Friday, December 30, 2005

Biblical View of Self-Esteem - An Explanation of Key Verses

Definitions from Webster's Unabridged Dictionary

Self-Esteem: Undo PRIDE in oneself (p. 1646)
Pride: Overhigh opinion of oneself; conceit (p. 1428)
Humility: Absence of PRIDE or self-assertion (p. 884)

The attached Bible verse explanations (New Testament and Old Testament) detail how God views us and how we should view ourselves. Taken in proper context, the attached Biblical references clearly indicate that there is no Biblical basis for self-esteem, self-love, self-acceptance, self-confidence, self-forgiveness, self-assertion, "proper" self-image, self-actualization, or any of the other selfisms advocated by the worldly system of psychology. The Bible's answer for our emotional "problems": turn from self to Christ (and His all-sufficient Word).

New Testament Verses

Mt 22:36-40 -- Jesus gives two great commandments: (1) Love God with all your heart, soul, and mind; (2) Love your neighbor as yourself -- there is no third command to love yourself. Jesus is saying, "as you already love yourself" -- "as" is used in the same way in Eph 5:25,28,33, indicating a state of current existence, not a command. Jesus knows we already love ourselves and thereby commands us to love others with this same commitment.

Lk 10:25-37 -- Example given by Jesus to illustrate the "love neighbor as yourself" command, presents a story of self-sacrifice (not self-love) towards an object of hate (a Samaritan)!

Mt 16:24,25 -- Deny self, i.e., say no to self; not told to self-affirm, self-gratify, or self-actualize.

Lk 9:23 -- Deny self, i.e., put self to death, daily; not told to self-affirm, self-gratify, or self-actualize.

Mt 20:26,27 -- The great are the servants, not the ones served.

Mt 23:11,12 -- The great are the servants; the humble will be exalted.

Lk 22:24-27 -- The servant is the greatest, not the proud.

Lk 14:26 -- Cannot be a disciple of Jesus, unless deny even yourself.

2 Tim 3:2-5 -- "Lovers of Self" listed with other "detestable" sins such as slanderers, the treacherous, abusive, proud, conceited; therefore, high self-esteem/pride is a sin!

Jn 12:25 -- Lover of one's own life (self) will lose eternal life.

Jn 13:16,17 -- Humble service is a command.

Jn 15:5 -- Apart from God, i.e., lover of self vs. lover of God, you can do nothing.

I Cor 1:18,19 -- Message of the cross (denial of self) is foolishness to those perishing (i.e., to the psychological self-worshipers).

I Cor 4:3-5 -- Objective judgments are ours to make, but those regarding overall worth or esteem belong to the Lord.

I Cor 13:2 -- Self-esteem advocates teach we must be of value to ourselves in order to be able to love others, but God tells us that we are nothing, unless and until we love others.

I Cor 13:4,5 -- Definitions of what love is not -- not envy, not boasting, not proud, and not self-seeking.

2 Cor 3:5 -- No competence in ourselves (no pride), but only from God.

2 Cor 5:15 -- Live for Christ, via humble service, not for yourself.

2 Cor 10:12,18 -- Look to Christ for comparison, not to yourself; i.e., no self-esteem gospel.

Eph 3:8; I Tim 1:15; Rom 7:24 -- Sounds as if Paul has a terrible self-esteem problem! Paul recognizes his rotten condition, to be resolved only through the gospel of the cross, which is a "humble servant" attitude.

Rom 12:3b -- Don't think of yourself too highly, but with sober judgment -- notice that Paul makes no mention of the possibility of one under-valuing himself.

Gal 6:3,4 -- Sober evaluation should be made not on the basis of how one is doing in comparison with others, but by comparing oneself with Scriptural standards, and of course, Scriptural standards stress humility and putting self to death (denial of self), not boosting one's self-esteem.

I Cor 10:24 -- Nobody should ever seek his own good, but the good of others.

Eph 5:21 -- Submit to others for Christ's sake: i.e., humble submission, not pride.

2 Cor 11:30 -- If boast in anything, boast in weakness!

Phil 2:3 -- Do not act out of self-concerns, but for others, and then in humility.

Heb 13:17 -- Submit to your spiritual leaders, not your self-desires.

I Pet 5:5b-7 -- Be humble toward others because God opposes the proud.

Col 3:12 -- Christians should clothe themselves in humility.

Eph 4:2 -- We are commanded to be completely humble and gentle.

Js 4:10 -- Humility leads to esteem -- esteem from the Lord.

Lk 6:31 -- The golden rule: Jesus could confidently make this statement because He knew we already loved ourselves; i.e., if hating ourselves was our natural condition (as the "self-esteemers" tell us), then it would make us happy to be treated badly (as it would confirm our hateful feelings of ourselves), and Jesus would, thereby, be telling us to treat others with the same contempt and loathing that we desire for ourselves.

Lk 6:32 -- The fact that Jesus refers to "sinners" (i.e., enemies of God) as practicing the, "I'll love you if you love me first," philosophy, the self-esteem teaching that, "You have to love yourself before you are able to love others," must, thereby, also be rejected as being ungodly.

I Jn 2:16,17 -- Man's "boasting of what he has and does" (i.e., self-esteem/pride) is not the will of God, but is "of the world."

Phil 2:5-8 -- One's "attitude should be the same as Christ Jesus" -- i.e., "made Himself nothing," "taking the form of a servant," "humbled Himself," "became obedient to death." In general, one should have an attitude of a humble servant-loving, self-sacrificing, compassionate, submissive, obedient, courageous, and holy -- i.e., no "selfisms" at all, only "otherisms"!

2 Cor 12:6,7 -- Even though Paul would have possibly been warranted in having a so-called "healthy" self-esteem, he refused to boast; God, also, didn't want Paul to have high self-esteem -- i.e., conceit.

Old Testament Verses

Thursday, December 29, 2005

The 'True Church' Syndrome - John Reisinger

Nearly every book that I have read, and every sermon I have heard on the subject 'The New Testament Church' made two dogmatic assumptions followed by a logical conclusion based upon those two assumptions. The two assumptions were not spelled out as clearly in each case, but always these two assumptions were treated as 'biblical facts' that were beyond either question or discussion. As a result, the view of the Church was already established before you ever opened the Bible to discuss the subject. The implications flowing out of the conclusions were not always stated in bold terms but again, all of the points were assumed to have been established unquestionably as biblical facts. These 'established facts' were then used as the key arguments to settle many difficult questions of church membership; of who may or may not partake of the Lord's Table; of which church is a 'true' church, etc.

ASSUMPTION NUMBER ONE: Jesus established a church on this earth and promised that this church would prevail in all ages. That 'fact' proves that there is a physical local church organization in the New Testament Scriptures given to us as a clear role model to be followed today in all of its details.

When I speak of 'a true N.T. church' in this article, it is this institutional role model concept that I am referring to. Those who make this assumption feel the very integrity and sufficiency of the Bible is at stake. In their mind, to reject this assumption is to reject the Bible as our complete rule of faith and practice and believe that God has left us basically to 'do as we please' in church order. This assumption irrevocably commits you to a mind set toward the Scriptures that cannot avoid a sectarian and separatist attitude characterized by external legalism and tyrannical leadership.

