God Works Through Good Resolves

To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power. (2 Thessalonians 1:11)

Seeking the power of God to fulfill our good resolves does not mean that we don’t really resolve, or that we don’t really use willpower.
The engagement of God’s power never takes the place of the engagement of our will! The power of God in sanctification never makes us passive! The power of God engages itself beneath or behind and within our will, not in place of our will.

The evidence of God’s power in our lives is not the absence of our willing, but the strength of our willing, the joy of our willing.
Anyone who says, “Well, I believe in the sovereignty of God and so I will just sit back and do nothing” does not really believe in the sovereignty of God. For why would someone who believes in God’s sovereignty so blatantly disobey him?

When you sit back to do nothing, you are not doing nothing. You are actively engaging your will in a decision to sit back. And if that is the way you handle sin or temptation in your life, it is blatant disobedience, because we are commanded to wage a good warfare (1 Timothy 1:18) and resist the devil (James 4:7) and strive for holiness (Hebrews 12:14) and put to death the sinful acts of the body (Romans 8:13).

Second Thessalonians 1:11 says that it is by the power of God that we will fulfill our good resolves and our works of faith. But this does not nullify the meaning of the word “resolve” and the word “work.” Part of the whole process of walking worthy of God’s call is the active engagement of our will in resolving to do righteousness.

If you have lingering sin in your life, or if you keep neglecting some good deed just because you have been waiting around to be saved without a fight, you are compounding your disobedience. God will never appear with power in your will in any other way than through your exercise of that will; that is, through your good resolves — your good intentions and plans and purposes.

So, people who believe in the sovereignty of God must not fear to engage their wills in the struggle for holiness. “Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able” (Luke 13:24). Only strive in the faith that in and through your striving God is at work to will and to do his good pleasure (Philippians 2:13).
– John Piper

Real Truth Matters’ Major Announcement!

Real Truth Matters Ministries is moving to the Lone Star State! RTM is relocating to Texas. After a series of providential events and much prayer, we’re moving our ministry to the Dallas/Ft. Worth area. And because RTM believes that all ministries should be based out of a local church with local church accountability, our ministry will be a part of Providence Chapel, a church located in Denton, Tx.

RTM’s direction will not change just because we change location. We believe this move will help us better fulfill our ministry objectives. The Dallas/Ft. Worth metroplex offers a host of resources, but one is extremely important for RTM—the DFW International Airport. Having access to the fourth busiest airport in the US will be such a blessing. The primary ministry outreach of RTM is my preaching ministry. This year we have many overseas preaching events. Already on our schedule for 2018 is preaching in the countries of Canada, Cambodia, Jordan, Romania, and the Republic of Moldova. Not only will this help in international travel, but from DFW we have direct access to most cities in the US.

We ask that you will continue to pray and support this ministry as you have in the past. We are a faith-based ministry. We do not make appeals for offerings or help. We share our needs with the Lord only and desperately depend on Him for all provision. He has never failed us, and we know He never will.

We are also updating the website, to be revealed later this spring. We are investing in professional recording equipment that I can take with me in small luggage so we can start recording my sermons and publish them on the website. This has been difficult to do during 2017 relying upon churches and their recording devices. That is why we posted so little on the web from last year’s preaching.

I want to thank Sophie McDonald, assistant editor for the RTM magazine, for her outstanding years of service to this ministry. Sophie will not be making the move with us. She has developed the magazine to be one of the premier Christian web-based magazines. We will miss her. The magazine will continue with four issues a year.

Lastly, we hope to be in Texas starting March 13. Our temporary mailing address will be:

Real Truth Matters
800 Silvermoon Dr.
Little Elm, Tx. 75068.

Thank you for all you do for us. We pray you enjoy the Lord’s presence and fellowship in ever increasing ways.

