About the Author

Thomas Ray Floyd was born in 1953 in Simpson County, Mississippi, the son of Roy Thomas Floyd and Lina Sue Shows Floyd. Thomas Ray's mother was a member of a Primitive Baptist church, and he cut his teeth on the doctrines of distinguishing grace.

When he was a small boy, his father was converted to Christ and became a member of a Missionary Baptist Church. Thomas Ray joined the church of his father when he was 13 years old, and thought of himself as a Christian. The doctrines of grace that he had heard as a child continued to be precious to him and when he became an adult, he joined a Primitive Baptist Church. When he was 27, Thomas Ray made his first effort to preach the gospel in public and was ordained to the full functions of the ministry in 1985. In 1986 he was convinced under the preaching of Rolfe Barnard (by tapes from Mt. Olive Tape Library), the written sermons of Spurgeon, and the ministry of Elder Zack Guess that he had been a false professor and cried out in agony of soul to the Lord Jesus Christ to have mercy and truly save him. And He did! Floyd then began to preach the gospel as he had been taught of the Lord.

Floyd has pastored churches in Mississippi, Louisiana, and Tennessee and until recently was pastor of a church plant known as "Particular Baptist Fellowship." He and his wife Brenda presently attend Zion Baptist Church at Polkville, Mississippi, pastored by Elder Glen Hopkins. The pulpit ministry of Zion Baptist Church can be heard at Sermonaudio.com.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Canon of Scripture

(Article for publication week of 12-30-2009 AD)

By the "canon" of scripture we mean that list of books that are inspired of God and are profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness (II Timothy 3:16). We mean those books which concern Christ (Luke 24:44). The Bible contains sixty-six books that are inspired of God. Our Lord and His apostles quoted from virtually all the Old Testament books and never questioned the authority of any of the scriptures that were received by the Old Testament Church. The twenty-seven books of the New Testament were received by the first century churches and were confirmed by the apostles and extraordinary signs and wonders. Church councils did not "canonize" the Bible; they simply confirmed that which had already been received by the Church (I Thessalonians 2:13).

There is a group of writings of human production known as the "Apocrypha". These books are not inspired of God and should be treated as all works of men. These books were erroneously and sadly included in some early printings of the Bible, and some of them are received as "canonical" by some groups that profess to be Christian. Christians need to be informed on this subject, so let us consider a few facts concerning the apocryphal books.

First of all, the papists did not "canonize" the apocrypha until the year 1546 with the Council of Trent. They no doubt "canonized" these books because they have references to purgatory, salvation by works, and praying for the dead. These vile doctrines do not consent with the other scriptures and do not testify of Christ so we know they are uninspired. By the way, Rome has never repealed the Council of Trent, and so it remains a vital part of their teaching. A reading of the Council of Trent will show you why true Protestants will never rejoin Rome.

Secondly, the early church theologians rejected the apocrypha. It is true that Jerome included it in his translation, but he denied its authority and counted it as any other uninspired writings, that is there are some historical use of the apocrypha, but no Divine Authority for it. Although Augustine gave some credence to the apocrypha in his earlier years, he later rejected it as being inspired of God. Nor did Josephus, the Jewish historian include the apocrypha in his list of canonical books.

Thirdly, the apocryphal books themselves make no claim for inspiration. You do not find the language of the prophets like "the burden of the Lord". The writer of the apocryphal book of Ecclesiasticus (not to be confused with the inspired book of Ecclesiastes) plainly denies being inspired of God. Notice in the prologue to this apocryphal book there is a begging of the reader's pardon where he may find mistakes in this book. You have no such language in the sixty-six inspired books. To the contrary, the inspired writers speak as the oracle of God.

Whatever use we may find in the apocrypha for our study of history or philosophy, we are not to regard these books as inspired of God. They have no authority over us. Let us study the sixty-six books of the Old and New Testaments for they testify of our Lord Jesus Christ and are effectual in the salvation of our souls.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Identity of the New Testament

(Article for publication week of 12-23-2009 AD)

"And account that the longsuffering of God is salvation; even as our beloved Brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; as in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction" (II Peter 3:15-16).

Last week we wrote to you concerning the identity, or (as some would say) the "canon" of scripture, the Old Testament particularly. This week we will take up the identity of the New Testament. We see in our text that Peter accepted the Pauline epistles as inspired, along with the "other scriptures." Thus we see the first way that we identify the canonicity of the New Testament, by Apostolic confirmation. The Twelve Apostles were given special authority by Christ Himself to write the New Testament and to oversee the New Testament Church in her founding era of the first century (John 14:26; John 16:12-15; II Thessalonians 2:15).

The scriptures were never "canonized" by a church council as some vainly imagine, but rather they were received by the early Church that was then endowed with extraordinary powers. Church councils simply recognized what was already true and already understood by God's people. The early church, as already pointed out was under the oversight of the Apostles (see also I Corinthians 11:2; Ephesians 2:20). God gave the early church extraordinary gifts until the New Testament was completed, but after the church had the perfect and entire scriptures we would not need or have the extraordinary gifts any more (I Corinthians 13:10). But during this founding era of the New Testament Church the Lord confirmed the word by "signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost" (Hebrews 2:4).

One of the gifts of the Holy Ghost that was given to the early church was the gift of prophet. (Apostles, prophets and evangelists are not extant offices. The only extant offices in the church are elder and deacon.) The prophets were given to confirm the word of the apostles and their assistants. In I Corinthians 14:37 we read, "if any man think himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord." The prophets were endowed by the Holy Ghost with the power to recognize which writings of the apostles and their deputies were inspired of the Holy Ghost and to be accepted as the word of God.

Therefore when the early churches received an inspired epistle from Paul they were able to immediately recognize that it was the inspired word of God. Notice for example I Thessalonians 2:13, "for this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe." When the church at Thessalonica received this epistle from Paul (which incidentally was probably the first of Paul's epistles), they did not have wait for a church council to "canonize" I Thessalonians. They knew it was the word of God by Apostolic confirmation and the Holy Ghost giving witness through signs and wonders. Later councils only recognized what was a given in the early church.

Don't you just love the Bible?!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Identity of Scripture

(Article for publication week of 12-16-2009 AD)

"And He said unto them, these are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the Psalms, concerning Me" (Luke 24:44).

In this verse our risen Lord showed the disciples the canon of scripture. This three fold division of the Old Testament, the Law, the Prophets and the Psalms was one with which the Old Testament Church was familiar. The Old Testament Church had the Old Testament scriptures exactly as we have them today. They combined several of the Books into one, for example the first five books of the Bible was in the days of our Lord combined into one book called the Pentateuch. The first century Old Testament was in twenty-two books instead of our thirty-nine due to this grouping, but it was the same scripture as we have today.

The arguments for the canon of scripture are closely connected with the arguments for inspiration and authority of the scriptures. We receive as the word of God those writings that contain heavenly matter, those that have been effectual in conversion and sanctification, those that are majestic in style, those that consent to one another, those that give all glory to God, those that are self authenticating, those that are confirmed by the faith of God's elect, and above all those that lead us to Christ. This is what the Lord told these disciples on the road to Emmaus, the Old Testament in all its parts concerned Himself.

Reading through the four gospels we find that the Lord Jesus Christ quoted from Genesis, Exodus, Deuteronomy, the Psalms, and Isaiah. By quoting these scriptures for authority our Lord was showing that he accepted all the Old Testament as "canonical". Nowhere do we find the Lord questioning any of the Old Testament as being inspired of God. Those who call the Old Testament into question are simply calling Christ a liar and prove themselves to be in the gall of bitterness and the bond of iniquity.

As we read the Book of Acts and the New Testament epistles we find the apostles and their deputies quoting from these Old Testament books: Micah, Malachi, Zechariah, Numbers, Amos, Habakkuk, Proverbs, Ruth, II Chronicles, Jeremiah, Job, Daniel, Jonah, Joel, and Hosea. By seeing how these books were unitized in their respective divisions at that time, we see, that our Lord and His apostles accepted all of our present Old Testament as "canonical." In Acts 7, as Stephen defended the faith, he took his hearers to Genesis, Exodus, I and II Samuel. I and II Kings, I and II Chronicles and Isaiah. In Hebrews eleven, Paul refers to Genesis, Exodus, Joshua, Judges and the Prophets. Gary Crampton says in his fine book on the doctrine of scripture that there are over five hundred places where the New Testament writers refer to the authority of the Old Testament. Christ and the Apostles accepted our thirty-nine Old Testament books as "canonical."

Lord willing, next week we will take up the identity of the New Testament.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

The Illumination of Scripture

(Article for publication week of 12-9-2009 AD)

"Howbeit, when He, the Spirit of truth is come, He will guide you into all truth:" (John 16:13a).

We have shown in previous articles that the scriptures are clear concerning creation, the law and the gospel. And it is possible to come to the true meaning of scripture by taking them in their plain sense, in their context, and by interpreting hard texts in the light of clear texts. However, the scriptures cannot be understood by intellect alone. There must be enlightenment by the Holy Spirit.

I Corinthians 2:14 tells us, "the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness to him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." The scriptures are the revelation of spiritual things, not natural things, and so only a person with a spiritual mind can understand them. Our Lord said in John 3: 3, "except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." The unregenerate mind has no spiritual perception. The way of salvation is so clear that a little child can be converted, when the Holy Spirit quickens him, but the proud wisdom of man will never perceive of spiritual realities.

