Monthly Archives: August 2008

The Ties That Bind

By John MacArthur

Have you ever noticed how different the individual members of the same family can be? One child may be melancholy while another is a live wire. One may be especially gifted in music, and another, who has no interest in music, may excel in sports. In some cases they look nothing like each other or even their parents. Yet the members of a family share a bond stronger than their differences.

In the same way, within the Body of Christ churches develop their own unique personalities. Some may insist on formal worship services, while others thrive in a relaxed atmosphere. But the most important thing about a church isn’t the superficial things that make it different, but what it has in common with other Christian assemblies.

There are certain truths–fundamental doctrines–that every true church is committed to. These doctrines are unalterable; they cannot be compromised in any way. They are non-negotiable. Yield on any one point, and the church ceases to be a church. Here are five foundational truths that distinguish all authentic churches.

A High View of God


It is essential that a church perceive itself as a body of believers designed for the glory of God. Unfortunately, most churches today have deviated from that priority and developed a human focus: meeting man’s felt needs. Instead of faithfully proclaiming God’s sufficient Word to direct people’s minds toward God, church leaders respond to superficial needs with temporary solutions like psychology, self-esteem, entertainment, or a myriad of other diversions.
As a result, the church is no longer an organism that emphasizes knowing and glorifying God; it is an organization that tries to help people feel good about themselves. But if you know and glorify God, you don’t need to be concerned about your needs because “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Prov. 9:10). When your relationship with God is right, your perspective on your needs will also be right. That doesn’t mean we should ignore people’s needs–we are to be concerned about people the same way God is. But there must be a balance, and it begins with a high view of God.

We must take God seriously and exalt Him. Yes, we are to reach out to people with the love of Christ, but God must be the focus of our worship and our life.

The Absolute Authority of Scripture


A second non-negotiable truth is the absolute authority of Scripture. God reveals Himself primarily through the pages of Scripture; that is why we must uphold it as our absolute authority.
Because we believe Scripture is true, we must proclaim it with conviction and without compromise or apology. The Bible makes bold claims, and Christians who believe it ought to affirm it boldly.

Anyone who faithfully and correctly proclaims the Word of God will speak with authority. It is not our own authority. Insofar as our teaching accurately reflects the truth of Scripture, it has the full weight of God’s own authority behind it. That is a staggering thought, but it is precisely how 1 Peter 4:11 instructs us to handle biblical truth: “If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God.”

If the Bible is true, then it is also authoritative. As divinely revealed truth, it carries the full weight of God’s own authority. If you claim to believe the Bible at all, you ultimately must bow to its authority. That means making it the final arbiter of truth–the rule by which every other opinion is evaluated.

Sound Doctrine


Another non-negotiable for the church is sound doctrine. If you have a high view of God and are committed to Him, you will obey His Word. The content of God’s Word is sound doctrine.
Countless Christians today are vague about doctrine. Many pastors offer short sermons that might excite or make their congregations feel better, but they have little to do with truths that matter. We need truths that we can hold on to–truths about God, life and death, heaven and hell, man and sin, redemption through Christ, the ministry of the Holy Spirit and angels, the believer’s position in Christ, and Satan and his realm. You need to be able to read a biblical text, discover what it says, and draw out divine principles. God’s people need solid doctrine to build their lives on.

Personal Holiness


We must draw lines when it comes to personal holiness and be careful what we expose ourselves and our children to. We dare not lower our standards to those of the world. Christians are called to live a pure life, and we can’t compromise that.
Second Corinthians 7:1 says, “Having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” A church must enforce that standard (see Matt. 18:15-17). That’s why we implement church discipline where I pastor. If someone sins, we confront him or her for their own good and the good of the church as a whole.

Many Christians aren’t as concerned about their personal holiness as they should be. Where are you in terms of holiness and real communion with the living God? Church leaders aren’t the only ones who should live holy lives. You can’t have a half-hearted commitment to God and expect Him to work through you.

Spiritual Authority
One more component that’s true of a biblical church is spiritual authority. A church must understand that Christ is the head of the church (Eph. 1:22; 4:15) and that He mediates His rule in the church through godly elders (1 Thess. 5:13-14; Heb. 13:7, 17). Hebrews 13 says to submit to those over you in the Lord, for they watch your souls. Follow their example. Paul says to “recognize those who labor among you, and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake” (1 Thess. 5:12-13).

I am one of many leaders at our church. I happen to be the one whom God chose to preach, but I am one elder among many. While there are variations in the giftedness of spiritual leaders, there is still an equality of spiritual authority among those the Bible calls elders or overseers. Such spiritual leadership is essential to the church of Jesus Christ. That’s why the church must be committed to training and obeying godly leaders.

There is room for diversity within the Body of Christ. But every true church is united by certain non-negotiables. Make sure you and your church are committed to the ties that bind.


