Michael Lawrence – False Repentance Leads to False Conversions

Repenting means exchanging our idols for God. Before it’s a change in behavior, it must be a change in worship. How different that is from how we often think of repentance.

Too often we treat repentance as a call to clean up our lives. We do good to make up for the bad. We try to even the scale, or even push it back to the positive side. Sometimes we talk about repentance as if it were a really serious, religious New Year’s resolution:

“I’m not going to blow up at my kids anymore.”
“I’m not going to look at pornography ever again.”
“I’m never going to cheat on my hours at work.”
“I’m going to stop talking about my boss behind his back.”

FALSE REPENTANCE

But even if we clean up our behavior in one area or another, our hearts can still be devoted to our idols. The Pharisees illustrate this problem. They were the best-behaved people in Palestine, the kind of people you would have wanted for a neighbor. They never let their kids throw their bikes in your yard. They didn’t throw raucous parties and leave cigarette butts in your flowerbed. They always picked up after their dogs. They were upstanding people. But Jesus called them white-washed tombs: clean on the outside, corrupt on the inside (Matt. 23:27). The point is that it’s not just bad people who are idolaters. Good, moral, even religious people are idolaters too. Repentance isn’t the same thing as moral resolve.

To continue reading Michael Lawrence’s article, click here.

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Chad Ashby – How to Stop Flirting with Sin

Sometimes we get confused about the way salvation works.

Almost by accident, we can fall into a gospel that’s heavy on encouraging one another in God’s forgiveness and grace and mercy, but woefully light on warning one another of the dangers of diving headlong into sin. This kind of gospel has no word for the brother or sister who gives in to temptation over and over again — who “makes a practice of sinning” (1 John 3:8).

Over time, we avoid the Old Testament with all of its narratives of God’s judgment, cherry-pick through the sermons of Jesus and the letters of Paul, then skip passed the harsh warnings of Hebrews and James. We select only the passages that tell us of God’s love and forgiveness and joy. But are these warnings in Scripture not a part of God’s plan to save, too?

Let’s admit the hard truth: Many of us are failing in the fight against daily temptation.

To continue reading Chad Ashby’s article, click here.

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Rutledge Etheridge – Child-like Maturity and Childish Adulthood

What does it mean to have a child-like faith? And how in the midst of their stormy youth are we adults to guide little ones away from childishness and toward the child-like maturity which Jesus commends as the only way to receive his kingdom? We could begin by shoring up our understanding of “child-like” vs. “childish.” Often without realizing it, and always to kids’ detriment, we adults tend to get those categories confused.

In order to keep us from sweating the details of biblical doctrine, Christians will often call one another to a child-like faith. The problem with this use of the concept is that children do not want to remain ignorant. They do not naturally see deep learning and trust as opposites. Neither does Jesus. Children love to ask “Why?” and they love to say “Wow.” Children rightly refuse to accept from adults shallow answers to deep questions. A child-like faith is one which longs to learn all we can from our Lord, who has called his church to teach all that he’s commanded (Matthew 28:18-20), not just what we might consider spiritual “child’s play.”

To continue reading Rutledge Etheridge’s article, click here.

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Mike Ratliff – False Prophets and False Prophecy Then and Now

1 Then the word of the Lord came to me saying, 2 “Son of man, prophesy against the prophets of Israel who prophesy, and say to those who prophesy from their own inspiration, ‘Listen to the word of the Lord! 3 Thus says the Lord God, “Woe to the foolish prophets who are following their own spirit and have seen nothing. 4 O Israel, your prophets have been like foxes among ruins. 5 You have not gone up into the breaches, nor did you build the wall around the house of Israel to stand in the battle on the day of the Lord. 6 They see falsehood and lying divination who are saying, ‘The Lord declares,’ when the Lord has not sent them; yet they hope for the fulfillment of their word. 7 Did you not see a false vision and speak a lying divination when you said, ‘The Lord declares,’ but it is not I who have spoken?”’” Ezekiel 13:1-7 (NASB)

A false prophet is one who claims to teach the truth from God and His Word, but who actually teaches from the counsel of his or her own heart. God is forever unchanging. He is immutable. His ways never change. His standards never change. At the time of Ezekiel, the kingdom of Judah had become consumed with idolatry. The people mixed Temple worship of YHWH with the worst forms of idol worship. They had taken on the culture and religion of the nations around them. Their culture had become pluralized. They were no longer a separate and unique people from the rest of the nations. The mechanism in people that powers this is compromise. The standard for God’s people has always been to be eternally focused with God in control. Compromise always moves God’s people to make decisions that are temporally focused because obedience to God is always counter to the demands of culture and the temporal.

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John Angell James – Youth Warned Against Sin

Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth; and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes: but know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment.” Ecclesiastes 11:9

Without pretending to say that the youth of this generation are more corrupt than those of former times were, I will assert that their moral interests are now exposed from various causes to imminent peril. The improvement and diffusion of modern education have produced a bold and independent mode of thinking, which, though it be in itself a benefit, requires a proportionate degree of Christian restraint to prevent it from degenerating into lawless licentiousness. It is also probable that of late years, parents have relaxed the salutary rigor of domestic discipline in compliment to the improved understanding of their children. Trade and commerce are now so widely extended that our youth are more from beneath their parents’ inspection than formerly and consequently more exposed to the contaminating influence of evil company. The habits of society in general are becoming more expensive and luxurious. In addition to all this, the secret but zealous efforts of infidelity to circulate works, which by attempting to undermine revealed religion aim to subvert the whole fabric of morals, have most alarmingly increased irreligion and immorality. But whatever be the causes, the fact to me is indubitable that multitudes of the young people of the present day are exceedingly corrupt and profane. Such a state of things rouses and interests all my feelings as a father, a minister, and a patriot. I am anxious for my own children, as well as for the youth of my flock, my town, and my country.

