Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for August, 2011

Source: Gary Chaffins (www.garychaffins.com)

Absolute Perfection

In this second blog post on the Holiness of God,  I think it’s important for us to understand that since this is very nature and essence of God, that God is Holy, that we understand that the outworking of His Holiness means that God would have to cease to be God to do something unholy or to allow any unholy or imperfect person or thing into His presence. That is to say, that if anyone or anything attempts to be in the presence of God they must come as one that is “Holy” in and of themselves, which the Bible has emphatically stated that there is none of this type but God alone.

“We cannot  grasp the true meaning of the divine holiness by thinking of someone or  something very pure and then raising the concept to the highest degree we are  capable of.  God’s holiness is not simply  the best we know infinitely bettered.  We  know nothing like the divine holiness.   It stands apart, unique, unapproachable, incomprehensible and  unattainable.  The natural man is blind  to it.  He may fear God’s power and admire God’s wisdom, but His holiness he cannot even  imagine.”

-A.W  Tozer

No Sin In Him

In virtue of His Holiness, God can have no communion with sin! As previously stated God cannot sin, cannot take pleasure in sin, and cannot have fellowship with sin. Job tells us that “far be it from God that he should do wickedness, and from the Almighty that he should do wrong.” (Job 34:10). In another frightening passage we read “For you are not a God who delights in wickedness; evil may not dwell with you. The boastful shall not stand before your eyes; you hate all evildoers. You destroy those who speak lies; the LORD abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man.” (Psalm 5:4-6). We also see this same concept throughout the New Testament, most clearly stated by John “This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.” (1 John 1:5).

The understanding of this aspect of Gods Holiness may best be defined in the word’s of Systematic Theologian Louis Berkhoff when he said “that perfection of God, in virtue of which He eternally wills and maintains His own moral excellence, abhors sin, and demands purity in His moral creatures”

The truth about God

If we were to poll one hundred strangers from the streets and ask them to describe “God” to us, I am confident that the majority of responses would be along these lines “God is love” and the outworking of this theology typically leads to statements such as this: “because God is love, He would never send anyone to Hell”. Although the love God is a very important and biblical attribute of God and in it we find much truth about who He is, we must understand that God’s love cannot be separated from His holiness. That is to say that we will never truly understand the love of God, properly, without understanding the biblical portrait of His holiness. The Holiness of God must be the root of our understanding of all other attributes.

To inflate the love of God at the expense of His Holiness is to distort the truth and ultimately paints a “god” that is very unlike the God of scripture. As previously stated, the nature of God is that He has no sin, nor can He even have sin in His presence. That is to say that God is not only sinless Himself but His Holiness naturally causes Him to hate sin and furthermore those who practice it. More precisely stated “For everyone who does these things, everyone who acts unjustly is an abomination to the LORD your God.” (Deuteronomy 25:16). This confronts the culturally acceptable ideology of the nature of God. In light of our understanding of God’s Holiness we must realize that for God’s love to be Holy that it must hate! The commonly used phrase “God hates the sin, loves the sinner” needs to be re-evaluated based on passages such as “The boastful shall not stand before your eyes; you hate all evildoers.” (Psa 5:5) The truth is that because God is Holy, He not only hates the sin, but His hatred is naturally manifested against those who practice it!

“Wrath, unlike love, is not one of the intrinsic perfections of God. Rather, it is a function of God’s holiness against sin. Where there is no sin, there is no wrath-but there will always be love in God. Where God in His holiness confronts His image-bearers in their rebellion, there must be wrath, or God is not the jealous God He claims to be, and His holiness is impugned. The price of diluting God’s wrath is diminishing God’s holiness.”

-D.A. Carson

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Source: Gary Chaffins (www.garychaffins.com)

This is the first of a few blog posts regarding my thoughts on the Holiness of God.I hope that this serves as a help in your understanding of the nature and character of God by examining this important attribute. May God be glorified!

