January, 2018

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Humble & Authentic Preaching (A Retro-post by C.H. Spurgeon)

Tuesday, January 30th, 2018

“But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.” 1 Corinthians 15:10

“Dear brethren, may we, every one of us, be as far removed as possible from anything like egotism, which is hateful to the last degree. It is to be hoped that vanity is rare in ministers, for vanity is the vice of novices, and may be sooner excused in young students than in actual teachers of the Word. Experience, if it be worth having, exterminates a man’s vanity; but so bad is our nature, that it may increase his pride if it be an experience sweetened with success. It were hard to say which is the greater sin, vanity or pride, but we know which is the more foolish and ridiculous. A proud man may have some weight, but a vain man is light as air, and influences no one. From both these egotisms may we be kept, for they are both injurious to ourselves and hateful to God. Too frequent an intrusion of self is another form of egotism to be avoided. I hope our sermons will never be of the same order as those which were set up by a certain printing office, and the chief compositor had to request the manager to send for an extra supply of capital I’s. The letter ‘I’ is a noble vowel, but it may be sounded too loudly. Great ‘I’ is very apt to become prominent with us all; even those who labour after humility can barely escape. When self is killed in one form, it rises in another, and, alas, there is such a thing as being proud of being humble, and boasting one’s self of being now cleansed from everything like boasting.

What Is Man That Thou Art Mindful Of Him?

Brethren, I hope that however useful God may make us in our spheres, we do not conceive ourselves to be vastly important, for indeed we are no such thing. The cock was of opinion that the sun rose early every morning on purpose to hear him crow; but we know that Sol did nothing of the kind. The world does not revolve, the sun does not blaze, the moon does not wax and wane, the stars do not shine, entirely for the especial benefit of any one brother here, however admirable he may be in his own place; neither does Christendom exist for the purpose p 247 of finding us pulpits, nor our own particular church that it may furnish us a congregation and an income; nay, nor does even so much as one believer exist that he may lay himself out for our sole comfort and honour. We are too insignificant to be of any great importance in God’s great universe; he can do either with or without us, and our presence or absence will not disarrange his plans.

C.H. Spurgeon by A. Melville; public domain (Wikimedia Commons) https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/97/Charles_Haddon_Spurgeon_by_Alexander_Melville.jpg

Servants, Not Celebrities

Yet for all that, our subject is individuality, and we hope that each man will recognise and honourably maintain his personality. The proper recognition of the ego is a theme worthy of our attention. I will make a word if I may: let egotism stand for proud, vainglorious, intrusive selfhood, and let egoism stand for the humble, responsible, and honest selfhood which, finding itself in being, resolves to be at the divine bidding and to be at its best, to the glory of God. In this age, when crowds follow their leaders, and bold men easily command a following; when the flocks cannot move without their bell-wethers, and rough independence is rarely to be found, it is well for us to be self-contained, whole men and not limbs of a body, maintaining ourselves in the integrity of personal thought, conscience, manner, and action. Monopolisers now-a-days almost push the individual trader out of the market: one party cry up wood as the only material for building the house of the Lord, and another sect with equal zeal extol their own hay and stubble. We shall not by all their efforts be induced to cease from building with the few precious stones which the Lord has entrusted to us; nor shall even our brethren who so admirably pile up the gold and silver persuade us to hide away our agates and carbuncles. We must each build with such material as we have, neither, if the work be true and honest, ought we to censure others or condemn ourselves because our labour is after its own kind . . .

