Currently Reading

Foundations Of GraceI’ve been reading Steve Lawson’s Foundations of Grace and would highly recommend it to anyone who wants to understand God’s grace in a Biblical, thorough, and exegetical way.  Lawson starts in Genesis and goes through Revelation and has done an outstanding job of documenting many passages of Scripture that deal with God’s grace.  Currently I am reading the chapter on the Gospel of John, which Lawson calls The Mount Everest of Theology.  During my reading time this morning, I read the following:

Selective Choice.  Christ has chosen His people out of the world of lost sinners.  Because this divine choice does not include everyone, those who are not chosen hate the elect:

  “If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.”  – John 15:19

Jesus openly taught His disciples the doctrine of election.  Making no apology, He cited this cardinal truth as a chief reason why the world hates them.  (James Montgomery) Boice explains, “What is the meaning of this?  It is merely the old subject of election.  Christ elected the disciples to salvation.  He chose them for a specific work in this world.  Therefore, although the world rejects Christ’s salvation and despises His work, it hates those who have been chosen by Him for it.  There is probably nothing that the world hates more than the doctrine of election.  Certainly it was this more than anything else that caused the world’s virulent hatred of Christ during the days of His ministry…. Nothing so stirs up the hatred of the worldly mind than the teaching that God in sovereign grace elects some and does not elect others.”  Of course, Christ’s choice was preceded by the eternal choice of the Father.  (William) Hendriksen notes, “The act which took place in time was based upon an act which occurred in eternity (Eph 1:4).”  The divine choosing by the Father and the Son distinguished believers from the world, stirring the hatred of unbelievers.

We all want to be liked and loved and certainly do not want to be hated.  But this is just another area in which we Christians will be hated by the world.  It isn’t pleasant, but it is to be expected.

One Passion Ministries

If you don’t know who Steve Lawson is, and you are serious about your Christian walk, I would highly recommend his ministry.  I discovered the preaching and teaching ministry of Dr. Lawson through Ligonier ministries about two years ago.  Dr. Lawson is the senior pastor of Christ Fellowship Baptist Church in Mobile, Alabama and his preaching is without compromise and his passion is that God be glorified.

Yesterday I found a link to One Passion Ministries and here is a statement of their purpose taken from their website:

OUR PURPOSE

OnePassion Ministries exists to ignite a supreme passion for God and His glory in all people throughout the world. As our name indicates, the strategic goal of this ministry is to enflame hearts with an all-consuming desire for Jesus Christ and His gospel. Our primary aim for believers from every walk of life is that they be revived and emboldened to live exclusively for the greatness of God. This intentional focus is to impart the knowledge of the truth by equipping pastors and church leaders, maturing lay people, and launching a new reformation in the church today.

Most specifically, OnePassion is committed to training pastors in expository preaching that is firmly anchored in proclaiming God’s Word. We live in a day in which there is a famine in the land for the hearing of God’s Word. In response to this spiritual drought, this ministry is devoted to calling those who stand in pulpits to the high standard of biblical preaching. If we are to see a new reformation in this day, there must, first, be a reformation of the pulpit. Only then can the church experience transcendent worship, authentic godliness, and true evangelism.

Our goal is to provide as many free audio, video and written materials as possible, along with charging minimal for other resources. In return for these materials, ministry donations are appreciated to further these efforts and continue to provide complimentary resources. 

OUR PASSION

What we desire most is that every Christian know and pursue the supreme majesty of God. This generation suffers from anemic, low views of God as His glory has been obscured. All too often, the character of God is trivialized. Likewise, the pursuit of holiness is minimized, as the church, all to often, has become increasingly like the world. It is our passion to alter this dire course and steer believers toward greater godliness. Our thrust in this ministry is to grow in grasping the majestic supremacy of God over all things. We want believers to know that it is by His supreme mercy that He has saved us by Himself and for Himself.

OnePassion seeks to recover in the church a high view of God, a stunning vision of Him who reigns in the heavens over all. More specifically, this ministry seeks to magnify the sovereign grace of God in the salvation of sinners. These transcendent truths are rooted and grounded in Scripture and have been at the core of every great movement in church history. These truths that once shook the world are those same doctrines that are particularly featured in this ministry. If another great working of God is to come in our day, it will come only as we return to these core truths of Scripture that have proven to be reliable in generations past.

OUR PLATFORM

OnePassion makes available the preaching, teaching, and writing ministry of Dr. Steven J. Lawson through a comprehensive website. Included in this online resource are his many sermons, books, articles, interviews, transcripts, and a newsletter featuring Dr. Lawson. Further, OnePassion will host national and international conferences directed at training pastors and church leaders in expository preaching, while also bolstering the strong pursuit of godly living among laymen.

A unique focus of OnePassion is informing believers of the important men of church history and the spiritual movements they launched. Much is to be learned from a study of church history, which strengthens the present day church as it moves into the future. One component of this church history emphasis will be tours led by Dr. Lawson, to important church history sites in Europe, England, Scotland, and New England, where the Reformation, Puritan Age, and Great Awakenings took place in centuries past. Herein, much inspiration is found for believers to stand strong in these days and to follow the example set forth by these godly men of ages past.

