Friday, July 31, 2015

Why Are You So Afraid?

On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, "Let us go across to the other side." And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, "Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?" And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, "Peace! Be still!" And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, "Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?"
Mark 4:35-40
He rebuked them for being in that state of agitation and terror and alarm while He was with them in the boat. That is the first great lesson we have to apply to ourselves and to one another. It is very wrong for a Christian ever to be in such a condition. I do not care what the circumstances may be, the Christian should never be beside himself like this, the Christian should never be at his wit's end, the Christian should never be in a condition in which he has lost control of himself. That is the first lesson, a lesson we have emphasized before because it is an essential part of the New Testament teaching. A Christian should never, like the worldly person, be depressed, agitated, alarmed, frantic, not knowing what to do. It is the typical reaction to trouble of those who are not
Christian, that is why it is so wrong to be like that. The Christian is different from other people, the Christian has something which the non-Christian does not possess, and the ideal for the Christian is that which is stated so perfectly by the Apostle Paul in the fourth chapter of the Epistle to the Philippians: 'I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content ... I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me'. That is the Christian position, that is what the Christian is meant to be like. The Christian is never meant to be carried away by his feelings, whatever they are--never. That is always wrong in a Christian. He is always to be controlled, as I hope to show you. The trouble with these men was that they were lacking in self-control. That is why they were miserable, that is why they were unhappy, that is why they were alarmed and agitated, though the Son of God was with them in the boat. I cannot emphasize this point too strongly. I lay it down as a simple proposition that a Christian should never lose self-control, should never be in a state of agitation or terror or alarm, whatever the circumstances. That is obviously our first lesson. The position of these people was alarming. They were in jeopardy and it looked as if they were going to be drowned the next moment, but our Lord says in effect: 'You should not be in that condition. As My followers you have no right to be in such a state even though you are in jeopardy'.
--Martyn Lloyd Jones, Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and Cure, p.137-138
He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the LORD.
Psalm 112:7

Saturday, July 18, 2015

To Believe This

Grace to you and peace from ... the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins...
Galatians 1:3-4
The genius of Christianity takes the words of Paul "who gave himself for our sins" as true and efficacious. We are not to look upon our sins as insignificant trifles. On the other hand, we are not to regard them as so terrible that we must despair. Learn to believe that Christ was given, not for picayune [petty] and imaginary transgressions, but for mountainous sins; not for one or two, but for all; not for sins that can be discarded, but for sins that are stubbornly ingrained.

Practice this knowledge and fortify yourself against despair, particularly in the last hour, when the memory of past sins assails the conscience. Say with confidence: "Christ, the Son of God, was given not for the righteous, but for sinners. If I had no sin I should not need Christ. No, Satan, you cannot delude me into thinking I am holy. The truth is, I am all sin. My sins are not imaginary transgressions, but sins against the first table, unbelief, doubt, despair, contempt, hatred, ignorance of God, ingratitude towards Him, misuse of His name, neglect of His Word, etc.; and sins against the second table, dishonor of parents, disobedience of government, coveting another's possessions, etc. Granted that I have not committed murder, adultery, theft, and similar sins in deed, nevertheless I have committed them in the heart, and therefore I am a transgressor of all the commandments of God.

"Because my transgressions are multiplied and my own efforts at self-justification rather a hindrance than a furtherance, therefore Christ the Son of God gave Himself into death for my sins."

To believe this is to have eternal life.

--Martin Luther, Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians, p. 9
Indeed, to believe this is to have eternal life.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Marks of the Evangelical

Martyn Lloyd-Jones on some of the distinguishing marks of an evangelical:

