Christianity and theology

Taking God’s Grace and Mercy for Granted

“Our tendency to take (God’s) grace for granted was driven home to me while teaching a freshman Old Testament course to 250 students at a Christian college. On the first day of class I went over the course assignments carefully. My experience taught me that the assignment of term papers required a special degree of explanation. This course required three short papers. I explained to the students that the first paper was due on my desk the noon of the last day of September. No extensions were to be given except for students who were physically confined to the infirmary or who had deaths in the immediate family. If the paper was not turned in on time, the student would receive an F for the assignment. The students acknowledged that they understood the requirements.

On the last day of September, 225 students dutifully handed in their term papers. Twenty-five students stood quaking in terror, full of remorse. They cried out, “Oh, Professor Sproul. We are sorry. We didn’t budget our time properly. We didn’t make the proper adjustment form high school to college. Please don’t give us an F. Please, oh, please give us an extension.”

I bowed to their pleas for mercy. “All right,” I said. “I’ll give you a break this time. But, remember, the next assignment is due the last day of October.”

The students were profuse in their gratitude and filled the air with solemn promises of being on time for the next assignment. Then came the last day of October. Two hundred students came with their papers. Fifty students came empty-handed. They were nervous, but not in panic. When I asked for their papers, again they were contrite. “Oh, Professor. It was Homecoming Week. Besides it is midterm and all of our assignments are due in other classes. Please give us on more chance. We promise it will never happen again.”

Once more I relented. I said, “OK, but this is the last time. If you are late for the next paper, it will be  an F. No excuses, no whining. F. Is that clear?” “Oh, yes, Professor. You are terrific.” Spontaneously the class began to sing, “We love you Prof Sproul. Oh, yes we do.” I was Mr. Popularity.

Can you guess what happened on the last day of November? Right. One hundred and fifty students came with their term papers. The other hundred strolled into the lecture hall utterly unconcerned. “Where are your term papers?” I asked. One student replied, “Oh, don’t worry, Prof, we’re working on them. We’ll have them for you in a couple of days, no sweat.”

I picked up my lethal black grade book and began taking down names. “Johnson! Do you have your paper?” “No sir,” came the reply. “F,” I said as I wrote the grade in the book….The students reacted with unmitigated fury. They howled in protest, screaming, “That’s not fair!”

The students had quickly taken my mercy for granted. They assumed it. When justice suddenly fell, they were unprepared for it. It came as a shock, and they were outraged. This is after only two doses of mercy in the space of two months.”

(Is this not the same way we treat God’s grace and mercy in our lives sometimes?)

Taken from “The Holiness of God” by R.C. Sproul

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Christianity and theology

Beware of ‘Revelations’!

“Is the truth that which I imagine to be revealed to me by some private communication? Am I to fancy that I enjoy some special Revelation and am I to order my life by voices, dreams and impressions?

Brothers and Sisters, fall not into this common delusion! God’s Word to us is in Holy Scripture. All the Truth that sanctifies men is in God’s Word! Do not listen to those who cry, “Lo here!” and, “Lo there!”

I am plucked by the sleeve almost every day by crazy persons and pretenders who think that they have Revelations from God. One man tells me that God has sent a message to me by him—and I reply, “No, Sir, the Lord knows where I dwell and He is so near to me that He would not need to send to me by you.”

Another man announces, in God’s name, a dogma which, on the face of it, is a lie against the Holy Spirit. He says the Spirit of God told him so-and-so, but we know that the Holy Spirit never contradicts Himself. If your imaginary Revelation is not according to this Word of God, it has no weight with us! And if it is according to this Word, it is no new thing!

Brothers and Sisters, this Bible is enough if the Lord does but use it and quicken it by His Spirit in our hearts. Truth is neither your opinion, nor mine—your message, nor mine! Jesus says, “Your Word is truth.” That which sanctifies men is not only truth, but it is the particular Truth of God which is revealed in God’s Word—“Your Word is truth.” What a blessing it is that all the Truth that is necessary to sanctify us is revealed in the Word of God, so that we have not to expend our energies upon discovering the Truth of God, but may, to our far greater profit, use Revealed Truth for its Divine ends and purposes!

