Archive for July 2011

Substance and Evidence

July 25, 2011

In Night of Weeping and Morning of Joy, Horatius Bonar, 19th Century Scottish pastor and hymn writer, wrote of faith and those who live by faith.

“Their faith is to them ‘the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.’ It is a sort of substitute for sight and possession. It so brings them into contact with the unseen world that they feel as if they were already conversant with, and living among, the things unseen. It makes the future, the distant, the impalpable, appear as the present, the near, the real. It removes all intervening time; it annihilates all interposing space; it transplants the soul at once into the world above. That which we know is to be hereafter is felt as if already in being.”

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Of the grace-gift of faith, Scripture says:

“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.” (Ephesians 2:8)

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the convictions of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1)

“And without faith it is impossible to please God, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:6)

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You can read “The Family Life,” the chapter from which the above quote is taken, here.

You can purchase Night of Weeping and Morning of Joy at Monergism Books or WTS Books.

 

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If You’re Interested …

July 22, 2011

… in international student ministry

If you are interested in ministry to international students enrolled at universities in the United States, you may be interested in my recent post at International Bible Fellowship. It is entitled IBF: Reloaded.

In this post I write about the reactivation of our old student ministry, International Bible Fellowship (IBF), as a recognized student organization at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas.

Agenda: Campus Ministry and T4T

July 18, 2011

I am excited about this week. I will be having two meetings with area ministers to discuss ministry and missions.

My first meeting is in the morning. I will be drinking coffee with a young man who has recently joined the staff of an area campus ministry. This ministry ministers to students enrolled at Texas A&M University (TAMU) in College Station, Texas. TAMU is the 7th largest university in the nation with the 17th largest international student enrollment in the country. This young man will have the responsibility of leading his campus ministry’s evangelistic outreach to the “nations” of the world who are pursuing their academic studies at A&M. We will be discussing international student ministry in general and his ministry and its start-up, in particular.

On Wednesday morning I will meet with two staff members from a fairly new church in our community. One of the folks is the church’s lead pastor. The other is a staff minister whose responsibilitie’s include ministry to international students. While I am sure we will discuss ministry to international students, the main purpose for our getting together is to discuss a “training” resource material called T4T – Training for Trainers.

T4T is basically a discipleship material that can be used to disciple new followers of Christ. It is much like the six-session discipleship material you may have gone through at your local church when you first became a Christian. But, T4T is much more than a knowledge-based discipleship material. T4T is designed to instill within the heart and life of new believers a vision for and commitment to evangelism, the making of reproducing disciples of Christ, and the starting of new (simple) churches that start new churches. The bottom-line objective of T4T is, therefore, the expansion of the Kingdom of God through church planting movements.

I trust that the two church staff ministers and I will not only discuss the T4T material, but ways that we can work together to implement the material and its church planting principles as we seek to reach Texas A&M University and our community for Christ.

I would ask you to pray these I have mentioned in this post and me as we meet and pray together this week. Please pray that we will know how we might best work together to reach Bryan-College Station, Texas for Christ.

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T4T – Training for Trainers was developed by a church planter in East Asia who was confronted with the challenge of how to reach an unengaged mega-city for Christ. This material is now being used around the world by many different churches and denominations as they seek to fulfill the Great Commission is our life-time.

“Righteous Grace”

July 14, 2011

Grace.  Is it a spiritual “goo-natured indifference to sin” that is applied to the hearts of unhappy people by a compassionate God? Or, is it the pardon of man’s sin that finds its root in the righteousness of Holy God as manifested on the Cross of Calvary?

“But let us keep in mind that this grace is the grace of a righteous God; it is the grace of one who is Judge as well as Father. Unless we see this we shall mistake the gospel, and fail in appreciating both the pardon we are seeking, and the great sacrifice through which it comes to us. No vague forgiveness, arising out of mere paternal love, will do. We need to know what kind of pardon it is; and whether it proceeds from the full recognition of our absolute guiltiness by him who is to “judge the world in righteousness.” The right kind of pardon comes not from love alone, but from law; not from good nature, but from righteousness; not from indifference to sin, but from holiness.”