ASSUMPTION NUMBER TWO: We can only expect God's blessing when we organize and operate our local church exactly like this 'true New Testament role model church.' We must follow the 'clear apostolic example' in its total function, its method of organization and operation, its officers, its membership requirements, etc., as they are clearly set forth in the Scriptures in every essential detail. Just today I read a lengthy article on the church that began by saying, "We believe that simply a return to the biblical pattern of the church in a spirit of seeking the Lord with all of our hearts will bring the revival…"

CONCLUSION: To refuse to organize and operate the local congregation according to the role model given to us in Scripture by divine inspiration is to 'substitute man's wisdom for God's clearly revealed will.' This conclusion is inevitable when a sincere person adopts these two assumptions. He will more and more isolate himself from any individual or group that 'refuses to follow the true N.T. pattern for the Church.' He will justify his actions by saying, "My conscience is bound to obey God's Word (clearly set forth in my creed). For me to have fellowship with any group or individual that deliberately refuses to submit to God's truth (my creed), is the same as my denying that God has spoken clearly on this matter." The very inspiration and authority of the Word of God is at stake in this man's mind. I readily admit that if the two assumptions are correct, then such a conclusion is valid. However, both assumptions are false.

It is a total waste of time to discuss any kind of organization or cooperation in the work of God's kingdom with a man committed to these two basic assumptions unless the particular work begins and ends with his specific 'local church.' It is 'all or nothing' with him. One of his favorite expressions will be, "We cannot open the door to even the slightest exception to God's true church order." This person sees only two possible positions. (1) Admit that God's truth (his creed) cannot be violated by any exceptions, or else (2) admit that the Word of God is insufficient as a rule of practice for church order. The creed may be Baptist, Presbyterian, Lutheran, or even the 'no creed' creed of the Brethren, but the mentality and attitude toward other Christians will always be the same.

It ought to be obvious that such an approach to the doctrine of the Church must soon lead to the attitude, spoken or unspoken, that "WE alone are the only people that really believe and follow all that the New Testament Scriptures teach about the church." Once this attitude is imbedded in the mind it does not take long to reason 'therefore we are THE TRUE NEW TESTAMENT CHURCH.' The arrogant pride and intolerance that attends such an attitude is an abomination to both God and men. No one thing has more hindered the gospel of God's sovereign grace than this attitude and mind set. History is full of bloodshed because men who held these presuppositions also acted upon the necessary implications whenever they had the civil or ecclesiastical power to do so.

It is impossible to make the first assumption without also making the second one. You cannot believe that the N.T. Scriptures reveal an institutional role model for church order as clearly as it teaches justification by faith without being forced to believe that we have all of the essential details of that model in our particular local church. Once this is believed you have no choice but to claim divine authority for every detail of your particular system since God Himself 'revealed that system in His inspired Word.' Likewise, you must then treat all who disagree with you as rebels that 'reject God's authority' because they 'refuse to bow to God's true church polity.'

I repeat, it is impossible to make the first assumption without finally coming to the logical conclusion that your system and organization is the 'true New Testament church.' You may say that you are a true New Testament church, and that all who agree with you are also true New Testament churches, but the result will be basically the same in your attitude toward other believers. This kind of mind-set simply must lead to bigotry and conceit in order to be consistent with itself. You will only be able to enter into any kind of meaningful relationship and labor in the gospel with those who dot the I and cross the T exactly as you do. Even the slightest deviation must be seen as opening the door in compromise that in 'twenty years will erode and destroy everything.'

Continued Here

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Quotation Corner - Calvinism - Charles H. Spurgeon

I have my own opinion that there is no such thing as preaching Christ and Him crucified, unless we preach what nowadays is called Calvinism. It is a nickname to call it Calvinism; Calvinism is the gospel, and nothing else. I do not believe we can preach the gospel if we do not preach justification by faith without works; nor unless we preach the sovereignty of God in His dispensation of grace; nor unless we exalt the electing unchangeable eternal, immutable, conquering love of Jehovah; nor do I think we can preach the gospel unless we base it upon the special and particular redemption of His elect and chosen people which Christ wrought out upon the cross.

Gossips - Charles H. Spurgeon

In Walton Church, in our county, there is a brank, or scold's bridle, which was used in years gone by to keep women's tongues from troubling their husbands and their neighbors. They did queer things in those good old times. Was this bridle a proof of what our parson calls the wisdom of our ancestors, or was it a bit of needless cruelty?

It is nothing - only a woman drowning, is a wicked and spiteful old saying, which, like the bridle, came out of the common notion that women do a world of mischief with their tongues. Is it so or not? John Ploughman will leave somebody else to answer, for he owns that he cannot keep a secret himself. He likes a dish of chat as well as anybody; only John does not care for cracking people's characters, and hates the slander which is so sweet to some people's teeth. John puts the question to wiser men than himself: Are women much worse than men in this business? They say that silence is a fine jewel for a woman, but it is very little worn. Is it so? Is it true that a woman only conceals what she does not know? Are women's tongues like lambs tails, always wagging? They say foxes are all tail, and women all tongue. Is this false or not? Was that old prayer a needful one? From big guns and women's tongues deliver us? John has a good and quiet wife of his own, whose voice is so sweet that he cannot hear it too often, and therefore he is not a fair judge; but he is half afraid that some other women would sooner preach than pray, and would not require strong tea to set their clappers going. Still what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander, and some men are quite as bad blabs as the women.

What a pity that there is not a tax upon words: what an income would come from it; but, alas, talking pays no toll! And if lies paid double, the government might pay off the national debt; but who could collect the money? Common fame is a common liar. Hearsay is half lies. A tale never loses in the telling. As a snowball grows by rolling, so does a story. They who talk much lie much. If men only said what was true, what a peaceable world we should see! Silence seldom makes mischief; but talking is a plague to the parish. Silence is wisdom. By this rule, wise men and wise women are scarce. Still waters are the deepest; but the shallowest brooks brawl the most; this shows how plentiful fools must be. An open mouth shows an empty head. If the chest had gold or silver in it, it would not always stand open. Talking comes by nature, but it needs a good deal of training to learn to be quiet; yet regard for truth should put a bit into every honest man's mouth, and a bridle upon every good woman's tongue.

If we must talk, at least let us be free from slander, but let us not blister our tongues with backbiting. Slander may be sport to talebearers, but it is death to those whom they abuse. We can commit murder with the tongue as well as with the hand. The worst evil you can do a man is to injure his character. The Quaker said to his dog, do not beat thee, nor abuse thee, but I'll give thee an ill name. All are not thieves that dogs bark at, but they are generally treated as if they were. The world for the most part believe that where there is smoke there is fire, and what everybody says must be true. Let us then be careful that we do not hurt our neighbor in so tender a point as his character, for it is hard to get dirt off if it is once thrown on; and when a man is once in people's bad books, he is hardly ever quite out of them. If we would be sure not to speak amiss, it might be as well to speak as little as possible. If all men's sins were divided into two bundles, half of them would be sins of the tongue. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body.?

Gossips of both genders, give up the shameful trade of talebearing; don't be the Devil's bellows to blow up the fire of strife. Leave off setting people by the ears. If you do not cut a bit off your tongues, at least season them with the salt of grace. Praise God more and blame neighbors less. Any goose can cackle, any fly can find out a sore place, any empty barrel can give forth sound, any brier can tear a man's flesh. No flies will go down your throat if you keep your mouth shut, and no evil speaking will come up. Think much, but say little. Be quick at work and slow at talk; above all, ask the Lord to set a watch over your lips.

