Well, the links that follow may not be quite as convicting or searching as Spurgeon's sermon, but they will help you get up to date with your week in review (kind of):

03 February 2016

Equipping Eve: You Make the Choice, God Makes the Change? (Part 2)

Ah, the church sign. Who would have thought it was possible to cram so much bad theology into such a small space! One church sign recently caught my eye and read, "You make the choice, God makes the change!" Is this what the Bible says about conversion?

Click here to listen to this episode of Equipping Eve.

Click here for a list of resources used in this episode of Equipping Eve.

Additional Resources
Equipping Eve: You Make the Choice, God Makes the Change? (Part 1)
Equipping Eve: Perfect Perspicuity
Equipping Eve: True Worship

01 February 2016

Do You Know?

Do you know that you are converted? Can you find this wonderful change upon your souls? Have you been thus born again, and made anew? Are not these strange matters to many of you? And such as you never felt upon yourselves? If you cannot tell the day or week of your change, or the very sermon, that converted you, yet, do you find that the work is done; that such a change indeed there is, and that you have such hearts as before described? Alas! The most do follow their worldly business, and little trouble their minds with such thoughts: and, if they be but restrained from scandalous sins, and can say, "I am no whoremonger, nor thief, nor curser, nor swearer, nor tippler, nor extortioner; I go to church, and say my prayers"; they think that this is true conversion, and they shall be saved as well as any. Alas, this is foolish cheating of yourselves; this is too much contempt of an endless glory, and too gross neglect of your immortal souls. Can you make so light of heaven and hell? Your corpses will shortly lie in the dust, and angels or devils will presently seize upon your souls, and every man and woman of you all will shortly be among other company, and in another case than now you are; you will dwell in those houses but a little longer, you will work in your shops but a little longer; you will sit in these seats, and dwell on this earth, but a little longer; you will see with those eyes, and hear with those ears, and speak with those tongues, but a little longer; till the resurrection day: and can you make shift to forget this?

—Richard Baxter, A Call to the Unconverted

Further Reading
Actively Seeking Holiness
So You Call Yourself a Christian
Even the Demons Believe

29 January 2016

This 'n' That

photo: Squad Car @ The Bridge via photopin (license)
I found myself driving first behind, and then in front of, a police officer most of the way home last night. On a road full of commuters anxious to get home, there was this dear policeman, driving at least 5 mph slower than the speed limit. And you know how it is when there is a policeman on the road: everyone slows down. Way, way down. Way, way, way down.

So yes, it was mildly annoying, though I do say that with the utmost respect for police officers. I am very, very thankful for them, so I mean no disrespect at all. But—and I'm certain I'm not alone in this—it seems to me that there may be times when some officers deliberately slow down (way, way down) in traffic, just to watch the rest of us squirm. I can't blame them, because it is somewhat entertaining to watch people slam on their brakes when they realize they've bumped 1 or 2 mph over the posted speed limit. But do they have to play the game at 6:00 at night?

Still, it started me thinking: most of us don't consider speeding to be a sin, though in reality, it is a violation of the law. It therefore must be counted among the many sins we commit daily, even as we strive for holiness. We know we are to obey the speed limit and yet many of us do not...unless someone of interest is watching. Then we slow down. Way, way down.

Beloved, how do you treat your "minor" sins? Or even your "major" ones? Do you think that, so long as they are done in secret, out of sight of your spouse or children or pastor or church friends, that they do not count? Do you not realize that God sees what is done in secret, whether sinful or righteous (Matt 6:4, 6, 18)?

Or do you suppose if you only think the sinful thought in your mind, that it does not count? God knows each thought. Do you not realize that God knows what is in your heart (1 Sam 16:7; Jer 17:10; Prov 15:11)?

Shame on us if we only act righteously when we think we are being watched. May God grant us the strength and desire to grow in holiness and to pursue righteousness at all times and in all situations.

Okay, before you go off to repent of your speeding sins (because that could take awhile), why not slow down (way, way down) to enjoy your week in review (kind of):

26 January 2016

Selfie Righteousness

Christians truly are a unique bunch. We are in the world, but not of it. We strive to serve our Lord Jesus Christ well in the midst of a world that is hostile to Him and to His message. We know we have been called out of this world because, in reality, we are citizens of a heavenly kingdom.