Available online at:http://www.gty.org/Resources/articles/42

COPYRIGHT ©2008 Grace to You

You may reproduce this Grace to You content for non-commerical purposes in accordance with Grace to You’s Copyright Policy (http://www.gty.org/MeetGTY/Copyright).

Romans 11:36

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Do You Draw Near?

By John MacArthur

Who is God? What is He like? Every fledgling believer asks those questions-the answers he finds evoke wonder and praise. Do you remember that time? Your appetite for truth was insatiable, you attended every Bible conference you could, and you were faithfully involved in every ministry and program the church had to offer. Everything you learned about God filled you with joy and ignited zealous activity.

So, what happened? Sadly, I’ve watched many Christians lose the wonder of worship as the years pass. Life for them grinds on monotonously and church attendance becomes rote behavior-you sing, you listen to a sermon, you greet a few people with handshakes and smiles, and you go home.

If that sounds familiar, return to God by submitting to James’ imperative: “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded” (4:8). To know the one true God is your glorious calling. Are you ready to draw near? Let me give you some practical encouragement on how to do that.

Understanding Worship

Worshiping God is the essence of being a Christian. Jesus explained that point to a Samaritan woman this way: “An hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers” (John 4:23). If we are Christians, we are worshipers. Our hope of eternal life is really an anticipation of unhindered, unadulterated worship. “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (John 17:3). With that in mind, we evangelize the lost to gather more worshipers to fill our ranks. Worship then is at the heart of everything we are and do.

Tragically, many Christians today have set their affections on the temporal things of this world, exchanging their great privilege of knowing God better for that which is mundane. King David had the best this world had to offer-money, power, success, fame-and yet he said, “One thing I have asked from the Lord, that I shall seek: That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord and to meditate in His temple” (Ps. 27:4, emphasis added).

Let me make an important observation at this point. I think some people get the sense that doctrinal precision equates to emotional sterility. Though we can all point to examples of that, nothing could (or should) be further from the truth. There is no lack of passion in David’s psalms, and his theology-under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit-was impeccable. Knowledge of God to Him was “to behold the beauty of the Lord” and he wanted to meditate on it for the rest of his life. Does that sound like cold orthodoxy to you?

Here’s a simple way to look at worship: Worship is an overflow of a mind renewed by the truth of God. Cast in that light, delving into the truth of God’s Word becomes discovery rather than dry and lifeless study. When you discover a great truth about God, you meditate on that truth-mulling it around in your mind-until it captivates your whole thinking process. That in turn will lead to worship.

Worship is really the outcome of two of the simplest Christian disciplines: Bible study and prayer. Study the Bible with the goal of discovering the wonders of God. Once you latch on to some great truth, fill your mind with it and ponder it in prayer before God. Your inner man will respond with righteous affections that will fill you with joy and renew your zeal to serve others.

Returning to Worship

So how do you get started? First, you must repent. The failure to worship God in spirit and in truth is not just an unfortunate lapse in spiritual enthusiasm, it is a sin. To love the Lord your God with all of your heart, soul, and mind is not the greatest suggestion in the Law, it is the greatest commandment (Matt. 22:36-40). Confess your sin, clear your conscience, and get ready for step two-prepare to worship God.

Acceptable worship doesn’t happen spontaneously-you must prepare yourself. Let’s look at Hebrews 10:22. “Let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.” That verse begins with the phrase “let us draw near”-it is our call to worship. What follows are four checkpoints to help you prepare for worship.

The Checkpoint of Sincerity

- We are to draw near “with a sincere heart.” That speaks of a genuine heart, devoted to pursuing God. It is hypocritical to be worshiping God when you are really apathetic or preoccupied with self. Draw near to God with your whole heart.

The Checkpoint of Fidelity

- We are to draw near “in full assurance of faith.” The Hebrews were clinging to Old Covenant forms of worship to find acceptance before God; but the coming of Christ put an end to ceremony and sacrifice. Each person had to be willing to say, “I’m coming to God in full confidence that I am not saved by a system of ritual. I come fully by faith in Jesus Christ.” You too are to be fully assured that God accepts your worship, not because of what you do, but because of what Jesus did in providing atonement for you.

The Checkpoint of Humility

- We are to draw near to God “having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience.” That is, you come to God with the knowledge that you are unworthy to be in His presence. The only reason anyone can come to Him is the blood of Christ, which was shed on the cross as a cleansing for sin.

The Checkpoint of Purity

- We are to draw near having “our bodies washed with pure water.” That refers to the daily cleansing by the Word of God. The process of sanctification ferrets out sinful thoughts and exposes sinful behavior. Before you worship, confess the sins that God uncovered through His Word so you can draw near in purity.

Every time you worship, whether corporately or privately, try preparing yourself by asking these questions:

  1. Am I seeing God anew in the Word through discovery and meditation so I am compelled to draw near to Him?
  2. Am I being sincere? Is my heart fixed on Him and undivided?
  3. Am I fully assured that only faith in Christ can bring me to God’s throne?
  4. Am I coming humbly, realizing I can draw near only because of what Christ has done for me?
  5. Is there any sin in my life I haven’t dealt with?

