Using God


by Kim Riddlebarger

It has been said that pride is the oldest sin in the universe and that it shows no signs of growing weaker with age. Pride is the overestimation of our own worth and the inevitable tendency to exaggerate our own accomplishments. If the Bible is clear about anything, it is that ours is a fallen race and that human pride is the inevitable consequence of the Fall. God warned the people of Israel to exercise great care in this regard,

Lest you forget the Lord your God by not keeping his commandments and his rules and his statutes, which I command you today, lest, when you have eaten and are full and have built good houses and live in them, and when your herds and flocks multiply and your silver and gold is multiplied and all that you have is multiplied, then your heart be lifted up, and you forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery…. Beware lest you say in your heart, “My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth.” (Deut. 8:11-14, 17)

In Romans 1:22, Paul speaks of human pride in these terms: “Claiming to be wise, they became fools.” Because of sin, we suppress the fact that God is the source of all that we have. We see ourselves as far more important than we are. We act as though all of life rises and sets upon our own shadow. Therefore, we are constantly tempted to use God to suit our own sinful ends. Continue reading

Come to Me and I Will Give You Rest


by Mike Ratliff

On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.'” Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. (John 7:37-39 ESV)

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:3-12 ESV)

Hell is real. All who do not repent and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ will spend eternity there. Those who repent and believe are those who ‘come to Jesus to drink.’ They believe as the Holy Spirit is poured out on them to the point that their lives are taken over by Him. Those who do will never experience hell. Instead, they come to Jesus and find rest for their souls. Those who do this are poor in spirit. They mourn for their sins. They are not proud, but meek. In their growing godliness they hunger and thirst for Christ’s righteousness to become manifest in them. They become more and more Christlike, therefore, they take on His character. They show mercy as He does. They become more and more pure of heart. They remove themselves from seeking their own. Instead, they become those who live to bring others to their Lord. Conversely, this holy and separate life does not cause them to find peace in the world. No, instead they are persecuted for righteousness sake. Continue reading

The Horror of Hell


by Tom Ascol

“There is one very serious defect to my mind in Christ’s moral character, and that is that He believed in hell.” So wrote the agnostic British philosopher Bertrand Russell in 1967. The idea of eternal punishment for sin, he further notes, is “a doctrine that put cruelty in the world and gave the world generations of cruel torture.” Continue reading

Acknowledge Christ Before Men


by Mike Ratliff

And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem were saying, “He is possessed by Beelzebul,” and “by the prince of demons he casts out the demons.” And he called them to him and said to them in parables, “How can Satan cast out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but is coming to an end. But no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man. Then indeed he may plunder his house. “Truly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the children of man, and whatever blasphemies they utter, but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”– for they were saying, “He has an unclean spirit.” (Mark 3:22-30 ESV)

Several months ago I got into a comment and email exchange with a fellow who insisted that God will not condemn anyone to an eternity in hell. He said that it is only a temporary place that will be emptied when all things are reconciled to God in eternity. It did no good to use clear scripture references to show him that he was ignoring a great deal God’s truth. One thing that struck me was his stance that Romans 5 was blasphemous in reference to the doctrine of Original Sin and condemnation for all men by it, but there is justification and life for ‘the many’ (Romans 5:12-17). Was this a case of ‘blasphemy of the Holy Spirit?’ Continue reading

Secular Humanism


by Josh McDowell and Don Stewart

from Handbook of Today’s Religions

One of the most organized, most challenging and most clearly non-Christian philosophies of today is secular humanism. It is ably represented and defended by a core of prominent scientists and philosophers at the forefront of new scientific and philosophical thought. Secular humanism has its own meetings, its own “clergy” of spokesmen, its own “creed” called The Humanist Manifesto, and its own goals toward which it desires all of humanity to work. Because of its cohesive world view and strong threat to biblical Christianity, it needs to be examined and answered in this book. Continue reading

When the Tears Fall


by Tim Hughes
 
I’ve had questions, without answers
I’ve known sorrow, i have known pain
but theres one thing, that i’ll cling to
you are faithful, Jesus your true

when hope is lost, i’ll call you saviour
when pain surrounds, i’ll call you healer
when silence falls, you’ll be the song within my heart

in the lone hour, of my sorrow
through the darkest night of my soul
you surround me, and sustain me
my defender, forever more

when hope is lost, i’ll call you saviour
when pain surrounds, i’ll call you healer
when silence falls, you’ll be the song within my heart

I will praise you, i will praise you
when the tears fall, still i will sing to you
i will praise you, Jesus praise you
Through the suffereing still i will sing

when hope is lost, i’ll call you saviour
when pain surrounds, i’ll call you healer
when silence falls, you’ll be the song within my heart

