Author: Charles Heck

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J.C. Ryle, On Christians Contending Against One Another

See the source image“How painfully true it is that in every age divisions have been the scandal of religion, and the weakness of the Church of Christ. How often Christians have wasted their strength in contending against their brethren, instead of contending against sin and the devil. How repeatedly they have given occasion to the world to say, “When you have settled your own internal differences we will believe.” (J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on the Gospel of John, Vol. 3)

Just In Case You Missed It – May 8-19, 2018

  1. 7 Marks of a Good Apology vs. 8 Marks of a Bad Apology” by Brad Hambrick (Gentle Reformation).
  2. Guidelines for Conversations About Race in the Church” by David Appelt (The Reformed Collective). Some needed counsel for a hotly debated issue in the modern church.
  3. Leaving Our Century for a While: Why I Read Christian Biographies” by John Piper (Desiring God). Another article on why Christians should know their past.
  4. Should I Stay Home from Church When Life Gets Hard?” by Eric Davis (Cripplegate). Beth Moore’s unfortunate tweet that counseling struggling mothers to stay home from church on Mother’s Day is countered graciously and biblically with this article.
  5. When Do You Stop Counseling?” By Deepak Reju (9Marks).

Q/A Friday: How Can We Recognize a Genuine Revival?

A revival occurs when a person or group of persons isolate themselves from the apathy around them and commit themselves under the guidance of the Holy Spirit to live differently in light of that recovered doctrine. Many people think of a revival as an evangelistic crusade, but a revival is more. Revivals do not start in the world (under a tent or in an arena); revival starts with God’s people seeing their sin for what it is (e.g., the Jews in Ezra 10).

We can identify a revival as having the following 6 characteristics.

  1. Revivals result in God visiting His people in a way they have not recently experienced. For example, on New Year’s Eve 1739, John Wesley, George Whitefield, and some of their friends held a “love feast” which became a watch night of prayer to see the New Year in. At about 3 a.m., Wesley wrote, “The power of God came mightily upon us, insomuch that many cried for exceeding joy, and many fell to the ground.” They felt as if God was personally visiting them in a unique way that they become both fearful and joyful. Revivals always begin with a restoration of the sense of the closeness of the Holy One. Thus, people get on their knees; they pray.
  2. Revivals elevate one’s esteem for Jesus and the cross. Jonathan Edwards called this one of the distinguishing marks of true revival. For the Christian, the person of Christ is an unavoidable reality but during revival this mark consumes him. Edwards wrote about this in his work The Distinguishing Marks of a Work of the Spirit of God. He says, “The person to whom the Spirit gives testimony and for whom He raises their esteem must be Jesus – the one who appeared in the flesh. No other Christ can stand in his place. No mystical, fantasy Christ! No light within – as the spirit of Quakers extols – can diminish esteem of a dependence upon an outward Christ. The Spirit who gives testimony for this historical Jesus and leads to Him can be no other than the Spirit of God.” (pg. 30)
  3. Revivals wage war against any interest of Satan’s kingdom. Again, Edwards says this is a distinguishing mark of true revival. Revivals don’t eliminate sin, but they do fight against it. When revival comes, people are struck by their sin and awake from their sinful slumber. They get on the offensive when it comes to battling sin. They don’t wait for sin to crouch at their door; they attack it before it invades their life.
  4. Revivals cause a deeper love and affection for the Bible. Since the days of sola Scriptura and the Reformation, the Bible has been vandalized in too many different ways. During revival, the Word of God is not vandalized but prized by all. And the product of such affection is absolute obedience. A.W. Tozer once asked, “Have you noticed how much praying for revival has been going on of late – and how little revival has resulted? I believe the problem is that we have been trying to substitute praying for obeying, and it simply will not work. To pray for revival while ignoring the plain precept laid down in Scripture is to waste a lot of words and get nothing for our trouble. Prayer will become effective when we stop using it as a substitute for obedience.”
  5. Revivals invite fresh love for the Gospel as never before. The sense of God’s nearness creates an overwhelming awareness of one’s own sins and sinfulness, and so the power of the cleansing blood of Christ is greatly appreciated. Thus, as God’s people love the Gospel for themselves, they can’t help but preach it to others.
  6. Revivals stir up repentance. This is a natural outflow of one’s understanding of their sin and the power of the Gospel. Repentance results in restitution.

When revivals happen, the Spirit works fast, godliness multiplies, Christians mature, and converts appear.

If you have a question you would like to submit to our blog to be answered in the future, please email it to charlesheck@cox.net or post your question in the comments section.

Free Online Bible Training (College and Seminary Level)

What a great age we live in where you can take courses online for free that most Bible students in a Christian college or seminary students would be taking? And all the below classes I will reference are FREE!

How about taking Biblical eldership with John Piper?

How about taking Christian ethics with John Feinberg?

How about taking expository preaching with John MacArthur and Steve Lawson?

How about taking Greek with Bill Mounce?

How about taking the life of Christ with Darrell Bock?

How about taking marriage and family counseling with John Street?

How about taking systematic theology with Bruce Ware?

All of these class and so many more are available for FREE! Just click on any of the above links and you will either end up at Biblicaltraining.org or Theologicalresources.org.

