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If, at mid-day, we either look down to the ground, or on the surrounding objects which lie open to our view, we think ourselves endued with a very strong and piercing eyesight; but when we look up to the sun, and gaze at it unveiled, the sight which did excellently well for the earth is instantly so dazzled and confounded by the refulgence, as to oblige us to confess that our acuteness in discerning terrestrial objects is mere dimness when applied to the sun. Thus too, it happens in estimating our spiritual qualities. So long as we do not look beyond the earth, we are quite pleased with our own righteousness, wisdom, and virtue; we address ourselves in the most flattering terms, and seem only less than demigods. But should we once begin to raise our thoughts to God, and reflect what kind of Being he is, and how absolute the perfection of that righteousness, and wisdom, and virtue, to which, as a standard, we are bound to be conformed, what formerly delighted us by its false show of righteousness will become polluted with the greatest iniquity; what strangely imposed upon us under the name of wisdom will disgust by its extreme folly; and what presented the appearance of virtuous energy will be condemned as the most miserable impotence. So far are those qualities in us, which seem most perfect, from corresponding to the divine purity.

Calvin, J. (1997). Institutes of the Christian Religion. Book 1, Chapter 1, Section 2. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

To conclude, in one word; as often as we call God the Creator of heaven and earth, let us remember that the distribution of all the things which he created are in his hand and power, but that we are his sons, whom he has undertaken to nourish and bring up in allegiance to him, that we may expect the substance of all good from him alone, and have full hope that he will never suffer us to be in want of things necessary to salvation, so as to leave us dependent on some other source; that in everything we desire we may address our prayers to him, and, in every benefit we receive, acknowledge his hand, and give him thanks; that thus allured by his great goodness and beneficence, we may study with our whole heart to love and serve him.

~ Institutes of the Christian Religion, Book 1, Chapter 14, Part 22, by John Calvin

On the Roman Catholic Church and its defense of idols (or icons if you prefer that term):

John, deputy of the Eastern Churches, said, “God created man in his own image,” and thence inferred that images ought to be used. He also thought there was a recommendation of images in the following passage, “Show me thy face, for it is beautiful.” Another, in order to prove that images ought to be placed on altars, quoted the passage, “No man, when he has lighted a candle, putteth it under a bushel.” Another, to show the utility of looking at images, quoted a verse of the Psalms “The light of thy countenance, O Lord, has shone upon us.” Another laid hold of this similitude: As the Patriarchs used the sacrifices of the Gentiles, so ought Christians to use the images of saints instead of the idols of the Gentiles. They also twisted to the same effect the words, “Lord, I have loved the beauty of thy house.” But the most ingenious interpretation was the following, “As we have heard, so also have we seen;” therefore, God is known not merely by the hearing of the word, but also by the seeing of images. Bishop Theodore was equally acute: “God,” says he, “is to be admired in his saints;” and it is elsewhere said, “To the saints who are on earth;” therefore this must refer to images. In short, their absurdities are so extreme that it is painful even to quote them.

~ Institutes of the Christian Religion, Book 1, Chapter 11, Part 14, by John Calvin

Were one, with the view of turning the defenders of images into ridicule, to put words into their mouths, could they be made to utter greater and grosser absurdities? But to put an end to all doubt on the subject of images, Theodosius Bishop of Mira confirms the propriety of worshipping them by the dreams of his archdeacon, which he adduces with as much gravity as if he were in possession of a response from heaven. Let the patrons of images now go and urge us with the decree of this Synod, as if the venerable Fathers did not bring themselves into utter discredit by handling Scripture so childishly, or wresting it so shamefully and profanely.

~ Institutes of the Christian Religion, Book 1, Chapter 11, Part 15, by John Calvin

Oh, SNAP!

