Wednesday, September 30, 2009
“It was the belief in the accountability of man to his maker that made America a great nation. Among those earlier leaders was Daniel Webster whose blazing eyes and fiery oratory often held the Senate spellbound. In those days the Congress was composed of strong, noble statesmen who carried the weight of the nation in their hearts and minds.”
“Someone asked: ‘Mr. Webster, what do you consider the most serious thought that has ever entered your mind?’ ‘The most solemn thought that has ever entered my mind is my
accountability to my maker,’ he replied.”
“Men like that cannot be corrupted and bought. They do not have to worry if someone listens to their telephone calls. What they were in character and in deportment resulted from their belief that they would finally be accountable to God.”
"Lord, help me to live my life today in such a way that, should You call me tonight to stand before You and give account, I would have nothing of which I would need to be ashamed. Amen.” ( from A.W. Tozer, Echoes from Eden, page 130).
Oh how we need men and women today with the godly character and courage of A.W. Tozer and Daniel Webster. Men like Spurgeon and Ryle and M’Cheyne. Women like Amy Carmichael, and Susanna Wesley and Fanny Crosby. Oh God, please send us revival!
“Wilt thou not revive us again: that thy people may rejoice in thee? Shew us thy mercy, O LORD, and grant us thy salvation” (Psalm 85:6,7).
“O LORD, I have heard thy speech, and was afraid: O LORD, revive thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known; in wrath remember mercy” (Habakkuk 3:2).
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
In our ever-changing society, true Christians are having their faith challenged strongly, and all of us now face persecution and suffering. The early church experienced "great persecution" after the martyrdom of Stephen (Acts 8:1), and wave after wave of "persecutions" and "afflictions" came upon the apostle Paul as he traveled the Roman Empire. History is filled with sad stories about "the blood of the martyrs." This is not just about China, Russia, or Africa anymore, but applies to American Christians also. Numerous are the stories of lawsuits against God-fearing people for praying in public, passing out Christian literature in public, or simply speaking out against certain sins. It is often absurd, but we need not expect things to get better. And who are we to think that we should not be persecuted for our faith? Why do we think that we are better than the followers of Christ who were persecuted before us? It actually betrays our faith for us to feel that we should escape being "hated" by the world, and escape "tribulation" (John 15:18; 16:33; Acts 14:22). We may not like to be "hated," and we may have been mistaught that we are soon to be "raptured" out of the world. Woe unto us!
The American "church" is made up of soft, lazy, lukewarm "believers." We don't want tough times to take us away from our sports fanaticism, our love affair with Hollywood, or change our easy-going, smooth lifestyles. "Clapping" for our modern religious entertainers must come to an end, being replaced with mourning and weeping over our national sins. We must come to "love the truth," not have our ears tickled with heresy. We must quit wallowing in our self-esteem. We must remember that at one time it was "costly" to be a Christian. Jesus said, "count the cost" (Luke 14:28), and even if we do not like to hear it, we must acknowledge that it is so. Truth hurts, but truth endures.
Is anyone sold out to Christ today? Yes, maybe a few "fanatics" here and there. These are truly "consecrated" and "committed" to Him, regardless of what it costs them. They take seriously the claims of Christ, when He said, "Deny yourself, and take up your cross daily, and follow me" (Luke 9:23). But few want to hear this. A preacher recently asked, "Are you willing to go to prison for your Christian faith?" Most "Christians" would undoubtedly (and without hesitation) say, "No." Most of us are totally ashamed of Christ in the daily arena of life, and we have no desire to "go to prison" for Him, for we do not really believe He is "Lord of all" (Acts 10:36). How shameful it is for us to "profess" Christ in a secluded church building (fairly easy to do), then deny Him in the workplace, at school, or at home!
Remember that "Christian" in Scripture means "of Christ, belongs to Christ." This is so much more than a mere outward profession of Christ, or being manipulated by the "rules" of men and their denominations. What some call "fanaticism," others would call "normal" or "healthy" Christianity. We should all want to be "normal Christians," but if we are, it will bring us persecution, as it always has. So Paul admonishes us, "Walk in the Spirit" (Galatians 5:16).
As we read through the book of Acts, we see much that the modern church would call "fanatical" or "extreme." Like Paul's testimony causing "the riot" at Ephesus (Acts 19), or his heroic courage aboard ship when encountering the storm "Euroclydon" on his voyage to Rome (Acts 27). The lax and lazy "Christianity" of our day wants none of this! We want only to preserve our soft American lifestyle, free from any and all persecution, and this just proves how far removed our so-called faith is from the genuine faith of the New Testament. Those who belong to Christ are clearly said to be "called, and chosen, and faithful" (Revelation 17:14). The question is, Are we?
Saturday, September 12, 2009
Without holiness no man shall see the Lord. Hebrews 12:14
To possess this holiness is a necessary and indispensable meetness for the inheritance of the saints in light; but this meetness must be wrought in us by the power of God's grace, for I am sure that in ourselves of it we have none. But see its necessity. What happiness could there be in the courts of bliss unless we had a nature to enjoy it? Unless we were made capable of seeing Christ as he is, and enjoying his presence for evermore, heaven would be no heaven to us. Nothing unclean or unholy can enter there. Sanctification therefore must be wrought in us by the power of God, to make us meet for the heavenly inheritance, and he therefore communicates of his Spirit and grace to give us heavenly affections, holy desires, gracious thoughts, tender feelings; and above all that love whereby he is loved as the altogether lovely. By the sanctifying operations of his Spirit, he separates us from everything evil, plants his fear deep in the heart, that it may be a fountain of life to depart from the snares of death; and works in us a conformity to his suffering image here that we may be conformed to his glorified image hereafter. Thus there is a perfect and an imperfect sanctification--perfect by imputation, imperfect in its present operations. But the one is the pledge of the other; so that as surely as Christ now represents his people in heaven as their holy Head, so will he eventually bring them to be forever with him in those abodes of perfect holiness and perfect happiness which are prepared for them as mansions of eternal light and love.
