Arminian Today

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Posts Tagged ‘Passion for Jesus

Books That Floored Me

I love to read.  I have read thousands of books.  Sitting next to me is no less than probably 150 books.  My desk is covered with books.  I have three book shelves that are full of books.  I have books on the floor.  And this is but a little taste of the books that God has blessed me with.  I am more than blessed to have these books and Bibles.

I wanted to write a post on books that have floored me.  I have read many books but few have floored me.  In my years as a disciple of Jesus, there have been actually few books that have caused me to fall on my knees in worship or repentance (most repentance).  But some have.  Here are just a few of those titles that I can remember.  I am not posting them because I agree with them all theologically but because of what they did to my soul and for my soul.

1.  Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire by Jim Cymbala.  I know that some have taken issue with this book because Cymbala is no cessasionist.  I have read some Reformed bloggers reviews of this book in which they seek to kill the book because of Cymbala’s use of phrases such as “God said to me.”  This book, however, gave me a passion to pray.  How can you read Cymbala’s testimony and not be moved to tears?  How can you not weep at your own prayerlessness when you read how God has used Brooklyn Tabernacle Church to impact souls for eternity?  This book left me hungry to pray and I praise God for that.  I have read this book three times and I need to read it again.

2.  The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman.  This book opened my eyes to my need to love my wife by speaking her love language.  I am not perfect at it still but I am trying.  God wants our marriages to reflect His love for His Church (Ephesians 5:22-33).  This book will open your eyes to see your own love language (mine is words of affirmation) and others around you (my wife is quality time).  We tend to speak our own language to our spouse or those we love the most yet we don’t often try to speak their love language.  This eye-opening book is a must read for both married and unmarried folks.

3.  All of Grace by Charles Spurgeon.  I bought this little book while in college.  At that time I was struggling with legalism in my own life.  I was graceful toward others (sometimes) but was not toward myself.  I hated myself.  I hated my lack of prayer and lack of passion for the lost.  I would read great stories of men and women of God and would weep at my own carelessness in spiritual things.  And then I read Spurgeon’s book.  This book is based on Acts 15:11 (KJV).  I needed to hear Spurgeon’s sermon on the grace of God and that salvation is all of grace and not by works.  God saves sinners by His own mercy and grace and not by my works (Ephesians 2:8-9).  I was freed by the grace of God to see that He loved me despite me and in spite of me and He saved me by His grace and not by my flesh (Galatians 2:16; 5:1).

4.  Humility by Andrew Murray.  The Bible says that God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble (James 4:6).  Pride will damn a soul to hell.  Pride is a destroyer.  Pride is the reason we sin.  Pride is why people will not repent.  Pride is what keeps us from prayer.  Pride is what ends revivals.  Pride always destroys.  This is why we must read Murray’s work.  Murray shows us the humility of the Lord Jesus and how we are to imitate Him (Philippians 2:1-11).  I pray that I would be a humble servant of God and that I would always focus on pleasing God and not myself.  This book floored me by showing me my own pride and how God didn’t want to hurt my pride but kill it.

5.  Deeper Experiences of Famous Christians by J. Gilchrist Lawson.  This book is full of stories of people hungry for God.  I don’t agree with all the theology of the people here but I did enjoy reading how passionate these folks were for Jesus and to be full of the Holy Spirit.  Many of them were powerfully used by God because they waited on the Lord and were powerfully anointed by God for His glory.  Some of them I have never heard of until I read this book but I was hungry for the Lord after reading this book and passionate to be full of the Spirit from reading this book.

6.  Why Revival Tarries by Leonard Ravenhill.  I bought this book while going to the mountains at a small book store now gone.  I had read Keith Green’s life story and had heard of Leonard Ravenhill from that but I had never heard of nor read Ravenhill.  Then I got this book and it floored me.  I was so convicted by my lack of prayer.  It rained most of that weekend but it poured in my soul as the Lord first convicted me of my prayerlessness and then He showed me how to pray (Romans 8:26-27).  Ravenhill was truly a prophet of God who was used to call people to repent and the Lord used brother Len to do that to me.

