Friday, February 29, 2008

Devotionals (Spurgeon)


“With lovingkindness have I drawn thee.”

- Jeremiah 31:3

The thunders of the law and the terrors of judgment are all used to bring us to Christ; but the final victory is effected by lovingkindness. The prodigal set out to his father’s house from a sense of need; but his father saw him a great way off, and ran to meet him; so that the last steps he took towards his father’s house were with the kiss still warm upon his cheek, and the welcome still musical in his ears.

“Law and terrors do but harden

All the while they work alone;

But a sense of blood-bought pardon

Will dissolve a heart of stone.”

The Master came one night to the door, and knocked with the iron hand of the law; the door shook and trembled upon its hinges; but the man piled every piece of furniture which he could find against the door, for he said, “I will not admit the man.” The Master turned away, but by-and-bye he came back, and with his own soft hand, using most that part where the nail had penetrated, he knocked again-oh, so softly and tenderly. This time the door did not shake, but, strange to say, it opened, and there upon his knees the once unwilling host was found rejoicing to receive his guest. “Come in, come in; thou hast so knocked that my bowels are moved for thee. I could not think of thy pierced hand leaving its blood-mark on my door, and of thy going away houseless, ‘Thy head filled with dew, and thy locks with the drops of the night.’ I yield, I yield, thy love has won my heart.” So in every case: lovingkindness wins the day. What Moses with the tablets of stone could never do, Christ does with his pierced hand. Such is the doctrine of effectual calling. Do I understand it experimentally? Can I say, “He drew me, and I followed on, glad to confess the voice divine?” If so, may he continue to draw me, till at last I shall sit down at the marriage supper of the Lamb.


“Now we have received ... the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.”

- 1 Corinthians 2:12

Dear reader, have you received the spirit which is of God, wrought by the Holy Ghost in your soul? The necessity of the work of the Holy Spirit in the heart may be clearly seen from this fact, that all which has been done by God the Father, and by God the Son, must be ineffectual to us, unless the Spirit shall reveal these things to our souls. What effect does the doctrine of election have upon any man until the Spirit of God enters into him? Election is a dead letter in my consciousness until the Spirit of God calls me out of darkness into marvellous light. Then through my calling, I see my election, and knowing myself to be called of God, I know myself to have been chosen in the eternal purpose. A covenant was made with the Lord Jesus Christ, by his Father; but what avails that covenant to us until the Holy Spirit brings us its blessings, and opens our hearts to receive them? There hang the blessings on the nail-Christ Jesus; but being short of stature, we cannot reach them; the Spirit of God takes them down and hands them to us, and thus they become actually ours. Covenant blessings in themselves are like the manna in the skies, far out of mortal reach, but the Spirit of God opens the windows of heaven and scatters the living bread around the camp of the spiritual Israel. Christ’s finished work is like wine stored in the wine-vat; through unbelief we can neither draw nor drink. The Holy Spirit dips our vessel into this precious wine, and then we drink; but without the Spirit we are as truly dead in sin as though the Father never had elected, and though the Son had never bought us with his blood. The Holy Spirit is absolutely necessary to our well-being. Let us walk lovingly towards him and tremble at the thought of grieving him.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

True fruit

“Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.” (1 John 3:18)

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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Harvest Truly is Plenteous, But the Laborers are Few (Matt. 9:37)

By Ch. Hodge

I. What is the harvest? It is the mass of human souls. It is called a harvest,

1. Because intrinsically valuable.

2. Because designed to be saved.

3. Because it must be reaped. If let alone it will perish.

4. Because it is prepared, or ready for the sickle.

II. This harvest is plenteous.

The number of human beings now living on the earth, and accessible more or less to the gospel, is 800,000,000 or 900,000,000. The harvest includes not the men of this country only, nor of Europe, but of Asia, of Africa, of India, of China, and of the Islands of the sea. All these need the gospel, all are capable of salvation, all are accessible.

III. The duty of reaping the harvest, rests,

1. On the whole Church.

2. Specially on the ministers.

3. On each individual minister.

IV. In what part of the field each should labor, depends,

1. Not on the wishes of the individual, but on the will of God.

2. His will is to be determined in relation to each, first, by general considerations, and, second, by special considerations.

First, the general considerations which should determine our personal duty are such as these: 1st. The relative size of the different portions of the field. 2d. The relative proportion of laborers in those fields. 3d. Their relative importance in reference to the whole. 4th. Their accessibility and state of readiness for the gospel. 5th. The relation in which they stand to us. We have a greater duty to the people of this country than to others, just as a man is under greater obligations to provide for his own family than for others.

Second, the special considerations are, 1st. Those which relate to our qualifications. 2d. To our constitution or health. 3d. To our domestic or social obligations. 4th. To the dealings of God’s providence and Spirit.

V. Motives which should induce us to give ourselves up to this work, to go where God may send us.

1. The command of Christ, which is explicit and obligatory, and its addressed to us as truly as though we were specially named in the commission. Disobedience as to going at all, or as to going where we ought to go, is certain to entail the greatest evils on our own soul.

2. Love to Christ and gratitude for the benefits of redemption. The special motive is love to the Redeemer, founded on his glorious excellence as God manifested in the flesh, on his love to us, and on the benefits which we receive from him. The force of this motive is seen in all the apostles and martyrs and missionaries whom God has sent and blessed.

3. The absolute necessity of the gospel to the salvation of the heathen. This is clearly the doctrine of the Bible and of the Church. If they do not hear, they cannot believe; and if they do not believe, they cannot be saved.