But herein appears the shameful ingratitude of men. Though they have in their own persons a factory where innumerable operations of God are carried on, and a magazine stored with treasures of inestimable value—instead of bursting forth in his praise, as they are bound to do, they, on the contrary, are the more inflated and swelled with pride. They feel how wonderfully God is working in them, and their own experience tells them of the vast variety of gifts which they owe to his liberality. Whether they will or not, they cannot but know that these are proofs of his Godhead, and yet they inwardly suppress them. They have no occasion to go farther than themselves, provided they do not, by appropriating as their own that which has been given them from heaven, put out the light intended to exhibit God clearly to their minds. At this day, however, the earth sustains on her bosom many monster minds—minds which are not afraid to employ the seed of Deity deposited in human nature as a means of suppressing the name of God. Can any thing be more detestable than this madness in man, who, finding God a hundred times both in his body and his soul, makes his excellence in this respect a pretext for denying that there is a God? He will not say that chance has made him differ from the brutes that perish; but, substituting nature as the architect of the universe, he suppresses the name of God. The swift motions of the soul, its noble faculties and rare endowments, bespeak the agency of God in a manner which would make the suppression of it impossible, did not the Epicureans, like so many Cyclops, use it as a vantage-ground, from which to wage more audacious war with God. Are so many treasures of heavenly wisdom employed in the guidance of such a worm as man, and shall the whole universe be denied the same privilege? To hold that there are organs in the soul corresponding to each of its faculties, is so far from obscuring the glory of God, that it rather illustrates it. Let Epicurus tell what concourse of atoms, cooking meat and drink, can form one portion into refuse and another portion into blood, and make all the members separately perform their office as carefully as if they were so many souls acting with common consent in the superintendence of one body.

~ Institutes of the Christian Religion, Book 1, Chapter 5, Part 4, by John Calvin

How wicked is man to use the body that God gave us, and the breath with which He provides us life to claim not only that He does not exist, but that if He were to exist as the Bible describes that He is wicked and evil when compared to the consciences of men.

“The missionary must seek nothing for himself: no seat of honour, no report of fame. Like the cab-horses in London, he must wear blinkers and be blind to every danger and to every snare and conceit. He must be content to suffer, to die and be forgotten.”

~ Count Zinzendorf

Every time we look at the cross Christ seems to say to us, “I am here because of you. It is your sin I am bearing, your curse I am suffering, your debt I am paying, your death I am dying.” Nothing in history or in the universe cuts us down to size like the cross. All of us have inflated views of ourselves, especially in self-righteousness, until we have visited a place called Calvary. It is here, at the foot of the cross that we shrink to our true size.

~ John Stott (1921-2011)

Today John Stott went home to be with His Creator, Savior, and friend. Knowing this, we mourn not as those without hope, but rejoice – knowing that we will share in his joy in our eventual transition to glory. That is our hope, and Jesus – our shared confidence.

HT: Challies

“There are many of us that are willing to do great things for the Lord, but few of us are willing to do little things.”

~ D.L. Moody

You don’t need to go to India or Iraq or Morocco to serve Christ. Serve Him in your community. Serve Him in your church. Serve Him in your family. Sometimes the biggest thing is the littlest thing. Just serve Christ.

The Baptist Confession of Faith (1689)

Chapter 15: Repentance and Salvation

  1. Those of the elect who are converted in riper years, having lived some time in the state of nature, and in this state served various lusts and pleasures, God gives repentance which leads to life, through an effectual call.

    to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,

    Titus 3:2-5

  2. Because there is not one person who does good and commits no sin, and because the best of men may fall into great sins and provocations through the power and deceitfulness of their own indwelling corruption and the prevalency of temptation, God has mercifully provided in the covenant of grace that when believers sin and fall they shall be renewed through repentance to salvation.

    Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins.

    Eccles. 7:20

    “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”

    Luke 22:31-32

  3. Saving repentance is an evangelical grace by which a person who is made to feel, by the Holy Spirit, the manifold evils of his sin, and being given faith in Christ, humbles himself over his sin with godly sorrow, detestation of his sin and self-abhorrency. In such repentance the person also prays for pardon and strength of grace, and has a purpose and endeavour, by supplies of the Spirit’s power, to walk before God and to totally please Him in all things.

    “And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that, when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn.

    Zech 12:10

    Then you will remember your evil ways, and your deeds that were not good, and you will loathe yourselves for your iniquities and your abominations.

    Ezek. 36:31

    6 Then I shall not be put to shame,
    having my eyes fixed on all your commandments.

    Ps. 119:6

    128 Therefore I consider all your precepts to be right;
    I hate every false way.

    Ps. 119:128

    When they heard these things they fell silent. And they glorified God, saying, “Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life.”

    Acts 11:18

    For see what earnestness this godly grief has produced in you, but also what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what punishment! At every point you have proved yourselves innocent in the matter.

    2 Cor. 7:11

  4. As repentance is to be continued through the whole course of our lives, on account of the body of death, and the motions of it, it is therefore every man’s duty to repent of his particular known sins particularly.

