Right Obedience = Genuine Happiness

In studying Mark 12:1-12 and the Parable of the Vineyard (some might also call it the Parable of the Tenants) I did what I normally do when studying a particular passage and read what Spurgeon preached. On March 6, 1887 C.H. Spurgeon preached a message from Mark 12 entitled The Pleading of the Last Messenger. The encouragement I received in reading that sermon compels me to share an excerpt here.

Do not refuse Him [Jesus]! If you reject Him, He answers you with tears. If you wound Him, He bleeds out cleansing. if you kill Him, He dies to redeem. If you bury Him, He rises again to bring us resurrection. Jesus is Love made manifest.

He does not urge us to anything which will be for our loss and detriment—obedience to Him is happiness for ourselves. He does not urge us to follow a life of misery, nor to begin a course which will end in our destruction. Far from it! The ways in which He would have us run are ways of pleasantness. And all the paths in which He would lead us are paths of peace. Even repentance is charming sorrow, far more sweet than the joy of sin. They that repent and turn to God through Jesus Christ find such joy, such happiness, that earth becomes to them the vestibule of Heaven! The joy-bells ring within the Father’s house when a soul returns to its home! The great Father leads the joy and all the household rejoice with Him! To persuade you to be holy is to induce you to be happy! To urge you to seek God is to urge you to seek your own best welfare! To urge you to lay down the weapons of rebellion and be reconciled to the Most High is to set before you the wisest, safest and best course that you can follow. Therefore, hear Him! The Lord God out of Heaven cries to you—“This is My beloved Son; hear Him!” Well may you hear Him, when every word that He speaks intends your salvation!

Happiness and holiness are not mutually exclusive. Just the opposite is true. One’s happiness directly corresponds to one’s holiness. Stated another way, right obedience  – being conformed to Christ alone – equals genuine happiness – enjoying this life and the one to come.

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Jesus Christ – Our Consolation

Pastor David Stone of Lakeway Baptist Church in Humble, TX writes a daily devotional as well as a personal blog. Both may be found at the church website to which I have linked. The devotional – Morning Manna – is sometimes culled from other devotional works; such as today’s edition.

Pastor Stone says, “This article by Charles Spurgeon is one of those you need to read slowly–again and again.” He is right, and after reading this biblical exhortation slowly, again and again I decided to share it on this blog as well.

“For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ.” 2 Corinthians 1:5

There is a blessed proportion. The Ruler of Providence bears a pair of scales—in this side he puts his people’s trials, and in that he puts their consolations. When the scale of trial is nearly empty, you will always find the scale of consolation in nearly the same condition; and when the scale of trials is full, you will find the scale of consolation just as heavy. When the black clouds gather most, the light is the more brightly revealed to us. When the night lowers and the tempest is coming on, the Heavenly Captain is always closest to his crew. It is a blessed thing, that when we are most cast down, then it is that we are most lifted up by the consolations of the Spirit. One reason is, because trials make more room for consolation. Great hearts can only be made by great troubles. The spade of trouble digs the reservoir of comfort deeper, and makes more room for consolation. God comes into our heart—he finds it full—he begins to break our comforts and to make it empty; then there is more room for grace. The humbler a man lies, the more comfort he will always have, because he will be more fitted to receive it. Another reason why we are often most happy in our troubles, is this—then we have the closest dealings with God. When the barn is full, man can live without God: when the purse is bursting with gold, we try to do without so much prayer. But once take our gourds away, and we want our God; once cleanse the idols out of the house, then we are compelled to honour Jehovah. “Out of the depths have I cried unto thee, O Lord.” There is no cry so good as that which comes from the bottom of the mountains; no prayer half so hearty as that which comes up from the depths of the soul, through deep trials and afflictions. Hence they bring us to God, and we are happier; for nearness to God is happiness. Come, troubled believer, fret not over your heavy troubles, for they are the heralds of weighty mercies.

This is from the February 12 morning reading of Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening Devotional.