Overcoming Evil with Good - Jay E. Adams

I find among Christians today 11th hour thinking, a kind of pessimism, a kind of hang in there by your toe nails attitude, a kind of attitude that says, "If I just don't lose what I've got I've won." There's very little of the spirit among Christians today that says, "Let's go for it. Let's get in there and win." There's very little of that. And Christians ought to be moving forward. They ought not to be moving backward or just standing their ground. Even if it is the 11th hour, we ought not to be moving backward or just standing ground. The Lord says, "Occupy [or be busy] until I come." And that's what we've got to get a hold of.

We have in Romans 12:21 a challenge that says, "Do not be conquered by evil, but conquer evil by good." You see, that steward among the three who buried the Lord's money, and at His return dug it up and said, "Look I've got it all. It's all here, just what you gave me. I didn't lose any of it." had a very wrong attitude because our Lord said to him in Matthew 25, "You lazy, wicked servant." He said, "I was afraid. I knew that you were a hard Master, One who picks up what He doesn't put down. One who reaps what He doesn't sow, and so I buried it." The Lord said, "You wicked, lazy slave." The ones He commended were the ones who went out and doubled that money! The ones who did do business until He came. And it's your job and mine to change the picture to the metaphor that Paul uses here - - to conquer evil in our lives individually until He comes. He didn't say you could conquer it for the first years of the church. You could conquer it through the Reformation period. You could conquer it up until recently, but now you can let up. He expects us to go forward and to continue to go forward until the very last moment before He comes. "Occupy [do business, go forward] until I come."

Now the interesting thing here is that He is talking about a certain kind of evil. He's not talking about the kind of evil that you bring on yourself. Peter talks about that in his letter and he says, "Let no Christian suffer because of his own evil doing, because of his own sin..." (1 Peter 4:13-16). This is not something we bring on yourselves. An awful lot of evil we do bring upon ourselves. We bring a lot of trouble into our own lives by our sin, by our failure to follow the Lord, by our own aggressiveness not following what God says in His Word and just launching out on our own doing what we please. But that's not what He's talking about here. He's talking here about suffering and evil doing that is brought upon you because you're a Christian—suffering that is wrong that you had nothing to do with bringing upon yourself and that you cannot in any way keep from coming upon you. But it's going to come your way because you live in a world of sin and especially because your living for Christ in a world of sin.

Jesus faced an awful lot of that kind of suffering. He seemed to be like a magnet that drew evil to Himself. And the reason why was because His live was so exemplary. He was perfect. He was the light of the world. He was the One whose light shown so brilliantly, so beautifully, so strikingly that it exposed the lives of others all around Him. And it showed so clearly by contrast what their lives were like. And when a person lives like Christ, he will bring upon himself what Christ brought upon Himself. When he lives like Christ, men will say as they did about Christ, "I don't like that person. His life stands out as a contrast to mine. And I don't like that contrast. It shows me up to be unfavorable." And that's why men tried to put out the light. That's why darkness tried to put out the light, but it could not because light always is more powerful than darkness. So this is evil, then, that comes upon you in this world that you have nothing to do with. It's evil and problems, difficulty, attacks, slanders, persecution, and ostracism that come upon you because you're a Christian living as you ought in a sinful world. How do you handle that evil?

The first thing I want you to notice is that Paul speaks about the whole issue in terms of war. He says, "Don't be conquered" (Rom.12:21). That's what that word literally means. "Overcome" some of your translations have, but it's a war term. It comes right off the field of battle. It has all the smell of smoke and sweat and blood and anguish attached to it that any term that has to do with battle does. What it means is in battle you conquer. So in battle don't be conquered by evil, but in battle conquer evil by good. It's the word that's used all through the book of Revelation where it speaks of the overcomers or the ones who in battle have won.

You may not think of yourself as in a war. An awful lot of thinking in our Christian world today has moved from the metaphor that so frequently occurs in the Bible of warfare to other kinds of thinking. We hear so much about how good and wonderful Christians are and how they ought to love themselves and do good to themselves. We hear all about glorious self-images and all this garbage that comes in from psychology from the outside and is not found in the Bible anywhere. We hear very little today about the fact that we are in battle, that we are in rough hard times, and we are soldiers who are expected by our Lord to obey our marching orders.

You are in war. The war has been declared. You are a part of one side, and there is another side that's out to get you and destroy you. Back in Genesis 3:15 God declared war, and that war has never ended. In that passage God said, "I will put enmity [or warfare] between your seed and the seed of the woman." He was speaking to Satan. And He said there would be Satan and his crowd, his seed, and there would be the woman and her group. And the two would be perpetually at war - - the war between the seeds. It was not very long after that war was declared by God that we began to see that it was a reality. The first fatality was a Christian, one who believed in the Messiah to come, as Cain slew Abel. The first man who was born upon the earth was a murderer and destroyed his brother, and the war was real. And ever since that war has been going on - - the war between the seeds, between the host of the devil, the evil on, and the host of God. Those whom God redeems He takes captive out the evil one's army and makes them His own and makes them His solders as they desert the evil one and become the soldiers as children of God.

Continued Here

The True Church - J. C. Ryle

I want you to belong to the one true Church: to the Church outside of which there is no salvation. I do not ask where you go on a Sunday; I only ask, "Do you belong to the one true Church?"

Where is this one true Church? What is this one true Church like? What are the marks by which this one true Church may be known? You may well ask such questions. Give me your attention, and I will provide you with some answers.

The one true Church is composed of all believers in the Lord Jesus. It is made up of all God's elect - of all converted men and women - of all true Christians. In whomsoever we can discern the election of God the Father, the sprinkling of the blood of God the Son, the sanctifying work of God the Spirit, in that person we see a member of Christ's true Church.

It is a Church of which all the members have the same marks. They are all born again of the Spirit; they all possess "repentance towards God, faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ," and holiness of life and conversation. They all hate sin, and they all love Christ. They worship differently, and after various fashions; some worship with a form of prayer, and some with none; some worship kneeling, and some standing; but they all worship with one heart. They are all led by one Spirit; they all build upon one foundation; they all draw their religion from one single blook - that is the Bible. They are all joined to one great center - that is Jesus Christ. They all even now can say with one heart, "Hallelujah"; and they can all respond with one heart and voice, "Amen and Amen."

It is a Church which is dependent upon no ministers upon earth, however much it values those who preach the gospel to its members. The life of its members does not hang upon church membership or baptism or the Lord's Supper - although they highly value these things, when they are to be had. But it has only one Great Head, one Shepherd, one chief Bishop - and that is Jesus Christ. He alone, by His Spirit, admits the members of this Church, though ministers may show the door. Till He opens the door no man on earth can open it - neither bishops, nor presbyters, nor convocations, nor synods. Once let a man repent and believe the gospel, and that moment he becomes a member of this Church. Like the penitent thief, he may have no opportunity of being baptized; but he has that which is far better than any water-baptism of the Spirit. He may not be able to receive the bread and win in Lord's Supper; but he eats Christ's body and drinks Christ's blood by faith every day he lives, and no minister on earth can prevent him. He may be excommunicated by ordained men, and cut of from the outward ordinances of the professing Church; but all the ordained men in the world cannot shut him out of the true Church.

It is a Church whose existence does not depend on forms, ceremonies, cathedrals, churches, chapels, pulpits, fonts, vestments, organs, endowments, money, kings, governments, magistrates or any act of favor whatsoever from the hand of man. It has often lived on and continued when all these things have been taken from it. It has often been driven into the wilderness, or into dens and caves of the earth, by those who ought to have been its friends. Its existence depends on nothing but the presence of Christ and His Spirit; and they being ever with it, the Church cannot die.

