Mark Bowron – The Dangers of Divination

When you come into the land that the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominable practices of those nations. There shall not be found among you anyone who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, anyone who practices divination or tells fortunes or interprets omens, or a sorcerer or a charmer or a medium or a necromancer or one who inquires of the dead, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the LORD. And because of these abominations the LORD your God is driving them out before you. You shall be blameless before the LORD your God, for these nations, which you are about to dispossess, listen to fortune-tellers and to diviners. But as for you, the LORD your God has not allowed you to do this. (Deuteronomy 18:9–14 ESV)

The Encyclopedia Britannica defines divination as “the practice of determining the hidden significance or cause of events, sometimes foretelling the future, by various natural, psychological, and other techniques. Found in all civilizations, both ancient and modern, it is encountered most frequently in contemporary mass society in the form of horoscopes, astrology, crystal gazing, tarot cards, and the Ouija board.”

Divination is the practice of seeking knowledge by supernatural (some would say psychic) means. The literal meaning of the word is “to let the divine realm manifest.” Cultures all throughout history have engaged in countless methods to predict the future, to gain knowledge and wisdom, and to communicate with realms beyond the physical in order to gain perspective on the here and now. Modern day psychics, holy people and diviners of all types still use ancient and even modern divination techniques to glimpse the unseen realms. They all work in different ways to convey information between the dimensions, but what they all have in common is that they are merely tools in much the same way a telephone is a tool to transmit communication between people in remote locations.

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Charles Spurgeon – The Immutability of God

It has been said by someone that “the proper study of mankind is man.” I will not oppose the idea, but I believe it is equally true that the proper study of God’s elect is God. The proper study of a Christian is the Godhead. The highest science, the loftiest speculation, the mightiest philosophy which can ever engage the attention of a child of God is the name, the nature, the Person, the work, the doings and the existence of the great God whom he calls his Father. There is something exceedingly improving to the mind in a contemplation of the Divinity. It is a subject so vast, that all our thoughts are lost in its immensity—so deep that our pride is drowned in its infinity. Other subjects we can compass and grapple with—in them we feel a kind of self-content and go our way with the thought, “Behold I am wise.” But when we come to this master science, finding that our plumb line cannot sound its depth and that our eagle eye cannot see its height, we turn away with the thoughts that vain man would be wise, but he is like a wild ass’ colt and with the solemn exclamation, “I am but of yesterday and know nothing.” No subject of contemplation will tend more to humble the mind, than thoughts of God. We shall be obliged to feel—

“Great God, how infinite are You,
What worthless worms are we!”

But while the subject humbles the mind it also expands it. He who often thinks of God will have a larger mind than the man who simply plods around this narrow globe. He may be a naturalist, boasting of his ability to dissect a beetle, anatomize a fly, or arrange insects and animals in classes with well-nigh unutterable names. He may be a geologist, able to discourse of the megatherium and the plesiosaurus and all kinds of extinct animals. He may imagine that his science, whatever it is, ennobles and enlarges his mind. I dare say it does, but after all, the most excellent study for expanding the soul is the science of Christ and Him crucified and the knowledge of the Godhead in the glorious Trinity. Nothing will so enlarge the intellect, nothing so magnify the whole soul of man as a devout, earnest, continued investigation of the great subject of the Deity. And while humbling and expanding, this subject is eminently consolatory. Oh, there is, in contemplating Christ, a balm for every wound! In musing on the Father, there is a quietus for every grief and in the influence of the Holy Spirit there is a balsam for every sore. Would you lose your sorrows? Would you drown your cares? Then go plunge yourself in the Godhead’s deepest sea—be lost in His immensity. And you shall come forth as from a couch of rest, refreshed and invigorated. I know nothing which can so comfort the soul, so calm the swelling billows of grief and sorrow—so speak peace to the winds of trial—as a devout musing upon the subject of the Godhead. It is to that subject that I invite you this morning. We shall present you with one view of it—that is the immutability of the glorious Jehovah. “I am,” says my text, “Jehovah,” (for so it should be translated) “I am Jehovah, I change not; therefore you sons of Jacob are not consumed.”

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Steven Lawson – 4 Ways Pastors Must Practice Evangelism

Pastoral-Evangelism-2-podium_620 In his final letter, Paul charges Timothy, his son in the faith, to “do the work of an evangelist” (2 Tim. 4:5). By these words, the aged Apostle establishes the timeless standard for pastoral ministry, not only for young Timothy but for all pastors in every generation and in every place.