Let this subject, therefore, come before you in all its solemn importance, and let it weigh constantly on your minds.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Essence

“Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:37-39)

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Monday, February 25, 2008

His plans for me

“For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:11-13)

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Sadly, for many prosperity preachers this is an encouragement for seeking wealth. But for me it is an encouragement for seeking godly things, for examining myself and for glorifying God in everything I do. Praying according to His will, seeking his righteousness first, not dwelling at material things, enjoying Christian fellowship, forgiving gladly, being of good cheer...

I trust His plans for me. I love His plans for me, even without knowing them, for He works all things for good of those who love Him.

To God be the Glory in all things.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Two kinds

“Do not those who plot evil go astray? But those who plan what is good find love and faithfulness.” (Proverbs 14:22)

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Saturday, February 23, 2008

The Bet

Something I heard in one of John MacArthur's sermons...

by Anton Chekhov

IT WAS a dark autumn night. The old banker was walking up and down his study and remembering how, fifteen years before, he had given a party one autumn evening. There had been many clever men there, and there had been interesting conversations. Among other things they had talked of capital punishment. The majority of the guests, among whom were many journalists and intellectual men, disapproved of the death penalty. They considered that form of punishment out of date, immoral, and unsuitable for Christian States. In the opinion of some of them the death penalty ought to be replaced everywhere by imprisonment for life.

"I don't agree with you," said their host the banker. "I have not tried either the death penalty or imprisonment for life, but if one may judge _a priori_, the death penalty is more moral and more humane than imprisonment for life. Capital punishment kills a man at once, but lifelong imprisonment kills him slowly. Which executioner is the more humane, he who kills you in a few minutes or he who drags the life out of you in the course of many years?"

"Both are equally immoral," observed one of the guests, "for they both have the same object -- to take away life. The State is not God. It has not the right to take away what it cannot restore when it wants to."

Among the guests was a young lawyer, a young man of five-and-twenty. When he was asked his opinion, he said:

"The death sentence and the life sentence are equally immoral, but if I had to choose between the death penalty and imprisonment for life, I would certainly choose the second. To live anyhow is better than not at all."

A lively discussion arose. The banker, who was younger and more nervous in those days, was suddenly carried away by excitement; he struck the table with his fist and shouted at the young man:

"It's not true! I'll bet you two millions you wouldn't stay in solitary confinement for five years."

"If you mean that in earnest," said the young man, "I'll take the bet, but I would stay not five but fifteen years."

"Fifteen? Done!" cried the banker. "Gentlemen, I stake two millions!"

"Agreed! You stake your millions and I stake my freedom!" said the young man.

And this wild, senseless bet was carried out! The banker, spoilt and frivolous, with millions beyond his reckoning, was delighted at the bet. At supper he made fun of the young man, and said:

"Think better of it, young man, while there is still time. To me two millions are a trifle, but you are losing three or four of the best years of your life. I say three or four, because you won't stay longer. Don't forget either, you unhappy man, that voluntary confinement is a great deal harder to bear than compulsory. The thought that you have the right to step out in liberty at any moment will poison your whole existence in prison. I am sorry for you."

And now the banker, walking to and fro, remembered all this, and asked himself: "What was the object of that bet? What is the good of that man's losing fifteen years of his life and my throwing away two millions? Can it prove that the death penalty is better or worse than imprisonment for life? No, no. It was all nonsensical and meaningless. On my part it was the caprice of a pampered man, and on his part simple greed for money. . . ."

Then he remembered what followed that evening. It was decided that the young man should spend the years of his captivity under the strictest supervision in one of the lodges in the banker's garden. It was agreed that for fifteen years he should not be free to cross the threshold of the lodge, to see human beings, to hear the human voice, or to receive letters and newspapers. He was allowed to have a musical instrument and books, and was allowed to write letters, to drink wine, and to smoke. By the terms of the agreement, the only relations he could have with the outer world were by a little window made purposely for that object. He might have anything he wanted -- books, music, wine, and so on -- in any quantity he desired by writing an order, but could only receive them through the window. The agreement provided for every detail and every trifle that would make his imprisonment strictly solitary, and bound the young man to stay there _exactly_ fifteen years, beginning from twelve o'clock of November 14, 1870, and ending at twelve o'clock of November 14, 1885. The slightest attempt on his part to break the conditions, if only two minutes before the end, released the banker from the obligation to pay him two millions.

For the first year of his confinement, as far as one could judge from his brief notes, the prisoner suffered severely from loneliness and depression. The sounds of the piano could be heard continually day and night from his lodge. He refused wine and tobacco. Wine, he wrote, excites the desires, and desires are the worst foes of the prisoner; and besides, nothing could be more dreary than drinking good wine and seeing no one. And tobacco spoilt the air of his room. In the first year the books he sent for were principally of a light character; novels with a complicated love plot, sensational and fantastic stories, and so on.

In the second year the piano was silent in the lodge, and the prisoner asked only for the classics. In the fifth year music was audible again, and the prisoner asked for wine. Those who watched him through the window said that all that year he spent doing nothing but eating and drinking and lying on his bed, frequently yawning and angrily talking to himself. He did not read books. Sometimes at night he would sit down to write; he would spend hours writing, and in the morning tear up all that he had written. More than once he could be heard crying.

In the second half of the sixth year the prisoner began zealously studying languages, philosophy, and history. He threw himself eagerly into these studies -- so much so that the banker had enough to do to get him the books he ordered. In the course of four years some six hundred volumes were procured at his request. It was during this period that the banker received the following letter from his prisoner:

"My dear Jailer, I write you these lines in six languages. Show them to people who know the languages. Let them read them. If they find not one mistake I implore you to fire a shot in the garden. That shot will show me that my efforts have not been thrown away. The geniuses of all ages and of all lands speak different languages, but the same flame burns in them all. Oh, if you only knew what unearthly happiness my soul feels now from being able to understand them!" The prisoner's desire was fulfilled. The banker ordered two shots to be fired in the garden.