7.  The Gospel According to Jesus by John MacArthur.  This book was given to me by a brother only about a year after I was saved.  I read the book and begin to teach others the principles I was learning.  I was shocked as people often hated my teaching on the Lordship of Christ.  I was shocked to meet people who actually believed one could be saved and on their way to heaven despite living for the devil.  I was shocked to hear sermons that taught that one could be a “carnal Christian” and live in sin while claiming Jesus and His salvation.  MacArthur’s book destroyed such lies and helped give me strength to preach against sin in my own life and in others as well.  If Matthew 1:21 is true, Jesus can save us from sin!

Written by The Seeking Disciple

06/07/2013 at 5:12 PM

The Sanctifying Power of the Word of God

In John 17:17 we read:

Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.

The word “sanctify” means “to set apart.”  We are set apart from sin and unto God (Hebrews 10:14).  We are to set apart Christ as Lord over our lives (1 Peter 3:15).  We are to set apart our minds through the Word of God (Romans 12:1-2).  We are to be set apart unto God and from sin just as God is (1 Peter 1:15-16) and in fact, without this being set apart, we cannot see God (Hebrews 12:14).  Being set apart or sanctified then is of uttermost importance.

And one of the tools that God has given to us to help us is His holy Word.  The Bible helps us to be set apart by exposing ourselves before a holy God as we see who we truly are before Him who is holy (Romans 3:23).  James the Apostle describes the Word of God like this in James 1:21-25 (NIV):

21 Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.

22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.

James describes the Word as a mirror and he says in verse 25 that the Word is “the perfect law” and the ESV says it’s the “law of liberty.”  Amazing that people think that the Bible is restrictive or full of laws and regulations when James says that the law of God is the law of liberty.  The Bible doesn’t restrict us.  It frees us!

The Bible reveals not just ourselves but it also reveals our hearts.  Like no other knife, the Bible cuts down deep into our souls.  Hebrews 4:12-13 reads:

12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13 And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

As we read the Word of God, the Word opens our eyes to our sins, to the power of God, to the grace of God that enables us to be holy (Titus 2:11-12), to what God desires.  Psalm 1:1-3 promises the man (or woman) of God blessings from reading and meditating upon the Word of God.

Furthermore, 1 Peter 2:1-3 says that we are to hunger for the Word of God like a newborn baby hungers for milk:

So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. 2 Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation— 3 if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.

As we long for God’s Word, God’s Word helps us to be disciples who live lives that honor and please the Lord.  The Word helps us to become more like Jesus as we study and imitate Him (1 Peter 2:21-24).

Oh that we would hunger for the Word of God!  There is nothing we should delight in more than His Word.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

05/05/2013 at 3:07 PM

Our Need for Revival (Featuring William Birch)

My brother Roy Ingle and I have been thinking a lot about revival and how much the Church of Christ Jesus needs to be revived. When we say “we” need revival, we mean that each and every individual who calls him- or herself a follower of Christ Jesus needs revival. When we say we “need” revival, we mean that there are crucial elements missing among those who call themselves Christ followers; a need presupposes lack. When we say we need “revival,” we find hard and fast definitions of that word difficult.

For example, Iain Murray, in his book Pentecost Today? The Biblical basis for Understanding Revival, took aim at the “revivalist movement” of the nineteenth century. Murray believed (along with many others) that the “revivalist movement” guided Christianity away from its biblical mandate toward another mandate — one that has since mislead the Church. He believed that the practices and teachings of revivalistic evangelists such as Charles Finney brought about heretical practices, such as the altar call and the “sinner’s prayer,” and introduced man-centered, pragmatic theology into the Church.

In some ways Murray is correct. There are some things about Finney that we appreciate, such as the account of his conversion, or the fact that he had a passion to bring spiritual life back into “dead” New England churches. But there are things about Finney with which we do not agree, such as his introducing the “sinner’s prayer” as the way to properly respond to the gospel, or his pragmatism.

