Ezekiel 9

In Ezekiel 9 the prophet saw a vision where Jerusalem was slaughtered because of their great wickedness.

God commissioned an angel to mark any in Jerusalem who had remorse and regret over the sins taking place in the city (vv. 4-6). Those bearing this mark would be delivered from judgment. Only one man, Ezekiel, was spared; all the rest were slaughtered (vv. 7-9).

In response to Ezekiel’s mourning over this great destruction, the Lord showed him how the people were totally given over to sin and fully committed to it (v. 9).

As I meditated on this chapter, I considered my response to sin–not only my sin, but others’ sin. Do I “sigh and groan”? Am I saddened by it? Do I mourn? Or am I indifferent or worse yet, laugh at and with it, essentially approving it?

One of sin’s great dangers and effects is how it hardens and callouses the heart. Sins once avoided are embraced and championed. God is nowhere in people’s thoughts (cf. Pss 10:4, 11, 13; 94:7 [note this entire psalm]).

How could this happen in your life?

One area where I applied this is in what I entertain and amuse myself with (for example, various media such as books, radio, internet, videos, etc.). I must ask myself, “will this callous my heart toward sin by being entertained by it, or will this encourage me to have a greater consciousness of God?”

What–who–is controlling my life, my sin nature or the Holy Spirit (Gal 5:16-24)? Am I growing more like Christ and less like the world through the Spirit’s help and personal discipline?


Sin Has a Thousand Treach’rous Arts

Sin has a thousand treach’rous arts
To practise on the mind;
With flatt’ring looks she tempts our hearts,
But leaves a sting behind.

With names of virtue she deceives
The aged and the young;
And while the heedless wretch believes,
She makes his fetters strong.

She pleads for all the joys she brings,
And gives a fair pretence;
But cheats the soul of heav’nly things,
And chains it down to sense.

So on a tree divinely fair
Grew the forbidden food;
Our mother took the poison there,
And tainted all her blood.

–Isaac Watts (1674-1748)

Looking at the Cross

Tonight we’ll sing this hymn by John Newton, to the tune Prospect:

In evil long I took delight,
Unaw’d by shame or fear,
Till a new object struck my sight,
And stopp’d my wild career.
I saw one hanging on a tree,
In agonies and blood,
Who fix’d his languid eyes on me,
As near his cross I stood.

Sure never till my latest breath,
Can I forget that look;
It seem’d to charge me with his death,
Though not a word he spoke.
My conscience felt and own’d the guilt,
And plung’d me in despair;
I saw my sins his blood had spilt,
And help’d to nail him there.

Alas! I knew not what I did;
But now my tears are vain;
Where shall my trembling soul be hid?
For I the Lord have slain.
A second look he gave, which said.
“I freely all forgive;
This blood is for thy ransom paid,
I die that thou mayst live.”

Thus while his death my sin displays
In all its blackest hue
(Such is the mystery of grace),
It seals my pardon too.
With pleasing grief and mournful joy,
My spirit now is fill’d,
That I should such a life destroy,
Yet live by him I kill’d.

Daily Bale for April 2, 2011

Today was a full Saturday, but easy to delineate:

Worked on the Astro van in the morning.

Did federal and state taxes in the afternoon, as well as make sure things are ready for services tomorrow.

Helped with the kids in the evening, as Trish had a bad headache.

Finished things up for Sunday services.

For my daily Bible reading, among other passages I read Leviticus 5. Note these verses–

If a person sins and does any of the things which the Lord has commanded not to be done, though he was unaware, still he is guilty and shall bear his punishment…he was certainly guilty before the Lord.

In connection with chapter 4, these chapters detail the sacrifices for “unintentional” sins. This illustrates the purpose of the law–to make sin known. This also sets forth the nature of sin–ignorance of the law does not remove culpability.

