Posted in theology

Share God’s word, even if you don’t know how to say it

By Elizabeth Prata

In Spurgeon’s Evening devotional for September 30, he writes:

A living, loving, gospel sermon, however unlearned in matter and uncouth in style, is better than the finest discourse devoid of unction and power.

Evening Devotional, Spurgeon

I can imagine that Charles Spurgeon, the great preacher of the 1800s, was thinking of his own conversion as he wrote this devotional. It was a snowy January day in 1850. The young lad had been raised by a loving father who preached the Gospel rightly. His mother had given him loving instruction at her knee since Charles was a babe. Charles was sent to live with his Grandfather for a period, and his grandfather was also a preacher, with many coming to conversion under him. His grandfather also had inherited a fabulous library as preacher, and Charles read theological books voraciously. As a teen Charles himself attended a Congregational church, and he read the Bible diligently.

Charles had a good education and access to eloquent teachers and preachers. Yet he was miserable and disturbed in his soul that he was not saved. He made a vow to himself that he would visit every Congregational Church in his area until he found someone who would tell him the way to heaven and how to be released from the condemnation of the Law. He felt the Law’s condemnation acutely, painfully, almost physically.

Continue reading “Share God’s word, even if you don’t know how to say it”
Posted in devotionals, theology

Avoid Foolish Controversies: By Charles Spurgeon

By Elizabeth Prata

I really liked this one. All of them are good, but this Morning’s Devotional by Charles Spurgeon was especially insightful. I am making it a separate blog. You can get the Morning, Evening, and Faith’s Check-Book devotionals here.

This Morning’s Meditation
C. H. Spurgeon

“Avoid foolish questions.”—Titus 3:9.

OUR days are few, and are far better spent in doing good, than in disputing over matters which are, at best, of minor importance. The old schoolmen did a world of mischief by their incessant discussion of subjects of no practical importance; and our Churches suffer much from petty wars over abstruse points and unimportant questions.

After everything has been said that can be said, neither party is any the wiser, and therefore the discussion no more promotes knowledge than love, and it is foolish to sow in so barren a field. Questions upon points wherein Scripture is silent; upon mysteries which belong to God alone; upon prophecies of doubtful interpretation; and upon mere modes of observing human ceremonials, are all foolish, and wise men avoid them. Our business is neither to ask nor answer foolish questions, but to avoid them altogether; and if we observe the apostle’s precept (Titus 3:8) to be careful to maintain good works, we shall find ourselves far too much occupied with profitable business to take much interest in unworthy, contentious, and needless strivings.

There are, however, some questions which are the reverse of foolish, which we must not avoid, but fairly and honestly meet, such as these: Do I believe in the Lord Jesus Christ? Am I renewed in the spirit of my mind? Am I walking not after the flesh, but after the Spirit? Am I growing in grace? Does my conversation adorn the doctrine of God my Saviour? Am I looking for the coming of the Lord, and watching as a servant should do who expects his master? What more can I do for Jesus?

Such enquiries as these urgently demand our attention; and if we have been at all given to cavilling, let us now turn our critical abilities to a service so much more profitable. Let us be peace-makers, and endeavour to lead others both by our precept and example, to “avoid foolish questions.”

Portrait of Charles Haddon Spurgeon by Alexander Melville

 

Posted in biblical resources, Uncategorized

Resources on Depression and the Christian

depressed
Depression is something Christians don’t talk about much. Some are embarrassed by it, deeming it a weakness. Others believe that they are supposed to present a joyful countenance all the time, every day. Others adopt a plan of fake it till you make it.

So I was surprised and heartened to read Drew Dyck’s heartfelt sharing of his own journey through a long-term depression which was also punctuated by panic attacks. Mr Dyck is an acquisitions editor at Moody Publishers and a senior editor at CTPastors.com. He’s the author of Yawning at Tigers (2014) and Generation Ex: Christian (2010).

It’s always risky when one is open about something that some parts of society stigmatize. He muses on some of that in his article, as he shares the lessons he’d learned. His article is here:

You Can Break Your Brain … And 4 Other Things I’ve learned from My Struggle with Depression and Anxiety

Did you know that the Prince of Preachers, Charles Spurgeon, suffered from depression? It seems strange that on the surface, this man who was a global success at preaching, writing, pastoring, founding colleges, orphanages, and married to a wonderful woman, could ever be depressed. But he was. There are numerous resources available recounting it, including many of his own writings, but this can get you started:

The Anguish and Agonies of Charles Spurgeon

Martyn Lloyd-Jones was a physician and then a preacher. In 1960 he began preaching on depression in a lengthy sermon series which can be listened to here. The sermon series was also made into a book, “Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and Cure”. The Amazon blurb introducing the books states,

[Lloyd-Jones] carefully and compassionately analyzes an undeniable feature of modern society from which Christians have not escaped — spiritual depression.

What robs Christians of the joy that is theirs? Why does faith’s vitality drain away, leaving melancholy and anxiety it its place? In the sermons, Lloyd-Jones explores the cause and the cure.

Martyn Lloyd-Jones Spiritual Depression series

David certainly had his own ups and downs. We read in Psalm 43:4,

Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.