This is the Church to which the scriptural titles of present honor and privilege, and the promises of future glory especially belong; this is the Body of Christ; this is the flock of Christ; this is the household of faith and the family of God; this is God's building, God's foundation, and the temple of the Holy Ghost. This is the Church of the first-born, whose names are written in heaven; this is the royal priesthood, the chosen generation, the peculiar people, the purchased possession, the habitation of God, the light of the world, the salt and the wheat of the earth; this is the "holy Catholic Church" of the Apostles' Creed; this is the "One Catholic and Apostolic Church" of the Nicene Creed; this is that Church to which the Lord Jesus promises "the gates of hell shall not prevail against it," and to which He says, "I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world" (Matt. 16:18; 28:20).

This is the only Church which possesses true unity. Its members are entirely agreed on all the weightier matters of religion, for they are all taught by one Spirit. About God, and Christ, and the Spirit, and sin, and their own hearts, and faith, and repentance, and necessity of holiness, and the value of the Bible, and the importance of prayer, and the resurrection, and judgment to come - -about all these points they are of one mind. Take three or four of them, strangers to one another, from the remotest corners of the earth; examine them separately on these points: you will find them all of one judgment.

This is the only Church which possesses true sanctity. Its members are all holy. They are not merely holy by profession, holy in name, and holy in the judgment of charity; they are all holy in act, and deed, and reality, and life, and truth. They are all more or less conformed to the image of Jesus Christ. No unholy man belongs to this Church.

This is the only Church which is truly catholic. It is not the Church of any one nation or people: its members are to be found in every part of the world where the gospel is received and believed. It is not confined within the limits of any one country, or pent up within the pale of any particular forms or outward government. In it there is no difference between Jew and Greek, black man and white, Episcopalian and Presbyterian -- but faith in Christ is all. Its members will be gathered from north, and south, and east, and west, and will be of every name and tongue -- but all one in Jesus Christ.

This is the only Church which is truly apostolic. It is built on the foundation laid by the Apostles, and holds the doctrines which they preached. The two grand objects at which its members aim, are apostolic faith and apostolic practice; and they consider the man who talks of following the Apostles without possessing these two things to be no better than sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal.

This is the only Church which is certain to endure unto the end. Nothing can altogether overthrow and destroy it. Its members may be persecuted, oppressed, imprisoned, beaten, be-headed, burned; but the true Church is never altogether extinguished; it rises again from its afflictions; it lives on through fire and water When crushed in one land it springs up in another. The Pharaohs, the Herods, the Neros, the Bloody Marys, have labored in vain to put down this Church; they slay their thousands, and then pass away and go to their own place. The true Church outlives them all, and sees them buried each in his turn. It is an anvil that has broken many a hammer in this world, and will break many a hammer still; it is a bush which is often burning, and yet is not consumed.

This is the only Church of which no one member can perish. Once enrolled in the lists of this Church, sinners are safe for eternity; they are never cast away. The election of God the Father, the continual intercession of God the Son, the daily renewing and sanctifying power of God the Holy Ghost, surround and fence them in like a garden enclosed. Not one bone of Christ's mystical Body shall ever be broken; not one lamb of Christ's flock shall ever be plucked out of His hand.

This is the Church which does the work of Christ upon earth. Its members are a little flock, and few in number, compared with the children of the world: one or two here, and two or three there -- a few in this parish and a few in that. But these are they who shake the universe; these are they who change the fortunes of kingdoms by their prayers; these are they who are the active workers for spreading knowledge of pure religion and undefiled; these are the life-blood of a country, the shield, the defence, the stay, and the support of any nation to which they belong.

This is the Church which shall be truly glorious at the end. When all earthly glory is passed away then shall this Church be presented without spot before God the Father's throne. Thrones, principalities, and powers upon earth shall come to nothing - dignities, and offices, and endowments shall all pass away; but the Church of the firstborn shall shine as the stars at the last, and be presented with joy before the Father's throne, in the day of Christ's appearing. When the Lord's jewels are made up, and the manifestation of the sons of God takes place, Episcopacy, and Presbyterianism, and Congregationalism will not be mentioned; one Church only will be named, and that is the Church of the elect.

Reader, this is the true Church to which a man must belong, if he would be saved. Till you belong to this, you are nothing better than a lost soul. You may have the form, the husk, the skin and the shell of religion, but you have not got the substance and the life, yes; you may have countless outward privileges: you may enjoy great light, and knowledge -- but if you do not belong to the Body of Christ, your light and knowledge, and privileges, will not save your soul. Alas, for the ignorance that prevails on this point! Men fancy if they join this church or that church, and become communicants, and go through certain forms, that all must be right with their souls. It is an utter delusion, it is a gross mistake. All were not Israel who were called Israel, and all are not members of Christ's Body who profess themselves Christian. Take notice; you may be a staunch Episcopalian, or Presbyterian, or Independent, or Baptist, or Wesleyan, or Plymouth Brother -- and yet not belong to the true Church. And if you do not, it will be better at last if you had never been born.

Why Do We Witness To Muslims?

Christians should never attempt to witness to Muslims by saying the God of Christianity and Allah are one and the same, Emir Caner said in chapel at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, September 20. Dr. Caner is the dean of The College at Southwestern.

"I have heard over the years now that somehow and in some way, Allah and Jehovah are the same god. That, my friends, is heresy," Caner said. "When I got saved I didn't have a better picture of God. I went from worshipping a false god with a false hope, from a false prophet who gave a false word, to worshipping the one, true, living God whose name is Jesus Christ. It's His name that is the name which is above every name, and at that name every knee shall bow and at that name every tongue shall confess."

Born into a Muslim family and raised in Ohio in an observant household by a father who was mosque leader, Caner became a follower of Jesus Christ as a teenager through the witness of a Baptist youth group. His father then disowned him. Following Christ is costly, he said.

"It's not your job to appease the will of man. It is your job to do the will of God.... It is not your job to have a minimalist Christianity. It is our job, wherever we go, whether in the United States or across the seas, to stand up for the name of Jesus Christ no matter the cost," Caner said.

Caner challenged students, faculty and staff to take a direct and unapologetic approach when they witness to Muslims, rather than a subtle or nuanced approach. He disagreed with those who advocate exclusively "friendship evangelism" and condone allowing years to pass before sharing the Gospel.

"We are Americanizing missions," Caner said. "The rest of the world has no problem speaking of religion. Only Americans have that problem."

Caner outlined ways to be a distinctive Christian in a troublesome society, based on the account of Elijah's challenge to the prophets of Baal in 1 Kings 18:20-40. Caner said that Elijah's method was unashamedly confrontational.

His methods were also unrelentingly confident, Caner said. Elijah challenged the prophets of Baal to call on their god to light a fire on the altar. Elijah would then call on his God, and then they would know that the one who answered by fire was God.

'They were overly confident," Caner said of the prophets of Baal. "They thought they had outnumbered Elijah 450 to one. Elijah knew he had outnumbered them, one God to zero."

Not only did Elijah challenge the prophets of Baal, but he mocked them as well. '"Shout louder!"' Elijah said. '"Surely he is a god! Perhaps he is deep in thought, or busy, or traveling. Maybe he is sleeping and must be awakened."'

"Shouldn't you be confident?" Caner asked. 'The very fact of history rises or falls on the resurrection of Lord and Savior Jesus Christ."

