Call to Worship April 21 2019

“1689 London Baptist Confession Chapter 11: Of Justification
1._____ Those whom God effectually calls, he also freely justifies, not by infusing righteousness into them, but by pardoning their sins, and by accounting and accepting their persons as righteous; not for anything wrought in them, or done by them, but for Christ’s sake alone; not by imputing faith itself, the act of believing, or any other evangelical obedience to them, as their righteousness; but by imputing Christ’s active obedience unto the whole law, and passive obedience in his death for their whole and sole righteousness by faith, which faith they have not of themselves; it is the gift of God.
( Romans 3:24; Romans 8:30; Romans 4:5-8; Ephesians 1:7; 1 Corinthians 1:30, 31; Romans 5:17-19; Philippians 3:8, 9; Ephesians 2:8-10; John 1:12; Romans 5:17 )

2._____ Faith thus receiving and resting on Christ and his righteousness, is the alone instrument of justification; yet it is not alone in the person justified, but is ever accompanied with all other saving graces, and is no dead faith, but works by love.
( Romans 3:28; Galatians 5:6; James 2:17, 22, 26 )

3._____ Christ, by his obedience and death, did fully discharge the debt of all those that are justified; and did, by the sacrifice of himself in the blood of his cross, undergoing in their stead the penalty due unto them, make a proper, real, and full satisfaction to God’s justice in their behalf; yet, inasmuch as he was given by the Father for them, and his obedience and satisfaction accepted in their stead, and both freely, not for anything in them, their justification is only of free grace, that both the exact justice and rich grace of God might be glorified in the justification of sinners. ( Hebrews 10:14; 1 Peter 1:18, 19; Isaiah 53:5, 6; Romans 8:32; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Romans 3:26; Ephesians 1:6,7; Ephesians 2:7 )

4._____ God did from all eternity decree to justify all the elect, and Christ did in the fullness of time die for their sins, and rise again for their justification; nevertheless, they are not justified personally, until the Holy Spirit doth in time due actually apply Christ unto them.
( Galatians 3:8; 1 Peter 1:2; 1 Timothy 2:6; Romans 4:25; Colossians 1:21,22; Titus 3:4-7 )

5._____ God does continue to forgive the sins of those that are justified, and although they can never fall from the state of justification, yet they may, by their sins, fall under God’s fatherly displeasure; and in that condition they have not usually the light of his countenance restored unto them, until they humble themselves, confess their sins, beg pardon, and renew their faith and repentance.
( Matthew 6:12; 1 John 1:7, 9; John 10:28; Psalms 89:31-33; Psalms 32:5; Psalms 51; Matthew 26:75 )

6._____ The justification of believers under the Old Testament was, in all these respects, one and the same with the justification of believers under the New Testament. ( Galatians 3:9; Romans 4:22-24 )” (English Updated by B.F.S.)

Call to Worship April 14 2019

“I know not but there is the same objective, fullness, and sufficiency in the obedience and sufferings of Christ, for the salvation of sinners, as there is in the Holy Spirit for their renovation: both are infinite, yet both are applied under the direction of infinite wisdom and uncontrollable sovereignty. But great and necessary as this mercy is, if nothing more than this had been done, not one of the human race had ever been saved. It is necessary to our salvation, that a way, and a highway to God should be opened; Christ is such a way; but considering the depravity of human nature, it is equally necessary that some effectual provision be made for our walking in that way. We conceive, Christ made such provision by his death; thereby procuring the certain bestowment of faith, as well as all other spiritual blessings, which follow upon it, that, in regard of all the sons who are finally brought to glory, he was the surety, or captain, of their salvation; that their salvation was, properly speaking, the end or design of his death.”

(Jesse Mercer letter to Cyrus White)

Justification – Rebellious Man

Call To Worship April 7 2019

“But the word of God declares to us, again and again, that man fell from his holy and happy estate. We have not only the voice of reason declaring to us the same truth, but we have also observation, and painful and bitter experience. Should any one be disposed, for a moment, to doubt what the word of God says on the subject, we call upon such a one to look, yea, take only one hasty glance at the moral desolations which sin has created in the earth, and spread over the face of a convulsed world!”