Then after the tenth year, the prisoner sat immovably at the table and read nothing but the Gospel. It seemed strange to the banker that a man who in four years had mastered six hundred learned volumes should waste nearly a year over one thin book easy of comprehension. Theology and histories of religion followed the Gospels.

In the last two years of his confinement the prisoner read an immense quantity of books quite indiscriminately. At one time he was busy with the natural sciences, then he would ask for Byron or Shakespeare. There were notes in which he demanded at the same time books on chemistry, and a manual of medicine, and a novel, and some treatise on philosophy or theology. His reading suggested a man swimming in the sea among the wreckage of his ship, and trying to save his life by greedily clutching first at one spar and then at another.


The old banker remembered all this, and thought:

"To-morrow at twelve o'clock he will regain his freedom. By our agreement I ought to pay him two millions. If I do pay him, it is all over with me: I shall be utterly ruined."

Fifteen years before, his millions had been beyond his reckoning; now he was afraid to ask himself which were greater, his debts or his assets. Desperate gambling on the Stock Exchange, wild speculation and the excitability whic h he could not get over even in advancing years, had by degrees led to the decline of his fortune and the proud, fearless, self-confident millionaire had become a banker of middling rank, trembling at every rise and fall in his investments. "Cursed bet!" muttered the old man, clutching his head in despair "Why didn't the man die? He is only forty now. He will take my last penny from me, he will marry, will enjoy life, will gamble on the Exchange; while I shall look at him with envy like a beggar, and hear from him every day the same sentence: 'I am indebted to you for the happiness of my life, let me help you!' No, it is too much! The one means of being saved from bankruptcy and disgrace is the death of that man!"

It struck three o'clock, the banker listened; everyone was asleep in the house and nothing could be heard outside but the rustling of the chilled trees. Trying to make no noise, he took from a fireproof safe the key of the door which had not been opened for fifteen years, put on his overcoat, and went out of the house.

It was dark and cold in the garden. Rain was falling. A damp cutting wind was racing about the garden, howling and giving the trees no rest. The banker strained his eyes, but could see neither the earth nor the white statues, nor the lodge, nor the trees. Going to the spot where the lodge stood, he twice called the watchman. No answer followed. Evidently the watchman had sought shelter from the weather, and was now asleep somewhere either in the kitchen or in the greenhouse.

"If I had the pluck to carry out my intention," thought the old man, "Suspicion would fall first upon the watchman."

He felt in the darkness for the steps and the door, and went into the entry of the lodge. Then he groped his way into a little passage and lighted a match. There was not a soul there. There was a bedstead with no bedding on it, and in the corner there was a dark cast-iron stove. The seals on the door leading to the prisoner's rooms were intact.

When the match went out the old man, trembling with emotion, peeped through the little window. A candle was burning dimly in the prisoner's room. He was sitting at the table. Nothing could be seen but his back, the hair on his head, and his hands. Open books were lying on the table, on the two easy-chairs, and on the carpet near the table.

Five minutes passed and the prisoner did not once stir. Fifteen years' imprisonment had taught him to sit still. The banker tapped at the window with his finger, and the prisoner made no movement whatever in response. Then the banker cautiously broke the seals off the door and put the key in the keyhole. The rusty lock gave a grating sound and the door creaked. The banker expected to hear at once footsteps and a cry of astonishment, but three minutes passed and it was as quiet as ever in the room. He made up his mind to go in.

At the table a man unlike ordinary people was sitting motionless. He was a skeleton with the skin drawn tight over his bones, with long curls like a woman's and a shaggy beard. His face was yellow with an earthy tint in it, his cheeks were hollow, his back long and narrow, and the hand on which his shaggy head was propped was so thin and delicate that it was dreadful to look at it. His hair was already streaked with silver, and seeing his emaciated, aged-looking face, no one would have believed that he was only forty. He was asleep. . . . In front of his bowed head there lay on the table a sheet of paper on which there was something written in fine handwriting.

"Poor creature!" thought the banker, "he is asleep and most likely dreaming of the millions. And I have only to take this half-dead man, throw him on the bed, stifle him a little with the pillow, and the most conscientious expert would find no sign of a violent death. But let us first read what he has written here. . . ."

The banker took the page from the table and read as follows:

"To-morrow at twelve o'clock I regain my freedom and the right to associate with other men, but before I leave this room and see the sunshine, I think it necessary to say a few words to you. With a clear conscience I tell you, as before God, who beholds me, that I despise freedom and life and health, and all that in your books is called the good things of the world.

"For fifteen years I have been intently studying earthly life. It is true I have not seen the earth nor men, but in your books I have drunk fragrant wine, I have sung songs, I have hunted stags and wild boars in the forests, have loved women. . . . Beauties as ethereal as clouds, created by the magic of your poets and geniuses, have visited me at night, and have whispered in my ears wonderful tales that have set my brain in a whirl. In your books I have climbed to the peaks of Elburz and Mont Blanc, and from there I have seen the sun rise and have watched it at evening flood the sky, the ocean, and the mountain-tops with gold and crimson. I have watched from there the lightning flashing over my head and cleaving the storm-clouds. I have seen green forests, fields, rivers, lakes, towns. I have heard the singing of the sirens, and the strains of the shepherds' pipes; I have touched the wings of comely devils who flew down to converse with me of God. . . . In your books I have flung myself into the bottomless pit, performed miracles, slain, burned towns, preached new religions, conquered whole kingdoms. . . .

"Your books have given me wisdom. All that the unresting thought of man has created in the ages is compressed into a small compass in my brain. I know that I am wiser than all of you.

