J. C. Ryle – 10 Marks of the Holy Spirit in a Believer

rp_ryle12_1.jpg What then are these general effects which the Spirit always produces on those who really have Him? What are the marks of His presence in the soul? This is the question which now remains to be considered. Let us try to set down these marks in order.

1. All who have the Spirit are quickened by Him, and made spiritually ALIVE. He is called in Scripture, “The Spirit of life.” (Rom. 8:3.) “It is the Spirit,” says our Lord Jesus Christ, “who quickens.” (John 6:63.) We are all by nature dead in trespasses and sins. We have neither feeling nor interest about true religion. We have neither faith, nor hope, nor fear, nor love. Our hearts are in a state of torpor; they are compared in Scripture to a stone. We may be alive about money, learning, politics, or pleasure—but we are dead towards God. All this is changed when the Spirit comes into the heart. He raises us from this state of death, and makes us new creatures. He awakens the conscience, and inclines the will towards God. He causes old things to pass away, and all things to become new. He gives us a new heart; He makes us put off the old man, and put on the new. He blows the trumpet in the ear of our slumbering faculties, and sends us forth to walk the world as if we were new beings.

How unlike was Lazarus shut up in the silent tomb, to Lazarus coming forth at our Lord’s command! How unlike was Jairus’ daughter lying cold on her bed amidst weeping friends, to Jairus’ daughter rising and speaking to her mother as she was accustomed to do! Just as unlike is the man in whom the Spirit dwells to what he was before the Spirit came into him.

I appeal to every thinking reader. Can he whose heart is manifestly full of everything but God–hard, cold, and insensible—can he be said to “have the Spirit”? Judge for yourself.

2. All who have the Spirit are taught by Him. He is called in Scripture, “The Spirit of wisdom and revelation.” (Eph. 1:17.) It was the promise of the Lord Jesus, “He shall teach you all things.” “He shall guide you into all truth.” (John 14:26; 16:13.) We are all by nature ignorant of spiritual truth. “The natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God—they are foolishness to him.” (1 Cor. 2:14.) Our eyes are blinded. We neither know God, nor Christ, nor ourselves, nor the world, nor sin, nor heaven, nor hell, as we ought. We see everything under false colors. The Spirit alters entirely this state of things. He opens the eyes of our understandings. He illumines us; He calls us out of darkness into marvelous light. He takes away the veil. He shines into our hearts, and makes us see things as they really are! No wonder that all true Christians are so remarkably agreed upon the essentials of true religion! The reason is that they have all learned in one school—the school of the Holy Spirit. No wonder that true Christians can understand each other at once, and find common ground of fellowship! They have been taught the same language, by One whose lessons are never forgotten.

I appeal again to every thinking reader. Can he who is ignorant of the leading doctrines of the Gospel, and blind to his own state—can he be said to “have the Spirit “? Judge for yourself

3. All who have the Spirit are led by Him to the SCRIPTURES. This is the instrument by which He specially works on the soul. The Word is called “the sword of the Spirit.” Those who are born again are said to be “born by the Word.” (Eph. 6:17; 1 Peter 1:23.) All Scripture was written under His inspiration—He never teaches anything which is not therein written. He causes the man in whom He dwells to “delight in the law of the Lord.” (Psalm 1:2.) Just as the infant desires the milk which nature has provided for it, and refuses all other food–so does the soul which has the Spirit desire the sincere milk of the Word. Just as the Israelites fed on the manna in the wilderness, so are the children of God taught by the Holy Spirit to feed on the contents of the Bible.

I appeal again to every thinking reader. Can he who never reads the Bible, or only reads it formally—can he be said to have the Spirit? Judge for yourself.

4. All who have the Spirit are convinced by Him of SIN. This is an especial office which the Lord Jesus promised He should fulfill. “When He has come, He shall reprove the world of sin.” (John 16:8.) He alone can open a man’s eyes to the real extent of his guilt and corruption before God. He always does this when He comes into the soul. He puts us in our right place. He shows us the vileness of our own hearts, and makes us cry with the publican, “God be merciful to me a sinner!” He pulls down those proud, self-righteous, self-justifying notions with which we are all born, and makes us feel as we ought to feel, “I am a sinful man, and I deserve to be in hell!” Ministers may alarm us for a little season; sickness may break the ice on our hearts; but the ice will soon freeze again if it is not thawed by the breath of the Spirit! Convictions not wrought by Him will pass away like the morning dew.

I appeal again to every thinking reader. Can the man who never feels the burden of his sins, and knows not what it is to be humbled by the thought of them—can he have the Spirit? Judge for yourself.

