Saturday, February 17, 2018

Week in Review: February 11-17


  • Leviticus
  • Numbers
  • Deuteronomy
  • Ecclesiastes
  • Song of Solomon
  • Luke

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

My Victorian Year #7

Today I'll be sharing quotes from J.C. Ryle and Charles Spurgeon. The Ryle sermon I read was, "Election," and it was FANTASTIC.
When we read this passage (2 Samuel 15:1-6) we must learn not to judge our own times too harshly. The evils that we see are neither peculiar nor new.
In handling the subject of Election, there are only two things which I propose to do. Firstly, I will state the doctrine of Election, and show what it is. Secondly, I will fence the subject with cautions, and guard it against abuse.
I have firstly to state the doctrine of Election. What is it? What does it mean? Accurate statements on this point are of great importance. No doctrine of Scripture perhaps has suffered so much damage from the erroneous conceptions of foes, and the incorrect descriptions of friends, as that which is now before us. The true doctrine of Election I believe to be as follows. God has been pleased from all eternity to choose certain men and women out of mankind, whom by His counsel secret to us, He has decreed to save by Jesus Christ.
None are finally saved except those who are thus chosen. Hence the Scripture gives to God's people in several places the names of "God's Elect," and the choice or appointment of them to eternal life is called "God's election." Those men and women whom God has been pleased to choose from all eternity, He calls in time, by His Spirit working in due season. He convinces them of sin. He leads them to Christ. He works in them repentance and faith. He converts, renews, and sanctifies them. He keeps them by His grace from falling away entirely, and finally brings them safe to glory. In short God's eternal Election is the first link in that chain of a sinner's salvation of which heavenly glory is the end. None ever repent, believe, and are born again, except the Elect. The primary and original cause of salvation, is God's eternal election.
No part of the Christian religion has been so much disputed, rejected, and reviled as this. None has called forth so much of that enmity against God, which is the grand mark of the carnal mind. Thousands of so-called Christians profess to believe the Atonement, salvation by grace, and justification by faith, and yet refuse to look at the doctrine of Election.
Is the doctrine of Election plainly stated in Scripture? This is the whole question which an honest Christian has to do with. If it is not in the Book of God, let it be forever discarded, refused, and rejected by man, no matter who propounds it. If it is there, let us receive it with reverence, as a part of Divine revelation, and humbly believe, even where we are not able to understand completely or explain fully. 
(Matt. 24:22; Mark 13:22; Mark 24:31; Luke 18:7; Romans 8:29-30; Romans 8:33; Ephesians 1:4; 2 Timothy 1:9; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; 1 Peter 1:2; 2 Peter 1:10) I place these eleven texts before my readers, and I ask them to consider them well. If words have any meaning at all, they appear to me to teach most plainly the doctrine of personal Election.
Once admit that we are all naturally dead in trespasses and sins, and have no power to turn to God. Once admit that all spiritual life in the heart of man must begin with God. Once admit that He who created the world by saying, "Let there be light," must shine into man's heart, and create light within him. Once admit that God does not enlighten all professing Christians in this manner but only some, and that He acts in this matter entirely as a Sovereign, giving no account of His mattersonce admit all this, and then see where you are. Whether you know it or not, you admit the whole doctrine of Election!
Right views of God's nature and character, as revealed in the Bible, appear to me to bring us to the same position. Do we believe that God knows all things from all eternity that He governs all things by His providence, and that not even a sparrow falls to the ground without Him? Do we believe that He works all His works by a plan, like an architect of perfect knowledge, and that nothing concerning His saints, as His choicest and most excellent work, is left to chance, accident, and luck? Well, if we believe all this, we believe the whole doctrine which this paper is meant to support. This is the doctrine of Election. 
The next thing that I wish to do is to fence the doctrine of Election with cautions, and to guard it against abuse.
For one thing, the doctrine of Election was never meant to destroy man's responsibility for the state of his own soul. The Bible everywhere addresses people as free agents, as beings accountable to God, and not as mere logs, and bricks, and stones.Everywhere in Scripture it is a leading principle that man can lose his own soul, that if he is lost at last it will be his own fault, and his blood will be on his own head. The same inspired Bible which reveals this doctrine of Election is the Bible which contains the words, "Why will you die, O house of Israel?" "You will not come unto Me that you might have life." "This is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil." (Ezek. 18:31; John 5:40; 3:19.)
The doctrine of Election was never meant to prevent the fullest, freest offer of salvation to every sinner. In preaching and trying to do good we are warranted and commanded to set an open door before every man, woman, and child, and to invite everyone to come in.
We know not who are God's Elect, and whom He means to call and convert. Our duty is to invite all. To every unconverted soul without exception we ought to say, "God loves you, and Christ has died for you."
Election was never intended to prevent people making a diligent use of all means of grace. On the contrary, the neglect of means is a most suspicious symptom, and should make us very doubtful about the state of a man's soul. 
Those whom the Holy Spirit draws He always draws to the written Word of God and to prayer. When there is the real grace of God in a heart, there will always be love to the means of grace.
If people begin rejecting a truth of Scripture merely because they do not like it, they are on slippery ground. There is no saying how far they may fall.
 A work that was planned before the foundation of the world, by an Architect of almighty power and perfect wisdom, is a work which will never be allowed to fail and be overthrown.
From Charles Spurgeons' Morning and Evening:
If we were what we profess to be—and what we should be—we would be pictures of Christ!
Was He self-denying, never looking to His own interest? Be the same. Was He devout? Be fervent in your prayers. Had He deference to His Father’s will? So submit yourselves to Him. Was He patient? So learn to endure. And best of all, as the highest portraiture of Jesus, try to forgive your enemies, as He did; and let those sublime words of your Master, “Father, forgive them—for they know not what they do,” always ring in your ears. Forgive, as you hope to be forgiven.
A daily portion is all that a man really needs. We do not need tomorrow’s supplies; for that day has not yet dawned, and its needs are as yet unborn. The thirst which we may suffer in the month of June—does not need to be quenched in February, for we do not feel it yet. 
If we have enough for each day as the days arrive—we shall never know want. Sufficient for the day—is all that we can enjoy.
Enough is not only as good as a feast—but is all that the greatest glutton can truly enjoy. Enough is all that we should expect—a craving for more than this is ungrateful.
Beloved Christian reader, in matters of grace you need a daily supply. You have no store of grace. Day by day must you seek help from above. 
Heaven will be full of the ceaseless praises of Jesus.
Covetousness, discontent, and murmuring are as natural to man—as weeds are to the soil. We need not sow thistles and weeds; they come up naturally enough, because they are indigenous to earth. Just so, we need not teach men to complain; they complain fast enough without any education.
Now, contentment is one of the flowers of heaven, and if we would have it, it must be cultivated, as it will not grow in us by nature. It is the new nature alone which can produce contentment, and even then we must be especially careful and watchful, that we maintain and cultivate the grace which God has sown in us. 
The only reason why anything virtuous or lovely survives in us is this, “the Lord is there.”
If the Lord be with us through life, we need not fear for our dying confidence; for when we come to die, we shall find that “the Lord is there”; where the billows are most tempestuous, and the water is most chill, we shall feel the bottom, and know that it is good—our feet shall stand upon the Rock of Ages when time is passing away.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Friday, February 16, 2018

