Wednesday, January 26, 2011

“O Lord, Bend Me”

The herald of the gospel must bend.  Not to the world.  Not to relativism.  Not to empty philosophies.  The herald of the gospel must bend to the gospel.  The apostle Paul declared to the church in Corinth:
“For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power” (1 Corinthians 1:17).

Evan Roberts, June 8, 1878 – September 29, 1951
The ESV Study Bible notes that “The art of rhetorical persuasion was highly valued in the Greco-Roman world, and professional orators frequented large cities like Corinth, giving impressive displays of their ability to entertain and instruct.”  See, the gospel “is the power of God for salvation” (Romans 1:16), but it is emptied of its power to ignite faith in the heart of the lost (Rom. 10:17) when it is a different gospel altogether.  Sadly, the same professional orators frequent our churches, cities, and airwaves.  They give a good speech, tell the best jokes, know more about popular culture, and fill small congregations, stadiums, and certain religious networks with their smooth talk, impressive sets, tremendous stage presence, and empty gospel.  For them we must pray that they may forsake their ways and receive a bending of the Lord to the true gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

It was in the early 20th century when Evan Roberts, the renowned Welsh revivalist, heard the Reverend Seth Joshua pray, “Bend us, o Lord,” he could think nothing else other than “O Lord, bend me!”  This was the prayer that became the catalyst to Evan’s conversion.  It was defining of his ministry.  May we, the heralds of the powerful gospel of Christ, the only gospel, join Roberts in praying “O Lord, bend me!” 
Words from the past still speak as if they were written tomorrow.  Let us consider the words of Spurgeon in his lecture excerpt below:

(The following is an excerpt from a lecture entitled “Faith” by Charles Spurgeon which was delivered at the Conference of Ministers and Students educated at the Pastors’ College, Tuesday 16 April 1872.)

“Dear brethren, you and I believe in the doctrines of the gospel. We have received the certainties of revealed truth. These are things which are verily believed among us. We do not bow down before men's theories of truth, nor do we admit that theology consists in "views" and "opinions." We declare that there are certain verities, essential, abiding, eternal, from which it is ruinous to swerve.

I am deeply grieved to hear so many ministers talk as if the faith were a variable quantity, a matter of daily formation, a nose of wax to be constantly reshaped, a cloud driven by the wind. So do not I believe! I have been charged with being a mere echo of the Puritans, but I had rather be the echo of truth, than the voice of falsehood.

It may be want of intellect which prevents our departing from the good old way, but even this is better than want of grace, which lies at the bottom of men's perpetual chopping and changing of their beliefs.

Rest assured that there is nothing new in theology except that which is false; and that the facts of theology are to-day what they were eighteen hundred years ago. But in these days, the self-styled "men of progress" who commenced with preaching the gospel degenerate as they advance, and their divinity, like the snail, melts as it proceeds; I hope it will never be so with any of us.

I have likened the career of certain divines to the journey of a Roman wine cask from the vineyard to the city. It starts from the wine-press as the pure juice of the grape, but at the first halting-place the drivers of the cart must needs quench their thirst, and when they come to a fountain they substitute water for what they have drank. In the next village there are numbers of lovers of wine who beg or buy a little, and the discreet carrier dilutes again. The watering is repeated, till, on its entrance into Rome, the fluid is remarkably different from that which originally started from the vineyard.

There is a way of doctoring the gospel in much the same manner. A little truth is given up, and then a little more, and men fill up the vacuum with opinions, inferences, speculations, and dreams, till their wine is mixed with water, and the water none of the best. Many preachers—and I speak it with sorrow—have built a tower of theological speculations, upon which they sit like Nero, fiddling the tune of their own philosophy while the world is burning with sin and misery. They are playing with the toys of speculation while men's souls are being lost.

Much of human wisdom is a mere coverlet for the absence of vital godliness. I went into railway carriages of the first class in Italy which were lined with very pretty crochet-work, and I thought the voyagers highly honoured, since no doubt some delicate fingers had sumptuously furnished the cars for them. The crochet work was simply put on to cover the grease and dirt of the cloth. A great deal that is now preached of very pretty sentimentalism and religiousness is a mere crochet-work covering for detestable heresies long since disproved, which dared not appear again without a disguise for their hideousness.

With words of human wisdom and speculations of their own invention men disguise falsehood and deceive many. Be it ours to give to the people what God gives to us. Be ye each of you as Micaiah, who declared: "As the Lord liveth, whatsoever the Lord saith unto me that will I speak." If it be folly to keep to what we find in Scripture, and if it be madness to believe in verbal inspiration, we purpose to remain fools to the end of the chapter, and hope to be among the foolish things which God has chosen.”

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Gospel in Miniature

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”

Martin Luther, reformer of the 16th century, called John 3:16 “the heart of the Bible – the Gospel in miniature.”

“God” – (The greatest LOVER)
“So loved” – (The greatest DEGREE)
“The world” – (The greatest NUMBER)
“That He gave” – (The greatest ACT)
“His only begotten Son” – (The greatest GIFT)
“That whosoever” – (The greatest INVITATION)
“Believeth” – (The greatest SIMPLICITY)
“In Him” – (The Greatest PERSON)
“Should not perish” – (The greatest DELIVERANCE)
“But” – (The greatest DIFFERENCE)
“Have” – (The greatest CERTAINTY)
“Everlasting Life” – (The greatest POSSESSION)

These 25 words will never be exhausted by time, sermons, or signs in the end zone.  Let it be proclaimed from Christ to Nicodemus to the Nations!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Seeing the Gospel through the Gospel

I thought it would be most fitting to begin this blog about Gospel Clarity with my sermon "What Is the Gospel?" The way we see the Gospel is everything! If preached and heard rightly, it has the potential to produce Spirit-giving, soul-winning faith. But a failure to make the Gospel clearly understood as the Scripture defines will continue to fill our churches with self-deceived, false converts. Oh, church, we've got to be clear here for everything else depends on it. God's word must be allowed to speak for itself. We can only see the Gospel through the Gospel.

God has blessed me with a variety of media platforms to glorify His name. May they never be used to promote self but Christ and edify His people. Other places you may find me are Facebook, Twitter, and Vimeo.

Grace and peace,