Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Prayerful Parents

Don Carson reflects on the importance of his parents' example in prayer, and the enduring effect they've had on him as he seeks to order his days. This is a great reminder of the importance of prayerful parents:
My father was a church planter in Qu├ębec, in the difficult years when there was strong opposition, some of it brutal. Baptist ministers alone spent a total of eight years in jail between 1950 and 1952. Dad’s congregations were not large; they were usually at the lower end of the two-digit range.
On Sunday mornings after the eleven o’clock service, Dad would often play the piano and call his three children to join him in singing, while Mum completed the preparations for dinner. But one Sunday morning in the late fifties, I recall, Dad was not at the piano, and was not to be found.
I finally tracked him down. The door of his study was ajar. I pushed it open, and there he was, kneeling in front of his big chair, praying and quietly weeping. This time I could hear what he was saying. He was interceding with God on behalf of the handful of people to whom he had preached, and in particular for the conversion of a few who regularly attended but who had never trusted Christ Jesus.
In the ranks of ecclesiastical hierarchies, my father is not a great man. He has never served a large church, never written a book, never discharged the duties of high denominational office. Doubtless his praying, too, embraces idioms and stylistic idiosyncrasies that should not be copied.
But with great gratitude to God, I testify that my parents were not hypocrites. That is the worst possible heritage to leave with children: high spiritual pretensions and low performance. My parents were the opposite: few pretensions, and disciplined performance.
What they prayed for were the important things, the things that congregate around the prayers of Scripture. And sometimes when I look at my own children, I wonder if, should the Lord give us another thirty years, they will remember their father as a man of prayer, or think of him as someone distant who was away from home rather a lot and who wrote a number of obscure books.
That quiet reflection often helps me to order my days.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Justified

"Therefore, since we have been justified by faith..." (Romans 5:1) This is at the heart of the good news of the gospel, that those who have believed in the Lord Jesus are justified.

But what does it mean to be justified, and why is it such good news? Martyn Lloyd-Jones puts it better than I could:

But this is the amazing message, and this is what is meant by justification – that God tells us that, as the result of the work of the Lord Jesus Christ, because of his life, his death and his resurrection, if we believe on him and trust ourselves solely and entirely to him, God pardons and forgives our sins. Not only that, he declares that we are free from guilt: more than that, justification includes this. He not only declares that we are pardoned and forgiven and that we are guiltless, he also declares that we are positively righteous. He imputes to us, that is, he puts to our account, the righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ himself, who was entirely without sin, who never failed his Father in any way, and who never broke a Commandment or transgressed any law. God gives to us – puts upon us – the righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ himself, and then looks upon us and pronounces that we are righteous in his holy sight. That is the biblical doctrine of justification.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Tuesday Teaching| The Trinity (3)

We come to the third and final of Carl Trueman's talks on the doctrine of the Trinity. Enjoy.

Friday, 16 March 2012

"...it was all the gift of God."

With tomorrow being St. Patrick's day, I thought I'd post something that I put up last year to remind us of the real Patrick:

Happy St. Patrick's Day! Patrick was one of the greatest missionaries that ever lived. He sacrificed his life to bring the gospel to Ireland. To celebrate Paddy's day here are some words from the man himself.

In a letter to the Soldiers of Coroticus he said these words about his mission to the Irish people:
I have traded in my homeland, my family, and my very life for them - even if it means my death. If I am worthy, I will devote the rest of my days to teaching the Irish - even if some of you beyond this island despise me.
At the end of his Confession, which recounts his conversion, life and ministry, he says these words about all that he had accomplished:
My final prayer is that all of you who believe in God and respect him - whoever you may be who read this letter that Patrick the unlearned sinner wrote from Ireland - that none of you will ever say that I in my ignorance did anything for God. You must understand - because it is the truth - that it was all the gift of God.
May God be gracious to us and raise up more men and women like this, those who are willing to give up their own comfort, reputation and lives to serve the gospel. May He grant us those who at the end of it all say, "I did nothing for God, it was all of His grace."