I’ve had questions, without answers
I’ve known sorrow, i have known pain
but theres one thing, that i’ll cling to
you are faithful, Jesus your true

when hope is lost, i’ll call you saviour
when pain surrounds, i’ll call you healer
when silence falls, you’ll be the song within my heart

I will praise you, i will praise you
when the tears fall, still i will sing to you
i will praise you, Jesus praise you
Through the suffereing still i will sing 

when hope is lost, i’ll call you saviour
when pain surrounds, i’ll call you healer
when silence falls, you’ll be the song within my heart

Blessed Be Your Name


by Matt Redman

Blessed Be Your Name
In the land that is plentiful
Where Your streams of abundance flow
Blessed be Your name

Blessed Be Your name
When I’m found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness
Blessed Be Your name

Every blessing You pour out
I’ll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say

Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name

Blessed be Your name
When the sun’s shining down on me
When the world’s ‘all as it should be’
Blessed be Your name

Blessed be Your name
On the road marked with suffering
Though there’s pain in the offering
Blessed be Your name

Every blessing You pour out
I’ll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say

Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name

Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name

You give and take away
You give and take away
My heart will choose to say
Lord, blessed be Your name

The Test of Patient Endurance


by Mike Ratliff

And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. (1 Thessalonians 5:14 ESV)

One of the marketing themes of the Democratic Party’s attempt to take control of the White House and both houses of Congress along with Governor of many states in this election year (2008) is a an attempt to cast their opponent’s voting record and their past performance as supporting the wealthy while taking money from honest, hard working Americans. An analysis of what is being said by these demanding change for sake of change reveal promise after promise to take profit from those whose businesses do well and spread that money around to those who are relatively poor. While this may appear attractive to those who would see themselves as benefiting from this, this is nothing new. Continue reading

Lights in the World


by Mike Ratliff

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16 ESV)

While Joel and Victoria Osteen believe that our Lord’s command to let your light shine before others is to prosper and show everyone how God is blessing you, this is not what He was talking about at all. We have seen this week that we are not to be conformed to this world, we are to unified with our brothers and sisters in Christ while not being yoked to professing Christians who are not genuine, and we are to lay up our treasure in heaven not here on earth. Living like this makes one stand out because it is a way of life that is conformed to God and His ways, which are not the ways of the world. It will get the attention of the unregenerate. Continue reading

Having Nothing Yet Possessing Everything


by Mike Ratliff

So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. (Revelation 3:16-18 ESV)

I got my statement the other day from the investment firm that manages my retirement funds. In the last month the ‘value’ overall has dropped by a considerable amount. I was quite surprised by my reaction to that. In 2001 when the market plummeted for months after the terrorist attacks of September 11, I dumped everything I could in order to not ‘lose’ any equity. However, this time around was very different. I had a peace that surpassed all understanding. I thanked God for being my provision and told Him how grateful I am for being His child; fully dependent upon Him for He is my all-in-all. Continue reading

Calvin On Free Will


(From Institutes of the Christian Religion) 

 The Arguments Usually Alleged in Support of Free Will Refuted: 

1. Enough would seem to have been said on the subject of man’s will, were there not some who endeavour to urge him to his ruin by a false opinion of liberty, and at the same time, in order to support their own opinion, assail ours. First, they gather together some absurd inferences, by which they endeavour to bring odium upon our doctrine, as if it were abhorrent to common sense, and then they oppose it with certain passages of Scripture, (infra, sec. 6.) Both devices we shall dispose of in their order. If sin, say they, is necessary, it ceases to be sin; if it is voluntary, it may be avoided. Such, too, were the weapons with which Pelagius assailed Augustine. But we are unwilling to crush them by the weight of his name, until we have satisfactorily disposed of the objections themselves. I deny, therefore, that sin ought to be the less imputed because it is necessary; and, on the other hand, I deny the inference, that sin may be avoided because it is voluntary. If any one will dispute with God, and endeavour to evade his judgement, by pretending that he could not have done otherwise, the answer already given is sufficient, that it is owing not to creation, but the corruption of nature, that man has become the slave of sin, and can will nothing but evil. For whence that impotence of which the wicked so readily avail themselves as an excuse, but just because Adam voluntarily subjected himself to the tyranny of the devil? Hence the corruption by which we are held bound as with chains, originated in the first man’s revolt from his Maker. If all men are justly held guilty of this revolt, let them not think themselves excused by a necessity in which they see the clearest cause of their condemnation. But this I have fully explained above; and in the case of the devil himself, have given an example of one who sins not less voluntarily that he sins necessarily. I have also shown, in the case of the elect angels, that though their will cannot decline from good, it does not therefore cease to be will. This Bernard shrewdly explains when he says, (Serm. 81, in Cantica,) that we are the more miserable in this, that the necessity is voluntary; and yet this necessity so binds us who are subject to it, that we are the slaves of sin, as we have already observed. The second step in the reasoning is vicious, because it leaps from voluntary to free; whereas we have proved above, that a thing may be done voluntarily, though not subject to free choice. Continue reading

