Ashamed of the Gospel: Book Review

To all of my friends and fellow ministers, I would like to recommend a great book that recently finished. Ashamed of the Gospel by John MacArthur is an excellent argument for the authority of the Word of God and the God-given ministry methods of preaching and teaching all Scripture. Of course, with any book you eat the meat and throw out the bones. However, in this book I found a lot more meat than I found bones. You will not be disappointed.

The book is full of great quotes. Let me leave you with a few of my favorite.

What marvel if, under some men’s shifty talk, people grow into love of both truth and falsehood!

Spiritual and biblical truth is not determined by testing what “works” and what doesn’t. We know from Scripture, for example, that the gospel often does not produce a positive response (1 Cor. 1:22–23; 2:14). On the other hand, Satanic lies and deception can be quite effective (Matt. 24:23–24; 2 Cor. 4:3–4). Majority reaction is no test of validity (cf. Matt. 7:13–14), and prosperity is no measure of truthfulness (cf. Job 12:6). Pragmatism as a guiding philosophy of ministry is inherently flawed. Pragmatism as a test of truth is nothing short of satanic.

“False doctrine and worldliness”—the same two influences Spurgeon attacked—always go hand in hand, with worldliness leading the way.

Real success is not getting results at any cost. It is not prosperity, power, prominence, popularity, or any of the other worldly notions of success. Real success is doing the will of God regardless of the consequences.

So the entire task of the faithful minister revolves around the Word of God—guarding it, studying it, and proclaiming it.

If we concern ourselves with the depth of our ministry, God will see to the breadth of it. If we minister for spiritual growth, numerical growth will take care of itself.

Biblical correctness is the only framework by which we can evaluate ministry methods.

Do you see how the new philosophy necessarily undermines sound doctrine? It discards Jesus’ own methods—preaching and teaching—as the primary means of ministry.

There is no danger of irrelevant doctrine; the real threat is an undoctrinal attempt at relevance.

Now observe, brethren, if I, or you, or any of us, or all of us, shall have spent our lives merely in amusing men, or educating men, or moralizing men, when we shall come to give our account at the last great day we shall be in a very sorry condition, and we shall have but a very sorry record to render; for of what avail will it be to a man to be educated when he comes to be damned? Of what service will it be to him to have been amused when the trumpet sounds, and heaven and earth are shaking, and the pit opens wide her jaws of fire and swallows up the soul unsaved? Of what avail even to have moralized a man if still he is on the left hand of the judge, and if still, “Depart, ye cursed,” shall be his portion?

The threefold response of that day—contempt, curiosity, and conversion—is typical whenever the gospel is faithfully preached.

If we forget that it is God’s prerogative to give results when the gospel is preached, we shall start to think that it is our responsibility to secure them. And if we forget that only God can give faith, we shall start to think that the making of converts depends, in the last analysis, not on God, but on us, and that the decisive factor is the way in which we evangelize. And this line of thought, consistently followed through, will lead us far astray.

“Jesus Christ said He would build his church, and I don’t want to be in competition with Him.”

The first step astray is a want of adequate faith in the divine inspiration of the sacred Scriptures.

Brethren, we shall not adjust our Bible to the age; but before we have done with it, by God’s grace, we shall adjust the age to the Bible.

Men are perishing, and if it be impolite to tell them so, it can only be so where the devil is the master of the ceremonies.

Marching Orders: 3

Part 3 of 4

In the first post I gave three orders given by the Apostle Paul to the Church at the end of the Church age (Hebrew 10:22-25).  Each order begins with the words “let us”.

1. Let us draw near.

2. Let us hold fast.

3. Let us consider one another.

In part two of this series, we looked at the first of these orders.

In part three, let’s look at the second order.  Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised).

Photo by Ben Fredericson

Jude 1:3 …ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.

Every generation (and each individual) has a responsibility to the Truth; a responsibility to seek Truth, a responsibility to contend for Truth, and a responsibility to hold fast to Truth.

I am going to be very hesitant any time someone decides that we don’t need something that was preached and taught by the generations preceding us.  I have to believe that if a doctrine/teaching was accepted and practiced by the majority of a generation, there must have been a good reason behind it.  Like anyone else in my generation, I want to know “Why?” but I start from the position of believing there is a reason.

