November, 2010

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The Death Of A Son

Monday, November 15th, 2010

To download in pdf., click here: The Death Of A Son

He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? Romans 8:32

The well-known boxing promoter Bob Arum recently lost his son, John, in a climbing accident on Storm King Mountain in Washington state. Although his public persona normally exudes the bravado associated with the boxing world, Arum’s feelings were poignantly revealed to the New York Times interviewer by this statement: “When you lose a child, I don’t care what anybody tells you, you lose part of yourself…It does not get easier over time.”[i]

His words express just a small portion of the tremendous sorrow of a parent losing a beloved child. Mr. Arum was close to his son. They shared a common profession as lawyers, and loved to fish and watch the New York Giants football team. Like his father, John was a driven person, passionate about certain causes such as environmentalism. In keeping with his love of nature, he was an ardent mountaineer, but this dangerous hobby led to his death. His father disliked this arduous form of recreation, always dreading the day when he would hear of a fall. The reporter continues the tale: “Shortly after John Arum’s death, Bob Arum vented to his family, asked the questions everybody asks. How could he have done this? Put himself in that position?
To which Richard told his father: ‘Because he’s just like you.’”[ii] The same drive that made him a success in professional life also impelled him to brave great dangers in following his interests.

Unsearchable Grace

In a small way, this tragic story is reminiscent of the depth of God the Father’s love for mankind. As the verse above indicates, the sacrifice of the Son of God evidences the limitless largesse of Divine grace. His generosity is boundless, for it is expressed in the gift of something of ultimate value: the life of God’s Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. As the nineteenth century preacher Horatius Bonar put it in a classic hymn: “The gift of gifts, all other gifts in one – blessed be God our God!”[iii] It is in the death of the Son that one perceives the extent of the riches of His grace (Eph. 1:7.)  God did not spare His own Son. Abraham was commanded to spare Isaac; David would have spared Absalom if he were able (Gen 22:12; 2 Sam. 18:5.) But the sovereign God did not spare His Son; instead, He chose to send Him to the agony of the cross. Likewise, the Son loved the world, and so He voluntarily went to this death to do His Father’s will and save His fallen creatures. Whoever receives the Lord Jesus by faith is rescued from eternal judgment and perdition (Jn. 3:16.) They are given eternal life, and are made children and sons of God (Jn. 1:12; 5:24.)

Having been made joint-heirs with the One who inherits all things, believers are told that there is nothing good that God will withhold from them (Rom. 8:17, 32; Psa. 84:11.) The guarantee of this immense spiritual wealth is that He has already given His best: the Son of God Himself! Never has a father loved a Son as much as God the Father loves the Lord Jesus, whom Scripture calls “the Son of His love” (Col. 1:12-13, NKJV.) “How He set His love upon Thee – called Thee His beloved Son; Yet for us He did not spare Thee, By Thy death our life was won,” as a beautiful hymn says it.[iv]

The Son Bringing Many Sons To Glory

Interestingly, the article about Bob Arum’s grief ends on the positive note of discussing his close friendship with the boxing sensation, Manny Pacquiao, and the similarities that he sees between this fighter and his son. As Bishop writes:

Perhaps it’s a stretch, but the more they spoke, the more Arum saw his son in the famous Filipino boxer, in Pacquiao’s increased dedication to public service, in his myriad dimensions, in the way boxing alone failed to define him. Pacquiao is not simply one of the two best boxers in the world. And John was never just a boxing promoter’s son.
Pacquiao is dedicating the fight to John’s memory, and Arum sees a symmetry there. He does not expect to find closure here in Texas, or any time soon. But he does consider this — back at work, back with Pacquiao – a start.[v]

In losing his son, one might say, he has gained someone with the same characteristics. On a far grander scale, the Father gave up His Son that He might gain many glorious sons and daughters who are destined to bear His image (Rom. 8:28-30.)


[i] Greg Bishop, “After losing a son, Arum takes a step back,” New York Times, Publ. 11/11/10; electronic ed.: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/12/sports/12arum.html?partner=rss&emc=rss Accessed on 11/11/10.

[ii] Ibid.

