Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Correct Question

"Why do bad things happen to good people?" That's the question that is so often asked, especially in times of suffering. However, it doesn't take a lot of consideration to realize how man-centered the question is and how its underlying assumption of people being "good" flies in the face of God's Word. A much better question is, "Why to good things happen to bad people?"

Jim Bublitz at OldTruth.com has a wonderful article/testimonial dealing with this question in real life...and how so many of our trite Christian responses just aren't correct. He ends with a YouTube video of a gentleman with a phenomenal testimony to God's grace through a lifetime of suffering. The next time you have something go wrong, think of these two gentlemen and how they place their whole life in God's hands, regardless of where it takes them. Take the time to watch and listen. You will be blessed.

You can get to it all by clicking HERE.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

"Test Yourself" Sermons

So if you read my last post and were convicted enough to spend some time in First John...and yet you are unsure about what to look for, God providentially showed me five sermons by Paul Washer that deal with this very issue...examining yourself to see if you are in the faith. They are free with registration.

Download them. Listen to them more than once...yes, all five of them! (I put them on my ipod in a playlist and listen when I am driving or walking or working in the yard.) Most importantly...apply what this man of God has to say to your life. It could be the difference between heaven and hell...for eternity....

Friday, September 14, 2007

Test Yourself...PLEASE!

A.W. Tozer in The Pursuit of God writes, "How tragic that we in this dark day have had our seeking done for us by our teachers. Everything is made to center upon the initial act of "accepting" Christ (a term, incidentally, which is not found in the Bible) and we are not expected thereafter to crave any further revelation of God to our souls. We have been snared in the coils of a spurious logic which insists that if we have found Him, we need no more seek Him. This is set before us like the last word in orthodoxy, and it is taken for granted that no Bible-taught Christian ever believed otherwise."

How many self-professed "Christians" have testimonies that center around "accepting Christ?" How many people who haven't darkened the door of a church for years and who haven't cracked a Bible in years still believe they are saved because they "accepted Christ?" The sad answer is, "many, if not most Americans." How many of these lost souls place their hope of eternal salvation upon a "decision" made many years previous, when their lives now reflect minimal interest in Christ?

We have the problem of how people are being "saved" in the first place. Many are being told all they have to do is give mental assent to some spiritual truths and then say a canned prayer. A "counselor" then assures them they are saved (which is something no human can do). Simply put, that is a false gospel and results in false conversions. Salvation comes through repentance and belief. In order to repent, a person must understand his sinful standing before a holy God such that he desires to turn from his sin. There is only one place that person can turn in order to find forgiveness and cleansing...and that place is the Cross of Jesus Christ. He must believe in the atoning sacrifice of God's own Son, embracing Him as his only Savior and only Hope...his Treasure. But the true convert doesn't do this just once! The Greek words translated "repent" and "believe" are in first person imperative...that means they are ongoing. A person repented and believed, is currently repenting and believing, and will repent and believe in the future!

John MacArthur in his recent podcasts on "Evidence of Faith" points out that no where in the Bible is a believer ever told to look in the past for assurance of faith. Rather, the believer is instructed to examine himself for evidence, and those tests for a saving faith are found in First John. You will find they have a lot to do with a continuing faith and a life that has changed!

Dr. Albert Mohler says, "Contemporary church sees itself as a voluntary association of autonomous members, with minimal moral accountability to God, much less to each other." These are not people who have changed lives. They have confused religious duty, morality, and a social structure with a passion for Christ. They may even value religious teaching. But as Paul Washer concludes, if that teaching "...doesn't lead to holiness, it is only vanity." Certainly, these people are generally nice...but they are lost. A major evidence of saving faith is a changed life that stands separate from the world in obedience to Jesus Christ and God's Word. How many professing Christians actually look significantly different from the world around them? I've heard two very good illustrations of this, both from Paul Washer.

The first is originally from Charles Spurgeon describing true conversion. If you were to release a pig onto a stage where on the floor were both a bucket of pig slop and a nice steak dinner, you would see the pig charge headlong to the bucket of slop, shove his head into it, and eat with joy. That's what you would expect; he's a pig and that's what pigs do! But if you had the power to instantly change that pig into a man, he would yank his head out of the slop, vomit up the contents of his stomach (for a man cannot eat what a pig eats), and sulk in shame when he realizes you have seen what he was doing.

Prior to our conversion, we are the pig, happily feeding in our bucket of sin. God changes our heart. Immediately we can no longer stomach the sin, yanking our head out. We feel revulsion and shame toward our sin, desiring to be as far from it as possible. But God, in His mercy, forgives us based on the sacrifice of His Son, separating us from our sin as far as the east is from the west. Although we may occasionally remember our days as a pig and stick our head back in the bucket of sin in hopes of finding a morsel or two, we will always find it to be wretched and turn back to our Savior. We cannot help but do otherwise, for we have been changed!

The second illustration is a story about a visiting pastor who is late for service. When he arrives, rather harried, but nevertheless clean and pressed, he explains his tardiness as follows: "I had a flat tire on the freeway. As I was changing it, I dropped a lug nut and it rolled into the middle of the lane beside me. Without thinking I ran out to get it and came face-to-face with a 20-ton logging truck doing 120 miles per hour!" Now obviously the congregation would assume he is a liar or a lunatic. Why? Because no one has an encounter like that with a 20-ton logging truck doing 120 miles per hour and isn't changed! How much more should a person be changed by an encounter with the living God, the holy Creator of all that is?

As a Christian, you simply MUST have a life that is changed, that is different from your culture, from the world. You must love Jesus to the point that His Word is a lamp unto your feet and a light unto the path of righteousness upon which you are walking. Anything less is strong evidence that your salvation is simply an empty system of religious morality and social construct...and that will cause you to ultimately hear those most fearful words in all the Bible: "I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness." (Matthew 7:23) Remember...those words are going to be said to people who stridently confess Jesus as Lord...in other words, people who are professing "Christians"!

Please. Please. Please...examine yourself.

Are you really different? Have you really been changed by God? Is Jesus Christ your true treasure? Get in a quiet place. Don't rely upon another human to confirm you are saved; test yourself! Open First John. Ask God to show you where you stand. If you don't pass the tests, fall on your face, mourn over your sin, and cry out to God for salvation. Grab the train of His robe and throw yourself at His mercy. Don't let go until He sends His Spirit to confirm in you eternal life.

(Note: Go HERE to a follow-on post that links to five sermons Paul Washer did on this topic.)

Thursday, September 13, 2007

The African Spurgeon

Have you heard of Pastor Conrad Mbewe? Probably not.

As the pastor of a church in Zambia, he has gained the well-earned reputation of being "The African Charles Spurgeon."

This 10-minute clip from YouTube is a portion of one of his sermons...powerful, strong, no-nonsense...a call to give your life to Jesus for the advancement of the Kingdom. You will have to listen carefully if your ears are not attuned to the African accent...but it is worth your time.

After viewing the video clip, if you wish to learn a bit more of his history, click HERE.

Be blessed by God's use of this man!