There will be no more Revelations—no more are needed! The Canon is fixed and complete—and he that adds to it shall have added to him the plagues that are written in this Book! What need of more when here is enough for every practical purpose? “Sanctify them through Your truth: Your Word is truth.” Charles Haddon Spurgeon

This Post has been copied fromhttp://www.erictyoung.com

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Christianity and theology

The First Step in Going Astray

“The first step astray is a lack of adequate faith in the divine inspiration of the sacred Scriptures. All the while a man bows to the authority of God’s Word, he will not entertain any sentiment contrary to its teaching. “To the law and to the testimony,” is his appeal concerning every doctrine.

He esteems that holy Book, concerning all things, to be right, and therefore he hates every false way. But let a man question, or entertain low views of the inspiration and authority of the Bible, and he is without chart to guide him, and without anchor to hold him.

In looking carefully over the history of the times, and the movement of the times, of which we have written briefly, this fact is apparent: that where ministers and Christian churches have held fast to the truth that the Holy Scriptures have been given by God as an authoritative and infallible rule of faith and practice, they have never wandered very seriously out of the right way.

But when, on the other hand, reason has been exalted above revelation, and made the exponent of revelation, all kinds of errors and mischief have been the result.” Robert Schindler

Robert Schindler was a baptist minister and close friend of Charles Haddon Spurgeon. The above quote is taken from a series of articles Schindler wrote titled The Down Grade, and published anonymously in 1887 in Spurgeon’s The Sword and Trowel.

This Post has been copied from: http://www.erictyoung.com

 

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Uncategorized

Six Awards for Me and Fellow Bloggers

I am very grateful to my friend and fellow blogger Josephine Amoako of http://joseyphina.wordpress.com for nominating this blog for the following  six wonderful awards!

  • Seed of Light Award
  • One Lovely Blog Award
  • ABC: Awesome Blog Content Award
  • The Versatile Blogger Award
  • Supper Sweet Blogging Award
  • Wonderful Team Membership Award

Thank you very much Josephine.

I encourage you to visit her great site and you will be inspired!

The rules for accepting these awards are to state seven things about yourself and pass the awards on by nominating 15 other blogs.

Well, about myself? What can I say? Let’s see…aah…

  • A worst sinner saved by grace, kept by grace and will be glorified by grace too
  • By his grace, he blessed me with the best wife in the world, Mwai
  • By the same grace, I strive to remain true to Scripture and help others do the same
  • A theologian in the making
  • A contender of the Faith to the glory of God
  • A lover and respecter of  true and honest relationships and friendships
  • A God’s child always mesmerized by His sovereignty and providence in my life.

Humbly and with pleasure I nominate the following blogs:

Congratulations fellow bloggers. To God alone be the glory!

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Christianity and theology

The Holiness of God and the Preacher

“No minister (pastor) is worthy of his calling.  Every preacher is vulnerable to the charge of hypocrisy. In fact, the more faithful a preacher is to the Word of God in his preaching,  the more liable he is to the charge of hypocrisy. Why? Because the more faithful a man is to the Word of God, the higher the message is that he will preach. The higher the message, the further he will be from obeying it himself.

I cringe inside when I speak in churches about the holiness of God. I can anticipate the response of the people. They leave the sanctuary convinced that they have just been in the presence of a holy man. Because they hear me preach about holiness, they assume I must be as holy as the message I preach. That’s when I want to cry, “Woe is me.”

It’s dangerous to assume that because a person is drawn to holiness in his study that he is thereby a holy man. There is irony here. I am sure that the reason I have deep hunger to learn of the holiness of God is precisely because I am not holy. I am a profane man – a man who spends more time out of the temple than in it. But I have had just enough  of a taste of the majesty of God to want more. I know what it means to be a forgiven man and what it means to be sent on a mission. My soul cries for more. My soul needs more.”