[iii] Horatius Bonar, “Blessed be God our God.” See: http://www.stempublishing.com/hymns/ss/89

[iv] Miss C.A. Wellesley, “Gathered in Thy name Lord Jesus,” See: http://www.hymnal.net/hymn.php/nt/204

[v] Bishop, see ftnt. i.

Guest post: Repentance – By: Jim McKendrick

Monday, November 8th, 2010

To download the article in pdf., click here: Repentance – J. McKendrick

Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.”Acts 20:21

The gospel is the heart of the Christian message. Without the gospel Christianity has nothing of value to offer this world. The world can attain a certain degree of health, education and welfare but only the gospel offers true hope beyond this world and changes people so they can be a help to others in this world. If we get the gospel wrong we have no real message. Paul would take this further by saying if we get this message wrong then we are accursed (Gal. 1:8.) He told the Ephesian elders the message he preached both publicly and from house to house was “repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.” It is my observation both personally and by reading others that one of the characteristics of the gospel that is sadly missing or misunderstood today is the first aspect of the preaching of the gospel – repentance toward God. If we fail to understand repentance then we have a nonexistent belief in the Lord Jesus Christ. For if we do not repent then there is no need for, nor understanding of, faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

God’s View Of Man

So it is imperative that we understand the meaning of repentance. To understand the necessity of repentance we need to see what God thinks of who we are in His sight. Isaiah in his prophecy says metaphorically, “the whole head is sick, and the whole heart is faint. From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds and bruises, and putrefying sores: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment” (Isa. 1:5-6.) Paul, in the New Testament in Romans chapter 1 will tell us we are not thankful, we have not glorified God as God, we have changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image like corruptible man, we have changed the truth of God into a lie and we choose not to retain God in our knowledge. So therefore God has given us up to uncleanness, to vile affections, and a reprobate mind. These are not very politically correct or pretty pictures of humanity (Rom. 1:18-32.)

Man’s Self-Estimation

But that is not the picture we have of ourselves. Paul will remind the Corinthian believers in 2  Corinthians 10:12 that we commend ourselves for we compare ourselves with ourselves. We really don’t think we are too bad. After all look at the wonderful accomplishments and advances that mankind has made over the years. And as long as we look horizontally we can agree with that assessment. Even at an individual level as long as we look around we can always find people worse than we are. We pride ourselves in paying our bills, being faithful to our wives, being kind to our neighbors, etc. Conversely, there are those we know of or read about who are not faithful and do not meet their obligations.

Thus we need to repent. We have a wrong concept of God and His holiness and a wrong concept of ourselves and our sinfulness. But what does it mean to repent?  A working definition is: “Repentance is a change of mind resulting in a change of desire and purpose which effects a reversal of man’s intellect, emotion, and moral decisions.” Did you notice that there are three aspects to the subject of repentance? There are the mind, the emotions, and the will. If any of these is missing there is not true repentance.

Steps To Correct Understanding

In John 16:7-8 we read that one of the ministries of the Holy Spirit is to convict (convince) the world of sin and righteousness and judgment to come. Thus the gospel preacher’s first responsibility is to present the subject of sin to his hearers. Sin is the problem of mankind and of each individual in this world. Modern psychology has done a wonderful job of taking sin out of the conversation and for the evangelical world to follow modern psychology is a tragic mistake. We need to get back to the subject of sin in our preaching. If we will faithfully preach the gospel the Holy Spirit will convict the sinner of his sin. The process of repentance is for a person to be convinced of the reality of sin and the fact that they are a sinner. This is first a mental assessment.

Secondly when the sinner has considered the reality of sin and the fact that they are a sinner and as a result of their sins they are doomed to a lost sinner’s hell there will follow an emotional reaction. First there will be a sorrowing for sin as he begins to understand his guilt before a holy God. But sorrow is not repentance. Paul in 2 Corinthians 7:10 tells us that “godly sorrow works repentance.” Sorrow for sin and repentance are often confused in the gospel message today. Sorrow for sin is a necessary prerequisite toward repentance, but is not itself repentance. Sorrow for sin is only part of the process toward repentance. To tell a person just to be sorry for their sins only short-circuits the gospel and leads to a false understanding of true repentance – and more tragically – to a false profession.