Preaching The Gospel To One’s Self

A penitent mourning for sin fits us to preach repentance. ‘I preached,’ says John Bunyan sometimes, ‘as a man in chains to men in chains, hearing the clanking of my own fetters while I preached to those who were bound in affliction and iron.’ Sermons wrung out of broken hearts are often the means of consolation to despairing souls. It is well to go to the pulpit at times with ‘God be merciful to me a sinner’ as our uppermost prayer. Some mourners will never be cheered till they see the preacher smite on his own breast, and hear him confess his personal sense of unworthiness. It would not be right, however, for us to stay upon such low ground, for we preach the gospel, and not the law; we are bound, therefore, to rejoice because we feel the power of the blood of Jesus upon our own consciences, giving us peace and pardon in him. Our joy will give life to our message. We have also tasted of the honey of communion with Jesus: we have not, perhaps, feasted upon handfuls of it, as some of our Samsons have done, but we have at least, like Jonathan, dipped the end of our rod into it, and our eyes are enlightened, so that our hearers can see them sparkle with joy while we tell them how precious Jesus is. This gives emphasis to testimony. When we speak as ministers and not as men, as preachers p 248 instead of penitents, as theologians instead of disciples, we fail: when we lean our head too much upon the commentary and too little upon the Saviour’s bosom, when we eat too largely of the tree of knowledge and too little of the tree of life, we lose the power of our ministry. I am a sinner, a sinner washed in the blood myself, delivered from the wrath to come by the merit of my Lord and Master—all this must be fresh upon the mind. Personal godliness must never grow scant with us. Our own personal justification in the righteousness of Christ, our personal sanctification by the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit, our vital union with Christ, and expectancy of glory in him, yea, our own advancement in grace, or our own declension; all these we must well know and consider.

Authenticity In The Pulpit

We must never preach to others with a counterfeit voice, narrating an experience we have not enjoyed, but if we feel we have backslidden ourselves, we must rally to the mark, or penitently speak from the stand-point we actually occupy. On the other hand, if we have grown in grace, it is wicked to conceal what we have tasted and handled, and affect a mock humility; in fact, we dare not do so, we cannot but speak what Christ has taught us. We must speak out of the God-given fulness within, and not borrow from another; better far to be silent than to do that. We must be true to our personal condition before God, for perhaps the Lord allows the state of heart of his ministers to vary on purpose that their roving paths may lead to the discovery of his wandering sheep. I have sometimes traversed a portion of the pilgrim path by no means to be desired, and I have groaned in my soul, ‘Lord, why and wherefore is it thus with me?’ And I have preached in a way which made me lie in the dust, fearing that the Lord had not spoken by me, and all the while he was leading me by the hand in a way I knew not, for the good of his own. There have come forward ere long one or two who have been just the people God intended to bless, and they were reached by the very sermon which cost me so dear, and grew out of an experience so bitter. ‘He carried me in the spirit,’ says one of the prophets, and such carryings, so often as they occur, are matters for praise. Not so much for our own good or edification so much as for the benefit of our fellow men are we borne into valleys of dry bones and chambers of imagery. We must watch these phases of soul, and be true to divine impulses. I would not preach upon the joy of the Lord myself when I feel broken-hearted, neither would I enlarge upon a deep sense of indwelling sin while rejoicing in a full sense of cleansing by the word. We must pray the Holy Spirit to keep up and elevate our individual life in its connection with our ministry. We must ever remember that we are not preaching doctrine which is good for others merely, but precious truth which has been proved to be good for ourselves. We may not be butchers at the block chopping off for hungry ones the meat of which we do not partake; but we must ourselves feed upon it, and must show in our very faces what fattening food it is which we present to the starving sons of men.”

C. H. Spurgeon, “Inaugural Address For The Pastor’s College Conference of 1875,” in The Sword and Trowel: May, 1875. (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1875), 246–248. [Italics original; boldface subdivisions mine.]

“The Humbling of Nebuchadnezzar” (A guest-post by D.W. Gooding)

Saturday, January 27th, 2018

Commenting on Daniel 4:28-33 –  “What a disaster it was to see poor old Nebuchadnezzar. He had failed to live to the glory of God. He had made himself the chief end. And now the great beautifier of Babylon, who had imposed order on the waste lands of that part of the world and made something beautiful of it, was living like an animal. He had just let himself go without any order whatsoever, and was living like a beast.

The discipline carries a message by itself. The New Testament talks about these things in those solemn and black verses in Romans 1. What happens when men decide not to acknowledge God? God judges them (v. 32). Not merely in the day to come, but he judges them now. Because they refuse to retain the knowledge of God, God gives them over to a debased mind—God does it. It is not that they develop a debased mind, and then God judges them for having it—the debased mind is God’s judgment on them. They said they could enjoy life without God and the discipline of God on that kind of thing is to deliver people over to a reprobate judgment. Their own judgment goes all astray; they dishonour their bodies and then glory in perversion.

It is not merely that God will judge them for it; this is the judgment of God—‘God gave them up to a debased mind’ (v. 28). They shall receive in their bodies their due penalty, says Paul (v. 27), a mind that can no longer discern what is truly holy, healthy and beautifully human, but descends to the level of the beasts.