Again, we read in I Corinthians 1:21, "for after that in the wisdom of God, the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe." Also in I Corinthians 1:18, "the preaching of the cross is foolishness to them that perish." The gospel message of salvation by grace alone, through faith alone in Christ alone is so much foolishness to the unregenerate intellect.

Again, our Lord said in Matthew 11:25, "I thank Thee O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes." Oh! How wonderful! God in His Wisdom and Sovereignty has hid the truth of salvation from the reprobate and has revealed it to His elect! This is the reason very few intellectual people are ever saved; they are too "smart" to be saved by free grace. But God in His sovereign grace has revealed His truth to those who are "babes". (That is those who see themselves as little children who need the teaching from a Wise heavenly Father and see themselves as helpless as babes to save themselves.)

In order for you to understand the Holy Scriptures you must be born again. You must have your mind renewed by the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit. And those who are born again continue to need the help of the Holy Spirit to understand the spiritual realities of the Bible. We must be taught of God (John 6:45).The Holy Spirit is the ultimate and true Teacher of the Lord's people. He uses the instrumentality of preaching, but it is Himself that actually does the work. When you open your Bible today, pray for the help of the Holy Spirit to lead you into the Truth. May the Lord bless you all.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Interpretation of Scripture -- Part III

(Article for publication week of 12-2-2009 AD)

“For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God and it was counted unto him for righteousness” (Romans 4:3).

The scriptures are to be interpreted in their plain sense. This would be the second rule of hermeneutics. The first rule is to determine what the text is saying concerning the Lord Jesus Christ (John 5:39). This is the method being employed by the Apostle Paul in Romans chapter four. In proving justification by the imputed righteousness of Christ, Paul (being moved along by the Holy Ghost) quotes from Genesis 15:6. The following verses show that Paul expects us to take this verse in its plain sense.

As we continue reading in Romans 4, we see another rule of interpretation that is we are to interpret the scriptures by the scriptures. Down in verse 6, we read “even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, saying, ‘blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.” Here he quotes from the thirty second Psalm to show that imputed righteousness is taught clearly there also. From these quotations in Romans four we see that the apostle Paul had complete confidence in the book of Genesis and the book of Psalms. He had no doubts concerning their authenticity. We also see from Romans four that the Old Testament is not to be disused by New Testament Christians. And as I say, we see that we use the scriptures to interpret the scriptures. As one of my old pastors used to say often, “let the Bible be its own commentary.”

In Matthew 4:1-11 we see the next rule of interpretation; that is the scriptures are to be interpreted in their context. In this passage we have the account of our Lord’s great test in the wilderness. Amazingly Satan comes to our Lord quoting scripture! He quotes scripture to our Lord to try to get Him to tempt His Father (Matthew 4:6). Our Lord tells Satan that he is taking the text out of context and again uses scripture to verify the true sense. Being able to memorize scripture and quote verbatim is a good thing, but we need to be sure we quote in context. The scriptures are not to be taken out of context. As another preacher used to say, “a text out of context is a pretext”!

Another good rule of interpretation is that difficult texts are to be interpreted by clear texts. Notice how our Lord in Matthew 19:3-9 interprets Deuteronomy 24:1-4, a text the Pharisees made difficult, and many still do. Our Lord used Genesis 2:24 to come to the meaning of the difficult passage which seemed to allow capricious divorce. Not so said our Lord as He brought in God’s original design for marriage.

Thus we may follow these general rules in hermeneutics. First, see how the text testifies of Christ. Secondly, take the scriptures in their plain sense. Thirdly, take the scriptures in their context. And fourthly, hard texts are to be understood in light of clear texts. May the Lord give us understanding of His word.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Interpretation of Scripture -- Part II

(Article for publication week of 11-25-2009 AD)

"Search the scriptures, for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me" (John 5:39).

Last week we showed that all believers have a liberty and responsibility to read and interpret the scriptures for themselves. However, the scriptures have but one meaning (II Peter 1:20), so we must know how to interpret them.

Our Lord Jesus Christ gives us here in our text this week an important rule regarding hermeneutics; all the scriptures testify of the Lord Jesus Christ. So when we are trying to understand a text we should see what that text is saying regarding the Lord Jesus Christ.

All the Bible is about one major theme- the Lord Jesus Christ, the only Saviour of sinners. All of the Old Testament is saying that Christ the Redeemer is coming, and all the New Testament is saying that the redeemer has come. As all roads led to Rome, so all texts lead to the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Genesis account of creation testifies of Christ, Who is God and the Creator of all things (John 1:3). The typical sacrifices of the Old Testament point us to the One Offering that would be made for sin forever (Hebrews 10:14). All the ceremonies of the Old Testament point us to the Covenant Head of God's elect Who would come to fulfill all righteousness (Matthew 3:15). Matthew began His gospel by writing, "the book of the generation of Jesus Christ." Mark begins,"the beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ", and then quotes from Malachi's prophecy. John concludes his gospel by saying that if all Jesus did should have been written the whole world could not contain the books that should have been written. Luke begins the Book of Acts by saying, "of all that Jesus began both to do and to teach." And John began the Book of Revelation by saying "The Revelation of Jesus Christ."

Many difficulties can be resolved by simply seeing how the text leads us to the Lord Jesus Christ. It would be a terrible shame if you read the scriptures and never came to a saving knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. Search the scriptures, not to try to find some esoteric meaning, but to find Christ. Search the scriptures, not just as an interesting Book (and it is indeed the most interesting Book in the world), but to discover a saving interest in Christ. Search the scriptures not to try to show how smart you are, but to see your ignorance and learn of Christ. Search the scriptures for in them there is eternal life, and they testify of the Only Saviour of sinners.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Interpretation of Scripture

(Article for publication week of 11-18-2009 AD)

"Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of old spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost" (II Peter 1:20-21).

Since (as we wrote last week) the Bible is clear concerning such things as creation, the law, and the way of salvation, it is possible to come to a correct interpretation of the scriptures. All believers have a liberty and responsibility to read and interpret the scriptures. However, none of us have a right to any private interpretation of the scriptures. As the scriptures came not by the will of man, even so they may not be interpreted by the will of man. All believers have the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:14), and so all believers may read and interpret the scriptures inspired by the Holy Spirit.

That all believers may read and interpret the Bible is seen by the example of the noble Bereans who "received the word with all readiness of mind and searched the scriptures daily" (Acts 15:11). It is evident from the way this is worded that the Lord approved of the Bereans searching the scriptures for themselves. Notice also in Acts 8:26-40 in the account of the conversion of the Ethiopian, that Phillip found this man reading the book of Isaiah. Phillip did not condemn the man for reading a book that can only be interpreted by "experts", but rather took his text from the place the man was reading and preached Christ unto him. These two examples show us very clearly that all men may read the word for themselves. The reading and interpretation of scripture is not reserved for clerics or "priests".

The infallible rule of scripture interpretation is the scripture itself. Let us note for example in Matthew 19:3-9, how the Lord uses scripture to interpret scripture. In this passage the Pharisees asked the Lord a question regarding divorce that they hoped would discredit Him, regardless of how He answered. The text they referred to was Deuteronomy 24:1-4 where the Lord allowed a divorce for "uncleanness." Our Lord used Genesis 2:24 to interpret this passage and showed that divorce may not be sought except for fornication. (Those of you who have gone and obtained a divorce without scriptural cause have sinned greatly and I urge you to repent before it is everlastingly too late.) So we see our Lord teaches that we are to interpret scripture by scripture.

The interpretation of scripture must not be attempted lightly. We must approach the scriptures with reverence and with prayer and dependence upon the Holy Spirit Who is the Teacher and Guide of the Lord's people (John 16:13). My dear readers, I urge you to be Bereans and search the scriptures daily. May the Lord bless you all, my dear friends.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

The Clarity of Scripture

(Article for publication week of 11-11-2009 AD)

"Have ye not read…” (Matthew 19:4). In the passage cited the Lord was answering a question from the Pharisees regarding divorce that they supposed would discredit Him regardless of how he answered. Our Lord answered them by reminding them of the clear words of Genesis 2:24.

Contrary to what many people think, the scriptures are actually very clear and simple to understand, as our Lord shows by simply asking the Pharisees, "have ye not read?" The way He asks the question shows that Genesis 2:24 was clear enough that anyone could understand it.

Admittedly, there are many things in the scriptures that are difficult for our small minds. Biblical concepts like the Tri-unity of God are above our thinking. And, there are some scriptures that are obscure. And there are some scriptures like the Book of Revelation that are very mysterious. But, generally speaking, the Bible is clear in its meaning.

For example, the truth of creation is very clear. "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." The only way you could misunderstand that is for some atheist to help you! The Biblical account of creation is so clear, that anyone can understand it. Friend, if you deny the Biblical account of creation, you sin against the clear light of scripture and show that you are unregenerate.

And, concerning what God requires of us, the scripture is clear. The moral law of God, the Ten Commandments are so clear that anyone can understand it. That is the reason unbelievers hate the law of God. It clearly condemns them in their sin and rebellion. Be honest now. What part of "thou shalt have no other gods before me" don't you understand?

But, most importantly, the gospel is very clear. The way of salvation is so clear that a little child can understand it. "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved" is very clear. "For God so loved the world, that he gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life" is so clear that multitudes of unlettered people have believed it for their salvation. The simple gospel message that salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone in Christ Alone is so simple that you could believe it right now to the salvation of your poor soul, if the Holy Spirit would give you an understanding heart.