Caner said that Elijah eliminated potential objections by asking the prophets of Baal to pour three loads of water on the altar and sacrifice. He did this, Caner said, so that the prophets could not blame the fire on a trick.

"The difference between cockiness and confidence is very simple," Caner said. "Cockiness points to you; confidence always points to the Lord."

Elijah's ministry was also unashamedly costly, Caner said, asking those in attendance if their faith is confident enough that they are willing to risk anything in order to share Jesus Christ.

"How much are you willing to risk to go to the Hindus, to the Buddhists, to the Secularists, to the Muslims? How much are you willing to risk? How much are you willing to emulate the life of the prophet Elijah?"

Caner related the story of a man he knows who grew up in a prominent Muslim family in Malaysia. When he was a boy, the man's parents accepted Jesus Christ. He watched as his mother was persecuted for her faith and beaten to death. Later, as he and his father attempted to escape, he watched as his father was shot to death.

The boy grew up an orphan in exile. Years later, he returned to Malaysia to share Christ with the man who executed his father.

"Why would he do such a thing?" Caner asked his friend. "Answer: there's only one true living God in this world and His name is Jesus Christ, and when we speak of the doctrine of God and the doctrine of missions they must be blended into a perfect theology in evangelism." Caner said God is not just the greatest, wisest or strongest but the One and Only.

"He's the One that the apostle said that for you to come to Him you must believe that He is. He is what? He doesn't need an object to His character. He just is," Caner said.

Baptist Press

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

How Alcoholics Anonymous Doctrines Compare with Scripture - Debbie Dewart, M.A.

AA ~ The Broad Road of AA

"To us, the Realm of the Spirit is broad, roomy, all inclusive; never exclusive, or forbidding...." Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 46.

Bible ~ The Narrow Road of Christ

"Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it" (Matt 7:13-14).


AA ~ Contempt for Sound Doctrine

"Any number of alcoholics are bedeviled by the dire conviction that if they ever go near AA, they will be pressured to conform to some brand of faith or theology." As Bill Sees It, p. 201.

Bible ~ Sound Doctrine

"For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine…" (2 Tim 4:3-4).


AA ~ "God-as-you-understand-Him": Any Name "We suggest that you find a substitute for this destructive power, alcohol, and turn to a Higher Power, regardless of the name by which you may identify that power. We suggest that you turn your will and your life over to God, as you understand Him." The Clergy Ask About Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 9.

Bible ~ Jesus Christ: No Other Name

"Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved" (Acts 4:12).


AA ~ Powerlessness

"We admitted we were powerless over alcohol, that our lives had become unmanageable" (Step 1).

Bible ~ Power in Christ

No believer can claim to be powerless: "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me" (Philip 4:13).


AA ~ Spiritual Awakening

"Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps…" (Step 12).

Bible ~ Spiritually Dead in Sin

Man is spiritually dead, not asleep. He needs resurrection, not awakening. "Even when we were dead in sins, [God] hath quickened us [made us alive] together with Christ" (Eph 2:5).


AA ~ The "Big Book": AA’s "Bible"

Portions of the "Big Book," Alcoholics Anonymous, are read "religiously" at every AA meeting, much like Scripture readings at Christian worship services.

Bible ~ Sufficient for Life & Godliness

"His divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue" (2 Peter 1:3).


AA ~ Leadership: "Trusted Servants"

"Our leaders are but trusted servants. They do not govern" (Tradition 2).

Bible ~ Leadership: Elders

AA’s leaders and individual sponsors usurp the role God has ordained for church elders to shepherd and "feed the flock of God which is among you" (1 Peter 5:2).


AA ~ The "Moral Inventory"

Step 4 requires a "searching and fearless moral inventory," essentially a detailed catalogue of past sins to be "confessed" to some other person to whom such confession is not biblically due.

Bible ~ No Condemnation

As Christians, our sins are fully covered by the blood of Christ. We confess our sins, as appropriate, to God and to those actually sinned against. New believers are nowhere in Scripture required to make a detailed list of all past sins. "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus" (Rom 8:1).


AA ~ "Birthdays"

AA members celebrate annual "birthdays" based on the date of their last drink. They practice a "secular regeneration."

Bible ~ Regeneration by the Holy Spirit

Christians celebrate their new birth in Christ.


AA ~ The Goal: Sobriety

The goal of AA is abstinence from alcoholic beverages (sobriety). Other sins, such as sexual immorality, are commonly tolerated so long as the AA member isn’t drinking.

Bible ~ The Goal: Sanctification

"For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son" (Rom 8:29).


AA ~ Fellowship/Unity: A Common Sin

AA’s fellowship is built around the common sin of drunkenness. "Personal recovery depends upon AA unity" (Tradition 1).

Bible ~ Fellowship/Unity: A Common Salvation "There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all" (Eph 4:4-6).


AA ~ Carrying "the Message"

"Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics and to practice these principles in all our affairs" (Step 12).

Bible ~ Christian Evangelism

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world" (Matt 28:19-20).


AA ~ Incurable Disease

AA’s literature is permeated with the dogma, taught faithfully to newcomers, that "once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic." There is no "cure" offered, only continual abstinence from all alcoholic beverages.

Forgiven Sin

"Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God (1 Cor 6:9-11).


Editor's note: Twelve-Step programs continue to grow in popularity both outside and inside the church. Many pastors and Christian leaders have bought into the idea that these originated from a Christian foundation. That shows how broad the term Christian has become­-so broad as to include any deity "as you understand" him, her, or it and so wide as to include the occult, as well as the mentality of psychotherapeutic theories. In other words, most twelve-step programs are mixtures, rather than the pure doctrine and practice of Scripture. Our book 12 Steps to Destruction: Codependency Recovery Heresies contains valuable information regarding the unbiblical nature of the original Alcoholics Anonymous Twelve Steps and of the many programs built on these foundations. Debbie Dewart has given us permission to include her 13-page paper titled "A Response to the 12 Steps in a Christian Setting" with each order placed for 12 Steps to Destruction.

Monday, December 26, 2005

What If I Find Hypocristy in Me? Charles Spurgeon

Well, dear friends, if our hearts condemn us not, then have we peace towards God; but if our hearts condemn us, God is greater than our hearts and knoweth all things (I Jo 3:20). Let us confess to Him all past failures. And though we may not be conscious of hypocrisy, yet, let us say, "Lord, search and try me, and know my ways; see if there by any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting" (Psa 139:24) . . . . I have great confidence in the sincerity of any Christian man who says habitually and truthfully, "Lord, let me know the very worst of my case, whatever it is; even if all my fair prospects and bright ideals should be but dreams, the fabric of a vision . . . so be it; only let me know the truth. Lead me in a plain path; let me be sincere before thee, O thou heart-searching, rein-trying God!" Let us with such frank candor, such ingenuous simplicity come before the Lord. Let as many of us as fear the Lord and distrust ourselves take refuge in His omniscience against the jealousies and suspicions which haunt our own breats. And let us do better still: let us hasten anew to the cross of Jesus and thus end our difficulties by accepting afresh the sinners' Savior. When I have a knot to untie as to my evidence of being a child of God, and I cannot untie it, I usually follow Alenxander (the Great's) example with the Gordian knot and cut it. How cut it? Why, in this way: "Thou sayest, O conscience, this is wrong, and thus is wrong. Thou sayest, O Satan, thy faith is a delusion, thy experience a fiction, thy profession a lie. Be it so then, I will not dispute it, I end that matter. If I am no saint, I am a sinner; there can be no doubt about that! The devil himself is defied to question that. Then it is written that 'Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners,' and to sinners is the Gospel preached. 'He that believeth on him is not condemned.' I do believe on Him. If I never did before, I will now; and all my transgressions are therefore blotted out! And now, Lord, grant me grace to begin again; and from this time forth let me live the life of faith, the life of prayer. Let me be one of those who will pray always, let me be one of those who will pray when they are dying, having prayed all their lives." Prayer is our very life: ceasing prayer we cease to live. As long as we are here preserved in spiritual life, we must pray. Lord, grant it may be so with each one here present, through the power of Thy Spirit and the merit of Jesus' blood. Amen and Amen

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Merry Christmas

Thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins. Matthew 1:21

Why Did The Son Of God Come?

