Not Faith, But Christ

April 30, 2008

Faith does not come to Calvary to do anything. It comes to see the glorious spectacle of all things done, and to accept this completion without a misgiving as to its efficacy. It listens to the “It is finished!” of the Sin-bearer, and says, “Amen.”

PrayerWhere faith begins, there labor ends, — labor, I mean, “for” life and pardon. Faith is rest, not toil. It is the giving up all the former weary efforts to do or feel something good, in order to induce God to love and pardon; and the calm reception of the truth so long rejected, that God is not waiting for any such inducements, but loves and pardons of His own goodwill, and is showing that goodwill to any sinner who will come to Him on such a footing, casting away his own performances or goodness, and relying implicitly upon the free love of Him who so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son.

Faith is the acknowledgment of the entire absence of all goodness in us, and the recognition of the cross as the substitute for all the want on our part.

Faith saves, because it owns the complete salvation of another, and not because it contributes anything to that salvation. There is no dividing or sharing the work between our own belief and Him in whom we believe. The whole work is His, not ours, from the first to last.

Faith does not believe in itself, but in the Son of God. Like the beggar, it receives everything, but gives nothing. It consents to be a debtor forever to the free love of God. Its resting-place is the foundation laid in Zion. It rejoices in another, not in itself. Its song is, “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but by His mercy He saved us.”

From Not Faith, But Christ by Horatius Bonar


School of Prayer – Lesson 3

April 29, 2008

Thoughts about  the Third Lesson of With Christ in the School of Prayer:

“And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. ( Matthew 6:5-8 )

school of prayer “And when you pray…” notice first of all that the practice of prayer is assumed to be a characteristic of the followers of Christ. Prayer is something that should be both natural and common place, something that is not only assumed but understood to be vital in the life of His followers.  About this characteristic of the followers of Christ Matthew Henry commented “You may as soon find a living man that does not breathe, as a living Christian that does not pray.”

Notice secondly that prayer is also an activity regularly and publicly practiced by hypocrites. Another word for hypocrite is pretender and these pretenders could be found in the time of Jesus, just as today, everywhere — street corners, places of worship, and almost any other place they could find to perform for a human audience.

By way of contrast, Jesus also taught about the difference between the right and wrong motivation for prayer: pretenders pray to bring attention to themselves but true prayer is focused on the Father; pretenders pray for the benefit of their human audience but true prayer is an offering of intimate fellowship; the prayers of pretenders are faithless “empty phrases” but true prayer is authored by need, sealed by faith, and confirmed by the Father’s foreknowledge.

If we would learn to pray rightly we will do well to often and regularly enter into our own prayer closet and there learn from the Master in the School of Prayer.

Blessed Saviour!  with my whole heart I do bless Thee for the appointment of the inner chamber, as the school where Thou meetest each of Thy pupils alone, and revealest to him the Father.  O my Lord!  strengthen my faith so in the Father’s tender love and kindness, that as often as I feel sinful or troubled, the first instinctive thought may be to go where I know the Father waits me, and where prayer never can go unblessed.  Let the thought that He knows my need before I ask, bring me, in great restfulness of faith, to trust that He will give what His child requires.  O let the place of secret prayer become to me the most beloved spot of earth.

And, Lord!  hear me as I pray that Thou wouldest everywhere bless the closets of Thy believing people.  Let Thy wonderful revelation of a Father’s tenderness free all young Christians from every thought of secret prayer as a duty or a burden, and lead them to regard it as the highest privilege of their life, a joy and a blessing.  Bring back all who are discouraged, because they cannot find ought to bring Thee in prayer.  O give them to understand that they have only to come with their emptiness to Him who has all to give, and delights to do it.  Not, what they have to bring the Father, but what the Father waits to give them, be their one thought.

And bless especially the inner chamber of all Thy servants who are working for Thee, as the place where God’s truth and God’s grace is revealed to them, where they are daily anointed with fresh oil, where their strength is renewed, and the blessings are received in faith, with which they are to bless their fellow-men.  Lord, draw us all in the closet nearer to Thyself and the Father.  Amen.


Theology Barf Bag #5

April 27, 2008

 

theology barf bag

This week’s Theology Barf Bag is courtesy of Rod Parsley, a man who apparently holds Scripture in as low esteem as he does his responsibilities for financial stewardship.

