Proverbs
Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding;

Proverbs 3:5

The Word
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

John 3:16-18

Meta

1 Corinthians 1:18-31 – The Wisdom of the Cross

18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written,
“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”
20  Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. 22 For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. 26 For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. 30 And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31 so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” 1 Cor 1:18-31 (ESV)

This portion of Scripture is familiar to the majority of Christians, and we quite rightly revel in the message of the Cross, and all that Christ accomplished there on our behalf. For the wisdom of the cross is foolishness to this perishing world, as those who take a stand and proclaim the Gospel know only too well, but to those who believe, it is the very power of God to save. The Gospel itself is what divides believers from the world, and yet unites them together at the same time.

What I would like to draw attention to in this short message however, is to the way in which the wisdom of the world often infiltrates the church, and if we are not on our guard, can cause those within touching distance of Christ crucified, to turn back and embrace the world to their peril. I’m not trying to be negative, but simply desire to admonish those who love the truth of the Gospel, to stay on their guard. We need to be firmly grounded in the truth, and ever vigilant, that we may defend ourselves from the attacks of the enemy, not just for ourselves, but for the Body of Christ that surrounds us too. [1 Pet 5:8-9]

One of the things that it is crucial to understand as Christians, is that it is all about the merit and glory of Christ, and not of our own. Although we are lifted out of the miry clay, and our feet are set upon solid Rock in Christ. And though we are spiritually seated in heavenly places in Him [Eph 2:6], it is always to magnify Christ and not ourselves. We must get away from the popular misconception that God is to raise up “mighty men of God”, able to powerfully operate in the gifts of the Spirit, and express wisdom in abundance in order to convince the world that the Gospel of Christ is true. Though by faith we are adopted as sons of the Living God, it is of little consequence of who we are in Christ, but it is entirely about the person and completed works of Christ Jesus as Lord and Saviour.

In the text above we are reminded of our calling in Christ, and from whence we came, for “not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth.” [1 Cor 1:26]. We are in the humbling position, not of being chosen as mighty men of God to fight on God’s side, but as those who are considered weak and of no consequence to this world. And for what reason? “But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being might boast in the presence of God” [1 Cor 1:27-29]. The Lord does not need our help or assistance to be victorious, but rather chooses to extend His mercy and grace to pitiful wretches like us, in order to reveal His gracious magnificence to the whole of creation.

We are called into the Kingdom of God empty handed, and we are sent out into the world seemingly in the same way. We can do nothing of our own strength to benefit the cause of Christ, and the very tool we have been equipped with as the means to bring in the lost, namely the Gospel of Christ crucified and risen again, is one of utter foolishness to the perishing. We are sent out as lambs amongst wolves, seemingly to our destruction, but it is in our preservation, even being surrounded on all sides by far more powerful adversaries than we, that God Himself will be glorified. Just as Christ Himself faced similar consequences, His perfect obedience and faithfulness caused Him to be raised up to the Father’s right hand in glory, until every one of His enemies have been crushed beneath His feet. It is to this path of willing surrender, even in the face of certain defeat, that we are called to surrender in faith. It is from this place of utter humility that we will truly shine as lights to the world, and will be considered good and faithful servants in His Kingdom. Let us adopt the attitude of John the Baptist who uttered those infamous words, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” [John 3:30]

As much as it may raise our spirits to be emotionally lifted by the wisdom of man found in the church, it is most definitely not to our spiritual and eternal benefit. Though we may find comfort in rallying together as “mighty men of God” in this world, sending forth a victory cry over Satanic principalities and powers, and threatening to advance the Kingdom of God powerfully. In truth we are simply deceived, and remove ourselves from the protective covering of Christ as our Shield. In truth we are nothing more than sheep in need of a shepherd, and unless we seek to follow the one true Shepherd of the flock, we shall be led astray and devoured by the enemy who seeks to do exactly that.

In summary, if you are under the teaching and preaching of those who exalt men, even Godly Christian men, over Christ crucified, then run for your life! Close your ears to those who desire to tell you how great you are in Christ, how He will empower you with signs and wonders to show the world that the Gospel is true, or to the exhortations to rise up and harness the power of God to be all you can be. Run for your lives from those who sell a “gospel” message for profit as do the prosperity pimps we so often see, and from those who claim deep and mysterious knowledge that can be found nowhere in the Bible text. They are wolves out to deceive, kill and destroy, with no concern for your spiritual and eternal welfare.

Instead seek to fight the good fight upon your knees, in sackcloth and ashes, and in mourning for the perishing souls of men. Be prepared to face death by spiritual starvation, rather than feed upon the leaven that surrounds you, and show your hunger for God’s Kingdom and Righteousness to be sincere. Desire to fellowship with the faithful remnant that God has set aside, no matter how inglorious they may at first appear, for they are the living stones that are “being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” [1 Peter 2:5] Let us adopt the attitude of Moses who “considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward” [Heb 11:26]. And along with the patriarchs of old, whose heritage we now share by faith in Christ, let us turn away from every shade of earthly glory for ourselves. Let us share their glorious vision, who “all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. 14 For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland. 15 And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.” [Heb 11:13-16]

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The Scarlet Rope of Calvary

Tuesday, May 26, 2009 The Scarlet Rope of Calvary 05.26.09 J.A. Matteson

“Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying ‘Where is the promise of His coming?….’” 2 Peter 3:3-4

Spring rains bring forth a vibrant pallet of color to delight the eyes; hot dry days of summer lead multitudes to seek refuge alongside cool bodies of water; leaves that were green turn to amber, gently falling to the ground, dancing on the breeze of an autumn day; biting cold and snow of winter make the warm glow of a fireside chat with a cup of tea enticing. To the natural mind the rhythm of nature appears as an infinite loop of seasonal cycles, meandering rivers of delightful memories past tend to lull the unregenerate soul into a state of tranquility.

It is the [Continue reading…]

Which Jesus?

by J.A. Matteson

It is fashionable in our day for many within evangelicalism to view doctrine with contempt, “Doctrine divides,” they say, “let’s just love Jesus.” What did Paul say to the church at Corinth?….”By which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you” (1 Cor. 15:2). To Paul the content of his teaching mattered. If we accept the premise of merely “loving Jesus” as the basis of our fellowship we must then ask, which Jesus? The Jesus of the Gnostic’s? The Jesus of Islam? The Jesus of the Jehovah’s Witnesses? The Jesus of the Mormon’s? The Jesus of the New Age movement? The Jesus of the seclarist? Which Jesus are we speaking of? By formulating an answer to the question we are now engaged in doctrine. So doctrine actually unites, serving as the basis of our common faith once for all [Continue reading…]

The One True God

I came across an on-line book by Paul Washer called The One True God, which is all about the Attributes of God, and found a book review on-line  by  brother Tim Challies , who has put out the comprehensive booklet, cautioning about The Shack and which is linked on our blog  here.

Paul’s book is in PDF format and downloads really quickly.

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Rock Of Ages

Again I share the Lord being our Rock.

Isaiah 2:10 ¶ Enter into the rock, and hide thee in the dust, for fear of the LORD, and for the glory of his majesty.

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, Cleanse me from its guilt and pow’r.

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 Thy cross I cling; Naked, come to Thee for dress; Helpless, look to Thee for grace; Foul, I to the fountain fly; Wash me, Saviour, or I die.

While I [Continue reading…]

Thanks Be To God

by J.A. Matteson

“Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed” (John 20:29). Was it seeing and touching the risen Christ that prompted the response by Thomas, “My Lord and my God!”? (John 20:28). Is seeing believing? If that is true then all people who saw would have believed…but they did not. Others saw the risen LORD yet did not believe. Even Jesus made a telling statement about the rich man suffering judgment after he died, “If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead” (Luke 16:31). How is it then Thomas moved from unbelief to belief? The Word of Life brought it forth, “…do not be unbelieving, but believing” (John 20:27). For this reason Jesus informs that seeing is not necessary for faith…grace is. What [Continue reading…]

The Spirit and Prophetic Utterances in Worship

J.A. Matteson

Common in charismatic circles today is the appeal to this passage from the Apostle Paul as support for the free expression in public worship gatherings of spontaneous ecstatic utterances and new revelation from God, beyond the scripture, in the form of words of knowledge, tongues, and prophecy in the apostolic sense.  A close examination of the passage when applying the hermeneutic of the grammatical-historic approach, however, brings the expositor to an entirely different conclusion as to the original intent of the Apostle Paul.

“in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.  Do not quench the Spirit; do not despise prophetic utterances.”  1 Thessalonians 5:18-20

18. “In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

This specific exhortation is intended to direct the church to the providential goodness of God.  The Christian is [Continue reading…]

The Dangers of Exploring Christianity

As silly as it might sound to some there really is much danger in exploring Christianity. But think about it for a moment, if the Gospel is really what it claims to be in that it is the only thing that can rescue sinners from eternal hell, is it any surprise that the devil will prevent as many as possible from believing it?

Let’s face it, if we are sick we seek the advice of a doctor, right? And if we have a flood in the kitchen, we seek help from a plumber. So it stands to reason, if we suddenly become aware of our woeful spiritual condition in the sight of God, we seek the advice of those claiming to speak in His name don’t we? Well therein lies the problem, because what the Bible clearly tells those who are willing to receive its truth, is that [Continue reading…]

How Do God’s Love and God’s Wrath Relate?

Don Carson:

One evangelical cliché has it that God hates the sin but loves the sinner.

There is a small element of truth in these words: God has nothing but hate for the sin, but this cannot be said with respect to how God sees the sinner.

Nevertheless the cliché is false on the face of it, and should be abandoned. Fourteen times in the first fifty psalms alone, the psalmists state that God hates the sinner, that His wrath is on the liar, and so forth. In the Bible the wrath of God rests on both the sin ( Rom 1:18-23 ) and the sinner (Rom 1:24–32; 2:5; John 3:36 ).

Our problem in part is that in human experience wrath and love normally abide in mutually exclusive compartments. Love drives wrath out, or wrath drives love out. We come closest to bringing them together, perhaps, in our [Continue reading…]

You are my hiding place

Psalm 32

1 Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, Whose sin is covered. 2 Blessed is the man to whom the LORD does not impute iniquity, And in whose spirit there is no deceit.

3 When I kept silent, my bones grew old Through my groaning all the day long. 4 For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; My vitality was turned into the drought of summer.  Selah 5 I acknowledged my sin to You, And my iniquity I have not hidden. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,” And You forgave the iniquity of my sin.  Selah

6 For this cause everyone who is godly shall pray to You In a time when You may be found; Surely in a flood of great waters They shall not come near him. 7 You are my hiding place; You shall preserve me from trouble; [Continue reading…]