My Cut of God’s Glory

April 10, 2014 — 4 Comments

200496328-001We hear much today about “celebrity” pastors and worship leaders. The truth is that the desire for celebrity lurks in all of us. These words of A.W. Tozer are a powerful reminder of what matters most and the need for humility:

Let me tell you this, my brethren, it is possible to want the glory of God to be revealed, and to pray that the glory of God might be revealed but at the same time want to be the one He uses to reveal it. It is possible for me to go to my knees and say, “O God, let Thy glory be revealed to men,” and at the same time have a sneaking hope that I’ll be the one He uses to reveal that glory.

Do you know what I’m asking for? I’m asking for a cut of the glory of God, a percentage of the glory of God, and I’ll never get my prayer answered.”

It is perfectly possible to want the Church to be restored from her Babylonian captivity, yet want to be the one who leads her back. If you pray like that, you might just as well not pray. It is possible to want the wall of Jerusalem to be built, but to want to be Nehemiah.It is possible to want the prophets of Baal to be defeated, but have a secret yearning to be Elijah and stand up and call fire down from heaven.We want a reformation, but we want to be Luther and say, “Here I stand, so help me, God.”

We want the army of the Lord to win, but we like to be a commissioned officer so that when it wins, we can ride at the head of the parade. We want our church to triumph over her foes, but we like to be around there working, so when it triumphs, everyone will say we had a part in it.

“Do you know what I’m asking for? I’m asking for a cut of the glory of God, a percentage of the glory of God, and I’ll never get my prayer answered.”

Now, my brethren, we must elevate our hearts and pray: “O God, honor Thyself, but do it through me or do it without me or do it apart from me.” We have to pray like that. Otherwise we’re praying selfishly.

A.W. TozerWe’re a starved generation that’s never seen the glory of God. We have men and women in their 20’s and 30’s who have never seen the glory of God. They’re Christians, they’re in Bible schools, and they’ve never seen the glory of God. They’ve never known what it is to be in a service where the Presence of God is so awe-inspiring that you can’t speak aloud. They’ve never heard God preached about so high and lifted up that they went home in silence and wouldn’t talk.

When A. B. Simpson preached in Buffalo, New York, he preached on the glory of Jesus Christ, and when he was through, they dismissed the meeting and no one got out of their seats. They sat there because they were afraid to get up and walk around in the Presence of God. But a whole generation of young people has never seen anything like that.

“O God, restore Thy glory by whomsoever Thou wilt restore Thy glory.” Amen.

In the video below, “Pastor” Lesego Daniels instructs his congregation to run outside and consume grass as spiritual food. It is one of the most bizarre things I have seen. In the video, the practice of crowd manipulation by an authority figure via audible suggestion is evident and dangerous. In one video a man describes it as one of the “greater things” Jesus said we would do. A woman expresses the idea that the “man of God” is demonstrating the power of God by doing these things. The “things” include putting people to sleep, having congregation members trample them and slap them roughly on the back. He then “wakes” them whereupon they report having felt nothing while asleep. The pastor brags about the extent of his sleep inducing gift: “You can leave them like this for six months. I love this, I don’t want to be bored. You can even make police go to sleep when they come to arrest you…” He claims that odder miracles will be happening this year including people flying.

This is simply evil. The “man of God” is setting himself up as the unquestioned authority and he alone demonstrates the miracles. The body of Christ is reduced to spectators who provide the adoring crowd and fund his expensive lifestyle. Grass becoming the body of Christ? Healing from consuming grass?  The only mention of eating grass in scripture is associated with judgment and madness. In Daniel, the judgement of Nebuchadnezzar.is expressed in these words:

Immediately the word was fulfilled against Nebuchadnezzar. He was driven from among men and ate grass like an ox, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven till his hair grew as long as eagles’ feathers, and his nails were like birds’ claws. – Daniel 4:33

There is no doubt in my mind that the ministers in these situations are deeply deceived at best and criminal charlatans at the worst. The parade of men in places like Nigeria and South Africa who are presenting themselves as under the guidance of the Holy Spirit by engaging in all manner of bizarre practice is alarming.  While I am not a cessationist and would soundly disagree with John MacArthur, it is things like this that certainly provide fuel for the fire of concern and sound an alarm for discernment in the church.

 

jcryleThe benefits [the Lord’s Supper] confers, are spiritual, not physical. Its effects must be looked for in our inward man. It was intended to remind us, by the visible, tangible emblems of bread and wine, that the offering of Christ’s body and blood for us on the cross, is the only atonement for sin, and the life of a believer’s soul. It was meant to help our poor weak faith to closer fellowship with our crucified Savior, and to assist us in spiritually feeding on Christ’s body and blood. It is an ordinance for redeemed sinners, and not for unfallen angels. By receiving it we publicly declare our sense of guilt, and need of a Savior – our trust in Jesus, and our love to Him – our desire to live upon Him, and our hope to live with Him. Using it in this spirit, we shall find our repentance deepened, our faith increased, our hope brightened, and our love enlarged – our besetting sins weakened, and our graces strengthened. It will draw us nearer to Christ.