Barf chunks:

“Three important factors are at work in the process of possession…Speak faith into your spirit…Your tongue will either announce your next victory or your next defeat. Speak victory. Refuse to open a door for the enemy’s attack with your tongue.”

 Click the bag to view its contents.

Caution: This stuff stinks.


A Bible Stir Up

April 26, 2008

sitrup-logoThe HOLY BIBLE contains the mind of God, the state of man, the way of salvation, the doom of sinners, and the happiness of believers.

Its doctrines are holy, its precepts are binding, its histories are true, and its decisions are immutable.

Why do you not read it?

Read it to be wise, believe it to be safe, and practice it to be holy.

It contains light to direct you, food to support you, and comfort to cheer you.

It is the traveler’s map, the pilgrim’s staff, the pilot’s compass, the soldier’s sword, and the Christian’s charter.

Why do you not study it?

Here Paradise is restored, heaven opened, and the gates of hell disclosed.

CHRIST is its grand subject, our good the design, and the glory of God its end.

It should fill the memory, rule the heart, and guide the feet.

Why do you not believe it?

Read it slowly, frequently, and prayerfully.

It is a mine of wealth, a paradise of glory, and a river of pleasure.

It is given you in life, will be opened at the judgment, and remembered forever.

Why do you not obey it?

It involves the highest responsibility, will reward the greatest labor, and will condemn all who trifle with its sacred contents.

Why do you not live by it?


Ben Stein – Expelled – An Audience Review

April 20, 2008

I rarely read movie reviews and I suspect that most people who write a review of Ben Stein’s documentary Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed probably could have written it based on their personal bias before ever seeing the movie. This review at Screen Rant seems to be an exception to the rule though and is worth reading.

The thing that most intrigued me about the film was not so much the film itself but the reaction of the audience to movie.

About one-third of the way through, I noticed that everyone in the theater was very and unusually attentive to the movie. Once the movie started no one left their seats until it ended and the usual side talk and other distractions associated with movie-going was noticeably absent. All eyes, as far as I could tell, were completely focused on the documentary.

When the movie ended, their was the briefest pause, during which time no one got up from their seats, and I heard something I have not heard in a movie theater since I was a child — applause.

Spontaneous audience wide applause.

Go see it.

 

Related:

Ben Stein: Expelled

R.C. Sproul Interviews Ben Stein – Expelled


Still Think You’re a Good Person?

April 20, 2008

Fox has a game show called The Moment of Truth on which contestants answer a series of personal and embarrassing questions to receive cash. Before each show, contestants are asked more than 50 questions while the truthfulness of their answers is measured by polygraph. During the show, 21 of the same questions are asked again, if the contestant’s answers are truthful based on the results of the previously administered polygraph, they go on to the next question. If the contestant lies or refuses to answer, the game ends.

Since the show first aired on January 23, 2008 no one has answered all 21 questions truthfully.

Think about that for just a minute. The “secret” things of our lives are so shameful or hurtful or embarrassing that we cannot answer truthfully just 21 questions about our lives  — not even for $500,000!

If we are this ashamed of our own actions now, just think about what it will be like on the Day of Judgment when we have to give an account for all our thoughts, all our words, and all our deeds.

This video (HT: The Lawman Chronicles) puts this is in perspective:

Related:

The Human Condition

How Many People Face Judgement Every Day?

The Cure Only Jesus Can Offer


Rob Bell’s Misplaced Seeds of Compassion

April 18, 2008

Rob Bell has been taking a shalacking because of the way he presented himself during the Seeds of Compassion gathering that was held in Seattle April 11-15. The thing that amazes me about the criticism is that for some reason people seemed to have been surprised that the Seeds-of-Compassion Rob Bell was the same relativizing Rob Bell who authored Velvet Elvis and the theology-cherry-picking-dogma-averse Rob Bell of the Nooma series.

Why would anyone be surprised because Rob Bell didn’t clearly present the Gospel of Jesus Christ at the Seeds of Compassion event when he seems unable to do it even from the pulpit of his own congregation?

More intelligent comments about Bell’s misplaced Seeds of Compassion can be found here, here, and video can be found here.