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Tuesday Teaching| The Trinity (2)

We continue with the second talk in Carl Trueman's series on the Trinity. Enjoy.


Thursday, 8 March 2012

Common Grace and Evangelism (2): A Gracious God

If sin has affected human beings right down to the core of who they are, then why is there so much good in the world?

This is the question we were left with at the end of the previous post. Over the next couple of posts we are going to answer this crucial question as we explore the Bible's teaching on common grace. In a final post we shall tie things together by looking at the implications our answer has on how we do evangelism.

The first thing we need to do is to establish an important truth about God. That God is a gracious God.

God is Gracious to All
As we turn to the pages of the Bible we see that God is a God who is gracious to all that he has made.

Psalm 145:9 tells us: "The LORD is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made." That’s pretty comprehensive! He is good to all, to all people. More than that, He is good to all of his creation. He has compassion on all that he has made. Notice that this is a goodness that he shows both to those who are his people, and to those who are not.

Consider Matthew 5:45, where Jesus tells His disciples that "your Father who is in heaven...makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust." God gives the blessings of sun and rain to the righteous and the unrighteous. Sun and rain are a sign of God’s goodness and favour. Notice how he shows this goodness and favour both to those who are his people and those who are not his people. He is gracious to both the Christian and to the non-Christian.

There are plenty more passages we could look at (such as Luke 6:35; Acts 14:17; 17:30). What we see, from this short study is that the Bible affirms that God shows undeserved kindness to all people. This includes both those who are his people and those who are not.

An Important Distinction
Now, we need to be clear here. The fact that God is gracious both to the believer and the unbeliever does not mean that all people will be saved. The Bible does not teach this.

Before the world was created, God chose some to be saved and others for destruction (See Romans 9:21-23; Ephesians 1:3-10). This means that some receive the special grace of God’s salvation, and others do not. However, at the same time we must affirm that he is gracious to all, even to those who will eventually end up in hell.

This means that we need to make a distinction: A distinction between what theologians call ‘common' grace and ‘saving' or 'special' grace. Common grace is a grace that God shows to all people whether Christian or non-Christian, saving grace is a grace that only those whom He has chosen will experience. Our focus in this series of posts is on ‘common grace’.

In this post we’ve laid an important foundation, and have shown that God is gracious to all people (and indeed all of his creation) with a common grace. In the next post I shall look at one particular aspect of how he shows this common grace. It is there that we shall begin to see more clearly the answer to the question of how totally depraved people can do so many good things.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Tuesday Teaching| The Trinity (1)

The following is the first of three talks on the doctrine of the Trinity, given by Carl Trueman at a Proclamation Trust minister's conference. The talks are a bit more brain-stretching than usual, but well worth the extra effort!


Thursday, 1 March 2012

Saturated with the Gospel

Charles Spurgeon gave this call to fellow ministers:
One thing more, and it is this. Let us, dear brethren, try to get saturated with the gospel. I always find that I can preach best when I can manage to lie a-soak in my text. I like to get a text, and find out its meaning and bearings, and so on; and then, after I have bathed in it, I delight to lie down in it, and let it soak into me. It softens me, or hardens me, or does whatever it ought to do to me, and then I can talk about it. You need not be very particular about the words and phrases if the spirit of the text has filled you; thoughts will leap out, and find raiment for themselves. Become saturated with spices, and you will smell of them; a sweet perfume will distill from you, and spread itself in every direction; — we call it unction. Do you not love to listen to a brother who abides in fellowship with the Lord Jesus? Even a few minutes with such a man is refreshing, for, like his Master, his paths drop fatness. Dwell in the truth, and let the truth dwell in you. Be baptized into its spirit and influence, that you may impart thereof to others. If you do not believe the gospel, do not preach it, for you lack an essential qualification; but even if you do believe it, do not preach it until you have taken it up into yourself as the wick takes up the oil. So only can you be a burning and a shining light.