Mr Dyck says that prayer and Scripture were a tremendous source of comfort in the valley (especially the Psalms). It would be wrong and neglectful of me to leave off the Bible itself as a resource. Especially the Psalms.

depressed guy
Though the Bible is its own premier resource, Mr Dyck shares that the person suffering from depression “finds it hard to even muster the energy or concentration to engage deeply in spiritual practices.” He advises asking others to pray for you when your depression sinks you too low to open His word.

Therefore we have the greatest resource of all: the Body of Christ in prayer and supplication, appealing to the Great Physician, Jesus, in prayer.

All these resources and more are available to you if you happen to be suffering from persistent panic, anxiety or depression.

Further reading:

Insufficient Help, Part 1: Grace To You’s recounting of a depressed, suicidal young man seeking help from church counselors in addition to doctors and secular therapists, who eventually took his own life. The church was sued. Did the church offer insufficient help? Are Biblical counselors qualified to use the Bible in therapy?

Overwhelmed by Anxiety? A blog series on attacking the anxiety that is attacking you.

 

Posted in discernment, Uncategorized

This is why we still need The Reformation

Over the past twenty or thirty years, a great ecumenical push has occurred where many so-called “evangelical” pastors and leaders have partnered with the Vatican, the Pope, Bishops, or local priests in spiritual endeavors. These men and women have called the Pope a brother, have blurred the doctrinal lines between us, and have betrayed the faith.

This ecumenical move has occurred at the global, national, and local level. After so many years, nearly a generation, people are now used to evangelical leaders accepting and promoting the Catholic Church to varying degrees. Some say that we can partner with the Catholic Church on social endeavors, such as being against abortion, for traditional marriage, or helping the poor. (Russell Moore). Others say outright that the Catholic Church is Christian, just another “stream” of Christianity and we can and should and do borrow heavily from them in teaching our local congregations. (Tim Keller).

Have no fellowship with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. (Ephesians 5:11)

Whether one has gotten on the continuum and partnered with the Roman Catholic Church in a hold your nose, social justice only gingerly sort of way, or is all-in with promoting the RCC as Christian (and thus not a mission field) doing so is wrong and unbiblical. The Catholic Church teaches a different Gospel, a different Jesus, and holds to many unbiblical practices. It is a counterfeit religion that has nothing to do with our Lord.

Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? (2 Corinthians 6:14).

We are to make a distinction between the true faith and the counterfeit. Failing to do so fails the commands of Jesus to be a people set apart, and tragically erases an entire mission field from existence.

And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. (Hebrews 10:10, sanctified means set apart).

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. (1 Peter 2:9).

Yet the ecumenical push continues and in fact has made inroads 30 years later. Ravi Zacharias, the world’s most well-known Christian apologist, refuses to draw a line around fundamental and essential doctrines and exclude the RCC. Beth Moore has taught that the RCC is another denomination and also has taught some Catholic Mystical practices.

Jennie Allen is founder of the massively influential and popular IF:gathering, the most popular interdenominational Christian women’s event in years, and writes this about Catholics:

I was talking with my sister yesterday who is struggling with explaining her view of grace to her friend that is Catholic and wants to know. I told her, we are all just doing the best we can to know and understand God with what we have- our individual views of Him will always be growing and changing as we wrestle through scripture and life.

“Our individual views of Him”? No explaining the Gospel? No drawing distinctive lines between the true faith and the false deception of Catholicism? No explanation of grace by faith alone and not salvation by sacraments, tradition, and wrongly interpreted scriptures? Scriptures that were withheld from people for 1000 years before Tyndale translated and unleashed it? A woman whose template for spiritual gatherings and holy conversations is currently used at this many gatherings in the US alone?

And Jennie Allen has the audacity to reply to her own sister on behalf of a Catholic seeker of the true Jesus not the Gospel of saving faith, but that “we’re all just doing the best we can?”

Jen Hatmaker, a ridiculously popular blogger and author wrote this on her Facebook page:

The article over which she was gushing was that the Pope was headed to a prison where, in front of cameras, he will wash 12 inmates’ feet. She makes the deep gulf between the Catholic and the Protestant seem like a joyful jump over to where ministry is cool and rituals and symbols are fun, not actually blasphemous as they are.

Does she forget that millions of faithful evangelical, Protestant pastors preach the true word, minister, and love in the face of criticism and persecution, daily? With nary a camera in sight? What about gushing over those guys?

Here is another reason we need the Reformation to be vital and fresh, always:

Pope Francis is the perfect example of authenticity and humility. He is doing everything right.” Warren then referred to Pope Francis as “our new pope.” ~Rick Warren, ‘Evangelical’ pastor at Saddleback Church.

Rick Warren believes the Reformation was a mistake and a new reformation will eventually bring us all back together.

“The first Reformation actually split Christianity into dozens and then hundreds of different segments. I think this one is actually going to bring them together… Last week I spoke to 4,000 pastors at my church who came from over 100 denominations in over 50 countries….We had Catholic priests, we had Pentecostal ministers, we had Lutheran bishops, we had Anglican bishops, we had Baptist preachers.” Source Rick Warren, The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, 2005.

