Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

John Bunyan on Christ’s Power to Save

To save is a great work and calls for almightiness in the undertaker; hence he is called the ‘Mighty God the Wonderful Counselor’, etc. Sin is strong, Satan is also strong, death and the grave are strong, and so is the curse of the law; therefore it follows, that this Jesus must be, by God the Father, accounted almighty, in that he has given his elect to him to save them, and deliver them from these, and that despite all their force and power.

And he gave us testimony of this his might, when he was employed in that part of our deliverance that called for a declaration of it. He abolished death; he destroyed him that had the power of death; he was the destruction of the grave; he has finished sin, and made an end of it, as to its damning effects upon the persons that the Father has given him; he has vanquished the curse of the law, nailed it to his cross, triumphed over them upon his cross, and made a show of these things openly. Yes, and even now, as a sign of his triumph and conquest he is alive from the dead, and has the keys of hell and death in his own keeping.

– Pg. 18 of Come and Welcome to Jesus Christ by John Bunyan

Bunyan is teaching on John 6:37 – “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.” Let’s reason together from this text. Out of all those that the Father gives to the Son, how many come to Jesus? The answer is all of them. No one that the Father gives to the Son is left out. They all come to Jesus. No exceptions are given. Every one that the Father gives to the Son, comes to the Son. We’re not done though. Out of those that are given by the Father to the Son and subsequently come to Jesus, how many does Jesus turn away? The answer is none. All who the Father gives to the Son will come to Jesus. Out of all those that come to Jesus, he rejects none of them.

We’re still not done with our little equation here. So far, none who have been given by the Father to the Son have been lost. In v. 44 Jesus carries the equation to its end – “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.” Back in v. 37 it says that He doesn’t reject any of those that come to him. So let’s say he accepts or receives all of them. Out of all those that he receives, how many does he raise up on the last day? The answer is all of them. None get forgotten. None slip through the cracks. None who are given by the Father to the Son are lost. All are raised up on the last day. Jesus’ response to all those that come is that he receives them and does not lose them. In other words, all who come to him, having been given and drawn by the Father, Jesus receives and keeps until the last day when he raises them up.

Savior, He can move the mountains

My God is mighty to save, He is mighty to save

Forever, Author of salvation

He rose and conquered the grave, Jesus conquered the grave

Mighty to Save by Reuben Morgan

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The Beginning of Birth Pains

What better source could there be than the words of Jesus himself to start a study about His return. What did Jesus have to say about His return? The Olivet Discourse is probably one of the best and yet most debated places to start. I’ll concentrate on Matthew’s record in this post. There are mainly three points in Jesus words in Matthew 24:4-41. Let’s handle them one post at a time. First, Christ talks in v. 4-8 about the events and signs that will lead up to His return. Here in this text, Jesus points directly to the prophet Daniel. We take this to be a reference to the 70th week that Daniel talks about in Daniel 9. When you bring Daniel 9 into the mix the interpretation becomes exceedingly difficult. It is not easy to reconcile Daniel 9, which Jesus explicitly references, and Christ’s words about his return. What is, I believe, very clear is that the events and signs that Jesus references very closely parallel the 7 seals of Revelation 6. What, in v. 4-8, does Jesus say is the first sign of His return? He says there will be false christs appearing. The first seal in Revelation 6 is the anti-christ. Then Jesus says the second sign/event will be wars and rumors of wars. The second seal in Revelation 6 is warfare. Then Jesus says that there will be famines and earthquakes. The third seal of Revelation 6 is famine. The fourth and fifth seals are death and martyrdom. Then the sixth seal of Revelation is an earthquake. Then Jesus says that this is just the beginning. You look at the seventh seal of Revelation and it goes on for chapters – judgment being poured out on the inhabitants of the earth. Although Revelation is not clear about this, Daniel 9 is clear that this period of tribulations is to last seven years. In Daniel 9, one week is equal to 7 years. That is the interpretation of the 70 weeks in Daniel 9 – 70 periods of 7 years each. Many believe that Jesus is referring to the 70th week of Daniel 9 and this has come to be known as the “Tribulation.” My understanding is that Revelation doesn’t say that it lasts for 7 years. The period of 7 years comes from Daniel 9.

There are a couple of things that I find very hopeful about Matthew 24:4-8 is that Jesus says that these are the beginning of the birth pains. Now I am no woman, but I am married to a woman and the woman I am married to has given birth 4 times. So I know by now that the reality of birth pains means something. It means the pregnancy is almost over. It means the joy and happiness that comes with the birth of a child is about to arrive. The birth pains, from what I’ve seen, would be the most difficult time of the pregnancy, but it is also the shortest period of the pregnancy. I know I’m reading a lot into this, but I at least can understand from Christ’s words here and his reference to birth pains that the time of his return is closer when the tribulation gets worse. We can at least say that much. When things get the worst, we are then closest to His return. So put your charts away and forget your predictions. What was Jesus’ intent here? His intent was to say to His disciples (and by that, I mean the twelve and us), “Endure!” It’s a sober warning in v. 13. The times will be so difficult that many will grow cold. I’m sorry, but end-times charts give me no hope to endure. I see no hope in baseless predictions – they miss the whole point of Christ’s words about his return. I see no hope in trying to decode the “so-called” ciphers in scripture. We have a word from our Savior here that when things get the worst, don’t lose hope and give up – Endure! If you want to be saved – endure! When things get the worst is when your hope should be the strongest and instead of giving up, you should start looking up. Tribulations should NOT cause us to grow cold, but should make us red hot in our love. God’s will is that tribulations would cause the gospel message to spread through out all the earth. I love that. I want to see that. These times are hard to live in and we should not expect anything different. The question is – do these times in which we live have more of an impact upon us than we do upon them or are we impacting the times with the spread of the gospel message?

