Friday, April 20, 2018

Please don't say "broken" when we mean sin

Are we broken?

According to the dictionary definition of broken, are we "fractured or damaged"? As humans, do we need fixing?

Christians know that there is something wrong with the world, indeed. Even unsaved people mutter and wonder what in the world is going on. Why is the world like this? they ask. Why has it always been like this? they wonder.

I hear and read the word 'broken' a lot now in reference to this issue. The word has come into popular Christian use. Here are just a few  recent published essay titles-
  • The Meaning of Brokenness: Being Broken in the Sight of God
  • How to Find Beauty in Brokenness
  • Brokenness is Seeing My Sin BIG
Is it acceptable to use the word broken when referencing already-saved Christians? Or even non-saved people?

It's my stance that it is not. As was stated so well here,
For Christians, it is vital that we be open-eyed and discerning about the destructive ways that language is being manipulated. We need to recover the biblical view of words ...
We well know that language gives words meaning, but that meaning can be fluid. For example, the American definition of marriage, of a legal union between one man and one women, had been stable for centuries. The over the last few decades, marriage has come to mean any civil union between any number of people of any (or no) gender or sexual orientation.

Or this from the website Darrow Miller and Friends
In the old dictionary, justice was defined as equal treatment regardless of race, sex or religion. In the new dictionary, justice is equal outcome, regardless of personal action or behavior.
In this example, Tolerance in the old definition meant "ability or willingness to tolerate something, in particular the existence of opinions or behavior that one does not necessarily agree with." Nowadays the word tolerance has come to mean rejecting all moral absolutes, including biblical absolutes.

When we use important Christian words, we need to say what they mean, too. Just because we say the word sin, doesn't mean who you are speaking to will have the same understanding of what sin is that you do. It seems basic, but that's where we are now.

Manipulation of words to change perceptiopn or to catalyze movements is an entire academic field of study. It's called Linguistic Anthropology. Satan changes word meanings in order to confuse both believers and non-believers, and to push forward his agenda.
I argued that a new religion has taken root in the West, and it advances by redefining words — vacating them of their true meaning, and hijacking them to serve new purposes. (Source)
For example,
 ... As John Stonestreet reminds us, "there’s a long history detailing the manipulation of language for the purpose of social control". George Orwell described the process well in his book 1984. The language was forever being altered, "to make all other modes of thought impossible. … This was done partly by the invention of new words, but chiefly by eliminating undesirable words and stripping such words as remained of unorthodox meanings…." Source

The word broken is one of those words that is being used to change perceptions, in this case, to redefine sin. Broken can indicate anything that is massively fractured, down to only a little dented. Being only broken can mean-

My car is broken, it needs a new transmission.
My car is broken, the tail light is out.

The truth is, we are not broken. We are sinners WITHOUT righteousness. We are totally corrupt. We need HIS external righteousness. We are not just broken, but beyond repair. We're dead! That's why the Bible says when we're saved, we are a new person, from a new birth, regenerated, born again, given a new heart. And so on.

We are not entities that need a patch or a fix or a tweak. Using broken instead of sinner allows wiggle room for seeing my sin as small. One might start our magnanimously seeing one's sin as big, as the essay headline above, but if you see yourself only as broken, inevitably you'll reduce your sin to only a minor indiscretion.

Secondly, we are not broken (in need of a fix). We must be remade completely! This is because we are thoroughly corrupt. Sin pervades us, our entire nature is one of sin. There is no corner of light in us, it is all darkness and evil. (Genesis 6:5).

Can a leopard change its spots? Can an Ethiopian change his skin? (Jeremiah 13:23). Can a lion become a vegetarian? No. Our essential nature is one of unholy acts in sin and evil intentions,a ll the time. We can adopt an external moralism but none of our actions will be pleasing to a holy God. (Romans 7:18,24; Ephesians 2:1,2). We must be made new. (John 3:7).

You were taught to put off your former way of life, your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23to be renewed in the spirit of your minds; 24and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness (Ephesians 22-24)

and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. (Colossians 3:10).

Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘Youd must be born again.’ (John 3:7).

Now this might not seem like such a huge deal. Big woop, some words are being redefined. But you see, the latest hot evangelism training trend is to use this concept of brokenness as the basis for needing Jesus. It's not true as the caption on the video below claims, that this world is characterized by brokenness.



The world is cursed, and the curse is because of sin. (Genesis 3:17, Romans 8:20-21).

that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. (Romans 8:21)

The only thing we, the animals, and the creation itself can do is decay, because we are corrupt and enslaved to sin. That sounds more than 'broken' to me. Our very nature prevents us from righteousness. No fixing will do.

Be careful of the words you use. Know the important words of our faith, use them, and explain them. Be precise.

Easton's Bible Dictionary

Baker's Bible Dictionary

Emerging Church Glossary (satire)



Thursday, April 19, 2018

Lift high the cross

Part of this essay appeared on The End Time in 2010.


The Wayside Cross is a huge tradition in Canada and Europe, where it has abounded for over a thousand years. "In Quebec, and Europe, a wayside cross marks a place where the members of a community gather to meet and pray, and often commemorates an important moment in their communal history." Charles Bourget reports that there are 3000 wayside shrines dotting the countryside in Quebec, however, many of them are falling into disrepair because the tradition is waning. I wrote at one time about the fate of one American Wayside Cross in East Greenwich RI.

Below, a wayside crucifix in Europe
In America, the tradition never really caught on. If one does stumble upon a wayside cross, they are usually a cricifix- which represents an entirely different religion. They are seen occasionally, especially in central rural Wisconsin. Wayside crosses dot the landscape there. In Bedford NY, one was erected in 1936 and it was hoped that the sight of it would invite the prayers of the passersby. In 1922 East Greenwich, it was hoped by "those who placed this beautiful memorial to an exemplary life feel that it will indeed be a light by the way and a guide post to Heaven." By and large wayside crosses are not seen much and those that do exist are under increasing challenge.

The point of the cross in public life is that it would point the way to Jesus. That upon seeing it, thoughts of Him and the Good News would ruminate in the mind, and through the strength of the Holy Spirit, those thoughts would germinate. For people seeing such displays, who have already heard the Good News, perhaps its sight would loosen the bonds around the heartstrings and their conviction would grow, as in the allegorical depiction of Christian at the Wayside Cross.