The Idol of Free Will


 


The Idol of Free-Will
by Dr. John Owen

Our next task is to take a view of the idol himself, of this great deity of FREE-WILL, whose original being not well known. He is pretended, like the Ephesian image of Diana[1], to have fallen down from heaven and to have his endowments from above. But yet considering what a nothing he was a this first discovery in comparison of that vast giant-like hugeness to which now he is grown, we may say of him as the painter said of his monstrous picture, which he had mended or rather marred according to every one’s fancy, “It is the issue[2] of the people’s brain.” Origen[3] is supposed to have brought him first into the church; but among those many sincere worshippers of divine grace, this setter forth of new demons found but little entertainment. It was looked upon but like the stump of Dagon with his head and hands laid down before the ark of God without whose help he could neither know nor do that which is good in any kind, still accounted but “a fig – tree log, an unprofitable piece of wood.” The fathers of the succeeding ages had much debate to what use they should put it, and though some exalted it a degree or two above its merits, yet the most concluded to keep it a block still until at length there arose a stout champion,[4] challenging on his behalf the whole church of God, and like a knight-errant,[5] wandered from the west to the east to grapple with any that should oppose his idol; who, though he met with divers adversaries, one especially,[6] who in the behalf of the grace of God continually foiled him and cast him to the ground, and that in the judgment of all the lawful judges assembled in councils and in the opinion of most of the Christian bystanders. Yet by his cunning insinuation,[7] he planted such an opinion of his idol’s deity and self-sufficiency in the hearts of divers[8] that to this day it could never be rooted out. Continue reading

The Doctrines of Grace and Passion for the Souls of Men



John A. Broadus

“For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren.” Romans 9:3

 

Concern for the salvation of others is not prevented by a belief in what we call the doctrines of grace; is not prevented by believing in divine sovereignty, and predestination and election. Many persons intensely dislike the ideas which are expressed by these phrases. Many persons shrink away from ever accepting them, because those ideas are in their minds associated with the notion of stolid indifference. They say if predestination be true, then it follows that a man cannot do anything for his own salvation; that if he is to be saved he will be saved, and he has nothing to do with it, and need not care, nor need any one else care. Continue reading

THE LIFE AND LABOURS OF ASAHEL NETTLETON – REVIEW ARTICLE



 

Bennet Tyler and Andrew Bonar

 

 The author, Bennet Tyler, was a pastor for many years in South Britain, Connecticut, where he knew Asahel Nettleton (1783-1844) intimately. He eventually became the president of Dartmouth College. He is famous for his polemics against the liberal Nathaniel Taylor and the New Haven theology, a view which countered the Edwardsian and Augustinian view of depravity. This became known as the “Tyler-Taylor controversy” The end result was the constituting of a new seminary, first called the Theological Institute of Connecticut and later Hartford Theological Seminary, where he served as president until his death. Asahel Nettleton was also instrumental in beginning this new institution.1

Andrew Bonar (1810-1892) was a Scottish minister who “remodeled in some parts” this work. He is known for his association with the revival movement in Scotland and his association with the well-known Robert Murray McCheyne, whose memoirs he wrote.2

According to the author, Asahel Nettleton was instrumental in the conversion of 30,000 souls. What evangelistic leader would not want to know about such a man? Nettleton first received his religious impressions at age eighteen in North Killingworth, Connecticut. His agonizing bout with conviction lasted ten months. He was converted in the midst of revival. In fact, the then new publication called the “Connecticut Evangelical Magazine” recorded his conversion as part of its revival intelligence.

Though an average student, he maintained a good relationship at Yale with President Timothy Dwight, grandson of Jonathan Edwards, who gave him warm approbation. Nettleton read nearly all of Edwards’s works while in school, and those of his two most famous students, Bellamy and Hopkins.

Though his missionary intentions were thwarted due to debt, he eventually paid off that debt, and, through the providence of God, began itinerant work. He had studied the ill effects of James Davenport, gathering as much information as possible. Davenport had itinerated during the Great Awakening in the mid-1700s and had caused much turmoil with his caustic manner. The result was that the influence of several pastors was marginalized, some churches split, and general confusion prevailed.

Nettleton, much the wiser for this knowledge, was diligent to avoid such sophomoric behavior. He never came uninvited into another’s parish, and sought to build up the pastors, submitting entirely to their authority over their churches. The end product was revival and recovery of trust in the very “waste places” which had been created by Davenport’s wake half a century earlier.

Nettleton was a man of poor health, perhaps suffering from a recurring form of malarial fever. However, his preaching had a powerful effect. A Dr. Humphrey of the “Religious Intelligencer” described one message as “one continued flash of conviction”3. Continue reading