“Without such a vision of God’s holiness, true worship is not possible. Worship is not giddy. It does not rush into God’s presence unprepared and insensitive to His majesty. It is not shallow, superficial, or flippant. Worship is life lived in the presence of an infinitely righteous and omnipresent God by one utterly aware of His holiness and consequently overwhelmed with his own unholiness…If you have never worshiped God with a broken and contrite spirit, you’ve never fully worshiped God, because that is the only appropriate response to entering the presence of Holy God.”

-John MacArthur

As believers we are often confronted with truths throughout Gods word that nearly leave us speechless. Although we love God and have been accepted in His Son through faith, there are often points of theology that upon even a minute understanding can cause our entire view of God to turn right side up. I say that to mean that upon grasping the truth of God’s Word that He, seemingly, becomes more real, more intimate, and more beautiful and the list goes on and on. This is truly how I felt as I studied and considered this topic, The Holiness of God. As I stood face to face with the Holiness of the one True God, as found in the pages of Holy Writ, I began to find myself crying out with Isaiah “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!”” (Isaiah 6:5)

Define Holy

The Hebrew word for “Holy,” quadash, takes its meaning from its root word “qad” which literally means to cut or separate. To say someone or something is Holy (quadash) “is used to denote someone or something that is inherently sacred or has been designated as sacred by divine rite or ceremony. It designates that which is the opposite of common or profane.” So our understanding of Holy should be, simply stated, “separated,” “marked off,” “placed apart,” “withdrawn from common use.” This word is regularly used throughout the Old Testament, primarily when speaking of “Yahweh”.

“Holy can be defined as “separate,” “set apart,” “distinct,” or “uncontaminated.” In reference to God, “holy” means that He is different from us. None of His attributes can be understood by comparison to his creatures… Holiness is not one of many attributes of God. It is his essential nature and seen in all His qualities.”

-Edward T. Welch

It is also important that we note that this understanding of the word Holy is not limited to the Old Testament. We see this same concept of the Hebrew word “quadash” revealed to us through at least two Greek words, “hagios” and “hagiazo”. “Its fundamental idea is separation, consecration, devotion to the service of Deity, sharing in God’s purity and abstaining from earth’s defilement.”

 God is Holy

The word “Holy” is often flippantly uttered off of the lips of both believers and non believers alike. Typically we will find it used in some very creative ways, which often ends with the word “cow”, “moly” (whatever that means) or something like that. It is tossed around so loosely that it is evident that they do not even realize what the word “Holy” means.

On the other hand you have those within the realm of the Church world who will say God is Holy, who will sing songs about His Holiness but when confronted with the truth of His Holiness, they will deny it, as if that cannot be the God of the Bible. In other words, to most professing believers; to call God Holy is just a phraseology of sort, it has no real impact or meaning to their lives. The “holy god” of their songs is typically a “holy god” made up in their own mind.

It is of my opinion that most of those that make up each of these groups really know very little about what they are saying when they speak of God being “Holy”.

We see passages such as 1 Samuel 2:2 that says “There is no one holy like the LORD, Indeed, there is no one besides You, Nor is there any rock like our God” To say that there is “NO ONE Holy like the Lord” does not require any theological understanding to interpret. Simply stated, there is NONE, NO ONE, NO THING like the Lord. He is alone in His realm and there is nothing to else to compare Him with. To further prove this magnificent and vast, yet basic point we see passages such as Exodus 15:11 that says “Who is like You among the gods, O LORD? Who is like You, majestic in holiness, Awesome in praises, working wonders?”

To say that God is Holy is to say that He is completely distinct from all of His creatures, that He is all together different and more specifically that this distinction stems from the fact that He is completely perfect and pure. God, by nature transcends all of creation and furthermore the fact that He is perfectly pure means that He is completely unapproachable by any unclean thing.

Read Full Post »

“The Love of God is Perfected in You”

 

As I sat  in my office this morning, contemplating the pressures that the new day often brings, the Spirit drew my heart back to a passage that I read through last night.

