Royal Preparation

Bible intake is a means of grace only afforded this side of heaven.  For when we die we will be face to face with the Word himself.  Redeem the time and prepare yourself to know your King.

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.  Ephesians 5:15-16

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Paid Loafers and Social Parasites

Below is a quote concerning how a gospel preacher should spend his time.  He is to devote himself to the full labor of study, prayer, and preaching.  I find myself agreeing with the quote, but stopping to give pause to this one sentence:

If we devote ourselves to this labor, there will be little time or energy for other things.

Now, it is true, lazy preachers that milk the pulpit for monetary gain, and neglect their duty of being a workman for God are in err.  But my question is how far is this to go?  The quote seems to imply that a gospel preacher is to have no to very, very little recreation time.  A work ethic of this nature would seem to inevitably lead a gospel preacher down the road to a ruined family, and a burned out ministry.

What do you think (especially my minister friends)?  Is an 8 to 5 mindset right, studying with a purpose during these hours so you can have family time, recreation time, etc. the right path?  Or should you be devoting yourselves to this labor so that “there will be little time or energy for other things?

I would also like to hear how you have struck the balance and weighed the issue as well (I have an idea in my head on what the right path should be, but I would like to hear your input nonetheless).

“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15

It is easy for preachers to become paid loafers and social parasites, wasting their days in pleasure, recreation, and bumming around with open palms and an expectant look. Sadly, the religious hucksters and hirelings of the world have earned their reputation. Let no gospel preacher do so!

The pastor has no boss within sight. He is not required to keep regular office hours. And no one checks up on him to be sure he is working. That is as it should be. Yet, the very fact that a church treats her pastor as she should, makes it possible for the pastor to abuse his office, neglect his work, give himself to idleness, or to providing luxuries for himself and his family; when he should give himself relentlessly to study, and prayer, and preaching. If we devote ourselves to this labor, there will be little time or energy for other things.

What Is It To Be A Christian (Part 3)

What is it to be a Christian?

3. To be a Christian–is to be a follower or imitator of Christ.

“He left us an example–that we should follow His steps!” 1 Peter 2:21

Christ is the model for every Christian.

Paul tells us that believers will be conformed to His image, Romans 8:29; and that the same mind must be in us–which was also in Christ Jesus. Phil. 2:5.

Christ’s heart glowed with love to His Father! He delighted in universal obedience to Him; it was His food and drink to do the Father’s will, even in the most painful and self-denying instances! He abounded in devotion, in prayer, meditation and every pious duty.

He was also full of every grace and virtue towards mankind! He was meek and humble, kind and benevolent, just and charitable, merciful and compassionate towards all.
Beneficence to the souls and bodies of men was the business of His life; for He went about doing good. Acts 10:38.

In regard to Himself–He was patient and resigned–and yet undaunted and brave under sufferings. He had all His appetites and passions under proper government. He was heavenly-minded; above this world in heart–while He dwelt in it.

This is an imperfect sketch of His amiable character; and in these things every one who deserves to be called after His name, does in some measure resemble and imitate Him. This is not only his earnest endeavor–but what he actually attains, though in a much inferior degree; and his imperfections are the grief of his heart.

This resemblance and imitation of Christ is essential to the very being of a Christian, and without it, all profession is a vain pretense!

Does your Christianity, my friends, stand this test? May one know that you belong to Christ–by your living like Him, and manifesting the same temper and spirit?

Alas! would not some of you with more propriety be called:
Epicureans–from Epicurus, the sensual atheistic philosopher; or 
Mammonites–
from Mammon, the imaginary god of riches; or 
Bacchanalians–
from Bacchus, the god of wine; rather than 
Christians
–from Christ, the most perfect pattern of living holiness and virtue that was ever exhibited in the world!

If you claim the name of Christians–then where is . . .
that ardent devotion,
that affectionate love to God,
that zeal for His glory,
that alacrity in His service,
that resignation to His will,
that generous benevolence to mankind,
that zeal to promote their best interests,
that meekness and forbearance under ill usage,
that unwearied activity in doing good to all,
that self-denial and heavenly-mindedness
which shown so conspicuous in Christ, whose holy name you bear?

Alas! while you are destitute of those graces–and yet wear his name–you only mock it, and turn it into a reproach both to Him and yourselves!

Whoever claims to live in Him–must walk as Jesus did.” 1 John 2:6

New Word: Bindlestiff

bindlestiff |ˈbindlˌstif|
noun
a tramp or a hobo, esp. one carrying a bundle containing a bedroll and other gear.

I like learning new words.  I don’t know why but I just do.  The only problem with this is that upon learning the new word I tend to use the word over and over (usually out of context – an example would be, “Wow! That supper was bindlestiff!”) essentially running the new word into the ground.

Does anyone else find themselves doing this?

What Is It To Be A Christian (Part 2)

What is it to be a Christian?

2. To be a Christian–is to deny yourselves and take up the cross and follow Christ. These are the terms of discipleship fixed by Christ Himself:  “He said to them all: If any man will come after Me–let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me!” Luke 9:23

To deny ourselves, is to abstain from the pleasures of sin, to moderate our sensual appetites, to deny our own interest for the sake of Christ. In short, it is to sacrifice everything inconsistent with our duty to Him, when these come in competition.