Every Christmas we face a great problem. We are so familiar with "the Christmas story", that it is so easy for us to miss its staggering wonder and glory. Truth can become so familiar to us that it no longer grips our minds and quickens the pulse of our hearts. With this in mind, I would like to reflect with you on the familiar words: "And the Word became flesh..." It would be so easy for us to read these words and miss what John is telling us - the breath-taking, unimaginable truth that the eternal God, the Creator of all things, the Giver and Sustainer of all life (John 1:1-14), "became flesh", became what he never was before, became a helpless, tiny, vulnerable baby.

Pause for a moment and try and take this in. We sing, "Lo within a manger lies, he who built the starry skies"; but do we really know what we are affirming when we sing these words? We are saying that the un-containable God, the everywhere present God, the God who created the infinities of space, that he became "flesh", a baby needing to be breast fed, have his nappy changed, winded, rocked to sleep.

What is so staggering about what John writes here is the absence of any attempt to explain or justify this statement - for John it is simply a fact, a truth to be declared, an unfathomable wonder before which we should be content to adore. Here we come face to face with what Benjamin Warfield so rightly called "unembarrassed supernaturalism." The good news of our Lord Jesus is not something we can put under a microscope, examine and make a judgment on. The coming of God's Son into our world shatters the sinful limitations of our fallen minds and confronts us with God, - and God cannot be put under any microscope.

"Unembarrassed supernaturalism" is at the heart of the Christian faith. It could not be otherwise, for Christianity is the coming of God to man and God becoming (unfathomably) man; the breaking into time and space of the Creator. The hymn writer put it memorably: "Our God contracted to a span, Incomprehensibly made man." But the question we surely need to ask is: Why did God become flesh? What brought God's eternal Word, his own and only Son, to leave heaven's glory to become flesh in the womb of the Virgin Mary? What brought the eternal King from the glory of his heavenly throne to the squalor of a stable outhouse and ultimately to die on a garbage heap outside Jerusalem 2000 years ago? Why?

First, to share our human condition. The incarnation brought something "new" to God - for the first time he could understand our human condition, not by observation from heaven, not by the perfect insight of omniscience - but by experience on earth! In becoming flesh, the eternal Son of God experienced what it meant to be one of us: He became poor. He became weak. He became a homeless refugee. He became lonely. He experienced disappointment, misunderstanding, rejection. He even exposed himself to temptation. Here is a Saviour who knows first hand the subtle and not so subtle assaults of the evil one. He knows. He feels. He understands. His help therefore, is not the help of naked omnipotence; it is not even the help of gracious omnipotence clothed with tender compassion, it is the help of the God-Man. At God's right hand in heaven there is a Man, staggeringly. God has a human heart. He truly "knows our frame" and never forgets that we are dust, because he himself is dust (glorified dust, but still dust).


Second, to secure our eternal salvation. If God had not become flesh, we could never be saved from our sin, our eternal doom would have been sealed. God cannot deal with our sin either by ignoring it or dismissing it - "the wages of sin is death." Before God, we are liable for our sin, but we are helpless to make atonement for our sin. We can no more make atonement for our sin than fly to the sun on wings of ice. We are helpless to provide ourselves with a righteousness that God can accept. Sin has fatally flawed us. And even if we could somehow make atonement for our sin, we would still be high and dry because "all our righteousness is as filthy rags" in God's holy sight. We can no more live a perfect life of loving obedience to God than create something out of nothing.

"And the Word became flesh." The incarnation was at heart a rescue mission. As the divinely-appointed Head of all who would ever believe in him, the Son of God came to do what we could never do and to do it "for us", as our Substitute. In our flesh, he lived a life of sinless, loving obedience to his Father: he is "our righteousness." In our flesh, he paid sin's awful price - "for US." As a man he "fulfilled all righteousness", fulfilling from "our side" all the requirements of God's holy law and doing so in loving, perfect obedience. He is God's Shining White Knight who has come as our Covenant Head to take upon himself all our liabilities and give to us all his blessedness.

Why did God become man? Love. Love for sinners brought God's Son from heaven's glory to the stable outhouse in Bethlehem. "Love came down at Christmas..." There is much about the incarnation we are unable to fathom - but this we know:

"I am both weak and sinful, But this I surely know, The Lord came down to save me, Because he loved me so."

Is this not the uniform testimony of the Bible? "God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son..." This truly is unembarrassed supernaturalism." It must ever be proclaimed and affirmed. Scoffers will scoff, but to some, even many, it will be the sweetest music they ever heard.

Ian Hamilton
Cambridge Presbyterian Church

Thursday, December 22, 2005

The Sovereignty of God in Counseling Contrasted with Psychology and Psychiatry

Free MP3

What is Nouthetic Counseling?

Nouthetic Counseling is Not New

While the name is new, the sort of counseling done by nouthetic counselors is not. From Biblical times onward, God's people have counseled nouthetically. The word itself is Biblical. It comes from the Greek noun nouthesia (verb: noutheteo). The word, used in the New Testament primarily by the apostle Paul, is translated "admonish, correct or instruct." This term, which probably best describes Biblical counseling, occurs in such passages as Romans 15:14: "I myself am convinced about you, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, and competent to counsel one another." In that passage, the apostle was encouraging members of the Roman church to do informal, mutual counseling, something that all Christians today should learn, as well. On the other hand, the leaders of a congregation are to counsel nouthetically in a formal manner as a part of their ministry: "Now we ask you, brothers, to recognize those who labor among you, and manage you in the Lord, and counsel you."

Nouthetic Counseling Embraces Three Ideas

Because the New Testament term is larger than the English word "counsel," and because it doesn't carry any of the "freight" that is attached to the latter term, we have simply imported the Biblical term into English. In that way, the full force of the Biblical concept of counseling may be set forth while avoiding the many contradictory connotations surrounding the English one. The three ideas found in the word nouthesia are confrontation, concern, and change. To put it simply, nouthetic counseling consists of lovingly confronting people out of deep concern in order to help them make those changes that God requires.

By confrontation we mean that one Christian personally gives counsel to another from the Scriptures. He does not confront him with his own ideas or the ideas of others. He limits his counsel strictly to that which may be found in the Bible, believing that "All Scripture is breathed out by God and useful for teaching, for conviction, for correction and for disciplined training in righteousness in order to fit and fully equip the man from God for every good task." (2 Timothy 3:16,17) The nouthetic counselor believes that all that is needed to help another person love God and his neighbor as he should, as the verse above indicates, may be found in the Bible.

