One of Two Things Happens

I say it quite often when I teach, but when we teach or preach the Word of God, there are only two possible outcomes.  Either the hearer’s heart will harden or it will soften.  There really isn’t a third way.  This was made abundantly clear by Tim Challies in his article Jesus Repulses, Jesus Draws.  I have thought pretty much the same thing he wrote in his article, but not quite so eloquently.  Here is what Tim wrote:

I think we all love the story of the Garasene Demonaic, don’t we? It is the story of a poor, pathetic, hopeless, demon-oppressed man and his life-changing encounter with Jesus Christ. And there is something in the story I find particularly fascinating.

Though at one time in his life this man had been a normal person with a normal life, at some point demons had begun to oppress him. Maybe he was a young man still living in his parents’ home when something about him began to change. Over time his parents and family saw him start to exhibit erratic and downright scary behavior. Or maybe he was a married man and it was his wife who first began to notice that strange behavior. He began to act in ways that were out of character. He began to cry out in weird ways. Though he used to love his kids and cuddle them and tell them stories and play with them, over time he became distant, then even dangerous. Soon she had to protect the kids from their own father.

Eventually his behavior became so outrageous that the people around him acted in the only way they knew how—they chained him and locked him up. But then he grew so strong that he could break those chains and attack anyone who approached him. So they did the only thing left to do and drove him away. By the time we meet him in Mark 5 (and parallel accounts in Matthew and Luke), he is living in the tombs, roaming the hills naked, cutting and brusing himself, crying out in agony of body, soul and spirit. He can go no lower.

And then Jesus meets him. And then Jesus frees him. Jesus sends that horde of demons into a herd of pigs which immediately rushes into the sea and drowns. And then we come to a part of the story I find absolutely fascinating. The nearby townsfolk come running to see what has happened, to see this oppressed man in his right mind, to see thousands of dead pigs floating in the water. And we see two very different reactions to this encounter with Jesus Christ.

When this man has been freed by Jesus, he begs Jesus to be able to go with him. Please let me remain with you, let me learn from you, let me serve you. Where you go I will go. This man saw Jesus and wanted Jesus more than anything.

When this crowd of villagers saw this man freed by Jesus, they had a reaction that was exactly opposite. They begged Jesus to leave. Please go. Get back in your boat and leave and don’t come back. They saw Jesus and wanted Jesus less than anything.

The people wanted Jesus as far as possible, this man wanted Jesus as close as possible. And in those two reactions we see something fascinating: Jesus repulses and Jesus draws. Some people encounter Jesus and find him the most dreadful thing in the world; some people encounter Jesus and find him the most desirable thing in the world. Some beg him to leave and some beg to follow.

When we preach Jesus today, we preach for a response. And there is always a response. Jesus repulses and Jesus draws. But an encounter with Jesus never accomplishes nothing.

 

Round Up

Preaching is Dangerous – A preacher’s authority does not come merely from his calling or anointing, but he has authority only to the degree that he correctly interprets and clearly proclaims the truths of Scriptures.

A Practical Understanding Of The Sufficiency of Scripture – Part 1 – I can’t wait for Part 2!

Where Did All These Calvinists Come From – A visual to show you where they have come from.

Celebrity Pastors:  A Retrospective – In retrospect, the critics were to be treated as the problem, but the band was to play on.

A Time Lapse – I love these things and would like to create my own one day.

Quote:

Phil Johnson on the Imminence of God from the sermon Providence is Remarkable:  God personally and constantly and permanently and exhaustively pervades and sustains and governs every aspect of His creation.  God is personally present and meticulously at work in everything that happens, even when He is not manifesting His presence by miracles.

Round Up

Kill Your Jesus Talisman – When I was a kid I had a poster of Philippians 4:13 — “I can do all things through him who strengthens me” — with a photo of a guy dunking a basketball. You can bet I thought long and hard about how Jesus was gonna help me dunk on some fools.

The False Teachers: Arius – Tim Challies is setting out on a series of articles about false teachers down through the history of the Church.

The False Teachers: Pelagius – Tim Challies second article on false teachers in church history.