(James Hall Tanner Kilpatrick, “Sermons of J.H.T. Kilpatrick A.M., Sermon X, God’s Willingness to Save Sinners,” in The Georgia Pulpit or Minister’s Yearly Offering Vol. I, ed. Robert Fleming (Richmond, H.K. Elyson, 1847), 117.)

“That man is fallen from his primeval rectitude, and is filled with diabolical pride and unbelief, is a rebel against his rightful Sovereign, and guilty of the highest ingratitude, and an enemy to God by wicked works; his conscience defiled, and his mind enmity: That from this deplorable and wretched state he can only be recovered by the perfect righteousness, efficient intercession of a glorious advocate and surety JESUS CHRIST.” (W.D. Lane, Minutes of the Georgia Baptist Association 1805: Circular Letter (Macon, Georgia: Mercer University Tarver Library Special Collections/Archives), 9. Microfilm.)

Justification & the Holiness of God

Chapter 11 Of Justification

“1._____ Those whom God effectually calls, he also freely justifies, not by infusing righteousness into them, but by pardoning their sins, and by accounting and accepting their persons as righteous; not for anything wrought in them, or done by them, but for Christ’s sake alone; not by imputing faith itself, the act of believing, or any other evangelical obedience to them, as their righteousness; but by imputing Christ’s active obedience unto the whole law, and passive obedience in his death for their whole and sole righteousness by faith, which faith they have not of themselves; it is the gift of God.

Romans 3:24; Romans 8:30; Romans 4:5-8; Ephesians 1:7; 1 Corinthians 1:30, 31; Romans 5:17-19; Philippians 3:8, 9; Ephesians 2:8-10; John 1:12; Romans 5:17 ” (1689 L.B.C., Ch.11)

Crucified with Christ

Call to Worship March 24 2019

Expository Thoughts on the Gospel of Luke
J.C. Ryle Luke 23:44-49

“Let us observe in these verses — the miraculous signs which accompanied our Lord’s death on the cross. We are told that there was ‘a darkness over all the earth’ for three hours. ‘The sun was darkened, and the curtain of the temple was torn in two.’

It was proper and right that the attention of all around Jerusalem should be arrested in a marked way — when the great sacrifice for sin was being offered, and the Son of God was dying! There were signs and wonders wrought in the sight of all Israel — when the law was given on Sinai. There were signs and wonders in like manner — when the atoning blood of Christ was shed on Calvary.

There was a sign for an unbelieving world. The darkness at mid-day was a miracle which would compel men to think.

There was a sign for the Jewish Church and the ministers of the temple. The tearing of the curtain which hung between the holy place and the holy of holies — was a miracle which would strike awe into the heart of every priest and Levite.

Signs like these, on special occasions, let us remember — are a part of God’s ways in dealing with man. He knows the desperate stupidity and unbelief of human nature. He sees that it is necessary to arouse our attention by miraculous works, when He brings in a new dispensation. He thus compels men to open their eyes — whether they will or not, and to hear His voice for a little season.
He has done so frequently in the days that are past. He did so when He gave the law. He did so in the passage before us when He brought in the Gospel.

He will do so once more when Christ comes again the second time. He will show a sneering, unbelieving world that He can suspend the laws of nature at His pleasure, and alter the framework of creation as easily as He called the earth into being. He will yet fulfill His words, ‘Yet once more I will shake not the earth only, but also the heavens.’ ‘Then the glory of the moon will wane, and the brightness of the sun will fade, for the LORD Almighty will rule on Mount Zion. He will rule in great glory in Jerusalem.’ (Hebrews 12:26; Isaiah 24:23.)

Let us observe, secondly, in these verses — the remarkable words which our Lord spoke when He died. We read that ‘Jesus cried with a loud voice: Father, into your hands I commend my spirit!’
There is a depth of meaning, no doubt, in these words — which we have no line to fathom. There was something mysterious about our Lord’s death, which made it unlike the death of any mere man. He who spoke the words before us, we must carefully remember — was God as well as man. His divine and human nature were inseparably united. His divine nature of course could not die. He says Himself, ‘I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man takes it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down — and I have power to take it again.’ (John 10:17, 18.)
Christ died — not as we die, when our hour has come — not because He was compelled and could not help dying — but voluntarily, and of His own free will.

