Wednesday, June 24, 2015

An army that does not have confidence in its leadership is an ineffective one.

Military strategists are saying that the success of ISIS in Iraq and Syria is due in large part to the lack of unity of command in the forces opposing them. Where there are no clear lines of authority confusion is the result. 

If the church has no confidence in her Head to bring to consummation that which He has begun in her she will be ineffective in the mission He has given her: “Let your Kingdom come, let your will be done also in the earth, just as it is in Heaven.” Matthew 6:10 Aramaic/English


I just saw a special on TV concerning the decline of the church in America. I am not so sure that it is a declination - but rather a transformation.  The church under the direction of her Supreme Head is becoming less secularized and more intrinsic. Yet, I am concerned that we have not really believed what we say we believe. I know not one confessing Christian who would not espouse belief in the sovereignty of God yet our subsequent actions betray this confidence and reveal that our trust is actually in the arm of the flesh.  I am listening to a song right now that says “No Turning Back” yet it is filled with the pronouns I and me - the ego of man has supplanted the Ego Eimi (I AM!) and our logos have superceded the Logos (the Living Word).  Still our Faithful Father will only allow such trampling to continue for a season.1

The great doctrinal truth of Covenant is an example of frequent misrepresentation. One well read commentator writes in regard to Romans 9: “A covenant is a relationship entered into between two people. It is a bargain for mutual profit...”  Regarding a biblical concept of covenant Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones writes, “But this is the exact opposite of the true meaning of covenant. It is not something that must be thought of in terms of a bilateral agreement.”2 He continues, “What, then, is a covenant? Well, a covenant in the Bible is a sovereign act of God’s grace in which He pledges Himself to do something.”3  Often we adopt a belief that says, “If we do such and such, then God will be obligated to respond in such and such a manner.” Such triviality flies in the face of true Covenant Theology.  

No Denigration 

The surety of the elect can suffer no denigration. “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6 To assail this confidence is to besmirch the integrity of God.  “...we may always be confident God will perform his good work, in every soul wherein he has really begun it by regeneration;” Matthew Henry

The purpose of God is not subject to any form of amalgamation - or alloy. I know of no Biblical character that willfully cooperated with the purpose of God - all were compelled.  Otherwise the servant of God will produce an indistinct sound resulting in confusion among his hearers. “how will anyone know what tune is being played unless there is a distinction in the notes?” 1 Corinthians 14:7 NIV We must ask ourselves, what tune are we playing? We are reminded by Charles Spurgeon that the Sovereign Purpose of God will be served, “All that Nature spins time will unravel, to the eternal confusion of all who are clothed therein.”


God will create an absolute confidence in God. Once again from Pastor Spurgeon: “If we indulge in any confidence which is not grounded on the Rock of ages, our confidence is worse than a dream, it will fall upon us, and cover us with its ruins, to our sorrow and confusion.”

When the Father decides to bear His strong right arm in defense of His chosen ones He will use the least likely and the most unqualified. His selection of Gideon to deliver His people from the hand of Midian is a primary example. I will assume a working familiarity with the story here other than to note that Gideon was cowering in fear when he was called and commissioned by the angel of the LORD: “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.”

‘When Gideon realized that it was the angel of the LORD, he exclaimed, "Alas, Sovereign LORD! I have seen the angel of the LORD face to face!"’ As he comes to the end of his protestations Gideon understands that he is finished.  His confession as translated in the NIV is, “Alas, Sovereign LORD!” or in the New Living, "Oh, Sovereign LORD, I'm doomed!”  This is a combination of the use of the two names for God that we commonly refer to as Adonai and Jehovah. These two versions translate Adonai as Sovereign.  A similar usage and meaning is used in Ezekiel: “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: It is not for your sake, people of Israel, that I am going to do these things, but for the sake of my holy name,...” 36:22 


God pared down the forces available to Gideon for this purpose - even higher than the deliverance of Israel: ‘The LORD said to Gideon, "The people who are with you are too many for Me to give Midian into their hands, for Israel would become boastful, saying, 'My own power has delivered me.'”’ Judges 7:2 From This Morning’s Meditation with Charles Spurgeon: “forsake me not in the day of my strongest faith, lest faith degenerate into presumption.”