Engineered Revivals – Revelations regarding the “Spontaneous Baptisms How-To Guide.”  (If you need a “How-To Guide” it ain’t a true revival.)

When Silence is Sinful – This article is aimed at the Charismatic Movement, but could easily apply to the SBC also.

Quote:

Every son of man is born in sin (Psalm 51:5).  So when the prince of this world first approaches a young soul with this or that wicked proposal, he finds the soul unarmed and in its natural state already familiar with his policies.  Yielding to Satan’s control will therefore not cause much of a stir in the naturally sinful heart.  But when Christ campaigns for a soul, He proposes sweeping changes.  And the selfish soul, which generally likes things as they are, answers Him with the same scorn as the rebellious citizens int he parable:  “We will not have this man to reign over us!” (Luke 19:14).  The vote is unanimous:  All the lusts cast their ballots against Christ, and rise up like the Philistines against Samson, whom they called the destroyer of their country (Judges 16:23-24).  If God’s grace did not step in and override the veto, the whole world would be held in Satan’s sway. – William Gurnall, The Christian in Complete Armour

Round Up

When God Does the Miracle We Didn’t Ask For – Countless childhood surgeries. Yearlong stints in the hospital. Verbal and physical bullying from classmates. Multiple miscarriages as a young wife. The unexpected death of a child. A debilitating progressive disease. Riveting pain. Betrayal. A husband who leaves. If it were up to me, I would have written my story differently.

Sensual Worship – When interest in the churches begins to centre round the visual and the sensual it is commonly a sign of impending apostasy.

So You’re A Calvinist?  How Do You React To Cancer? – Our worldly culture promotes youth, vitality and a carefree life, and if you are not youthful, athletic with toned legs and a six pack tummy, and enjoying a vigorous, fulfilling sex life, then you have a second rate existence as a person.

I Love a Church That Sings Badly – I am drawn toward a church that sings poorly and am a little suspicious of a church that sings really well.

Bind My Wandering Heart to Thee – O to grace how great a debtor, Daily I’m constrained to be! Let Thy goodness, like a fetter, Bind my wandering heart to Thee.

Quote:

Sovereignty characterizes the whole being of God. He is sovereign in all his attributes. —A.W. Pink

Round Up

John Piper Infographic – Here is another infographic from Tim Challies on John Piper.

Bible Translations and Bible Reading – Many translations are extremely helpful, but none of them capture exactly what the original language depicts in the text. That is why it is so important for Christians and especially pastors to learn the original languages of Scripture (Greek and Hebrew).

Preach the Word – You wouldn’t expect to hear a pastor tell his church, “I know better than God.” And yet that’s what many preachers and leaders today communicate when they focus their ministry strategies on market research and consumer response.

Forged In Forgiveness – Erik Fitzgerald was a youth pastor in Georgia when he awoke one day to the terrible news that his wife and son had been killed in a car accident.  See the healing power of forgiveness in action.

Quote:

“We may ask, no doubt, why God does not extend his saving grace to all; and why, if he sends it to some only, he sends it to just those some to whom he sends it rather than to others. These are not wise questions to ask. We might ask why Christ raised Lazarus only of all that lay dead that day in Palestine, or in the world. No doubt reasons may suggest themselves why he raised Lazarus. But why Lazarus only? If we threw the reins on the neck of imagination, we might possibly discover reasons enough why he might well have raised others, too, with Lazarus, perhaps many others, perhaps all the dead throughout the whole world. Doubtless he had his reasons for doing on that great day precisely what he did. No doubt God has his reasons, too, for doing just what he does with his electing grace. Perhaps we may divine some of them. No doubt there are others which we do not divine. Better leave it to him, and content ourselves. facing, in the depths of our ignorance and our sin-bred lack of comprehension, these tremendous realities, with the O altitudo of Paul: ‘O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past tracing out!’ Or may we not even rise to the great consenting ‘Yea!’ which Christ has taught us: ‘Yea, Father, for so it was well-pleasing in thy sight!’ After all, men are sinners and grace is wonderful. The marvel of marvels is not that God, in his infinite love, has not elected all of this guilty race to be saved, but that he has elected any. What really needs accounting for — though to account for it passes the powers of our extremest flights of imagination — is how the holy God could get the consent of his nature to save a single sinner.” – B. B. Warfield

Round Up

God’s Word Sanctifies, Not Private Revelation – “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.” — John 17:17

Has ‘Authenticity’ Trumped Holiness – Has authenticity become a higher calling than, say, holiness?