"And I despise your books, I despise wisdom and the blessings of this world. It is all worthless, fleeting, illusory, and deceptive, like a mirage. You may be proud, wise, and fine, but death will wipe you off the face of the earth as though you were no more than mice burrowing under the floor, and your posterity, your history, your immortal geniuses will burn or freeze together with the earthly globe.

"You have lost your reason and taken the wrong path. You have taken lies for truth, and hideousness for beauty. You would marvel if, owing to strange events of some sorts, frogs and lizards suddenly grew on apple and orange trees instead of fruit, or if roses began to smell like a sweating horse; so I marvel at you who exchange heaven for earth. I don't want to understand you.

"To prove to you in action how I despise all that you live by, I renounce the two millions of which I once dreamed as of paradise and which now I despise. To deprive myself of the right to the money I shall go out from here five hours before the time fixed, and so break the compact. . . ."

When the banker had read this he laid the page on the table, kissed the strange man on the head, and went out of the lodge, weeping. At no other time, even when he had lost heavily on the Stock Exchange, had he felt so great a contempt for himself. When he got home he lay on his bed, but his tears and emotion kept him for hours from sleeping.

Next morning the watchmen ran in with pale faces, and told him they had seen the man who lived in the lodge climb out of the window into the garden, go to the gate, and disappear. The banker went at once with the servants to the lodge and made sure of the flight of his prisoner. To avoid arousing unnecessary talk, he took from the table the writing in which the millions were renounced, and when he got home locked it up in the fireproof safe.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Love is the fulfillment of the law

“The commandments, "Do not commit adultery," "Do not murder," "Do not steal," "Do not covet," and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: "Love your neighbor as yourself." Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.” (Romans 13:9-10)

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Thursday, February 21, 2008


WCF 1.1 Although the light of nature, and the works of creation and providence do so far manifest the goodness, wisdom, and power of God, as to leave men unexcusable;(1) yet are they not sufficient to give that knowledge of God, and of His will, which is necessary unto salvation:(2) therefore it pleased the Lord, at sundry times, and in divers manners, to reveal Himself, and to declare that His will unto His Church;(3) and afterwards, for the better preserving and propagating of the truth, and for the more sure establishment and comfort of the Church against the corruption of the flesh, and the malice of Satan and of the world, to commit the same wholly unto writing;(4) which maketh the Holy Scripture to be most necessary;(5) those former ways of God's revealing His will unto His people being now ceased.(6)

(1) Rom. 2:14,15; Rom. 1:19,20; Ps. 19:1,2,3; Rom. 1:32; Rom. 2:1.
(2) 1 Cor. 1:21; 1 Cor. 2:13,14
(3) Heb. 1:1
(4) Prov. 22:19,20,21;Luke 1:3,4; Rom. 15:4; Matt. 4:4,7,10; Isa. 8:19,20.
(5) 2 Tim. 3:15; 2 Pet. 1:19
(6) Heb. 1:1,2

WCF 1.2 Under the name of Holy Scripture, or the Word of God written, are now contained all the books of the Old and New Testament, which are these: Of the Old Testament: Genesis Exodus Leviticus Numbers Deuteronomy Joshua Judges Ruth I Samuel II Samuel I Kings II Kings I Chronicles II Chronicles Ezra Nehemiah Esther Job Psalms Proverbs Ecclesiastes The Song of Songs Isaiah Jeremiah Lamentations Ezekiel Daniel Hosea Joel Amos Obadiah Jonah Micah Nahum Habakkuk Zephaniah Haggai Zechariah Malachi Of the New Testament: The Gospels according to Matthew Mark Luke John The Acts of the Apostles Paul's Epistles to the Romans Corinthians I Corinthians II Galatians Ephesians Philippians Colossians Thessalonians I Thessalonians II To Timothy I To Timothy II To Titus To Philemon The Epistle to the Hebrews The Epistle of James The first and second Epistles of Peter The first, second, and third Epistles of John The Epistle of Jude The Revelation All which are given by inspiration of God to be the rule of faith and life.(1)

(1) Luke 16:29,31; Eph. 2:20; Rev. 22:18,19; 2 Tim. 3:16.

WCF 1.3 The books commonly called Apocrypha, not being of divine inspiration, are no part of the canon of the Scripture; and therefore are of no authority in the Church of God, nor to be any otherwise approved, or made use of, than other human writings.(1)

(1) Luke 24:27,44; Rom. 3:2; 2 Pet. 1:21.

WCF 1.4 The authority of the Holy Scripture, for which it ought to be believed, and obeyed, dependeth not upon the testimony of any man, or Church; but wholly upon God (who is truth itself) the author thereof: and therefore it is to be received, because it as the Word of God.(1)

(1) 2 Pet. 1:19,21; 2 Tim. 3:16; 1 John 5:9; 1 Thess. 2:13.

WCF 1.5 We may be moved and induced by the testimony of the Church to an high and reverent esteem of the Holy Scripture,(1) and the heavenliness of the matter, the efficacy of the doctrine, the majesty of the style, the consent of all the parts, the scope of the whole, (which is to give all glory to God) , the full discovery it makes of the only way of man's salvation, the many other incomparable excellencies, and the entire perfection thereof, are arguments whereby it doth abundantly evidence itself to be the Word of God; yet, notwithstanding, our full persuasion and assurance of the infallible truth, and divine authority thereof, is from the inward work of the Holy Spirit, bearing witness by and with the word in our hearts.(2)

(1) 1 Tim. 3:15
(2) 1 John 2:20,27; John 16:13,14; 1 Cor. 2:10,11,12; Isa. 59:21.