Listen to Peter, talking to the church. He says that there are false teachers who will come into the church preaching permissiveness, that pre-marital unchastity is OK, just like the world does it.

But these, as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of the things that they understand not; and shall utterly perish in their own corruption. (2 Pet 2:12 KJV)

That is God’s judgment on a decadent civilization. We need, therefore, to evaluate the culture that surrounds us. Our young people especially need help and guidance in this very matter; the peer pressures in school and in society are tremendous. Satan finds it so easy to represent God (as he did to Eve) as a kill-joy who wants to keep us back from beautiful things p 56 and lovely experiences. It is so easy to swallow part of the lie and think that to indulge ourselves is the way to health and maturity. It isn’t.

We need to evaluate art. I love going round art galleries, but not all art is good. Much of it is, but some of it is positively evil. Not all literature is good. It secretly used to amaze me to see young women coming up to university and reading subjects that involved them reading literature written by the most rabid existentialist philosophers, preaching their values. Good literature is good, like good bread and butter is good; it is not to be despised. We don’t have to avoid the world’s good literature. In the world there is good and healthy literature, but there is also poisonous literature. And not all you see on the TV is good, is it? It is not good when believers are watching programmes late on a Saturday night for which they would need to repent before they go to the Lord’s Supper on Sunday morning.

Our minds are our most valuable things. Listen to the advice of the apostle,

Whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Phil 4:8)

But fill your mind with the immoral trash and beastliness of the world, and what you sow you will reap.”

David W. Gooding, Daniel: Civil Servant & Saint. (Coleraine, NI, UK: The Myrtlefield Trust, 2017), 55-56. [Italics original.] Read the entire work here.

God’s Justice & Love (A guest-post by David Gooding)

Friday, January 26th, 2018

“‘What is the answer to evil?’ asks the psalmist.

Let the rivers clap their hands; let the hills sing for joy together before the Lord, for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with equity. (Ps 98:8–9)

  Don’t you want there to be a judgment? Who wants the evil of the world to go unchecked for ever? The unconverted man with any moral sense would want a judgment; even if he doesn’t believe in it and thinks it is ‘whistling in the dark’ and comforting yourself with fairy tales. But he would hope it is true that evil will not go on for ever, and there is going to be a judgment.

[God] has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead. (Acts 17:31)

  Picture the scene with the help of the imagery. ‘The Ancient of Days took his seat; his clothing was white as snow, and the hair of his head like pure wool’ (Dan 7:9). Over against this fearful, hideous beast, put the triumph of rationality and wisdom. The books are opened—a perfect record; the thrones are set—perfect justice. The ultimate triumph of rationality, wisdom and justice. Incidentally, notice that it is not one throne, but thrones. We shall come to that again.

  Praise God in your heart that the vision is true and let us preach it unashamedly. It is gospel for our world; let us hold up our heads before the atheist and the humanist. Precisely at this point they have no gospel to preach. The humanist declares that his interest is in humanity. He has got rid of God with all his tyranny and he is on man’s side.

  Let’s take him to visit Auschwitz. Here is a row of cells and the occupants are scheduled to be gassed next Thursday. What shall we say to them?

  When they see us and think we bring hope they ask, ‘What are you doing for us? We want justice.’

  I will say, ‘You will not get justice in this world. You will be gassed, and there’s nothing anybody can do about it. But there is hope; this life is not the end. The sense of right and wrong that you have in your heart is not your own imagination. Our Creator put it there; it is not put there to mock you. There is to be a judgment where earth’s wrongs will be put right. For you, there is forgiveness of all your sins right now, if you will have it. The marvellous assurance from the judge himself is that, if you trust him, you will never come into judgment, but will pass from death to life.’

  And what will the humanist say to them? These people want justice, and he is interested in humanity; he has got rid of God in order to improve the lot of humanity. But he will have to say, ‘I am sorry, you are not going to get justice in this life. You are going to be gassed on Thursday, and since there is no God, no life to come and no judgment, you are never going to get justice.’ The prisoners will say, ‘Do you mean that all my hope in justice has been a mocking delusion?’

‘Yes,’ says the humanist.

  And it is not just Hitler’s victims in the gas chambers. Who shall count the multi-millions that have died unjustly in this world? God has an answer to it, our sense of right and wrong is not put there to mock us. It comes from our Creator God and there is going to be a judgment where earth’s wrongs will be put right. The resurrection of Christ is the final assurance of the fact.