J.C. Ryle
Commentary, Matthew 26.

Battling Bitterness

January 27, 2014 — Leave a comment

“And he shall reign… forever.” – Gabriel

The Annunciation by El Greco

The Annunciation by El Greco

“The true Christian should often dwell on this glorious promise and take comfort in its contents. He has no cause to be ashamed of his Master. Poor and despised as he may often be for the Gospel’s sake, he may feel assured that he is on the conquering side. The kingdoms of this world shall yet become the kingdoms of Christ. Yet a little time and He that shall come will come, and will not tarry. For that blessed day let us patiently wait, and watch, and pray. Now is the time for carrying the cross, and for fellowship with Christ’s sufferings. The day draws near when Christ shall take His great power and reign; and when all who have served Him faithfully shall exchange a cross for a crown.”

J.C. Ryle

MacArthur-Strange-Fire

Craig S. Keener, Ph.D. and Professor of New Testament at Asbury Theological Seminary penned the following review of MacArthur’s Strange Fire. It is published in full at the The Pneuma Review website. Here’s a bit to whet your whistle…

John MacArthur, Strange Fire: The Danger of Offending the Holy Spirit with Counterfeit Worship (Thomas Nelson, Nov 12, 2013)

While offering some very needed points, John MacArthur’s Strange Fire unfortunately extrapolates from those points to an entire “movement.” As I note below, I also believe that MacArthur suppresses some biblical truth on the basis of a postbiblical doctrine, the very offense with which he charges others.

Nevertheless, there is much to be learned from his criticisms; he has brought again to our attention some serious errors that charismatic churches must be on their guard against. I start with some agreeable points in the book and then move to points where I believe MacArthur has clearly overstepped the bounds of reason and Christian civility; there my tone cannot be as conciliatory.  (Continue reading)

 

Longing for Home

November 13, 2013 — 5 Comments

The One Year Bible readings this week have included the 11th chapter of Hebrews, a chapter often referred to as the “Hall of Faith.” One of the passages I love comes from this chapter:

“These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland.”- Hebrews 11:13-14

The older I get, the more I find myself feeling a longing for that “homeland.” Keith Mathison of Ligoneer shared this video from Scottish singer Dougie MacLean preforming his song “Caledonia.” It’s a lovely song about longing for home. Give it a listen and then pick up my comments below.

I love the line: “So I’ve been telling old stories, singing songs that make me think about where I came from, and that’s the reason why I seem so far away today.”  Isn’t that a picture of our gathering as God’s people? We come to the Lord’s table, share the old stories, bear each others burdens and sing songs of hope. As pilgrims we long for that country whose builder and maker is God – a new earth where sin is destroyed and death is no more. I feel so far away from it today but I know His glory is out on the horizon.

This is the message from Sunday, 11-10-13, at Clear River Community Church

 
Zechariah, Kingdom Prayer and Speaking the Truth

 

The Terror of Love

October 29, 2013 — Leave a comment

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones“The one who came from heaven to earth for us and died on that cruel cross of shame on Calvary’s hill; who spared not Himself; who endured the contradiction of sinners. He who bore that agony in the garden and on the cross, He will look at us – and what He will look for is this: how we spent our time in this world after we realized what He had done for us. It is the terror of love you see, not the fear of torment. You will look into that beloved face and into those eyes and you will realize, as you have never done before, what He did for you. Then you will realize with shame what you did not do for Him. Oh, says Paul, buy up the opportunity, do not waste a second. Keep that in the forefront of your mind.”

- Martyn Lloyd-Jones

387px-ArchibaldGBrown   Oh, the wondrous consecration of Jesus Christ! How early did it shine in his life! ‘Wist ye not that I must be about my Father s business’, was the language of the lad of twelve; and now, just six months before his crucifixion, he seems almost like the war-horse that Job describes—smelling the battle from afar, and pawing in the valley,eager to dash into the fray. So Christ hears the sound of Calvary’s battle afar off. Does his heart quail? Does he turn his back towards his sorrows? No: ‘He steadfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem.’

Oh children of God, I would that we had something more of the face of Jesus Christ in this matter! Do not for a moment think that to be a Christian means the melting away of all manliness. Far from it! The Christian ought to be the very highest type of man, and whilst we would emulate all the gentleness, all the love, and all the forbearance of our blessed Savior, we would also breathe this prayer to him, and say, ‘With thy gentleness give me thy greatness; and with thy long suffering give me thy holy impetuosity for the Father’s glory; and with all thy meekness give me thy boundless spirit of determined purpose. May I steadfastly set my face towards the path of duty marked out for me, to whatever it may lead.’

- Archibald G. Brown