And I might add to this, that our Authorized translation is clear also. The majority of it is written in short words of four to eight letters. Yes, there are some words like "propitiation" that we don't use as much. But it is so exciting to find out what such words mean!

But with all its clarity, the Bible will remain a closed Book for you unless the Lord has mercy on your poor soul and regenerates you. This is the reason people reject such a clear Book- they have hearts that are hard as the millstone. They are dead in sin. They cannot see the kingdom of God for they are not born again. May the Lord have mercy on you and give you spiritual perception.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

The Inerrancy of Scripture

(Article for publication week of 11-4-2009 AD)

"...the scripture cannot be broken." (John 10:35).

In our study of the doctrine of scripture, we now come to the subject of inerrancy. By inerrancy we mean that there are no errors in the Bible. There can be no errors in the word of God, because there are no errors in their Divine Author. The scriptures are the production of the Triune God Who is thrice holy and perfect in all His ways. He is of such purity that he will not look with favour on sin. He is unchangeably good and will do right. To question the inerrancy of scripture is to question God Himself. If we believe in God, we must believe in His word, for it is written by the One Who cannot lie (Titus 1:2).

One of Satan's subtle attacks on the inerrancy of the scripture is in the notes found in certain modern translations of the Bible. Most of these newer translations have notes or comments on certain verses, which question their authenticity. Such "notes" by "learned" men have done much to undermine people's confidence and faith in the word of God. This is Satan's old trick of asking, "hath God said?" Such seeds of doubt have grown into plants of infidelity and produced unholy fruits.

I want to encourage the Lord's people to have confidence in your Bible. Our Lord and Saviour has said, "the scripture cannot be broken." Our Lord Jesus Christ believed in the inerrancy of scripture. He quoted it as a book with no errors. As you have believed in Christ for your salvation, so believe His inspired word. Don't ever let anyone put any seeds of doubt into your mind.

The Bible must be inerrant. If it could be proven (and it can't), that there were errors in the Bible, then we could have no confidence in any of it. And of course this is the reason the faith of some have been overthrown. Some who once professed faith in Christ no longer walk with Him because they believed the lies of some "higher critic". Of course this proves they were never genuinely converted, for a faith that can be overthrown was not genuine saving faith, but the danger is real that temporary faith can be and is overthrown. The seed of doubt was sown that perhaps there was an historical error here, or a "scientific" error there, and the poor temporary believer began to think, "well if there are some errors in this book, I can't believe any of it", and so they renounced their profession. I know some in this very condition.

Those who are truly saved know the Bible is inerrant, because they are experimentally acquainted with the Divine Author. "This is life eternal, that they might know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ Whom Thou has sent." For those of us who truly know the Lord, we will believe the Bible, and every word of the Bible. We know the author of the Bible and know Him to be One Who cannot lie.

The scriptures cannot be broken. Every word in the Bible is true. There are no mistakes in the Word of God. "The words (notice the plural) of the Lord are pure words.." (Psalms 12:6). The scriptures are inspired of God, and they are inerrant. May the Lord strengthen the faith of His people, and may He bless you all, my dear readers.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Sufficiency of Scripture

(Article for publication week of 10-21-2009 AD)

"To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to the word, it is because there is no light in them" (Isaiah 8:20). The prophet Isaiah being inspired by the Holy Spirit, warns us that false prophets will arise among us. But if they speak not the truth of scripture we are to know that they have no light in them.

We live in such a day as Isaiah lived when there is much confusion and many false prophets leading men astray. In this babble of confusion we have an authoritative and sufficient guide- the verbally inspired word of God. The scriptures are sufficient as a final rule concerning the way of salvation and what God requires of men.

Since the scriptures are indeed inspired of God (that is the Holy Spirit moved holy men to write down exactly what God would have us know), they are necessarily authoritative (that is they are a rule and law for us and we will be finally judged by them). And since the Bible is inspired and authoritative, they are sufficient for our understanding of what God has revealed concerning Himself, what He is like , what He demands, and how He saves sinners.

Here in Isaiah 8:20, we are directed to the law and the testimony as the final word. (By the way, if you will go back and start at the beginning of chapter 8, you will see this is one of those portions of scripture that is mechanically inspired.) God tells us here that His inspired Word is sufficient to try every statement of men. We are not pointed to a creed or council, but to the law and the testimony.

Confessions of faith are useful, and every church should have one. But a confession of faith is to be judged by the scriptures, not the other way around. All the good confessions begin with the truth of scripture and give them for our final authority. Our church holds to the Second London Confession of Faith as a way of stating in clear terms what we believe the scriptures to teach and to identify us with faithful Christians of the past and present, but the Bible is our final authority and ultimate confession of Faith.

Church councils have been useful. There have been times in the history of the Church that councils have been necessary to oppose error and state in concise language what we believe the scriptures say. Church councils have been useful in some cases, but they are not our final authority. The scriptures are sufficient for us without any opinions of men, written or unwritten.

"Scripture alone" is the watchword of true Christianity. Christians with the Bible in their hands, and being taught by the Holy Spirit have a sufficient guide into the truth of God and the way of salvation. I would urge you dear reader to read your Bible. Open it up with the confidence that you are reading the authoritative word of God. Bring every preconceived notion you have to the law and the testimony. Everything that you may have believed that you find contrary to the word of God, cast it away and have nothing but "thus saith the Lord". "To the law and to the testimony."

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Authority of Scripture

(Article for publication week of 10-14-2009 AD)

"For What saith the scripture?" (Romans 4:3b). When the Apostle Paul would set forth that Old Testament saints were saved exactly as New Testament saints, he cited no other authority than the scriptures. This is his method in other places as well (Romans 11:26; I Corinthians 9:9; Galatians 3:11 for example.) Our Lord also cited the Old Testament scriptures as His authority (Matthew 19:4; Matthew 22:44; Luke 4:16-21 for example.

The scriptures are the final authority for every issue. They are the final and only authority because they are the inspired words of God Himself. It matters not what I think or what you think or what some preacher said or what some church said or what grandpa said. What God has said in His inspired, inerrant, infallible Word is what counts.

The inspiration of scripture necessarily gives authority to the Bible. If someone walks up to us and gives us an order we might rightly ask, "who said?" If the reply is "the boss said so", or "Daddy said so", then that settles the question. The authority of the one who issued the word gives authority to the word given. Even so, God's Sovereign Authority requires us to hear and obey the Word He has given.

No writings or opinions of men may be accepted as final authority. Ecclesiastical councils have been wrong. Kings have been wrong. Preachers have been wrong. But the word of God has never been wrong. So the scriptures do not depend on such opinions of men for their authority. The scriptures get their authority from their Divine Author, God Himself.

Now since the scriptures are of such Divine authority, they must be obeyed. First of all they must be obeyed for salvation. The scriptures are the only writings that show us the way of salvation. From Genesis to Revelation the Bible tells us that salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone in Christ Alone. All scriptures lead us to Christ, the only Saviour of sinners (John 5:39). Our Lord says, "Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life, and they are they which testify of me." If you will find the way that leads to eternal life, read and hear the scriptures.

Also, since the scriptures are of final and Divine authority they must be obeyed in every area of human relationships. The scriptures are the final authority for matters regarding the family. You will do well to rid your house and your mind of every book written by psychologists that purports to tell you how to order your family. God ordained the family and he has given His word regarding the order of the family.

The scriptures are the final authority regarding matters of state. God has ordained the civil magistrate and has limited the authority of the civil government by His word. Our nation is becoming increasingly chaotic because our despotic governments at all levels are attempting to do what God has not equipped them to do. God's authoritative word has ordained the civil magistrate to keep the peace and that is all.

At the final and awful Day of Judgment, you will be judged by the word of God and whether you submitted yourself to it. Bow the knee to God and His word.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Hath God Said

(Article for publication week of 10-7-2009 AD)

"Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, 'Yea hath God said, ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?' " (Genesis 3:1). Satan has been attacking the veracity of God and His word since the very beginning. His strategy in bringing down Man in the Fall was to raise doubts concerning the word of God. Be sure every scheme to get you to doubt the word of God is devilish.

One of the devil's schemes to get men to doubt the scriptures is to raise questions concerning their inspiration. One question that has been raised by unbelievers is, "if every word of scripture is inspired of God, how do you account for the different styles of the various human writers? Why are Paul's epistles written in a different style than those of Peter's?" Of course the answer is very simple. As the Holy Ghost "moved" (II Peter 1:21) the human writers of scripture, He inspired them in the style which was uniquely theirs. When the human writers of scripture were being moved by the Holy Spirit, the words which came into their minds were words with which they were accustomed and in a style with which they were accustomed. That was no hard thing for God Who is omnipotent. The God Who created the universe in six days and ordained all things for His Own Glory certainly had no difficulty in moving His chosen vessels to write in the style that was theirs. God created each of those men and endowed them with their own gifts.

Another question opposed by unbelievers has been, "if God inspired Moses to write the first five books of the Bible, how do we have the account of Moses' death and burial in the last chapter of Deuteronomy?" This is equally simple to answer. No doubt the Holy Spirit inspired Moses to write the account of his own death and burial before his death. This was no difficult thing for God Who is omniscient. God did not have to wait for Moses to die to know the details, for they were all known of Him from eternity.

