Rock of Ages!

4 “As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (I Peter 2:4-5).

Augustus Montague Toplady, the author of “Rock of Ages,” was born at Farnham, Surrey, November 4, 1740. His father was an officer in the British army. His mother was a devoted woman to Christ.

He prepared for the university at Westminster School, and subsequently graduated from Trinity College, Dublin. While on a visit in Ireland when he was sixteen he was converted by the gospel at a worship service held in a barn. The text was Ephesians 2:13: “But now, in Christ Jesus, ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.”

The text of the hymn Rock of Ages, reflects the text of I Peter 2:4-5.

Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee;
Let the water and the blood,
From Thy riven side which flowed,
Be of sin the double cure,
Save me from its guilt and power.

 

Not the labors of my hands
Can fulfill thy law’s demands
Could my zeal no respite know
Could my tears forever flow
All for sin could not atone
Thou must save and thou alone

Nothing in my hand I bring
Simply to the cross I cling
Naked come to thee for dress
Helpless look to thee for grace
Foul I to the fountain fly
Wash me Savior or I die

While I draw this fleeting breath
When mine eyes shall close in death
When I soar to worlds unknown
See thee on thy judgment throne
Rock of Ages cleft for me
Let me hide myself in thee

CCLI Song # 40588

Thank you Lord for being the rock, the living stone, of my salvation.

 

Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

Growing Up.

“So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation— if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good” (I Peter 2:1-3).

Peter may be using this simile, comparing the Scriptures to milk, in order to illustrate that his readers were to hunger for the basic truths of Scripture. Truths which are easily understood. This would be in contrast to the more difficult truths found in the Bible, which the Apostle Paul described as “solid food’ (I Corinthians 3:2). Truths which you have to chew on, so to speak.

The apostle describes the Scriptures as pure (ἄδολος; adolos) genuine and real, and also spiritual (λογικός; logikos) meaning rational and true. The purpose for our desire for God’s Word, which is pure and spiritual, is that the Word would cause us to grow up (αὐξάνω; auxano) in our salvation in Christ.

The foundation to any spiritual growth is a preceding new birth. Spiritual growth cannot occur unless a person has been spiritually re-born (John 3:1-3). Peter uses the word tasted (γεύομαι; geuomai) to figuratively refer to an experience or personal birth or conversion from God by grace alone, through faith alone in Christ alone.

However, God does not save us so that we simply remain spiritual babies. As a newborn infant begins the growth process physically, so too are believers in Christ to begin the long, slow process of growing spiritually. As Peter will remind us later on in this epistle, sometimes believers experience growing pains. These so-called “growth pains” are all part of the process of maturing.

How is your spiritual growth coming along? Ask someone you trust whether they see any spiritual maturity in you, and if so, what it may be. Ask God today to help you grow in whatever area of your life where such maturity is needed.

Have a blessed day, beloved.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

Pure Spiritual Milk.

“So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation— if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good” (I Peter 2:1-3).

We must always remember that the Bible is literature and as such, we must interpret it with a recognition that it is literature. Therefore, we must observe various parts of speech and figures of speech. I Peter 2:2 is an example of one such figure of speech.

I Peter 2:2 introduces the reader to a figure of speech known as a simile. A simile is a comparison using the words “like” or “as.” The Apostle Peter uses such a comparison to explain a particular truth which believers ought to be aware.

Like a newborn infant who craves or longs for their mother’s milk, such is to be our longing for the Word of God. Believers are to long (ἐπιποθέω; epipotheo), deeply desire or have great affection for the Scriptures as a nursing infant craves a bottle.

How do you know when a baby wants milk? They cry out! The do not hesitate to let you know they are hungry for their formula. Their hunger is so great that nothing will satisfy them until that desire is fulfilled. That is the kind of desire believers are to have for God’s Word.