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Gospel Transformation

Only the gospel truth is able bring about a gospel transformation. By believing the gospel an individual is saved. John 1:11-12: “He came unto His own, and His own received Him not. But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name.” Salvation is given to those who believe and receive the Risen Lord as their Savior. Faith means trust. To believe means to put your trust in Jesus. It’s more than just believing the facts in your head, it’s receiving those facts in your heart. It means you receive Him as the one who saves you.

The apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15:2, “if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.” This is not a warning against true believers losing their salvation. This is a warning against a non-saving faith. It is only by God’s power that anyone is saved, and it is only by God’s power that anyone is kept saved. A believer’s salvation is secure because Christ is holding fast to the believer, not because the believer is holding on to Christ. There are many people who acknowledge Christ. They believe in the historicity of Jesus, but they do not receive Him as Lord and Savior. Therefore, they are still lost in their sins. You believe in Jesus? That’s good, but even the demons believe in God (James 2:19).

The scary truth is that not everyone who says, “Lord, Lord shall enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 7:21). Not all who claim to believe the gospel have saving faith. Jesus repeatedly spoke of bogus believers. In the parable of the sower (Matthew 13:1-23), Jesus spoke of seed falling on stony soil and at first it appeared that something was growing, but before long the plant dried up and withered away. In other words, there are those who have an immediate, emotional response to the gospel at some point in their lives but they do not produce fruit. They have a non-saving faith. Jesus said that among the wheat (real believers) there are tares (false professors) (Matthew 13:24-30; 34-43). Jesus spoke of houses without foundations (Matthew 7:24-27), of virgins without oil for their lamps, and of gates and paths that seem right but that ultimately lead to destruction (Matthew 7:13-14). There is a faith that is not genuine; there is a faith that is vain (empty).

The key to knowing whether faith is genuine or vain is by perseverance. The truly saved are not only saved by faith but they continue to “live by faith” (Hebrews 10:38). Obedience and continuous faithfulness are markers of genuine saving faith. Those who forsake Christ and His church prove that they never really belonged to Him or it. 1 John 2:19, “They went out from us, but they were not all of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all us.” Those who continue with the Lord, prove the genuineness of their faith. Jesus said, “If you continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed” (John 8:31).

Back in 1 Corinthians 15:2 Paul says that those who “keep in memory” are those who have saving faith. The Greek word translated “keep” means “to hold fast; to hold firmly”. Holding on to God, holding on to the gospel is not what saves or keeps an individual saved, but it is what proves genuine salvation. Holding firmly gives evidence that one is firmly held.

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. I and my Father are one. – John 10:27-30…For I the LORD thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee. – Isaiah 41:13

A believer holds on to Christ, because Christ is holding on to him, and genuine saving faith is marked, not by perfect obedience or faithfulness, but by a general pattern of obedience and continuous faithfulness. On this side of glory the gospel transformation does not bring about perfection but it does change the direction of one’s life and actions.

The Gospel Changes Everything

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Lord, Revive Us!

cross-and-fireSpurgeon prayed, preached, and called for his church to seek God for revival. Here is one example. A sermon delivered on November 9th, 1859, at New Park Street Chapel entitled “One Antidote for Many Ills.” The sermon text was Psalm 80:19 – “Turn us again, O Lord God of hosts, cause thy face to shine; and we shall be saved.”

This morning’s sermon, then will be especially addressed to my own church, on the absolute necessity of true religion in our midst, and of revival from all apathy and indifference. We may ask of God multitudes of other things, but amongst them all, let this be our chief prayer: “Lord, revive us; Lord, revive us!” We have uttered it in song; let me stir up your pure minds, by way of remembrance, to utter it in your secret prayers, and make it the daily aspiration of your souls. I feel, beloved, that notwithstanding all opposition, God will help us to be “more than conquerors, through him that loved us,” if we are true to ourselves, and true to him. But though all things should go smoothly, and the sun should always shine upon our heads, we should have no prosperity if our own godliness failed; if we only maintained the form of religion, instead of having the very power of the Holy Spirit manifested in our midst.