Perhaps some of you are saying, ‘You denounce one tyrant and his excessive power; but you seem to substitute one tyrant for another tyrant who happens to have a bit more power, namely almighty God.’

Is that so? The final answer in the great struggle of life is simply who has the greatest power. The beast destroyed other people; now God destroys him. What’s the difference? They both destroy. You wouldn’t say anything so silly, would you? God has anticipated this objection. ‘With the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man’ (Dan 7:13). We know exactly who that person is. It was precisely with reference to that text that our Lord claimed to be the Son of Man. To his judges in the priestly court, he said,

The Father judges no one, but has given all judgement to the Son . . . And he has given him authority to execute judgement, because he is the Son of Man. (John 5:22, 27)

Our Lord is qualified to be judge because he is the Son of Man. The amazing grace of almighty God, he shall judge nobody. It will not be a question of God Almighty, in his position of God Almighty, just crushing his creatures; God himself has decreed that the judgment of man shall be done by a man, a perfect man who isn’t obsessed with power. As he looked over his beloved mother city of Jerusalem and saw the sufferings that must descend upon that city he (the judge in that final day) broke down and wept over it.

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not! (Matt 23:37)

  The judgment of mankind will be in the hand of that sinless, compassionate, perfect, ideal Son of Man.

It is not a question of who has the greatest power, but who has the greatest love 

  Nobody—not even the devil himself—has ever thought that he could attain greater power than God Almighty. The ultimate question is, who loves man the best? Judgment shall be given to the Son of Man. Not only because it shall be judgment by peer (man judged by man), but because of his worthiness to judge.

I would remind you of that well-loved vision of Revelation 5, where the hosts of heaven proclaim the Lamb worthy to take the book and open the seals. With that the preparations for the judgment of mankind begin. Why is he worthy to do it? It is not only because he is the Son of Man, but because he himself was slain. There shall be no voice raised at this judgment to say it is unfair and he is unqualified. They shall be shown Calvary and how the wild beasts tore him there, with their enmity and jealousy, their envy and spite, their power politics, both religious and civil. Invested with the very power of God, why did he put up with it?

  If you were out walking and a mosquito landed upon you and stung you, you wouldn’t think twice what you would do to it. But to think that a little bit of clay six foot tall should turn round and do insult to God and crucify his Son—why didn’t God smudge out the planet? Because that’s not God! Before the blessed Son of God should mount the throne in judgment, he was first lifted up on the cross of Calvary. He is worthy to execute judgment because he was slain so that men might go free and be redeemed.

  And they sang a new song, saying, ‘Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.’ (Rev 5:9–10)

  God is determined not just to destroy creation—he will not thus yield to defeat. Christ is going to make something of it and he will yet make something of human beings. By his redemption not only to forgive them, but to turn them into a kingdom of priests to live and serve God for his eternal pleasure . . .  The answer to the destructive power of the unregenerate Gentile political system is not only that God shall have a judgment; and not only shall the Son, the Messiah, be the judge; but dominion shall be given to the saints.”

David W. Gooding, Daniel: Civil Servant & Saint. (Coleraine, NI, UK: The Myrtlefield Trust, 2017), 41-43. [Italics original.] Read the entire work here.

Daniel’s Gospel For A Hopeless World (A Guest-post by D.W. Gooding)

Thursday, January 25th, 2018

Wikimedia Commons, public domain.

“Though he prospered so remarkably in this strange and, to him, foreign culture, we were led to admire the fact that he maintained not only his personal piety and continued praying to his God, but he maintained his faith. The faith of Israel; that Israel was God’s chosen and elect people, carrying a special role in the world and given a glorious and unique gospel message to preach to the Gentiles. What a glorious message that was for Daniel to bear in that pagan Gentile court. There is hope for this world; there is coming a glorious time of peace and plenty and glory.

  Our life’s experience is not meant to mock us; this world is not a deceit, it comes from the hand of God. The glories of creation around us are not sent to mock us; there is a future for this world. Though this world is marred at present, God has a redemption for it. The day is coming when creation herself shall be delivered from her bondage to corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God (Rom 8:21 KJV).