Buy the truth, and sell [it] not…

The Bible is the inspired and preserved Word of God…Hold Fast!

There is only one God (Deuteronomy 6:4).  He has revealed Himself to humanity as the Father (Creator), in the son (Savior), and as the Holy Ghost (indwelling Spirit)…Hold Fast!

All men are guilty of sin (Romans 3:23) and the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23)…Hold Fast!

Man must repent, be baptized in the name of Jesus for the remission of sin’s and receive the promise of the Holy Ghost with the evidence of speaking in other tongues (Acts 2:38)…Hold Fast!

We are called to live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world (Titus 2:12) and empowered to do so by the Holy Ghost (Acts 1:8)…Hold Fast!

Jesus Christ is coming back to earth in bodily form, just as He went away (Acts 1:11). He will catch away a holy people (His bride, His church) who have accepted redemption through His blood, by birth of water and of the Spirit, and who are found faithful when He comes…Hold Fast!

To these and every Truth of the Word of God…Hold Fast!

Warriors of Morning Hold Fast to the Faith!

One Generation From Extinction

Former President Ronald Reagan on Freedom:  “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.”

There is quite a bit packed into those three sentences!  Each generation enjoys the fruits of the generation preceding them, yet each generation must determine the value of that fruit and the cost of its seed if it is to last.  This is not just true of freedom, it is also true of the Truth.

Photo by psychbird

Just like freedom, Truth is always one generation from extinction!  (Caveat: Truth will prevail and God will always have a Church, I am applying this to a particular group whether that be church, family, etc.) 

There were 10 generation from Adam to Noah (Genesis 5).  However, there was only 1 living generation separating the two!  Noah’s father, Lamech, would have been 58 when Adam died.  It is very likely that Noah’s father spent time with the man who walked in the garden with God.  Afterall, Adam was his Great, Great, Great, Great, Great, Great Grandfather.  Yet one (living) generation later, Noah is the only man found righteous in God’s eyes!

Judges 2:7,10  “And the people served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great works of the LORD, that he did for Israel… and there arose another generation after them, which knew not the LORD, nor yet the works which he had done for Israel.”

This is another startling example!  The generation of elders had witnessed all the miracles.  They were there when God made passage through the Jordan River.  They were there when the Jericho walls came crashing down.  They were there when Joshua prayed and the sun stood still.  But the generation after them did not personally know of these great miracles, let alone the God who did them.

We must diligently pass this Truth on to the next generation! (Deut. 6)

The Danger of Mining Foundations

This month’s issue of Wired Magazine includes an interesting article about a little town in Oklahoma called Picher.  The article is titled Welcome to Armageddon, USAIt tells the incredible story of a once thriving city; a city that died because of its hollow foundation.

“Picher sprang up as a 20th-century boomtown – the “buckle” of the mining belt that ran through Oklahoma, Kansas, and Missouri.  The earth underneath it produced most of the lead for US bullets in World Wars I and II.  The population peaked at 14,000 in 1926.  But when the lode ran dry in 1970, the mining companies moved out. 

Downtown Picher, OK by Sooner4Life

One-third of all houses in Picher are undermined by massive voids.  Sinkholes are a major problem; the city is literally swallowing itself.  “The water pumps were shut off when the mines closed; their subterranean chambers refilled with groundwater and leaked acid into nearby Tar Creek, threatening the town’s drinking water.  Kids started coming home from swimming in ponds near the mines complaining of what they thought were sunburns, never realizing that the pools were full of caustic chemicals.”

The police department has disbanded.  The schools have closed.  The government has dissolved.  Picher is a dead city.  Very few people still live in Picher, and they are considered radicals.  One of these radicals, John Garner, says that he will continue to live in Picher and keep the town alive.  All of this despite the dangerous levels of poison in the air and water and the dangers of looters who come to disrupt the peace.  But even Garner recognizes the biggest problem is that “there is no next generation…looking to carry on the fight.”

As I read this story, I thought of the spiritual implications of mining our foundation.  If we do, we will find ourselves in the same situation as Picher, OK.  We will be full of sinkholes.  People will leave by hundreds and the thousands.  Our children will be poisoned.  And ultimately, we will find ourselves fighting for something that has no chance to live because there will be no next generation looking to carry on the fight.