The benefits of revival to any church in the world will be a lasting blessing. I do not mean that false and spurious kind of revival which was so common a few years ago. I do not mean all that excitement attendant upon religion, which has brought men into a kind of spasmodic godliness and translated them from sensible beings, into such as could only rave about a religion they did not understand. I do not think that is a real and true revival. God’s revivals, whilst they are attended with a great heat and warmth of piety, yet have with them knowledge as well as life, understanding as well as power. The revivals that we may consider to have been genuine, were such as those wrought by the instrumentality of such men as President Edwards in America, and Whitfield in this country, who preached a free-grace gospel in all its fullness. Such revivals I consider to be genuine, and such revivals, I repeat again, would be a benefit to any church under heaven. There is no church, however good it is, which might not be better; and there are many churches sunken so low, that they have abundant need, if they would prevent spiritual death, to cry aloud, “Lord, revive us.”

Spurgeon desired for himself and his church not a “revival” of religious enthusiasm or superficial activism, but genuine, Biblical renewal. Should God’s people today be any different? Lord, revive me, revive us!

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The Precious Blood of Jesus Christ!

“…The precious blood of Christ,” 1 Peter 1:19

Standing at the foot of the cross, we see hands and feet and side all distilling crimson streams of “precious blood.” It is “precious” because of its redeeming and atoning efficacy. Only His shed blood could make atonement for our sins. Only by His shed blood may we be redeemed from under the law. Only by His shed blood may we be reconciled to God and made one with Him.

Christ’s blood is also “precious” in its cleansing power; it cleanses from all sin. Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow. Through Jesus’ blood there is not a spot left upon any believer; no wrinkle nor any such thing remains. O precious blood that makes us clean, removing the stains of our iniquity and permitting us to stand accepted in the Beloved despite the many ways in which we have rebelled against our God.

The blood of Christ is also “precious” in its preserving power. We are safe from the destroying angel under the sprinkled blood. Remember, it is God’s seeing the blood that is the true reason for believers’ being spared. Here is comfort for us when the eye of faith is dim, for God’s eye is still the same. The blood of Christ is “precious” also in its sanctifying influence.

The same blood that justifies by taking away sin also quickens the new nature and leads it onward to subdue sin and to obey the commands of God. There is no greater motive for holiness than that which streams from the veins of Jesus. And “precious,” unspeakably precious, is this blood because it has an overcoming power. It is written, “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.” (Revelation 12:11) How could they do otherwise? He who fights with the precious blood of Jesus fights with a weapon that cannot know defeat.

The blood of Jesus! Sin dies at its presence; death ceases to be death: Heaven’s gates are opened. The blood of Jesus! We shall march on, conquering and to conquer, so long as we can trust its power!

(Taken and adapted from Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening devotional.)

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Walking by Faith

John G. Paton

“Life is a highway. I’m gonna ride it all night long.” That is the chorus to a popular song from the early ‘90s. The song had it partially right. Life is a highway. Since it is, we will “ride it” all lifelong. We are, all of us, on a journey. Perhaps you have heard the familiar adage: “Life is not a destination. Life is a journey.” That is true. Sort of. This life is a journey, but as with all journeys, this life will come to an end. At that end, the most important thing will not be where you have walked, or even how you have walked. The most important thing come journey’s end is with whom you have walked. The where and how you walk are both meaningless if you are not walking with the right person. Jesus Christ is that person.

Apart from Jesus Christ, a person’s walk is “according to the course of this world,” and that is a death walk – “dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1-2). But God is rich in mercy, great in love, and His grace is amazing! By His grace and through faith in His Son, we may be saved (vv. 4-9). All who are saved “are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them(v. 10).

Believers are to walk by faith (2 Corinthians 5:7). We are to walk like our Savior and Lord (1 John 2:6). Ephesians has much to say about the believer’s faith walk. Our walk should be consistent (Ephesians 4:1) and distinct from this world (Ephesians 4:17). Our faith walk should imitate Christ (Ephesians 5:1-2), testify to a watching world (Ephesians 5:8-11), and we should walk wisely (Ephesians 5:15). Of course, this is only possible if we share the attitude of David, who wrote in Psalm 86:11, “Teach me thy way, O Lord; I will walk in thy truth: unite my heart to fear thy name.”