  Like Daniel, we are privileged to carry that glorious message of hope to our own contemporaries, who flounder in their humanism, atheism and general worldliness and ungodliness and have no ultimate hope. It is worthwhile noticing that, at this stage in history, this gospel message preached by Daniel (in the Old Testament and elaborated in the New) stands in marked contrast to other major religious faiths in the world. We need that observation nowadays, for there is a spirit abroad that advocates pluralism.

  They say, ‘Let’s take the best out of all religions. Are not all religions different ways of climbing the same mountain, so it doesn’t matter whether you come up the northern face, or the southern face, the east or the west? If you persevere you will all come up the mountain and meet each other there. All the world religions are but different ways of climbing the same mountain and coming to the same pinnacle at the end.’

  It sounds wonderful, but of course a moment’s thought is enough to show that it isn’t true and the great religious faiths of the world would be insulted if you took them so superficially. The only way to show respect for the great religious faiths of the world is to study them and take them seriously. If you do, you will find that there are irreconcilable differences and contradictions between Judaism and Christianity on the one hand, and, say, Hinduism on the other.

  Hinduism, for the most part (although Hinduism is a name given to a whole collection of religions), holds that the material universe (and therefore, our bodies) is, if not unworthy, certainly less than the ideal. This material world was created by some lesser deity, who had not enough wisdom not to do it and went and created this rather demeaning world of matter, instead of leaving things as pure spirit. The ideal for each individual, therefore, is to pass through the cycle of existence as quickly as possible. Being born in this material world, you die and go out into the world of pure spirit; then, having been re-born by reincarnation into this material world, you go back again through death into the immaterial spiritual world. The individual’s wisdom would be to try and escape that endless cycle of re-birth and death; to escape from this material world into the great spirit world beyond.

  As for human history, they say that human history in this world has no particular goal. It is like a wheel that simply goes round everlastingly in circles, getting absolutely nowhere: an endless cycle of death and rebirth. Therefore, the wisdom for each individual is to escape from the rim of the wheel (it doesn’t matter through which spoke) and try and get away from the material world into the refined essence of Nirvana, or whatever you would call it.

  At once you will see that that stands in marked contrast to what Judaism and Christianity are saying. The Bible says that this material world around us is not an illusion. It is not unworthy; it is the very handiwork of God, the almighty Creator. When he created it he pronounced that it was good, and good it is. And not only the creation around us, but ourselves. Our human bodies are not things to be despised, to be run away from (as the Greek philosophers like Socrates used to say). Our human bodies are good.

  It is true that creation has been marred by the rebellion of the creature; but still again the Old and New Testaments combine to tell us that God, in his great mercy, has a scheme of redemption for his creatures, from which springs new and everlasting hope. There is forgiveness and there is redemption. And not only forgiveness for our sins, but the very body of matter that we inhabit, says the Bible, shall one day be redeemed itself. Our blessed Lord’s bodily resurrection from the grave is but the firstfruits of a coming vast harvest. God will not be content to preserve our redeemed spirits, he is going to raise our redeemed bodies from the dead and make them like our Lord’s glorious body (Phil 3:21). And, not content with that, creation herself shall be delivered from her bondage to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God (Rom 8:21).

  God the Creator is not going to be defeated. He is not going to bring this planet to an end and say, ‘Sorry, it all went wrong and it is beyond my power to redeem it.’ God shall yet be victorious. There is hope and we have a gospel message to preach. In the words of the apostle, ‘According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead’ (1 Pet 1:3) . . . What a glorious gospel it was that Daniel, even in those far-off days, could bring to that highly developed civilization that, for all its sophistication, had no hope.”

David W. Gooding, Daniel: Civil Servant & Saint. (Coleraine, NI, UK: The Myrtlefield Trust, 2017), 21-23. [Italics original.] Download the entire work here.

Daniel At The University (a Guest-post by David Gooding)

Friday, January 19th, 2018

“Daniel didn’t object to the opportunity to be educated; he gladly accepted the courses they offered him in the university. Moreover, when they changed his name and the names of his colleagues (names that incorporated the name of God) and gave them names that incorporated the names of their idols, Daniel didn’t object (1:7). You can’t stop people calling you what they will, can you? But when he was supposed to eat the king’s meat in the university dining room, which would have been offered to the gods according to the ceremonies of the time, then he and his colleagues downright refused. They had heard about idolatry from Jeremiah and Isaiah and had seen signs of it amongst the apostates in Israel. But to see idolatry in the university in Babylon, ‘No!’ said Daniel, ‘I will not submit to it.’ Why not? Because an idolatrous interpretation of the universe is a false interpretation. It is not true!