“This righteous free love has its origin in the bosom of the Father, where the only begotten has his dwelling. It is not produced by anything out of God himself. It was man’s evil, not his good, that called it forth. It was not the drawing to the like, but to the unlike; it was light attracted by darkness, and life by death. It does not wait for our seeking, it comes unasked as well as undeserved. It is not our faith that creates it or calls it up; our faith realizes it as already existing in its divine and manifold fullness. Whether we believe it or not, this righteous grace exists, and exists for us. Unbelief refuses it; but faith takes it, rejoices in it, and lives upon it. Yes, faith takes this righteous grace of God, and, with it, a righteous pardon, a righteous salvation, and a righteous heirship of the everlasting glory.”

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Horatius Bonar, Scottish pastor, preacher, hymn writer (1808-1889). Quotes from “Righteous Grace,” the fourth chapter of the book, “God’s Way of Peace.”

“God’s Way of Peace” can be read here.

The Hand and Counsel of God

July 11, 2011

Thomas Boston, the Scottish Puritan, wrote at least three essays on the decrees of God. In the first essay, “The Purpose of God’s Decrees,” Boston writes that God is glorified in the creation of the world, men and angels, in election and predestination, and in the work of redemption. In the second essay, “The Properties of God’s Decrees Explained,” Boston writes that the decrees of the LORD are eternal, wise, free, unchangeable, holy and pure, and effective. I have recently posted on these essays here and here.

The third essay by Boston is entitled “Important Lessons Drawn from the Decrees of God.” In this final essay, Boston identifies and applies six lessons that he draws from Scripture’s teaching on the Decrees.

The essence of each lesson can be summarized in a sentence or two from each.

Lesson 1

“Nothing then comes to pass, however random and uncertain it may seem to be, but what was decreed by God.”

Lesson 2

“Hence we see God’s certain knowledge of all things that happen in the world, seeing His knowledge is founded on his decree…. So that what is casual or contingent with respect to us, is certain and necessary in regard to God.”

Lesson 3

“Whoever may be the instruments of any good to us, of whatever sort, we must look above them,and see the hand and counsel of God in it, which is their first source, and be duly thankful to God for it. And whatever evil of suffering or affliction befall us, we must look above the instruments of it to God.”

Lesson 4

“See here the evil of murmuring and complaining at our lot in the world…. Oh presume not to correct the infinite wisdom of God, seeing he has decreed all things most wisely and judiciously.

Lesson 5

“It is a horrid and detestable wickedness to cast the blame of your sin upon God’s decree. This is to charge your villainy upon him, as if he were the author of it.”

The sixth and last lesson that Boston writes in this essay seems to me to be an excellent concluding statement to not only this essay, but to the Decrees trilogy.

Lesson 6

“Let the people of God comfort themselves in all cases by this doctrine of the divine decrees; and, amidst whatever befalls them, rest quietly and submissively in the bosom of God, considering that whatever comes or can come to pass, proceeds from the decree of their gracious friend and reconciled Father, who knows what is best for them, and will make all things work together for their good.”

It is a great comfort to rest in the sovereignty of the LORD, His decrees, and the out working of His perfect will in and through our lives.

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You can read “Important Lessons Drawn from the Decrees of God” in its entirety here.

Please visit Monergism Books and WTS Books for Reformed books and resource material.

Help Me Read

July 9, 2011

Whether you are visiting my blog, tangiblethoughts, on purpose, or you are surfing the net and have stopped here just to check me out, may I ask you to do something for me?

May I ask you to scroll down on this page until you come to the category “Books” in the right-hand column? There you will find two links. One is to Monergism Books, the other is to WTS Books. When you click on them you will be taken to the on-line book stores of Monergism.com and Westminster Theological Seminary. At each of the stores you will find excellent conservative and Reformed books and resource material for your head and heart.