A wayside cross was a pivotal point in the very famous book Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan, published in 1678 and has remained on the 'bestseller list' ever since, never having been out of print. The passage is below:
"He ran thus till he came at a place somewhat ascending, and upon that place stood a cross, and a little below, in the bottom, a sepulchre. So I saw in my dream, that just as Christian came up with the cross, his burden loosed from off his shoulders, and fell from off his back, and began to tumble, and so continued to do, till it came to the mouth of the sepulchre, where it fell in, and I saw it no more. Then was Christian glad and lightsome, and said, with a merry heart, 'He hath given me rest by his sorrow, and life by his death.' Then he stood still awhile to look and wonder; for it was very surprising to him, that the sight of the cross should thus ease him of his burden. He looked therefore, and looked again, even till the springs that were in his head sent the waters down his cheeks. Now, as he stood looking and weeping, behold three Shining Ones came to him and saluted him with Peace be unto thee. So the first said to him, Thy sins be forgiven thee;"
It is amazing that the sight of the cross should ease a person's burdens, but it does, for the person who is ready to receive grace. For every individual on the planet, there comes that critical moment, upon which the eye falls to the cross and a decision is made either aye or nay. The cross to the unsaved does make one's soul burn, satan would have it so. But in the process of that the soul-singe the cross is emblazoned on the mind and heart and soul, thereafter to linger as a brand. It stays there, to rankle. Opponents of Christ do not want that rankle, and therefore strive to remove the cross from all areas of life except homes and churches.

This article from 2011 by John Witte Jr., Director of the Center for the Study of Law and Religion at Emory University in Atlanta, Ga., is interesting: Lift High the Cross? Religion In Public Spaces

It made 6 points about court challenges to religious symbols in public spaces:
While not entirely convergent in their religious symbolism cases, the American and European high courts now hold six teachings in common.

  • First, tradition counts in these cases
  • Second, religious symbols often have redeeming cultural value
  • Third, local values deserve some deference.
  • Fourth, religious freedom does not require the secularization of society.
  • Fifth, religious freedom does not give a minority a heckler’s veto over majoritarian policies
  • Finally, religious symbolism cases are serious business. 

Lift high the cross. Value it, present it, wear it, but above all, cherish it and obey it. We can and should beautify the Gospel that the cross stands for by our obedient and gentle adornment of obedient behavior because of it.




Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Elyse Fitzpatrick and more on romancing Jesus

Jesus knew what she was doing and he welcomed it.
The above is from Elyse Fitzpatrick and I'll get to the problem in her essay further down. But first, context.

Nine years ago, Keith Burton wrote an article in Spectrum Magazine called Jesus Is Not My Boyfriend. Why?
It appears as if some talented writers of contemporary Christian songs need a little help from theologians and etymologists when penning odes of love to Divinity. This is especially true for the influential Praise and Worship movement ... My problem comes with the confusing lyrics that transform Jesus from a Brother into a boyfriend, a Lord into a lover or a Savior into a spouse.
Because unaddressed sin only ever gets worse, not only songs, but essays, blogs, and books have turned Jesus into a boyfriend, lover, or spouse. This is wrong.
(I love, I love, I love, I love the way You hold me)
(I love, I love, I love, I love the way You hold me)
(I love, I love, I love, I love the way You hold me)
(I love, I love, I love, I love the way You, the way Ya, the way Ya)
I've had a long day I just wanna relax
Don't have time for my friends, no time to chit-chat
Problems at my job, wonderin' what to do
I know I should be working, but I'm thinking of You and
Just when I feel this crazy world is gonna bring me down
That's when Your smile comes around
Hold Me song by Jamie Grace featuring tobyMac
The lyrics like Hold Me above are not infrequent. Books like Ann Voskamp's or Beth Moore's that contain sensual language to describe the Savior are also rampant. And there are countless blogs doing the same- turning divine knowledge of the revealed One True God into a prom date complete with giggles and what happens at the After-Prom. Most of these are written by women.
I fly to Paris and discover how to make love to God. ...God makes love with grace upon grace, every moment a making of His love for us. [C]ouldn’t I make love to God, making every moment love for Him? To know Him the way Adam knew Eve. Spirit skin to spirit skin? Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts
I also love how I could tell by the sweet tone of His silent voice whispering to my spirit that He was smiling.... I laughed with God. He laughed with me.... I am so in love with Him. I am so in love with Him. Beth Moore- When Godly People do Ungodly Things
One night I found myself leaving the warmth of our cozy chalet to walk alone in the snowy mountains. I went into a deeply wooded area, feeling vulnerable and awed by cold, moonlit beauty. The air was crisp and dry, piercing to inhale. Suddenly I felt as if a warm mist enveloped me. I became aware of a lovely Presence, and my involuntary response was to whisper, ‘Sweet Jesus.’ This utterance was totally uncharacteristic of me, and I was shocked to hear myself speaking so tenderly to Jesus. As I pondered this brief communication, I realized it was the response of a converted heart; at that moment I knew I belonged to Him. This was far more than the intellectual answers for which I’d been searching. This was a relationship with the Creator of the universe. Sarah Young, Jesus Calling

Some book titles on Amazon along these lines are: (HT Sharon Lareau)

The Wild Romancer: Uncovering the Romance Jesus Longs to Lavish on You by Brenda Cobb Murphy 2008

Falling In Love With Jesus: Abandoning Yourself To The Greatest Romance Of Your Life by Dee Brestin and Kathy Troccoli 2002

What is a person to make of a trend where perfect agape love of our HOLY GOD has been switched for eros with our prom date Jesus? Keith Burton from Spectrum Magazine explains why it is wrong-
While it is true that the Bible utilizes images of marriage to parallel Christ’s relationship to the church, two things must be taken into account. 
Firstly, Christ relates to the church as a collective unit. He is married to the community as a whole and not to billions of individuals who claim to serve him–he is not a polygamist. 
Secondly, the love Christ shares with his church is not defined by the Greek term "eros" from which the English word "erotic" is derived, but is expressed with the noun "agape" (pronounced ah-gah-pay) which denotes love demonstrated in deeds. Those who view themselves as children of God are not called to exercise eros but agape; they are not invited to brief episodes of self gratifying sexual intimacy but to a lifetime of social and spiritual interaction. (Jesus is Not My Boyfriend, Spectrum Magazine)
Now to the quote I opened with by Elyse Fitzpatrick. She holds a certificate in biblical counseling from CCEF (San Diego) and an M.A. in Biblical Counseling from Trinity Theological Seminary. She has authored 23 books on daily living and the Christian life. She also has a website where she blogs and is a conference speaker.

Fitzpatrick wrote a blog essay the other week titled Mary's Wedding Vows where a biblical scene of humbly offering an anointing to the Sovereign God preceding His death, is twisted to an impetuous moment of a love-struck girl hurling herself with abandon at her lover. In order to make the verses she quoted fit her unbiblical scene, Fitzpatrick had to twist the scripture. (2 Peter 3:16). It was a theological train wreck full of doctrinal error and crass sensuality.

Sadly, a few years ago Fitzpatrick became involved in the hypergrace movement. Her 2012 book Give Them Grace seemed to reveal more antinomian stances. She was spoken of negatively in this 2015 article at Grace to You and this one in 2015. Her theological trajectory has been noted and warned against.

The invasion of such sensual imagery by these influential writers is a sad event. One would hope and pray that Christian women would have more sense and more spiritual maturity and discernment than to chase after things that are not much different than Tantric Buddhism. Anything that connects the divine through the body should be a no-go zone. The faith comes by hearing, not by sensuous feeling. It is an intellectual faith that comes in through the mind. What we know is most important.

