From St. Helen’s Bishopsgate in London, here is an excellent message by Dr. Andrew Sach on 1 Peter 1:1-12.
From the Trifecta team of Bill Whittle, Stephen Green and Scott Ott, here are their thoughts on “Why Dynasties are Terrible for America”. I admit I have my doubts as to whether Abraham Lincoln could be elected in this day and age, given the dynastic tendencies of our current political parties.
Isaac Wardell of Bifrost Arts sent out an email a couple of weeks ago about a new album titled Psalms from Sandra McCracken. Below you will find one song I like from this album, titled “We Will Feast in the House of Zion”. The words are most encouraging, a reminder that our Lord is “our ever present help in time of need.”
We will feast in the house of Zion
We will sing with our hearts restored
He has done great things, we will say together
We will feast and weep no more
We will not be burned by the fire
He is the LORD our God
We are not consumed, by the flood
Upheld, protected, gathered up (Chorus)
In the dark of night, before the dawn
My soul, be not afraid
For the promised morning, oh how long?
Oh God of Jacob, be my strength (Chorus)
Every vow we’ve broken and betrayed
You are the Faithful one
And from the garden to the grave
Bind us together, bring shalom. (Chorus)
Here is another in Dr. Don Carson’s excellent series, “The God Who is There”, and this video is “The God Who Reigns”. It is based on 2 Samuel 7:1-27.
Here is the final thought from Bishop Ryle on what evangelical religion is:
( e ) The fifth and last leading feature in Evangelical Religion is the importance which it attaches to the outward and visible work of the Holy Ghost in the life of man.
Its theory is that the true grace of God is a thing that will always make itself manifest in the conduct, behaviour, tastes, ways, choices, and habits of him who has it. It is not a dormant thing, that can be within a man and not show itself without. The heavenly seed is “not corruptible, but incorruptible.” It is a seed which is distinctly said to “remain” in every one that is born of God. (1 Peter i. 23; 1 John iii. 9.) Where the Spirit is, He will always make His presence known.
We hold that it is wrong to tell men that they are “children of God, and members of Christ, and heirs of the kingdom of heaven,” unless they really overcome the world, the flesh, and the devil. We maintain that to tell a man he is “born of God,” or regenerated, while he is living in carelessness or sin, is a dangerous delusion, and calculated to do infinite mischief to his soul. We affirm confidently that “fruit” is the only certain evidence of a man’s spiritual condition; that if we would know whose he is and whom he serves, we must look first at his life. Where there is the grace of the Spirit there will be always more or less fruit of the Spirit. Grace that cannot be seen is no grace at all, and nothing better than Antinomianism. Note, in short, we believe that where there is nothing seen , there is nothing possessed.
Where there is no fruit, there is likely no grace.
Here is the fourth part of what evangelical religion is, from Ryle:
( d ) The fourth leading feature in Evangelical Religion is the high place which it assigns to the inward work of the Holy Spirit in the heart of man . Its theory is that the root and foundation of all vital Christianity in any one, is a work of grace in the heart, and that until there is real experimental business within a man, his religion is a mere husk, and shell, and name, and form, and can neither comfort nor save. We maintain that the things which need most to be pressed on men’s attention are those mighty works of the Holy Spirit, inward repentance, inward faith, inward hope, inward hatred of sin, and inward love to God’s law. And we say that to tell men to take comfort in their baptism or Church-membership, when these all-important graces are unknown, is not merely a mistake, but positive cruelty.
We hold that, as an inward work of the Holy Ghost is a necessary thing to a man’s salvation, so also it is a thing that must be inwardly felt. We admit that feelings are often deceptive, and that a man may feel much, or weep much, or rejoice much, and yet remain dead in trespasses and sins. But we maintain firmly that there can be no real conversion to God, no new creation in Christ, no new birth of the Spirit, where there is nothing felt and experienced within. We hold that the witness of the Spirit, however much it may be abused, is a real, true thing. We deem it a solemn duty to be no less jealous about the work of the Holy Ghost, in its place and degree, than we are about the work of Christ. And we insist that where there is nothing felt within the heart of a man, there is nothing really possessed.
The true religion of the Gospel is both doctrinal and experiential: if one is lacking one of these, he or she should seriously examine their hearts.
Here is another thought from Ryle on what evangelical religion is:
( c ) The third leading feature of Evangelical Religion is the paramount importance it attaches to the work and office of our Lord Jesus Christ , and to the nature of the salvation which He has wrought out for man.
Its theory is that the eternal Son of God, Jesus Christ, has by His life, death, and resurrection, as our Representative and Substitute, obtained a complete salvation for sinners, and a redemption from the guilt, power, and consequences of sin, and that all who believe on Him are, even while they live, completely forgiven and justified from all things,—are reckoned completely righteous before God,—are interested in Christ and all His benefits.
We hold that nothing whatever is needed between the soul of man the sinner and Christ the Saviour, but simple, childlike faith, and that all means, helps, ministers, and ordinances are useful just so far as they help this faith, but no further;—but that rested in and relied on as ends and not as means, they become downright poison to the soul.