Taken from “The Holiness of God”   by R.C. Sproul

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Uncategorized

Catering Churches – Fear of Offending

I thought I should re-blog this on this blog. To God alone be the glory!

Reality Of Christ

SHUUWhere are all the Christians? Are they still around? Do they have voices? Do they take action? Do they attempt to keep God a part of this world?

Why is it that liberal candidates win and churches are on rocketed decline? Why is it that abortion, drugs, promiscuity, and homosexuality have become the norm? Why aren’t the Churches standing against such things? Where are their actions? Where is their love? Why aren’t they teaching truth?

Sadly, the church today is no longer standing against wrong, or against injustice. Instead, they cater to people out of fear of possibly ‘offending someone’, because if they ‘offend’ someone, then…”they won’t go to church any longer, and if they don’t go to church any longer, then they won’t hear the Word of God, and if they don’t hear the Word of God, then they won’t be saved. So why ‘offend’ people, after all…

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Sound Teaching

Why False Teachers and False Teachings?

This is the question that has lingered in my mind for the past weeks. Believe you me, false teachings and false teachers break my heart and stir agony and anger deep within my soul. I wish I had all the powers to stop them but I can’t. As a matter of fact, the Bible clearly declares that we will always have them.

On this blog, I have for a number of times exposed and rebuked false teachings and teachers. I don’t do this because I love or enjoy it as some have mistakenly thought. Honestly, I do it with agony in my soul. Nevertheless, I still have to do it as the goal of this blog is to “Give a reason for our (Christian) Faith and contend for it to the glory of God.”

Now back to the question of false teachings and false teachers. Why do they exist? I have searched the Scriptures to find answers.  But before we tackle the question, it is important to note that the Bible clearly states that we will always have false teachers and false teachings. Christ reminds us: “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them (Matthew 7:15, 16).

Apostle Peter also says, “But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them – bringing swift destruction on themselves” (2 Peter 2:1). So make no mistake about it, false teachers and teachings will be part of this life until Christ comes back.

Again, back to our question:  Why do we have false teachings and false teachers? First, we need to note that some false teachers and teachings are out there due to ignorance. The wise of the old once noted that ‘ignorance is bliss.’ It is true! Some false teachers out of ignorance enjoy teaching false doctrines. They are not aware that they are in the wrong.

An example of Apollos comes to my mind right now. Apollos was a faithful servant of God and the Bible describes him as “a learned man, with thorough knowledge of Scriptures…he taught about Jesus accurately, although he knew only of the baptism of John” (Acts 18:25, 25). Apollos ignorantly taught about John’s baptism instead of baptism in Christ. Perhaps, his error was not much deadly but still he was in the wrong and acted in ignorance.  It took Aquila and his wife Priscilla to help Apollos to teach the truth more accurately (Acts 18:26).

Some of us have been there too. I remember early in my Christian life strongly refuting the biblical teaching that for one to be saved, it means that God unconditionally chose them to be saved before the foundations of the earth were laid (Ephesians 2:4-6).   I vividly recall preparing Bible studies to refute this teaching. But one day while in my first year at a Bible college, God opened my eyes as I was in class studying Romans 9.  Oh, what a day!  For the first time in my Christian life, my eyes were opened to this wonderful truth and silently in my heart I prayed:  “Father, forgive me. I was wrong. I now believe it. There is no one who can choose you unless you choose them.”

Now, you ask me.  Was I sincere when I refuted the doctrine of election? Yes I was! But were I Biblically right? No! I acted out of ignorance but at an appointed time God led me to the truth. So indeed, there are some who spread false teachings out of ignorance.  As the body of Christ we need to be on our knees praying that God will open their eyes to the truth and let’s take a step further like Aquila and Priscilla to reach out to them in love and graciously show them the truth as given to us in God’s holy and inerrant word, the Bible.