To take up our cross, is to bear sufferings, to encounter difficulties, and break through them all–in imitation of Jesus Christ, and for His sake.

To follow Christ, is to trace His steps, and imitate His example, whatever it costs us.

This is the essential character of every true Christian.

What then shall we think of those crowds among us, who retain the Christian name–and yet will not deny themselves of their sensual pleasures, nor part with their temporal interest, for the sake of Christ? Who are so far from being willing to lay down their lives, that they cannot stand the force of a laugh or a sneer for the cause of Christ–but immediately stumble and fall away?

Are they Christians–whom the commands of Christ cannot restrain from what their depraved hearts desire? No! A Christian, without self-denial, mortification, and a supreme love to Jesus Christ–is as great a contradiction as . . .
fire without heat,
a sun without light,
a hero without courage,
or a friend without love!

Does not this strip some of you of the Christian name, and prove that you have no right at all to it?

What Is It To Be A Christian (Part 1)

My next couple of posts will be a three part post that breaks down some key markers of a true Christian.  These three markers come from a sermon preached by Samuel Davies entitled The Sacred Import of the Christian Name.  The three point outline looks like this:
1.  To be a Christian–is to depart from iniquity.
2.  To be a Christian–is to deny yourselves and take up the cross and follow Christ.
3.  To be a Christian–is to be a
follower or imitator of Christ.

What is it to be a Christian?

1. To be a Christian–is to depart from iniquity. To this, the name obliges us; and without this we have no right to the name. “Let every one who names the name of Christ–depart from iniquity!” 2 Timothy 2:19. That is, let him depart from iniquity–or not even dare to take that sacred name!

Christ was perfectly free from sin–He was “holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners.” His followers also shall be perfectly free from sin–in a little time! Before long, they will enter into the pure regions of perfect holiness, and will drop all their sins, along with their mortal bodies–into the grave!

But this, alas! is not their character in the present state–but the remains of sin still cleave to them! Yet even in the present state, they are laboring after perfection in holiness. Nothing can satisfy them–until they are fully conformed to the image of God’s dear Son!

They are hourly conflicting with every temptation, and vigorously resisting every iniquity in its most alluring forms. And, though sin is perpetually struggling for the mastery, and sometimes, in an inadvertent hour, gets an advantage over them–yet, they are assisted with divine grace, so that no sin has any habitual dominion over them. Romans 6:14.

Hence they are free from the gross vices of the age–and are men of good morals. This is their habitual, universal character; and to pretend to be Christians without this prerequisite, is the greatest absurdity!

What then shall we think of the debauched, defrauding, worldly, profligate, profane ‘Christians’, who have overrun the Christian world? Can there be a greater contradiction?

A loyal subject in arms against his sovereign;
an ignorant scholar;
a sober drunkard,
a charitable miser;
an honest thief–
are not greater absurdities, or more direct contradictions!

To depart from iniquity–is essential to Christianity, and without it there can be no such thing as a Christian!

There was nothing that Christ was so remote from–as sin! And therefore, for those that indulge themselves in sin–and yet to wear His name, is just as absurd and ridiculous as for an illiterate dunce to call himself a university professor!

Therefore, if you will not renounce iniquity–then renounce the Christian name! You cannot consistently retain both!

Alexander the Great had a fellow in his army who had his same name–but was a mere coward. “Either be like me,” said Alexander to him, “or lay aside my name!”

You servants of sin, it is in vain for you to wear the name of Christ! It renders you the more ridiculous, and only aggravates your guilt! You may with as much propriety call yourselves ‘princes’ or ‘kings’; as ‘Christians’, while you are so unlike Christ!

You are a scandal to His precious name!

The Truth Of The Cross

The Truth of the Cross is a 167 page book written by R.C. Sproul.  The book is divided up into ten chapters with the first nine chapters dealing with the atonement and the tenth chapter being written in a question/answer model.

This is a great book if you are looking for a high octane dose of theology that is orthodox in teaching and very easy to understand.  This is classic Sproul arguing eloquently for the biblical doctrine of the atonement.  If you have read his work The Holiness of God you have tasted some of what he touches on in this work.

Sproul starts in Chapter 1 by looking at our need for an atonement and builds upon this thesis with the subsequent chapters of the book.  Sproul states, “If we are defective  in understanding the character of God or understanding the nature of sin, it is inevitable that we will come to the conclusion that an atonement was not necessary.”  Chapter 2 (The Just God) and Chapter 3 (Debtors, Enemies, and Criminals) works this theology out further.  The necessity of an atonement is needed because God is holy and man is unholy.  “Thus,” Sproul writes, “the necessity for the atonement of Christ finds it genesis, . . . in the character of God.  Because He is holy and righteous, He cannot excuse sin.  Rather He must pass judgement on it.  The judge of all the earth must do right.  Therefore, He must punish sinners–or provide a way to atone for their sin.”

From there Sproul goes on to explain why Christ became our penal substitute.  And how, as our substitute, he took the full measure of God’s wrath that was duly ours (Chapter 5 – The Saving Substitute).  He then explains how this happened in Chapter 6 (Made Like His Brethren).  We can only be made righteous and have fellowship with God through the atoning work of the God who became man.  It is the God-man, Jesus Christ, who mediates us to God and placates his wrath.

The chapters mentioned above were some of my favorite chapters, but again the whole book is a very worthy read.  I highly recommend the book to you.