The goal in our longing for truth is maturity. As a physical body grows and matures in eating food, beginning with milk, so believers are to grow and mature spiritually in biblical truth beginning with the elementary facts of Scripture.

Are you growing? This is the goal and purpose of hiswordtoday.org. I trust you have enjoyed today’s meal. Resolve to be in God’s Word each day.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

 

Put Away All Slander.

“So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation— if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good” (I Peter 2:1-3).

Chapter Two of I Peter begins a conclusion which directs the reader throughout the rest of the epistle. Peter identifies “five” sins involving our speech and attitudes which we must eliminate.

The word “so” is another way of saying “therefore.” As a consequence of who we are in Christ and our desire to be holy as He is holy (I Peter 1:16) God directs believers to put away or cease what we are accustomed to doing. What follows is not a pretty list, but Peter is less concerned with hurting people’s feelings as he is with truth. Please notice the adjective “all” which precedes all five nouns. This repentance is to be a total renunciation of ungodliness.

The first sin mentioned is malice. The second is deceit. The third is hypocrisy. The fourth is envy. The fifth and final sin is slander.

Slander (καταλαλιά; katalalia) is evil speech. It is to speak evil of someone with the intention of harming them. It is backbiting lies. Unfortunately, this sin was a concern the Apostle Paul had for the Corinthian church (2 Corinthians 12:20).

James 3:5-10 says, So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. 10 From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.”

Our growth in the Lord is not just about pursuing holiness, but also repenting from unholy behavior and emotions. The desire for God’s Word should give us an appetite for holiness, with an ever increasing desire for more. Resolve today by the Spirit’s power to guard what you say and speak today (Proverbs 4:23-27).

Have a blessed day, beloved. Soli deo Gloria!

 

Put Away All Envy.

“So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation— if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good” (I Peter 2:1-3).

Chapter Two of I Peter begins a conclusion which directs the reader throughout the rest of the epistle. Peter identifies “five” sins involving our speech and attitudes which we must eliminate.

The word “so” is another way of saying “therefore.” As a consequence of who we are in Christ and our desire to be holy as He is holy (I Peter 1:16) God directs believers to put away or cease what we are accustomed to doing. What follows is not a pretty list, but Peter is less concerned with hurting people’s feelings as he is with truth. Please notice the adjective “all” which precedes all five nouns. This repentance is to be a total renunciation of ungodliness.

The first sin mentioned is malice. The second is deceit. The third is hypocrisy. The fourth is envy.

Envy (φθόνος; phthonos) is jealousy. It is to hate someone for a presumed advantage they have. Envy is not only wanting what someone else possesses, but also resenting them for having this “something” when you do not. Envy can result in corruption and destruction in order to acquire what it is you believe you must have. Check out the Old Testament story of Naboth and King Ahab and a certain vineyard in I Kings 21.

God tells us in the final commandment of the Ten Commandments that believers are not to covet (Exodus 20). It doesn’t matter what it is, God says don’t envy and covet. It can be destructive.

Envy was regarded by the Apostle Paul to be a sin of the flesh (I Corinthians 3:3). Envy is among the things that comes from the heart, defiling a person (Mark 7:14-23). Jesus said the whole body is full of darkness when the eye, the lamp of the body, is bad (Luke 11:34-36).

Proverbs 17:5 says, “He who is glad at calamity will not go unpunished.” Envy ruins the body’s health, making bones rot (Proverbs 14:30). Envy prohibites one inheriting the kingdom of God (Galatians 5:19-21). Sometimes, as a punishment, people are left in their sins, falling prey to envy and other sins (Romans 1:18-32).

Envy is credited as the basis of all toil and is therefore deeply ingrained in man’s nature (Ecclesiastes 4:4). Envy comes into being when man lacks certain things, or when things are used for one’s own selfish pleasures (James 4:1-3). Envy may be caused by wealth (Psalm 73:3).