Baker's Evangelical Dictionary explains the word know
Know, Knowledge
The Old Testament. The Hebrew root yada [[;d"y],translated "know"/"knowledge, " appears almost 950 times in the HebrewBible. It has a wider sweep than our English word "know, " including perceiving, learning, understanding, willing, performing, and experiencing. To know is not to be intellectually informed about some abstract principle, but to apprehend and experience reality. Knowledge is not the possession of information, but rather its exercise or actualization. 
Thus, biblically to know God is not to know about him in an abstract and impersonal manner, but rather to enter into his saving actions (Micah 6:5). To know God is not to struggle philosophically with his eternal essence, but rather to recognize and accept his claims. It is not some mystical contemplation, but dutiful obedience.
I sadly cannot recommend Elyse Fitzpatrick to you and must sadly issue a warning against using her materials. This is doubly sad because of her long experience with Biblical Counseling. But anyone who sees Jesus in such a light is seeing a Jesus that does not exist, except perhaps in her own mind.

See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. (Colossians 2:8)

Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God's wrath comes on the sons of disobedience. (Ephesians 5:6).


Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Buck the current

For a while in my free-wheeling days, I lived on a sailboat with my husband. We sailed from Maine down to Florida, over to the Bahamas down as far as the Tropic of Cancer. Then we turned around and sailed back. We made this mini-circumnavigation twice, putting about 12,000 nautical miles under our keel. Our yacht was a 37' Tayana with a full keel and 12 feet of beam. She was a study boat, and a pretty one, with a wooden mast and lapstrake style fiberglass and a wooden bowsprit.


Needless to say, we encountered all types of weather and all kinds of marine conditions. Storms, believe it or not, are not as hard to deal with as one might think. Boats are made to bob and yaw and pitch and really are in their element when it's storming and you are underway.

The one that gets hard to deal with is current. But more on that in a moment.

One of our elders who delivered the confession time devotional in the worship service on Sunday mentioned his above ground pool. He said it is a small pool, and that you must circulate the water because it's better for the water and better for the pool. What he does to circulate it, he said, is walk rapidly around the perimeter of the pool while in it. That gets the water going. Around and around he goes, the water as a force swirling. If you turn around, he said, you suddenly feel the force of the water against you. When you're going with the current you don't feel it, but turning around suddenly this wall of water pushes against you.

This got me thinking about ocean and river currents.

When I lived on the sailboat, we traveled down some of America's mighty rivers, like the East River, Potomac, the Cape Fear River, or the Savannah River. The currents on these rivers are very strong. When traveling against the current, the current wants to push you off course, and can do so very easily unless you maintain constant extreme vigilance. The engine works hard, you have to hang onto the steering wheel pretty tightly to maintain course. If you lose the engine, you end up on the rocks. You anxiously keep looking at the time, waiting for the tide to turn so the current will ease up.

It's so much easier sailing with the current. You cruise along, carried by the current in its course, enjoying the lack of turbulence.

The two years of sailing as a live-aboard cruiser are still reaping benefits in spiritual insights and life metaphors. I'd often wondered why the Lord would send me on such an amazing journey (now that I know the Lord). His providence is amazing. Because He ordains everything in a person's life down to the last dust mote, there had to have been a reason He sent me down America's coast in a boat. I didn't know Him then, but I do now. And I know there is a reason. There may be many more I'm too dense to comprehend, but the spiritual lessons keep coming.

I'm not an agricultural person, so the sheep and the wheat and chaff and such don't resonate with me. But the marine symbols do.

When the writer of Hebrews says cling to your salvation lest you drift away, I know.
When Jude says there are hidden reefs at your love feasts, I know.
When Paul says do not make a shipwreck of your faith, I know.

I hope you caught the life-lesson I'm about to reveal. The current is the world, it sweeps you along and you do not notice any turbulence...until you turn 180 degrees. When you turn (repent), suddenly the force of the current is quite noticeable. It pushes against you. The world wants to direct your course, and if you don't have an engine, you're headed for the rocks. The engine is the Spirit. You have to grip the wheel tightly so as to stay on course. The wheel is the Bible. You have to maintain constant vigilance or you will be pushed to where you don't want to go.

Here's the difference. As opposed to a mariner's life, in Christian life- the tide never turns.

There is never, every a season of ease. There is never a time when you can safely coast along. There's never a time when you don't need to constantly be vigilant and check your course. As long as we're in this body, we have to remain at the binnacle steering this ship of faith against the current of the world that always pushes against us.

When the time comes in each of our lives to let go and swim the River Jordan, we will emerge on the other side climbing up the bank victorious. Of course, it is not our victory. Jesus swam against the current of the world all His life and was never shunted off course, never drifted an iota into dark waters, not even when He was tempted by the devil. He kept His eye firmly on the lighthouse and the glory of God. He gained the victory because of His righteousness, and imputed it to us.

Buck the current. Stay vigilant. Have a firm grip (hold fast) to the steering wheel. We will eventually make it to safe shores and we will never have to slog through an angry tide again. All will be peace, calm waters and safe harbor.




Monday, April 16, 2018

Matt Chandler as a Charismatic prophet

What offering strange fire leads to


In October 2013, as part of the Truth Matters series, John MacArthur and a host of men such as Steve Lawson, Tom Pennington, RC Sproul, Justin Peters, and others participated in the Strange Fire conference. It was named Strange Fire from the verse in Leviticus 10:1.
The first tabernacle had been erected, and Aaron was doing a lot of sacrificing per God’s instructions (Leviticus 8—9). One day, two of Aaron’s sons, Nadab and Abihu, came along and offered incense with 'strange fire'. The Hebrew word translated "strange" means "unauthorized, foreign, or profane." God not only rejected their sacrifice; He found it so offensive that He consumed the two men with fire. (Source)
It's obvious from the verse that God abhors unauthorized worship. The issue in 2013 was that the Pentecostal and Charismatic tendency in worship of the Triune God included some aberrant behaviors. So, the Strange Fire conference was announced with a goal of evaluating the doctrines, claims, and practices of the modern charismatic movement, and affirming the true Person and ministry of the Holy Spirit. Some of the sessions and sermons included topics such as-

A Word from the Lord? Evaluating the Modern Gift of Prophecy

Charismatic Counterfeits: Do the Modern Gifts Meet the Biblical Standard?

A Case for Cessationism

What are the Spiritual Gifts? What are the Sign Gifts?

Matt Chandler, Photo from
The Village Church
The Holy Spirit gives gifts to the people in the Body of Christ. Some of these gifts are known as sign gifts. These gifts are tongues, interpretation of tongues, miracles and prophecy. Sign gifts were given by the spirit for a sign to authenticate the Apostles' message as truly from Jesus. Also, the gift of tongues was intended as a message to Israelites that because of their unbelief and that they had come under judgment. Its purpose at Pentecost and shortly beyond was a fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecy of God's judgment to unbelieving Jews. (1 Corinthians 14:21, Isaiah 28:11-12).