OUR POSITION

The heartbeat of the Reformation is captured in five concise statements of truth known as the five solas, meaning “alone” in Latin. Together, these five solas stand as one doctrinal creed, or statement of faith, that capture the core beliefs of the Reformed faith: 1) Sola Scriptura: The ultimate of authority of the church is Scripture alone, not Scripture and church tradition, nor ecclesiastical leaders. 2) Sola Gratia: The unmerited favor of God is granted by grace alone as a gift for the guilty, not a reward for the righteous. 3) Solus Christus: Salvation was accomplished by Christ alone through His substitutionary death upon the cross. 4) Sola Fide: Salvation is applied to man by faith alone, apart from any human merit. 5) Soli Deo Gloria: All God’s operations in man’s salvation are, ultimately, for His glory alone, as are all things.

More specifically, the doctrines of grace provide a concise statement of God’s saving works. These five truths are: 1) Total depravity: Sin has corrupted every part of man’s nature, resulting in his spiritual death and leaving him unable to save himself. 2) Unconditional election: God has chosen, in eternity past, by Himself and for Himself, a people for His own possession. This is a loving act of God’s sovereign will. 3) Definite atonement: In His death, Jesus offered Himself as a perfect substitute for God’s elect. At the cross, Christ actually saved these chosen ones. 4) Irresistible grace: The Spirit inevitably draws God’s elect to faith in Christ. This work of grace is irresistible in those chosen by the Father and redeemed by the Son. 5) Persevering grace: All believers in Christ will pursue a life of personal holiness and will never fall away from grace.

These transcendent truths radically change lives, elevate churches, produce joy, promote discipleship, encourage evangelism, and launch missions. This body of truth, rooted in Scripture, teaches that salvation triumphantly flows from each Person of the Godhead for the purpose of redeeming, rescuing and regenerating undeserving sinners. In this cohesive system, God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit work together as one Savior, united in saving helpless sinners. Such is the God-honoring truth of sovereign grace.

There is a wealth of resources on the site and I plan on taking advantage of them and hope you will also.

Blessings in Christ,

Thom

 

Sometimes it Costs

Over the last few months, my wife and I have had many discussions regarding our Christian faith.  Last night we went to a local Braum’s ice cream shop and sat for a while eating ice cream and talking about what we had listened to over the last couple of days (we both listen to podcasts of Paul Washer, Tim Conway, Art Azurdia, Steve Lawson, etc through the day).  My wife made the comment that I have changed and grown so much over the past couple of years and I told here that I had seen a lot of growth and change in her too.  That is the way our Christian life is supposed to be.  It is a continual state of growth and change or we aren’t really regenerated Christians.

As we were talking, I mentioned to her that I really didn’t want to be there at Braum’s eating ice cream.  She gave me that “hurt” look so I knew I’d better hurry up and clarify my statement since we were out on a date without the kids.  After a second of regrouping, I told her that it wasn’t that I didn’t want to be with her eating ice cream, it was just that we in the Western world are so comfortable.  It is nothing to us to go to Braum’s and have an ice cream, it is nothing to think about going out to eat.  We in the Western world spend a lot of time and resources doing things like that.  We just don’t know what it is like to do without, to sacrifice.  I can’t remember the last time I’ve missed a meal for any reason other than I just didn’t want to eat.  As best as I can remember over the last 40+ years I’ve never had to worry about shelter or clothing.  The point I’m making is that that attitude seems to creep into our Christian life and we take things for granted, we don’t seem to realize that there is a price to pay for being a Christian.

Now what makes this all the more interesting is that shortly after we got home last night, my wife came to me with something from one of her Facebook friends.  I don’t remember exactly what it was that her friend posted, but it was something along the lines of:  “I just look forward to the TV show Modern Family, but what makes it even better is that my kids can sit and watch it with me and we all love it so much.”  Now I don’t know what you know about the show, but it is supposedly a comedy about the happenings of 3 related families, one of which is a gay couple who are raising a child, or maybe two, I don’t know enough about it.  Anyway, my wife made the comment that she just couldn’t accept that a person who claimed to have a relationship with Christ and had been a Christian for at least the 3 years she had known her would, 1)watch a show like that, and, 2) talk about how great it was to enjoy that show with their children, who, by the way, are not even teenagers yet.  I asked my wife what she felt she needed to do and to make a long story short, she did respond to her Facebook friend who was very unappreciative of my wife’s judgmental attitude and her lack of ability to understand this persons relationship with Christ. 

In the end, my wife lost a friend.  But, she did share the Gospel with her friend in a way that it needed to be shared.  When God truly regenerates your heart, he starts bringing about changes in your life that are noticeable.  Paul Washer made the comment in a sermon that I listened to the other day and shared with my wife last night.  He said, “If there is no work of separation in your life recognizable at any point in time, then you are lost.”  While I realize that all of us grow in sanctification at different rates, what it boils down to is a matter of obedience on our part.  If regeneration in our hearts does not cause us to hate what God hates and love what God loves, we are not a Christian.  I’m not saying we are perfect and without sin, but we certainly cannot continually celebrate about a TV show that glorifies a lifestyle that God hates.  

God calls us a Christians to take a stand for the truth.  He doesn’t ask us if we would like to, He commands us to do it.  Sometimes that stand will have an associated cost with it.  Are we more concerned with our comfort, our prestige, our standing before this world, or do we tremble knowing that we answer to a Holy God?  The Word says:

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2:15-17 ESV).

Where do your affections lie?  Are your affections costing you anything?  Just something to think about.