After the last discussion we had that included topics centered around that ever-present issue of unity in the church, Jarod and I wound up thinking about an issue that’s directly related to this: conflict.
How do Christians handle conflict with one another? What about when it’s with someone who’s outside the faith, as it so often can be?
Let the gospel be preached and the Spirit poured out, and you will see that it has such power to change the conscience, to ameliorate the conduct, to raise the debased, to chastise and to curb the wickedness of the race, that you must glory in it. I say, there is naught like the power of the Spirit. Only let that come, and, indeed, everything can be accomplished.
Charles Spurgeon, sermon no. 30: “The Power of the Holy Ghost”
Just taking a break from the Soul Winner series to visit one of Spurgeon’s earliest sermons, and on a subject that engenders a lot of discussion and confusion. The Holy Spirit is seen in different ways and many Christians struggle with who He is as a person. There is a lot of controversy that’s come from teachings that portray Him as a sort of avenue to God’s power that we can access if we just have enough faith. I’ve written about this kind of thing before, and we’ve talked about it on Kings Highway Radio.
Such teachings do not glorify God, but diminish Him. The Holy Spirit glorifies Christ, and convicts the world about Him. Dare we to assign him the post of genie, or of a faint and distant voice? The Spirit burns in the hearts of the people of Christ, driving them forward, urging them to serve and love and walk in faith. This is no small thing, but it is the sign of new life in Christ.
We’re starting off the new year right by getting the podcast back up and running. Jarod and I sat down to chat over a few things that had been on our minds. In particular, we talked briefly about our thoughts and concerns regarding the debate over “social justice” within the church and my thoughts after having read Eric Mason’s book “Woke Church.” I will try to post a more in-depth review of the book on this site later.
If you want to check out Neil Shenvi’s discussions on the issue, you should definitely look to his website and Twitter feed. He’s a great resource for serious and even-handed thoughts on the issue.
We also discussed the #WakeUpOlive controversy surrounding Bethel Church a couple weeks back, and touched on issues we talked about last time.
Through all of it, the thread that we continued to return to was the issue of unity in Christ for the church, which I spent a lot of time talking about last year. Rather than concluding that, it seems to have become only more pressing as time has gone on. I will probably return to the subject more in other forms later. In the meantime, I cannot recommend the book I mentioned enough, which you can find at the link below from Amazon:
In the case of certain men, whom I could name, I feel a great mistake was made. As soon as they were converted, they were taken right out of their former associations and set before the public as popular preachers. It’s a great pity that many made little kings of these preachers and, in so doing, prepared the way for their fall. You see, they couldn’t bear the sudden change. It would have been better for them if everybody had bucked and abused them for ten or twenty years. It would probably have saved them from much misery later.
Many apologies for my long absence and much thanks for your prayers and support. I didn’t intend to take all October off of podcasting, but it began with extreme busyness and ended on a very high and low point. The low being getting sick, and the high being getting engaged to my wonderful girlfriend. Please continue to pray for both!
This chapter presses in hard on what the character of a preacher must be, but all the moreso it presses in on what every believer must strive after as he walks as a disciple of Christ. Take a moment, think about the sins in your life that you struggle to even see as sins, the ones that plague you daily and persist in tripping you up either because you actually kind of like them or because you find yourself bound to run to them for comfort in hard times.
This chapter is not saying, “if you don’t get those areas cleaned up, you can’t be a Christian.” On the contrary, the fact that we struggle and fight against them rather than walk in them without fear and make regular practice of them mark our lives in Christ. Every day we have to drag these evils to the cross and it seems like they come crawling right back. But by the grace of God, we have the joy and duty to drag them right back to that cross again, to crucify the flesh.
If we hide our sins, if we make practice of them without fear and without concern about their effects on our hearts and on our walk with Christ, that’s what should really bring about fear. There cannot be any such thing as peace between holiness and sin. You cannot be a Christian who holds sin close to his heart in any way. The Holy Spirit will not let us walk in such ways in peace.
I pray this reading is a blessing to you, and that I will walk in this diligently as well. Please feel free to reach out to me with prayer requests, and please do continue to pray for me as well.
As soul winners, we are not to hold up a modified standard of holiness before our people and say, “You’ll be all right if you reach that standard.” Scripture says, He that commits sin is of the devil (1 John 3:8). Remaining under the power of any known sin is a mark of our being the servants of sin, for his slaves ye are to whom ye obey (Romans 6:16). The boasts of a man who harbors the love of any transgression are ineffectual.
Chapter 2 of The Soul Winner presses into first matters of preaching the gospel: bringing the weight of sin to bear on those who hear. This is something that, as many will point out, often seems lacking in a lot of modern Western churches. The words “Jesus saves!” are not lacking, but exactly what Jesus saves from is not made clear. For the sake of all those who read this, I will make it clear: that salvation is from the wrath of God that is coming against all sin.
The preaching of the gospel can hardly be considered started if we don’t begin where the Bible does: with man’s sinfulness, and his need for a holy and perfect Savior, found only and completely in Jesus. My church has a little slogan we use, that our desire is “showing the beauty of Jesus to the heart of Denton.” Surely we seek after that, and one of the components of that showing is the flipside of that coin: showing the ugliness of sin. This doesn’t mean we make a mockery of those who commit sin, or that we act as though we personally are above sin.
On the contrary, it involves us being honest with others about the sin that has marked our lives, and in the same way, showing the way Christ has rendered a transformation in our desires and our hearts. Our society today has decided that such preaching is decidedly bad, because to call someone to repent of sin might also involve calling them to repent of something that they have taken as a very identity of themselves. But that is exactly what we want to do: there is no identity other than in Christ that will bring any hope, and in fact every other identity we could adopt (and I mean every, so don’t think you’ve found the loophole) will ultimately bring only frustration and, in the end, death.
We do desire to show the ugliness of sin, and at the same time, to show exactly how beautiful Jesus is, because “while we were still sinners,” while we were absolutely in love with all manner of sins and idolatries and evil, “Christ died for us.” More than that, He lives for us, as a perfect and great high priest, and by whom we have the right and the joy to go to God in prayer, as adopted children. Rejoice in that, and trust completely in Him.
When we think about God’s mercy being shown, usually we look to passages in the gospels where Jesus is speaking gently to sinners, or the didactic teachings of the apostles clearly speaking on God’s great mercy and grace. But in reading today’s selection for Scripture Sunday, I want to point out that God’s mercy is shown even in these early Old Testament passages. So many people deserved to be destroyed, but were blessed with prosperity and family. And most clearly, God’s mercy is seen in His saving of life on Earth in the face of impending judgment through His command to Noah to build the ark–an early image of Christ and His role as the one in whom all are to be saved from final judgment.
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What is the real winning of a soul for God? Since this is done by a means to an end approach, what are the processes by which a soul is led to God and to salvation? I take it that one of the main actions consists in instructing a man that he may know the truth of God (2 Timothy 2:25). Instruction in the gospel is the beginning of all real work upon men’s minds. Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you; and, behold, I am with you always even unto the end of the age. Amen. (Matthew 28:19-20). Teaching begins the work and crowns it too.
As I mentioned in the last episode, the next few episodes will be from Charles Spurgeon’s Book The Soul Winner. I wanted to take a little break from the regular format, so I thought I would switch over to this.
You can follow the link above to find your own copy of the book on Amazon, with slightly updated language. It’s an interesting book that definitely shows his forthright approach to preaching. Like with everything else here, I hope it is helpful and a blessing.
Let me know in the comments below or by email if you have a favorite Spurgeon sermon you’d like to hear in a future episode.
That returning evil for evil looks like rough and ready justice, I have confessed, but then is any man prepared to follow out for himself and in his own case this rule of justice? Is he prepared to stand before God and receive evil for his evil? “He shall have justice without mercy that shows no mercy.”
Is he willing to stand before God on the same terms as he would have the offending one stand before himself? No, our best and, indeed, our only hope must lie in the mercy of God who freely forgives offenses!
We’ve come quite a ways in the last few months, as I have worked my way towards this goal. I want to again thank my good brother Ed Romine for helping me to select the sermons that made up the bulk of this series. I started this series after I felt a conviction that the subject of unity in the church was a crucial one to discuss. My conviction has not changed since I began, though my reasons and my thoughts have broadened considerably since then.
I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how I wanted to conclude this series. For a while I thought that it would wind up in a long conclusion of my own where I would take each point and tie them all together in painstaking detail, driving home a final grand point about the need for unity and the foundation of that unity in Christ and in His gospel. But it seems to me that the book of Romans as a whole, and especially chapter 12, serve as a marvelous display of what I’m trying to say.
So I won’t belabor this with long paragraphs, but I want simply to point to what Paul accomplishes in his text. He begins in chapter one by pointing to man’s need for God’s grace. He demonstrates man’s innate sinfulness and the fact that everyone, whether gentile or Jew, needs to trust to the sacrifice of Christ alone as the basis of their salvation and of their relationship with God as a beloved child.
Our new Scripture Sunday feature is continuing, this time with a series that will take a little more time. God willing, we will be making our way through the entire Pentateuch three chapters at a time.
What is the Pentateuch? It’s the term for the first 5 books of the Bible: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. Those books contain so much: history, poetry, and law just as starters. My desire as we dig into these books is that we will worship God together as we see how He has planted and tended the seeds of redemption that was to come in Jesus.
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