For example, Isaac, envied the Philistines (Genesis 26:12-15), by the brightness of wealth, power and beauty Assyria envied other kingdoms (Ezekiel 31:1-9), and by political and military popularity King Saul envied David from the moment he heard the women’s songs of joy (I Samuel 18:5-9).

Leah envied her sister Rachel (Genesis 30:1-2), Joseph’s brothers envied Jacob’s love for him (Genesis 37:1-11). The religious leaders envied the apostles (Acts 5:12-20) and the popularity of Paul and Barnabas (Acts 13:44-47). Unfaithful Jews envied the success of Paul and Silas in the conversion of many Thessalonians (Acts 17:1-5) and the chief priests envied Jesus’ virtues and true power to heal, to make miracles and to teach people (Matthew 25:15-26; Mark 15:6-15).

Ask God to reveal to you what areas of your life you are prone to envy. Repent of them knowing that godliness with contentment is great gain (I Timothy 6:6).

Have a blessed day, beloved.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

Put Away All Hypocrisy.

“So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation— if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good” (I Peter 2:1-3).

Chapter Two of I Peter begins a conclusion which directs the reader throughout the rest of the epistle. Peter identifies “five” sins involving our speech and attitudes which we must eliminate.

The word “so” is another way of saying “therefore.” As a consequence of who we are in Christ and our desire to be holy as He is holy (I Peter 1:16) God directs believers to put away or cease what we are accustomed to doing. What follows is not a pretty list, but Peter is less concerned with hurting people’s feelings as he is with truth. Please notice the adjective “all” which precedes all five nouns. This repentance is to be a total renunciation of ungodliness.

The first sin mentioned is malice. The second is deceit. The third is hypocrisy.

Hypocrisy comes from the Greek word ὑπόκρισις (hypokrisis) which means play-acting or pretense. It was the word for an actor in the ancient Greek plays. It means a person pretending to be something they are not. It is from this Greek word that we derive our English word hypocrite.

Now, this is not a problem on the stage when involved in performing in a play or live musical. However, it is a sin when pretending to be someone you are not in your relationships with other people. One pastor writes that hypocrisy is, “to give an impression of having certain purposes or motivations, while in reality having quite different ones.”

Jesus saved His most stinging criticism for the Pharisees. Seven times in Matthew 23 He pronounced woe upon them because of their hypocrisy.

One of the most common criticisms of the local church made by non-believers is that the “church is filled with hypocrites.” The common response is “Well then, join us! There is always room for one more.”

The Scriptures tell us otherwise. We must repent of any and all pretense in our Christian behavior. We must be people of integrity. God encourages us to be so. As His children, we must be so.

Have a blessed day, beloved.

Soli deo Gloria!

Put Away All Deceit.

“So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation— if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good” (I Peter 2:1-3).

Chapter Two of I Peter begins a conclusion which directs the reader throughout the rest of the epistle. Peter identifies “five” sins involving our speech and attitudes which we must eliminate.

The word “so” is another way of saying “therefore.” As a consequence of who we are in Christ and our desire to be holy as He is holy (I Peter 1:16) God directs believers to put away or cease what we are accustomed to doing. What follows is not a pretty list, but Peter is less concerned with hurting people’s feelings as he is with the truth. Please notice the adjective “all” which precedes all five nouns. This repentance is to be a total renunciation of ungodliness.

The first sin mentioned is malice. The second is deceit. Deceit (δόλος; dolos) is trickery, treachery and deception. In other words, it is lying.

Deceit can take on many forms. It may be exaggeration of one’s accomplishments. It could be a failure to tell someone some of the details of their legal agreement in buying an item like a car, house or even a time-share. Whatever the circumstances, deceit is willfully seeking to trick or deceive another individual.

Abraham was guilty of this sin. He not only commited this sin once (Genesis 12:10-16), but twice (Genesis 20:1-13). On both occasions Abraham deceived people into thinking that his wife Sarah was his sister.

