31 December 2015

"What Is This Strange Doctrine?"

What is this strange doctrine of regeneration?
Nothing, it seems to me, is quite so strange as the way in which man by nature always objects to the doctrine of regeneration. There is nothing also, I sometimes think, that so demonstrates the depth of sin in the human heart as this objection to the doctrine of the rebirth or being born again. Read the New Testament Scriptures, and you will find that men objected to it in those days. When our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ spoke about it, He was always persecuted. People disliked Him for mentioning it. When He began to expose the depth of iniquity in the human heart and to talk about a rebirth, they invariably misunderstood Him. They disliked it then, and it has always been the same ever since.

...The natural man, the unregenerate human heart, objected to this great and wondrous biblical doctrine of rebirth and regeneration. And it is equally true today. People sit and listen to an address or sermon on what is called the fatherhood of God or the brotherhood of man and they never object to it. When they are exhorted to live a better life, they never express any objection at all. They say that it is perfectly right, and even though they are reprimanded for not living better lives, they say that it is perfectly true and quite fair and that they could do better. But if a preacher stands before the natural man and says, "You must be born again—you must have a new life from God," they ask, "What is this strange doctrine?"

—Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Additional Resources
Equipping Eve: Counted Worthy to Suffer
Worthy Is the Lamb
Vessels of Mercy

25 December 2015

This 'n' That - Christmas Edition

A very merry Christmas to you! I pray this day brings you rest, peace, and an edifying time of meditating upon the glorious truths of our Savior's birth. May you proclaim His gospel with boldness to friends and family who are lost, and may you find sweet comfort and joy in His gracious Word this day.

On a far more trivial note, may your pie crust be flaky, your cookies be sweet, and your cocoa be creamy. And may you enjoy this Christmas-themed week in review (kind of):

From First to Second Advent

The twinkling lights, the joyful music, the seasonal scents. The clichéd, but inevitable and very real hustle and bustle of the season. The gatherings, the shopping, the wrapping. The menus, the lists, the crowds. Amid these things, we still find our way to the manger; but, mankind being an easily distracted creature, it is there that we stop. We take a snapshot of this familiar scene—Mary, Joseph, the Christ child, the angels, the shepherds, and a few well-placed animals—and we place it on our mantle as if it tells the totality of the tale, but for all of its miraculous glory, it is not the full story.

Man, though curious by nature, seems content to leave this Christmas story half-finished. Perhaps it is because the next few chapters do not easily harmonize with the gaiety that man has manufactured for the season. Yet, though our Savior first became man as a seemingly helpless infant, and though, if the story had stopped there, we would have reason to praise our great God, in truth and in spite of our undeserving state, there is far more to this story than a star and a stable.

24 December 2015

For Your Christmas Eve

Church of Hasle, christmas eve 2008 B 
via photopin (license)
For those of you who are unable to gather at a church for worship this Christmas Eve, I would like to offer an alternative. While "Internet church" and live streaming are no substitute for true and real fellowship, I nevertheless believe you will be blessed by tuning in for the live stream of the Christmas Eve service at Grace Immanuel Bible Church in Jupiter, Florida. This church is pastored by Jerry Wragg, whose teachings have been a great blessing to me. Why not join me in worshiping from a distance with the people of GIBC this Christmas Eve?

You may access information about this service by clicking here.

Merry Christmas to you all.

Additional Resource
A Gift for My Readers this Christmas Eve

For Unto Us a Child Is Born

For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us;
And the government will rest on His shoulders;
And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)

21 December 2015

Equipping Eve: Simeon's Psalm

Mary and Joseph. The angels. The shepherds. The wise men. The innkeeper. And of course, the baby Jesus. These are the people we think of when we remember the Christmas story as told in the gospels. But there is another important character introduced in the early days of the life of Christ who often seems to be forgotten. Open your Bibles to Luke 2 and join Erin in a study of Simeon's psalm.

Click here to listen to this episode of Equipping Eve.

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

Further Listening
Equipping Eve: The Word Made Flesh
Equipping Eve: True Worship
Equipping Eve: Expect the World to Act Like the World

20 December 2015

Sunday Morning Christmas Praise

In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.”
(Luke 2:8–14)

18 December 2015

This 'n' That

Well, it's official. Christmas is only one week away. One week. Hard to believe, isn't it? Now, it is no secret that I love Christmas, in spite of the fact that each year my life seems busier than it was the previous December and, as a result, I barely have a chance to even enjoy the holidays. But there are two things that come with this holiday season that I will be happy to see disappear again until next year: Santa hats and reindeer costumes.

Earlier this week, I pulled up to a stoplight on my way to work and looked in my rearview mirror. Another car pulled up behind me and there, behind the wheel, sat a grown woman all by herself in her car…wearing a Santa hat. Sigh. Really? There were no children to be seen in the car and for all intents and purposes she seemed to be your average mid-to-late 30-something woman. Except for that Santa hat. Why? What purpose could one possibly find in wearing a Santa hat out in public, or anyplace, for that matter? I don't mean to sound like a grouch or a grinch, but I do not understand. Have our brains dwindled so pathetically that we think this is acceptable attire just because the stores are decorated and "Here Comes Santa Claus" is playing on the radio?

And then there are the reindeer costumes. Oh, not costumes for people. No…costumes for your car. What is that about? I also do not understand this phenomenon. Is there some sort of rule that says if you drive a minivan you have to dress it up like Rudolph every November and December? Because if there is, that would be a huge incentive to never buy a van. Ever.
Nobody likes to wear antlers.
(No, this isn't my cat.)