 

“Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.” 1 John 2:4-6

 

At first glance there is nothing there that seems to have the WOW factor such as passages like Romans 8:28.  However, upon a deeper examination of the text I think there is great comfort for those who love God, those who desire to be conformed to the image of Christ, those who find their sin to be exceedingly sinful, the brother and/or sister in Christ who loves God’s word and whose
heart bears witness with the Psalmist when he said “My soul clings to the dust; give me life according to your word!” (Psalm 119:25).

We notice that text is warning us that those who claim “I know Him” but do not walk in line with His commandments, that is the teachings that are in sync with His word (as seen in vs. 5), are liars.  They demonstrate that they are false by not attending carefully to the truth of the Word.  This ignorance of doctrine, this failure to hold fast to the word makes it apparent that the Spirit is not leading them into truth and that they are liars.  Their profession is nothing more than words with no life to follow.  However, to the one who says “I know Him”,
the one who “keeps” His word….you are not a liar!

 I want to be sure that we don’t skim over and miss some very important words found in this text “whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected”(vs 5).  Did you catch that? If someone is consistent in their daily intake and application of Bible doctrine, something amazing is happening behind the scenes. The love of God is being perfected in them.  We should not take this to mean that God’s love becomes greater towards us as we keep His word; but we should take it to mean that Gods love manifests itself in greater measure as we dive into the riches of His word. His love is completed in us or as one commentator stated “In the Christian who maintains God’s truth, God’s love has truly come to fruition” in our lives.

The outworking of this truth is very evident; both objectively and subjectively, that is to say that the proof is in the pudding! As Gods love is perfected in us, we can know that we are of Him, because of how His love works itself out in our lives. In other words, as we experience the riches in Christ as revealed in the pages of scripture, the more we will seek a more intimate relationship with Him and the more we will desire to live like Him. This divine love that we experience through keeping His word becomes the source of love from the believer to God and to others.  This is a continuous process of growth and is vital to our understanding of the role scripture plays in regards to our sanctification.

As we take in God’s word, His love is perfected in us and through us; that is the proof that we are not liars and that the truth is in us.  The true believer loves the word, guards the word and responds to the word like Jeremiah when he said “Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I am called by your name, O LORD, God
of hosts” (Jeremiah 15:16).  As a result, you will continue on in a pattern of diligent study as the Spirit illuminates and applies His word to your heart and life. The effect of this is that you will desire to walk in a lifestyle of obedience as you are being conformed to the image of Christ.

So you may ask: where is this Romans 8:28 kind of impact? What’s the WOW factor? Please consider this, regardless of your circumstances,
regardless of how you feel, regardless of what others around you say and do; the believer can go to God’s word to find food for their soul.  As we listen to God’s voice as found in the pages of scripture, we are also taking in and experiencing His love, which causes us to “walk as He walked” (vs. 6)  and “By this we may know that we are in Him” (vs. 5). This should be the only WOW factor that the child of God desires!

Please consider the following words from the song “My Hope” written by Pastor John MacArthur:

 “Oh to be like Thee dear Jesus my plea
Just to know Thou art formed fully in me
On with Thy beauty, Lord off with my sin
Fixed on Thy glory, Thy likeness to win

Oh to be like Thee, Thine image display
This is the Spirit’s work, day after day
Glory to glory, transformed by His grace
Till in Thy presence I stand face to face

To be like Thee Jesus
To be like Thee Jesus
For this I live, to the day I’ll die
It is my hope, my prayer, my cry

Oh to be like Thee, Thou lover of men
Gracious and gentle, compassionate friend
Merciful Savior, such kindness and care
Are only mine when Thy likeness I share”

“The LORD is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him.” (Psalm 28:7)

Pastor Gary Chaffins

(originally posted on 8-23-11)

Read Full Post »