By concern we mean that counseling is always done for the benefit of the counselee. His welfare is always in view in Biblical counseling. The apostle Paul put it this way: "I am not writing these things to shame you, but to counsel you as my dear children." (1 Corinthians 4:14) Plainly, the familial nature of the word noutheteo appears in this verse. There is always a warm, family note to biblical counseling which is done among the saints of God who seek to help one another become more like Christ. Christians consider their counseling to be a part of the sanctification process whereby one Christian helps another get through some difficulty that is hindering him from moving forward in his spiritual growth.

By change we mean that counseling is done because there is something in another Christian's life that fails to meet the biblical requirements and that, therefore, keeps him from honoring God. All counseling -- Biblical or otherwise-- attempts change. Only Biblical counselors know what a counselee should become as the result of counseling: he should look more like Christ. He is the Standard. Biblical counseling is done by Christians who are convinced that God is able to make the changes that are necessary as His Word is ministered in the power of the Spirit. It is their hope to help every interested church develop a nouthetic counseling program that will be a blessing to all of the members of that congregation. The importance of such counseling in churches is underscored by the words of Paul as he described his ministry in Ephesus: "Therefore, be alert, remembering that for three years, night and day, I didn't stop counseling each one of you with tears." (Acts 20:31) The regularity and intense nature of Paul's counsel during his three-year ministry at Ephesus is emphasized by these words. If Paul found it necessary to counsel nouthetically for that entire period, as he said, surely our churches need it, too.

By Dr. Jay Adams

Discontentment - Guy R. Finnie

The injunction we read in Hebrews 13.5, 'Be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee' suggests that there is a tendency towards an attitude of discontentment in the church's life. In every church, in every Christian, in every person there often appears evidence of a spirit of discontentment. Sooner or later, some word is spoken which shows that there is a desire for things to be other than as they are.

This is not surprising. Although God made us for perfection, we are not perfect. And the world which once was 'very good' in God's sight is now 'made subject to vanity, not willingly . . .' [Rom 8.20]. In other words, the whole framework of a fallen creation and of our environment is conducive to discontentment. Life itself bears the tensions of this fundamental disappointment. Furthermore, the Bible, which so marvellously reflects our human distress at every point, is a veritable gallery of discontentment.

But there are two sorts of discontentment. There is a spiritual discontentment and a carnal discontentment.


(a) The results of carnal discontentment. It is no exaggeration to speak of these results as, quite simply, hell on earth. 'From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not . . .' [James 4.1-2]. By what other words could we describe all the misery of which James speaks here? Is this not hell on earth?

Judas Iscariot provides a vivid illustration of this. We see him hanging by the rope which his own frenzied fists had strung [Matt 27.5] and then we see him broken-open in his hideous precipitation into the abyss [Acts 1.18]. The same spirit is exemplified in secular literature. In Shakespeare's play Richard the Third, Richard (that 'injured character' as John Wesley called him) is thrust into prominence in the first two lines. Speaking with bitter sarcasm, he says --

'Now is the winter of our discontent Made glorious summer by this son of York ...'

This is an exact description of carnal discontentment. It is an icy, freezing blast in the soul. The heart of the carnally discontented man is etiolated and comfortless, as is all his influence. Wherever he goes, his ever-increasing misery goes with him. It is hell on earth.

(b) The origin of carnal discontentment. It originates in self. In James 4.1-2 self is the assertive principle in this agony of wars, fightings and murders. It is 'your lusts that war . . . ' Self gives birth to carnal discontentment. This is always the case; there is no exception.

But at this point Satan is so subtle, and we can be so self-deceived. When Mary anointed our Lord's feet with a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, Judas Iscariot openly protested: 'Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor?' On the face of it, Judas was making a valid objection. It sounded thoroughly laudable. But John pricked the bubble. 'This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein' [John 12.3-6]. Behind the apparent concern, which, for all we know, Judas himself supposed to be quite genuine, lay the carnal discontentment of a greedy, grasping, self-centred man. Take that protest of his, with all its spoiling of a most moving and beautiful occasion, and measure it. Why, Judas himself is the measure of his protest: it is no larger than the man. It originated within himself.

Imagine what pompous arguments Diotrephes may have employed to manoeuvre himself into a position of power in the church. He probably said of the elders, 'They mean well, but . . . ' He probably spoke of 'making an effective witness', or of ‘presenting the contemporary relevance of the gospel', or of 'getting alongside youth . . .', or some such. Whatever it was, it was ‘a sprat to catch a mackerel!' John said of him -- 'he loveth to have the pre-eminence among them' [3 John 9]. He was carnally discontented in any subordinate position. Behind all the unhappiness of which he was the instigator, lay his horrible self-centredness. The measure of this division, the conflict of loyalties, the hindered testimony, the gossip, and the grievous wounds was Diotrephes himself.

(c) The reason for carnal discontentment. It is that a man is discontented with himself. Carnal discontentment always reflects upon the man who displays it. Because he is not content within himself, he can find no contentment in any matter. This discontentment is as a hungry pack of wolves prowling through the forest, restlessly searching for satisfaction.

There is a vivid illustration of this principle in Proverbs 30.15: 'The horseleach hath two daughters, crying, Give, give . . .' The leach, stuck in the throat of the beast, sucked up its blood, on and on. The Revised Version margin gives the alternative for it as 'The vampire . . .'! This dramatic, chilling reference, is really a description of carnal discontentment. Judas Iscariot had the vampire in his heart: so had Demas, and Diotrephes, and Balaam, and Demetrius. 'Hell and destruction are never full: so the eyes of man are never satisfied ... '[Prov 27.20]. There is a spiritual principle here: The carnally discontented man can never be satisfied.

The fundamental reason for this is hinted at in Hebrews 13.5, 'Be content . . . for he hath said . . . ' The all-important word here is the conjunction 'for'. The writer does not call his readers to contentment with 'such things as ye have', and leave it there. He gives a reason why they should be content. He bases his injunction upon something our Lord has said: 'for he hath said . . . ' He knew that his readers were open to this argument: it made sense to them. But to the carnally discontented man, it would make no sense at all. Nor, indeed, would any other basis for such an injunction have made sense. The dreadful fact is this: to the carnally discontented man, there is no argument for contentment. Such a man is not content within himself, and that is the end of the matter. The terrible consequences of this are abundantly plain. There is nothing for the carnally discontented heart. There is no 'for' by which to lever such a life from its orbit of restless, unhappy longing. It is of no use to gratify each complaint: there are plenty more to come, and more and more, to all infinity.

Continued Here

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Counseling and Special Revelation: The Doctrines of the Scriptures - Jay E. Adams

Where were Christians before Freud? Up a tree? Were they bereft of all crucial knowledge about man's relationship to God and his neighbor? Was the church's counseling a hopeless, primitive, stone-age activity that should have disappeared with flint knives? Were Christians shut up to sinful, harmful living before the advent of psychotherapy? Did God withhold truth for living until our present age?

Or did men like Paul, Peter, Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Spurgeon and many others have something worthwhile to say to their converts and parishioners about how to live in a sinful world and about how to solve problems? Isn't the answer apparent?

Drop the question in that form for a moment if it's too hot to handle, and consider this (even hotter) one: How did Jesus Christ become the perfect Counselor that the Scriptures report Him to be apart from the "insights" of clinical psychology and psychiatry that we are now assured by unbelievers (and many Christians who follow them) are essential to effective counseling?

A moment's reflection should make one thing abundantly clear -- the Old Testament adequately supplied Jesus with all the knowledge and wisdom necessary for Him to counsel others unerringly. He was not inadequately supplied, but (as Paul once put it) "thoroughly equipped for every good work"1 by those writings. So too, following the Lord, the church (whenever she has been faithful in this matter) has found the Bible to be a rich, inexhaustible source of information for its counseling ministry.