Saturday, September 5, 2009
Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
Part of an address given at the National Bible Rally in the Royal Albert Hall, London, on October 24, 1961
I suppose that the most popular of all the proposals at the present moment is to have a new translation of the Bible.... The argument is that people are not reading the Bible any longer because they do not understand its language—particularly the archaic terms. What does your modern man...know about justification, sanctification, and all these biblical terms? And so we are told the one thing that is necessary is to have a translation that Tom, Dick, and Harry will understand, and I began to feel about six months ago that we had almost reached the stage in which the Authorized Version was being dismissed, to be thrown into the limbo of things forgotten, no longer of any value. Need I apologize for saying a word in favor of the Authorized Version? Well, whatever you may think, I am going to do it without any apology.
Let us, first of all, be clear about the basic proposition laid down by the Protestant Reformers: we must have a Bible which is, as they put it, “understood of the people.” That is common sense; that is obvious. We all agree, too, that we must never be obscurantist. We must never approach the Bible in a mere antiquarian spirit. Nobody wants to be like that or to defend such attitudes. But there is a very grave danger incipient in much of the argument that is being presented today for these new translations. There is a danger, I say, of our surrendering something that is vital and essential.
Look at it like this. Take this argument that the modern man does not understand such terms as “justification,” “sanctification,” and so on. I want to ask a question: When did the ordinary man ever understand those terms?... Consider the colliers to whom John Wesley and George Whitefield used to preach in the eighteenth century. Did they understand them? They had not even been to a day school, an elementary school. They could not read, they could not write. Yet these were the terms which they heard, and the Authorized Version was the version used. The common people have never understood these terms. However, I want to add something to this. We must be very careful in using such an argument against the Authorized Version, for the reason that the very nature and character of the truth which the Bible presents to us is such that it is extremely difficult to put into words at all. We are not describing an animal or a machine; we are concerned here with something which is spiritual, something which does not belong to this world at all, and which, as the apostle Paul in writing to the Corinthians reminds us, “the princes of this world” do not know. Human wisdom is of no value here; it is a spiritual truth; it is something that is altogether different. This is truth about God primarily, and, because of that, it is a mystery. There is a glory attached to it, there is a wonder, and something which is amazing. The apostle Paul, who understood it better than most, looking at its contents, stands back and says, “Great is the mystery of godliness” (1 Tim. 3:16).
Yet we are told, it must be put in such simple terms and language that anybody taking it up and reading it is going to understand all about it. My friends, this is nothing but sheer nonsense! What we must do is to educate the masses of the people up to the Bible, not bring the Bible down to their level. One of the greatest troubles in life today is that everything is being brought down to the same level; everything is cheapened. The common man is made the standard of authority; he decides everything and everything has to brought down to him. You are getting it on television and in newspapers; everywhere, standards are coming down and down. Are we to do that with the Word of God? I say, No! What has happened in the past has been this: an ignorant, illiterate people in this country and in foreign countries, coming into salvation, have been educated up to the Book and have begun to understand it, to glory in it, and to praise God for it. I am here to say that we need to do the same at this present time. What we need is, therefore, not to replace the Authorized Version.
We need rather to reach and train people up to the standard and the language, the dignity and glory of the old Authorized Version. Very well, my friends, let me say a word for the old book, the old Authorized Version. It was translated by fifty-four men, every one of them a great scholar, and published in 1611.
Here is another thing to commend it to you: this Authorized Version came out of a time when the church had not yet divided into Anglican and Nonconformist. I think there is an advantage even in that. They were all still as one, with very few exceptions, when the Authorized Version was produced.
Another important point to remember is this. The Authorized Version was produced some time after that great climactic event which we call the Protestant Reformation. There had been time by then to see some of the terrible horrors of Rome and all she stood for. The early Reformers had too much on their plate, as it were; Luther may have left many gaps; but when this translation was produced, there had been time for men to be able to see Rome for what she really was. These translators were all men who were orthodox in the faith. They believed that the Bible is the infallible Word of God and they submitted to it as the final authority, as against the spurious claims of Rome, as against the appeals to the Church Fathers, and traditions.
Here were fifty-four men, scholars and saintly, who were utterly submitted to the Book. You have never had that in any other version. Here, and here alone, you have a body of men who were absolutely committed to it, who gave themselves to it, who did not want to correct or sit in judgment on it, whose only concern and desire was to translate and interpret it for the masses.
In view of all this, my argument is that the answer does not lie in producing new translations. They are coming out almost every year, but are they truly aiding the situation? No, and for this reason: men no longer read the Bible not because they cannot understand its language, but because they do not believe in it. They do not believe in God; they do not want it. Their problem is not one of language and of terminology; it is the state of the heart. Therefore, what do we do about it? It seems to me there is only one thing to do, the thing that has always been done in the past: we must preach it and our preaching must be wholly based upon its authority.
Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1900-1981), one of the greatest preachers in the twentieth-century English-speaking world, ministered at Westminster Chapel, London from 1938 to 1968.
The Banner of Sovereign Grace Truth April 2008