Often we face the temptation to deceive in our jobs. We may experience pressure from a higher-up to trick a client or a board of directors in making the quarterly earnings appear better than they are. It may be deceiving one’s spouse. The Christian striving to be holy can never succumb to deceit.

When a Christian determines to be a person of integrity, it may cost them their job. Not all the time, but in some circumstances this could be the result of not being a deceitful person. Are you ready and prepared to be a Christian totally committed to God and truth, whatever the cost?

Have a blessed day, beloved.

Soli deo Gloria!

Put Away all Malice.

“So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation— if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good” (I Peter 2:1-3).

We now resume our study of I Peter following our month long profile of Martin Luther and the 16th century Protestant Reformation. Chapter Two of I Peter begins with a conclusion directing the reader throughout the rest of the epistle. Peter identifies “five” sins involving our speech and attitudes which we must eliminate.

The word “so” is another way of saying “therefore.” As a consequence of who we are in Christ and our desire to be holy as He is holy (I Peter 1:16), God directs believers to put away or cease what we are accustomed to doing. What follows is not a pretty list, but Peter is less concerned with hurting people’s feelings as he is with truth. Please notice the adjective “all” which precedes all five nouns. This is to be a total renunciation of ungodliness.

The apostle begins by saying “put away all malice.” With your total being, cease being malicious. Malice is from the Greek word κακία (kakia). It refers to hateful feelings and a strong dislike we may have towards someone. Synonyms include the words baseness and depravity, or even wicked ill-will.

How many times can you remember having a strong dislike for someone because of what they did to you, or to someone you love? Those feelings often do not just go away. Untended, they can grow into a bitterness and wrath which can result in even worse sinful behavior: not by the original perpetrator mind you, but rather by you.

Toward whom have you had malicious feelings? A co-worker? A relative? Perhaps, even your spouse or a dear friend? Repent of this attitude immediately and ask God to give you the desire to not only pray for this person, but to self-sacrificially love this individual.

How do you know if you have repented of malice? Try this test. When you think of the person(s) in question or when their name is mentioned, how do you feel? What emotions come to the surface? Are the feelings you’re feeling include anger and bitterness? Or, are you thinking fondly about this person? This is a good way of knowing if you still have malice toward them.

Have a blessed day, beloved. Soli deo Gloria!

Reformation Day, 2017

Happy Reformation Day. It was five hundred years ago today that Martin Luther nailed his Ninety-Five Thesis on the Castle Church Door in Wittenberg, Germany, thus beginning the Protestant Reformation. We have spent close to a month examining this significant moment in history, along with the individual God used to bring it about: Martin Luther. I trust you have been as blessed as I have.

The impasse which occurred between the Reformers of the 16th Century and the Roman Catholic Church remain in full force today. These issues are as critical now as they were then. What key takeaways from the Reformation would we be wise to apply to the context of Christianity in the 21st Century?

The first would be that the sole authority for the Christian is to be the Scriptures: Sola Scriptura. Then, and now, the Roman Catholic Church views Scripture as deferring to the church’s authority and traditions. This was not the view of Luther Calvin, or the other Reformers. This was the foundational issue in the Protestant Reformation.

However, I am concerned that there are those within Evangelical Protestant churches who do not have the viewpoint that the Scriptures alone are our sole and primary authority in matters of faith and practice. I am concerned that believers opt for their own opinions and attitudes to shape their decisions, rather than obeying God’s Word. It is when these attitudes and opinions run contrary to the Scriptures, the Scriptures are often set aside. This is not becoming the exception, but rather the norm.

 

For example, when a Christian is unhappy in their marriage, they may feel free to pursue and engage in an extra-marital affair. It doesn’t matter to them what the Bible says about adultery. They want to be happy and woe to the pastor who confronts them about their sin in accordance to Matthew 18:15-20 and Galatians 6:1-2.