“Knowing that he has been drafted, fitted for ministry, entrusted with a message, and sent out in the name of the Lord, the minister ought to demonstrate the proper authority in his every action.  It is not a proud or arrogant authority, nor a tyranny, nor a selfish domination; all of these would be a singular affront to the One whose commission forms the basis of his ministry.  Rather, it is an authority that is displayed in adoration of the Lord, humility before the Lord, boldness for the Lord, and absolute loyalty to the Lord and His truth”

David Hegg, Appointed to Preach

(via www.graceonlinelibrary.org)

Read Full Post »

What is “let-go-and-let-God” theology? It’s called Keswick theology, and it’s one of the most significant strands of second-blessing theology. It assumes that Christians experience two “blessings.” The first is getting “saved,” and the second is getting serious. The change is dramatic: from a defeated life to a victorious life; from a lower life to a higher life; from a shallow life to a deeper life; from a fruitless life to a more abundant life; from being “carnal” to being “spiritual”; and from merely having Jesus as your Savior to making Jesus your Master. People experience this second blessing through surrender and faith: “Let go and let God.”

Keswick theology comes from the early Keswick movement. Keswick (pronounced KE H-zick) is a small town in the scenic Lake District of northwest England. Since 1875, it has hosted a weeklong meeting in July for the Keswick Convention. The movement’s first generation (about 1875– 1920) epitomized what we still call “Keswick theology” today.

People who influenced Keswick theology include John Wesley, Charles Finney, and Hannah Whitall Smith. Significant proponents of Keswick theology include Evan H. Hopkins (Keswick’s formative theologian), H. Moule (Keswick’s scholar and best theologian), F. B. Meyer (Keswick’s international ambassador), Andrew Murray (Keswick’s foremost devotional author), J. Hudson Taylor and Amy Carmichael (Keswick’s foremost missionaries), Frances Havergal (Keswick’s hymnist), and W. H. Griffith Thomas, and Robert C. McQuilkin (leaders of the victorious life movement). People who were influenced by Keswick theology include leaders of the Christian and Missionary Alliance (A. B. Simpson), Moody Bible Institute (D. L. Moody and R. A. Torrey), and Dallas Seminary (Lewis Chafer and Charles Ryrie).

Beginning in the 1920s, the Keswick Convention’s view of sanctification began to shift from the view promoted by the leaders of the early convention. William Scroggie (1877– 1958) led that transformation to a view of sanctification closer to the Reformed view. The official Keswick Convention that now hosts the annual Keswick conferences holds a Reformed view of sanctification and invites speakers who are confessionally reformed.

Keswick theology is pervasive because countless people have propagated it in so many ways, especially in sermons and devotional writings. It is appealing because Christians struggle with sin and want to be victorious in that struggle now. Keswick theology offers a quick fix, and its shortcut to instant victory appeals to genuine longings for holiness.

Keswick theology, however, is not biblically sound. Here are just a few of the reasons why:

1. Disjunction:
It creates two categories of Christians. This is the fundamental, linchpin issue.

2. Perfectionism:
It portrays a shallow and incomplete view of sin in the Christian life.

3. Quietism:
It tends to emphasize passivity, not activity.

4. Pelagianism:
It tends to portray the Christian’s free will as autonomously starting and
stopping sanctification.

5. Methodology:
It tends to use superficial formulas for instantaneous sanctification.

6. Impossibility:
It tends to result in disillusionment and frustration for the “have-nots.”

7. Spin:
It tends to misinterpret personal experiences.

You can tell that Keswick theology has influenced people when you hear a Christian “testimony” like this: “I was saved when I was eight years old, and I surrendered to Christ when I was seventeen.”

By “saved,” they mean that Jesus became their Savior and that they became a Christian. By “surrendered,” they mean that they gave full control of their lives to Jesus as their Master, yielded to do whatever He wanted them to do, and “dedicated” themselves through surrender and faith. That two-tiered view of the Christian life is let-go-and-let-God theology.

The Keswick Convention commendably emphasized personal holiness and left a legacy of Christian service, but holy and fruitful living by no means distinguishes Keswick theology from other views. All of the major views on sanctification have adherents who are exemplary, inspiring Christians, and disagreeing with a particular view of sanctification in no way questions the devotion to Christ of those who hold that view.