Along this line also consider these different passages–

“Acquit me of hidden faults” (Ps 19:12)

“Our secret sins in the light of Your presence” (Ps 90:8)

“see if there be any hurtful way in me” (Ps 139:23-24)

“God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether good or evil” (Eccl 12:14)

“The Lord will bring to light the things hiddden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts” (1 Cor 4:5)

“God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus” (Rom 2:16)

I am thankful that Christ is my sacrifice for all my sin, but from Lev 4-5 I must not forget that all sin is sin, brings guilt, requires payment, and demands confession and repentance. I cannot have a glib, carefree attitude when I become aware of sin that I unknowingly committed. I must take personal responsibility for my sin (“lay my hand on its head”), confess such, and repent of it.

I will only know the sin in my life as I learn God’s character and will as revealed in Scripture; as I prayerfully ask God to examine me; as I walk in the Spirit.

God, as your child, help me to grow in holiness and thereby have a greater love for righteousness and a proportionally greater sensitivity to and abhorrence of sin. Make me more aware of my transgressions; grant me the grace of repentance; and thank you for Jesus Christ who died for me.

Who Said Liberalism is Dead?

It’s been the opinion of some that theological liberalism is dead. Simplistically, theological liberalism describes those who call themselves Christians but deny many (if not most) of the doctrines that make Christianity Christianity. Some believe that liberalism’s sun has set and its dead and buried.

I don’t think so. Come to Orwell sometime, and I’ll show you. Or Grand Rapids, MI. Or Mentor, OH. But if you can’t make the visit, consider Martin Thielen…

Thielen is pastor of a United Methodist Church, and has also served as a Southern Baptist pastor. He served for four years as a national worship and preaching consultant and editor of Proclaim for the SBC.

He’s just published a book titled, “What’s the Least I Can Believe and Still be a Christian?” In it he lists ten things Christians do not need to believe to be a  Christian–

  1. God Causes Cancer, Car Wrecks, and Other Catastrophes
  2. Good Christians Don’t Doubt
  3. True Christians Can’t Believe in Evolution
  4. Women Can’t Be Preachers and Must Submit to Men
  5. God Cares about Saving Souls but Not about Saving Trees
  6. Bad People Will Be “Left Behind” and Then Fry in Hell
  7. Jews Won’t Make It to Heaven
  8. Everything in the Bible Should Be Taken Literally
  9. God Loves Straight People But Not Gay People
  10. It’s OK for Christians to be Judgmental and Obnoxious

You have to note the whimsical, almost sneering tone of this list. That kind of attitude is typical of theological liberalism, almost an ecclesiastical snobbery, looking down the nose at “those fundamentalists.”

It would take a significant post to comment on each of these. It almost makes me want to get the book and read it so I don’t misrepresent him. From the list, though, it appears that one can believe that–

  • Either God is not sovereign over all things or that there is no such thing as the effects of sin in the world  (#1)
  • Genuine faith does not require absolute submission of the mind, will, and emotions to God’s Word (#2)
  • The Bible should not be taken as an authoritative standard on the issues it speaks to (##3-4)
  • Salvation and ecology are on the same plane (#5)
  • The biblical account of divine judgment should not be taken literally (#6)
  • There is not an exclusiveness to salvation, despite what Jesus taught (John 3:18; 14:6; #7)
  • The Bible is not the written Word of God divinely authoritative in all it addresses (#8)
  • Homosexuality is not sinful (#9)
  • You can believe whatever you want to believe (#10)

Read some of the reviews of this book, and you’ll see that theological liberalism is not dead.

Thankfully, we’re not caught offguard by this sort of thing, nor are we left without hope–

You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry (2 Tim 3:14-4:5).

Continue in the Word! Preach the Word! Faithfully serve Christ until He comes!

The Incarnation of Jesus Christ

I’m submitting the following for this week’s “Pastor’s Column” in our local newspaper. If you have thoughts or suggestions, let me know by noon today! 🙂


We just finished what for many is their favorite time of the year, Christmas. Increasingly our culture views this season in purely secular terms instead of praising God for the incarnation of Jesus Christ. However, regardless of what people may think, the Bible unequivocally says that Jesus of Nazareth was and is fully God and fully man!

