May 15, 2013
I treasure our church’s Statement of Faith. I carry a copy of it around in my Bible. You can call me weird for doing that, but you probably should have called me weird a long time ago for a number of other things. Anyway, our church’s Statement of Faith is based in large part upon the 1853 New Hampshire Confession of Faith. It is a wonderful confession that aptly summarizes the most important Biblical truths. It helps me when I’m trying to put a deep doctrine into biblically succinct words.
A few weeks back I jumped for joy (not literally) when a friend pointed me to a copy of What Baptists Believe: The New Hampshire Confession, an Exposition. The book was written in 1913 by O.C.S. Wallace and while I’m only a ten or so pages in, I’ve already found a few nuggets. Like this one, “We have the Bible because we have God.” What a simple, profound, and truth-filled statement. We have the Bible because we have God.
I’m so grateful that we have God’s revelation of himself (the Bible), and I’m so grateful that he is who he has revealed himself to be. He is, to use his own words, “a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation” (Exodus 34:6-7). We have the Bible because we have God, and because we have God we have worship. That is why in Exodus 34:8 Moses quickly bowed his head toward the earth and worshiped. Our Bibles lead us to God, and thus lead us to worship. May our God use our reading of his Holy Word to fan into flame our worship of him.
“Why We Have the Bible” is a post from the Grace Baptist Blog by Mike Law
May 8, 2013
Earlier today a wonderful brother in Christ pointed me to Philippians 3:12. There Paul writes, “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.” I was exhorted to rejoice in the truth that Christ Jesus has made me his own. That is a wonderful encouragement that all Christians should rejoice in. We belong to our Savior.
This reality, in the words of the Heidelberg Catechism, is our “only comfort in life and in death.” The Heidelberg Catechism goes on to make clear that because we belong to Christ and are empowered by the Spirit that we are made ready and willing to live for him. This seems to me to capture precisely what Paul was saying in Philippians 3:12. Our belonging to Christ is what motivates our living for him. May we continue to grow in the knowledge of our Savior’s love for us, so that we might grow in love for our Savior.
“Jesus Has Made Me His Own” is a post from the Grace Baptist Blog by Mike Law
May 1, 2013
Are you quick to judge others with severity? Just admit it. You know you are. I am. So let’s hear and heed this gentle word from Charles Spurgeon together:
“Eyes that have wept over our own sin will always be most ready to weep over the sins of others. If you have judged yourselves with candor, you will not judge others with severity. You will be more ready to pity than to condemn, more anxious to hide a multitude of sins than to punish a single sinner.”
May God give us the grace to “love one another earnestly, since love covers over a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8). He has surely loved us earnestly, and covered the multitude of our sins in the blood of Christ.
(C.H. Spurgeon from a sermon on Titus 3:3-8 entitled, “THE MAINTENANCE OF GOOD WORKS,” NO. 2042, given on September 2, 1888 at Metropolitan Tabernacle.)
“Judging With Severity” is a post from the Grace Baptist Blog by Mike Law
April 24, 2013
Should the Lord tarry, we will be starting a new series in 1 Thessalonians this coming Lord’s Day! I am very excited. I’ve read Paul’s letter a couple of times and he addresses some really important issues, and expresses a deep love for the Thessalonians. Above all, our Savior is exalted. It’s a great letter, and I’d encourage you to prepare for Sunday and the sermon on 1 Thessalonians 1:1-3 by doing a little advanced work.
In those first three verses we meet the author of the letter, those who receive the letter, and the God of grace (no, that’s not necessarily the outline of Sunday’s sermon, but it may become the outline!). The advanced work that you could do in preparing to hear from God’s Word on Sunday includes three simple things. First, consider reading through the whole letter. It is not long, but it is rich. Second, consider reading about Paul’s first trip to Thessalonica in Acts 17. I think you’ll find Acts 17 to be intense. Let’s just say that Paul knows how to draw a crowd. Finally, pray. Pray that God would give me wisdom as I study and prepare, and pray that the Lord would be pleased to make our hearts soft to hear from him.