Where Our Comfort Comes From

He [Pilate] entered his headquarters again and said to Jesus, “Where are you from?” But Jesus gave him no answer. So Pilate said to him, “You will not speak to me? Do you not know that I have authority to release you and authority to crucify you?” Jesus answered him, “You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above.” (John 19:9–11)

Pilate’s authority to crucify Jesus did not intimidate Jesus. Why not?
Not because Pilate was lying. Not because he didn’t have authority to crucify Jesus. He did.
Rather, this authority did not intimidate Jesus because it was derivative. Jesus said, “It was given to you from above.” Which means it is really authoritative. Not less. But more.
So, how is this not intimidating? Pilate not only has authority to kill Jesus. But he has God-given authority to kill him.
This does not intimidate Jesus because Pilate’s authority over Jesus is subordinate to God’s authority over Pilate. Jesus gets his comfort at this moment not because Pilate’s will is powerless, but because Pilate’s will is guided. Not because Jesus isn’t in the hands of Pilate’s fear, but because Pilate is in the hands of Jesus’s Father.
Which means that our comfort comes not from the powerlessness of our enemies, but from our Father’s sovereign rule over their power.
This is the point of Romans 8:35–37. Tribulation and distress and persecution and famine and nakedness and danger and sword cannot separate us from Christ because “in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”
Pilate (and all Jesus’s adversaries — and ours) meant it for evil. But God meant it for good (Genesis 50:20). All Jesus’s enemies gathered together with their God-given authority “to do whatever [God’s] hand and [God’s] plan had predestined to take place” (Acts 4:28). They sinned. But through their sinning God saved.
Therefore, do not be intimidated by your adversaries who can only kill the body (Matthew 10:28). Not only because this is all they can do (Luke 12:4), but also because it is done under the watchful hand of your Father.

“Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.” (Luke 12:6–7)

Pilate has authority. Herod has authority. Soldiers have authority. Satan has authority. But none is independent. All their authority is derivative. All of it is subordinate to God’s will. Fear not. You are precious to your sovereign Father. Far more precious than the unforgotten birds.
– John Piper

The Perfect City

He has prepared for them a city. (Hebrews 11:16)

No pollution, no graffiti, no trash, no peeling paint or rotting garages, no dead grass or broken bottles, no harsh street talk, no in-your-face confrontations, no domestic strife or violence, no dangers in the night, no arson or lying or stealing or killing, no vandalism, and no ugliness.

The city of God will be perfect because God will be in it. He will walk in it and talk in it and manifest himself in every part of it. All that is good and beautiful and holy and peaceful and true and happy will be there, because God will be there.

Perfect justice will be there and recompense a thousandfold for every pain suffered in obedience to Christ in this world. And it will never deteriorate. In fact, it will shine brighter and brighter as eternity stretches out into unending ages of increasing joy.

When you desire this city above everything else on the earth, then you honor God, who, according to Hebrews 11:10, is the designer and builder of the city. And when God is honored, he is pleased and not ashamed to be called your God.

– John Piper

Conrad Murrell (1928-2018) : The Passing of One Valiant for Truth

The passing of a man of God always brings special memories and attention to those who knew that man. With some of God’s servants, it really can be called the end of an era or at least, the end of something very special.

This is the case with the home call of Herbert Conrad Murrell on Friday mid-afternoon in Bentley, Louisiana at the age of 89 years. I think of Conrad’s own words he spoke about his own father’s death, “Forever with the Lord!” Now it is true of him–forever with the Lord. His life and ministry, ever since his conversion at age 25, has been a fragrance of Christ to countless numbers of people. That is always a tribute to the mercy and grace of God toward his child. Nothing good is of ourselves, but only comes to us from above.

Every generation seems to have a special man of God (or several simultaneously) arrive on the scene at the right time in God’s kingdom to serve uniquely as a prophet or anointed preacher of God’s truth, to impact their generation in a special way, well beyond the norm. Only God can raise up such men–Elijah, Daniel, John the Baptist, Luther, Knox, Whitefield, and others. R. C. Sproul, who departed this life also around nine weeks ago, seemed to be just such a man, whose impact widely would far exceed what the man himself probably envisioned. Conrad was in such a category himself. It is my opinion that, while he did not have as wide or as large a ministry as many great men have–C. H. Spurgeon, Martyn Lloyd-Jones or Sproul–those men had nothing on Conrad Murrell. His was an equal intellect, equal spiritual gifts, equal godliness, and an equal powerful ministry.