There is a sense, however, in which our Lord’s words supply a lesson to all true Christians. They show us the manner in which death should be met by all God’s children. They afford an example which every believer should strive to follow. Like our Master, we should not be afraid to confront the king of terrors. We should regard him as a vanquished enemy, whose sting has been taken away by Christ’s death. We should think of him as a foe who can hurt the body for a little season — but after that has no more that he can do. We should await his approaches with calmness and patience, and believe that when our flesh fails — our soul will be in good keeping.

This was the mind of dying Stephen, ‘Lord Jesus,’ he said, ‘receive my spirit.’ This was the mind of Paul the aged, when the time of his departure was at hand. He says, ‘I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed to him against that day.’ (Acts 7:59; 2 Timothy 1:12.) Happy indeed are those who have a last end like this!
Let us observe, lastly, in these verses — the power of conscience in the case of the centurion and the people who saw Christ die. We are told that the centurion ‘praised God, saying: Certainly this was a righteous man.’ We are told that the people who had come together to the sight, ‘smote their breasts and went away.’

We do not exactly know the nature of the feelings here described. We do not know the extent to which they went, or the after-fruit which they brought forth. One thing, at all events, is clear. The Roman officer felt convinced that he had been part of an unrighteous action — crucifying an innocent person.

The gazing crowd were pierced to the heart by a sense of having aided, approved, and abetted a grievous wrong. Both Jew and Gentile left Calvary that evening — heavy-hearted, self-condemned, and ill at ease.

Great indeed is the power of conscience! Mighty is the influence which it is able to exercise on the hearts of men! It can strike terror into the minds of monarchs on their thrones. It can make multitudes tremble and shake before a few bold friends of truth, like a flock of sheep. Blind and mistaken as conscience often is, unable to convert man or lead him to Christ — it is still a most blessed part of man’s constitution, and the best friend in the congregation that the preacher of the Gospel has. No wonder that Paul says, ‘By plainly setting forth the truth, we commend ourselves to every man’s conscience.’ (2 Corinthians 4:2.)

He who desires inward peace, must beware of quarreling with his conscience. Let him rather use it well, guard it jealously, hear what it has to say, and treat it as his friend. Above all, let him pray daily that his conscience may be enlightened by the Holy Spirit, and cleansed by the blood of Christ. The words of John are very significant, ‘If our heart does not condemn us — then have we confidence toward God.’ (1 John 3:21.) That man is doing well who can say, ‘I always strive to have a conscience void of offence toward God and toward man.’ (Acts 24:16.)”

Paul Relinquishes the Ceremonial Law

Call to Worship March 17 2019

Expository Thoughts on the Gospel of Luke

J.C. Ryle Luke 23:39-43

“We see, firstly, in the history before us — the sovereignty of God in saving sinners. We are told that two criminals were crucified together with our Lord, one on His right hand and the other on His left. Both were equally near to Christ. Both saw and heard all that happened during the six hours that He hung on the cross. Both were dying men, and suffering acute pain. Both were alike wicked sinners, and needed forgiveness. Yet one died in his sins, as he had lived, hardened, impenitent, and unbelieving. The other repented, believed, cried to Jesus for mercy, and was saved.

A fact like this should teach us humility. We cannot account for it. We can only say, ‘Even so, Father, for so it seems good in your sight.’ (Matthew 11:26.) How it is that under precisely the same circumstances, one man is converted — and another remains dead in sins? Why is it that the very same sermon is heard by one man with complete indifference — and another man goes home to pray and seek Christ? Why is it that the same Gospel is hidden from one — and revealed to another? All these are questions which we cannot possibly answer. We only know that it is so, and that it is useless to deny it.

Our own duty is clear and plain. We are to make a diligent use of all the means which God has appointed for the good of souls. There is no necessity that anyone should be lost. There is no such a thing as decreed damnation in the Bible. The offers of the Gospel are wide, free and general. God’s sovereignty was never meant to destroy man’s responsibility. One thief was saved — that no sinner might despair. But only one was saved — that no sinner might presume.