Anne Graham Lotz writes in her recent May Day call to prayer: “We worship You as our Adonai.  You are Lord.  You are The Boss. We acknowledge Your authority to do as You please because You are our Owner, and the Owner of all things. You made us at Creation.  You bought us at Calvary.  You have the right to rule our lives.” Her use of the phrase “The Boss” is an appropriate translation of Adonai which indicates dominion or ownership.

Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.


The Glory of God is made manifest in His immutable ability to carry through to complete fulfillment the work of regeneration that He has initiated in His chosen ones. This is a distinct sound that compels them to follow wherever He leads. No greater motivation exists. 

In summary from Pastor Spurgeon: It would dishonor His great name for Him to forsake them (His people), since it would either show that He made an error in His choice or that He was fickle in His love. God's love has this glory, that it never changes, and this glory He will never tarnish.

Here is our doxology: “And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” 2 Timothy 4:18 KJV (“He will also keep you firm to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 1:8 NIV)

Soli Deo Gloria 

1 Just heard another very popular song filled with the expression, “I am..”  And the reference is not to the Great I AM.

2 D. Martin Lloyd-Jones, Romans - Exposition of Chapter 9 God’s Sovereign Purpose, 1991, The Banner of Truth Trust, Carlisle, PA, p. 53

3 Ibid, P. 54

Friday, June 12, 2015

DOXOLOGY - The Beginning and The End

“Praise God from Whom all blessings flow...”

No message - indeed no deed - is complete unless it concludes with a doxology - for this is the great consummation of all of God’s activities in the midst of His chosen. The doxology is the amen - “So be it, truly!”  It is the last word.

The Doxology - as we have come to know it - is the type of many.  It is actually derived from a hymn written in 1674 by Thomas Ken.  It is the concluding stanza of this hymn which is entitled “Awake, My Soul, and with the Sun” based on Psalm 17:15: “But I will behold thy face in righteousness, and when I awake, I shall be satisfied with thine image.” Geneva Bible 

Here is the first stanza of the hymn:

Awake, my soul, and with the sun
Thy daily stage of duty run;
Shake off dull sloth, and joyful rise,
To pay thy morning sacrifice.

Nothing awakens the soul like a doxology - a sacrifice of praise. “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise--the fruit of lips that openly profess his name.” Hebrews 13:15 NIV

“Praise Him, all creatures here below;”

The root word - doxa - is from ancient Greek which is translated glory.  And when used as orthodox it means right belief or truth. The proof of all rightness is does it give glory to God. Glory and truth are inseparable.  This is the abiding prayer of the Son: “I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them.” John 17:9-10 ESV

Peter expresses this so clearly: “Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” 1 Peter 4:11

“Praise Him above, ye heavenly host;”

There are many that are eloquent, many that are persuasive, many with great talent - even those who manifest altruism.  Yet these abilities in themselves are no proof that they are of God.  Do they draw attention to the gifted - or to the Gifter?  Only that which truly gives glory to God will have sustaining effect - all others will melt away as a fleeting fancy.

Piety without the amen of doxology will ring hollow and empty - drawing attention to the progeny rather than the Progenitor. 

Paul’s passion was to bequeath this truth to his young disciple Timothy before his earthly journey had completed its course and he knew he was nearing that consummation. Even in the midst of his trials he knew the sustaining power of God and to Him he gave the glory. “And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” 2 Timothy 4:18 KJV His hope expressed in the last of his letters was that his life would culminate in doxology. 

This doxology was on my mind this past week as a friend and I traveled to hear a young preacher/teacher.  His text was 1 Timothy 1:15-16: “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life.” NIV

As he began to exposit on this passage and the preceding verses my eye was drawn to the great doxology of verse 17 - would this be the amen of his message?  And being exegetically faithful it was! “Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.” 