Each time you click onto the stores from my blog site I receive credit for your visit. When I have earned enough credits, I receive a purchase certificate which enables me to purchase books for my head and heart.

So, linger here a moment longer … scroll down and click  … and peruse the sites.

Thank you for your great help.

Are You Able To Stand?

July 8, 2011

Augustus Toplady is an Irish preacher of old that I first became acquainted with when I read his sermon, “Arminianism: The Golden Idol of Freewill.” It was only after reading this sermon that I “snapped” to the fact that it was Toplady who wrote one of the most famous hymns that the Church has ever sung – “Rock of Ages.”

I have recently read another of  Toplady’s sermons. It is entitled “Standing Before God.” The sermon is based on the account of the return of the Ark of the LORD to Israel after it had been in the possession of the Philistines for seven months. (I Samuel 6). When the Philistines returned the Ark to Israel, they placed guilt offerings in it in an attempt to placate the judgment and wrath of God.

The Scripture records that when the Ark arrived in Israel, some of the men were “struck down” by the LORD when they dared to open the Ark to see what had been placed in it by their enemies. When this judgment fell on the people because of their presumption before the LORD, the Scripture records in verse 20,

“And the men of Beth-shemesh said, ‘Who is able to stand before the LORD, this holy God?'”

The question is asked, “Who is able to stand before the LORD ….?

As I read this message, I was struck by a number of things that Toplady preached regarding God’s holiness and our stand before Him.

“With regard therefore to His own Omniscience and Omnipresence, we already stand before this holy Lord God.”

“If the Lord God, before whom each individual will shortly stand, is a holy God, a God of truth, and without iniquity, and of purer eyes than to behold sin with impunity; we may well ask, ‘Who is able to stand before Him?'”

“But what can qualify us thus to stand? Is our own goodness sufficient to cover our guilty souls, and ward off the blow of justice? Alas! it is insufficient; as the prophet says, ‘Our gold is dim, and our wine is mixed with water.’ Our purest obedience is sinful, and how can that which is sinful, save a sinner?”

“Yes, unworthy, totally so, in themselves; but worthy, completely so, of an eternity of bliss, through the blood of sprinkling and the imputation of Christ’s obedience, styled in Scripture, the righteousness of God, and elsewhere, the righteousness of the saints.”

” … concern for salvation is too generally ridiculed as superstition; and seriousness exploded as fanaticism. This is a melancholy but faithful representation of the state of religion, in this our day, nor will matters ever wear a brighter aspect, while gaiety and amusement, in ten thousand different shapes, and succeeding in endless rotation, are permitted to engross our time, and occupy the place of thought.”

“We are not pardoned and entitled to heaven on account of our holiness and good works; but are made holy, and abound in good works, in consequence of our acceptance in the Beloved, of our pardon and justification through the propitiation and perfect obedience of Jesus Christ the righteous; do you know any thing of this?

Toplady concludes his sermon on the holiness of God with these words:

“If it is in the merits of Christ alone that we can stand with safety before God, let us renounce self-dependence in every view, and rely for justification and everlasting life on Him, making mention of Him and of His righteousness only, in whom all the seed of Israel are justified, and shall glory.

Lastly; Is the Lord God we must appear before infinitely holy? then let us aim at holiness likewise.”

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This afternoon I am reminded of three passages of Scripture that I believe are relevant to this message.

“And He said, ‘Do not come near here; remove your sandals from your feet,’ for the place on which you are standing is holy ground’.” (Exodus 3:5)

“Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord.” (Hebrews 12:14)

“As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy  One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior, because it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy.'” (I Peter 1:14-16)

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Augustus Toplady (1740-1778) was an Irish pastor, preacher, and hymn writer.

You can read short biographies of Toplady here and here.

To read “Standing Before God” in its entirety, see here.

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Please visit Monergism Books and WTS Books when searching for Reformed books and resource material.