A problem arises, however, when trying to accurately define the word “revival” from Scripture. The prefix “re” refers to the concept of doing something again, whereas “viva” refers to life. Thus revival can be conceptualized as bringing back or restoring to life that which has lost life. But what do we mean by “life”? To what does “alive” refer in the context of revival?

To the church in Sardis Christ said, “I know your deeds, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. Wake up, and strengthen the things that remain, which were about to die; for I have not found your deeds completed in the sight of My God” (Rev. 3:1-2 NASB). The Greek word for “alive” (zes) is the present active indicative of zao, meaning “to live.” The followers of Christ in Sardis had a name (reputation) for being living Christians — the ones who had life!

Now, we know that they had physical life, since they were breathing. The reference to “life” here should refer to spiritual life. They had a reputation for being spiritually alive (regenerate) in Christ. However, Jesus informed them that their condition was grave: though their reputation was that of spiritual life and vitality, they were actually dead (nekros), figuratively speaking.

This does not mean that they had lost their salvation, for He commanded them to “Wake up, and strengthen the things that remain, which were about to die.” What these Christians needed was revival — a bringing back to life the spiritual elements of their faith that were dying. We are reminded of the Ephesian believers, whom Jesus informed had left their first love (Rev. 2:4). But to the Ephesians, He did not command to “wake up and be revived,” but to “repent” (Rev. 2:5). Indeed, the need for revival often indicates the adoption of bad or sinful habits of which we need to repent; and though we must do the repenting, we recognize even repenting is a gracious enablement of God.

What this indicates is that we cannot work up, initiate, or instigate revival and repentance on our own. When apparent “revivals” derive from man-centered efforts or constraints, what we witness are parades of the flesh, not genuine works of the Holy Spirit.

Finney stated in his book Lectures on Revivals of Religion that revival was not a supernatural work of God’s Spirit but a work and product of man. Thus the rise of modern “revival movements,” which followed Finney’s pragmatism, including aspects of special (oftentimes emotionally driven) music, advertisements, etc. Finney thought that prayer for revival was good and necessary, but that people had to do their part to promote revival and bring it about. He emphasized what we have found to be true of many so-called “revivals,” that revival is not explicitly defined for us in Scripture, and thus the term “revival” often means different things to different people.

Why do we sense that Christ’s Church today needs reviving? The answer is inherent in Dr. Wilbur Smith’s summary of nine characteristics of revivals mentioned in the Old Testament:

1) They [revivals] occurred in a day of deep moral darkness and national depression.
2) They began in the heart of one consecrated servant of God who became the energizing power behind it, the agent used of God to quicken and lead the nation back to faith in and obedience to Him.
3) Each revival rested on the Word of God, and most were the result of preaching and proclaiming God’s law with power.
4) All resulted in a return to the worship of Yahweh as the one true and living God.
5) Each witnessed the destruction of idols.
6) In each revival, there was a recorded separation from sin.
7) In every revival, they returned to offering blood sacrifices (Hebrews 9:22).
8) Almost all recorded revivals show a restoration of great joy and gladness (Nehemiah 8:10; Acts 8:8).
9) Each revival was followed by a period of great national prosperity.

Our churches today — and by “churches” we mean those self-professed Christians who attend them — are steeped or trapped in unbiblical and uncritical worldviews and/or practices either explicitly or implicitly condemned in Scripture. Such has turned our hearts away from obeying Christ and has robbed the body of Christ of joy. Our witness has been tainted by sin and we have become ineffectual for the work of God’s Spirit.

The simple conclusion is this: we need revival. We need Spirit-led ethical and moral behavior in the hearts of God’s people. We need to be saturated in God’s word so that we might obey Christ in all things, be faithful witnesses of Christ’s gospel and goodness, thereby ridding ourselves of idols and sin, and joyfully, righteously exalting the nature and character, justice and holiness, of our Triune God. Worldliness must be replaced with godliness. Apathy must be replaced with holy zeal. Sinfulness must be replaced with holy obedience. Again, these spiritual facets need to be the daily experience of all denominational and non-denominational followers of Christ.