WCF 1.6 The whole counsel of God, concerning all things necessary for His own glory, man's salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men.(1) Nevertheless, we acknowledge the inward illumination of the Spirit of God to be necessary for the saving understanding of such things as are revealed in the word;(2) and that there are some circumstances concerning the worship of God, and government of the Church, common to human actions and societies, which are to be ordered by the light of nature, and Christian prudence, according to the general rules of the word, which are always to be observed.(3)

(1) 2 Tim. 3:15,16,17; Gal. 1:8,9; 2 Thess. 2:2.
(2) John 6:45; 1 Cor. 2:9,10,11,12.
(3) 1 Cor. 11:13,14; 1 Cor. 14:26,40.

WCF 1.7 All things in Scripture are not alike plain in themselves, nor alike clear unto all;(1) yet those things which are necessary to be known, believed, and observed for salvation, are so clearly propounded, and opened in some place of Scripture or other, that not only the learned, but the unlearned, in a due use of the ordinary means, may attain unto a sufficient understanding of them.(2)

(1) 2 Pet. 3:16.
(2) Ps. 119:105,130.

WCF 1.8 The Old Testament in Hebrew (which was the native language of the people of God of old) , and the New Testament in Greek (which, at the time of the writing of it was most generally known to the nations) , being immediately inspired by God, and, by His singular care and providence, kept pure in all ages, are therefore authentical;(1) so as, in all controversies of religion, the Church is finally to appeal unto them.(2) But, because these original tongues are not known to all the people of God, who have right unto and interest in the Scriptures, and are commanded, in the fear of God, to read and search them,(3) therefore they are to be translated into the vulgar language of every nation unto which they come,(4) that the Word of God dwelling plentifully in all, they may worship Him in an acceptable manner;(5) and, through patience and comfort of the Scriptures, may have hope.(6)

(1) Matt. 5:18.
(2) Isa. 8:20; Acts 15:15; John 5:39,46.
(3) John 5:39.
(4) 1 Cor. 14:6,9,11,12,24,27,28.
(5) Col. 3:16.
(6) Rom. 15:4.

WCF 1.9 The infallible rule of interpretation of Scripture is the Scripture itself: and therefore, when there is a question about the true and full sense of any Scripture (which is not manifold, but one) , it must be searched and known by other places that speak more clearly.(1)

(1) 2 Pet. 1:20,21; Acts 15:15,16.

WCF 1.10 The supreme Judge, by which all controversies of religion are to be determined, and all decrees of councils, opinions of ancient writers, doctrines of men, and private spirits, are to be examined, and in whose sentence we are to rest, can be no other but the Holy Spirit speaking in the Scripture.(1)

(1) Matt. 22:29,31; Eph. 2:20; Acts 28:25.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


“Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” (1 John 4:11-12)

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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Call to the Work of Foreign Missions (Ch. Hodge)

I. What is the work of missions? II. What is a call to that work?

I. The work of foreign missions is not a distinct part of the general work of the Church. The commission under which the Church acts has equal reference to all parts of the field. The work of the missionary is therefore not different from the work of a minister. A man who enlists as a soldier, does not enlist for any one field. He is to go wherever he is sent.

II. A call to the work of missions, therefore, can only be analogous to the question whether a minister is to be settled in one place rather than another. How is a man to know whether he is called to settle in a city or in the country, in the east or in the west? There is no difference between these questions and the question whether he is called to go abroad or to remain at home. The question assumes that the Lord teas a purpose with regard to the location of his ministers; that he makes that purpose known, and that they may ascertain what that purpose is.

1. The Lord has a purpose with regard to the location of his ministers 1st. This is to be inferred from the general doctrine of providence, which teaches that God’s purposes extend to all things, and that he overrules all things to the accomplishment of that purpose. Nothing is fortuitous. The place of our birth, of our education, our profession, and of the field of labor are all included in the plan. 2d. It is to be inferred from the doctrine of Christ’s headship over the Church, and of his continual guidance of it by his Spirit, by which he gives gifts to each one according to his will and leads all his people in the way in which they should go. 3d. It follows from his peculiar relation to ministers. They are stars in his hand, and he assigns to each his sphere. They are his ambassadors, and he sends each on his own mission. They are his laborers, etc. We find therefore, that he sent Jonah to Nineveh, Paul to the heathen, Peter to the circumcision Christ has a purpose with regard to us.

2. He makes that purpose known. 1st. This must be inferred from the nature of the case. We are rational creatures and are governed by rational means. If God has a design for us to accomplish, he must make it known or we cannot, in this matter, fulfill his will. 2d. As a matter of experience we find that God does make known his purpose. He did so, as we have seen, with regard to the prophets and the apostles, and he does so with regard to ordinary ministers. It is not to be inferred, however, that this is always done in such a way as to preclude all investigation on our part; nor so as to prevent any danger of mistake. A man may mistake, and go counter to the will of God; and the consequences are disastrous. We ought therefore to give the question a careful consideration.

3. How does God reveal his will to his ministers, as to where they should labor? He does it first, by his inward dealings with them, and secondly, by his outward dispensations. First, as to his inward dealings. 1st. He furnishes them with the gifts requisite to some special field of labor. 2d. He addresses their understandings. He presents to them the wants of the different parts of the great field; the facilities for usefulness; the demand for laborers. 3d. He addresses their conscience. 4th. He addresses their hearts, awakens an interest in particular portions of the field, and infuses into them an earnest desire for the work.

Secondly, as to his outward dispensations. 1st. He removes obstacles out of the way, such as want of health, obligations to dependent parents, and other hindrances of a like nature. 2d. He sends messages to them by friends. 3d. He sometimes stirs up the church to call them here or there.

The duty of candidates for the ministry.

1. To feel that they are bound to go wherever God may call them; that it is not for them to choose.

2. To feel perfectly submissive, and say, Lord what wilt thou have me to do.

3. To investigate the subject; not to dismiss it, but to examine conscientiously.

4. To use all the means to come to an intelligent decision, and to keep their minds open to conviction.

The work of missions is a blessed work.