The third aspect of repentance is to point the sinner to the only provision out of his dilemma. The cross of Christ and its provision will be a wonderful sight to the one who has come to the realization that he is a sinner on the way to hell and understands his guilt before God. Then he makes a conscious decision to cast himself on the mercy of God and the provision of Calvary and when he does, then God saves him.

Real Life Repentance

The prodigal son of Luke 15 is a wonderful example of repentance. First there was the mental realization of his condition and “he came to himself” (Lk. 15:17.) Then there was the emotional reaction of his sin: he recognized his unworthiness to be called a son (v. 18.) Last but not least, he arose and cast himself on the mercy of his father, finding to his utter amazement and joy a father that was ready to forgive him and receive him back home (vv. 20-24.)

This same process is necessary for believers as well as unbelievers. In Revelation chapters 2 and 3 we have churches that needed to repent. The Lord wrote letters that revealed their waywardness and called upon them to repent. We need to be conscious as churches and individuals of the Holy Spirit’s conviction in our lives of that which is not right, and having come into the knowledge of our sin, turn from our sinful attitudes and practices and find the Lord waiting to forgive and restore us to a rightful condition before Him.

In Memorium: DMK

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010

To download the article in pdf., click on this link:  In Memorium.DMK

The memory of the righteous is blessed,
But the name of the wicked will rot. Prov. 10:7

The silver-haired head is a crown of glory, if it is found in the way of righteousness. Prov. 16:31

If she were on earth, today would be my paternal grandmother’s 99th birthday. Happily, she is with the Lord. Of course people often assume that their loved one is in “a better place.” But I rest on something greater than wishful thinking or sentimental notions of the afterlife. My assurance that Dorothy Keyser is with her Creator stems from the clear teaching of the Bible. Consider these words:  “That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.  For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.  For the Scripture says, ‘Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.’ For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all  is rich to all who call upon Him.  For ‘whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved'” (Rom. 10:9-13.) As a teenage girl, my grandmother confessed Jesus as her risen Lord & Savior in this way; thus, as a born again believer in Christ she is described by 2 Corinthians 5:6-8 as being with Him: “So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. For we walk by faith, not by sight. We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.”

The Memory Of The Righteous

My earliest memories of mommom – as I called her – were of her sitting at her kitchen table reading the Bible in the morning. Due to the dire economic conditions of the Great Depression her formal education did not extended beyond the eighth grade, and by her own admission, she only possessed average intelligence. Nonetheless, her mind delighted to pour over the precious truths of God’s Word, exploring the riches of the Lord’s grace (Eph. 1:7.) As she often recounted the story of her conversion to us she would say: “I’m not very smart, but I’m thankful that the Lord showed me the gospel, and that I was wise enough to believe it.” It was a simple testimony, but a potent one, for the memory of her faith continues to encourage my family to this day. She faithfully prayed for me every day of my life (not to mention many other family members.) Her highest ambition for me was that I would grow in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ (2 Pet. 3:18.)

Mommom’s gray hairs were beautiful, for she could trace God’s goodness to her over many decades. By the Lord’s grace, she finished well, with a clear mind and a clear profession of faith in Christ into her ninety-third year. When she was suddenly ushered into eternity by a brief illness, we were left with the blessed memory of a life lived for the glory of God. Her name will adorn the pages of no “Who’s Who” book in this world, but it is written in the only volume that matters: “the Lamb’s book of life” (Rev. 21:27.)

May All Who Come Behind Us Find Us Faithful

Modern western culture sets aside the elderly as being of little value. But in the Almighty’s things godly older saints set the bar high for younger Christians. I remember one elderly missionary telling me that his regular prayer was that he would not become an ungodly old man. By God’s grace, he too finished well in his nineties. Such examples leave behind a tremendous example for those of us in early and middle life. What are we living for? Is our aim to live to the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ? Or are our ambitions for life focused on lesser things? Paul’s great aim was to gain as much of a knowledge and experience of Christ as was possible (e.g. Phil. 1:21; Phil. 3:7-14.) Let us press on to old age in the way of righteousness, if the Lord does not take us home first by death or through His return.