Frank Bartleman, in speaking of men of God in history, said–

In the various crises that have occurred in the history of the church, men have come to the front that have manifested a holy recklessness that astonished their peers . . . . so it has been in all ages. When the religious condition of the times called for men who were willing to sacrifice all for Christ, the demand created the supply; there have always been a few who have been willing to be regarded reckless for the Lord. An utter recklessness concerning men’s opinions and other consequences is the only attitude that can meet the need of the present times.

Conrad was just such a man. He was marked by fearless courage fueled by the fear of God, and no sense of self-importance. He could preach to well-known or “important” people of this world and have no desire at all to impress them, then turn around and share a meal with a simple unknown person, and treated them with the same loving respect he would anyone else.

His health caused him to cease from public ministry in the fall of 2014, but his life continued to bless those he was around, and those who came to visit him. It reminds me of what Luke says of Paul in Acts 28:24–“He [Paul] dwelt two whole years in his own rented house, and received all who came to him.” That was how Conrad finished his race, in his own home, receiving all who came to him, loving them, and enjoying time with them as long as his health allowed, until he could no longer hold conscious fellowship with anyone except God. But who knows what he heard, thought, and felt in the hidden man of the heart, as he waited his departure time?

He was a beloved brother, a faithful friend, a fearless preacher, a loving pastor, a real shepherd, a teacher with advanced intellect and gifts, a wise man above his peers, a teacher and mentor to many preachers, and one who was truly valiant for truth.

When our mutual friend, Al Whittinghill, heard of Conrad’s gain in death, he thought of Isaiah 57:1–“The righteous man perishes, and no man takes it to heart . . . . he shall enter into peace.” Bentley, Louisiana was graced with a prophet of God in their midst for over fifty years, and few there even knew it, and most of those who did, did not choose to sit under his ministry. Many today in Grant Parish have no idea that one of the finest and godliest men of their generation in the nation just passed to heaven right near where they live. No one takes it to heart. But may those who did know him, hear him, profit from him, and love him, take his death to heart today.

He is loved, is missed, will be remembered with love, and the fragrance of his life and legacy will continue. He being dead, yet speaketh. That voice points us not to Conrad, but to the Savior he so wonderfully preached and served. Take heed, brethren . . . . God sent him to us to profit withal. What a gift and what a blessing Conrad Murrell was and is–forever with the Lord!

– Mack Tomlinson

Receiving Sweet Refreshments Daily

I woke up late this morning. That rarely happens. I guess my body was dictating that I needed it. But unless I am leaving in the early morning on a trip, my early routine is always the same. My goal each day after getting “presentable” is to get a hot tea or coffee and head to my “chair” to be alone. Well, not alone–the Lord is there already in the closet, waiting for me to come.

I hold my Bible. The Bible. The Word of God. We can routinely grow used to having it and this can hinder how much we profit from our daily reading. What I mean is that when I pick up my Bible any morning, I often don’t remind myself often enough what I am getting ready to engage in–hearing the voice of God Himself from the Bible. I must engage my mind, my heart and soul to conscious treasuring the Bible daily. We must consciously cultivate a high and treasuring view of the Bible when we read every morning. If we don’t have that every morning, we won’t have that attitude on Sundays or anytime we hear the Bible preached. Our goal ultimately should be, as Anne Steele puts it, to find “sweet freshment” from the Bible.

Whenever I open my Bible daily to read—

– Do I have a reverent heart?
– Do I engage my heart to be teachable?
– Do I pray in faith for God to speak to me?
– Do I view my reading time as communion with my Father rather than a time to gain Bible knowledge or information?
– Do I remind myself when I read that I am reading God’s words and hearing His voice when I am reading?

Anne Steele’s heart, expressed in her hymn, Father of Mercies, In Thy Word, expresses the attitude and heart which we should cultivate daily in our daily reading of Scripture—

Father of mercies, in Thy Word
What endless glory shines!
Forever be Thy Name adored
For these celestial lines.

Here [in the Bible] may the wretched sons of need
Exhaustless riches find;
Riches above what earth can grant,
And lasting as the mind.