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Alex Early – A Quick and Easy Lesson in Hermeneutics

There are various approaches people take when it comes to reading, interpreting, and applying the Bible.

They are engaged in what is known as hermeneutics, the science of interpretation. As soon as you open your Bible and begin reading, you are engaged in the art of interpretation. And to be fair, one act of interpretation has transpired even before you picked up your English Bible. That’s right. You picked up a translation of the Bible. 

It isn’t hard to see how radically different the modern world is when compared with the ancient Biblical era.  

Who Contributed to the Bible?

The writers of the Bible are kings, peasants, men, women, slaves, free, fishermen, doctors, lawyers, philosophers, generals, artists, poets, rich, poor, and so on. The Bible is not a list of do’s and don’ts. It isn’t just monolithic and one dimensional; it has multiple genres (law, prophets, poetry, gospels, history, letters, and apocalyptic). These genres contain information about geography, authors, audiences, population, genealogies, and much more. 

The Bible is composed of 66 books written by approximately 40 authors and we even have a few books that we don’t know for certain who wrote! To widen the gap a bit more between the “then of writing” and the “now of reading”, consider that the Bible was written from 1400 BC-93 AD, spanning the entire Roman world, using 3 languages. 

This is an incredibly complex book or, rather library of books, and really does take some rigorous intellectual engagement to begin to get your head around what you hold in your hands.

Do my culture and personal desires trump the authority of Scripture?

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John Piper – Charles Spurgeon: Preaching Through Adversity

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WHY MIGHT SPURGEON TEACH US?

Throughout the years of my pastoral ministry, I often turned to Charles Spurgeon, and he helped me. But why? That is the first question to consider. What is it about Spurgeon that makes him such a model saint for modern saints? I offer seven reasons.

1. Charles Spurgeon was a preacher.

Spurgeon preached over six hundred times before he turned twenty years old. His sermons sold about 20,000 copies a week and were translated into twenty languages. Today, his collected sermons fill sixty-three volumes, currently standing as the largest set of books by a single author in the history of Christianity.

Even if his son Charles was biased, his assessment is close enough to the truth: “There was no one who could preach like my father. In inexhaustible variety, witty wisdom, vigorous proclamation, loving entreaty, and lucid teaching, with a multitude of other qualities, he must, at least in my opinion, ever be regarded as the prince of preachers.” Spurgeon was a preacher.

2. He was a truth-driven preacher.

We should not be interested in how preachers deal with adversity if they are not first and foremost guardians and givers of unchanging biblical truth. If they find their way through adversity by other means than faithfulness to truth, they will be no help to us.

Spurgeon defined the work of the preacher like this:

“To know truth as it should be known, to love it as it should be loved, and then to proclaim it in the right spirit, and in its proper proportions.” He said to his students, “To be effective preachers you must be sound theologians.” He warned that “those who do away with Christian doctrine are, whether they are aware of it or not, the worst enemies of Christian living… [because] the coals of orthodoxy are necessary to the fire of piety.”

Two years before he died he said,

Some excellent brethren seem to think more of the life than of the truth; for when I warn them that the enemy has poisoned the children’s bread, they answer “Dear brother, we are sorry to hear it; and, to counteract the evil, we will open the window, and give the children fresh air.” Yes, open the window, and give them fresh air, by all means…But, at the same time, this ought you to have one, and not to have left the other undone. Arrest the poisoners, and open the windows, too. While men go on preaching false doctrine, you may talk as much as you will about deepening their spiritual life, but you will fail in it.

Doctrinal truth was at the foundation of all Spurgeon’s labors.

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Tony Reinke – The Meaning of Christmas: Comparing Dickens and Handel

The past week has been full of memories for me and my family. On Sunday afternoon we traveled to the Navy Academy chapel in Annapolis to hear Handel’s Messiah performed. The chapel is stunning and the performance was beautiful. On Wednesday night we traveled to D.C. to Ford’s Theater to see a performance of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Ford’s is very small and intimate and the play was incredibly well acted. The empty president’s box elevated above the stage is a reminder that lends further eeriness to Dickens’ haunted intentions.

Both experiences will live long in my memory.

But while I was sitting in Ford’s theater I was struck by the contrasting Christmas messages between Dickens and Handel.

I’ll begin with Dickens.

Dickens

For Dickens, Christmas is about getting unshackled from materialism to appreciate all the blessed relationships we’ve been given. That’s a very good message. And in my attempt to further discover Dickens’ understanding of the meaning of Christmas, I was led to his short book, The Life of Our Lord. He wrote it not primarily to be published but to be read by his children each Christmas, thus giving us a glimpse into the urgency of its annual, seasonal message. The book is Dickens’ retelling of Christ’s birth, life, death on the cross, and resurrection. And quite frankly, most of it is very good.