Secondly, the commitment to objective truth instead of subjective experience is another lasting benefit from the Reformation. Martin Luther went from one religious experience to another; not only as a child, but also as a young adult. He constantly sought relief from his guilt over his sin by pursuing a religious experience. Whether it was promising to become a monk during a violent thunderstorm, constantly confessing his sins in the monastery, or traveling to Rome and climbing so-called sacred stairs on his knees while reciting the rosary, his life prior to conversion was a search for the right experience where he would find peace with God. However, his peace with God eventually came not from an emotional experience, but rather through the truth of the God’s Word specifically contained in Romans 1:16-17. On the basis of biblical truth, God credited Martin Luther with Christ’s righteousness, which resulted in Martin’s positional, personal and emotional peace with God.

Today, many seek a subjective, religious experience for the sake of a subjective religious experience alone. Their desire for a religious “high” becomes the goal they pursue, rather than the pursuit of objective truth. This is not only true at youth conferences, but also at women’s and men’s conferences. It is also seen in regularly in churches. Few are the worship leaders, pastors and conference speakers who resist this pandering to the crowd for an emotional response. They’re out there, but they’re few and are far between.

Thirdly, there is the commitment to the doctrine of sola fide or faith alone. This is a short-handed slogan which summarizes the doctrines of grace alone and Christ alone within the specific context of the biblical gospel of salvation. For more churches than I would care to estimate, the gospel has become a self-help movement focused on personal peace and financial affluence. Your best life now, so to speak. It may be summarized by one church which has as its slogan, “Join us! Where it’s okay to not be okay.”

The Reformation is far from over. It continues on and is as critical today as it was in Martin Luther’s day when biblical truth was at stake regarding how a sinner becomes righteous before God.

There are those who teach and believe that Scripture plus the church is the believer’s authority. That grace plus human merit saves. That faith plus works is necessary to be made righteous. That Christ’s righteousness along with one’s own is indispensable for salvation. That the glory of salvation is to be shared between God and man.

Today’s children of the Protestant Reformation hold that salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in the person and work of Jesus Christ alone, to the glory of God alone based upon the teachings and truth of the Scriptures alone.

May we continue to hold to these truths as tenaciously as did Martin Luther. It won’t be easy, but “Here we stand; we can do none other. God help us!”

Soli deo Gloria!

Is the Reformation Over?

Is the Protestant Reformation over? Some would say that it is. Recent overtures resulting in theological agreements between Evangelical Protestants and Roman Catholics would seem to support this idea that little is left of the theological disagreements which occurred in the 16th century.

On October 31, 2016, Pope Francis said that after five hundred years, Protestants and Catholics “have the opportunity to mend a critical moment of our history by moving beyond the controversies and disagreements that have often prevented us from understanding one another.” In light of the pope’s statement, one evangelical professor of theology commented, “From that, it sounds as if the Reformation was an unfortunate and unnecessary squabble over trifles, a childish outburst that we can all put behind us now that we have grown up.”

Tell that to John Wycliffe who the Catholic Church persecuted for translating the Bible into English. Tell that to Jon Huss who was burned at the stake for speaking against the abuses of the Roman Catholic Church. Tell that to Martin Luther, Huldrych Zwingli, John Calvin and others who were hounded, hunted and hurt by the Catholic Church who refused, and continues to refuse, to acknowledge its errors. People have asked me is the Protestant Reformation over? I say no!

The Latin phrase Semper Reformanda applies here. Rather than mean that churches should always be changing in order to conform to the ever-changing culture, instead it means “always being reformed” or “The church reformed and always being reformed according to the Word of God.” God’s Word should always be reforming God’s people, and for that matter God’s churches. Each and every generation must return to God’s Word each and every day so that the Scriptures would continue reforming our lives, and keeping us from heresy.

Pastor Burk Parson explains, “The Reformation isn’t over, nor will it ever be over, because reformation –God’s Word and God’s Spirit reforming His church—will never end.”

Soli deo Gloria!