esterday a reader of this site sent me a link to an interesting series of blog posts—posts written by Pastor Akira Sato, who is the pastor for the Fukushima First Baptist Church, near the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. The email included this poignant paragraph:”Yesterday (Friday, March 18) one member who has been with us since the disaster had received an order from his company and left for work in the nuclear plant. (He is a leader of the plumbing job). As the family of God, knowing the departing pains of his loved ones, in tears we dispatched the brother with prayers. He left here with the Lord. Beside him, there are others, our precious members, who have been working hard at the plant. O, Lord, please protect them with your almighty hand! I beg you, please! ‘Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed, ….that thine hand might be with me, and that wouldest keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me.’ (1 Chronicles 4:10)”
Read more here:
“Get and keep a tender conscience. Be sensible of the least sin. Some men’s consciences are like the stomach of the ostrich that can digest iron: they can swallow the most notorious sins without regret. A good conscience is very delicate. It feels the least touch of known sin, and is grieved at the thought of grieving God’s Spirit. It will choose the greatest of suffering before the least of sinning. However, the jeering Ishmaels of the world are ready to reproach and laugh it to scorn for its precise scruples. Daily train all your graces for battle. Live in a military posture, both defensive and offensive. Stand constantly by your weapons. Admit no peace with sin. The soldier of Christ must never lay down his arms. Satan never ceases his wiles and stratagems. He will tell you that sin is pleasant. Ask yourself if the gripping of conscience is also pleasant? Ask yourself if it is pleasant to be in hell, and be under the wrath of God? Ask yourself if the pleasures of sin for a season compare with the rivers of God’s pleasures? How do they compare to a weight of glory, an incorruptible crown, and a heavenly kingdom? God alone is enough, but without him, nothing is enough for your happiness. His love, grace, and the comforts of his Spirit will certainly sweeten your way to heaven. Sometimes you will experience joy unutterable and full of glory. God is a good master and in his service is a perfect freedom. Your work is its own reward. With these thoughts, put to flight the armies of the enemy. Shield yourself with these against the fiery darts the tempter shall pour upon you. Do not even take a moment to parley with the tempter. As soon as your lusts begin to grow inordinate, do not stay a moment; delay is unutterably dangerous. A house on fire needs immediate attention.”
John Gibbon, Puritan Sermons 1659-1689, 1:96-100
Tim Challies posted these comments from Sinclair Ferguson’s book The Christian Life: A Doctrinal Introduction (a book I have very much benefitted from reading). This is very helpful!
Sin. I can’t live with it, but am just not able to live without it. I know that I’ve been freed from sin, freed from the power of sin, and yet I still sin. Scripture tells me not to let sin reign, it tells me that if I am truly a child of God I will not go on sinning (Romans 6:12, 1 John 3:9). And still I sin. Even in those times that I focus my efforts on one particular sin I find that I am unable to stop, unable to put it entirely to death. My mind can’t do it; my will can’t do it. It may not reign as sovereign, but it continues to exist as a trial and a steady temptation.
In The Christian Life: A Doctrinal Introduction Sinclair Ferguson writes about this tricky relationship of sin to the Christian and offers these words of assurance: “We are no longer what we once were; we are no longer related to sin the way we once were.” This is important for me to understand and to keep in the forefront of my mind as I battle sin—any sin. I am not what I once was. I am not who I once was. I was once a slave to sin, owned by it, inexorably drawn to it. But now I am the slave to a different master. I am owned by God and subject to him. My relationship to sin has been radically transformed.
And yet I still get angry. I still lash out in anger. I still simmer in anger. I still have desires that stem from anger and suffer the consequences of my anger. And that is just one sin. I still lust and am still jealous and am still thankless and still sin in so many ways. I have died to sin but sin has not yet died within. But here is the difference; here is the change: Sin no longer has dominion. And practically I cannot relate to it as if it has dominion. I have to ensure that my experience of sin is consistent with my theology of sin.
Anger does not own me. Christ owns me. Lust does not motivate me. Christ motivates me. Jealousy does not get the final victory. Christ will get the final victory. The cross stands there as assurance that I have been saved from its power and will some day be fully and finally delivered from its presence. Sin is in me but I am in Christ. And what is in me was put upon him on the cross. He triumphed over it then. He broke its power. And now I just wait, battling all the while, for him to speak the word and bring it to an end once and for all.
Sunday Morning, March 27th – We will observe the Lord’s Table as a part of our worship.
Sunday evening March 27th will be our Small groups (if you aren’t in a small group I encourage you to get involved in one)
Sunday – April 3rd, we will have a fellowship meal following the morning worship time.
Friday, April 16th will be Secret Church from 6:00-10:00 pm (studying and praying around the cross)
Keven DeYoung quotes J. Gresham Machen on his blog. This is very applicable to our current study in Titus
Trampling Upon Human Hearts
Any Christian worth listening to loves the cross and is loath to see it robbed of its glory. To ridicule what the cross accomplished is to make war with the heart of the gospel and the comfort of God’s people.
J. Gresham Machen understood this well:
They [liberal preachers] speak with disgust of those who believe ‘that the blood of our Lord, shed in a substitutionary death, placates an alienated Deity and makes possible welcome for the returning sinner.’ Against the doctrine of the Cross they use every weapon of caricature and vilification. Thus they pour out their scorn upon a thing so holy and so precious that in the presence of it the Christian heart melts in gratitude too deep for words. It never seems to occur to modern liberals that in deriding the Christian doctrine of the cross, they are trampling upon human hearts. (Christianity and Liberalism, 120 [pagination may differ])
No doubt, some Christians get worked up over the smallest controversies, making a forest fire out of a Yankee Candle. But there is an opposite danger–and that is to be so calm, so middle-of-the-road, so above-the-fray that you no longer feel the danger of false doctrine. You always sound analytical, never alarmed. Always crying for much-neglected conversation, never crying over a much-maligned cross. There is something worse than hurting feelings, and that is trampling upon human hearts.