Perhaps you’ve been attending church for years, but you’ve never really drawn near to God, nor have you sensed His nearness-even in your own private devotions and prayers. Now you know, or perhaps have been reminded: God has redeemed you so you can worship Him. It is the purpose for which you were created. Continue living in the light of the wonders you discover about God in His Word, and ask Him to teach you more and more by experience what it is to worship Him in spirit and in truth. That is a prayer our great God will delight in answering.


Available online at: http://www.gty.org/Resources/articles/7

COPYRIGHT ©2008 Grace to You

You may reproduce this Grace to You content for non-commerical purposes in accordance with Grace to You’s Copyright Policy (http://www.gty.org/MeetGTY/Copyright).

Romans 11:36

Contending for The Faith
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Evangelism: true conversion

First, we must consider the person who becomes a disciple of Christ on impulse. This is likely to be the person who came in on a wave of enthusiasm, and I am a little bit suspicious of anyone who is too easily converted. I have a feeling that if he or she can be easily converted to Christ, he or she may be very easily flipped back the other way. I am concerned about the person who just yields, who has no sales resistance at all.…
Actually, I go along with the man or woman who is thoughtful enough about this decision to say truthfully: “I want a day to think this over,” or “I want a week to read the Bible and to meditate on what this decision means.”
I have never considered it a very great compliment to the Christian church that we can generate enthusiasm on such short notice. The less there is in the kettle, the quicker it begins to boil. There are some who get converted on enthusiasm and backslide on principle!
John 8:31–32
Faith Beyond Reason, 56, 57. A.W.Tozer

Romans 11:36

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Longing for God

It is part of my belief that God wants to get us to a place where we would still be happy if we had only Him! We don’t need God and something else. God does give us Himself and lets us have other things, too, but there is that inner loneliness until we reach the place where it is only God that we desire. A.W.Tozer
Psalm 16:2; Psalm 73:25; John 6:68
The Counselor, 78.
Romans 11:36
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Fanatics

People use the word fanatic whenever you get a little bit joyful about the Lord. They say you are a fanatic. Webster says that a fanatic is somebody who is too enthusiastic about religion, as if you could be too enthusiastic about religion.  A.W.Tozer
Rut, Rot or Revival: The Condition of the Church, 44
Romans 11:36
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Are you looking to purchase a Study Bible?

I would strongly recommend this one

Romans 11:36

Contending for The Faith
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Forty Years of Gospel Ministry

Yesterday I shared with you, Albert Mohler honoring John MacArthur. This is MacArthur speaking after the introduction by Mohler. If you have some time give a watch. Very edifying, especially if you’re in Ministry or a Pastor.

Romans 11:36

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He holds no leaf before his mouth.

Albert Mohler honoring John MacArthur Click Arrow to listen

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He should not be silent or mumble but should testify without being frightened or bashful. He should speak out candidly without regarding or sparing anyone, let it strike whomever or whatever it will. It is a great hindrance to a preacher if he looks around and worries about what people like or do not like to hear, or what might make him unpopular or bring harm or danger upon him. As he stands high on a mountain in a public place and looks around freely, so he should also speak freely and fear no one, though he sees many kinds of people and faces. He should not hold a leaf in front of his mouth.

–Martin Luther on the Preacher

Romans 11:36

Contending for The Faith
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To live and walk by faith

“The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of
God
, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” Gal. 2:20

To live and walk by faith, is to come daily to Jesus in
the exercise of fresh dependence, fresh expectations,
and fresh devotedness.

To live and walk by faith, is to see more of His glory and
grace continually, and to rejoice greater in His unsearchable
riches, and inexhaustible fullness.

To live and walk by faith, is in all our conflicts, sins, fears,
weaknesses, and woes—to resort afresh to Jesus, with a full
persuasion that we are welcome, and thus ever to derive
strength and courage from Him.

John Angell James

Romans 11:36

Contending for The Faith
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Before The Throne of God Above

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Before the Throne of God Above
Charitie L. Bancroft

Before the throne of God above
I have a strong and perfect plea.
A great high Priest whose Name is Love
Who ever lives and pleads for me.
My name is graven on His hands,
My name is written on His heart.
I know that while in Heaven He stands
No tongue can bid me thence depart.

When Satan tempts me to despair
And tells me of the guilt within,
Upward I look and see Him there
Who made an end of all my sin.
Because the sinless Savior died
My sinful soul is counted free.
For God the just is satisfied
To look on Him and pardon me.

Behold Him there the risen Lamb,
My perfect spotless righteousness,
The great unchangeable I AM,
The King of glory and of grace,
One in Himself I cannot die.
My soul is purchased by His blood,
My life is hid with Christ on high,
With Christ my Savior and my God!

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Contending for the faith

Grace and Peace to you

in Him with love
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