Finally, James, the Lord Jesus’ half-brother, wrote, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” (James 4:8a). Southern Baptist pastor Jerry Chaddick comments, “The reason we’re not having revival is we’re too content living without it” (Sermon: We Need Revival). By God’s grace, we can be as close to Him as we desire. “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners [he’s writing to Christians]; and purify your hearts, you double-minded” (James 4:8).

Written by The Seeking Disciple

01/18/2012 at 10:13 AM

Posted in Revival

Tagged with , ,

Recognizing More and More Where I Belong

A few months ago I posted a couple of posts about fundamentalism and why I could and could not a part of them.  I mentioned that I use to visit (though never joined or attended on a full time basis) a large fundamentalist church.  I enjoyed the church for a few reasons.  They had good music and they preached hard the Word of God.  I didn’t agree with them on every issue such as the King James Version only issue nor did I hold to eternal security and I am not semi-Pelagian in my evangelism.  I don’t beg people to get saved and play, “Just As I Am” fifteen more times hoping that one soul will decide to repent.

Yet I am finding in my talks with people in the evangelical world that I am not part of them either.  I have posted before about how I don’t view myself as part of the evangelical church though I would agree with evangelical doctrines much of the time.  I simply think that the term “evangelical” has become so broad now that it is nearly everyone from Rob Bell on up claims to be evangelical.  It is a popular term.  I prefer the term “disciple” to describe myself (Matthew 28:19; Acts 11:26).

What amazes me is that within evangelicalism is a broad spectrum from conservatives such as Dr. Al Mohler to liberals such as Brian McLaren.  In between we have people such as John Piper and John MacArthur to Rachel Evans and Tony Jones.  On one side are evangelicals who hold to inerrancy while on the other side we have people who reject inerrancy.  We have people who believe Genesis 1-11 is to be read as literal history and we have people who claim that Genesis 1-11 is poetry and should be read as such.  On the one hand we have people who claim that Jesus is the only way to God and that no one can be saved apart from personal faith in Him and the gospel all the way to Rob Bell who believes that all will be saved either in this life or the next because of the great love of God.  I even received an e-mail from a Bible college student saying that he knows many students in Bible college who say that we can’t even know that there is even a God or not but they claim to be evangelicals.

This is why more and more I am finding that I am leaning toward the fundamentalist movement.  I admit that I will never fully become a fundamentalist in the full term because I think the KJV-only teaching is wrong and lacks clear, logical thinking on the issue.  I reject their semi-Pelagian and sometimes Moral Governmental views.  I reject their teaching of eternal security.  I reject their emphasis on the clergy/laity system.

But theologically I could claim to be a fundamentalist.  I believe the Bible is the inerrant and infallible Word of God.  I believe in the doctrine of the Trinity.  I believe in the sovereignty of God in both His creation and in salvation.  I believe that the gospel is necessary for eternal life.  I believe in the penal substitutionary work of Christ on the cross.  I believe in the second coming of Jesus Christ to this planet in His perfect timing.

If all of this (and more) means that I am a fundamentalist then so be it.  I accept the term.  I have been called many things by so called believers.  Three times I have been accused of “loving the Bible too much.”  I have been called “narrow minded” by people in the church.  I have been attacked for teaching that Jesus is the only way to God and that anyone not in Him is lost.  I have been attacked for teaching that every miracle in the Bible is true and happened in time.  I once was even accused of praying too much.

But I admit that I would rather go forth and preach the gospel with a bunch of KJV-only folks than with dead liberalism.  I want to see Jesus exalted.  I want to see His gospel preached.  I want to see souls saved.  I want to see people living in the security and peace that comes from being close to the Father through the Son.  I want to see the Church arise in power and take the gospel to the hurting, the dying, and the lost.  God has promised that if we proclaim His Word, He will come in power (Hebrews 2:4).

Written by The Seeking Disciple

05/21/2011 at 11:50 PM

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