And yet, we do not hide our faith. We do not silence our message. We desire that the world know we are Christians so that it may hear the message of repentance and forgiveness of sins found in Jesus Christ alone. So at times we must utilize the tools of the world in order to aid us in our mission. And this is okay, so long as the execution of the task does not subsequently result in sin or tarnish the name of Christ.

photo: facebook website screenshot
photopin (license)
There are several problems that tend to arise, however, in the Christian's endeavor to accomplish this task. The primary of these is that, even as Christians, we are still sinners, and we are thus prone to the same pride and idolatry that enslave the world. Of course, we seek to mortify these sins each time they rise up to tempt us, but we nevertheless are bound to fail on occasion. And when we do succumb to the narcissism that defines the world, we ultimately bring shame upon our own Christian witness, we cast doubt upon the Church, and above all, we undermine the name of Christ.

This is most evident in the professing Christian's use of social media. Now, Facebook, Twitter, blogs, YouTube, Vimeo, etc., can actually be marvelous tools for the Kingdom (though it seems dubious to include Instagram and Pinterest among these helpful tools), and many people have successfully endeavored to use them for that purpose. Obviously this writer has no objection to the use of these, else this blog would not exist. But, as in all things, we must be wise in where and how we walk, even digitally.

There appears to be a growing tendency among professing Christians to ignorantly utilize social media for the celebration of oneself. In our attempts to appear spiritual and humble, we ultimately end up exclaiming, "Hey! Look at me! Look at how amazing I am! Look at how much more spiritual I am than you! Look at how much cuter my children are than yours; I must be more blessed! Look at how much more precious my 'quiet time' is!"

Stop it. Please, can we just stop it? Can we please stop using social media to thinly veil our self-love and conceit in threadbare spiritual language? Can we please stop using Christ to ultimately draw attention to ourselves? This is narcissism at its finest and, Christian, if you love the Lord, you must examine your social media self and your motivation.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with wanting to share a photo of your family or the sunset on Facebook. The problem arises when we use these mediums to exalt ourselves, but do so under the guise of our faith. What are some ways we are guilty of exploiting our faith in order to draw attention to ourselves?

22 January 2016

This 'n' That

photo credit: If You Have A Bee In Your Hand
photopin (license) 
So, I just found out that Facebook has some 50+ gender options to choose from when  you create your profile. Really? Really. I'm sure some of you have known that for awhile. Me? I suppose I've been blissfully ignorant. Now that I know, I do not understand.
God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. (Get 1:27; emphasis mine)
As far as I can tell, the text does not say, "male and female and bigender and cisgender and gender fluid He created them." Nope, it just says male and female. Funny how that works.

You know what this means, don't you? It means any other "gender" is a figment of fallen man's imagination. Oh well, Romans 1, anyone? This is to be expected in the society in which we live, and it ought to make us that much more grateful that God chose to save us and set us apart from this sinful, wicked world. So don't get discouraged, dear Christian, and don't be rocked with surprise when liberal-thinkers, even those who proclaim the name of Christ, join this sinful bandwagon. Simply pray, praise, and give thanks. Our God is sovereign. We serve the King of kings who will one day make all things new.

So while you wait for that glorious day, why not take a few moments at the start of your weekend to enjoy your week in review (kind of):

21 January 2016

The Converted Man

[T]he converted man has a new end in his thoughts, and a new way in his endeavors, and therefore his heart and life are new. Before, his carnal self was his end; and his pleasure and worldly profits, and credit were his way; and now God and everlasting glory are his end; and Christ, and the Spirit, and Word, and ordinances, holiness to God, and righteousness, and mercy to men, these are his way. Before, self was the chief ruler; to which the matters of God and conscience must stoop and give place. And now God in Christ, by the Spirit, Word, and ministry, is that chief ruler, to whom both self and all the matters of self must give place. So that this is not a change in one, or two, or twenty points, but in the whole soul, and in the very end and bent of the conversation. A man may step out of one path into another, and yet have his face the same way, and be still going towards the same place. But it is another matter to turn quite back again, and take his journey the contrary way, to a contrary place. So it is here: a man may turn from drunkenness to thriftiness, and forsake his good fellowship, and other gross disgraceful sins, and set upon some duties of religion, and yet be still going to the same end as before, intending his carnal self above all, and giving it still the government of his soul. But, when he is converted, this self is denied and taken down, and God is set up, and his face is turned the contrary way; and he that before was addicted to himself, and lived to himself, is now by sanctification devoted to God, and lives unto God.

— Richard Baxter, A Call to the Unconverted

Further Reading
Actively Seeking Holiness
So You Call Yourself a Christian
The Cross and the World