The sign gifts of tongues, interpretation of tongues, miracles and prophecy have ceased. They are no longer needed for a sign. No new prophecies are needed because the canon is concluded and closed. The remaining gifts are still and always in force. Folks who take this stance are known as cessationists (I am cessationist).

The problem was and is that the Charismatic movement with its insistence on the continuation of these gifts had widened to include not just Pentecostals and Charismatics, but encroached into the more conservative segments of the faith such as Reformed churches. The movement had also become extreme with behaviors not only not from the Spirit but were outright demonic, such as holy barking, holy laughter, and false signs and wonders. It was Charismatic Chaos.

Reformed and Charismatic?

Several self-identified Reformed pastors declared themselves continuationists. Reformed believing men such as John Piper, Tim Keller, David Platt, and Matt Chandler stand on the side of the sign gifts' continuation, leaving that door open instead of firmly shut as it should be. Their stance led and still lends credibility to the errant continuationist position.



The other men such as Keller and Platt (see left or click) and Piper (see this or this or this)
also state they believe the sign gifts continue, however carefully they say so and cautiously and primly.

Many continuationists such as the below statement from The Village Church teach that cessationism means that ALL gifts have ceased. This is not the view of cessationists. Only the sign gifts as listed above have ceased, because their purpose for existing has ceased.

Matt Chandler's Village Church believes that cessationism is non-biblical. They state that to believe the sign gifts have caused a restriction of the gifts. He, and his church, teach that,
"The position that best avoids these dangers is continuationism as it teaches that the gifts continue. This is the view held by The Village Church."
Chandler had preached in 2017 that he identifies as both Reformed AND Charismatic. The Reformers' Westminster Confession of Faith holds that the sign gifts have ceased. So, to be Reformed and contuationist would seem to me to be a denial of one or the other.

Uh-oh, a new prophecy

Matt Chandler said he is a Charismatic, and in true Charismatic form, he prophesied Friday night. I saw his statement come up on Twitter:


There were no other tweets that day, this tweet was not part of a longer thread explaining anything or offering any other context or scripture or even joyful examples. It stood alone. It was a pronouncement of what the Spirit is doing, based on some vague observations, and an exhortation to not just his own flock but to the global body, based on his personal experience.

It's sad to see the amount of likes and replies. Out of 70 comments, only 4 were negative and 65 were positive, most searching scripture for "sails" and "wind" verses to match Chandler's pronouncement and eisegete back into his prophecy. Here are several of the sadly few naysaying response tweets.



This was my reply-


So...Chandler prophesied, no doubt about it, and it's a modern one, too, with none of the specificity. It follows the Charismatic template exactly: be convinced and convincing, offer no detail, no scripture, and be as vague as possible so that it can't be confirmed or it can easily be confirmed.

But was it really a prophecy?

"But, but, but," you say, "Chandler was just making a personal observation! It's just saying what he noticed!" No. It's a prophecy that points to himself and not to Christ, because it's all about what Chandler saw and what Chandler noticed and what Chandler pronounced from his own observation (and not the word of God). Here is what a statement like that should say if it was an observation:

"I've been traveling for two weeks teaching, and in Such and Such church I saw many people convicted over sin. In another church I saw many people come to Christ in repentance."

"In another location I saw acts of charity and kindness done in Jesus' name such as... I praise the Lord for these works as the Bible says here and here".

How would you test prophecy such as Mr Chandler issued, that 'the Spirit is stirring something significant?' (1 John 4:1). And as the tweeter replied and as I did also, the Spirit in only now doing something significant, but not before?

What can one see that would convince one the Holy Spirit had been there? A revival like after Jonathan Edwards' sermon Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God? Even then, Edwards was suspicious of false repentance based on a heightened emotionalism.

Would an observation of something false like fake raising from the dead or glitter gold dust falling or holy laughter? That would be a problem. But Chandler never says what. Only the vague, "The Holy Spirit is doing something significant and he is stirring, be ready..." No, most of the work the Spirit does is internal and not immediately observable.

Continuationism v. Cessationism isn't that important, is it? It's not like it's a primary doctrine...

Does being a continuationist or a cessationist matter? Yes. In 2013 a month after Strange Fire concluded, Lyndon Unger at The Cripplegate added up the number of followers of these mainline or famous 'theologically cautious' continuationists, several of them who identified as Reformed, with a hefty social media following. The sum total of followers of these people, who in Unger's list included Piper, Chandler, Platt, and also Beth Moore and Prisiclla Shirer among others, is -
So, if we total all the "theologically cautious" charismatics with 100k+ followers we get 5.438 million followers.
For the record, that number is 2.092 million followers when it’s composed of only the people I’ve ever heard to be cited as charismatic defenders (John Piper, Mark Driscoll, Beth Moore, Matt Chandler, David Platt, Desiring God, Priscilla Shirer.)
And that was five years ago. So yes, it matters. Error propagates, grows, and infects.

It is very sad to watch. But my hope and glory is in Jesus, who always does right and who always does good. He is building His church and the good that I can't see when people stray from edifying doctrine doesn't mean it won't be there eventually in His plan. Please be "cautious" about following people who are continuationists. I'm sorry, I have not seen that believing that the sign gifts continue leads to anything good.

Further Reading

John MacArthur 4-min video defending cessationism 

Why I Left the Village Church

Do You Recommend these Teachers? (Lauren Chandler not recommended)


Sunday, April 15, 2018

Sunday Encouragement: The Celestial City!

In reading the Tenth Stage or the closing chapter and words of John Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress, it comforted me so greatly. Its descriptions and promises, encouragement and beauty is perfect for a Sunday Lord's Day. I pray you find it encouraging as well. This is what awaits us! Some day, some happy day, we will never more be afflicted with sorrow and grief and sin. We will shout the praises and thanksgivings to Jesus and speak with Him daily. Oh what a day that will be!
The talk that they had with the shining ones was about the glory of the place; who told them that the beauty and glory of it was inexpressible. There, said they, is “Mount Sion, the heavenly Jerusalem, the innumerable company of angels, and the spirits of just men made perfect.” Heb. 12:22-24. You are going now, said they, to the paradise of God, wherein you shall see the tree of life, and eat of the never-fading fruits thereof: and when you come there you shall have white robes given you, and your walk and talk shall be every day with the King, even all the days of eternity. Rev. 2:7; 3:4,5; 22:5.
There you shall not see again such things as you saw when you were in the lower region upon earth; to wit, sorrow, sickness, affliction, and death; “For the former things are passed away.” Rev. 21:4. You are going now to Abraham, to Isaac, and Jacob, and to the prophets, men that God hath taken away from the evil to come, and that are now “resting upon their beds, each one walking in his righteousness.” The men then asked, What must we do in the holy place? To whom it was answered, You must there receive the comfort of all your toil, and have joy for all your sorrow; you must reap what you have sown, even the fruit of all your prayers, and tears, and sufferings for the King by the way. Gal. 6:7,8. In that place you must wear crowns of gold, and enjoy the perpetual sight and vision of the Holy One; for “there you shall see him as he is.” 1 John, 3:2.
There also you shall serve him continually with praise, with shouting and thanksgiving, whom you desired to serve in the world, though with much difficulty, because of the infirmity of your flesh. There your eyes shall be delighted with seeing, and your ears with hearing the pleasant voice of the Mighty One. There you shall enjoy your friends again that are gone thither before you; and there you shall with joy receive even every one that follows into the holy place after you. There also you shall be clothed with glory and majesty, and put into an equipage fit to ride out with the King of Glory. 
When he shall come with sound of trumpet in the clouds, as upon the wings of the wind, you shall come with him; and when he shall sit upon the throne of judgment, you shall sit by him; yea, and when he shall pass sentence upon all the workers of iniquity, let them be angels or men, you also shall have a voice in that judgment, because they were his and your enemies. Also, when he shall again return to the city, you shall go too with sound of trumpet, and be ever with him. 1 Thess. 4:14-17; Jude 14,15; Dan. 7:9,10; 1 Cor. 6:2,3.