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Internal Adornment: Part 8

This is Week 8 of our series in the Beatitudes, where we have been addressing the internal righteousness that God looks for. These Beatitudes were given to help us address the issues in our heart and not just the external conformity to laws and regulation.

Today, we consider this – “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God” (Mathew 5:9).

Peacemaking is not pursuing “peace at any price.” It does not include compromise. It is not being laid back or passive.

Peacemaking is not accepting “anything that avoids trouble.” If you take a smooth path instead of a rocky one, you are not a peacemaker. It doesn’t mean we avoid conflict at all costs. Some conflict is loving and necessary (e.g., rebuking a sin).

Peacemaking is not some New Age form of inner peace. Peace is not attained at by emptying your mind and finding your inner karma.

Peacemaking is reconciling 2 parties that are not in harmony. It is merging or reuniting two people or groups or factions that have separated over a matter (Matthew 5:23-24; 18:10-14).

What usually disrupts the peace is sin. Whether it be Satan’s sin in rebelling in heaven or Adam and Eve’s sin in Eden, sin disturbs, disrupts and ruins peace (James 3:16-18). Sowing in wickedness will lead to discord and not make peace (Isaiah 48:22). Sin can lead to war; it can lead to a violent episode between a husband and wife; it can lead to a self-centered tirade of a child; or it can lead to a clash of power between two leaders. When sin comes in, peace usually goes out.

We pursue peace because God is a God of peace (Judges 6:24; Romans 15:33; I Corinthians 14:33; Philippians 4:9; I Thessalonians 5:23). We pursue peace because God gives peace (II Thessalonians 3:16). We pursue peace because the Gospel is a message about peace (John 16:33; Ephesians 6:15).

Peacemaking matters because it characterizes citizens of God’s kingdom. Peace is a fruit of one who has truly been saved. Jesus is not giving these Beatitudes as options or suggestions. Jesus is lighting the pathway to the kingdom of heaven. Jesus is attempting to save all of us from future judgement.

The remaining question is, “How can I grow to be a better peacemaker? Here are a few suggestions.

  1. Live in James 1:19-20 – “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” Be eager to listen to others. Be quick to hear what God’s Word says. Don’t feel like you have the answers to everything or must answer every question. When conflict exists or when peace is absent, relax.
  2. When you offend someone, work towards making peace. We already referenced Romans 12 that says we must do everything we can to be at peace with everyone. This suggestion is not easy, because it required humility, admitting wrong, and talking about the “elephant in the room.”
  3. Refuse to be vengeful. God is the judge of men – not us (Rom 12:19). Trust that God will do what He said He would do – act our vengeance. Our life is not a life that should be repaying men when they mistreat us. If you find yourself in a cycle of being vengeful, you will not find peace. Instead, you will further the war.
  4. Overlook minor issues (Proverbs 17:14; 19:11; 20:3).
  5. Die to self. Since the world does not revolve around us, and we are to live for the interests of others (Philippians 2:3-4), we can safely assume that one who is dedicating to living for the benefit of others is going to find himself making peace everywhere he does.

Suggestions for What to Pray For

Thank God for the reports you receive of conversions local and global (Romans 1:8; I Corinthians 1:4; Ephesians 1:15-23; 3:14-21; Colossians 1:3-14; I Thessalonians 1:2-3; 2:13-16; II Thessalonians 1:3; II Timothy 1:3-7; Philemon 4).

Pray that God would open new doors of ministry (Romans 1:10).

Pray that God would save the Jewish people (Romans 10:1).

Pray that your church would grow in its faithfulness to pray for one another (Romans 12:12; 15:30).

Pray that your church would enjoy enduring unity with one another (Romans 15:5-6).

Pray that your church would experience lasting joy (Romans 15:13).

Pray that your church would experience lasting peace (Romans 15:13; II Thessalonians 3:16).

Pray that your church would experience lasting hope (Romans 15:13; II Thessalonians 2:16-17).

Pray for Christians who have been captured or are held hostage that they would be released (Romans 15:31-33).

Pray that God’s grace would invade the hearts and minds of His children (I Corinthians 16:23; II Corinthians 12:7-9; Galatians 6:18; Ephesians 3:14-21; Philippians 4:23; I Thessalonians 5:28; II Timothy 4:22; Titus 3:15; Philemon 25).

Pray that God would comfort the afflicted (II Corinthians 1:3-7).

Pray that your church would deepen its knowledge of the Creator (II Corinthians 2:14-16; Ephesians 3:14-21; Colossians 1:3-14).

Pray that your life would be a sweet aroma to God (II Corinthians 2:14-16).

Pray that you will never compromise the truth of God’s Word (II Corinthians 13:7-9; II Thessalonians 2:16-17).

Pray for your church to acquire wisdom from above (Ephesians 1:15-23; Colossians 1:3-14).

Pray for other Christians to be faithful to preach the Gospel (Ephesians 6:19-20; Colossians 4:2-4).

Pray that Christians would love one another (Philippians 1:9-11; Colossians 1:3-14; I Thessalonians 1:2-3; II Thessalonians 1:3).

Pray that your church would refresh other saints who visit your church gatherings (I Thessalonians 3:9-13).

Pray that your church would be committed to holiness (I Thessalonians 5:23-24).

Pray that your church will be protected from the attacks of the Devil (II Thessalonians 3:2-5).

Pray for those who govern you (I Timothy 2:1-3).