What was the idolatrous interpretation of the universe? To put it as briefly as I can, according to the New Testament the ancient nations knew the true God, but ‘did not see fit to acknowledge God’ (Rom 1:28). When they ceased believing in the true God they didn’t start believing in nothing, they had to make gods of their own. Their gods were, on the one part, the deification of the forces of Nature: the storm, the moon, the sun, the great powers of chaos, and so forth. They also made gods out of the physiological processes of the human body. They worshipped the goddess of love. And when they felt aggressive urges they said a god had got a hold of them, so they worshipped the god of war. When men lose faith in the true God that is what they do.

If ever there was an age in modern times that worshipped the goddess of love (Aphrodite), it is our modern world. Ask this bright young woman who has just murdered her lover’s wife and she will say, ‘It was love that made me do it.’ That’s supposed to be enough excuse? And then the jury lets them off, saying that it was love made them do it. It’s just like the ancients; they would have said, ‘The goddess Aphrodite got hold of me.’ You can’t resist a goddess and if it is love that moves you to murder your lover’s wife you must not call that murder. You will say, ‘I was blinded by love.’

Our modern world may not worship idols made of stone and wood any more. But if you ask our modern atheists and humanists what they regard as the ultimate powers that brought in and will yet destroy our universe, they will answer in their scientific jargon exactly as the old idolaters of the ancient world, ‘There is no God!’

What brought our universe and me into being?

‘Basic energy; the strong atomic power and the weak atomic power, electromagnetism and gravity, a bit of physiology, chemistry and biology put in!’

And the interesting thing about that is, all these powers and processes are utterly mindless. They don’t know what they do, and when they have done it they don’t know they have done it. They have no purpose, they are utterly blind. They have made us without intending to and one day they will destroy us. And when they have destroyed us and our planet they won’t know they have done it. That’s idolatry of the highest order, and it is taught in many of our schools from the infants upwards—atheistic, humanistic evolution.

P 18 Daniel wouldn’t have it. Even if it cost him his university career, he wouldn’t have it. He wouldn’t compromise his faith, so he refused to eat the food that had been offered to idols. Why? Because the idolatrous interpretation of the universe isn’t true. And universities are places where we are supposed to examine the truth. It not only demeans God; it demeans mankind too. What is the value of a human being? Why shouldn’t you kill anyone? If one of these days you had a mind to, and you saw a sophisticated computer coming towards you, you might be tempted to kick it in the ‘ribs’ and destroy the thing. Nobody would charge you with murder. What’s the difference between destroying a sophisticated computer and destroying a human being? Well, if there is no God, there is very little difference; both are the end products of blind evolution.

But if there is a God, there is a difference. Man, says the Bible, is made in the image of God (Gen 1:26–27). Human beings are more important than the whole universe put together. You wouldn’t think of worshipping the sun up in the sky. My poor little brain is but the size of a grapefruit and the sun is millions and millions of miles across, but a human brain is more significant than the sun. I know the sun is there; the sun doesn’t know I am here. I know how the sun works, thanks to the scientists; the sun doesn’t know how I work. It is just so much gas and a few atoms running around—a big atomic furnace, so some scientists say. A human brain is infinitely more significant. And would you hold a view that says that one day the sun in its mindlessness will explode and the earth will evaporate, and that will be the end of the human race? If that is true, then we are not what we thought we were. We are merely the end products of mindless, irrational, purposeless forces with no future ahead of us but ultimate extinction, not only for us as individuals but for the whole human race.

Daniel wouldn’t believe it. He believed there is a God and that man is made in the image of God. It is there that our values are based. Some of us tell the Russians (with as much sympathy as we can), ‘If in years past you had believed that man was made in the image of God, Stalin wouldn’t have eliminated sixty million.’

Daniel stood uncompromisingly for the God of the Old Testament, the unique Lord, Creator of heaven and earth, and mankind made in his image. This is the truth about man.

We should try to understand what the scientists say, both the believing scientists and the unbelieving; and the technologists, believing and unbelieving. We are not to be ignoramuses! Like Daniel, we shall welcome every bit of education; but we shall need to stand within the world of education for the truth about God and the truth about man.”