The incarnation was necessary for a variety of reasons, but especially for the salvation of sinners. Before a holy God everyone stands as a guilty sinner, deserving eternal judgment. In and of ourselves we are incapable and unwilling to fix the situation—no amount of good feelings or religious works can ever remove sin’s guilt and pay the full price sin requires.

This is the reason for the incarnation, why the eternal Son added to His Person a human nature—so that a perfect man could offer Himself as a sinless sacrifice of infinite value being also eternal God. Believing anything short of this results in denying the Person and work of Jesus Christ and, sadly, the loss of any hope of eternal life. Let me encourage you—believe in and depend on Jesus Christ alone for deliverance from your sin!

The great hymn writer John Newton—who wrote “Amazing Grace”—also wrote another hymn that clearly sets forth the Biblical truth about Jesus Christ:

“What think ye of Christ?” is the test
To try both your state and your scheme;
You cannot be right in the rest
Unless you think rightly of Him.
As Jesus appears in your view—
As He is beloved or not—
So God is disposed to you,
And mercy or wrath is your lot.

Some take Him a creature to be—
A man, or an angel at most;
But they have not feelings like me,
Nor know themselves wretched and lost;
So guilty, so helpless am I,
I dare not confide in His blood
Nor on His protection rely,
Unless I were sure He is God.

Some call Him a Savior in word,
But mix their own works with His plan;
And hope He His help will afford
When they have done all that they can:
If doings prove rather too light
(Admitting their efforts may fail),
They purpose to make up full weight
By casting His name in the scale.

Some call Him “the pearl of great price”
And say He’s the fountain of joys;
Yet feed upon folly and vice,
And cleave to the world and its toys;
Like Judas the Savior they kiss,
And while they salute Him, betray;
O what will profession like this
Avail in His terrible day?

If asked what of Jesus I think,
Tho’ still my best thoughts are but poor,
I’ll say He’s my meat and my drink,
My life, and my strength, and my store!
My husband, my trust and my friend,
My Savior from sin and death’s gall,
My hope from beginning to end,
My portion, my Lord, and my all.


Sin in the Light of God’s Holiness

“All approach to God is on the ground of shed blood. The atonement has its deepest demand in the holiness of God. Any doctrine of the atonement that sees its need only in the necessity that man be influenced by a mighty motive, or in the necessities of governmental expediency, does not go to the root of things. The first and fundamental reason why ‘without shedding of blood there is no remission’ is because God is Holy and sin must be covered before there can be fellowship between God and the sinner…

“God does not punish the sinner merely because the sinner’s good makes it necessary. God is Holy. God hates sin. His holiness and hatred of sin, like every attribute of His, is living and active and must manifest itself…

“Any view of the punishment of sin that leaves out the thought of its being an expression of God’s holy hatred of sin, is not only unbiblical, but shallow and dishonoring to God. God is holy, infinitely holy, and infinitely hates sin. We get glimpses at times of what God’s hatred of sin must be, in our own burning indignation at some enormous iniquity, but God is infinitely holy and God’s wrath at the smallest sin is infinitely greater than ours at the greatest enormity. God is love, it is true, but this love is not of the sentimental sort that sends costly bouquets and tender missives to moral monsters, as some of our Universalist theologians would have us think. ‘Our God is a consuming fire’ (Heb 12:29). God’s love to sinners will never be appreciated until seen in the light of His blazing wrath at sin.

“The holiness of God manifests itself in His making an infinite sacrifice to save others from sin unto holiness. The death of Christ is not merely a manifestation of the love of God but of His holiness as well.

“The wonderfulness of God’s love! It would be no wonder if an unholy God could love unholy men; but that the God whose name is Holy, the Infinitely Holy God, could love beings so utterly sinful as we are, that is the wonder of the eternities. There are many deep mysteries in the Bible, but no other so profound as this.”

From R. A. Torrey’s What the Bible Teaches, pp. 39-41.