With Apostolic authority, this imperative command comes with binding force. All pastors must do the work of an evangelist. They must earnestly proclaim the gospel message, urging people to trust in Jesus Christ alone for salvation. So, where should this pastoral evangelism begin?

First, every pastor must preach the gospel to himself. Before any pastor can call others to repent, he must believe in Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul exhorts Timothy, saying, “Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things, for as you do this you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you” (1 Tim. 4:16). That is, every preacher must examine his own soul first. The success of one’s evangelism is, first and foremost, dependent upon his right standing in grace.

In The Reformed Pastor Puritan Richard Baxter addressed the ministers of his day, many of whom were unconverted: “See that the work of saving grace be thoroughly wrought in your own souls. Take heed to yourselves, lest you be void of that saving grace of God which you offer to others.” Simply put, pastors must embrace the very message they preach.

Charles Spurgeon writes:

A graceless pastor is a blind man elected to a professorship of optics, philosophizing upon light and vision, discoursing upon … the nice shades and delicate blendings of the prismatic colours, while he himself is absolutely in the dark! He is a dumb man elevated to the chair of music; a deaf man fluent upon symphonies and harmonies! He is a mole professing to educate eaglets.

Sadly, unconverted pastors do exist. Martin Luther was a doctor of theology and professor of Bible before he was born again. John Wesley was an overseas missionary prior to his conversion. Every pastor must be certain of his own salvation before he can powerfully preach the gospel to others.

Second, every pastor must preach the gospel to his family. Evangelism in the home begins with shepherding one’s own wife in her relationship with Christ. I will never forget an elder’s meeting in which one of our pastors shared that his wife had been converted the previous night. She was one of the nicest people in the church, yet, unknown to us, she was unconverted. How often is this the reality? To this end, every pastor must give attention to the spiritual state of his wife.

Similarly, he must give the same attention to his children. This evangelism should begin early and involve disciplines such as Bible readings, catechizing, and family devotions. I came to faith in Christ as a result of my father reading the Bible to me in the evenings. Moreover, home evangelism should include informal conversations, probing questions, and a consistently godly life modeled before the children.

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Chris Castaldo – Cultivate Gospel Conversations by Listening

We who have the greatest message in the world—the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ—ought to be the clearest and most compelling communicators. It’s probably true that we evangelicals generally do well with one-way communication—preaching, lecturing, singing, and writing. It seems, however, that we are not always as strong with dialogue. We don’t always listen carefully. We can be too verbose. We offer unsolicited opinions. We fail to notice. Or we allow ourselves to be distracted by thinking about our response while others are still speaking.

If we struggle in cultivating ordinary conversation, how can we possibly broach difficult faith discussions, which tend to be wrought with deeply held convictions, some of which are antagonistic to Christian faith? The key word here is “cultivating.” Like the farmer who prepares the soil before successfully planting a seed, a number of preparatory measures ought to precede gospel conversation. Such measures grow out of prayer and worship—asking God to stimulate our affections and open doors for connecting with others. This much, I trust, is fairly obvious. It is the subsequent steps that I would like to consider. The first of which is the importance of noticing cues that highlight a person’s openness God.

Noticing Cues

I use the word “openness” and not “interest” because it seems that the latter assumes a greater level of consciousness. The former, “openness,” is often true without full awareness. In other words, the human heart craves God even when the desire hasn’t been consciously formulated. Thus, a friend may speak at some length about her area of need—a fear, anxiety, or an inexplicable angst—without every mentioning God, when in fact her words have cried out for God the entire time without realizing it. This is “openness,” and this is precisely what we need to recognize.

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Kevin DeYoung – Advice for Raising Godly Children

Ten pithy sayings from John Witherspoon, Scottish Presbyterian pastor, President of Princeton (1768-1794), and signer of the Declaration of Independence, on parental authority and child rearing:

1. The best exercise in the world for children is to let them romp and jump about, as soon as they are able, according to their own fancy.

2. A parent that has once obtained and knows how to preserve authority will do more by a look of displeasure, than another by the most passionate words and even blows. It hold universally in families and schools, and even the greater bodies of men, the army and navy, that those who keep the strictest discipline give the fewest strokes.

3. There is not a more disgusting sight than the impotent rage of a parent who has no authority.

4. I have heard some parents often say that they cannot correct their children unless they are angry; to whom I have usually answered, then you ought not to correct them at all.

5. Nothing can be more weak and foolish, or more destructive of authority, than when children are noisy and in an ill humor, to give them or promise them something to appease them.