Referenced in books dating from 1896, no other information is given about provenance. Click on the link above to see it very large and examine the wonderful illustrations in detail




Plan of the Road from the City of Destruction
to the Celestial City from the 1833 edition of "The Pilgrim's Progress"



The Prayer Machinery of Heaven #7: The Debt

If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened. (Psalm 66:18).

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9).

Prayer straddles our lives both on earth when we pray and in heaven when Jesus hears. All week I'm focusing on prayer. It's important. I need to do better in my life, and I can't imagine a Christian who doesn't think they can do better at prayer either.

Charles Spurgeon said,
Prayer meetings are the throbbing machinery of the church.
Last weekend, I was thinking of one of Spurgeon's sermons, called God’s Providence. (#3114). Spurgeon likened the cherubim's acts near the throne and the wheels within wheels as described by Ezekiel as machinery of Providence. He described, hypothetically of course, the wheels going up and down and left and right in tandem as the machinery of Providence carrying out God’s will and decrees. It’s an interesting thought, and Spurgeon is vivid about his descriptions.

This series of 'prayer machinery of heaven' is inspired by those two thoughts.

Please enjoy this scripture photo I made of the machinery of prayer. Under that will be some further resources on prayer suggestions.



There are two 'If's' there. If we confess, He is faithful to forgive. If we hold onto our sins and cherish them, He does not listen. Prayer is the vehicle of communion with the Lord, and dealing with sin is the oil that expedites the prayer or it falls to the ground with a thud.

In "The Lord's Prayer" from Matthew 6:9-13, Jesus said "pray in this way" which includes instructions to pray for forgiveness of sin,

And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. (Matthew 6:12)

Gill's Commentary mentions the use of the word debts for sins
And forgive us our debts,.... Nothing is more frequent in the Jewish writings than to call sins "debts"; and the phrase, of forgiving, is used both of God and men. 
And sins are debts, aren't they. Strong's Concordance explains the Greek word used here

And to Him we owe it all! Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe!!!

He paid the debt, and He set us free. We are mindful of the two 'Ifs' however, do not cherish sin, and confess it daily. What a privilege to pray. What a gift that He hears us.





Prayer Machinery of Heaven series:

Prayer Machinery #1: Introduction and Praying for Missionaries

Prayer Machinery #2: Praying for pray for our Elders (pastors, deacons, teachers, etc).

Prayer Machinery #3Praying for each other

Prayer Machinery #4: How to Pray

Prayer Machinery #5: A focus on Jesus in heaven who hears our prayers, and what a comfort that is.

Prayer Machinery #6: Persevering in Prayer

Prayer Machinery #7: The Two 'If''s and the Importance of confessing Sin

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Prayer Machinery of Heaven #6

And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. (Luke 18:1)

Prayer straddles our lives both on earth when we pray and in heaven when Jesus hears. All week I'm focusing on prayer. It's important. I need to do better in my life, and I can't imagine a Christian who doesn't think they can do better at prayer either.

Charles Spurgeon said,
Prayer meetings are the throbbing machinery of the church.
Last weekend, I was thinking of one of Spurgeon's sermons, called God’s Providence. (#3114). Spurgeon likened the cherubim’s acts near the throne and the wheels within wheels as described by Ezekiel as machinery of Providence. He described, hypothetically of course, the wheels going up and down and left and right in tandem as the machinery of Providence carrying out God’s will and decrees. It’s an interesting thought, and Spurgeon is vivid about his descriptions.

This series of 'prayer machinery of heaven' is inspired by those two thoughts.

Please enjoy this scripture photo I made of the machinery of prayer. Under that will be some further resources on prayer suggestions. Monday I suggested praying for the persecuted and missionaries around the world, with some resources to check out along those lines. Tuesday I suggested praying for our elders (pastors, deacons, teachers, etc), again, with resources. Wednesday I suggested praying for each other. Today focuses on how often to pray. Thursday I offered information about frequency of prayer. Friday we focused on Jesus in heaven who hears our prayers, and what a comfort that is. For this next-to-last picture in the series, I'll offer some thoughts and resources on persevering in prayer.

I thought Barnes' Notes said it well. There are different kinds of prayers and seasons for each kind. There are different attitudes of prayer.
Always - At all times. That is, we must not neglect regular stated seasons of prayer; we must seize on occasions of remarkable providences as afflictions or signal blessings to seek God in prayer; we must "always" maintain a spirit of prayer, or be in a proper frame to lift up our hearts to God for his blessing, and we must not grow weary though our prayer seems not to be answered.

Not to faint - Not to grow weary or give over. The parable is designed to teach us that, though our prayers should long appear to be unanswered, we should persevere, and not grow weary in supplication to God.
The parable is instructive for us, to never give up in prayer. Jesus receives prayer around the clock, every day, all the time. For us, it's a battle to put hands together and carve out time to pray, Satan does not want us to pray. Jesus does. We have to work toward satisfying the one and not the other. Spurgeon again, said-
It is well said that neglected prayer is the birthplace of all evil.
I believe this. Jesus spent time instructing the disciples how to pray. (Luke 11:1-13). He spent time instructing through the parable of the importance of persisting in prayer. (Luke 18:1-8). Prayer is important. I need to do better in lots of ways- in my closet, in persisting, in focus, in content, and in earnestness and fervor. Lord, help me to pray.




Further Reading


Sermon Series: Elements of True Prayer

Valley of Vision devotional of Puritan Prayers (a wonderful wonderful resource!)

Tim Challies: Persistence in Prayer

Full of Eyes: Visual theology & exegesis of Colossians 4:2-4 being steadfast in prayer


Prayer Machinery of Heaven series:

Prayer Machinery #1: Introduction and Praying for Missionaries

Prayer Machinery #2: Praying for pray for our Elders (pastors, deacons, teachers, etc).

Prayer Machinery #3Praying for each other

Prayer Machinery #4: How to Pray

Prayer Machinery #5: A focus on Jesus in heaven who hears our prayers, and what a comfort that is.