This really takes me back to 9/11. Remember what happened? Remember the influx of crowds we saw on Sunday mornings? The church in America failed those crowds. The gospel message was soft if present at all. I think about the messages that were heard in the community that I live in. How I wish there had been a single preacher who would’ve stood up before those crowds and preached the gospel? But it was fluff and it was shallow and the crowds quickly dissipated because of it. I look at men like John Piper, who faithfully preached and whose church was prepared for such times because of his years of faithful preaching. My prayer is that God will bring up such men now in my generation, so that when something similar to 9/11 happens – the churches of America are ready and will not fail the crowds again. My prayer is that God is doing a work in the lives of people who sit under my teaching and preparing them for the tribulations that will come in their lives so that their testimony will be that they were ready to glorify Christ in the midst of their suffering for the sake of the gospel.

Death…Hell…Death…Hell…

I just recently got on Facebook. As I looked through the pictures of old friends and did some reminiscing, I thought of Adonirum Judson (this is random, I know, but stay with me). Adonirm Judson was one of the very first foreign missionaries to have departed American soil to go and share the Gospel with an unreached people group in Burma.

As I looked at Facebook and the pictures of old friends I thought of Adonirum Judson’s story. It is a striking story. When Judson was younger people were terrified of his brilliance. At the age of 12 he was teaching an adult Sunday School class the book of Revelation from the original Greek text. When he got to college, he began to think himself smarter than the God who made him (don’t we all) and he became a convinced deist (someone who believes in God but that God has no real impact on the affairs of mankind after his work in creation was complete – it is a denial of God as He is revealed in the Bible). He was a powerful debater and could knock the socks off of any of his Christian schoolmates. His roommate, Jacob Eames, came into school a convinced Christian and left a convinced deist and he credited Adonirum Judson with his conversion to deism. Judson’s parents prayed for him but dared not take him on in debate for fear they may lose their faith as well. The faculty at his college kept a close eye on him to see what their resident genius would finally do with his life. Later in his life he went to New York to join the theater.

After leaving the theater he went on a particular journey where he became very tired and stopped at an Inn to spend the night. The Innkeeper informed Judson that the Inn had no available rooms. However, after some insistence from Judson, the Innkeeper gave in and said that there was one available room. He wasn’t going to give out the room because there was a man in agonizing death pains and he feared it would bother anyone who tried to sleep in the adjacent room. Judson said he was so tired that he didn’t care about the noise of the dying man and so took the room. Judson lay in the bed most of the night listening to the screams of agony and the cursing misery of the man in the next room as he suffered the pangs of a lonely death. The sounds subsided and Judson eventually dosed off to sleep. He awoke the next morning and checked out. As he checked out he asked the innkeeper what became of the man in the room next to him. The innkeeper told Judson that the man had finally died in the early morning hours. Judson commented that this was a bad spot for the innkeeper: this strange man shows up at your inn and dies and now what do you do? So the innkeeper returned that he had been very perplexed as he went through the man’s possessions to find that this man was a very successful man having graduated from the college in Providence with honors, but now had died such a lonely and ignominious death. Judson said that he had graduated from the same school and the innkeeper said, “Well, perhaps you know this man’s family – his name was Jacob Eames.” Judson paused and said, “What did you say his name was?” The innkeeper replied, “Jacob Eames.” Judson got onto his horse and started to ride back, but he says he could not see in front of himself for the tears that had begun to pour down his face. As the tears fell he says, “two words were pounding into my heart as the hooves of the horse were pounding into the ground. And the two words were, ‘Death – Hell – Death – Hell – Death – Hell.’” He got off the horse and knelt down right there on the road and “repented bitterly” of his sin. He said, “Jacob Eames now lay delivering up an account of his own soul because I had knocked out any faith that he had in God.”

That’s where I was as I looked on Facebook at the lives of people who I had been in contact with when I was a younger man. How had my hypocrisy crippled any faith they had in God? How had my lack of compassion for them stripped them of hope in eternal life? How had my words caused suffering in their souls? How had my failures started them down a road from which they would not recover? Death – Hell – Death – Hell…

Oh God I pray, that by your mighty grace my shallow hypocrisy and my lack of compassion and my thoughtless words and my pitiful failures would be overcome in the lives of these people. For it is only by grace I have come this far and only by your grace that I can move from here and have any hope of being used by you to plead with people to cling to the cross and forsake sin. May I never again return to a life of shallow hypocrisy and unloving attitudes and thoughtless words and failures that are removed from your grace. May I live another 33 years to somehow, by your grace, make up for the damage my younger years may have done to the souls of men and women whose faces I now see in these pictures…

Podcasting your church’s sermons

I have been trying for a few months now to figure out how to do the podcasting thing. Well last night I finally got it to work.  And it is very simple.  If you need help getting your church up and running with a podcast, let me know. I’d love to help you out and keep you from going through the same struggles I did.