David W. Gooding, Daniel: Civil Servant & Saint. (Coleraine, NI, UK: The Myrtlefield Trust, 2017), 17-18. For more click here.

“Daniel, A Public Figure Who Trusted The Lord” (A Guest-post by D.W. Gooding)

Thursday, January 18th, 2018

Photo by KRK

“. . . [I]n spite of the fact that he lived his life as an expatriate in a foreign culture and rose to such eminence within that culture and in their civil service, he was a man who not only maintained his piety, but he maintained also his faith and hope. He maintained his personal life of prayer, and not only in private. Under the first king of Persia, through an edict of the state that banned prayer to any god except to the emperor for a period of a month or so, Daniel maintained his devotions and made sure that the public were aware that he continued in his life of devoted prayer to his God, in spite of his success in the Gentile world.

There have been many men (and there are still many), having been brought up in a Christian environment, and then rising to great positions in the state or in industry or science, who quietly maintain their devotion, if not always publicly. They say their prayers at night, even if nobody else knows about it. But Daniel did not only maintain his devotion, he maintained his faith and that is another thing altogether. He maintained his Jewish hope. That is all the more remarkable because Daniel’s faith was not some vague kind of religion composed mostly of moral precepts, ‘Do good and try to be kind and honest.’ Daniel’s hope was centred on this, that Israel’s God was the only true God amidst the multitude of gods and goddesses that all the nations of the ancient Middle East worshipped. Daniel held that the God of Israel was the only true God, and that all the other gods of the nations were only nonsense; idolatrous figments of human imagination. You will see at once that that kind of view wouldn’t necessarily have been in great favour in the civil service of Babylon, nor in the temples of that nation, but he maintained it nonetheless.

Daniel’s faith was that not only was Israel’s God the only true god—the transcendent Lord, Creator of heaven and earth, but that that transcendent Creator had chosen Israel to carry a sublime, distinct and special role among all the other nations. They weren’t just one more nation; Israel’s faith was that they had been chosen by God Almighty and raised up to carry a testimony to the true God, to protest in his name against their idolatry and to point the other nations to him who is the true God, in such words as Isaiah would have heralded, ‘Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other’ (45:22).

That was Israel’s faith, a pointer and missionary for the true God, chosen by him for this unique ministry among the nations. It was Israel’s faith; and it was certainly Daniel’s persuasion that grew deeper as the years went by, that it was through Israel that the salvation of the world would come about. Daniel maintained that faith throughout his long years, in spite of all that he came to know about the brilliant civilizations of Babylon and Persia and for all his success in those Gentile fields.”

David W. Gooding, Daniel: Civil Servant & Saint. (Coleraine, NI, UK: The Myrtlefield Trust, 2017), 9; more available here.

So What’s New? – A Guest-post by R.P. Amos

Tuesday, January 9th, 2018

Behold, I make all things new,” Rev. 21:5

New cars, new smartphones, new technology, new leaders, new homes, new medicines, new clothes, new job and a new spouse are the daily pursuit and dream of many.  Money, education, time, stress, and relationships are spent to gain the rush of something new.  And yet what is new today becomes old tomorrow and the thirst continues unquenched.

However, the believer in Christ Jesus has at least 7 major things called ‘new’ that will never change.  They bring joy.  They endure forever.  And they don’t get old.

  1. New Covenant – “Jesus the mediator of the new covenant” (Heb.12:24)

The Old Covenant (Testament) law promised physical blessing or physical cursing in the land of Israel.  The average person would experience such for about 70 years.  But the New Covenant has “better promises.”  It promises spiritual blessings with no cursing.  The promises range from the forgiveness of sins to an eternal heavenly inheritance.

But the new covenant in Christ Jesus is also a “better covenant” by the terms it offers.  The Old gave the blessings only – if – one obeyed the rules; otherwise it would be the promised cursing.  That’s why Israel ended up cursed for it was based on man’s ability to perform according to God’s holy standard.  The new covenant is embraced by an act of faith in the risen Savior, Jesus Christ the Lord.  The promises are based on what God will do by what Christ did, not what we do.  (See Deut. 28 / Eph. 1-3 / 1 Pet. 1:4 / Heb. 8-10)

  1. New Creature – “in Christ, he is a new creature” [creation] (2 Cor. 5:17)

When one puts their trust in the Lord Jesus Christ he is baptized with the Spirit into a union with the living Lord.  He is an actual member of the body of the eternal Christ as the life of Christ is in him.  Being connected to the Son of God he is now one with Christ.  God now accepts him in Christ – because God has accepted Christ with full privilege.  The old status, destiny, principle of relationship and way to perform has forever changed.  He is a new co-heir with Christ Jesus of all the glory that is ahead.