Prayer Machinery #6: Persevering in Prayer

Prayer Machinery #7: The Two 'If''s and the Importance of confessing Sin

Friday, April 13, 2018

The Prayer machinery of Heaven #5

The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. He fulfills the desire of those who fear him; he also hears their cry and saves them. (Psalm 145:18-19)

Prayer straddles our lives both on earth when we pray and in heaven when Jesus hears. All week I'm focusing on prayer. It's important. I need to do better in my life, and I can't imagine a Christian who doesn't think they can do better at prayer either.

Last weekend, I was thinking of one of Spurgeon's sermons, called God’s Providence. (#3114). Spurgeon likened the cherubim’s acts near the throne and the wheels within wheels as described by Ezekiel as machinery of Providence. He described, hypothetically of course, the wheels going up and down and left and right in tandem as the machinery of Providence carrying out God’s will and decrees. It’s an interesting thought, and Spurgeon is vivid about his descriptions.

This series of 'prayer machinery of heaven' is inspired by that thought.

Please enjoy this scripture photo I made of the machinery of prayer. Under that will be some further resources on prayer suggestions. Monday I suggested praying for the persecuted and missionaries around the world, with some resources to check out along those lines. Tuesday I suggested praying for our elders (pastors, deacons, teachers, etc), again, with resources. Wednesday I suggested praying for each other. Today focuses on how often to pray. Thursday I offered information about frequency of prayer. Today let's focus on Jesus in heaven who hears our prayers, and what a comfort that is.

In John Gill's Commentary on verse 19, he writes,
He will fulfil the desire of them that fear him,.... That have the true fear of God put into their hearts; that fear him not with a servile, but godly fear; that fear the Lord and his goodness, and are true worshippers of him in a spiritual and evangelic manner; for the fear of God includes the whole worship of him, private and public: and the Lord grants to such whatever they desire of him, in his fear, under the direction of his spirit, according to his will, and in submission to it. Do they desire good things of him, temporal or spiritual? there is no want of any good thing to them that fear him; how should there, when such great goodness is laid up for them? Do they desire his presence, and the discoveries of his love? the sun of righteousness arises on them that fear his name, and his secrets are with them, and his mercy is upon them from everlasting to everlasting. Do they desire his protection from enemies? the Angel of the Lord encamps round about them, and the Lord himself is their, help and their shield; 
he also will hear their cry, and will save them; that is, he will hear and answer their prayer, which they put up to him in their distress: they cry to him either mentally or vocally, in their troubles, and his ears are open to their cries, and they enter into them; and he regards them, and saves them out of them; out of their temporal and out of their spiritual troubles; he saves them with a temporal and with an eternal salvation.
We have such a good God who hears. Our fear and devotion to Him, and His careful attention and love toward us, makes a wonderful relationship. And that is what our religion is, not formalist with rituals and rules, but a relationship with a Holy God who cares.


Further Resources

Essay: How's Your Prayer Life? by Dr. Martyn Lloyd Jones

Sermon S. Lewis Johnson: The Lord’s Prayer: A Primer for Prayer

Prayer Machinery of Heaven series:

Prayer Machinery #1: Introduction and Praying for Missionaries

Prayer Machinery #2: Praying for pray for our Elders (pastors, deacons, teachers, etc).

Prayer Machinery #3Praying for each other

Prayer Machinery #4: How to Pray

Prayer Machinery #5: A focus on Jesus in heaven who hears our prayers, and what a comfort that is.

Prayer Machinery #6: Persevering in Prayer

Prayer Machinery #7: The Two 'If''s and the Importance of confessing Sin

Thursday, April 12, 2018

The Prayer Machinery of Heaven #4

Pray in the Spirit at all times, with every kind of prayer and petition. To this end, stay alert with all perseverance in your prayers for all the saints. (Ephesians 6:18)

Prayer straddles our lives both on earth and in heaven. All week I'm focusing on prayer. It's important. I need to do better in my life, and I can't imagine a Christian who doesn't think they can do better at prayer either.

Last weekend, I was thinking of one of Spurgeon's sermons, called God’s Providence. (#3114). Spurgeon likened the cherubim’s acts near the throne and the wheels within wheels as described by Ezekiel as machinery of Providence. He described, hypothetically of course, the wheels going up and down and left and right in tandem as the machinery of Providence carrying out God’s will and decrees. It’s an interesting thought, and Spurgeon is vivid about his descriptions.

This series of 'prayer machinery of heaven' is inspired by that thought.

Please enjoy this scripture photo I made of the machinery of prayer. Under that will be some further resources on prayer suggestions. Monday I suggested praying for the persecuted and missionaries around the world, with some resources to check out along those lines. Tuesday I suggested praying for our elders (pastors, deacons, teachers, etc), again, with resources. Wednesday I suggested praying for each other. Today focuses on how often to pray.

In an article called Pray Like a Puritan, Tim Challies interviewed Dr Joel Beeke. Here is an excerpt of their conversation as it relates to frequency of prayer:
TC: Matthew Henry wrote a very popular book on prayer and among his first directions was "begin each day with God." What might the Puritans have said if someone suggested that the Bible does not command daily devotions or daily private worship?

JB: Manton said, "Though there be not an express rule particularly set down how often we should be with God," yet God’s commands and calls to prayer "are very large." He pointed out that the Word commands us to "pray without ceasing" (1 Thess. 5:17) and to be "praying always" (Eph. 6:18). This implies a continual habit of prayer, and also set times especially devoted to prayer. He offered us the examples of David (Ps. 55:17) and Daniel (Dan. 6:10), both of whom prayed three times a day. It is true that we can shoot up sudden prayers (Neh. 2:4) in the middle of our ordinary work. But we must also "strive" in prayer (Rom. 15:30), which implies a longer time given exclusively to prayer. Some of those longer prayer times are with the family or with the church, but Christ taught us especially to pray alone in a secret place (Matt. 6:6), and in that same context to pray "daily" (Matt. 6:11). We should not view prayer as a mere religious performance, asking, "How often do I have to do it?" Instead, Manton said that prayer is the conversation of "a loving soul with God," and "acts of friendship and communion must not be rare and unfrequent, but constant and often." He wrote, "If we have a love to God, we cannot keep long out of God's company, but will be with him pouring out our hearts to him."



Further Resources

GotQuestions: How to Pray?

Evangelical Times: John Bunyan on Prayer

Meet The Puritans: John Bunyan on Prayer



Prayer Machinery of Heaven series:

Prayer Machinery #1: Introduction and Praying for Missionaries

Prayer Machinery #2: Praying for pray for our Elders (pastors, deacons, teachers, etc).

Prayer Machinery #3Praying for each other

Prayer Machinery #4: How to Pray

Prayer Machinery #5: A focus on Jesus in heaven who hears our prayers, and what a comfort that is.