Amidst these gloomy wilds below,
When dark and sad we stray,
Here beams of heaven relieve our woe,
And guide to endless day.

Here springs of consolation rise
To cheer the fainting mind,
And thirsty souls receive supplies,
And sweet refreshments find.

Here the Redeemer’s welcome voice
Spreads heavenly peace around;
And life and everlasting joys
Attend the blissful sound.

Oh, may these hallowed pages be
Our joy by day and night,
And still new beauties may we see,
And still increasing light.

Divine Instructor, gracious Lord,
O grant our fervent prayer,
Teach us to love Thy sacred Word,
And view the Savior there.

– Mack Tomlinson

Glorious Truth

It is not great talents God blesses so much as great likeness to Jesus.
– Robert Murray McCheyne

The moment you come to realize that only God can make a man godly, you are left with no option but to find God, and to know God, and to let God be God in and through you.
– Major Ian Thomas

Be dogmatically true, obstinately holy, immovably honest, desperately kind, and fixed upright.
– Charles Spurgeon

What is the reason that some believers are so much brighter and holier than others? I believe the difference, in nineteen cases out of twenty, arises from different habits about private prayer I believe that those who are not eminently holy pray little, and those who are eminently holy pray much.
– J. C. Ryle

O Lord, keep our hearts, our eyes, our feet, and our tongues. – William Tiptaft

The Gospel in Suburbia

NEWSFLASH: Subdivisions are full of sinners.

It’s true.

There are just as many sinners in pristine, gated communities as there are in the slums. In fact, I’ve found the Gospel to be more opposed in the land of manicured lawns and picket fences than in the inner cities.

Do we realize the nice, clean, “safe” suburban neighborhoods need the Gospel as much as any other area in the world? Or do we pay less attention to the souls in subdivisions because we’re so quick to move onto other areas of ministry with “more pressing” needs?

Matthew Spandler-Davison, executive director of 20schemes and pastor of Redeemer Fellowship Church in Bardstown, Ky., has lived and labored in both poor and wealthy societies and has noticed some striking contrasts.

“In poor communities, people know they’re sinners,” he said. “You don’t need to convince people in poor communities that they’re a sinner. That’s not offensive to them. They know that. They make fun of it.”

But if you live in the Bible belt like I do you might quickly discover that the true Gospel is more resisted in the subdivisions.

I mean, everyone is a “Christian” here. People are nice and polite and mostly genuine, but life in more polished societies is just that—polished. But regardless of how much you shine and wax the outside of a grave, the inside is still filled with dead men’s bones (Matthew 23:27-28). So while our images might appear squeaky clean on the outside, the core is rotting with the same poisonous sin that taints us all.

Subdivision Pharisees often cling to a sense of pride and dignity, desiring to protect reputation rather than admit brokenness. Matthew continued to say the mindset in wealthy or middle class communities is all about maintaining respectability and reputation.

“My reputation is everything,” he said of the common belief system. “It’s what I do, it’s how I raise my kids, it’s where I live, it’s what car I drive, it’s what job I have. I’m trying to build this sense of reputation amongst my peers and friends.

“That’s a very difficult area to do ministry because people rarely acknowledge their need. They don’t acknowledge their need for a Savior, their need for a God, their need for somebody to come alongside them and help them journey through this life. It’s a very hard place to do ministry. I think it’s harder to do ministry in a more middle class, wealthier context than it is in a poorer part of the world because people are not real with themselves or their own sense of need.”

In light of that, how do we take the Gospel to the dead bones of suburbia?

THREE REASONS THE GOSPEL NEEDS TO COME TO THE ‘BURBS

ONE. THERE IS NONE GOOD

And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone.” -Mark 10:18

Behind “safe” streets, privacy fences, and security systems, we find broken people in need of rescuing grace. The thing is, brokenness in the suburbs is typically masked with self-appointed goodness and tainted with a touch of Pharisee.

While suburban life might not seem “hard” at first glance, the reality is that sometimes hearts are harder there than in the most unreached places of the world.