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R. C. Sproul – What Difference Does an Inerrant Bible Make?

Inerrancy_620 Does it matter whether the Bible is errant or inerrant, fallible or infallible, inspired or uninspired? What’s all the fuss about the doctrine of inerrancy? Why do Christians debate this issue? What difference does an inerrant Bible make?

Before answering that question, we should consider in what way inerrancy doesn’t make a difference. The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy states:

We affirm that a confession of the full authority, infallibility and inerrancy of Scripture is vital to a sound understanding of the whole of the Christian faith. We further affirm that such confession should lead to increasing conformity to the image of Christ. We deny that such confession is necessary for salvation. However, we further deny that inerrancy can be rejected without grave consequences both to the individual and to the church (Article 19).

The statement strikes a delicate balance. It affirms that the doctrine of inerrancy is “vital to a sound understanding of the whole of the Christian faith” and that to deny it has grave consequences for the individual and the church. However, this statement also makes clear that belief in inerrancy is not necessary for salvation. While inerrancy is crucial for understanding the Christian faith and “increasing conformity to the image of Christ,” a person does not have to hold to it to be a Christian.

The Authority of Christ

But what difference does the inerrancy of Scripture make? Why does it matter? There are many ways in which it matters a great deal. However, ultimately, the inerrancy of Scripture is not a doctrine about a book. The issue is the person and work of Christ.

Allow me to illustrate. Years ago I was speaking in Philadelphia on the question of the authority of Scripture. After my lecture I came down to the front of the church, and I saw a man making his way toward me. Instantly, I recognized his face, even though it had been about twenty years since I’d seen him last. His name was Charlie. We were roommates in college and prayer partners. We made our way through the crowd and embraced one another.

We dismissed ourselves from the conference and went out for dinner. As we sat down, Charlie said to me, “Before we have a conversation, there is something I have to tell you.” I said, “What’s that?” He told me, “I don’t believe any more what I used to believe about Scripture when we were in college together. Back then I believed in inerrancy, but I’ve been to seminary and have been exposed to higher criticism. I just don’t believe that the Bible is inerrant anymore. I wanted to clear the air so that we can go on from there.” I replied, “Fine, Charlie, but let me ask you this. What do you still believe from the old days?” And triumphantly Charlie said, “I still believe that Jesus Christ is my Savior and my Lord.” I was happy to hear that, but then I started to ask questions that clearly made Charlie uncomfortable.

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Adolph Saphir – Christ: The True Center of Israel

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. For I say unto you, Ye shall not see Me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord.”—Matthew 23:37-39.
Sorrow, love, and hope are blended in these words of the Lord Jesus Christ; and when we think of Israel, sorrow, love, and hope ought to fill our hearts. In the words I have read the Lord Jesus Christ describes the sin of Israel; He foretells their punishment; He also brings before us the glorious future which awaits them.

Jerusalem’s sin, Jerusalem’s punishment, and Jerusalem’s restoration; these are the three subjects to which I desire to direct your attention for a few moments.

The Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came down from heaven. He was born of the Virgin Mary, of the seed of David, and of the seed of Abraham, and He was a minister of the circumcision, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers (Rom. 15:8). When the Lord Jesus Christ looked upon Jerusalem the whole of the past history of the beloved city and of the beloved nation passed before His mind. How wonderful was God’s condescension, and how great were the privileges which the seed of Abraham enjoyed! Separated from the rest of the world, set apart like a garden, God had chosen them to be His own property, witnesses for His greatness and for His glory. He had given unto them His word and His law; He had sent unto them His servants the prophets, who declared unto them His will. God called Israel His son (“Out of Egypt have I called My son”); and not merely does God declare that He looked upon Israel with paternal affection, but God says that He had chosen Israel to be His bride. He was to be their husband, and He claimed their love and their exclusive allegiance. This was the glorious position given by God to Israel, that Israel was to be the firstborn son of Jehovah and that Israel was to be betrothed unto Jehovah. Continue Reading

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Derek Thomas – The Bible’s First Word

Derek-Thomas In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. (Genesis 1:1)

I REMEMBER IT WELL, for I was a teenager in 1968. I remember the Christmas message that came from Apollo 8 with a glimpse of planet Earth, which has now become very familiar to us, but then was something rather new. We all felt a little smaller as we viewed the earth from an entirely different perspective. And from somewhere out in space, these words of Genesis 1 were heard: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”

It is no accident, of course, that the Bible begins with God. God is what the Bible is all about. One of the first lessons that we learn when reading the Bible is the importance of asking the right questions. Today people are prone to ask, “What is this passage saying to me?” We put ourselves in the center hermeneutically. Instead, the first question that we should always ask about any passage of the Bible is, “What is this passage teaching me about God?” For God is first, and he is the center, and he is last.

