When one fears God, not only their Godward morality—but also their Godward hobbies, vocation, and delights—are unlocked to enjoy to the fullest. As long, of course, as one never forgets that the Lord remains the judge of our hearts’ delights, such that we might walk in the fear of him.
Yes, it is.
Rejoice, O young man, in your youth, and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth. Walk in the ways of your heart and the sight of your eyes. But know that for all these things God will bring you into judgment.
Mitch Chase wonders what this could mean, in light of all that Jesus, Moses, the prophets, and sages of Israel had to say about not following one’s own heart.
Chase makes excellent use of correlation with other wisdom texts as well as the context of the argument within the book of Ecclesiastes to answer the question. And he arrives at a great place.
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By Don Kistler — 6 months ago
All that we can do in great and deep affliction, and sore distresses of soul, is only to look up to Christ as a poor, wounded, bleeding man looks and cries to one who passes on the road for help. And our Savior and Physician is so compassionate that He will regard us, though we are able to say little more than, “Have mercy on us, Thou Son of David.”
The Puritans not only preached to comfort the weary and wounded, but admonished those who had close relations with such saints in how to help them. So Timothy Rogers gave instructions to those who had to deal with those under a sense of God’s desertion:
Speak kindly and compassionately to those whom you perceive to be under the sense of God’s anger. Job complains in Job 19:2, “How long will ye vex my soul, and break me into pieces?” And as men who have been long used to poring over their troubles, he tells them how often they had vexed him in verse 3: “These ten times have ye reproached me; ye are not ashamed that ye make yourselves strange to me.” It is very likely that they did not vex him with their words purposely; for, being good men, they could not be so extremely barbarous. They made good sermons, but very sorry and mistaken application. It is easy to trample upon those with sharp and cutting speeches whom God and their sorrows have already thrown into the mire. It is easy for those who are in no trouble to silence and upbraid those who are. As Job says to Eliphaz, “Shall vain words have an end? I also could speak as you do, if your soul were in my soul’s stead. I could heap up words against you, and shake mine head at you. But I would strengthen you with my mouth, and the moving of my lips should assuage your griefs.”
When any of your friends are under spiritual trouble, you must carefully abstain from any passionate or sour word or action that may increase their grief; it will be some small help to them to see that you pity them, though you cannot give them relief. Use all the compassionate and kind words to them that you can, and seek to bind up their sores with a gentle hand. Beware of using any expression that savors of sharpness, reproach, or scorn, for these will, as they did to Job, vex their souls more, and they will be evil in you as well as unpleasant to them. Hence is that complain in Psalm 69:20: “Reproach hath broken my heart, and I am full of heaviness; and I looked for some to take pity, but there was none; and for comforters, but I found none. They gave me also gall for my meat, and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.” And Psalm 123:4: “Our soul is exceedingly filled with the scorning of those that are at ease, and with the contempt of the proud.”
By Christopher J. Gordon — 6 months ago
Written by Christopher J. Gordon |
Thursday, June 15, 2023
Christians, be faithful and uncompromising in your witness, even unto death, remembering that Jesus told us to be of good cheer because He has overcome the world. The sexual revolution is no match for Him, for the battle has always belonged to the Lord.
When I first entered the ministry almost twenty years ago, I was a young, idealistic pastor ready to take on the world and to defend the Reformed doctrines of grace. Though I knew that Western culture over the past century was experiencing a radical change in the understanding of what it means to be human and how that plays out in our sexual ethics, I was not prepared for how quickly the sexual revolution would progress. Who of us entering the ministry in the early 2000s was prepared to face a sexual revolution that would overturn the God-ordained institution of marriage between a man and a woman? I felt more equipped to address the challenges that the Reformers faced from those who troubled the church from the inside on the important nuances of soteriology. It did not take long, however, before I as a pastor faced what seemed to be an insurmountable problem: the entire world’s demanding our submission to an unbiblical anthropology.
The Sexual Revolution
Ever since the Obergefell decision in 2015, when gay marriage was legalized in the United States, a flood of assaults have sought to overturn the creational sexual ethic that God established from the beginning for the good of the human race. We can no longer take it for granted that non-Christians around us agree on the basic definition of male and female. Our institutions have embraced concepts such as gender fluidity and call believers to declare their preferred pronouns and accept whatever view of gender is espoused by those around them. This is becoming no less true among historically robust Christian institutions as parents face sending their children to colleges that will actively seek to indoctrinate them with the new sexual libertinism. Homosexual behavior and premarital sex have for some time been normalized in the mainstream consciousness, and there seems to be no question that as we see the continual unraveling of all creational norms and the embrace of things that are contrary to nature, the next wave of sexual deviancy will demand the acceptance of nonmonogamous relationships and bestiality.
To this point, Christians have enjoyed, for the most part, marginal acceptance by society due to legal protections, but if things continue at their current rate, this time will soon be over. Full participation in the workplace and in wider society will require complete submission to whatever are the prevailing ideals of the moral revolution and the proposed reset of all creation norms.
While our freedoms still remain, we have already witnessed in the church a growing temptation to compromise on biblical anthropology and sexual ethics. Many of the ideologies of the culture have already found a place in many quarters of the Christian church in an attempt toward cultural acceptance. Movements such as Side B Christianity have attempted to forge a middle way by adopting an identity in unnatural desire, such as being a gay Christian, so long as the desires are not carried out.
By Alistair Begg — 2 months ago
It’s Christ’s Word that warns, guides, teaches, and encourages us as we persevere in faith. We may think of Peter, who, after having fallen away for a time, was restored to Christ on the strength of His truth spoken to him (John 21:15–17). If we wish to endure, it’s imperative we become children of the Word. And so, we look to Christ. We listen to His Word. And finally, we situate ourselves among His people.
Few things burden the Christian more than when a person who once professed Christ wanders from the Gospel. If you take inventory of your own experience, you may come up with a list of names of those who once mentored you in the faith, led your church in worship on Sundays, or even taught the Bible to you yet ultimately (it seems) left the faith. Tragically, the world is filled with people who once apparently walked the path of obedience but didn’t continue on it.
This phenomenon isn’t new. The author of Hebrews warned those to whom he wrote against matters like drifting, rebellion, and disobedience (Heb. 2:1; 3:16). He even at times presented these warnings in conditional terms: “We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end” (Heb. 3:14).
When it comes to the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints, we must recognize that these warnings in Hebrews are real warnings, directed toward Christians. There’s no sense in which they are to be ignored on the basis of self-proclaimed security. Instead, as Sinclair Ferguson notes, “the New Testament warns us by precept and example that some professing Christians may not persevere in their profession of Christ to the end of their lives.”1
We must be careful that we don’t grow careless or prideful when it comes to persevering in the faith. In fact, the doctrine should produce in us a careful urgency to heed the biblical warnings concerning apostasy. When we come to the Scriptures, we discover that the perseverance of God’s people in their salvation is a truth that is biblical, practical, and Christ-centered.
A Biblical Doctrine
What do we mean when we talk about the doctrine of perseverance? Louis Berkhof gives a helpful definition, describing it as “that continuous operation of the Holy Spirit in the believer, by which the work of divine grace that is begun in the heart, is continued and brought to completion.”2 Strictly speaking, perseverance has more to do with God’s work than with our own. It’s because God perseveres in His love for us that we’re able to continue in our love for Him. A more apt name for this doctrine, in fact, might be the preservation of the saints. God preserves, keeps, and guards His people.
With the definition in mind, we can locate the doctrine all throughout Scripture. Indeed, the Bible emphasizes the absolute certainty of the believer’s preservation. The opening verses of 1 Peter are among the clearest on the matter:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (1 Peter 1:3–5)
Three truths concerning God’s preservation of the saints arise from this passage.
First, God “has caused us to be born again” (v. 3).