  • The evangelical is one who is entirely subservient to the Bible.  He is a man of one book; he starts with it; he submits himself to it; this is his authority.
  • The evangelical uses this term as a prefix and not as a suffix.  What I mean by that is that the first thing about the man is that he is evangelical.  The particular denomination to which he belongs is secondary; it is not primary.  In other words, there is all the difference in the world between talking about an evangelical Baptist and a Baptist evangelical.  I am contending that the man is evangelical first.
  • He is a man who is always watching.  They are to be discriminating; they are always to be examining; they are always to be watchful.  And so when a man ceases to be watchful, he, to that extent, ceases to be an evangelical.  The person who says, It is all right; you need not bother; we are all Christians and having a marvellous time together -- and is not watchful, is already departing from the biblical position.
  • The evangelical distrusts reason and particularly reason in the form of philosophy.  Philosophy has always been the cause of the church going astray, for philosophy means, ultimately, a trusting to human reason and human understanding.  The evangelical starts from the Scriptures.  He also reads the history of the church, and there he finds that the history proves what has been emphasized in the Scripture, that when men trust to reason and understanding they go astray.  The evangelical distrusts scholarship and is watchful of it.  That does not mean he is anti-intellectual; it does not mean that he becomes obscurantist; but it does mean that he keeps reason and scholarship in their place.  They are servants and not masters.
  • The evangelical takes a particular view with regard to the sacraments.  He recognizes only two, of course, like other Protestants, but his view of these often differentiates him, and generally does differentiate him, from those who are not evangelical.
  • The evangelical takes a critical view of history and tradition.  The evangelical believes in the principle of discontinuity.  Looking at the history of the church, he sees how the church, which was a live, spiritual body, always tended to become hardened and fossilized into a dead institution.  He realizes that this is the greatest danger, so, far from being afraid of the principle of discontinuity, he knows that he can only understand the true history of the living church in terms of discontinuity, the breaks that have taken place before the Reformation, and particularly at the Reformation, and since the Reformation.  The evangelical is not tied by the decisions of the early councils of the church.  He does not slavishly fall down before them.  He examines them, he examines everything in light of the Scriptures, even the great pronouncements of the councils and everything else.
  • The evangelical is a man who is always ready to act on his beliefs.  He studies the Scriptures; he discovers the doctrine and he can judge that it is true and can see that the people with whom he is connected do not believe it.  He says, I cannot go on like this, I am compromising my doctrine; I have got to act on the truth.
  • The evangelical is a man who always simplifies everything.  The gospel not only simplifies belief and the statement of beliefs; it always simplifies our view of church order and church government.  The evangelical does not believe in vestments, putting on copes and mitres and changing vestments for different parts of the service.  He does not believe in ceremonies and liturgies and processions.  The church buildings of the evangelical are always simple, whereas the those of the Catholics tend to be ornate and elaborate.
  • The evangelical is always concerned about the doctrine of the church.  He is concerned about a pure church.  His idea of the church is that it consists of the gathered saints.  He does not believe in a state church.  He is vitally concerned about his correct view of the nature of the Christian church.
  • The evangelical puts tremendous emphasis upon the rebirth.  You will find that as men cease to be evangelical, they put less and less emphasis upon regeneration, and they tend to put more and more upon the activity of the human will and the decision of the individual person.  But the evangelical sees everything in terms of regeneration, the action of God.  He says, I am what I am by the grace of God; and he is amazed at himself.
  • Prayer is vital in the life of the evangelical; it is his life.  You will find that evangelicals almost invariably have formed religious societies for reading the Bible, discussing it together, for prayer, and for sharing one another's experiences.
  • Evangelicals pay great attention to the way in which people live.  They are strict in their behaviour.  The evangelical is careful about his life, careful to maintain good works, to live a life above reproach, not to be a hindrance or an obstacle to a weaker brother.  The great ethic, the emphasis on holiness of the New Testament, is something which true evangelicals have always set great store by.
  • The evangelical by nature is tremendously interested in revival.  He is always longing for an outpouring of the Spirit, and the great evangelical reawakenings have always been a result of an effusion of the Holy Spirit.
  • The evangelical always gives primacy to preaching.  The church starts with preaching.  Revivals, reformations, have always been great restorations of preaching.  To the evangelical, nothing compares with preaching.
  • The evangelical is a man who is always concerned about evangelism.  The evangelical is a man who, because of what God has done for him, is anxious that others should have the same.  Not only that, he sees something of the glory and the majesty and the sovereignty of God; he believes in hell, eternal punishment; and he is concerned about those men dying in spiritual darkness round and about him.  They become a burden to him, and he is not satisfied until he has done his utmost to bring them to the knowledge of the truth as it is in Christ Jesus.
--Martyn Lloyd Jones, Knowing the Times, chapter 16

Saturday, July 11, 2015

God Wrote a Book

And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.
Luke 24:27
For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
2 Corinthians 4:6