Prayer Machinery #6: Persevering in Prayer

Prayer Machinery #7: The Two 'If''s and the Importance of confessing Sin

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

The Prayer Machinery of Heaven #3

Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. (James 5:16).
Those blessings are sweetest that are won with prayers and won with thanks.
—Thomas Goodwin
I'm convinced also that the sweetness increases when it's a prayer request granted for another person.

Prayer straddles our lives both on earth and in heaven. All week I'm focusing on prayer. It’s important. I need to do better in my life, and I can’t imagine a Christian who doesn’t think they can do better at prayer either.

Last weekend, I was thinking of one of Spurgeon’s sermons, called God’s Providence. (#3114). Spurgeon likened the cherubim’s acts near the throne and the wheels within wheels as described by Ezekiel as machinery of Providence. He described, hypothetically of course, the wheels going up and down and left and right in tandem as the machinery of Providence carrying out God’s will and decrees. It’s an interesting thought, and Spurgeon is vivid about his descriptions.

This series of 'prayer machinery of heaven' is inspired by that thought.

Please enjoy this scripture photo I made of the machinery of prayer. Under that will be some further resources on prayer suggestions. Monday I suggested praying for the persecuted and missionaries around the world, with some resources to check out along those lines. Tuesday I suggested praying for our elders (pastors, deacons, teachers, etc), again, with resources. Today's let's let's pray for each other.




Further Reading/Resources

Spurgeon quotes on Prayer

Sermon: Elements of True Prayer

Ligonier: Essay by Don Whitney, Praying for One Another

GotQuestions: What is Intercessory Prayer?


Prayer Machinery of Heaven series:

Prayer Machinery #1: Introduction and Praying for Missionaries

Prayer Machinery #2: Praying for pray for our Elders (pastors, deacons, teachers, etc).

Prayer Machinery #3Praying for each other

Prayer Machinery #4: How to Pray

Prayer Machinery #5: A focus on Jesus in heaven who hears our prayers, and what a comfort that is.

Prayer Machinery #6: Persevering in Prayer

Prayer Machinery #7: The Two 'If''s and the Importance of confessing Sin

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

The prayer machinery of heaven #2

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7).
The purest actions of the purest men need Christ to perfume them; and this is his office. When we pray, we need to pray again for Christ to pardon the defects of our prayers. ~ The Bruised Reed by Richard Sibbes
Isn't that descriptive, we pray, because we can, and then pray again for Christ to pardon the prayer's defects. I think the Romans 8:26 verse below is getting to that idea.

Prayer straddles our lives both on earth and in heaven. All week I am focusing on prayer. It’s important. I need to do better in my life, and I can’t imagine a Christian who doesn’t think they can do better at prayer either.

I was thinking of one of Spurgeon’s sermons, calledGod’s Providence. (#3114). Spurgeon likened the cherubim’s acts near the throne and the wheels within wheels as described by Ezekiel as machinery of Providence. He described, hypothetically of course, the wheels going up and down and left and right in tandem as the machinery of Providence carrying out God’s will and decrees. It’s an interesting thought, and Spurgeon is vivid about his descriptions.

This series of prayer machinery of heaven is inspired by that thought.

Please enjoy this scripture photo I made of the machinery of prayer. Under that will be some further resources on prayer suggestions. Yesterday I suggested praying for the persecuted and missionaries around the world, with some resources to check out along those lines. Today, let's pray for our elders (pastors, deacons, teachers, etc).



Further Reading/Resources

Revive Our Hearts: Your Pastor Challenge

Ligonier: How to Pray for Your Pastor

Challies: Pray for Your Pastor! (lots of other links inside)

Prayer Machinery of Heaven series:

Prayer Machinery #1: Introduction and Praying for Missionaries

Prayer Machinery #2: Praying for pray for our Elders (pastors, deacons, teachers, etc).

Prayer Machinery #3Praying for each other

Prayer Machinery #4: How to Pray

Prayer Machinery #5: A focus on Jesus in heaven who hears our prayers, and what a comfort that is.

Prayer Machinery #6: Persevering in Prayer

Prayer Machinery #7: The Two 'If''s and the Importance of confessing Sin

Monday, April 9, 2018

The prayer machinery of heaven #1

This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. (1 John 5:14)
Andrew Bonar: "I have been endeavoring to keep up prayer...every hour of the day, stopping my occupation, whatever it is, to pray a little. I seek to keep my soul within the shadow of the throne of grace and Him that sits thereon."
Isn't that descriptive, keeping one's soul in the shadow of the One who sits on the throne. Prayer does that for us. Spurgeon said,
Prayer meetings are the throbbing machinery of the church
Prayer straddles our lives both on earth and in heaven. All week I am going to focus on prayer. It's important. I need to do better in my life, and I can't imagine a Christian who doesn't think they can do better at prayer either.

Spurgeon's reference to machinery got me thinking of another of Spurgeon's sermons, one called God's Providence. (#3114). Spurgeon likened the cherubim's acts near the throne and the wheels within wheels as described by Ezekiel as machinery of Providence. He described, hypothetically of course, the wheels going up and down and left and right in tandem as the machinery of Providence carrying out God's will and decrees. It's an interesting thought, and Spurgeon is vivid about his descriptions. Here are a few-
So in God's Providence, there is an axle which never moves. Christian, here is a sweet thought for thee! Thy state is ever changing; sometimes thou art exalted, and sometimes depressed; yet there is an unmoving point in thy state. What is that axle? What is the pivot upon which all the machinery revolves? It is the axle of God's everlasting love toward his covenant people. he exterior of the wheel is changing, but the center stands forever fixed. Other things may move; but God's love never moves: it is the axle of the wheel; and this is another reason why Providence should be compared to a wheel. 
My firm belief is, that angels are sent forth somehow or other to bring about the great purposes of God. The great wheel of Providence is turned by an angel.
That you will see by the text: "Behold one wheel upon the earth by the living creatures, with his four faces." The wheel had "four faces." I think that means one face to the north, another to the south, another to the east, and another to the west. There is a face to every quarter. Providence is universal, looking to every quarter of the globe.
And so on. Neat, huh?

In further imagining this 'throbbing machinery' of prayer, I created some scripture pictures that will be my theme this week. I enjoy imagining how God works and thinking about what things look like in heaven, given the glimpses we have been given in scripture. My favorite doctrine is Providence. Combining that with the imagined 'machinery' of prayer is intriguing.

Please enjoy.



Further Reading

Let's pray for the persecuted and the missionaries around the world. Read this story, I hope it moves you.

Banner of Truth Magazine: He Gave His Life So Another Might Live


Voice of the Martyrs: Pray Today App (free)
Voice of the Martyrs: Global Prayer Guide (free)



Prayer Machinery of Heaven series:

Prayer Machinery #1: Introduction and Praying for Missionaries

Prayer Machinery #2: Praying for pray for our Elders (pastors, deacons, teachers, etc).

Prayer Machinery #3Praying for each other

Prayer Machinery #4: How to Pray

Prayer Machinery #5: A focus on Jesus in heaven who hears our prayers, and what a comfort that is.