Secondly, let’s face it, false teachings are usually appealing. Now, due to our fallen nature we love those things that make us feel better. We, strongly, hate those things that disturb us in our comfort zone. Some false teachers have risen out of the desire to please men rather than God and in the process they gain materially. Two important issues motivate this type of false teachers namely the desire to please men and the desire to gain materially.

There is a passage that breaks my heart and provokes tears in my eyes, John 12:37-43. In the passage we read that some Jews believed in Jesus as the Savior but they could not openly confess this because they feared angering their religious leaders. The Bible highlights this sad truth about these Jews: “they loved the praise from men more than praise from God” (43). The Jews opted to please fellow men rather than God.  Believe you me, there are some false teachers who are motivated by the desire to please men rather than God. They know the truth but they intentionally go around it to please men.

Why do they do this? There might be many reasons but one of them is to gain materially (Jude 11). If these teachers are to be bold one day and decide to teach nothing but the truth, they know that they will not please many. The number of their followers will drastically shrink and they might not be able to live a more luxurious and extravagant life as they do now since their financial base will also shrink. So, they opt to please people at the expense of God’s truth. Sad, isn’t it?

Thirdly, there are those who have deliberately chosen to be agents of Satan to advance false teachings. Of course, all false teachings come from the evil one but as we have noted above some false teachers have been blinded by ignorance and the pleasures of this life.  But this third group has willfully offered themselves to be agents of the evil one. They teach doctrines of demons to harm and destroy the Body of Christ. They forget as Sabine Baring-Gould (1834-1924) put it in that  famous hymn, Onward Christian Soldiers, that “Gates of hell can never ‘gainst that church prevail.”

Apostle Paul describes this group better in 1 Timothy 4:1: “The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.” Notice that these people have deliberately ‘abandoned and followed things taught by demons.’ What do they gain from that? The Bible has not specified but this the most dangerous type of false teachers.

They are like Judas Iscariot who heard the truth of Christ daily but later intentionally decided to rebel against his Master and transferred himself from the Lordship of Christ to the lordship of Satan.  The Bible advises us to have nothing to do with this type of false teachers for their condemnation was already written long ago (Jude 4; 2 Peter 2:3). It’s hard, isn’t it?

Well, these are the thoughts that have entered my mind as I have been studying Scripture and reflecting on the question of false teachers and teachings.  However, the Bible has a word for all those who love Christ and are concerned with false teachers and teachings:

But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit.  Keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life. Be merciful to those who doubt; save others by snatching them from the fire; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.

To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy— to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen (Jude 20-25).

 

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Sound Teaching

Take it to God in Prayer

At times, we all face very difficult situations. In such circumstances we either take things in our own hands or take them into Christ’s hands. The former is usually a common reaction.  Apostle Philip also once found himself in a similar situation as we read in John 6:1-13.

Five thousand men came to listen to Jesus’ teaching. Jesus then asked Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” It was a difficult situation because Jesus and his disciples had no bread let alone money to buy bread.

Philip did not respond to the question directly. Instead, he quickly calculated the cost of feeding such a number of people and concluded that it was impossible to feed them, “Eight months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!” responded Philip (7).  He should have been good at Math!

Are we not like that at times? When faced with a difficult situation, like Philip we are quick to calculate in our wisdom and knowledge and conclude that such a situation is an impossibility forgetting that Jesus is God. Please note that the Scripture tells us that Jesus had deliberately asked Philip to test him for Jesus already had in mind what he was going to do (6). In a very situation we are in, God already knows how he will carry us through it.

Any way to cut the long story short, Philip was humbled as he witnessed with his own eyes how Jesus turned an impossible situation to a very possible one. The five thousand men were fully fed and twelve full baskets of left-over food were collected. I can only imagine how Philip felt as he gathered the left-over food.  Joseph M. Scriven was right when he composed:

What a friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer!
Oh, what peace we often forfeit,
Oh, what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer!

When faced with a challenge, let’s remember that we are limited but God isn’t. So take it to God in prayer and let him do as he pleases.  It is important that I clarify it her e that we don’t take it to God in prayer with a demanding attitude. We don’t take it to God in prayer by banging tables and giving God an ultimatum.

Although such attitude is regarded as faith by some, the truth is that it is lack of faith and trust in God. When we pray like “God I want you to give me this right now, no further discussions” we are in essence saying, “God I don’t want your will in my life because I cannot fully trust your will to do me good.”

However, the right attitude is where we present our requests before God and fully trust his good and perfect judgment and say “yet not what I want, but let your will be done.” This is a biblical attitude of taking it to God in prayer (Matthew 6:10; 26:39, 42). When we take it to God in prayer like that  we are always humbled because God in his good will “ Is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is a work within us” (Ephesians 3:20). If you doubt this, ask Apostle Philip and he will bear witness.

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Mercy Magnified

This week on the blog, I would like to share an article by my friend and brother in Christ, Linden Wolfe, titled “Mercy  Magnified.” Linden is the founder of Captivated by Christ Ministries,  a former pastor of several churches and has a PhD in Biblical Studies.  Linden blogs at  http://www.captivatedbychrist.org    

I have found this article to be helpful and enlightening. 

The idea of mercy seems to be altogether unappreciated these days. As opposed to our spiritual heritage, mercy is something of an unwanted second child in contemporary Christian circles in that it doesn’t get the same attention as grace does. Grace and mercy are often thought of together but, in this equation, mercy often seems to live in grace’s shadow. Yet, along with its sibling grace, mercy is one the most significant ways that God has shown favor and blessing to his children. Interestingly, in the King James Version of the Bible, the word “mercy” is found over 260 times and “grace” only about 170.

We have all heard that mercy and grace are two sides of the same coin. If we have ever been in church for any length of time we probably know the definitions by heart. Grace is unmerited favor, an undeserved gift from God. Mercy, on the flip side, is the withholding of God’s righteous judgment towards sinners in that he doesn’t punish us for our transgressions – instead He recognizes the righteousness of Christ instead of our filthy rags.

But that’s only part of the story when it comes to the gift of mercy. It has a richer meaning than just the suppression of God’s righteous anger towards rebels who deserve punishment. It is more than what God hasn’t done (punished us eternally). Mercy is also positive in that it is something God does for us that demonstrates His love and compassion.  According to Unger’s Bible Dictionary, “mercy” is defined as: “a form of love determined by the state or condition of its objects. Their state is one of suffering and need, while they may be unworthy or ill-deserving. Mercy is, at once the disposition of love respecting such, and the kindly ministry of love for their relief.”

So mercy is God actively involved in our lives, showing goodness to us in every sphere of our need – physical, emotional, mental, financial, and spiritual. This is God demonstrating His providential care and intervening with both blessings and patience.

We can learn some simple but pivotal principles about mercy from Scripture:

  • God has shown us mercy – “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3).
  • The more we understand God’s mercy, the we more we show mercy to others (kindness, forgiveness, goodness) – “Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:36).
  • The more we show mercy to others, the more we appreciate God’s mercy towards us – “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy” (Matthew 5:7).
  • Mercy is evidence of God’s covenant companionship and communion with His people – “For the LORD your God is a merciful God. He will not leave you or destroy you or forget the covenant with your fathers that he swore to them” (Deuteronomy 4:31).
  • God’s mercy (and ours) is a visible manifestation of His love and heralds the good news of the Gospel – “Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinner” (Matthew 9:23).
  • There is no such thing as mercy without grace, or grace without mercy – “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins…and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:1-7).

There are two simple truths we can take from this that might help us embrace and exalt the example of our great God:

  • Our God is a God of magnificent mercy:

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in him” (Lamentations 2:22-24).

  • We are to magnify Him by multiplying His mercy:

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).

It is good that we think of mercy when we think of grace…and grace when we think of mercy. But it is better to live out mercy and grace as a reflection of who our Lord is and what He has done for us.

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