When God revealed Himself to mankind He did it via His glorious Name - “Then the LORD God (YHWH Elohim) formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.” Genesis 2:7  In the dynamic equivalency of the Godhead the Father glorifies the Son, the Son glorifies the Father and the Spirit reveals the Glory of the Son. The ultimate and singular purpose of the Father is a company of the elect conformed into the image of the Son - “he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.” Romans 8:29 KJV

The story of mankind (Adam) begins with doxology; will find its finality in doxology and will be sustained by doxology.  “to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.” Jude 1:25 

“Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.” 

Monday, June 1, 2015

Narcissistic Spirituality

Unable to leave the beauty of his reflection, Narcissus drowned.

Narcissistic Spirituality has been the undoing of the American church. Gazing into the pool of our own reflection until we are swallowed up in its depths. 

The origin of the word narcissistic comes from the story of Narcissus in Greek mythology.  He was so enamored with himself - to the point of disdain for those that loved him - that he was lead by Nemesis to gaze at his own reflection in a pool.  There his transfixion with his own image caused him to fall headlong into the waters resulting in his demise. 

spirit of this age 

Self-absorption is the spirit of this age - thus we have a plethora of “selfies.” And unfortunately the church has not avoided this epidemic.  Just recently I saw a commercial for a new channel on a satellite network which goes something like this: For those who are interested in advancing the kingdom you can watch Christian TV 24/7.  Can this be anything more or less than self-absorption- staring at our own image?  The question is begged, “How can someone who is going nowhere advance anything?”

The pages of Facebook bear verdant evidence that the tares of the glory of me have been sown among the wheat of the Glory of God.  

mesmerized by the myopic

We have become mesmerized by the myopic.  Myopia is a condition which prevents farsightedness. Those whom it afflicts are unable to see the big picture. Worse yet, they do not even realize there is a big picture.

From Francis Frangipane: “Too many of us attend church each Sunday, not to be filled with the Spirit, but to be inoculated with just enough religion to make us immune to God the rest of the week.”  And he continues: “Over the years we have developed a host of programs, outreaches and ministries all designed to bring people into church and make them better Christians. A number of these efforts the Lord has blessed; some He has accommodated and used; while still others, in truth, He has simply ignored.” 

An example of this is our over-emphasis on Romans 8:28 (and similar passages such as Jeremiah 29:11) which makes us think it is all about us - yet reading on to 8:29 we find out it is about Him: that He would be the First Born - the Preeminent One - at the Head of a host that resemble His nature and attributes.  This is the singular purpose of God. We grow together into the fulness of the One - “Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:” Ephesians 4:13 KJV This version uses the word till instead of until. Till is a word of Scottish origin which indicates fulness or completeness. 

self-absorptive focus 

An inward self-absorptive focus is a sure sign of mental instability - and of spiritual immaturity.  Indeed, it robs us of the vision of the sole purpose of the Father in the Son - and as a result we are perishing: “Where there is no vision, the people perish:...” Proverbs 29:18  Or they are unrestrained - that is, all of their resources are squandered upon themselves. Prodigals have gone nowhere - for the word means not a wanderer, but a squanderer.  

Our pews are filled with prodigals–and that not necessarily their own fault. If believers are fed a continual diet of messages designed to encourage their self-esteem and to make them feel comfortable, immaturity of all kinds is the inevitable result: “Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness.” Hebrews 5:13 NIV 

joined together in oneness 

The high priestly prayer of Christ for His Church is that we would be joined together in oneness giving expression to the fulness of His Glorious Person: "The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one;” John 17:22  This prayer is yet resounding in the Courts of Heaven awaiting its ultimate inevitable fulfillment.

With laser-like precision the myopia of Narcissism - which stands in determined yet doomed opposition to oneness - will give way to the radiance of His Glory: For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 2 Corinthians 4:6 ESV Also: 2 Corinthians 3:18; 1 Peter 2:9 

consummation of the ages 

Our abiding confidence is that at the consummation of the ages our Lord will have perfected His Bride - without spot or wrinkle.  Her rapturous benediction in concert with the Holy Spirit will be: ‘The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.”’ Revelation 22:17 ESV And in reply: ‘He who testifies to these things says, "Surely I am coming soon." Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!’ Revelation 22:20 ESV 

Solus Christus