1. Because its results are so glorious.

2. Because it is so peculiarly unearthly.

3. Because the promises of God are so abundant to those who forsake houses, and lands, and friends, etc., for his sake.

Monday, February 18, 2008

He loved us

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” (Romans 8:35,37)

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Saturday, February 16, 2008

Cadet Prayer in West Point

O God, our Father, Thou Searcher of human hearts, help us to draw near to Thee in sincerity and truth. May our religion be filled with gladness and may our worship of Thee be natural.

Strengthen and increase our admiration for honest dealing and clean thinking, and suffer not our hatred of hypocrisy and pretence ever to diminish. Encourage us in our endeavor to live above the common level of life. Make us to choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong, and never to be content with a half truth when the whole truth can be won.

Endow us with courage that is born of loyalty to all that is noble and worthy, that scorns to compromise with vice and injustice and knows no fear when truth and right are in jeopardy. Guard us against flippancy and irreverence in the sacred things of life. Grant us new ties of friendship and new opportunities of service.

Kindle our hearts in fellowship with those of a cheerful countenance, and soften our hearts with sympathy for those who sorrow and suffer. Help us to maintain the honor of the Corps untarnished and unsullied and to show forth in our lives the ideals of West Point in doing our duty to Thee and to our Country.

All of which we ask in the name of the Great Friend and Master of all. - Amen

I heard John MacArthur quoting from this prayer. This is my heart's desire as well, to keep my integrity and to never compromise the Truth of God's Word.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Catholic Inquisition and The Torture Tools

What were the Inquisitions?

The inquisitions were judicial institutions or tribunals that were established by the Roman Catholic Church in order to seek out, try, and sentence people that the Roman Catholic Church believed to be guilty of heresy. The purpose of the inquisitions was to secure and maintain religious and doctorial unity in the Roman Catholic Church and throughout the Roman Empire, through either the conversion or persecution of alleged heretics. Historians generally categorize or distinguish the inquisitions based on four different time frames and areas that they took place in. These are: The Medieval or Episcopal Inquisition, The Spanish Inquisition, The Portuguese Inquisition, and the Roman Inquisition.

Prior to the founding of the Roman Catholic Church and the establishment of their version of Christianity as the official state religion of the Roman Empire in the 4th century, the punishment for heresy among Christians was usually excommunication from the church. However with the marriage of church and state that arose in the 4th Century, people that the Roman Catholic Church considered to be heretics also came to be considered as enemies of the state, and were subject to many forms of extreme punishment, including death. It wasn’t until the 12th century that official inquisitions were organized and sanctioned by the Roman Catholic Church to officially deal with what they saw as a rise in organized heretical groups within the Roman Empire.

The first of the Inquisitions is known as the Medieval or Episcopal Inquisition and refers to the various inquisitions that started around 1184. It includes the Episcopal Inquisition (1184-1230), as well as the Papal Inquisition (1230), which arose in response to large popular movements in Europe that were considered to be heretical by the Roman Catholic Church. It was during this time (1231) that Pope Gregory IX shifted the power to punish heretics away from the local bishops and put the inquisitors under the special jurisdiction and authority of the papacy. He also established severe penalties for those found guilty of committing heresy, and his decree set forth new guidelines for investigating and punishing heresy in the Roman Empire. Generally, when an Inquisition was set up to investigate heresy in a particular area of the Roman Empire, the Pope would appoint two inquisitors, each of which had equal authority in the Inquisition or tribunal. Because these inquisitors had the power to investigate and excommunicate even princes, they yielded enormous power and influence in the Roman Empire.

While some of the inquisitors had reputations as being men of justice and mercy, others were known to subject people to cruel and unusual punishment, including many different kinds of torture, which is what the inquisitions are generally remembered for. Because they could imprison suspects that they thought were lying, some inquisitors used torture as an attempt to get them to admit what the inquisitor wanted to hear. In 1252 Pope Innocent IV officially sanctioned torture as a way of extracting the “truth” from suspects. Prior to that time, this type of extreme punishment was foreign to church tradition and practice. During the Spanish Inquisition alone, some historians estimate that as many as 2,000 people were burned at the stake within one decade after the inquisition began.

The next major Inquisition period is known as the Spanish Inquisition. It was set up by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain in 1478 with the approval of Pope Sixtus IV. Unlike the previous inquisition, it was completely under royal authority and was staffed by secular clergy. It mainly focused on Jews who had professed to be converts to Roman Catholicism but who were suspected of having continued to practice Judaism. Later on, with the spread of Protestantism into Spain, the inquisition would also begin to persecute Protestants who broke away from the Roman Catholic Church. However, after the decline in religious disputes in the 17th century, the Spanish Inquisition essentially became more and more like a secret police that would investigate and retaliate against internal threats to the Spanish authorities. The Spanish Inquisition is probably the most infamous for its torture and the number of people executed as a result of it. One historian estimated that over the course of its history the Spanish Inquisition tried a total of 341,021 people, of whom at least 10% (31,912) were executed.

Another important inquisition period is known as The Portuguese Inquisition and was established in Portugal in 1536 by the King of Portugal, Joao III, and operated much like the more famous Spanish Inquisition. Later in 1560 in India and other parts of the Portuguese empire in Asia, the Goa Inquisition was set up in the Indian city of Goa to deal with converts from Hinduism who were suspected of continuing to practice or hold to some Hindu beliefs.