Another question that unbelievers have raised is," well, if the scriptures are the inspired word of God, how do you account for historical " errors". The answer of course is that there are no historical errors in the Bible. For example, unbelievers used to say that there had never been a people known as the Hittites as the Bible records. However recent archaeology has proven that there were indeed a people known as Hittites just as the Bible says. So the unbelievers had to shut up about that. And that is true of many other supposed "errors" in the scripture. Any question that unbelievers raise regarding the veracity of the scriptures will be answered in due time. I would say to you who are Christians, if anyone ever tries to get you to doubt any part of God's word with some supposed error, just tell them that you may not have all the answers today, but God will prove His word to be truthful and the truth will finally come out.

What it all boils down to is this: you either believe God or you don't. You are either a Christian or you are not. If you do not believe all of God's word, you are not saved, and you are not a Christian. One sure way to go to hell is to start questioning God. Beware of anyone who raises questions regarding the scriptures. Thank God for His inerrant, verbally inspired Bible.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Mechanics of Inspiration

(Article for publication week of 9-30-2009 AD)

"For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost" (II Peter 1:21).

One of the great challenges we face in our day is to convince people of the inspiration and authority of the Bible. The inspiration and authority of the Bible has been undermined in many ways, not the least of which is the liberal seminaries that have brainwashed their students by so-called "higher criticism". The genuine believers of the Bible appear to be very few.

I declare unto you my friends that the Bible is the unadulterated word of God. The Lord is the Author of the Bible, not men. The inspired writers of the Bible wrote as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. The scriptures came to us by God's will, not man's.

How did the Holy Ghost "move" the sacred writers? As we shall see, it was in different ways, but they were always being "moved" by the Holy Ghost.

The Ten Commandments, God's moral law, were written by God Himself. We read in Exodus 31:18, "and He gave unto Moses, when He had made an end of communing with him upon Mount Sinai, two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God." So we see this part of scripture was written by God Himself.

Quite a bit of scripture was dictated by God and the Holy Men wrote exactly what was dictated. We read in Exodus 34:27, "and the LORD said unto Moses, 'write thou these words: for after the tenor of these words I have made a covenant with thee and with Israel.' " It appears that the first five books of the Bible, the Pentateuch were dictated verbatim by God to Moses and he wrote exactly what God told him. Again, we read in I Timothy 4:1, "the Spirit speaketh EXPRESSLY." So we see that some major portions of God's word were "mechanically " inspired, an idea that has been ridiculed by liberals, and sadly parroted by some who are otherwise conservative.

In Revelation 1:11 we read, "what thou seest, write in a book." The way the Holy Spirit "moved" the Apostle John to write the Book of Revelation was, He showed him visions and instructed him to write down what he saw. The Holy Spirit continued moving John as he wrote what he saw, for we read in Revelation 2:7, "he that hath an ear, let him hear what the SPIRIT saith unto the churches."

The Apostles were given perfect recall to write the gospels. We read in John 14:26, ""but the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, Whom the Father will send in my name, He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you." When Matthew, Mark, Luke and John wrote the four gospel accounts, the Holy Spirit moved them by causing them to have a perfect memory of everything they had heard Jesus say.

The Old Testament prophets were given a message and told to write it out. Thus we read often in the prophets, "the burden of the Lord" and "thus saith the Lord." King David the sweet psalmist of Israel said, "the Spirit of the Lord spake by me, and His word was in my tongue." So we see the Holy Spirit moved David when he wrote the inspired Hymnal.

In short my friends, the Bible is a miraculous Book. Our God is a miracle working God and His verbally inspired word is one of His greatest miracles. Never doubt the Word of God.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Inspiration of Scripture

(Article for publication week of 9-25-2009 AD)

“All scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” (II Timothy 3:16-17).

When we see and understand that the Bible is the Word of God, then we will believe it and yield ourselves to it. The Holy Scriptures are the only writings in the world that are written by God. Inspiration means that God Himself is the Author of the Bible.

The inspiration of scripture is far different from the writing of a hymn, poem or sermon. Sometimes people speak of a poet or hymn writer as having “inspiration”. Poets and hymn writers may indeed have their thoughts influenced by the Holy Spirit and the Word of God, but the inspiration of scripture is far different from that.

The word “inspiration” means, “God breathed”. This is a very interesting, enlightening and powerful word. The same word that is translated “breath” and “wind” in the New Testament is the same word that is translated “spirit”, and especially for the Holy Spirit. So you see the scriptures are “breathed out “ by God Himself. The Holy Spirit, Who is the Third Person of the Holy Trinity, Who is coequal with the Father and the Son, “breathed” upon men to write the Word of God.

II Peter 1:21 tells us “holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” The various writers of the Books of the Bible such as Moses, David, the prophets and the apostles wrote what God would have them to write. The Holy Ghost influenced their minds in a miraculous way so every word they wrote was exactly what God would have them write. Every word in the Bible is therefore the word of God.

The Psalmist David, one of the inspired writers of scripture said “The Spirit of the Lord spake by me, and His word was in my tongue.” ( II Samuel 23:2). When David took pen in hand to write the Psalms, the Holy Spirit, Who is God, told David what to write. David did not write what he thought, but what God inspired. And thus it is with all the sixty-six books of the Bible, The Holy Spirit is the True author.

When we read the Bible we must be aware that what we are reading is not a human production. We are reading the words of God. When people are convinced that the Bible is inspired of God, they approach the scriptures in a different way than those who doubt their inspiration. When we read the Bible with faith in God and His word, we will be instructed, corrected, reproved and rebuked so that we may indeed be perfect. As you read your Bible this week, think to yourself, ”this is God’s word I am reading; I am holding in my hand the production of the Holy Spirit.”

Thank God for His inspired Word.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

The Necessity of Scripture

(Article for publication week of 9-9-2009 AD)

“We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the daystar arise in your hearts:” (II Peter 1:19).

Although Peter had been with the Lord on the Mount of transfiguration, and heard a voice from heaven, he says we have in the scriptures a more sure word of prophecy. If you heard a voice from heaven telling you something contrary to the word, would you believe it? Most people would, but they should not.

The scriptures are necessary for us because all special revelation has ceased. Paul says in Galatians 1 that even if an angel from heaven preaches another gospel, we should not believe it. That which is perfect is come (that is the entire canon of scripture), and we are not to look for further revelation (see I Corinthians 13:10 and Revelation 22:18-19).

Furthermore, the scriptures are necessary because general revelation is insufficient to give saving knowledge. All men know there is a God because of His creation (Psalm 19:1-3; Roman 1:20), and because of the conscience that He has placed in every man (Romans 2:14-15). This general revelation is sufficient to leave all men inexcusable, but it is not sufficient to give the knowledge of salvation. No one will be able to stand before God on the Day of Judgment (and there will be such a day, mark you well), and claim they did not have enough knowledge of God. The most benighted heathen in Africa who has not heard the gospel knows there is a God because the heavens declare Him, and he will be inexcusable on the Day of Judgment for not worshipping the God Who created him and all things. Though all men do not have the written law of God, they have His law written in their hearts and they will be inexcusable for not obeying that law perfectly as God requires of all men. All men have enough knowledge to be damned, but saving knowledge is only through the Word of God.

Life eternal is to know the Lord Jesus Christ, and you cannot know Him apart from His gospel revealed in His word. Romans 1:16-17 tells us that the gospel is THE power of God unto salvation and that justification is revealed exclusively in the gospel. Acts 4:12 tells us that there is no other Name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved, and no one can believe through a name of which they have not heard. Romans 10:17 plainly says “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”

So you see the absolute necessity of scripture. God has been very good to us in giving us His word. I urge you my friends and neighbors, if you value your never dying souls, read the word of God. The scriptures testify of our Lord Jesus Christ, the only way of salvation. You have enough knowledge of God to be without excuse on the Day of Judgment, but will you gain the knowledge necessary to be saved? May the Lord be merciful to some of you and cause His Word to be the power of God unto salvation to you.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Authenticity of Scripture

(Article for publication week of 9-2-2009 AD)

“Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.” (John 5:39).

It is apparent that our Lord Jesus Christ believed in the authenticity of the scriptures. He urges us to search the scriptures, for they have the message of salvation that comes through Himself. The doctrine of scripture and the doctrine of Christ cannot be separated.

We know the Bible to be the word of God for many reasons. Its majestic style, unique message, influence for good on communities, and its power to convert sinners all prove the scriptures to be the authentic word of God. We further note the agreement of all its parts and the perfect fulfillment of its prophecies as evidence for the Bible.

Added to all this is the Bible’s self-authentication. The Bible is its own witness. When we read the Bible we are aware that we are reading a very unique Book. There are no other writings that compare with the Bible. For example, I have a copy of the Koran, the supposed “holy’ book of the poor deluded Moslems. The Koran reads like a comic book compared to the word of God. When you read the Koran you can tell that your are reading the ranting of a madman, not the word of God. And this is true of every other writing of men. Men can think and write no higher than the power of their own brains, and their writings reveal themselves to be the production of fallible men. But not so with the Bible. It is evident that the Bible sprang from a Mind infinitely larger than a human mind.

Now, this is what our Lord was talking about in our text. “Search the scriptures” for it is evident they are the word of God. It is interesting that our Lord never presented a long drawn out argument for the authenticity of scriptures. He simply says if you believe in me you must of necessity believe the word of God for they testify of me and show you the way of salvation. Nor did the apostles ever make such apologies for the Bible. They simply preached the Word. Nor did the Old Testament prophets enter into such debates. They simply declared “thus saith the Lord.”