We hold that an experimental knowledge of Christ crucified and interceding, is the very essence of Christianity, and that in teaching men the Christian religion we can never dwell too much on Christ Himself, and can never speak too strongly of the fulness, freeness, presentness, and simplicity of the salvation there is in Him for every one that believes.
Not least, we hold most firmly that the true doctrine about Christ is precisely that which the natural heart most dislikes. The religion which man craves after is one of sight and sense, and not of faith. An external religion, of which the essence is “doing something,”—and not an inward and spiritual one, of which the essence is “believing,” this is the religion that man naturally loves. Hence we maintain that people ought to be continually warned not to make a Christ of the Church, or of the ministry, or of the forms of worship, or of baptism, or of the Lord’s Supper. We say that life eternal is to know Christ, believe in Christ, abide in Christ, have daily heart communion with Christ, by simple personal faith,—and that everything in religion is useful so far as it helps forward that life of faith, but no further.
Ryle might say that we must worship Christ, not the ordinances or the institutions themselves.
Here is the next thought from Bishop Ryle on what evangelical religion is:
( b ) The second leading feature in Evangelical Religion is the depth and prominence it assigns to the doctrine of human sinfulness and corruption . Its theory is that in consequence of Adam’s fall, all men are as far as possible gone from original righteousness, and are of their own natures inclined to evil. They are not only in a miserable, pitiable, and bankrupt condition, but in a state of guilt, imminent danger, and condemnation before God. They are not only at enmity with their Maker, and have no title to heaven, but they have no will to serve their Maker, no love to their Maker, and no meetness for heaven.
We hold that a mighty spiritual disease like this requires a mighty spiritual medicine for its cure. We dread giving the slightest countenance to any religious system of dealing with man’s soul, which even seems to encourage the notion that his deadly wound can be easily healed. We dread fostering man’s favourite notion that a little church-going and sacrament-receiving,—a little patching, and mending, and whitewashing, and gilding, and polishing, and varnishing, and painting the outside,—is all that his case requires. Hence we protest with all our heart against formalism, sacramentalism, and every species of mere external or vicarious Christianity. We maintain that all such religion is founded on an inadequate view of man’s spiritual need. It requires far more than this to save, or satisfy, or sanctify, a soul. It requires nothing less than the blood of God the Son applied to the conscience, and the grace of God the Holy Ghost entirely renewing the heart. Man is radically diseased, and man needs a radical cure. I believe that ignorance of the extent of the fall, and of the whole doctrine of original sin, is one grand reason why many can neither understand, appreciate, nor receive Evangelical Religion. Next to the Bible, as its foundation, it is based on a clear view of original sin.
And the doctrine of original sin is certainly one that has been neglected in our day.
J.C. Ryle, in his tract Evangelical Religion, had some very good thoughts on what evangelical religion truly is – and he had a five-fold answer to that question. Here is the first of his five points:
To the question “what Evangelical Religion is? ” the simplest answer I can give is to point out what appear to be its leading features. These I consider to be five in number.
( a ) The first leading feature in Evangelical Religion is the absolute supremacy it assigns to Holy Scripture , as the only rule of faith and practice, the only test of truth, the only judge of controversy.
Its theory is that man is required to believe nothing, as necessary to salvation, which is not read in God’s Word written, or can be proved thereby. It totally denies that there is any other guide for man’s soul, coequal or co-ordinate with the Bible. It refuses to listen to such arguments as “the Church says so,”—“the Fathers say so,”—“primitive antiquity says so,”—“Catholic tradition says so,”—“the Councils say so,”—“the ancient liturgies say so,”—“the Prayer-book says so,”—“the universal conscience of mankind says so,”—“the verifying light within says so,”—unless it can be shown that what is said is in harmony with Scripture.
The supreme authority of the Bible, in one word, is one of the cornerstones of our system. Show us anything plainly written in that Book, and, however trying to flesh and blood, we will receive it, believe it, and submit to it. Show us anything, as religion, which is contrary to that Book, and, however specious, plausible, beautiful, and apparently desirable, we will not have it at any price. It may come before us endorsed by Fathers, schoolmen, and catholic writers; it may be commended by reason, philosophy, science, the inner light, the verifying faculty, the universal conscience of mankind. It signifies nothing. Give us rather a few plain texts. If the thing is not in the Bible, deducible from the Bible, or in manifest harmony with the Bible, we will have none of it. Like the forbidden fruit, we dare not touch it, lest we die. Our faith can find no resting-place except in the Bible, or in Bible arguments. Here is rock: all else is sand.
I’ll post another one of his five points tomorrow.
From the Rev. Dr. Benjamin Bernier of Providence REC in Texas, here is an excellent sermon for the First Sunday after Easter, titled “Christ’s Unique Identity and Mission.”
Christ’s Unique Identity and Mission
1st Sunday after Easter
He that is not with me is against me: and he that gathereth not with me scattereth. Luke 11:23
I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. John 14:6
Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. John 20:21
John 20:22 … Receive ye the Holy Ghost: 23 Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.
by the Rev. Dr. Benjamin E. Bernier