    And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.”

    Luke 19:8

    though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.

    1 Tim. 1:13-15

  5. Such is the provision which God has made through Christ in the covenant of grace for the preservation of believers in the way of salvation, that although even the smallest sin deserves damnation, yet there is no sin great enough to bring damnation on those who repent. This makes the constant preaching of repentance necessary.

    For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

    Rom. 6:23

    Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean;
    remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes;
    cease to do evil,
    learn to do good;
    seek justice,
    correct oppression;
    bring justice to the fatherless,
    plead the widow’s cause.

    “Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord:
    though your sins are like scarlet,
    they shall be as white as snow;
    though they are red like crimson,
    they shall become like wool.

    Isa. 1:16-18

    let the wicked forsake his way,
    and the unrighteous man his thoughts;
    let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him,
    and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.

    Isa. 55:7

Hmm… no “every head bowed and every eye closed” recitation of a pamphlet prayer here either. I couldn’t find one in scripture…

Still looking for it…

Any questions?

HT: Parchment and Pen on the difference between Christianity and other religions in a nutshell

This is a mildly edited (new links) repost fro Feb of 2008. Enjoy!

The issue really comes down to what do you do with Jesus, as a God and a man who bore the sins of the world. The questions that often are pressed are:

  1. Why would Jesus have to die?
  2. What purpose did this serve?
  3. What does it mean to me?
  4. What am I to do with it?

Jesus had to die to fulfill the commandment that was left to Moses in the order of sacrifice for the covering of sins. Jesus, as a perfect lamb and as a perfect priest was the only one who could not only perform this sacrifice but is the only sacrifice who was truly perfect. He was born of a woman and which made him a man but was born of the Spirit and which defined Him as God. Any sacrifice prior was tainted by the fall of creation and not capable of being perfect enough to fulfill the needs of the law.

Jesus was also the perfect priest. He didn’t have to perform any sacrifices before His own sacrifice for cleansing and, as He had never sinned, He never had to become purified – He was pure from the start (Hebrews 4:14-5:10). The purpose of the temple sacrifices was to COVER sins, and was never meant to forgive them. In the Garden, God killed the first animal as a sign of what was necessary to cover their shame and make clothing for them. This continued through the Mosaic covenant until the time of Jesus when Jesus’ sacrifice rendered it useless. There was no more need for the sacrifices to continue as the ultimate price had been paid.

When Christ breathed His last, the 6″ thick veil in the temple that separated the Holy of Holies from the rest of the temple (Matthew 27:50-51; Mark 15:37-38; John 19:23). There was no more need to have a separation from the people to God and they had access to the inner rooms of God through prayer but that prayer had to come through Jesus Christ. In Jesus’ resurrection we are promised that our sins ARE forgiven and that we too will rise again to serve God in the Kingdom to come.

The biggest issue is that people don’t think they are sinners. If you ask anyone on the street you’ll find that they all believe that they are genuinely good people and will often compare themselves to other people to prove how good they are. How good are they compared to God? God was kind enough to give us a perfect example of what His requirements are for us to walk into Heaven in the 10 Commandments. When you compare yourself against that are you able to say that you are worthy of Heaven? Have you ever lied? Have you ever stolen anything? It says “do not commit adultery” but Jesus said “But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart”. Has God always been first in your life? Have you ever used the name of the God who created you and gave you life as a curse word or to express disgust? Breaking even one of these commandments will condemn you to hell for all eternity (James 2:10).

He HAS provided us with a way out of this but we have to be willing to abandon all that we are in order to turn directly to Him in repentance and in faith (a href=”http://www.gnpcb.org/esv/search/?q=Mk+1%3A14-15″ target=_blank>Mark 1:14-15). First we need to admit to God that we are unable to do this on our own and that we are slaves to our sinfulness. Once we do that and ask God to forgive us for breaking his perfect laws, we ask God to take over our lives, to give us new hearts and new desires and have the old man that we were pass away and have God crush the men that we were so that He can create a new creation within us to serve Him alone. That is the process of salvation. There are no promises of new cars or of great wealth, only that God will provide what you need to do what it is that He’s presented you with and that He will never abandon you. After I see what God has done with the wretched waste of breath I had been into the man that I am today I can only thank God that His Word is true and for the sacrifice of His Son on the cross because without that I am nothing and I am lost.

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(e.g., John 1 or God's love)

The Ultimate Statistic