What it comes down to is, we either believe God or not .God has magnified His Word above all His Name (Psalm 138:2). God has been pleased to reveal Himself to us by His Holy Word. And if we reject that word, we reject Him. All men know there is a God. His creation and the conscience that he has given all men are undeniable evidence that He is. And since all men know there is a God, when they read His word they have all the evidence they need for its authenticity. To deny the Bible is to go against all reason in the same way as to deny God goes against all reason.

So why do so many not believe the Bible? One simple answer- they are not born again. Until the Lord regenerates them and gives them faith they will never believe the Bible. And if they persist in their unbelief they will end up in eternal hell. Do you believe the Bible?

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Doctrine of Scripture

(Article for publication week of 8-26-2009 AD)

"Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God" (Matthew 22:29).

This week we begin a new series for the Narrow Way. For the next few months we will be setting forth the doctrine of scripture. Our text this week is the words of our Lord Jesus Christ. "Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures." The reason people err is because they do not know the scriptures, nor the God of scripture. The reason there is so much error in family, church and state is because people will not believe the scripture. The reason most of you are lost is because you will not believe and obey the scripture.

It is apparent that the overwhelming majority of the people here in our county do not believe the Bible, including the church members and the preachers. By the way you talk, think, behave, and dress it is apparent that most of you do not believe the Bible. And if you do not believe the Bible, you are not saved. And if you do not believe ALL the Bible, you are not saved.

There is no reason for you not to believe the Bible. We know the Bible is the word of God for many reasons. The scriptures are evidently the word of God because of its unique style and majesty. They are written in such a style as no man could have. The scriptures have the marks of God all over them. It is clearly not a human production. The scriptures are self-authenticating because they are God's words.

It is clear that the Bible is the word of God because of the unity of all its parts. The thirty-nine books of the Old Testament and the twenty-seven books of the New Testament speak as one Word. The entire Bible points us to Christ, the Saviour of sinners. As all roads led to Rome, so all scriptures lead to Christ.

We know the Bible is the word of God because it contains no errors. The God haters have tried to attack the Bible all down through history. For instance, the infidels used to say there was never a nation known as the Hittites as the Bible says. But recent archaeological finds have proven there were a people known as Hittites and no one tries to argue that any more. There was a time when some scoffers said Isaiah chapter 53 had to have been written after the death of Christ because of its amazing accuracy regarding His sufferings. But the Dead Sea Scrolls proved the Book of Isaiah was written long before the coming of Christ.

And we know the Bible is the word of God of its unique message. The gospel message is one that no man could have dreamed up. The message that God became a man to live a sinless life and die vicariously to save ruined and lost sinners from their sins is a message that could only have come from the Mind of God. The good news that Christ was delivered for our offences and raised again for our justification is a message too sublime to have been invented by men. The truth that the Lord Jesus Christ is the willing and able Saviour of all that will believe in Him is a message that only God could have given.

But with all this clear evidence, no one will believe the Bible until they are convinced by faith. It is impossible to please God without faith. Unless the Holy Spirit gives you faith, you will go on in unbelief and deny the scriptures and spend eternity in hell. May God have mercy on you.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Ye Must Be Born Again

(Article for publication week of 8-19-2009 AD)

"Marvel not that I said unto thee, ‘ Ye must be born again.’ " (John 3:7).

For over three and a half years now we have been setting forth in these weekly articles the necessity, mystery and evidences of the New Birth starting with Jesus’ dialogue with Nicodemus in John 3:1-8. Next week, Lord willing we will begin a new series. But before we leave our subject I want to give some concluding and challenging words.

My dear friends, the New Birth is an absolute necessity. If you miss the New Birth, you miss Christ; and if you miss Christ, you miss salvation; and if you miss salvation, you miss heaven; and if you miss all these, why you miss everything. Many of you who read this column are religious people. But I ask you my friends, are you born again? Has the Holy Spirit quickened you into spiritual life? Have you ever been miraculously and supernaturally changed by the saving power of Christ? Has Christ become precious to you? Have you become sick of your sins? Have you been granted repentance? Have you come to Christ as a lost sinner begging for His mercy? Have you been delivered from the power of darkness? Have you been translated into the kingdom of God’s Dear Son? Have you been called into the marvelous light of God? Have you passed from death unto life? Have you been given a new heart? In short, have you had a saving change? These are all scriptural questions that you must examine yourself and see if you have the answer.

The New Birth is not some mental assent to the gospel. It is not improving your morals or your ethics. It is not joining a church. It is not getting baptized. It is not accepting Jesus. It is not walking down an aisle. It is not repeating a prayer. It is not memorizing some scripture. It is not head knowledge of some scriptural truths. It is the sovereign operation of the Holy Spirit working a saving change in the heart and soul of an elect sinner. It is being made a new creature.

Now, I hope you will think about these things. There is nothing I can do for any of you, except pray the Lord will bring you to faith in His Son. There is nothing you can do for yourself, except throw yourself on the mercy of God and believe in His Son for your salvation.

Some of you will dismiss me as a crank and go on in your religion and die and go to hell. Some of you will express agreement with what I have said, and think I have been talking to others, but I have been talking to YOU. Some of you will say, “ I know I’m saved, because I joined the church “ and you will go on to hell. Some of you will continue in your sins and you will go on to hell. All through eternity you will be weeping and wailing and gnashing your teeth and wishing you had listened to that fool of a preacher. But perhaps some of you will be brought to saving faith through the power of the Word and the Spirit. And Oh! What a joy that would be!

I leave you in the hands of a Sovereign God Who has power to save and power to damn. How will it be with you my friend? Will you be saved or damned? Are you born again?

Saturday, August 8, 2009

The Lord Knoweth His Own

(Article for publication week of 8-12-2009 AD)

“Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are His. And, Let everyone that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity." (II Timothy 2:19).

In our last several articles we have been showing how that love for the children of God is an indispensable evidence of regeneration. A dear sister writes this week to ask, ” How may we know the children of God?” The answer is we do not know infallibly. Only the Lord knows infallibly who is saved. We look for evidence in ourselves and in others, but only the Lord knows infallibly who is a Christian. So, we would say in the first place that we look for the same evidence in others that we look for in ourselves; that is faith in Christ, repentance from dead works, the practice of righteousness, no habitual sinning, and unfeigned love for the children of God.

Our text this week gives us some help in determining whom we address as “brother” or “sister”. We may not regard a person as a believer unless they publicly profess their faith in Christ- “every one that nameth the name of Christ.” Our Lord Jesus Christ said in Matthew 10:32-33, ”whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I ALSO DENY BEFORE MY Father which is in heaven.” We should not address a person as “brother” or “sister” unless they publicly avow their faith in Christ. John 12:42-43 tells us of some who would not confess Christ for the fear of men. We have no reason to regard a person as a child of God unless they openly profess the name of Christ.

Of course we also know that a profession of faith does not mean that a person is genuinely saved. At the final judgment, Christ will say to many “depart” who named the name of Christ but were in reality lawless ones (Matthew 7:21-23). The Judgment Day will be an awful day for many of you because all you have is an empty profession. So there must be something more than a profession. There must be, as our text says a departing from iniquity. If you will read the context in II Timothy 2, you will see that the iniquity under consideration is false doctrine. Contrary to what many suppose, it does matter what you believe and espouse. The person who holds to false doctrine gives the lie to his or her profession. So we see that we should not regard a person as a child of God who holds to heretical teachings.

But, please note in verse 16 of II Timothy 2 that false doctrine leads to ungodliness. So we see the next important point is that we should not regard a person as a child of God unless they are living a Godly life. The professors of Christ must maintain purity in doctrine and life. Where there is no holiness of life, we have no reason to suppose that Christ has done His saving work.

But ultimately we see that only the Lord Himself knows infallibly who are His. Many that we have addressed as brother or sister either in ignorance or in charity will be finally discovered as false professors and must hear the woeful words, “ depart from me”! (I shudder to write it.) Perhaps some of those we doubted of their salvation, we will be happy and surprised when we see them in heaven. Let us be discerning and charitable with others and ruthless with ourselves, for the great day will declare who really belongs to Christ.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

The Brethren

(Article for publication week of 8-5-2009 AD)

Occasionally, some of our readers ask for past articles. If any of you ever want to go back and read any of those past articles we can make them available to you, or you can find them on the Internet at matthewsevenfourteen.blogspot.com. Now to our subject.

We have been considering for several months now the evidences of the new birth, or regeneration. Some of these are faith in Christ, repentance from sin, the practice of righteousness, no habitual sinning, and the love of the brethren. We read in I John 3: 14, “we know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren.”

The "brethren" are all of those who have been saved by grace. In Matthew 12:50 our Lord Jesus Christ said, “for whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.” On this occasion our Lord’s natural mother and siblings had come to see Him. Our Lord ‘s response was that His true family are those who obey Him. Thus we learn that the disobedient are not the children of God. In Hebrews 5:9 we read, “He became the Author of eternal salvation unto all them that OBEY Him.” We are not saved BY our obedience, but it is the certain result of being saved. If you are not living in obedience to Christ, you are not saved.