What the Reformation did was divide those who believed in the Gospel of Jesus Christ from those of Rome perpetuating a false Gospel of works.

And again, Catholicism is not a Christian “denomination.” It is an apostate religion of satan.

Why Rick Warren is important to cite: His church is one of the top 50 megachurches in the US, In 2008 he was invited to give the Inaugural Prayer at the President’s swearing-in and introduced to the world as “America’s Pastor”, and his book Purpose Driven Life was on the bestseller list for 90 weeks and has sold 60 million copies.

Here is another gentleman working hard to retract the Reformation-

Osteen: “I love the fact that he [Pope Francis] has made the church more inclusive.”

After his visit to the Vatican, Osteen said: “You feel that deep reverence and respect for God.”

Why is Osteen important to cite? Lakewood Church has an average weekly attendance of 52,000, and Osteen’s sermons are also televised in more than 100 countries, with an estimated 7 million viewers each week.

Yet another who violates every precept and principle the Reformation stood for:

Billy Graham: asked about the Pope’s upcoming 1979 visit to the US,

The visit of Pope Paul II to the United States is an event of great significance not only for Roman Catholics, but for all Americans – as well as the world… In the short time he has been Pope, John Paul II has become the moral leader of the world. My prayers and the prayer of countless other Protestants will be with him as he makes his journey.

Later, asked about the recent pope’s death (Pope John Paul II, 2005) Billy Graham said:

“I think he’s with the Lord, because he believed. He believed in the Cross. That was his focus throughout his ministry, the Cross, no matter if you were talking to him from personal issue or an ethical problem, he felt that there was the answer to all of our problems, the cross and the resurrection. And he was a strong believer.”

Why is Billy Graham important to cite? He has been THE face of Christianity since 1949, his first Crusade. The first Crusade to be broadcast on television was in 1957, and anyone growing up in the latter half of the twentieth-century will have seen the preacher preaching in Crusade after Crusade. Sadly, he would only compromise Jesus’ Gospel later by forming alliances with Rome, and by denying the exclusivity of Jesus as the only way to salvation.

Warren, Graham, Keller, Hatmaker, Allen, Moore, among many others who should know better, don’t care that thousands of God’s people were murdered by the Catholic Church for daring to preach the true Gospel and express faith in the resurrected Jesus, a Jesus who is the only Head of the Church.

And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, (Ephesians 1:22)

These men and women, and many others I did not cite, are blaspheming against the finished work of Christ.

The doctrinal lines are wide and they run deep. The divide between Catholic and Protestant is eternal and permanent. Thousands of martyrs died to preserve that line, while always inviting and preaching to those on the side of the looming punishment. Unity with falsity doesn’t save. Wiping away the lines of 500 years of blood and persecution by the very church with which they want to unite is perverted and gross.

Lest you think I am too harsh, see what one of very many preachers have said about Rome in their assertion that we must never, ever compromise the Reformation’s values again.

Here is Charles Spurgeon in 1864, from his sermon refuting Baptismal Regeneration (something Billy Graham believes in).

It is a most fearful fact, that in no age since the Reformation has Popery made such fearful strides in England as during the last few years. I had comfortably believed that Popery was only feeding itself upon foreign subscriptions, upon a few titled perverts, and imported monks and nuns. I dreamed that its progress was not real. In fact, I have often smiled at the alarm of many of my brethren at the progress of Popery. But, my dear friends, we have been mistaken, grievously mistaken. It really is an alarming matter to see so many of our countrymen going off to that superstition which as a nation we once rejected, and which it was supposed we should never again receive. I have but to open my eyes a little to foresee ROMANISM rampant everywhere in the future, since its germs are spreading everywhere in the present. I see this coming up everywhere – a belief in ceremony, a resting in ceremony, a veneration for alters, fonts, and Churches – a veneration so profound that we must not venture upon a remark, or straightway of sinners we are chief. Here is the essence and soul of Popery, peeping up under the garb of a decent respect for sacred things.

What would Spurgeon make of today’s evangelical leaders and their acceptance of Rome? No, we need the Reformation. It still matters.

 

Posted in encouragement, Uncategorized

Spurgeon on the difficult Hebrews verse

Though once we are saved, we are always saved, (John 10:28, Ephesians 1:13), the verse in Hebrews gives some people trouble.

For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt. (Hebrews 6:4-6).

Does that mean a saved person can fall away and never be able to be saved again?

Charles Spurgeon did the best job I’ve read on the clarity of the Hebrews verse. See if you agree (or don’t 😉

You know how many passages there are in which it is positively asserted that if a child of God did deliberately and totally apostatize, his restoration would be utterly impossible—not difficult, but impossible. This is one of the greatest proofs of the doctrine of the final perseverance of the saints, since there is no man in a condition in which it is impossible to save him, and yet any man would be in such a state if he apostatized. Therefore true believers shall not apostatize, but shall stand fast, and shall be kept even to the end. Yet, could they totally apostatize, they could never be restored again: the greatest remedy having already failed, there would remain no other. C.H. Spurgeon