These fads make me sad, mostly because it demonstrates that, for all the years that these items have been in existence, mankind still apparently has not figured out how stupid they really are.

They also make me sad because in silliness like Santa hats and Rudolph antlers I see an attempt by adults to cling to a tattered fragment of the so-called "Christmas spirit." Maybe, just maybe, if we engage in foolish, childlike behavior, that "magic" we used to embrace at Christmastime as children will still weave its way into the fabric of our adult lives. These silly practices ultimately demonstrate, in a rather sad and pitiful way, the desperate need of men and women to repent of their sin and turn to Christ for salvation. When God saves us by bringing us to repentance and faith, that worldly, fleeting "magic" of Christmas is replaced by a hope and a joy that transcends all earthly pleasures. Though it sounds cliché, when we have been saved, we finally know the true meaning of Christmas, and we realize that it is something for which we must praise God all the time, not merely once a year. We no longer rely on Christmas carols and blinking lights to make us feel "Christmassy." Rather, we find that we are filled with a joy that goes beyond our circumstances. Whether in trial or in pleasant times, we find that, in Christ, our hope and our joy rests beyond this transient life into the one that is to come—a life that Jesus promises we will spend with Him.

Merry Christmas, dear Christian. May  you enjoy the great gift of salvation that was purchased for you by the very blood of your Savior. And may you joyfully serve the One who came to serve, your Master, the Lord Jesus Christ.

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

13 December 2015

Sunday Morning Christmas Praise

But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
Too little to be among the clans of Judah,
From you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel.
His goings forth are from long ago,
From the days of eternity.
(Micah 5:2)

O Little Town of Bethlehem

Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth. This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. And everyone was on his way to register for the census, each to his own city. Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, in order to register along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child. While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. (Luke 2:1–7)

It Came Upon the Midnight Clear

11 December 2015

This 'n' That

These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)
In his recent sermon from John 16, John MacArthur asked, "Why do people not run to Christ so they can have one who loves them, who is the sovereign of the universe?" Indeed, why do people not run to the One who offers them perfect love, hope, and faith? MacArthur answered his question as quickly as he asked it: because people love their sin.
This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. (John 3:19-20)
photo: One Who Sees the Light and the Shadows
photopin (license)
But, Christian (if indeed you are a Christian), read John 16:33 again and realize what a glorious, beautiful, undeserved promise it is! To know all that the Savior, the Christ, offers to undeserving sinners, and to know that, of no merit of your own, before time began, He chose you to be a recipient of these promises and blessings…oh, there is no more comforting thought, is there?

In these bleak and depressing days, and at a time of year when the world and its ruler seek to distract our thoughts away from the One who matters, take heart in these words of Christ. Are they not an encouragement to set (or reset, as the case may be), your mind and heart on Him during this busy time of year? Are they not an encouragement to persevere in the midst of persecution, however mild or severe, trial, testing, and discouragement? Do they not offer motivation to go about actively mortifying your sin so that you may grow to be more and more like Christ and serve Him well during your days on this earth? Indeed, these words offer all these things, so dear Christian, take courage.

Now please, take as much time as you need to ponder and pray about these wondrous truths of Christ. And when you are done—and only when you are done—take a few moments to relax and enjoy your week in review (kind of):

07 December 2015

Equipping Eve: The War on Christmas

'Tis the season for angry Christians to boycott secular businesses that don't wish their customers a "Merry Christmas." But who is really waging this so-called "war on Christmas"? Erin considers this question from a biblical perspective on this episode of Equipping Eve.

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

Click here for a list of resources referenced on this episode of Equipping Eve.

Further Listening
Equipping Eve: What Happens at Small Group
Equipping Eve: Perfect Perspicuity
Equipping Eve: Counted Worthy to Suffer

06 December 2015

Sunday Morning Christmas Praise

Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit. And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly. But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:18–21)

What Child Is This?

Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: "Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name 'Immanuel,' which translated means, 'God with us.'"

And Joseph awoke from his sleep and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took Mary as his wife, but kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son; and he called His name Jesus.

(Matthew 1:22–25)

Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel. (Isaiah 7:14)

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

04 December 2015

This 'n' That

I am that person. Yes…I love Christmas music. And while I obviously prefer the beautiful hymns and carols of Christmas that exalt our Lord and Savior (my favorite is O Come, O Come Emmanuel), I don't mind the secular classics like White Christmas (I mean, really, who doesn't like a little Bing Crosby? If you don't, I have to question your sanity) or The Christmas Song or Winter Wonderland, so long as you keep Here Comes Santa Claus or I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas far, far away from me!

What I do not understand, and what I simply am not okay with, are pseudo-Christian Christmas tunes that are played over and over and over (and over and over) on the "Christian" radio station. You know the ones of which I speak—they have terrible lyrics and even worse melodies.That's right, I'm looking at you, Christmas Shoes. I suppose there really is no difference between these songs and your typical "contemporary Christian" music—i.e., both types are horrible and should be banned from the airwaves forever. The moral of the story? There are two: first, if you want to listen to Christian music, choose songs with theologically rich and doctrinally sound lyrics; second, create your own Christmas music playlist.

Now that we have that clear, why not put a little Bing on in the background while you sit back and enjoy your week in review (kind of):