The last inquisition period is known as the Roman Inquisition and it was established in 1542 when Pope Paul III established the Holy Office as the final court of appeals in all trials of heresy. This group was made up of cardinals and other officials whose task was to maintain and defend the doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church. This group played an important role in the Counter-Reformation, and it was also this body that condemned Galileo for “grave suspicion of heresy” and banned all of his works in 1633 for teaching that the sun was the center of the universe and that the earth rotated around it. In 1965 Pope Paul VI reorganized the Holy Office and renamed it as the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and it remains in effect today.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Open My Eyes, That I May See

1. Open my eyes, that I may see
glimpses of truth thou hast for me;
place in my hands the wonderful key
that shall unclasp and set me free.
Silently now I wait for thee,
ready, my God, thy will to see.
Open my eyes, illumine me, Spirit divine!

2. Open my ears, that I may hear
voices of truth thou sendest clear;
and while the wavenotes fall on my ear,
everything false will disappear.
Silently now I wait for thee,
ready, my God, thy will to see.
Open my ears, illumine me, Spirit divine!

3. Open my mouth, and let me bear
gladly the warm truth everywhere;
open my heart and let me prepare
love with thy children thus to share.
Silently now I wait for thee,
ready, my God, thy will to see.
Open my heart, illumine me, Spirit divine!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

How to Query God

by John Piper

Thoughts on Romans 9:20: You will say to me then, "Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?" But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, "Why have you made me like this?"

Clearly Paul was displeased with this response to his teaching about God. Does this mean that it's always wrong to ask questions in response to Biblical teaching? I don't think so.

Paul had said some controversial things. Peter admitted that Paul was sometimes hard to understand: "There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures" (2 Peter 3:16). Paul had said that God "has mercy on whom he wills and hardens whom he wills" (Romans 9:18). The point was: his will decides finally whether we are hard-hearted or not. "Before they were born or do anything good or evil" God had mercy on Jacob and gave Esau over to hardness (Romans 9:11-13).

Someone hears this and objects in verse 19, "Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?" To this Paul responds, "You, a mere human being, have no right to answer back to God."
The word "answer back" (antapokrinomenos) occurs one other time in the New Testament, namely, in Luke 14:5-6. Jesus is showing the lawyers that it is lawful to heal on the Sabbath. He said to them, "'Which of you, having a son or an ox that has fallen into a well on a Sabbath day, will not immediately pull him out?' And they could not answer back (antapokrithenai) to these things."

In what sense could they not "answer back"? They could not show him wrong. They could not legitimately criticize him. They could not truly contradict what he said. So the word "answer back" probably carries the meaning: "answer back with a view to criticizing or disagreeing or correcting."

That, I think, is what displeased Paul in Romans 9:20. This leaves open the possibility that a different kind of question would be acceptable, namely, a humble, teachable question that wants to understand more if possible, but not rebuke or condemn or criticize what has been said.
For example, in Luke 1:31 the angel Gabriel comes to the virgin Mary and says, "Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus." Mary is astounded and baffled. Virgins don't have sons. She could have scoffed and argued. But instead she said, "How will this be, since I am a virgin?" (Luke 1:34). She did not say it can't happen; she asked, "How?"
Contrast this with Gabriel's visit to Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist. The angel comes and tells him, "Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John" (Luke 1:13). But Zechariah knew that "Elizabeth was barren and advanced in years" (Luke 1:7). Different from Mary, his skepticism gave rise to a different question. He said, "How shall I know this?" Not: "How will you do this?" But: "How can I know you'll do it?"

Gabriel did not like this answer. He said, "I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. And behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time" (Luke 1:19-20).

So I conclude that humble, teachable questions about how and why God does what he does are acceptable to God. To Mary God gave a very helpful answer, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you" (Luke 1:35). This did not remove the mystery, but it helped.

I can't remove the mystery from Romans 9. But there may be more to understand than we have seen and I do not want to discourage you from pressing further up and further in to the heart and mind of God.

Wanting to be teachable with you,
Pastor John

By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website: Email: Toll Free: 1.888.346.4700.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Something to remember

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-5)

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Monday, February 11, 2008


This is how I feel now. Bitter-sweet, very blessed, but very very sad at the same time. Meeting people is wonderful, saying good-bye is awful. It literally hurts when you say good-bye to a person you shall probably never meet again on this side of eternity...
I wonder... If this is the pain that awaits me next January, when the cruise is over... Is it realistic that I go and hurt afterwards? Or should I rather be anticipating the great fellowship and not pondering the inevitable?

Hey, I am getting into philosophy here, thinking about endings and exits... By the way - exits are part of our lives. We are all going to make the great exit one day, on the date and hour appointed by God. We are all going to leave, to be missed (hopefully), but the great question for many is, where to? And this big "where to" forces people to look for answers everywhere.

Desperation, pain, lack of hope, final encounter with the death sentence (in a form of medical verdict), or many other causes, push people towards the spiritual hunger. But only few find peace, the real peace with God, through Jesus Christ, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Those few are precious to God, and to one another. Maybe that is why it hurts so much right now... But it is a good kind of pain, so, in the end - I am going to meet others, because the SWEET of the fellowship is going to cover the BITTER of parting.

To God be the Glory in all things and for all things. And God Bless you, Martin.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Love your enemies

“Let those who love the LORD hate evil, for he guards the lives of his faithful ones and delivers them from the hand of the wicked.” (Psalm 97:10)

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“ "You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Matthew 5:43-45)

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Friday, February 08, 2008

Atheists prove the Bible is true

Yes, indeed. Especially this one, a hateful man, who, one has to grant it to him, does not mince words into a nice pulp of political corectness. Nevertheless, he is gathering God's wrath onto himself - unless God pleases to grant him repentance and faith...

Dr. James White exposes Hitchens' true ego.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

The Lord is my Rock

“ I love you, O LORD, my strength. The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” (Psalm 18:1-2)

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Lots of prayer requests, many hurting people this day... And this verse, as well as Steve Camp singing his song on the David-CD, always reminding of hope...
You may buy this CD here.