In his book Church in Hard Places: How the Local Church Brings Life to the Poor and Needy, Mez McConnell writes,

When I listen to pastors battling away around Europe and the States in well-off areas, I break out in a cold sweat. How do you evangelize in an area where everybody has a decent paying job, a nice place to live, and possibly a car (or two) in the driveway? How do you break through the intellectual pride of a worldview that thinks religion is beneath them and that science has all the answers? How do you witness in an area where the average house price is more than $400,000? How do you talk to a guy who feels no need for Christ because he is distracted by his materialism? How do you make it work in an area filled with nice, law-abiding citizens, who don’t cheat on their wives, beat their kids, and spend their evenings stoned on a sofa watching reality television? Now that’s hard.

Pharisees need the Gospel too. And such was I (1 Corinthians 6:11). A Pharisee of the Pharisees, my heart was stubbornly clinging to my filthy rags of good works when the Lord met me in my deepest need. I needed someone to come to me in my supposed righteousness and confront me about my illusion of self-sufficiency and expose what my flesh never wanted to admit was true: I needed a Savior because I couldn’t be good enough to rescue myself.

Respectable sins still damn our souls for eternity.

No one offers good enough “good” works to convince God to grant us pardon. If you haven’t been transformed by redeeming grace, it doesn’t matter what street you live on, your address is in the kingdom of darkness.

The Gospel in the suburbs addresses the hardness of self-inflated hearts, our stubborn dependence on our own intelligence, the compulsion to compare ourselves to anyone other than God’s standard—Jesus. But it doesn’t leave us there. The Gospel gives glorious hope to “good” people as it boldly declares that despite (and in spite of) our shameful best efforts to appear presentable and earn eternal favor, God in flesh has come to us to bear our curse and rob us of our sin and shame. Jesus, the wealthy Son of heaven, became poor to give us true riches. And that’s better than anything a gated community or white-picket-fence society could ever offer.

TWO. BUSYNESS DOES NOT EQUATE HOLINESS

On that day many will say to Me, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and cast out demons in Your name, and do many mighty works in Your name?” And then I will declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from Me, you workers of lawlessness.” -Matthew 7:22-23

While subdivisions may boast of full refrigerators, full closets, and full schedules, they sometimes contain empty and fragile hearts. In our excessively fast-paced western world, it’s become easy to hide behind busyness, striving to maintaining a certain persona of having it all together and accomplishing so much when really it’s just a mask that covers exhaustion, feelings of inadequacy, and a deep desire to feel important and needed.

Stop the glorification of busy. –Tim Keller

Even if it’s filled with good things, over-packed schedules can be distractions that keep the voice of the Lord quieted and our need for Him squashed.

The Gospel in the suburbs addresses the constantly-on-the-move heart with the life-giving reassurance that we do not have to look a certain way, play a certain part, or live according to a certain culturally-formatted system to fit in, find fulfillment, or have peace. The Gospel tells the most exhausted heart that holiness, satisfaction, and acceptance is not found in the fast-paced life but in the face of Jesus Christ. In Him alone do we find rest for our weary, over-busy souls.

THREE. LONELINESS IS REAL

For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another, for the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” -Galatians 5:13-14

Sometimes behind the façade of goodness or busyness resides a deep loneliness that masks itself as confidence, security, or even arrogance.

We are wired for deep relationships but it’s hard to live up to our desired image when confessing hurt, pain, and need. Be a friend. Be willing to go beyond superficial platitudes to share your story and sit with people in theirs. And remember what is true about the “good” person beside you (as well as the one you find in the mirror): they are in desperate need of redemption.

Residents of the suburbs need to see God and, if you are a believer, He is living in and through you. We are, as Matthew Spandler-Davison said, to put Jesus on display wherever He sends.

Our presence, our attention, our care, our making space, all point to the incarnation of Jesus Christ. He drew near. He understands our hearts and hurts. He speaks to our deep needs. Listening demonstrates the Gospel implications. And, if we really listen, we will discern the deep longings of the heart that the Gospel truly speaks to. I have found that if I truly listen, it is not difficult to speak the Gospel to someone in a way that really does sound like good news to them. –Jeff Vanderstelt

The Gospel in the suburbs addresses the need for community and belonging in every person by exposing their need then providing them with the answer to it. The Gospel gives its recipients a family, a community, and an eternal home all because Jesus left His throne to ransom rebels and change their address to the kingdom of light.