“1 Thessalonians Preparation” is a post from the Grace Baptist Blog by Mike Law
April 17, 2013
In 1539 Martin Luther wrote, “God’s Word cannot be without God’s people, and conversely, God’s people cannot be without God’s Word.” It is a beautiful statement. It is a profound statement. And it is a convicting statement. It is beautiful because it is well put. It is profound because it affirms the biblical truth that God’s Word creates God’s people. Faith comes by hearing, as Paul says in Romans 10:17. Where God so sovereignly and effectually sends his Word in to the hearts of hearers, he gives new life and creates a people for himself. In other words, God’s Word does not return void (Isaiah 55:11). Luther’s statement is also a convicting statement because God’s people cannot go without his Word, they positively long to hear their God speak to them.
We know why the latter portion of Luther’s statement is convicting. It is convicting because too often we go on in this life as though we can be without God’s Word. We know the truth though, don’t we? We know we need God’s Word. Man cannot live by bread alone (Deuteronomy 8:3). We know we’re hungry, but we work through the lunch hour. We ignore our hunger, and say to ourselves that we can eat later, because what is presently before us is really most important. It is really not, and even here, God is gracious to us in our foolishness. Though we may live throughout the week as though we don’t need to hear from him and feast upon his Word, he gathers us week in and week out to hear from him and so he feeds us the bread that we really need. This is why he positively commands us to gather to meet with his people (Hebrews 10:25). We tend not to think of God’s commands as gracious, but the truth is, they are. Praise God that they are.
So, how do we cultivate our hunger for his Word? It is not by starving and eating later, but by answering the daily call of hunger. It is by a steady diet of tasting and seeing that he is indeed good that our hunger will grow. In the meantime, we should continue to gather at the banquet table that he has prepared for us each Lord’s Day, for he will use that to cultivate our longing for food throughout the week too. May the Lord be pleased to satisfy our hunger and thirst for righteousness.
[Martin Luther, “On Councils and the church” trans. Charles M. Jacobs, Luther’s Works, vol. 41 (Philadelphia, PA: Fortress Press, 1966), p.150]
“God’s Word and God’s People” is a post from the Grace Baptist Blog by Mike Law
April 10, 2013
Of late I’ve been reading Mark Dever’s book The Church: The Gospel Made Visible. While I personally want to quibble with the good Dr.’s title a little bit (ask me about that another time), since I’ve gotten past the title page, I’ve been agreeing with him over and over again. Too often today, Christians are apologizing for the Church, as if she is the black sheep of Christendom, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. The Church is being used by God to display his manifold wisdom to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places, to use the words of the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 3:10. And if the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places are seeing God’s glory and manifold wisdom on display in the Church, then shouldn’t those of us who are here on earth see something of the grandeur of Christ’s church? Yes, we should. And so reflecting on the glory and the responsibility of the church Dever writes,
“What company is so obliged to worship God as those who have been not only created but redeemed? What group is so concerned with the task of proclamation of God’s Word and evangelism as those who have themselves been saved through hearing the Word? What body will be so involved in making visible signs – in baptism and the Lord’s Supper – of God’s saving action in Christ? From the ministry of the Word to the management of the church’s own affairs, what other group is so charged with the responsibility as the church of Jesus Christ?” [Mark Dever, The Church, p.45].
That is indeed a high responsibility and calling, but it is also a high privilege for a highly prized bride.
“Stop Apologizing for the Church” is a post from the Grace Baptist Blog by Mike Law
March 26, 2013
This coming Friday from 6:30-7:30pm, we will take time to reflect and meditate on Christ’s sacrifice on the cross through a Good Friday service. In our service, we’ll be walking through three narratives in Luke’s gospel which detail part of the events of Jesus’ passion. We hope to celebrate Christ’s death by coming together, hearing God’s Word read, singing songs that reflect on Christ’s sacrifice, hearing a short sermon on the cross, and celebrating the Lord’s Supper. Childcare will be provided for ages 0-3 during that time. In order to prepare for such a meditation on Christ’s sacrifice, consider some reflections from J.C. Ryle:
We must not be content with a vague belief that Christ’s sufferings on the cross were vicarious. We are intended to see this truth in every part of His passion.
We may follow Him all through, from the bar of Pilate to the minute of His death, and see Him at every step as our mighty substitute, our representative, our head, our surety, our proxy – the divine friend who under took to stand in our place and, by the priceless merit of his sufferings, to purchase our redemption.
Was He flogged? It was done so that “by His wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5).
Was He condemned, though innocent? It was done so that we might be acquitted, though guilty.
Did He wear a crown of thorns? It was done so that we might wear the crown of glory.
Was He stripped of His clothes? It was done so that we might be clothed in everlasting righteousness.
Was He mocked and reviled? It was done so that we might be honored and blessed.
Was He reckoned a criminal, and counted among those who have done wrong? It was done so that we might be reckoned innocent, and declared free from all sin.
Was He declared unable to save Himself? It was done so that he might be able to save others to the uttermost.
Did He die at last, and that the most painful and disgraceful death? It was done so that we might live forevermore, and be exalted to the highest glory.
From “The Sufferings of Christ” by J.C. Ryle in Jesus, Keep Me Near The Cross: Experiencing The Passion and Power of Easter, edited by Nancy Guthrie, pp. 58-59.
March 20, 2013
As I began last week’s sermon preparation, I prayed. For some reason, last week I scribbled down the major headings of the prayer that I brought before the Lord that day, and I discovered them again today. I thought that I would share the rough outlines of that prayer because I believe that it is one that we can all offer to God when we are endeavoring to understand his Word. Here is the outline of my prayer – confront, convict, comfort, and challenge.
When I called out to the Lord for insight into his word, I asked him to confront me. I asked him to confront me with the truth of his word. I asked him to confront me with my sin, with my need for understanding (sadly, sometimes in my pride, I think I know it all), and I asked the Lord to confront me with Christ in the text. I also asked the Lord to convict me. I asked him to convict me of the truth of his Word. It is one thing to recognize the truth, but it is another thing for the truth to take root in your heart. It is one thing to ascent to the truth, but it is another to embrace it. I asked the Lord to comfort me. I would despair (and so would you) if the Lord simply confronted us and convicted us. Graciously, he never leaves us there. He always leads us to the cross, and so I asked the Lord to comfort me with the truth of his mercy and grace in the text – to comfort me with the hope of Christ. Finally, I asked the Lord to challenge me. Give what God has done in Christ, we can never stay the same. I asked the Lord to challenge me, in the words one song, to “help me now live a life that is dependent on his grace.” I asked the Lord to challenge me to work out what I learned from the text – to work out my salvation with fear and trembling.
I should have prayed one more thing, for him to change me! While we do work out our salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12), it is God who works in us both to will and to work for his good pleasure (Philippians 2:13).
I hope and pray that these thoughts and prayer requests will be of some help to you when you open your Bibles tomorrow (or even tonight!). You can pray these same things for yourself, for others, and for me.
“A Prayer for Understanding” is a post from the Grace Baptist Blog by Mike Law
March 13, 2013
On Tuesdays I am reading through Sinclair Ferguson’s The Christian Life: A Doctrinal Introduction with another brother in the church. This past week we talked about chapters 8 and 9, but I was particularly encouraged by chapter 8, “True Repentance.” One of the things that struck me, as it has before, is how wonderful God’s mercy is. In the course of identifying elements in repentance, Dr. Ferguson pointed out that “True repentance always involves the recognition of pardon” (p.75). He goes on to say that “Only when we turn away from looking at our own sin to look at the face of God, to find his pardoning grace, do we begin to repent. Only by seeing that there is grace and forgiveness with him would we ever dare to repent and thus return to the fellowship and presence of the Father” (p.75).
How often do we fail to truly repent because we don’t fully apprehend the very merciful nature of God in the face of our sin? Yes, he is not pleased with our sin, but he is pleased to forgive. In view of his mercies, let’s endeavor to truly turn from our sin and turn to him.
“Repentance and Mercy” is a post from the Grace Baptist Blog by Mike Law
February 27, 2013
This past Sunday evening I preached on the first two words of the Lord’s Prayer, “Our Father.” From the truth that God is our Father, I drew out five implications for our prayer lives as Christians and churches. I want to share with you the first implication because I need to preach it to myself over and over again. The first and most obvious implication is that since God is our Father, since he loves his children, since he has a ready ear turned toward his children, we really should approach God in prayer. Not everyone has this privilege. Not everyone is a son or daughter of God by faith, but those who are should talk to God in prayer. Go to him in prayer. If you are weary, battered, and bruised from the day, go to him in prayer. In the words of a great hymn, “Here bring your wounded hearts, here tell your anguish; Earth has no sorrow that heaven cannot heal.”
“Here Bring Your Wounded Hearts” is a post from the Grace Baptist Blog by Mike Law