Christ loves His brethren. They were predestinated to be conformed to His Image (Romans 8:29). Christ agreed in the everlasting covenant that he would be their Surety (Hebrews 7:22). He partook of our nature that He might be our High Priest and make reconciliation for our sins (Hebrews 2:17). He died for His brethren and was raised from the dead for our justification (Romans 4:25). Christ has taken His brethren into eternal and saving union with Himself. He has sanctified us, set us apart for His holy use and made us partakers of His Own holiness. If Christ loves His brethren, then we must love then also.

Christ is not ashamed of His brethren (Hebrew 2:11). Is that not an amazing thing? Christ is not ashamed of His elect. In and of ourselves we have much for which to be ashamed. When we think of our sins, what shame it brings to us. But Christ died for our sins and they are all taken away. He has removed our sins from us as far as the east is from the west. He purged our sins by Himself. He put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. Christ is not ashamed to call us “brethren” for we were chosen in Him in eternity, our sins have been erased from our record by His atoning death, and His Holy Spirit has applied His saving work to us.

In short, the “brethren" are all those that have been, are, or ever will be gathered into the kingdom of Christ. The brethren are all those who believe in Christ for their salvation. The brethren are all those who love Christ and give evidence of it by obedience to Him. The brethren are all the elect family of God from every “kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation” (Revelation 5:9). We know we are saved if we love the brethren.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

The Love of the Brethren

(Article for publication week of 7-29-2009 AD)

“We know that we have passed from death unto life because we love the brethren.” ( I John 3:14).

Since love for the brethren is such an indispensable evidence of the New Birth, we had better be sure we understand what is taught concerning it. And the very first thing we need to understand is what the Bible says about the subject of love.

Most people appear to me to have a very unbiblical view of the subject of love. Most people have an understanding of love that is based on Hollywood rather than the authority of God’s word. What most people call “love’ is not love at all but is rather lust. Once I was rebuking a young man for his sin of fornication and he responded by telling me that after all he “loved” the object of his lust. This is a vivid example of what I am talking about. If you really love someone you will respect their chastity and seek to preserve it.

Then there are others who confuse love with a mere sentimentality. They have a sentimental feeling about something, and they call it love. However, biblical love is far greater than a mere sentimentality.

For a biblical understanding of love, let us turn to Romans 13: 10 where we read, “love is the fulfilling of the law.” True biblical love is to treat people as God has commanded in His law. If you love someone, then you must give them due honour and respect their station as God commands in the fifth commandment. If you will love someone, then you must respect their life and seek to preserve it as God has commanded in the sixth commandment. If you love someone then you must seek the preservation of their chastity as God commands in the seventh commandment. If you love someone then you must respect their property as commanded in the eighth commandment. Biblical love means that you protect a person’s name and reputation as commanded in the ninth commandment. And biblical love commands us to have right intentions in our heart toward others as expressed in the tenth commandment.

So you see, dear ones, biblical love is action, and not merely feelings. Biblical love is active even when feelings are not. We can love those that we may not even like. And so we are commanded to love all men in this way. We are to love our neighbors in this way, our family in this way, and even our enemies in this way. But above all, we are to love the Lord’s people as we see in our text here in I John 3:14, and we will if we are converted people.

Christians are bound to love other Christians for they perceive the same grace that is in themselves is in every other Christian as well. When you know that you are an object of the sovereign grace of God, you are necessarily drawn to those who have been saved by the same grace. When we look at other believers and see the image of Christ on them, we cannot but love them. We cannot but love all those that have been loved by Christ. We cannot but love all those that He died for. If we truly love the Lord’s people, then it is a sure mark of Divine and saving grace. Do you love the brethren?

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Because We Love the Brethren

(Article for publication week of 7-22-2009 AD)

“We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.” (I John 3:14).

We come now to consider another indispensable and certain evidence of the new birth, that is love for the Lord’s people. A sinner saved by grace is bound to love other sinners that are saved by grace.

The first thing to which I call your attention is that we may have assurance of our salvation. John says, “we know”. Certain modern day Pharisees teach that no one may have assurance of grace and teach their adherents that all they can do is try to obey the law and “church rules” and do penance and go to confession and a thousand other things and hope, they may one day get out of purgatory. Other false teachers advocate that the best you can do is just “hope” you might be one of God’s elect. On the other hand the proponents of easy believism tell their followers that if they ever “made a decision for Christ” then they need never doubt their salvation. We have known not a few that have imbibed this dangerous doctrine that were living in gross and scandalous sin who had no doubts of their salvation because they had “decided for Christ” or “accepted Jesus”. To all such we give the words of Christ in John 10:27, “my sheep hear my voice and they FOLLOW me.“ The truth is that believers in Christ can have a solid assurance, as our text tells us. We are exhorted in II Peter 1:10 to “give diligence to make our calling and election sure.” II Thessalonians 2:16 tells us we have “a good hope through grace.” We may not be completely delivered from doubts and fears, but we can have a firm assurance of our standing in grace.

Secondly our text speaks of the great drama of salvation. Salvation is passing from “death unto life.” Salvation is nothing less than miraculous. It is so miraculous that its recipients are always amazed that they are Christians. Salvation is a powerful work. It is passing from death unto life. Unconverted persons are like so many walking corpses as dead as a valley of dry bones. (Read Ezekiel 37.) How many suppose themselves Christians who have never had anything happen to them like passing from death unto life. How many we hear who say things like “well I just always loved the Lord” but they can’t relate anything like passing from death unto life. Or how many say they have “accepted Jesus”, but have had no real change in their soul. How many are there who have given some mental assent to the gospel but can relate nothing like passing from death unto life. To all such careless souls we say, “Have you passed from death unto life”?Has salvation come to you in this profound way?

Now my dear ones, if you have passed from death unto life, one way you and others will know it is by your love for others who have passed from death unto life. I will have more on this subject next week, Lord willing.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

That Ye Sin Not

(Article for publication week of 7-15-2009 AD)

My little children, these things I write unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: and he is the propitiation for our sins; and for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” (I John 2:1-2).

One indispensable evidence of a gracious state is that we do not sin as a habit and general course of life (I John 3:9). To such John writes seriously that we sin not. This is a command that a Christian takes seriously. If you are not taking John’s command not to sin seriously, then I doubt very seriously if you are born again. So our text gives us the goal of every heaven born soul, that is not to sin. Dear reader, have you made it your goal and purpose in life to live above sin? If not, I fear for your eternal state.

But not only does John give us the goal of the Christian, not to sin, he also gives us the reality of the Christian life, “if any man sin”. This is the reality that every believer faces that when he would do good, evil is present with him (Romans 7:21). “In many things we offend all” (James 3:2). We are always missing the mark and coming short of the glory of God. We have a plague in our heart that is continually breaking out.

In the face of this reality John gives us the remedy for sinners, Jesus Christ the Righteous. We have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous. Jesus Christ is the sinner’s remedy for his sins in two ways according to our text.

First the Lord Jesus Christ is the sinner’s Substitute. He is the propitiation for our sins. Propitiation is a word that came into use, as I am told by scholars (I am not a scholar myself, but have studied enough to know a scholar), through William Tyndale’s translation of the scriptures into English. It means that the wrath of God has been appeased by the expiation Christ made for believers when he died on the cross. Christ has fully discharged all the debts His people owed to a holy God. For every one that believes in Christ, the just wrath of God has been turned away by the offering of Christ once for all. But if you are not joined to Christ dear friend, you are as Jonathan Edwards put it, a “sinner in the hands of an angry God.”

Secondly, Christ is the believer’s remedy for sin as our Advocate with the Father. If you had to go before the Judge, would you not want a capable advocate? Well, Christ is such an advocate for His people. We have an Advocate who is the Judge’s Son! And he has already paid our fine! The Lord Jesus intercedes in heaven for all those for whom He died (Romans 8:34). Right now in the Court of heaven, the Lord Jesus Christ is reminding His Father that he died for old wretched sinners like Thomas Ray Floyd. And not for me only, but for all who will repent of their sins and believe in Him. Christ is able, willing and ready to advocate for the vilest offender who truly believes. And that my friends is the gospel truth.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Killing Sin

(Article for publication week of 7-8-2009 AD)

“For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.” (Romans 8:13).

Since Christians still have to contend with indwelling sin (Romans 7:17), we are instructed to mortify, or put to death the remaining corruption within us. As one of old commented on this text, “you will either be killing sin, or sin will be killing you.” If you are serious about your eternal soul, you had better get busy mortifying sin.

No person will ever get serious about mortifying sin until they have come to hate sin. Christians hate sin in themselves more than in anyone else. We hate sin because it is an offence to the Thrice Holy God Whom we have come to love. We hate sin because it will be punished in hell. And we hate sin because of all the grief it has brought to ourselves and those we love. But most of all, we hate sin because the Dear Saviour hung on the cross to atone for our sins.

Sin is not something to be petted, but rather to be hated and to be put to death. Our Lord told us that we must be so committed to mortifying sin that we must be willing to part with right eyes and right hands if they lead us to sin (Matthew 5:29-30). As William Cowper expressed it so well in a hymn, “The dearest idol I have known, whate’er that idol be, help me to tear it from its throne, and worship only Thee.”

Now please note with me what we are to do about the corruption within us. We are to mortify it- kill it- put it to death. The text does not tell us to “let go and let God”. No! it says mortify it! It does not say to pray through for a second work of grace or anything like that. We must roll up our sleeves and fight against sin. We find the same truth in Colossians 3:5, “mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth”. This is an exhortation that we ignore to the peril of our souls.

