May 1, 2007
Here’s a quote from Steve Lawson regarding men of conviction that I found challenging and encouraging:
Strong men always proclaim a strong message. They do not read the polls and check the surveys before they give their opinions. In fact, they do not even have opinions–they have convictions. They bleed convictions. They are strong men anchored in the strong Word of God, and, as such, they bring a message with gravitas and punch. When they stand to speak, they actually have something to say–and they say it, whether anyone listens or not. When they sit to write, they do not skirt the issues–they tackle them. When they address the times in which they live, they do not tickle ears–they box them. They do not have one message for one group and a different message for a different group. Whenever they go and whomever they address, they have only one message–God’s message. That is what makes them strong men. They speak God’s Word, or they do not speak at all.
Source: Steven Lawson, Foundations of Grace, Vol. 1, p.103
April 17, 2007
Consider this quote from Steve Lawson:
Never has the need been greater for the truths of sovereign grace to be firmly established in the church. Her thinking about God desperately needs to be flowing in the right direction. As the church thinks, so she worships; and, as the church worships, so she lives, serves and evangelizes. The church’s right view of God and the outworking of His grace gives shape to everything that is vital and important. The church must recapture her lofty vision of God and, thereby, be anchored to the solid rock of His absolute supremacy in all things. (Steve Lawson, Foundations of Grace, 1:23)
This is a strong call for the church to recover the truth that God is the one who saves sinners. He gives us the grace and faith to believe. He gives us new life. He saves and keeps us by His grace. These are the truths that fuel my life and worship. I hope they fuel yours.
April 16, 2007
Here is a quote from John Calvin regarding the absurdity of the resurrection, were it not revealed from God:
There is nothing that is more at variance with human reason than this article of faith. For who but God alone could persuade us that bodies, which are not liable to corruption, will, after having rotted away, or after they have been consumed by fire, or torn in pieces by wild beasts, will not merely be restored entire but in a greatly better condition. Do not all our apprehensions of things straightway reject this thing as fabulous, nay, most absurd? (John Calvin, Commentary on the First Epistle to the Corinthians, 2:46)
Praise God that we have a God who reveals truth we would not know otherwise. Praise God we have a God who has conquered death through the resurrection of Jesus Christ and offers life in His name.
Pastor Mike Walters
April 2, 2007
Here is a quote from Charles Simeon that encouraged me:
It was painful indeed to see the church, with the exception of the aisles, almost forsaken; but I thought that if God would only give a double blessing to the congregation that did attend, there would on the whole be as much good done as if the congregation were doubled and the blessing limited to only half the amount. This comforted me many, many times, when, without such a reflection, I should have sunk under my burden.
I found it in the following biographical sermon by John Piper: Brothers, we must not mind a little suffering.
March 30, 2007
Scripture has its authority from God not the church.
But a most pernicious error widely prevails that Scripture has only so much weight as is conceded to it by the consent of the church. As if the eternal and inviolable truth of God depended upon the decision of men! (1:75)
The apostles had authority prior to the church because the apostles and prophets were the foundation of the church [see Ephesians 2:20] (1:75)
In order to accept Scripture as Scripture we need the witness of the Holy Spirit. Calvin does acknowledge that there are rational proofs that God speaks in Scripture – proofs that should be accepted by all but the most hardened. Yet, he clearly states that without the work of the Holy Spirit, no proof will be enough to convince them.
The testimony of the Spirit is more excellent than all reason. For as God alone is a fit witness of himself in his Word, so also the Word will not find acceptance in men’s hearts before it is sealed by the inward testimony of the Spirit. The same Spirit, therefore, who has spoken through the mouths of the prophets must penetrate into our hearts to persuade us that they faithfully proclaimed what had been divinely commanded. (1:79)
Calvin concludes that Scripture is “self-authenticated” by the Holy Spirit and not by proof and reasoning.
And the certainty it deserves with us, it attains by the testimony of the Spirit. (1:80)
Bonus word regarding “new revelation”. This is not set in a context of modern claims that God still gives prophecy, but it seems to apply.
Now daily oracles are to sent from heaven, for it pleased the Lord to hallow his truth to everlasting remembrance in the Scriptures alone [cf. John 5:39] (1:74)
March 26, 2007
Mark 9:24 has one of the most genuine confessions I have ever read: “I believe, help my unbelief.” This cry for faith comes from a father whose son is assaulted and tormented by demon. The disciples can’t help. He is beginning to fear that no one can. Yet, he hopes. He hopes that Jesus can. So, in the face of his fears, he shouts out, “I believe, help my unbelief.”
Here is what James Edwards has to say about this in his commentary on Mark (p.280).
True faith is always aware how small and inadequate it is. The father becomes a believer not when he amasses a sufficient quantum of faith but when he risks everything on what little faith he has, when he yields his insufficiency to the true sufficiency of Jesus. . .True faith takes no confidence in itself, nor does it judge Jesus by the weakness of his followers. it looks to the More Powerful one (1:7) who stands in the place of God, whose authoritative word restores life from chaos. True faith is unconditional openness to God, a decision in the face of all to the contrary that Jesus is able.
Brothers and sisters, Jesus is more than able. He is compassionate. He will respond when we cry out to Him with even the weakest faith, I believe, help my unbelief.
March 13, 2007
Here is a quote for my fellow pastors. It is a charge Philips Brooks gave to his students. You can find it in Dear Timothy: Letters on Pastoral Ministry edited by Tom Ascol.
I bet you to remember them and apply them with all the wisdom God gives you. First. Have as few congregations as possible. Second. Know your congregation as thoroughly as you can. Third. Know your congregation so largely and deeply that in knowing it you shall know humanity.
Geoff Thomas also reminds us: “The future is as bright as God’s promises.”
My fellow pastors, let’s lean hard on God’s promises, allow Him to plant us in a local church, stay there laboring faithfully and wait faithfully for God to give the increase.