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Christina Fox – Something to Hate

Do you have any words you outlaw in your home? Perhaps you forbid words such as “shut up” or “stupid.” One of the words I limit in our house is the word “hate.” I can’t say that I hate the word, because I think it’s a powerful word that should be used properly. It should be reserved for serious things. When we say we hate something, we make a judgment saying “This is bad. It’s wrong. I loathe this thing so much, I wish it didn’t exist.” Therefore, I don’t want to hear my kids saying, “I hate peas” “I hate homework” or “I hate making my bed.”

However, there are times when I permit the word “hate”: when referring to things like sin and evil.

To continue reading Christina Fox’s article, click here.

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Dan Wooster – Artificial Intelligence: Better Than Human?

Modern advances in computers have taken artificial intelligence to stunning new levels. If computers can learn and think better than we can, will that threaten our humanity?

I still remember the day as a 10-year-old boy that I got my first calculator—with memory. I’ve loved computers ever since, creating things using logic. The very first program I created allowed me to play baseball against the computer. While the interface was pretty simple, it helped me understand how well machines follow exact instructions. How times have changed.

Back then we were inspired watching Rosie the Robot on The Jetsons and dreamed of computers that could one day do menial tasks like vacuuming the floor. With modern advances in computer power, algorithms, and innovative programming that imitates the nonlinear human brain, artificial intelligence (AI) has hit a whole new level.

To continue reading Dan Wooster’s article, click here.

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J. C. Ryle – General Counsels for Young People

FOR ONE THING, TRY TO GET A CLEAR VIEW OF THE EVIL OF TRY TO GET A CLEAR VIEW OF THE EVIL OF VIEW OF THE EVIL OF SIN. Young people, if you did but know what sin is and what sin has done, you would not think it strange that I exhort you as I do. You do not see it in its true colors. Your eyes are naturally blind to its guilt and danger, and hence you cannot understand what makes me so anxious about you. Oh, let not the devil succeed in persuading you that sin is a small matter! Think for a moment what the Bible says about sin — how it dwells naturally in the heart of every man and woman alive (Ecc 7:20; Rom 3:23) — how it defiles our thoughts, words, and actions, and that continually (Gen 6:5; Matt 15:19) — how it renders us all guilty and abominable in the sight of a holy God (Isa 64:6; Hab 1:13) — how it leaves us utterly without hope of salvation if we look to ourselves (Psa 143:2; Rom 3:20) — how its fruit in this world is shame and its wages in the world to come, death (Rom 6:21-23). Think calmly of all this…

Think what an awful change sin has worked on all our natures. Man is no longer what he was when God formed him out of the dust of the ground. He came out of God’s hand upright and sinless (Eccl 7:29). In the day of his creation he was, like everything else, “very good” (Gen 1:31). And what is man now? A fallen creature, a ruin, a being that shows the marks of corruption all over: his heart like Nebuchadnezzar, degraded and earthly, looking down and not up; his affections like a household in disorder, calling no man master, all extravagance and confusion; his understanding like a lamp flickering in the socket, impotent to guide him, not knowing good from evil; his will like a rudderless ship, tossed to and fro by every desire and constant only in choosing any way rather than God’s. Alas, what a wreck is man compared to what he might have been! Well may we understand such figures being used as blindness, deafness, disease, sleep, death, when the Spirit has to give us a picture of man as he is. And man as he is, remember, was so made by sin.

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Archibald Alexander – Thoughts for Young People

It is a matter of serious regret that young people are commonly so little disposed to listen to the advice of the aged…But it is greatly to be desired that the lessons of wisdom taught by the experience of one set of men should be made available for the instruction of those who come after them. We have therefore determined to address a few short hints of advice to the rising generation on subjects of deep and acknowledged importance to all. But previously to commencing, we would assure them that it is no part of our object to interfere with their innocent enjoyments or to deprive them of one pleasure that cannot be shown to be injurious to their best interests. We wish to approach you, dear youth, in the character of affectionate friends, rather than in that of dogmatical teachers or stern reprovers. We would therefore solicit your patient, candid, and impartial attention to the following counsels:

AIM AT CONSISTENCY IN YOUR CHRISTIAN CHARACTER. There is a beauty in moral consistency that resembles the symmetry of a well-proportioned building, where nothing is deficient, nothing redundant. Consistency can only be acquired and maintained by cultivating every part of the Christian character…We are not very frequently permitted to witness a character well-proportioned and nicely balanced in all its parts: while in one branch, there is vigor and even exuberance, in another there may be the appearance of feebleness and sterility. The man who is distinguished for virtues of a particular class is apt to be deficient in those that belong to a different class…Men are frequently found whose zeal blazes out ardently and conspicuously, so as to leave most others far back in the shade, while they are totally destitute of that humility, meekness, and brotherly kindness that form an essential part of the Christian character. Some people are conscientious and punctilious in the performance of all the rites and external duties connected with the worship of God. [Yet they] are inattentive to the obligations of strict justice and veracity in their [dealings] with others. On the other hand, many boast of their morality and yet are notoriously inattentive to the duties of the Christian faith.

To continue reading Archibald Alexander’s article, click here.

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