John G. Paton exemplified this kind of walk. He resolved to go as a Missionary to the unreached tribes of the South Sea Islands in 1856. A Christian friend objected, “You’ll be eaten by cannibals!” To this Paton responded:

Your own prospect is soon to be laid in the grave, there to be eaten by worms; I confess to you, that if I can but live and die serving and honoring the Lord Jesus, it will make no difference to me whether I am eaten by cannibals or by worms; and in the Great Day my resurrection body will arise as fair as yours in the likeness of our risen Redeemer. (HT: Thanksgiving for the Lives of Flawed Saints)

Do not think of Paton as a “super-Christian.” As with all of Christ’s followers he was a flawed saint, but he was also a faith-filled saint. We pray that his example, and others like him, will spur us all on to continue (or maybe to begin) walking by faith. We are all flawed, but may we also walk as faith-filled saints.

All of us are on a journey, and every journey ends, sooner or later, at a destination. With whom and for whom are you walking? Trust God to lead you on your journey, and may we run all the way to the end, finishing our course, having kept the faith.

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Rage Against the Machine

I’m not a “homeschool only” proponent. We have homeschooled our three boys in the past, but the majority of their education has been in public schools. Butler’s post is a well-reasoned and documented case for parents to at least consider educational alternatives for their children, especially in states like California.


rageMy wife and I are true, cultural subversives. Counter-culture to the core.

We homeschool our children.

I remember one time standing around with our neighbors outside on a Saturday afternoon when we were young parents still living in this condo complex. One of the other young mothers asks my wife about which school we were going to send our oldest son. My wife replies, “We’re going to homeschool him.”

Silence and blank stares.

Like looking into the eye of a chicken.

After about 8 seconds, one guy pipes up, “What’ya gonna do for their social skills?”

I answered, “Nothin.” The looks of dismay were precious.

Now just so I am clear:

Neither my wife, nor I , have anything specifically against public education. (Though our disdain for the creeping progressive leftism infecting public schools grows on a yearly basis). We were both publicly educated, and I actually graduated high school…

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What Voddie Said (and Didn’t)

Sensible, biblical thoughts that are well written concerning Ferguson, race, the comments of Voddie Bauchaum and how others responded.

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WORLD | Louis Zamperini’s greatest victory came through faith in Christ | Jamie Dean | July 3, 2014

WORLD | Louis Zamperini’s greatest victory came through faith in Christ | Jamie Dean | July 3, 2014.

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Focus on the Cross


Great word from Pastor David Stone of Lakeway Bapitst Church. His “Morning Mana” thought today called us to focus on the cross. That is a focus we must always keep. Pastor Stone’s thoughts:

John Piper wrote:”Christ is the glory of God. His blood-soaked cross is the blazing center of that glory. By it He bought for us every blessing–temporal and eternal. And we don’t deserve any. He bought them all.—- Because of His cross all guilt is removed, and sins are forgiven, and perfect righteousness is imputed to us, and the love of God is poured out in our hearts by the Spirit, and we are being conformed to the image of Christ.

Therefore, every enjoyment in this life and the next that is not idolatry is a tribute to the infinite value of the cross of Christ–the burning center of the glory of God. And thus a cross-centered, cross-exalting, cross-saturated life is a God-glorifying life–the only God-glorifying life. All others are wasted.”

That being true, how is it that we are so occupied with the vain things of this sinful world, rather than always looking unto Jesus? Successful living demands that we continually consider Christ and the cross(Heb. 12:1-3). Paul David Tripp wrote:

“Focus on Christ will always result in focus on the cross. You cannot be Christ-centered without becoming cross-centered. The crucified Christ is to be the center of everything I know about myself and my world.

You cannot have any real hope for flawed people in a fallen world unless there is a Redeemer to rescue us from the evil that resides both inside and outside of us. Real restoration to God’s created design requires the cross. It is the cross of Christ that alone will restore my allegiance to Christ and his rightful place at the center of everything in my life.”

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