Mortifying sin is like hoeing Bermuda grass in the field. You never can completely kill it, you just have to keep hoeing and working. That is the way sin is. It is so rooted in us that every time we think we are making some progress, it shows itself in another place. Putting sin to death is the lifelong work of a believer. I have heard old, experienced saints express that they are still battling against sin in themselves. And my own experience and the scriptures confirm it.

Thankfully, the text does not leave us helpless. “If ye through the Spirit, do mortify the deeds of the body.” There it is, the help of the Holy Spirit is given to believers to mortify sin. The Holy Spirit does not do it for us, but He helps us in the hard work of mortifying sin. The Holy Spirit indwells all the Lord’s people (John 14:17), and “leads “ them (Romans 8:14). The Holy Spirit continues the good work of grace that he began in regeneration (Philippians 1:6). He is carrying on the good work of sanctification in God’s people. He guides us into the truth of God’s word and illuminates the scriptures that He inspired. We must mortify sin, but the Holy Spirit helps us. And He is a very able and strong Helper indeed.

I pray the Holy Spirit will be your Helper my dear readers, for as our text teaches us, if we are not killing sin, sin will be killing us.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Indwelling Sin Part II

(Article for publication week of 7-1-2009 AD)

“….. sin that dwelleth in me” (Romans 7:17b).

Last week we wrote on the Christian’s struggle with indwelling sin. All Christians know that they have a struggle against the remnants of the old nature that they received from their fallen parent, Adam. All Christians know they have a plague of the heart (I Kings 8:38). They feel themselves to be wretches (Romans 7:24) and the “chief of sinners (I Timothy 1:15). We are not yet perfected, but still have sin indwelling us (also known as the “old man”). This is the experience of every heaven born soul. The feeling of our heart is often, “I am so vile, so full of sin, I fear that I’m not born again.” Dear reader, do you know anything of such conflict in your experience?

Our text here in Romans 7 speaks of this reality. (By the way, I have just begun preaching through Romans 7 here at our church and the messages are available by cd or they may be downloaded at Sermonaudio.com.) But while our text plainly says that sin dwells in believers, it does not say that believers dwell in sin. This is a vast and important distinction. Be sure you get it straight. Sin dwells in a believer, but a believer does not dwell in sin. Multitudes I fear will stumble into perdition considering this point. Many false professors reading in Romans 7, or hearing a man of God preach on the reality of indwelling sin, or hearing some believers relate their experience of conflict of soul, wrongly conclude that since they still love sin, they must be among the elect of God. What a dangerous presumption!

I well remember in the early days of my ministry going to see a church member who was a drunkard. When I confronted him with his sin, he protested that he was saved by grace! I told him that true saving grace does not beget drunkenness. And of course he tried to argue that “well we are all sinners”, a point I never argue with, but simply remind people there are two kinds of sinners. There are sinners who have been saved from sin, hate their sins worse that the sins of others, and are actively mortifying sin. And then there are sinners who are still in their sins, still love their sins, and never fight against the plague of their heart.

You see my dear readers, the truth is like a razor’s edge. It is that narrow. You may be damned by falling off the edge on either side. There is presumption on one side, and despair on the other. You may be damned by self-righteousness, or you may be damned by saying to yourself, “well I am a sinner, but after all those Christians are sinners too, and if they can be saved, then perhaps I can too.” Either way, you will be damned in hell for all eternity unless you confess the plague of your heart and cry out to Jesus to save you from your sins and get serious about forsaking sin.

Remember dear ones, I John 3:9 says, “whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin.” Christians do not habitually sin, even though they always struggle against sin, and find themselves losing ground in their experience. I repeat, sin dwells in believers, but believers do not dwell in sin. Such sober truth leaves us nowhere to go but to Christ, the Saviour of the chief of sinners. I pray many of you may seek and find Him today.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Indwelling Sin

(Article for publication week of 6-24-2009 AD)

“Now it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me” (Romans 7:17).

For the last few weeks we have been dealing with Christians and sin. We have seen from I John 3:9 that Christians do not sin as a habit and course of their lives. The believer in Christ is dead judicially to sin (Romans 6:2) and he is not under the dominion of sin (Romans 6:14). We have believed in Christ to save us from our sins, not to save us in our sins. When the Holy Spirit regenerated us, He imparted to us a new nature. We are partakers of the divine nature (II Peter 1:4). God makes His people new creatures (II Corinthians 5:17).

While we have a new nature which is holy and loves Christ and hates sin, we still have the remnants of the old nature. This is what Paul is talking about here in Romans 7 when he speaks of “sin that dwelleth in me.” At the end of Romans 7 Paul says “”O wretched man that I am” (note well, Paul says that I “am”, not “was’). Paul never thought of himself as anything but a “wretch” and the “chief of sinners” (I Timothy 1:15), nor does any other Christian. We often sing “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me.” This is the experience of the child of God as he traverses this low ground of sin and sorrow. The Christian finds no good thing in his flesh.

Over the years I have heard the Lord’s people and their ministers speak of this reality of indwelling sin by differing words. Some call it “indwelling sin”; some “the old man”; some ‘the old nature”. There are scriptures that justify the use of either of these terms and they all refer to the same thing. That is that Christians are not yet perfected. In His wisdom and grace, God has been pleased to leave these remnants of the old nature in us when He gave us our new nature. This is the reason there is always a struggle in the breast of a believer. When we would do good, “evil is present” with us (Romans 7:21). We are painfully aware of the presence of indwelling sin, and it brings much grief to us. This is the reason God’s people are called “mourners” and “poor and afflicted people”. The new nature desires to love and obey God, but that old nature wants to have its own way. So there is always a conflict and a struggle going on within believers.

While this conflict and struggle is very grievous and painful, it always keeps us coming to Christ and His grace. Perhaps this is one reason our all-wise Father is waiting until glorification to perfect us. The Christian has nowhere to go but to Christ for help with his struggle against sin. And there is grace there to help us in our greatest need. Christ intercedes for us at His Father’s right hand. His wounds plead for us in heaven. The Eternal Son is continually reminding the Eternal Father that he died for us (Romans 8:34; Hebrews 7:25). Christ died for every sin the believer has committed or ever will commit, and He intercedes for us in heaven itself.

There is coming a day when the Christian’s struggle with sin shall cease. It is not by a second work of grace. It is not by letting go and letting God. It is not by a program of victorious living. But it will be when we lay these bodies down and enter into the presence of Christ. And in the resurrection we shall receive new bodies, which will be rid of indwelling sin (I Corinthians 15:54; Romans 8:23). Brethren, let us flee to Christ, and wait patiently until the day of our great change.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Christians Not Under Sin's Dominion

(Article for publication week of 6-17-2009 AD)

“For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law but under grace.” (Romans 6:14).

In Romans chapter six, Paul explains why free grace does not lead to antinomianism. Christians are dead judicially to sin because they are united to Christ Who died to put away their sins and so they cannot continue in sin. In verse fourteen, he says that we are not under the dominion of sin any longer.

I will illustrate it like this. Let us go back in our minds to the time that domestic servitude was practiced in our country. Suppose a slave was owned by a very cruel master. His master overworks him, gives him scanty rations and whips him for the slightest infraction. This is a good picture of what it is like to be lost and under the dominion of sin. Sin is cruel and pays scanty rations. Now suppose this slave is purchased by a kind and good master. He works him moderately, provides for all his needs, and never would whip him. This is a picture of Christ purchasing us in salvation. Now suppose our imaginary slave goes to town and encounters his old master. The old master begins to threaten him. The slave may at first cringe at the sight of the cruel one and in his mind goes back to the days when he was under such cruel dominion. But the old master no longer has dominion over him, and our imaginary slave has every right to tell his old master that he does not belong to him any more. This is the way it is with a Christian. He no longer belongs to the devil, he now belongs to Christ. But the devil may threaten us and even try to get us back into his service. But we have every right to tell him we do not belong to him any more. This is what Paul is teaching us to do in Romans six. We are to remember that we are not under the dominion of sin, but under the dominion of Christ. We are to live like who we are.

Christians are no longer dominated by sin. Sin still vexes us and we have to mortify sin (Romans 8:13), but sin does not dominate us any longer. We are under a completely different dominion, the dominion of grace. Grace is what dominates, controls and motivates a believer. To be saved by grace is to be free from the dominion of sin. We have true liberty being under the dominion of Christ.

To be saved by grace in no way makes a person a libertine. We are under the mastery of Christ and we must do his bidding. To be a Christian is to be a slave to Christ. This is the way the Apostle Paul describes himself in the first verse of Romans, “a servant of Jesus Christ.” The Greek word that is translated “servant“ in Romans 1:1 and most places in the New Testament is “doulos” which more literally means “slave.”

The fact is, all of us are slaves. We are either slaves to sin, the world and the devil, or we are slaves of Jesus Christ. Whose slave are you?

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Christians Dead to Sin

(Article for publication week of 6-10-2009 AD)

“How shall we that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?” (Romans 6:2).

Our text this week is Paul’s answer to the question, “shall we continue in sin?” His answer is a resounding “NO!” “God forbid!” “Absolutely not!” And the first reason he gives is that Christians are dead to sin. What Paul means by being dead to sin is that Christians are “dead’ judicially, in Christ. Paul is not suggesting that Christians no longer have to fight against sin, resist it and mortify it, but rather that our position in Christ is that we are legally dead to sin. We know this for several reasons. First of all, Paul is basing his argument on everything he said in Romans 3:21-5:21 where he declares that salvation is all of free grace and justification as a forensic act declared by God Himself through His Son. Secondly, in verse 11 of chapter 6, Paul exhorts believers to “reckon” themselves “dead” unto sin. If there were not a sin nature remaining in Christians, this exhortation would be useless. Thirdly, in verse 13, he calls upon us to not “yield “ our members to unrighteousness. If we were actually dead to sin as far as it not bothering us, this would again be unneeded. Fourthly, we know that Christians can and do still sin from other scriptures. (See I John 1:8 for example.)