The one “in Christ Jesus” now has: a new Integrity (holy) – a new Validity (accepted) – a new Amnesty (forgiveness) – a new Eternity (heavenly kingdom) – a new Vitality (Spirit-life) – a new Identity (sons of God) – a new Unity (part of the one body).  (Eph. 1-3, Gal. 3:26-28, 4:6-7, Col. 1:13 / 2 Cor. 3:17 – “where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty”)

  1. New Man – “…to make in Himself…one new man”                                 (Eph. 2:15)

The new man is God’s creation by His workmanship.  Rather than being dead in our sins (a mind with no life to understand and know God) the believer now has been renewed in knowledge and understanding of God.  “The new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him,” Col. 3:10.  (Also 1 John 5:20 / 1 Cor. 2:10-16)

With that renewed knowledge the believer has the nature and ability of holiness, “the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness,” Eph. 4:24.

  1. New Way – “a new and living way…He hath consecrated for us”          (Heb:10:20)

No longer is there a closed door (the veil) that keeps one from the presence of God with the exception of an ordained religious man.  That door has been opened when Christ’s blood was given to take away all our sin.   Because the Lord Jesus is alive and seated, not in a holy city on earth but in the heavenly Jerusalem next to God, every believer can come through Him to directly commune with God – apart from a human man on earth.

The believer also does not have to come to a holy temple building on earth to be in God’s presence.  This is because he is now a living spiritual stone that is part of the new temple of God  – which is a body of Spirit-indwelt people – not a pile of rocks.  Believers are God’s sanctuary!  (See Heb. 10:19-21, Matt. 27:51, Eph. 2:20-22 / 1 Pet. 2:5, 1 Cor. 3:16-17)

  1. New Commandment – “A new commandment I give unto you”     (John 13:34)

The new commandment is not a “thou shalt not” but a ‘thou shalt’.  It is not only to love your neighbor as yourself but also to love one another in Christ’s body as Jesus loved you.  His love was a sacrificial love that gave Himself.  His love is enduring, patient, longsuffering – and in truth.  This love is now in our hearts, not just a rule on stone.  And love never fails.  It’s even greater than faith and hope.  (See Eph. 5:2 / Rom. 5:5 / 1 Cor. 13:13)

  1. New Song – “And they sung a new song saying, Thou art worthy” (Rev. 5:9)

Israel sang a victory song unto the Lord when they were redeemed (freed) from slavery.  After the blood was applied from the Passover lamb, Pharaoh finally released them from Egypt.  In exuberant song they rejoiced that their masters sank as a stone in the waters and were drowned in the Red Sea.  They could enjoy life for a few years.  (Exo. 15)

The new song is sung not only by believing Jews but also by their former enemies, people from every nation. The theme of the excitement is that the Lord Jesus is their lamb and has redeemed them from the slavery and judgment of sin by His own life’s blood.  They are God’s kingdom of priests to reign on the earth eternally.  This new victory song will be sung in heaven right before the Lord returns to destroy unrepentant sinners.  Then His saints will have freedom on earth, but the new song begins now in faith, (Rev. 5:1-10).

  1. New Heavens and earth – “I saw a new heaven and a new earth” (Rev. 21:1)

The hope for the future is not reformation of present politics or environmental climate control but re-creation.  Because unrepentant sinners and Satan will be removed and cast into the lake of fire there will be some things missing.  War is gone.  Disease is gone.  Suffering is gone.  Death is gone.  Pain, sorrow and tears are gone, too.  (Rev. 21:1-5)

While things are gone there will be some things present.  God will be there.  The Lord and His bride will be there.  The tree of life will be there in a gorgeous and peaceful environment.  God’s glory in Christ Jesus will be there and be so bright that there will be no need of the sun.  There is no night there because eternal light is shining.  Yes, there will be peace on earth and good will toward men – and unto the Lord Jesus.  (Rev. 21-22)

We, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.”

2 Peter 3:13