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Martin Luther – Commentary on Galatians

VERSE 1. Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead).

St. Paul wrote this epistle because, after his departure from the Galatian churches, Jewish-Christian fanatics moved in, who perverted Paul’s Gospel of man’s free justification by faith in Christ Jesus.

The world bears the Gospel a grudge because the Gospel condemns the religious wisdom of the world. Jealous for its own religious views, the world in turn charges the Gospel with being a subversive and licentious doctrine, offensive to God and man, a doctrine to be persecuted as the worst plague on earth.

As a result we have this paradoxical situation: The Gospel supplies the world with the salvation of Jesus Christ, peace of conscience, and every blessing. Just for that the world abhors the Gospel.

These Jewish-Christian fanatics who pushed themselves into the Galatian churches after Paul’s departure, boasted that they were the descendants of Abraham, true ministers of Christ, having been trained by the apostles themselves, that they were able to perform miracles.

In every way they sought to undermine the authority of St. Paul. They said to the Galatians:

“You have no right to think highly of Paul. He was the last to turn to Christ. But we have seen Christ. We heard Him preach. Paul came later and is beneath us. It is possible for us to be in error—we who have received the Holy Ghost? Paul stands alone. He has not seen Christ, nor has he had much contact with the other apostles. Indeed, he persecuted the Church of Christ for a long
time.”

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Chris Lawson – Kundalini Energy: Yoga’s Power, Influence, and Occult Phenomena in the Church

Today, with many Christian leaders endorsing things like yoga (Christian Yoga), Contemplative (centering) prayer, Christianized meditation, mantras and altered stated of consciousness – all in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, it is no wonder that mystical manifestations of occult power are being experienced in Churches and in believers’ lives. Entering Christendom en masse, across continental and denominational boundaries, is an ancient, baleful power that is ever-so-subtly influencing compromised Christendom. This power has as its goal nothing less than the full blown destruction of the human body, mind and spirit.

The purpose of this article is to expose this sinister power that lies behind much of the so-called “supernatural phenomena” taking place in the Church today. Those who have escaped the world of the occult and come to the real Jesus Christ understand very clearly what is going on. On the other hand, countless people, including many in church leadership don’t have a clue. Those who are ignorant of this deadly power invading the church would do well to take heed!

KUNDALINI ENERGY AND CHRISTIAN SPIRITUALITY?

We begin with a prime illustration of how the endorsement of occult (secret, clandestine, hidden, the secret mysteries) power is being injected into Christendom today (via Contemplative Spirituality, a.k.a. Spiritual Formation Movement). In June of 1990, Thomas Keating, one of the modern Fathers and founding architects of the Contemplative Prayer movement, endorsed and wrote the Foreward to a book entitled Kundalini Energy and Christian Spirituality: A Pathway to Growth and Healing. This book was written by Philip St. Romain, a practicing Catholic who has undergone what is known to yogi’s and occultists alike as “the awakening of Kundalini energy.” Friar Thomas Keating’s endorsement on the back cover of this book states:

This book will initiate Christians on the spiritual journey into this important but long neglected dimension of transforming power and grace.

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J. Gresham Machen – On the Deity of Christ

We have been talking about the great mystery of the Trinity. We have seen that according to the Bible there is but one God but that that one God is in three persons, the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. There are some places in the New Testament where all three persons of the Godhead are mentioned in the same verse. But much the more important or extensive part of the Biblical proof of the doctrine of the Trinity is found in those passages where parts of the great doctrine are so mentioned as that when they are put together the completed doctrine inevitably appears. I want to begin to talk to you today about one great central part of the doctrine. I want to talk to you about the deity of our Lord Jesus Christ.

But before I can say a single word to you about the deity of Christ, I must tell you what that term “the deity of Christ” means, or rather I must make perfectly clear to you what it does not mean. I must make perfectly clear to you the fact that the term “deity of Christ” and the assertion “Jesus is God” are often so employed today as to mean something quite contrary to the Bible and to the Christian faith.

Do you not see, my friends, that when a man says he believes in the deity of Christ, or when he says he believes that Jesus is God, the significance of such assertions depends altogether upon the question what the man who makes them means by the term “deity” or the term “God.”

If a man has a low view of deity, then, when he says that he believes in the deity of Christ, that means that he has a low view of Christ; and if he has a low view of God; then, when he says that he believes that Jesus is God, that means that he has a low view of Jesus.