Regardless of your location, the mission is the same: make disciples of all nations (which includes the suburbs, the slums, the cities, the villages, and the uttermost parts of the world).

We have the Gospel. We have our mission. What’s stopping us?

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The Holy Spirit: The Only True Reformer

Many of us are vexed over the state of our nation and our society today. Sometimes we might feel like echoing the cry of Jeremiah: ‘Oh that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people’. (Jer 9:1). What can we do to stem the tide of evil sweeping the land? ‘If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?’ (Psa 11:3). We know that the Lord is upon His throne, and He is in control of history, but the same Lord has been pleased in the past, at his ‘set time’, to revive His cause and to stem the tide of evil.

WHEN THE LORD WORKS

What is the means through which the Lord will do his work of reformation and renewal? He will use human instruments as He did on the Day of Pentecost, at the Protestant Reformation, and during the Great Awakening. But it is not left merely to human instruments. There are many in the Churches today who are trying to bring improvement in society, and who are reaching out with the Gospel, but to little effect. Where are the conversions to Christ, a heightened spirituality in our churches, and a real effect upon our society? In our eagerness to see a change, have we forgotten something?

The Rev. Dr. Samuel Davies, regarded by some as the greatest preacher that America has produced, in commenting on John 16:8-11, declared:

The Holy Spirit is the only effectual reformer of the world. If he is absent, legislators may make laws against crime, philosophers may reason against vice, ministers may preach against sin, conscience may remonstrate against evil, the divine law may prescribe and threaten hell, the Gospel may invite and allure to heaven, but all will be in vain.The strongest arguments, the most melting entreaties, the most alarming denunciations from God and man, enforced with the highest authority, or the most compassionate tears, all will have no effect, all will not effectually claim one sinner or gain one sincere convert to righteousness.

WHEN THE HOLY SPIRIT COMES

Much as the disciples would miss the presence of their Master, He assured them in the ‘Farewell Discourse’ (John 14-17) that He would send ‘another Comforter’. In fact, He would return to them in the Holy Spirit: ‘I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you’. (John 14:18). His main ministry would be to believers, but He also has a work to do on ‘the world’, which would change it radically. The great mission of the Holy Spirit to the men and women of the world is that He will act as a prosecuting attorney to confront them with their guilt and bring them to see the folly of their ways, and to repent. Without this work all the activity of man is in vain. Besides, this is the only work that will ensure a radical change in the sinner and bear lasting fruit in his life.

‘When he is come he will reprove the world of sin’: The word translated ‘reprove’ in the AV has generated a lot of debate as there is no exact synonym in English. ‘Convict’ comes nearest to the meaning. It is to ‘convince by proof of a fault or error.’ The world is at fault regarding sin righteousness and judgment. The Holy Spirit is going to act like a prosecutor and secure a conviction; He is going to bring the facts to light, make a case for a guilty verdict. The sinner will be exposed and constrained to plead guilty about these three things:

1. About Sin: The world has a wrong idea about sin because it has a false idea of God. Men will acknowledge certain evil acts as sin, but as far they themselves are concerned, they are liable to speak only of ‘my failings’, or ‘my shortcomings’. We must let God define sin. It is measured by the enormity of the offence against the majesty and glory of God. Sin is an infinite evil because it is against an infinitely good God. It strikes at the very being of God , it is deicide. But the particular sin the world must be convicted of by the Holy Spirit is the sin of unbelief: ‘because they believe not on me’. The people who constitute the world do not believe in Jesus. If they did believe in Jesus they would believe His statements about their guilt. The Cross of Christ proves, among other things, the dreadful nature of sin. But they refuse to acknowledge that and they reject the only remedy there is from the consequences of their sin. This is the sin that will ultimately destroy the sinner. ‘How shall we escape if they neglect so great salvation?’ (Heb 2:3). He needs to see this.