Prayer Machinery #6: Persevering in Prayer

Prayer Machinery #7: The Two 'If''s and the Importance of confessing Sin

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Kay Cude poetry: Risen and Ascended

Resurrection Sunday is past, the day we mark as the day to specifically celebrate Christ's resurrection. However, Christians know that each Sunday in attending the gathering of the saints, hearing the preaching, singing the praises, giving cheerfully, we celebrate the resurrection again and again. Just the gathering is signal that we know and believe that Christ is alive, on His throne, hearing and receiving praises and worship. His glory and power are to be wondered at and praised.

Here is a beautiful work by poet Kay Cude. First, her Artist's Statement:
I had begun this piece several months ago with only Spurgeon's one quote, "Tis all my business here and below to cry, 'Behold the Lamb!' We are to point sinners to Jesus - all the while looking at Him ourselves, and praying that they also may look to Him, and live." I was captivated by the image of the radiant glory of Christ in His transfiguration and subsequent ascension, but couldn't settle on what I needed to say to complete the message, for it is directed at the unregenerate and the redeemed of Christ.
Thank you for your piece, "The Power of the Resurrection vs. the Stupidity of Easter," for within it I found John MacArthur's "The Power of the Resurrection" and within it another Spurgeon quote that completed the intent the first quote and Acts 1:10-11.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

A simple reminder about hope

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, (1 Peter 1:3)

Well that says a lot! Each phrase is an encouragement. I’m focusing on living hope this morning. Our living hope is not a dead hope. It is not surmise, speculation, or empty ‘what if’. It is a living hope because we are IN Christ and He is living and *He* is our Hope.

Gill’s Commentary says
Saints are both begotten again to the grace of hope, and to the glory which that grace is waiting for”. Our hope is because of Christ, it is in Christ and it is Christ. It is a living hope

Friday, April 6, 2018

The Pilgrim's Progress, John Bunyan, and Helpful Resources

I really love this book. I've read it once, picked through it several times, and now I'm listening to Derek Thomas lecture on it at Ligonier.org's Daily Video. (1st lecture in the series here).

There is a part 2 to Pilgrim's Progress that Thomas urges us to read, as both parts are meant to be a coherent whole. I had not known that.

Pilgrim's Progress was written by John Bunyan while he was in prison for 12 years for preaching the Gospel. Wilkipedia has a bio of the man, more at link-
John Bunyan (unknown birth date, baptised on November 30, 1628 – August 31, 1688) was an English writer and Puritan preacher best remembered as the author of the Christian allegory The Pilgrim's Progress. In addition to The Pilgrim's Progress, Bunyan wrote nearly sixty titles, many of them expanded sermons.
He also penned the world's first recognized visual theology, the Mapp Shewing Order and Causes of Salvation & Damnation". Tim Challies updated the Map to modern graphical styles, though let it be said I enjoy the original, with its angels and dragons and soaring language. Challies said of the maps,
In a pair of side-by-side timelines he traced the salvation of the believer (or the elect) and the damnation of the unbeliever (or the reprobate). ... 
Let me start you with a hint: Begin on the left side and read through circles one to 25 as a big, long sentence. When that’s complete, do the same for the other side. Finally, go back to read the verses and additional information. I think you will find, as I did, that the first sentence is terrible and chilling while the second is beautiful and encouraging. Whatever you do, linger. Bunyan has a lot to teach us through this infographic.
Here's a link to Bunyan's original (and IMO, better) map. Bunyan's spiritual autobiography, Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners, is also a wonderful book. You can find a free text version online here. Or here in .pdf form, which you can download and then send to your Kindle via Kindle email attached as a file and it will be installed on your device.

Since Bunyan is so well known for Pilgrim's Progress, few people know he wrote so many other books.

Anyway back to the book Pilgrim's Progress. Why is this book important?

Leland Ryken said in a foreword at Desiring God about the 2 books(s) The Pilgrim's Progress parts 1 & 2,
The book that became known to posterity as The Pilgrim's Progress is a Christian classic whose importance is impossible to overstate. For more than two centuries after its first publication, The Pilgrim's Progress ranked just behind the King James Bible as the most important book in evangelical Protestant households. Te book has been translated into some two hundred languages, including eighty in Africa. Any book that has achieved such popularity has a very large claim to our attention. Facts of Publication The Pilgrim's Progress actually has two publication dates, corresponding to the two books that comprise it. The first book was published in 1678 and bore the title The Pilgrim’s Progress: From This World to That Which Is to Come, Delivered Under the Similitude of a Dream. It tells the story of the spiritual journey of the protagonist named Christian from the City of Destruction to the Celestial City (meaning heaven). 
Book II was published six years later as part of an old artistic tradition known as a "companion piece." It tells the story of the same journey, this time undertaken by Christian’s wife, Christiana, and their four sons.

The hard part for me when reading Pilgrim's Progress is not the 350-year-old language. Though, if the language presents a difficulty, there are free updated, modern language versions available, both for free online and in hard copy.


A Plan of the Road From the City of Destruction to the Celestial City, Adapted to The Pilgrim's Progress, 1821. Public Domain

What I find hard is the abstractness of it, because I'm very literal. I do not understand allegory or symbols in literature.

Pilgrim's Progress is an allegory. An allegory is a literary device. Here is allegory defined-
Allegory is a figure of speech in which abstract ideas and principles are described in terms of characters, figures, and events. It can be employed in prose and poetry to tell a story, with a purpose of teaching or explaining an idea or a principle. The objective of its use is to teach some kind of a moral lesson. 
Difference Between Allegory and Symbolism
Although an allegory uses symbols, it is different from symbolism. An allegory is a complete narrative that involves characters and events that stand for an abstract idea or event. A symbol, on the other hand, is an object that stands for another object, giving it a particular meaning. Unlike allegory, symbolism does not tell a story.
I enjoyed Ligonier Theologian Derek Thomas in these free 23-minute lectures explaining Pilgrim's Progress, both parts one and two. I found them extremely helpful in understanding the book. In addition to explaining the allegories and what they (likely) stood for, Thomas folded in Puritan history and culture of Bunyan's day and set the context for how Bunyan thought and what was happening in his life as he wrote the book. This information gives depth and nuance to understanding it.

The City of Destruction
The Wicket Gate
The Interpreter's House
The Cross & the Sepulcher
The Hill Difficulty
The Palace Beautiful
The Valley of Humiliation
The Valley of the Shadow of Death
The Godless City: Vanity Fair
The Castle of Giant Despair
The Delectable Mountains
The Celestial City

Another resource for this marvelous book is Notes & Commentary, Guide to Pilgrim's Progress by Ken Puls.

An additional resource is Mt Zion Chapel Library, Pilgrim's Progress for Everyone

I hope you enjoy the resources and would consider reading The Pilgrim's Progress.



Please don't say "broken" when we mean sin

Are we broken? According to the dictionary definition of broken , are we "fractured or damaged"? As humans, do we need fixing? ...