There is but a step from Lent to Carnival

J. C. Ryle’s remarks on John 18:28–

It is no uncommon thing to find people excessively particular about the observance of trifling forms and outward ceremonies, while they are the slaves of degrading sins and detestable immoralities. Robbers and murderers in some countries are extremely strict about confession, and absolution, and prayers to saints. Fastings and self-imposed austerities in Lent, are often followed by excess of worldliness when Lent is over. There is but a step from Lent to Carnival. The attendants at daily services in the morning are not unfrequently the patrons of balls and theaters at night. All these are symptoms of spiritual disease, and a heart secretly dissatisfied…

A religion that makes a man neglect the weighter matters of daily holiness and separation from the world, and concentrate his whole attention on forms, sacraments, ceremonies, and public services, is to say the least, very suspicious.

The Praise of Others

“Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips.” Proverbs 27:2

It is easier for me to be proud than humble, and my pride is stroked by other’s praise. I have the tendency, when praised by others, to “share” that. “So and so said this about me! Look at what this person said about me!” I can even put a pious spin on it: “Praise the Lord for what he said about me!”

This is especially easy with social media of which, ironically, I post and share these thoughts!

While reading and meditating on Ruth 2 today, Matthew Henry provided a helpful reminder and instruction from Ruth’s example–

Ruth told her mother what kindness Boaz had shown her, that she might take some occasion or another to acknowledge it and return him thanks; but she did not tell her how Boaz had commended her. Humility teaches us, not only not to praise ourselves, but not to be forward to publish others’ praises of us.

May the Lord help me to walk humbly before Him, praising Him for His provisions and magnifying Him, not myself. If I boast, may my boast be of the Lord (2 Cor 10:17).

Charles Spurgeon on Psalm 127:3-5

I don’t like the way Spurgeon often spiritualizes the OT (probably the result of his reading the OT in light of the NT). However, I’ve never read anything unorthodox from him; I just don’t care for his exegetical method all the time. That said, Spurgeon says some great thing about this passage in  his Treasury of David–

“Behold, children are a gift of the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward”

[God] gives children, not as a penalty nor as a burden, but as a favor. They are a token for good if men know how to receive them, and educate them. They are ‘doubtful blessings’ only because we are doubtful persons. Where society is rightly ordered children are regarded, not as an incumbrance, but as an inheritance; and they are received, not with regret, but as a reward.

“Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth.”

To this end we must have our children in hand while they are yet children, or they are never likely to be so when they are grown up; and we must try to point them and straighten them, so as to make arrows of them in their youth, lest they should prove crooked and unserviceable in after life. Let the Lord favor us with loyal, obedient, affectionate offspring, and we shall find in them our best helpers. We shall see them shot forth into life to our comfort and delight, if we take care from the very beginning that they are directed to the right point.

When sons and daughters are arrows, it is well to have a quiver full of them; but if they are only sticks, knotty and useless, the fewer of them the better.

Moreover, a quiver may be small and yet full; and then the blessing is obtained. In any case we may be sure that a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of children that he possesseth.

“How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them; they will not be ashamed when they speak with their enemies in the gate”

Those who have many gracious children are upon the whole the happiest. Of course a large number of children means a large number of trials; but when these are met by faith in the Lord it also means a mass of love, and a multitude of joys.

The Truthfulness of Christianity

“Christianity, if it be not the true religion, is certainly the greatest cheat that ever was put upon the world; and, if so, it must be of the devil, who is the father of all lies: but it is certain that the doctrine of Christ is no doctrine of devils, for it is levelled directly against the devil’s kingdom, and Satan is too subtle to be divided against himself.”

–Matthew Henry, 5:1035 on John 10:19-21

Defend the Faith Biblical Challenge

I received an email today from one of many news services about religious items. Wow, talk about invective!

The low-down: An author asks folks to supply evidence that he has used the Bible incorrectly in his latest book, The Case Against Evangelical Christianity, specifically these points:

The book makes several controversial claims: among them I argue the Virgin Birth story is a fictional account, and that there is little credible evidence within the New Testament to support the physical resurrection of Jesus. With respect to the Rapture, I conclude belief in it reflects profound biblical illiteracy. Finally, I present important biblical evidence to shed doubt on the idea that God gave Moses the Ten Commandments.

He offers anyone $100 if they can demonstrate that he has improperly used the Bible “as supporting evidence.” Perhaps that’s where the rub lies–the Bible isn’t viewed as the only source, just supporting evidence.

The author has some “rules” that you have to abide by to successfully mount a challenge, the most interesting of which is the first:

I will only pay for scriptural evidence I use incorrectly. I will not pay for evidence that supports another viewpoint.

So you’ve got to change his mind about what he thinks about the Bible. Given the blinding effects of sin and Satan upon the unbelieving mind, the only One who will successfully accomplish that is the Holy Spirit. And I doubt he’ll pony up the $100 then.

Matt 1:23 “Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel, which translated means, ‘God with us.’”

Matt 28:6 “He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying.”

John 14:3 “If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.”

Deut 5:4-5 “The Lord spoke to you face to face at the mountain from the midst of the fire, while I [Moses] was standing between the Lord and you at that time, to declare to you the word of the Lord”

A Good Reminder About Government

The context of this quote is a discussion about Israel’s desire for a king…

It is easy to forget that “we the people” in the long run must always pay for whatever the government does for us. Only fools suppose that by committing a matter to the government, they can get it done for nothing. Still worse, human government not only makes the people pay for everything done for them, but it always makes them pay more than it should cost. For only a part of the wealth taken by the government ever comes back to the people in services.

–Alva J. McClain, The Greatness of the Kingdom, p. 108.

God’s Transforming Grace

Saul began ravaging the church, entering house after house, and dragging off men and women, he would put them in prison (Acts 8:3)

…serving the Lord with all humility and tears and with trials which came upon me through the plots of the Jews; I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you publicly and from house to house, solemnly testifying to both Jews and Greeks of repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 20:20-21)

What a great illustration of God’s grace in transforming Paul’s heart and actions, from going house to house as a persecutor of Christ to going house to house as a proclaimer of Christ!

A Great Illustration of Faith

After Naaman protests Elisha’s instruction to wash in the Jordan seven times to be cleansed of his leprosy,

Then his servants came near and spoke to him and said, “My father, had the prophet told you to do somegreat thing, would you not have done it? How much more then, when he says to you, ‘Wash, and be clean’?” (2 Kings 5:13)

Upcoming Bible Class

I’ll be teaching a new Bible Class at Orwell Bible Church beginning next month on the Old Testament.

The primary focus of the class will look at each individual book of the OT, but also give consideration to important aspects of the OT such as how did they worship (looking especially at the sacrificial system), salvation, interpreting the OT, the kingdom, and other items.

You won’t learn everything about the OT in this class! You will learn enough of the basics of the OT so that you will be able to correctly understand and apply it to your life.