The Doctrine of Hell:  Apologetic Problems – For many people, the doctrine of hell presents an apologetic problem for Christians. Skeptics say that believing in hell is “morally reprehensible” and that the doctrine of hell makes God a “barbaric, moral monster, the worst being ever to exist.”

John MacArthur: The Infographic – Tim Challies has been releasing infographics for various topics which he calls Visual Theology.  This one is an interesting one on the accomplishments of a servant of God.

Quote:

The chief and principal ends for which the Holy Spirit is promised and received may be reduced to these four heads:—(1.) Regeneration; (2.) Sanctification; (3.) Consolation; (4.) Edification. There are, indeed, very many distinct operations and distributions of the Spirit, as I have in part already discovered, and shall yet farther go over them in particular instances; but they may be reduced unto these general heads, or at least they will suffice to exemplify the different manner and ends of the receiving of the Spirit. And this is the plain order and method of these things, as the Scripture both plainly and plentifully testifies: — (1.) He is promised and received as to the work of regeneration unto the elect; (2.) As to the work of sanctification unto the regenerate; (3.) As to the work of consolation unto the sanctified; and, (4.) As unto gifts for edification unto professors, according to his sovereign will and pleasure. – John Owen

Daily Roundup

Sermons Are Not For Liking – Sermons are for listening, they are for discerning, they are for applying, but they are not for liking.

Let There Be Light – Charles Spurgeon gave special attention to achieving truthful integration of biblical doctrine in his preaching ministry. He believed this was a special stewardship for the preacher.

Believing and Preaching the Bible With Certainty – We must present the Bible as the Word of God, not the words of men, but the Word of the living God.

12 Gospel Passages to Soak In – Mere truth won’t do it. Our souls desperately need the gospel!

Quote:

All knowledge of God rests on revelation. Though we can never know God in the full richness of his being, he is known to all people through his revelation in creation, the theater of his glory. The world is never godless. In the end there are no atheists; there is only argument about the nature of God. The recognition is universal of a power greater than human beings themselves, to whom they owe piety. – Herman Bavinck

 

Daily Roundup

Think and Act Biblically – If you have never heard of James Montgomery Boice, head on over to this site and read a short daily devotion.

Poets, Prophets, Poetry and Wisdom – Tim Challies and David Murray are moderating an online class using Ligonier Ministries resources.

The Drop Box – A documentary on a Korean Pastor who is taking in unwanted babies.

Quote:

Stand over this volume [the Bible], and admire its authority. This is no common book. It is not the sayings of the sages of Greece; here are not the utterances of philosophers of past ages. If these words were written by a man, we might reject them; but O let me think the solemn thought, that this book is God’s handwriting– that these words are God’s! Let me look at its date; it is dated from the hills of heaven. Let me look at its letters; they flash glory on my eye. Let me read the chapters; they are big with meaning and mysteries unknown. Let me turn over the prophecies; they are pregnant with unthought- of wonders. Oh, book of books! And wast thou written by my God? Then will I bow before thee. Thou book of vast authority! thou art a proclamation from the Emperor of Heaven; far be it from me to exercise my reason in contradicting thee. Reason, thy place is to stand and find out what this volume means, not to tell what this book ought to say.

Come thou, my reason, my intellect, sit thou down and listen, for these words are the words of God. I do not know how to enlarge on this thought. Oh! if you could ever remember that this Bible was actually and really written by God. Oh! if ye had been let into the secret chambers of heaven, if ye had beheld God grasping his pen and writing down these letters– then surely ye would respect them; but they are just as much God’s handwriting as if you had seen God write them. This Bible is a book of authority; it is an authorized book, for God has written it. Oh! tremble, lest any of you despise it; mark its authority, for it is the Word of God. – Charles Spurgeon