2. About Righteousness: The world has its own concept of righteousness. This was supremely manifested in the treatment meted out to the Lord Jesus Christ. The Jewish leaders, who were of the world, regarded themselves as righteous and Christ as the sinner. ‘This man receiveth sinners and eateth with them’ (Luke 15:2). He healed on the Sabbath day and as a result they sent officers to take Him. Then they took counsel together to put Him to death. Peter, later addressing the Jews, could declare: ‘But ye denied the Holy One, and the Just, and desired a murder to be granted unto you. And killed the Prince of life’ (Acts 3:14).

Why does He say ‘of righteousness, because I go to the Father and you see me no more’? In a short time He was to be resurrected from the dead, ascend to heaven, and be seated at the right hand of the Father. This would mean His vindication and acceptance with heaven and it would then be seen who was ‘the righteous One’. This would show up the pretentious claims of the ‘righteous’ Pharisees; there would be a great reversal. When Peter preached on the Day of Pentecost he said: ‘Let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ (Acts 2:36). We are told that ‘when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart’ (Acts 2:37). The Holy Spirit secured a conviction as far as they were concerned. The only acceptable righteousness to be found before God is that which Christ wrought out on behalf of His people.

3. About Judgment: ‘Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged’. All of the lies, falsehood, rebellion, and evil in the world originate in the devil. He deceived our first parents and held sway over mankind as a result. Christ referred to him as ‘the prince of this world’ (John 12:31; 14:30). Paul calls him ‘the god of this world’ (2 Cor 4:4). Sinners are enslaved by him. He directed his venom on the Son of Man, and sought to destroy Him. The devil appeared to triumph in the crucifixion of Christ, but what was apparent victory turned into ignominious defeat. His head was bruised (Gen 3:15) and as was foretold by the Saviour: ‘Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out.’ (John 12:31). God works by contraries. Manifest weakness was used to make the great reversal of the Cross: ‘Having spoiled principalities and power, he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it’ (Col 2:15). The world is now on the losing side and all who maintain their alliance with Satan will be cast out with him. The sinner needs to see this.

APPLICATION

Firstly, this is the serious nature of the work of salvation. It is a mighty deliverance from darkness to light, from the power of Satan unto God. There has to be a convicting work of the Spirit to bring the sinner to despair of his ‘refuge of lies’, and flee to Christ alone for salvation. A radical change has to take place in repentance and contrition. This is what seems most lacking in evangelicalism today.

Secondly, the calling of the preacher is not to set the sinner at ease and make him happy, his task is to strip him of his self-righteousness and go for a guilty verdict, before applying the balm of the gospel.

Lastly, the work of salvation from first to last is of the triune Jehovah. The Father purposed and planned, the Son executed, and the Holy Spirit applies. Paul may plant and Apollos may water, but God gives the increase (1 Cor 3:6). All the schemes that we can devise are ineffective without the sovereign work of God. How we need to bend the knee and cry: ‘Come Holy Spirit, Come’.

– John J. Murray

Your View of God Determines Everything

What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us!

The history of mankind will probably show that no people has ever risen above its religion. Man’s spiritual history will positively demonstrate that no religion has ever been greater than its idea of God. Worship is pure or base — as the worshiper entertains high or low thoughts of God.

The most important question before the Church is always God Himself. And the most significant fact about any man is not what he at a given time may say or do, but what he, in his heart, conceives God to be like.

Always the most revealing thing about the Church is her idea of God, just as her most significant message is what she says about Him or leaves unsaid, for her silence is often more eloquent than her speech.

Without doubt, the mightiest thought the mind can entertain is the thought of God. The weightiest word in any language is its word for God.

That our idea of God correspond as nearly as possible to the true being of God is of immense importance to us. Compared with our actual thoughts about Him, our creedal statements are of little consequence.

A right conception of God is basic not only to theology, but to practical Christian living as well. There is scarcely an error in doctrine or a failure in applying Christian ethics which cannot be finally traced to imperfect and ignoble thoughts about God.

It is my opinion that the current Christian conception of God is so decadent as to be utterly beneath the dignity of the Most High God, and actually to constitute something amounting to a moral calamity!

– A. W. Tozer