What Was in the Beginning?

One of the great philosopher-theologians—great, that is, in terms of his influence, rather than in terms of his orthodoxy — Gottfried Leibniz, began his systematic theology with one of the greatest questions that we can ever ask: “Why is there something and not nothing?” Various answers are given to explain why the universe exists. Prominent today is the Big Bang theory, which is so simple, erudite, and perfectly understandable. In the beginning, there was an explosion, and you can visualize it! You can imagine the particles moving out into space. The problem with the Big Bang, however, is that it fails to answer a fundamental question: what was there before the Big Bang? Now, scientists tell us this is an unfair question, but I want to know what is unfair about it. What caused the explosion? For an explosion to take place, there has to be something. Explosions just do not happen in a vacuum. They happen because of a chemical, electromagnetic reaction of some kind. So what was there before the Big Bang?

The Scriptures start, “In the beginning, God…” In the beginning was the Lord. In the beginning were the Father and the Son and the Spirit, three persons, one God. There is no express mention here that in the beginning, apart from God, there was nothing. Genesis 1:1 doesn’t actually say that God created out of nothing. But, of course, the very absence of any expression, the very absence of any reference to any material, is in itself suggestive of what Moses wants to tell you. The cause of everything that is, he says, is the creative, powerful, and sovereign hand of almighty God.

The first creation story actually ends in verse 3 of chapter 2, where we read, “So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.” In this account, there are references to God’s act of creation at both the beginning and the end. They are like two bookends of this first creation story. It is as though God is at the beginning of this story looking forward to what he is going to make, and then at the end of the story he’s looking back on what he has made. As we think about the doctrine of creation and the importance of it, I want us to see a number of truths that emerge from this opening prologue, this opening statement of Moses.

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Dr. John MacArthur – Genesis 1: Fact or Framework?

One popular view held by many old-earth advocates is known as the “framework hypothesis.” This is the belief that the “days” of creation are not even distinct eras, but overlapping stages of a long evolutionary process. According to this view, the six days described in Genesis 1 do not set forth a chronology of any kind, but rather a metaphorical “framework” by which the creative process is described for our finite human minds.

This view was apparently first set forth by liberal German theologians in the nineteenth century, but it has been adopted and propagated in recent years by some leading evangelicals, most notably Dr. Meredith G. Kline of Westminster theological seminary.

The framework hypothesis starts with the view that the “days” of creation in Genesis 1 are symbolic expressions that have nothing to do with time. Framework advocates note the obvious parallelism between days one and four (the creation of light and the placing of lights in the firmament), days two and five (the separation of air and water and the creation of fish and birds to inhabit air and water), and days three and six (the emergence of the dry land and the creation of land animals)–and they suggest that such parallelism is a clue that the structure of the chapter is merely poetic.

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Michael Boling – Reflections on Joshua 16-18

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Joshua 16-18

These three chapters continue to outline the allotment and divvying up of the land of promise. Specifically, the allotment of land given to Manasseh and Ephraim is provided. It is interesting to see that not all the inhabitants of the land were driven out. We see the Canaanites who lived in Gezer were not driven out completely; however, Joshua 16 notes they were required to perform forced labor.

Joshua 16-17 provides specific details as to the extent of the land allotted to Manasseh and Ephraim. In Joshua 18 we find the assembly of Israel gathered at Shiloh where the Tent of Meeting was located. Apparently there were seven tribes who had not yet brought the land allotted to them under their control. Joshua told them to not wait any longer to take that which God had given them.

Joshua 18 also outlines the allotment of land provided to the tribe of Benjamin to include the towns they possessed and the borders of their allotment. So essentially we find in Joshua 16-18 a great deal of discussion of land ownership and property lines.

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Dr. Albert Mohler – For Christian Men: The Lessons of Herman Cain

Herman Cain “suspended” his campaign for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination on Saturday, ending one of the most interesting political campaigns of recent years. Cain’s energy and ideas had catapulted him into the front ranks of Republican candidates, even though he had never previously run for any political office. This unlikely candidate ran an unconventional campaign that collapsed under the weight of unusual developments. In a matter of minutes, it was over.

“As of today, with a lot of prayer and soul searching, I am suspending my presidential campaign,” he stated. “Because of the continued distractions, the continued hurt caused on me and my family, not because we are not fighters. Not because I am not a fighter,” he said.

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