But here is where the confusion comes in. A Christian man, hearing some unbeliever say that he believes in the deity of Christ or believes that Jesus is God, attributes to that unbeliever the Christian definition of the term “deity” or the term “God.” He simply assumes that the term “deity” or the term “God” means what Christians have always taken those terms as meaning. That is, he assumes that those terms refer to a personal God, Creator and Ruler of the world, separate by a mighty gulf from all finite things. The consequence is that he is very much impressed when those terms are used about Jesus by a man who otherwise seemed to be very far from the Christian faith. “Did you not hear that man say,” he exclaims, “that he believes in the deity of Christ; did you not hear him call Jesus ‘God’? Well, if he believes in the deity of Christ, if he is willing to call Jesus ‘God,’ he cannot be so very wrong. He may be unorthodox in some particulars, but surely the root of the matter must be in him.”

When I hear Christian people talking in that fashion about one of the noted unbelievers of the day, I have the sad feeling that those Christian people are, if I may use plain language, being deceived.

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J. C. Ryle – Holiness: Its Nature, Hindrances, Difficulties, and Roots

He that wishes to attain right views about Christian holiness, must begin by examining the vast and solemn subject of sin. He must dig down very low if he would build high. A mistake here is most mischievous. Wrong views about holiness are generally traceable to wrong views about human corruption. I make no apology for beginning this volume of papers about holiness by making some plain statements
about sin.

The plain truth is that a right knowledge of sin lies at the root of all saving Christianity. Without it such doctrines as justification, conversion, sanctification, are “words and names” which convey no meaning to the mind. The first thing, therefore, that God does when He makes anyone a new creature in Christ, is to send light into his heart, and show him that he is a guilty sinner. The material creation in Genesis began with “light,” and so also does the spiritual creation. God “shines into our hearts” by the work of the Holy Ghost, and then spiritual life begins. (2 Cor. iv. 6.) – Dim or indistinct views of sin are the origin of most of the errors, heresies, and false doctrines of the present day. If a man does not realize the dangerous nature of his soul’s disease, you cannot wonder if he is content with false or imperfect remedies. I believe that one of the chief wants of the Church in the nineteenth century has been, and is, clearer, fuller teaching about sin.

(1) I shall begin the subject by supplying some definition of sin. We are all of course familiar with the terms “sin” and “sinners.” We talk frequently of “sin” being in the world, and of men committing “sins.” But what do we mean by these terms and phrases? Do we really know? I fear there is much mental confusion and haziness on this point. Let me try, as briefly as possible, to supply an answer. I say, then, that “sin,” speaking generally, is, as the Ninth Article of our Church declares, “the fault and corruption of the nature of every man that is naturally engendered of the offspring of Adam; whereby man is very far gone (quam longissime is the Latin) from original righteousness, and is of his own nature inclined to evil, so that the flesh lusteth alway against the spirit; and, therefore, in every person born into the world, it deserveth God’s wrath and damnation.” Sin, in short, is that vast moral disease which affects the whole human race, of every rank, and class, and name, and nation, and people, and tongue; a disease from which there never was but one born of woman that was free. Need I say that One was Christ
Jesus the Lord?

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Michael Boling – Reflections on Psalm 7, Psalm 27, Psalm 31, Psalm 34, and Psalm 59

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Psalm 7, Psalm 27, Psalm 31, Psalm 34, and Psalm 59

The Psalms have long been a beloved portion of Scripture. As I have journeyed chronologically through God’s Word up to this point, the reading plan I am using has started to intersperse various Psalms into the mix, especially as the life of David has increasingly come into focus. What we find in Psalm 7, 27, 31, 34, and 59 is a reflection of David’s songs to the Lord during the time he was being pursued by King Saul.

David is crying out to God in an effort to ensure the situation he was facing had nothing to do with any iniquity that resided in him. If had done wrong to another, David understood the reality that he deserved punishment for such wrongs. Given he had done nothing but give honor to King Saul and had treated Saul with nothing but respect, being pursued by Saul was in the mind of David an act of a wicked and ruthless man to which God, being just and righteous, would respond to in His perfect timing.

There are repeated references to God being a just judge and the reality that the thoughts and motives of the wicked against the righteous would ultimately backfire against the wicked. Even in the midst of trials and tribulations, namely Saul desiring to kill him, David cried out in praise to God, knowing God would answer his cries for help. David sought after the Lord in the midst of these trials, a lesson we should also learn as these Psalms demonstrate God is perfectly in control even when life seems to be out of control and the wicked seem to be winning the day. God’s justice will come to the wicked so the righteous should never lose heart.

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