The Knowledge of the Gospel Necessary to the Salvation of the Heathen

by Charles Hodge

Introductory remarks.

We must be in harmony with the Bible in order to understand the Bible. A knowledge of sin and of God as sovereign is necessary to a right apprehension of God’s dealings with sinners. The origin of evil, the prevalence of error and vice, the fewness of the saved, the perishing condition of the heathen, are all mysteries, which we cannot deny, and must receive on the evidence on which they rest. As to the perishing condition of the heathen, it is to be remarked,—

I. That justice does not demand their salvation, or that they should have the means of it. The contrary assumption has led some to assume that the light of nature is sufficient; and others, that the gospel will be preached to them hereafter. That these assumptions are unfounded is proved,

1. From the fact that Justice requires only, 1st. That men should be judged according to their works, and, 2d. According to their light. This, the Scriptures teach, will be the case with the heathen.

2. Because the Scriptures teach that salvation is a matter of grace. God was not bound to provide salvation for our race. To deny this is to deny the whole work gospel, and make the work of Christ a matter of debt.

3. Hence if God is not bound to provide for the salvation of any, he is not bound to provide for the salvation of all, if he chooses to save some.

4. God has ever acted on this principle, and therefore it must be right.

II. In point of fact the heathen cannot be saved without the gospel.

1. Because the Bible declares the light of nature to be insufficient.

2. Because it has declared faith in Christ to be necessary.

3. Because it has commanded the gospel to be preached to all nations as the means of saving them.

4. Because it has declared holiness to be necessary, and the heathen are not holy.

5. Such is and ever has been the faith of the Church. The reproach is often cast upon evangelical churches that they are uncharitable; but Greeks, Romanists and High Churchmen restrict salvation to an external body, we restrict it only to the good. All the holy will be saved.

III. Inferences.

1. We should be humbled under a sense of insensibility and want of faith. We exhibit the same unbelief respecting, ourselves and others. It is a great sin.

2. Truths should assume in us the form of principles and not depend on feeling. We should act under the conviction that the gospel is necessary.

3. We should consecrate ourselves to this work. We waste our lives if they are devoted to any other object.

Monday, February 04, 2008

My joy

“But I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble.” (Psalm 59:16)

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I met a brother in Christ yesterday. From a far away country, New Zealand.
What a blessing it is to know that we are everywhere, meeting on-line first, and then in real life, and worshipping Lord together.

Fare well, Martin, and God Bless on your journey home.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Oh the perspective...

“However, as it is written: "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him"—” (1 Corinthians 2:9)

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Friday, February 01, 2008

Domestic Missions

by Charles Hodge

I. The object of domestic missions is to supply the destitute portions of our own population with the institutions of the gospel. There are two methods of doing this. The one is by itinerant preachers. This method was the one originally adopted in our church, and continued until a recent period of our history. The object of such itinerants was partly, to preach to the scattered population who had no opportunity to attend any place of stated worship; and partly, to organize new churches by gathering scattered members and ordaining officers over them, and thus to put them in the way of getting a minister for themselves. The other method of conducting the work of missions is to aid feeble churches in sustaining a pastor. This method, with us, has almost superseded the other. There is no reason why they should not be combined. Neither, of itself, is sufficient. Dr. C. C. Jones, when secretary of the Board of Missions, acted on the plan of aiding a church for a few years, and then abandoning it, if it did not become self–supporting. This was a disastrous policy. There are great practical difficulties in this work, because no central Board can know the necessities of every locality, and the judgment of presbyteries so often influenced by special regard to their own field and neglect of the wants of other portions of the country; they are influenced also by natural sympathy with their own members.

II. Who are to perform this work? Whose duty is it to see that the gospel is sustained among the people? There are two different principles on which the Church has been divided. The one is that the duty of sustaining the gospel in any one place, rests on the people of that place. This is natural, or at least plausible. The support of the municipal officers of a town or borough rests exclusively on the people of the town. It is their concern, and the concern of no one else. The same is true also of the poor. It seems unreasonable that people of one town should contribute to the support of the minister of another. This principle would be the right one provided,

1. The people felt the necessity for a minister as they do that of municipal officers, and

2. Provided the interests at stake were those of the people of that place exclusively. But neither of these things are true, and, therefore, this plan if rigorously carried out would be destructive. The other principle is that the obligation to sustain the gospel rests upon the Church as a whole. The command is to preach the gospel, i.e., secure its being known, everywhere. This is the true principle,

1. Because all the considerations, except those which are personal and family, which bind us to support the gospel in one place, apply to all others. The gospel is necessary everywhere. Men will perish without the knowledge of it. The honor of Christ is promoted by the conversion of souls everywhere. The interests of morality, religion, and social order, and national prosperity are as much concerned in having the gospel in one place as in another.

2. The gospel cannot spread, and will not be sustained on the other plan. People will not send for it, nor support it.

3. The Church acts on this principle among the heathen.

4. The most aggressive and prosperous denominations act on it.

5. The state has been forced to act on it in matters of education.

6. The permanence, power and spiritual welfare of our church is deeply concerned in this.

III. Reasons why we should devote more energy to Domestic Missions.

1. The general reasons of the command of Christ, the value of the soul, and the necessity of religion to social and national prosperity.

2. The special reason of the greatness of the work. Compare this work in England and Scotland with the work here. The extent of the country and the sparseness of the population render it specially difficult, and therefore demanding zeal.

3. The rapid increase of our population; it is outrunning the means of supply.

4. The certainty that error and vice will prevail, if the gospel be not preached and sustained.

5. The importance of the forming period of a nation’s life, and the permanency of the original type. Illustrations.

6. All other good enterprises depend on this.