We shouldn’t determine our view of sanctification by counting up who we perceive to be the most holy Christians and seeing which view has the most. Scripture, and Scripture alone, must determine our view of sanctification.

As John Murray reminds us, “The cause neither of truth nor of love is promoted by suppressing warranted criticism.” Constructively criticizing a faulty view of sanctification can actually advance the cause of truth and love.

Source:  Andrew Naselli (www.ligonier.org)

Read Full Post »

When I wrote a recent article on a scientist’s attempt to make a bird, and how it infinitely fell short of the incredible design he plagiarized, an atheist responded with, “Here’s one difference: The robot bird’s maker showed up on stage to demonstrate it. He could show you his plans [and] outline the process by which he built it. He was there for all to see. Not so your God.”

Atheism is truly “senseless.” Sir Isaac Newton’s word in describing the belief was well-chosen. It lacks sense. It’s about as sensible as a man who is in a dark room, denying the existence of light. His senselessness is seen in that he refuses to come into the light. A little investigation on his part would end his argument.

A little investigation would reveal to any atheist that the Maker did show up on the stage of life. God was manifest in human form. The Bible says: “And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifested in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen by angels, preached among the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up in glory” (1 Timothy 3:16). The Gospel of John opens by saying that same thing; that the Word that created all things “became flesh and dwelt among us.”

While angels rejoiced at the incarnation, mankind refused to give God the slightest applause. The Scriptures say this was because they loved the darkness and hated the light, and they refused to come to the light because it exposed their evil deeds: “And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil” (John 3:19).

The first time Jesus publically opened His mouth, they so hated His words they tried to throw Him off a cliff (see Luke 4:28-30). As time passed, they further attempted to murder Him ten times before He reached the cross, the purpose for which He came. They hated Him because He accused them of being evil. Nothing has changed. This evil world still hates the name of Jesus. No other leader in history has his name used as a cuss word. It even makes demons tremble.

God clearly showed us His plans by laying them out in the world’s biggest-selling book. He outlined the process by which He “built” all things. The Book of Genesis is there for us to read and believe, if we so desire. It stands up scientifically and its words are clearly reflected in creation. Despite the fantasies of evolution believers, we see male and female in over a million kinds of animals, fish, insects, and birds, and every one brings forth after its own kind (except for a few lonely worms who don’t experience the joys of procreation).

Nothing changes kinds—neither in the existing creation, nor has anything changed kinds–according to the fossil record. Of course, believers in evolution believe differently, and that’s their God-given right. It’s also my God-given right not to be a believer.

Yes, God was manifest for all to see. His plans were written clearly for any who want to investigate them. What He did for sinful humanity wasn’t done in a dark room. He did it in the light and if someone can’t see it clearly, they need only come into the light. God became a human being and took upon Himself the sin of the world, and then He rose from the dead defeating death for all who believe (trust). Jesus paid the fine in full on the cross so that the criminals who had violated God’s Law (the Ten Commandments) could have their cases dismissed. Upon our repentance and faith in Jesus, God terminates our case and lets us live. The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Don’t be senseless. Take the gift…or at least earnestly investigate it while you still have time. Your wages are waiting for you to collect them. Make sure you quit before Payday.

Source: Ray Comfort (www.raycomfort.com)

Read Full Post »

One of the church’s greatest privileges and responsibilities is ministering to children. Whether the context is children’s church, Sunday school, AWANA, VBS, or something else-and whether it’s evangelism or discipleship-our greatest priority is teaching the gospel. Responding to Christ’s work in repentance and faith is how children begin and mature in the Christian life.

Sharing the gospel with children, however, is not simply presenting a flannel graph lesson and asking for a show of hands. In fact, statistics indicate that most children raised in the church abandon the faith after high school. This raises a question: Did these kids really understand and respond to the gospel, or were they merely inoculated against genuine Christianity?