But Christians are judicially “dead” to sin. This means that when Christ died on the cross, we died with Him, representatively, because God’s elect are in Him by election union from eternity (Ephesians 1:4; Colossians 1:1-4). The sins of all who believe in Christ were laid on Him as our substitute and we were represented in His death. The doctrine of justification by imputation (Romans 4) shows that we are dead to sin judicially. All the sins of all God’s chosen elect were transferred to Christ and that debt is forever cancelled by God.

This is one of the most powerful motives for a holy life. In II Corinthians 5:14, we read, “the love of Christ constraineth us.” Christians are also motivated by the fear of God, but as I say the truth of free grace is one of the most powerful motives not to continue in sin. Believers love Christ so much and are so thankful to Him for salvation that they do not want to do anything that Christ finds offense with. We know that it was our sins that nailed the saviour to the tree, and we do not want anything to do with what caused Him to have to suffer and die for us. The person who continues in sin is showing that He has never really believed in Christ and that he is still in His sin. The person that is not motivated by the love of Christ and judicial death in Him is showing that he has not been saved.

Dead to sin! Oh! What a glorious position! Sin no longer has dominion over us (believers in Christ) because the Lord died and we died with him. He was raised from the dead and we were raised with Him. Divine justice has been satisfied by our Surety and our debt is satisfied. We who are dead judicially to sin cannot continue in sin. Thanks be unto God for our position in Christ.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Christians and Sin

(Article for publication week of 6-3-2009 AD)

“Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?” (Romans 6:1).

Last week we took up another vital and indispensable evidence of the New Birth- no habitual sinning (I John 3:9). For the next few weeks we shall consider more of this most important truth in an effort to help our readers determine if they are truly saved.

In our text this week we have a question that has been posed down through the centuries. “Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?” In other words, if we are saved by grace alone, through faith alone in Christ Alone as Paul so gloriously expounds in Romans 3:21-5:21, does that mean we may continue to live in sin?

First of all, we must say that this is a ridiculous question, and if we are asking the question, what is our motive? There have been and still are those among professing Christianity who are antinomian. They say that if we are saved by grace it matters not how we live. There are many in the professing church who want to know how much they can sin and still go to heaven when they die. I fear for the souls of all who think that way.

Then there are others who are opponents of free grace who charge us with being antinomians ourselves because we preach salvation by grace. These legalists say that if you preach free grace then you encourage loose living. Nothing could be further from the truth and this is exactly what Paul is dealing with in Romans chapter 6. A sinner saved by grace is not interested in continuing in sin. He has come to hate his sins and mourn over them and repent of them and he has believed in Christ for salvation from sin.

The Lord Jesus Christ saves His people FROM their sins, not in their sins. Those whom Christ saves are made new creatures in Him. The Holy Spirit has begun a good work in them. They are being sanctified by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. They have been washed in the blood of the Lamb. The blood of Christ has purged their conscience from dead works to serve the living God (Hebrews 9:14).

The professed Christian who continues in habitual sin is showing that his profession is false. There are multitudes all around us who are in this condition. “They profess that they know God, but in works they deny Him’ (Titus 1:16). There are many who profess Christ who are not possessed by Christ. There are many who have joined the church that have never been savingly joined to Christ. Neighbour, it matters not what your profession may be if you are continuing in sin.

Now, Paul answers this question in verse 2 of Romans 6, “God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin live any longer therein?” And that is where we shall take up next week.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

He Cannot Sin

(Article for publication week of 5-27-2009 AD)

“Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for His seed remained in him and he cannot sin, because he is born of God” (I John 3:9).

The scriptures tell us that there are certain and vital evidences of the New Birth. Faith, repentance, conversion and the practice of righteousness we have considered in previous articles. Now we come to another vital and indispensable evidence of regeneration- no habitual sinning.

First of all, we need to understand that our text is not saying that Christians are above sin. Some have erroneously interpreted this text to mean that Christians can reach sinless perfection in this life. But if we compare other texts we will see the error of this interpretation. In I John 1:8 we read, “if we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” The person who says that they have arrived at sinless perfection is simply not facing the truth of this text. They are simply self-deceived. Notice also in I Corinthians 10:31, “whatsoever ye do, whether ye eat or drink, do all to the glory of God.” Anything that we have done that was not solely for God’s glory was sin. Also when we read the model prayer in Matthew 6, we learn to pray, “forgive us our sins”. Christians must continually be confessing sin and begging the Lord for forgiveness. This is the reason our Lord teaches us to pray this way. Also I would set before you Hebrews 12:8, ‘if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards and not sons.” Christians are oft exercised by the chastening hand of God because they are not yet perfected and their heavenly Father corrects them to make them more in His own likeness. The fact that we are chastened shows that we are still imperfect. Further, I would have you consider the way the Lord sums up the moral law in Matthew 22:37-40. There he says the law is summarized under two heads- love God with all our being and love our neighbour as ourselves. Now if we will be honest we must admit that we have not done that. We have come short of the righteousness God requires (Romans 3:23). Also in Isaiah 64:4 we read, “all our righteousness areas filthy rags.” The best you and I have done is filthy before God. So you see those who say they no longer sin are not being honest with all the scriptures say about sin.

So what does our text mean when it says, “he that is born of God doth not commit sin.” Well, first of all it means that the Christian is no longer under the power of sin (Romans 6:14). There was a time when we under the power of sin. But when the Lord saved us, he delivered us from that awful power. We were under the power of darkness, but God transferred us into the kingdom of His dear Son (Colossians 1:13). The Christian is still plagued by indwelling sin (Romans 7:17). He still has to mortify sin with the help of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:13), but sin is not his master any more. He now belongs to a better Master, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Secondly, it means that the Christian has made it his goal to not sin. He is not committed to sin any more. He has made it his goal to live above sin. I John 2:1 says, my little children, these things I write unto you that ye sin not. That is a command the Christian takes seriously. If you are not trying to live above sin, it is doubtful to me whether you are saved. Somebody told Brother Rolfe Barnard once, “Brother Barnard, I can’t live above sin.” His pointed reply was, “ how would you know? You never have tried”!

Thirdly, it means the Christian does not sin as the habit and general course of his life. There was a time when he lived without any regard of what God thought of his actions. But now that he is born again, the Christian considers every action in light of God’s word. Christians often stumble and fall into sin, but they do not stay in it. A just man may fall seven times, but he shall rise again, by God’s grace.

Now my dear friends, I ask you, “are you born again?” Are you still committed to sin? Or, are you committed to holiness? May the Holy Spirit give you the answer.

Monday, May 18, 2009

When Ye Fast

(Article for publication week of 5-20-2009 AD)

“Moreover, when ye fast, be not as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily, I say unto you they have their reward.” (Matthew 6:16).

In Matthew 6:1-18 our Lord teaches us that the practice of righteousness involves three major activities: giving, praying and fasting. As with giving and praying, our Lord does not say “if “ you fast but ‘when “ you fast. So we see that fasting is to be a regular part of the Christian life.

Our Lord taught us fasting by His Own example (Matthew 4:2). The early church practiced fasting (Acts 13:2). Our Lord taught us that urgent prayers should be accompanied by fasting (Matthew 17:21). The Apostle Paul said he was often in fasting (II Corinthians 11:27).

Fasting helps us learn several important things. First of all, we learn from fasting that our eternal souls are more important than our temporal needs. Our Lord quoted Deuteronomy 8:3 to the devil when he tempted Him after His forty day fast: “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeded out of the mouth of God.” It is not that we don’t need bread, but that the word of God is more important. Job said in job 23:12, “ I have esteemed the words of His mouth more than my necessary food.” Natural food is necessary, but not as necessary as the word of God. Our outer man is vanishing away, but our never dying souls are headed into eternity. Fasting helps impress this on out minds.

Another important lesson we learn from fasting is the grace of self-control. Self-control (temperance) is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:23). By giving up a lawful need, we learn to exercise self-control. Proverbs 25:28 tells us, “he that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken, and without walls.” Foregoing a meal, or meals helps us learn this important virtue. Controlling our appetites cultivates temperance in other areas, like the use of our tongues. Now that is an area where we all need help!

James 1:26 says, “if any man among you seem to be religious and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain.” A tongue that is out of control is a sign of a graceless life. The unbridled tongue has disrupted churches, torn apart families, alienated former friends and worked a “world of iniquity.” How our hearts still break over some cruel or indiscreet remark we made that wounded the feelings of others. All of us need to learn to control our tongues more (especially yours truly), and fasting is a great help to us in learning this virtue.

There are many things that are lawful in themselves, but could cause another person to sin. In such things we must be careful not to give unnecessary offence. (By offence, I mean that which could cause another to stumble, not everything that immature people make into an issue.) Our daily food is certainly lawful. An abundance of food and pleasing foods are a blessing from the Lord and should in no way be despised. But a temporary disuse of our lawful food teaches us that there are more important things. May the Lord help us to learn the lesson of self-control.