We see secondly in this history — the unvarying character of repentance unto salvation. This is a point in the penitent thief’s story, which is fearfully overlooked. Thousands look at the broad fact that he was saved in the hour of death, and look no further. They do not look at the distinct and well-defined evidences of repentance which fell from his lips before he died. Those evidences deserve our closest attention.

The first notable step in the thief’s repentance, was his concern about his companion’s wickedness in reviling Christ. ‘Do you not fear God,’ he said, ‘seeing that you are under the same sentence of condemnation.’

The second step was a full acknowledgment of his own sin. ‘We are punished justly — for we are getting what our deeds deserve.’

The third step was an open confession of Christ’s innocence. ‘This man has done nothing wrong.’

The fourth step was faith in Jesus Christ’s power and will to save him. He turned to a crucified sufferer, and called Him ’Lord’ — and declared his belief that He had a kingdom.

The fifth step was prayer. He cried to Jesus when he was hanging on the cross — and asked Him even then, to think upon his soul.

The sixth and last step was humility. He begged to be ‘remembered’ by our Lord. He mentions no great thing which he had previously done. Enough for him, if he is remembered by Christ.

These six points should always be remembered in connection with the penitent thief. His time was very short for giving proof of his conversion. But it was time well used. Few dying people have ever left behind them such good evidences, as were left by this dying thief.

Let us beware of a repentance without evidences. Thousands, it may be feared, are every year going out of the world with a lie in their right hand! They imagine that they will be saved, because the thief was saved in the hour of death. They forget that if they would be saved as he was — they must repent as he repented.

The shorter a man’s time is — the better must be the use he makes of it. The nearer he is to death, when he first begins to think — the clearer must be the evidence which he leaves behind. Nothing, it may be safely laid down as a general rule — nothing should be so little relied upon, as a death-bed repentance.

We see, thirdly, in this history — the amazing power and willingness of Christ to save sinners. It is written that He is ‘able to save to the uttermost.’ (Hebrews 7:25.) If we search the Bible through, from Genesis to Revelation — we shall never find a more striking proof of Christ’s power and mercy, than the salvation of the penitent thief.

The time when the thief was saved — was the hour of our Lord’s greatest weakness. He was hanging in agony on the cross. Yet even then, He heard and granted a sinner’s petition, and opened to him the gate of life. Surely this was ‘power!’

The man whom our Lord saved — was a wicked sinner at the point of death, with nothing good in his past life to recommend him, and nothing notable in his present position, but a humble prayer. Yet even he was plucked like a brand from the burning! Surely this was ‘mercy.’

Do we want proof that salvation is of grace, and not of works? We have it in the case before us. The dying thief was nailed hand and foot to the cross. He could do literally nothing for his own soul. Yet even he, through Christ’s infinite grace, was saved. No one ever received such a strong assurance of his own forgiveness, as this man.

Do we want proof that sacraments and ordinances are not absolutely needful to salvation, and that men may be saved without them when they cannot be had? We have it in the case before us. The dying thief was never baptized. He never belonged to a visible church, and never received the Lord’s supper. But he repented and believed — and therefore he was saved.

Let these things sink down into our hearts. Christ never changes. The way of salvation, is always one and the same. He lives, who saved the penitent thief. There is hope for the vilest sinner — if he will only repent and believe.

We see, lastly, in the history before us — how near a dying believer is to eternal rest and glory. We read that our Lord said to the criminal in reply to his prayer, ‘Today you shall be with Me in paradise!’

That word ‘today’ contains a body of divinity. It tells us that the very moment a believer dies — his soul is in happiness and in safe keeping.

His full redemption is not yet come. His perfect bliss will not begin before the resurrection morning. But there is no mysterious delay, no season of suspense, no purgatory — between his death and a state of glory. In the day that he breathes his last — he goes to Paradise. In the hour that he departs — he is with Christ in glory. (Philippians 1:23.)

Let us remember these things, when our believing friends fall asleep in Christ. We must not sorrow for them — as those who have no hope. While we are sorrowing — they are rejoicing. While we are mourning and weeping at their funerals — they are safe and happy with their Lord.

Above all, let us remember these things, if we are true Christians — in looking forward to our own deaths. To die is a solemn thing. But if we die in the Lord — then we need not doubt that our death will be eternal gain!”