Three Concerns

I have three concerns about how we share the gospel with children:

1) That we not replace the true gospel with false or distorted versions

2) That we not confuse the gospel with a child’s response

3) That we not equate a true, inward, spiritual response with an outward physical or emotional response

True or False?

In Galatians 1, Paul sternly warned of those who distorted Christ’s gospel, saying: “If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you
received, let him be accursed” (Gal. 1:9). We cannot and must not modify, amend, or distort the saving message of the cross. But there are many false or distorted versions that masquerade as the truth.

We also must not confuse the gospel with a call to moral obedience. This means that it is insufficient to teach children to live by the Sermon on the Mount, practice the Golden Rule, obey the Ten Commandments, or simply love God and others.

Of course, we want children to obey Scripture, but if this is all we say, we are giving the law, not the gospel. As Tim Keller has pointed out, “The
gospel is good news, not good advice.”

Even worse is a message that focuses on self-esteem, self-help, or health, wealth, and prosperity. You don’t have to be a TV evangelist with big hair and a luxuriant set to fall into this. If we just present Jesus as affirming our selves or solving our difficulties, without talking of sin, judgment, and the cross, then we’re portraying Jesus as a spiritual genie, not a saving Lord.

Neither should we think we’ve shared the gospel when we have said, “If you ask Jesus into your heart [accept or receive Jesus], you will go to heaven when you die.” While it’s true that those who receive and believe are God’s children (John 1:12), it is false that “asking Jesus into your heart” brings salvation. For one thing, that statement includes nothing about:

*Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection

*Jesus’ identity as Messiah, Lord, and God manifested in the flesh

*Sin, the nature of salvation, and the need for repentance

Sothe problem with equating “asking Jesus into your heart” with the gospel is that it shifts the focus away from Jesus Christ’s atoning work
onto the child’s subjective work or experience.

What is the gospel, then? Paul defines it in 1 Corinthians 15:3-4:
“For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.”

Very simply, the gospel is that Jesus came into the world to save sinners (1 Tim. 1:15) through His death, burial, and resurrection.

Responding to the Gospel

My other two concerns are that we not confuse the gospel with a response and that we not equate a true, inward, spiritual response with an outward physical or emotional response.

A true response involves both repentance and faith (Acts 20:21). Repentance is turning from sin, self-righteousness (Phil. 3:1-10), and idolatry (1 Thess. 1:10) to serve the true and living God. Faith is trusting in the crucified and risen Christ to save us.

When sharing the gospel with children, we need to emphasize faith and repentance. But we must always remember that these are responses to the gospel; they are not the gospel itself. Ask for a response, but only after making the message clear.

But don’t confuse repentance and faith with a response to an invitation, such as:

*Raise your hand if you want to go to heaven.

*Pray the sinner’s prayer.

*You need to be baptized.

*Make a decision about Jesus today!

These methods have, no doubt, resulted in genuine conversions, but there are dangers. It’s easy to raise your hand or say a prayer without truly turning from sin and trusting in Jesus as Savior and Lord. On the other hand, it is possible to have repentance and faith without any physical or noticeable demonstration at that time.

Making It Practical

We all share a passion to make sure our children understand the gospel and turn to Christ in genuine salvation. Following are some points of emphasis to keep in mind as you guide young people to understand spiritual truth:

*Talk a lot about who Jesus is (God-Man, Savior, Lord, King) and what He has done (died for our sins on the cross, rose from the dead).

*Make it clear that all people need their sins forgiven and will be judged for their sins if they are not saved.

*Urge children to turn from their sins and trust in what Jesus has done.

*Invite children to talk to you further about their relationship with God.

*Motivate parents to pursue further discussions with their children.

*Think  long-term about how you can continually disciple children, vs. how many  “decisions” you can record.

*Pray for the children, and expect God in His grace to use the gospel to bring them to true, saving faith in Christ.

Source: www.brianghedges.com/2009/02/how-to-share-gospel-with-children.html

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »