Monday, June 30, 2008

True Repentance (by J.C. Ryle)

Repentance is one of the foundation stones of Christianity. Sixty times, at least, we find repentance spoken of in the New Testament. What was the first doctrine our Lord Jesus Christ preached? He said, "Repent ye, and believe the gospel" (Mark 1:15). What did the apostles proclaim when the Lord sent them forth the first time? They "preached that men should repent" (Mark 6:12). What was the charge which Jesus gave His disciples when He left the world? That "repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name among all nations" (Luke 24:47). What was the concluding appeal of the first sermons which Peter preached? "Repent, and be baptized" (Acts 2:38). "Repent ye, and be converted" (Acts 3:19).

Repentance is a thorough change of man's natural heart upon the subject of sin. We are all born in sin. We naturally love sin. We take to sin, as soon as we can act and think, as the bird takes to flying, and the fish takes to swimming. There never was a child that required schooling or education in order to learn deceitfulness, sensuality, passion, self-will, gluttony, pride, and foolishness. These things are not picked up from bad companions, or gradually learned by a long course of tedious instruction. They spring up of themselves, even when boys and girls are brought up alone. The seeds of them are evidently the natural product of the heart. The aptitude of all children to these things is an unanswerable proof of the corruption and fall of man. Now when this heart of ours is changed by the Holy Ghost, when this natural love of sin is cast out, then takes place that change which the Word of God calls "repentance." The man in whom the change is wrought is said to "repent". He may be called, in one word, a "penitent" man.

(a) True repentance begins with knowledge of sin. The eyes of the penitent man are opened. He sees with dismay and confusion the length and breadth of God's holy law, and the extent, the enormous extent, of his own transgressions. He discovers, to his surprise, that in thinking himself a "good sort of man," and a man with a "good heart," he has been under a huge delusion. He finds out that, in reality, he is wicked, and guilty, and corrupt, and bad in God's sight. His pride breaks down. His high thoughts melt away. He sees that he is neither more nor less than a great sinner. This is the first step in true repentance.

(b) True repentance goes on to work sorrow for sin. The heart of a penitent man is touched with deep remorse because of his past transgressions. He is cut to the heart to think that he should have lived so madly and so wickedly. He mourns over time wasted, over talents misspent, over God dishonored, over his own soul injured. The remembrance of these things is grievous to him. The burden of these things is sometimes almost intolerable. When a man so sorrows, you have the second step in true repentance.

(c) True repentance proceeds, further, to produce in a man confession of sin. The tongue of a penitent man is loosed. He feels he must speak to that God against whom he has sinned. Something within him tells him he must cry to God, and pray to God, and talk to God, about the state of his own soul. He must pour out his heart, and acknowledge his iniquities, at the throne of grace. They are a heavy burden within him, and he can no longer keep silence. He can keep nothing back. He will not hide anything. He goes before God, pleading nothing for himself, and willing to say, "I have sinned against heaven and before Thee: my iniquity is great. God be merciful to me, a sinner!" When a man goes thus to God in confession, you have the third step in true repentance.

(d) True repentance, furthermore, shows itself before the world in a thorough breaking off from sin. This life of a penitent man is altered. The course of his daily conduct is entirely changed. A new King reigns within his heart. He puts off the old man. What God commands he now desires to practice; and what God forbids he now desires to avoid. He strives in all ways to keep clear of sin, to fight with sin, to war with sin, to get the victory over sin. He ceases to do evil. He learns to do well. He breaks off sharply from bad ways and bad companions. He labors, however feebly, to live a new life. When a man does this, you have the fourth step in true repentance.

(e) True repentance, in the last place, shows itself by producing in the heart a settled habit of deep hatred of all sin. The mind of a penitent man becomes a mind habitually holy. He abhors that which is evil, and cleaves to that which is good. He delights in the law of God. He comes short of his own desires not unfrequently. He finds in himself an evil principle warring against the Spirit of God. He finds himself cold when he would be hot, backward when he would be forward, heavy when he would be lively in God's service. He is deeply conscious of his own infirmities. He groans under a sense of indwelling corruption. But still, for all that, the general bias of his heart is towards God, and away from evil. He can say with David, "I esteem all Thy precepts concerning all things to be right, and I hate every false way" (Psalm 119:128). When a man can say this, you have the fifth, or crowning step of true repentance.

But now, is the picture of repentance complete? Can I leave the subject here, and go on? I cannot do it. There remains yet one thing behind which ought never to be forgotten. Were I not to mention this one thing, I might make hearts sad that God would not have made sad, and raise seeming barriers between men's souls and heaven.

True repentance, such as I have just described, is never alone in the heart of any man. It always has a companion-a blessed companion. It is always accompanied by lively faith in our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Wherever faith is, there is repentance; wherever repentance is, there is always faith. I do not decide which comes first-whether repentance comes before faith, or faith before repentance. But I am bold to say that the two graces are never found separate, one from the other. Just as you cannot have the sun without light, or ice without cold, or fire without heat, or water without moisture-so long you will never find true faith without true repentance, and you will never find true repentance without lively faith. The two things will always go side by side.

Do you ask me what you ought to do? Go, I tell you, and cry to the Lord Jesus Christ this very day. Go and pour out your heart before Him. Go and tell Him what you are, and tell Him what you desire. Tell Him you are a sinner: He will not be ashamed of you. Tell Him you want to be saved: He will hear you. Tell Him you are a poor weak creature: He will listen to you. Tell Him you do not know what to do or how to repent: He will give you His grace. He will pour out His Spirit upon you. He will hear you. He will grant your prayer. He will save your soul. There is enough in Christ, and to spare, for all the wants of all the world-for all the wants of every heart that is unconverted, unsanctified, unbelieving, impenitent, and unrenewed. "What is your hope?" said a man to a poor Welsh boy, who could not speak much English, and was found dying in an inn one day-"What is your hope about your soul?" What was his reply? He turned to the questioner, and said to him, in broken English, "Jesus Christ is plenty for everybody! Jesus Christ is plenty for everybody!" There was a mine of truth in those words.

"Those in our day who are saying that they preach only Christ are not actually preaching Christ. Unless we preach the full meaning of Christ crucified, we are not really preaching Christ. The message of the cross of Christ cut men to the heart at Pentecost (Acts 2:36). The bumper-sticker gospel would say to these men, "Smile, God loves you." And there are others who would say to these men, "Just believe in the remission of sins in the cross of Christ." Peter, however, told these men to repent (Acts 2:38) - E.W. Johnson

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Sinners Dependent On A Sovereign Grace

I will be saved by grace, or I will not be saved at all! And what is grace? It is none other than God's unmerited favour freely given to us at Christ's expense!

The following sermon titled 'Sinners Dependent on a Sovereign Grace' is well worth a listen when you get time.

Don't have time to listen online, download it here!

To God Be The Glory

To God be the glory, great things He hathdone;
So loved He the world that He gave us His Son,
Who yielded His life, an atonement for sin,
And opened the lifegate, that all may go in.

O perfect redemption, the purchase of blood,
To every believer, the promise of God;
The vilest offender who truly believes,
That moment from Jesus a pardon receives.

Great things He hath taught us, great things He hath done,
And great our rejoicing through Jesus the Son;
But purer, and higher, and greater will be
Our wonder, our transport, when Jesus we see!

Praise the Lord, praise the Lord,
Let the earth hear His voice!
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord,
Let the people rejoice!
O come to the Father, through Jesus the Son,
And give Him the glory, great things He hath done!

—Fanny J. Crosby (1820-1915)

Regeneration Fact #3

When a man is converted to God, it is done in a moment. Regeneration is an instantaneous work. Conversion to God, the fruit of regeneration, occupies all our life, but regeneration itself is effected in an instant. A man hates God-- the Holy Spirit makes him love God. A man is opposed to Christ, he hates his gospel, does not understand it and will not receive it-- the Holy Spirit comes, puts light into his darkened understanding, takes the chain from his bondaged will, gives liberty to his conscience, gives life to his dead soul, so that the voice of conscience is heard, and the man becomes a new creature in Christ Jesus. And all this is done, mark you, by the instantaneous supernatural influence of God the Holy Spirit working as he wills among the sons of men.

- Charles Spurgeon

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Glad, Sad Or Mad?

As you go and as you preach, something must happen if you are the servant of God and anointed with the Spirit of God; you must never leave people the way you found them! Something must happen! When they have finished listening to your message they should be either glad, sad or mad - but not the way you found them!

- Paris Reidhead

Monday, June 23, 2008

Regeneration Fact #2

A man is not saved against his will, but he is made willing by the operation of the Holy Ghost. A mighty grace which he does not wish to resist enters into the man, disarms him, makes a new creature of him, and he is saved.

- Charles Spurgeon

Teach A Man To Fish

Give a man a fish and you will feed him for a day. Teach him how to fish and you will feed him for a lifetime. Share not the gospel with him and he will still go to hell, but on a full stomach!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Battle Cry!

When the guns open up and the battle is on I will stand in line ready to charge. Bayonets fixed, waiting for my commanding officer to give the order. When the whistle sounds and the order is given I will charge into battle for He will strengthen me. He has gone before me and prepared a the path for me. He is my shield and my strength. I will not fear the outcome, for my life is found in His. There is no other name in heaven I will call to. None! Not even my own, for apart from Him I am a blind, deaf wretch. He drank the cup of God's wrath that was prepared for me. He was crushed in my place. That should have been me, that should have been me! My life is yours Lord, who gave your life for me!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Death is dead!

"Have you ever wondered what you would do to frighten Lazarus after he'd been raised from the dead? What would you do to threaten him? Lazarus, I'm gonna' kill you? Caligula says, 'I'm going to kill you.' He says, 'Ha, ha, ha.' He says 'stop ha, ha, ha-ing. I'm going to kill you as I'm killing all the Christians.' He doubles over in uncontrollable laughter, comes up for air and says, 'Caligula haven't you heard? Death is dead! Death is dead!'

How do you frighten somebody who has already been there and knows the one who's going to let him out?"

Ravi Zacharias

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Iron Sharpens Iron

Had an amazing weekend in which I got a small taste of what it must have been like in the early New Testament church!

We had the privilege of staying with a wonderful family who have such a hunger and heart for God, and from start to finish it was centered around one thing: Jesus Christ and Him crucified!

For two days we talked of the good things God has done, we shared experiences, testimonies, prayed, feasted on the Word, encouraged and challenged one another. It was a very real glimpse into Acts 2 (The Fellowship of the Believers).

It was all about God. It was not forced, it was not fake, it was a time of refreshing, encouraging, challenging, sharpening! It was what I long to see throughout the professing body here in Australia!

One of the interesting things that arose on leaving, after talking with my brother, is that we both felt challenged by each other in many areas in our lives, marriages, families and ministries. It was iron sharpening iron, yet we both felt not so much that we were the sharpening steel or the grindstone, but the iron receiving all the grinding.

I was thinking about it on the way home, wondering how it was possible that we both seem to challenge and exhort and encourage and rebuke one another in seemingly similar areas... then it dawned on me. It wasn't that we were expert grinders and polishers, it was because we were both lifting God up. We were lifting His Word up. We were lifting His Truth up. It wasn't us! It was Him! We'd simply been in the Word, quoting the Word, reciting the Word, memorising the Word, and He was doing all the grinding through that Word of Truth and the power of His Spirit!

Herein lies a valuable lesson for the professing church, for the pulpit, for the fellowship groups, for the studies and home churches. Lift up the Truth! Lift up the Word! Lift up God and lower man! Many will be offended, many will be saved, many will be sharpened, many will walk away, many will be refreshed and encouraged. One thing is for sure, many wont ever be the same again!

Rejection of the Gospel

Sirs, if you would be saved you must have the blood of Jesus sprinkled upon you. He that believes not in Christ Jesus, in Jesus the atoning sacrifice, must perish. The eternal God must repulse with infinite disgust the man who refuses the loving sacrifice of Jesus. Inasmuch as he counted himself unworthy of this wondrous sacrifice, this marvelous expiation there remains no other sacrifice for sin, and nothing for him but that eternal blackness and darkness and thunder which were foreshadowed at Sinai. Those who refuse the atonement which wisdom devised, which love provided, and which justice has accepted, have signed their own death-warrant, and none can wonder that they perish.

- Charles Spurgeon

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Are You A Wearer Or Bearer?

I was speaking to a good mate the other night and he was telling me of a witnessing encounter had during the week. The young lady was wearing a crucifix, which opened the way for a pointed question: "Are you are wearer or a bearer?". After coughing and spluttering a bit of an answer out it was clear...

I've been thinking about that question since. "Are you a wearer or a bearer?"

Is Christ something external to me, or is he a vital reality? Is He the bread of life to me or something I'd rather just snack on occasionally? Do I want His salvation but not His Lordship? Do I want Him to do all the cross bearing or will I take up my cross daily and follow Him?

How about you?

Christ, the heavenly Lamb!

Not all the blood of beasts,
On Jewish altars slain,
Could give the guilty conscience peace,
Or wash away the stain.

But Christ, the heavenly Lamb,
Takes all our sins away,
A sacrifice of nobler name,
And richer blood than they,

My faith would lay her hand,
On that dear head of Thine,
While like a penitent I stand,
And there confess my sin.

- Isaac Watts

Am I Saved?

The assurance of imputed righteousness is the evidence of imparted righteousness!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Fools Despise Wisdom!

Wisdom is the right use of knowledge. To know is not to be wise. Many men know a great deal, and are all the greater fools for it. There is no fool so great a fool as a knowing fool. But to know how to use knowledge is to have wisdom.

- Charles Spurgeon

Wisdom produces Humility
Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. James 3:13

Knowledge produces Pride
Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. The man who thinks he knows something does not yet know as he ought to know. But the man who loves God is known by God. 1 Corinthians 8:1b-3

What is your motive for searching the scriptures? Is it to gain knowledge or become more like Christ?

Monday, June 2, 2008

Since When?

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)

This is the testimony of all God's children! As it says in 1 John 2:5-6 "if anyone obeys his word, God's love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did."

If I have been crucified and no longer live, but it is Christ that lives in me, then it stands to reason that my life would look like His!

In fact, it must look like His, because it is He that lives in me!

This is why Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 13:5 "Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?"

If Christ lives in us, then His life will be lived out through us! We will do and act according to His will and purpose!

Surveying the landscape of the professing church, one must ask:

Since when did Jesus start wanting to go to the cinema? Since when did he start loving to watch people act out the very things that drove the nails through his hands - the killing, the lust, the sex, the blasphemy, the lying, the hatred, the twisting and distortion of truth? Since when did Jesus start caring about how he looked? Since when did he get so caught up in fashion, clothes, jewelry, styled hair and body art? Since when did Jesus stop caring for people and start looking out for number one? Since when did he start caring more about superannuation, paying back the mortgage, and having a diverse share portfolio than reaching out to a lost and dying world? Since when did Jesus stop speaking the truth in love because he wanted to be more relevant and less hated by those he came to die for?

It comes down to this. This is the test. If Jesus Christ be in you, then you will be like Jesus Christ!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Leave No Stone Unturned!

You have heard the comment 'leave no stone unturned'. Bring it into a 21st century evangelical context and it might read a little like, 'leave no SPAM unreturned'.

A recent comment received on the blog has reminded me again of how many opportunities there are to share the gospel with people on a daily basis! They are literally falling into your inbox!

What a wonderful opportunity to witness to people from all over the globe, by a simple click of the Reply button.

I took the following eye analogy from the Way of the Master guys and kind of bundled into an email response with the subject line of: Would you sell one of your eyes for $1,000,000?

This is not the be all and end all! You may have used a different approach, more scripture references, less words... but the main thing is that the message is clear: Jesus Christ was crucified because we are sinners & salvation is a free gift to all who repent and believe!

What if someone offered you a million dollars for one of your eyes? How about five million dollars for both of your eyes? Would you do it? Would you spend the rest of your life blind for any amount of money? Probably not. Why? Because your eyes and the gift of sight are precious to you.

It has been said that the eyes are the windows to the soul. The following statement is also true. “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?” Is not your soul of far greater value than even your eyesight?

To learn the answer to life’s million-dollar question, please take a moment to carefully read the following:

Are you good enough to get into Heaven?? Would you consider yourself to be a good person?? Let's find out!

Have you ever told a lie, stolen anything, or used God's name in vain? Jesus said, 'Whoever looks upon a woman to lust after her has committed adultery already with her in his heart.' Have you looked with lust? If you have done those things then God sees you as a lying, thieving, blasphemous, adulterer at heart! The Bible warns that all who are found guilty of doing these things will end up in Hell! Will you be guilty on Judgment Day? That's not God's will. He sent His Son to suffer and die on the cross for you! Jesus took your punishment upon Himself -'For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.' Then He rose from the dead and defeated death. This is serious folks! Give it some thought! Please, repent (turn from sin) today and trust in Jesus with everything you've got, and God will grant you everlasting life. Then read your Bible daily and obey it!

George Street, Sydney.

The following is a wonderful reminder that we don't all have to be a Billy Graham or Keith Green to make a difference in this world for the sake of Christ! In fact, those who would be greatest in the kingdom of God will be the least of all here on earth! Living lives in relative obscurity, they will bring God great glory and bear Him much fruit - 30, 60, 100 fold what was sown!