True or False with Steven Lawson

TRUE OR FALSE. The rejection of the truth is where sin began, and it continues to this day. Whenever the truth of God is suppressed, it always leads to believing a lie.

TRUE OR FALSE. The supreme sin today, it seems, is not the committing of moral wickedness. Rather, it is making an exclusive claim of absolute truth. The unpardonable sin in this generation is to affirm moral absolutes. The abomination of the hour is to assert that the Bible is the authoritative standard of truth and to maintain that all that is contrary to the truth is a lie. Such is an anathema in the truth-rejecting world of the twenty-first century.

TRUE OR FALSE. No one can possess true faith in Jesus Christ and yet not believe the Bible itself. To abandon the Bible is to abandon God.

TRUE OR FALSE. Christianity is not a cause to join or a code to follow, but a Christ to follow.

TRUE OR FALSE.  The true gospel is always offensive to the world.

TRUE OR FALSE. God has not stuttered or muttered in His Word. Neither has He edited His own truth. On the contrary, He has affirmed, “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever” (Isa. 40:8). Yet this is the precise point at which Satan launches his attack. He tempts people to doubt the veracity of the Word of God.

TRUE OR FALSE. As worshipers, we are to give to God every part of our bodies. Nothing must be held back. We are to give Him our minds, including our thoughts, beliefs, dreams, and ambitions. We are to give Him our eyes—what we see, look upon, and focus upon. We are to give Him our ears—what we hear and listen to throughout the day. We are to give Him our mouths—what we say and what we teach. We are to give Him our hands—what we do and what we lay hold of. We are to give Him our feet—where we go and what we pursue. This is God’s design for all believers. This is not reserved for the so-called spiritual elites, but for every true believer.

TRUE OR FALSE. Either we are influencing the world, or the world is influencing us. Either the world is the mission field or we are the mission field. The devil never sleeps. The forces of hell are aggressive, and we are subject to the relentless temptations, snares, and schemes of the evil one.

TRUE OR FALSE. The battle for the Christian mind is the battle for the Christian life.

TRUE OR FALSE. Understand this—salvation is by grace, and judgment is by works. Each sinner will be strictly judged by the Lord Jesus Christ according to what he did.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Book Review: The Moment of Truth

The Moment of Truth. Steven J. Lawson. 2018. Reformation Trust. 238 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: “Does absolute truth exist?” The question is often asked by many today. We live in a generation that denies any such notion of truth. The only absolute seems to be there are no absolutes, and the only truth that there is no truth.

Steven Lawson's newest book, The Moment of Truth, is a wonderful read that I highly recommend. The topic is TRUTH and the fundamental importance of it in our lives. He begins by defining what truth is: " Truth is not how things may appear to be. Nor is it how we want things to be. Neither is it what opinion polls say something is. To the contrary, truth is the way things really are."