Again, we must return to the concept of God's Word as counsel (we must never forget that this is one of its prime functions). No wonder, then, that David (in Ps. 119:24) referred to the Bible as his "counselor." Nor should we wonder that, in contrasting what he learned there with human wisdom, he declared that scriptural counsel had made him wiser than all his teachers!2

So, there should be no question about the fundamental function of the Bible as God's counsel to men, or about the pastor's duty to use it in a ministry of shepherdly counseling.3 Part of any ministry of the Word is a ministry of counseling.

In this chapter I shall discuss the relationship of certain aspects of the doctrine of Scripture to a ministry of counseling.

First, let us understand plainly that the biblical doctrine of the inerrancy of the Scriptures has important implications for counseling. The Christian counselor has a Book that is the very Word of the living God, written in the styles of the individual writers, who (through the superintendence of the Holy Spirit) were kept free from all errors that otherwise would have crept into their writings, and who, by His providential direction, produced literature that expressed not only what they themselves wanted to say, but what God wanted to say through them, so that (at once) these writings could be said to be Jeremiah's or the Holy Spirit's.4 This is a God-breathed book. (The word translated "inspired" means, literally, "breathed out by God." "Inspired" means "breathed in.") When God says that He breathed out His Word, He means that what is written is as much His Word as if He had spoken it audibly by means of breath. If the reader could hear God speak, he would find that God said nothing more, nothing less, nothing different from what is written.5

Counsel drawn from a book like this adds a note of authority to counseling. When faced with plain proposals for sin ("Can I leave my wife for another woman?"), questions about behavior ("Must I pay taxes when they are so unfair?"), etc., the Christian counselor can give an unequivocal answer because it is based not upon his own opinion, upon the probabilities of the consequences, expediency or any other such relative standard, but upon the commandment of the living God, who has spoken.

This makes a tremendous difference. The ministry of the Word in counseling, as a result, is totally unlike counseling in any other system because of its authoritative base. This authoritative character stems, of course, from the doctrine of inerrancy. If the Bible were shot through with human error, and were no more dependable than any other composition -- if it were not a God-breathed revelation -- this note of authority would give way to opinion.6 But, because the Bible is inerrant, there is authority.

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Monday, December 19, 2005

Christian Tracts

This is wonderful site for Christian tracts. All are sent free of charge including postage. The accept donations only. Many wonderful reformed tracts, booklets, audio tapes, paperback books.

Mount Zion Online

Go to Chapel Library. Their catalog is online or you may request one. You can order the tracts by emailing them at

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Godliness Through Discipline - Jay E. Adams

Do you remember the last time that you left a church service all fired up to change? You were determined to be different. "This time," you said, "I mean it; I am going to become the person that God wants me to be!" By Tuesday the fire had burned out. The last time that you read a booklet like this you may have decided: "From now on . . ." but here you are today, pretty much the same as always. You mean well, but nothing significant seems to happen; you have been trying, but not really making it.

There has been some change, some growth, some blessing, but not the kind that you so earnestly would like to see. Now that is the experience of many Christian people; you are not alone in this problem. Some have given up the hope of ever becoming significantly different. Perhaps you have too. "Another booklet full of impractical platitudes," you may be thinking, as you start to put down this pamphlet. Don't do it! I promise you, there is practical help inside. Read on, and find out for yourself. After all, there are Christian people whom you meet from time to time whose lives are different. Somehow they must have found the answer. You can too. You have the same God, the same Bible and the same power available as they. Yet, there is one difference between you and them.

Why is it that you have failed in your attempts? Why is it that you rarely succeed even in your determination to change in small ways? There must be something wrong. You want to do the right thing; yet you so rarely achieve it. Of course, there may be many reasons for this. At the bottom of it all is sin. But here let us single out one major reason (perhaps the major reason) why the gears don't seem to mesh, as they should. What is the problem? You may have sought and tried to obtain instant godliness. There is no such thing. Today we have instant pudding, instant coffee, instant houses shipped on trucks, instant everything. And we want instant godliness as well. We want somebody to give us three easy steps to godliness, and we'll take them next Friday and be godly. The trouble is, godliness doesn't come that way.

The Bible is very plain about how godliness does come. Paul wrote about godliness to Timothy. In his first letter to that budding young minister, he said, in contrast to all of the ways that will fail (mentioned in the first part of the verse), "Timothy, you must discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness" (I Timothy 4:7). Discipline is the secret of godliness.

The word discipline has disappeared from our minds, our mouths, our pulpits, and our culture. We hardly know what discipline means in modern American society. And yet, there is no other way to attain godliness; discipline is the path to godliness. You must learn to discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness.

The first thing to notice is that there is no option about being godly. Paul's words constitute a divine command by which God tells us to discipline ourselves for that purpose. God intends for His children to be godly. It is also clear that He wants them to be godly, since He orders them to discipline themselves for godliness. In other places He commands the very same thing. He says, for example, "Be holy as I am holy," and "Be perfect as I am perfect." It is certain that we will never reach perfection in this life (I John 1:8), but perfect godliness is the goal toward which every believer must discipline himself and toward which he must move every day. This means becoming more like God Himself each day. The godly man leads a life that reflects God. Godliness is the goal of the Christian life; we must please God by being, thinking, doing, saying and feeling in the ways that He wants us to.

Now notice that God says we are to discipline ourselves "for the purpose of (or, literally, toward) godliness." The original means, "to be oriented toward godliness." Your whole life ought to be disciplined (i.e., structured, set up, organized, and running day by day) toward the goal of godliness. Everything that happens and everything that you do should contribute something toward reaching that goal. Monday through Saturday, not only Sunday, you must move toward the goal, one step, or two steps or ten steps further down the road. You will become that much more like God only because of what you have done and thought and said each day. "But that is exactly the sort of impractical generalization that I thought you would write! Certainly I know God wants me to be godly, but that is just the problem. I don't live a disciplined life each day, and you haven't told me how I can." Well, I shall. But one thing at a time. If you are going to learn discipline, you must first learn patience. We'll come to that in due time. Remember, godliness is not instant, and neither is the explanation of how to attain it!

Let's get back to our train of thought. When your life is oriented toward (or focused upon) godliness, the goal will constantly come into your mind. You will think at work, at home, or in school, "I am to reflect Him in this project." Isn't that what you want? If you believe in Jesus Christ as your Savior, you must want that. There are times, of course, when you are discouraged or that you get tired or become upset, when you lose sight of the goal. You may even rebel against the idea. But if you are a genuine believer in Christ, the well never runs dry; down in your heart the desire trickles back, and you find yourself saying, "That is what I want." It is true that you "hunger and thirst after righteousness."

When Paul writes, "You are a new creature; all things have become new," this is what he has in mind: the Holy Spirit has oriented you toward God and His holiness, putting a new focus on all of life. But that does not automatically make you godly. Because of the work of Christ you have been counted perfect in God's sight, but in actuality you are still far from the goal. Yet, your new life in Christ is oriented toward godliness; that is why at times you ache for it.

The problem is that although basically your orientation is new, many of your day-by-day practices are not yet oriented toward godliness. The "old man" (old ways of living) is still your unwelcome companion. So seldom do you see your life practically oriented as it ought to be that perhaps you have despaired. You must not. The reason why your good resolves have not been realized may be that you have never learned how to discipline yourself for godliness.

Continued Here