The book has three parts: "The Reality of Truth," "The Rejection of Truth," and "The Reign of Truth."

Lawson's book is clear, logical, practical, persuasive, compelling,  but most of all biblical. Every chapter is packed with Scripture and he seeks to unpack the meaning of the Word of God clearly and carefully for readers.

Each chapter is a gem. For example, in chapter one Lawson shares EIGHT reference points to help believers distinguish "true truth" from "pretenders to the truth." 1) Truth is divine. All truth originates with God. 2) Truth is absolute and reigns as the highest authority. " Truth has the first word and the final say in every matter." 3) Truth is objective. "Truth speaks with specific words that have a definite meaning. It is concrete, black and white, and narrowly defined. It never blurs the lines of distinction." 4) Truth is singular. "Truth is never true for one person, but not true for someone else. Truth is always truth for every individual." 5) Truth is unchanging. "What is truth today never becomes untrue tomorrow. Right is always right, and wrong is always wrong." 6) Truth is authoritative. "Truth has the right to make assertive demands upon our lives. Truth necessitates something from us. When the Bible speaks, God Himself speaks and summons us by His truth." 7) Truth is powerful. "Truth cuts to the bone. When we are pierced by the truth, it opens us up and allows us to see ourselves as God sees us. Truth is so powerful, that it alone can save us from the wrath to come. Truth can sanctify us into the image of Jesus Christ. Truth has the power to strengthen the weak. It encourages the downcast. It guides the lost. It challenges the sluggish. It comforts the discouraged. Truth does what only God can do because it is the truth of God Himself." 8) Truth is determinative. "Your relationship to the truth charts the course of your life in this world. Ultimately, truth will have the say on whether you spend eternity in heaven or in hell."

In Chapter five, Lawson examines Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden and the fall of mankind. He argues, "The war on the truth that began thousands of years ago in the garden of Eden continues to be carried out today against God Himself. First, the devil began this combat by casting doubt upon the Word of God. A careful study of Genesis 3 reveals a clear progression in Satan’s strategic attack against the truth in which the first attack was meant to create doubt in the mind of Eve."

Not only is every chapter a gem, the chapters just seem to get better and better. There isn't a weak link in the book. From cover to cover, this one is worth your time and effort. It should be read and reread.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Book Review: A Pilgrim's Progress

John Bunyan's A Pilgrim's Progress. Geraldine McCaughrean. Illustrated by Jason Cockcroft. 1999/2005. 112 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: I had a dream last night. Like moonlight through the window of my cell it fell on me: not so big as to fall one night; large enough to fill the rest of my life.

Premise/plot: This is an adaptation--a retelling--of the classic allegorical novel, Pilgrim's Progress. Christian, in this version, is a young boy. Hopeful, Christian's companion along the way, is a young girl. The book has been completely rewritten as prose. And most--if not all the names--have been changed. For example, Obstinate and Pliable become Ob Stinate and Mr. Bendy.  Because Christian is a young boy--not a married man with a wife and children of his own--there is no room for the sequel. Also the order of events have been shuffled around a bit.

My thoughts: I enjoyed this one. I did. I can't say that I like it more than the original. But I'm not sure it was written to replace the original at all. I liked the writing, for the most part. I do like how it ended.
I cannot describe what Christian saw when he came face to face with the King, nor what Hopeful felt when all her hopes were fulfilled. I woke too soon. And besides, no one can dream the Unimaginable; I shall have to cross the River myself before I can say exactly what the City of Gold contains. I would not have chosen to wake. But I did. I am awake now. Time to get up then, I suppose, and continue the journey. I am on a pilgrimage, too, you see. Everyone is.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Book Review: The Sea Before Us

The Sea Before Us. (Sunrise at Normandy #1) Sarah Sundin. 2018. Revell. 375 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Wyatt Paxton never realized coming home could be as bittersweet as leaving.

Premise/plot: Sarah Sundin's newest historical series is set during World War II in England. Wyatt Paxton is a Texan with a shady past who finds himself falling in love with a WREN, Dorothy Fairfax. Dorothy--thinner but still as freckled as ever--is head over heels with her childhood crush, a friend of her brothers. Wyatt and Dorothy become close friends as they both work towards the goal of invading Normandy and advancing victory. This friendship is advanced, in part, because Wyatt and her father get along so well. And Dorothy needs people in her life who can help her with her difficult father. The two have never been close, but since the war started things have become even more strained.

My thoughts. I loved, loved, LOVED this one. Truth be told I've loved all of Sarah Sundin's novels. Some series I love more than others. But she is a true favorite author of mine. I do recommend her often to anyone and everyone with an interest in World War II or historical fiction in general. I really love how Christian her books are; Christian without being preaching. Dorothy struggles in this one. She feels that since the war, God has struck down everyone that she has ever loved or cared for. Her feelings are genuine, and Sundin addresses an age-old question in this one.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Week in Review: February 4-10


  • Genesis
  • Exodus
  • Proverbs
  • Acts
  • Galatians

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible