Tuesday, April 29, 2014

My Year With Spurgeon #17

The Ever-Living Priest
Charles Spurgeon
"And they truly were many priests, because they were not suffered to continue by reason of death: but this Man, because He continues forever, has an unchangeable priesthood. Therefore He is able to sa ve them to the uttermost who come to God by Him, seeing He lives forever to make intercession for them." Hebrews 7:23-25
This superiority of our Lord Jesus Christ is a topic which will not interest everybody. To many persons it will seem a piece of devotional rapture, if not an idle tale. Yet there will always be a remnant according to the election of Grace to whom this meditation will be inexpressibly sweet. Who are the people that will be interested in this theme? They are indicated in the text—they that come unto God by Jesus Christ. The people who are in the habit of using Christ as their way of access to God are those who will value Him beyond all price—and such persons will delight to hear Him extolled in the highest terms.
We will begin our discourse, then, by the enquiry—Do we come unto God by Jesus Christ? Listen and answer for yourselves. Do we come unto God at all? Do we recognize the Lord our God as a Person who should be approached? Are we now approaching Him? Are we among those who are always coming to God, to whom, at the last, the great Judge shall say, "You have been coming, continue to come. Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you"? Or are we departing from God by forgetting Him, or rebelling against Him, so that we shall be among that number to whom the Judge shall say, "You have long been departing, continue to do so. Depart, you cursed, into everlasting fire in Hell, prepared for the devil and his angels"? Are we coming to God? That is the question. Is the direction of our lives towards God? We are either going to God or from God—and by this we may forecast our everlasting destiny. The direction in which the arrow is flying prophesies the target in which it will be fixed—the way the tree is leaning, that way foretells the place of its fall—and where the tree falls, there it will lie.
So let us judge ourselves this day! Which way are we drifting? Have we ever come to God by sincere repentance of our wanderings? Have we come to Him by faith and are we reconciled to Him? Do we come to Him in prayer? Do we come to Him day by day, speaking with Him and desiring to walk with Him? Do we come to God by communion with Him, having fellowship with the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ? Do we, in fact, know the meaning of what it is to draw near to God? It is ill with us if we either have no God, or if He seems to be very far off, an almost unrecognizable phantom, an idea never fully realized, much less approached! Blessed are they that know the name of the Lord and that walk with Him, rejoicing in the light of His Countenance. It is to such that Jesus is precious as their way of access to the Father.
Faith in which Jesus is not the foundation of our hope is mere delusion! God cannot accept us if we will not accept His Son. O Sinner, God has opened one Door in Heaven—if you will not go in by that Door, you shall never enter within the walls of the New Jerusalem! God bids you come to Him by One in whom He is well pleased, but if you will not be pleased with Jesus, you can not come to the Father!
I love to read these words—"He ever lives to make intercession for them." This is the one great objective for which He lives. To make intercession for those that come unto God by Him is the business of His life. Is not this wonderful?
Yet here is the Lord Jesus declaring that He lives for us— for us He appears in the Presence of God! For us He has gone to the many mansions of the Father's house! For us He constantly intercedes with God! Oh, the deep debt of gratitude we owe to this glorious One who, having died for us, now lives for us!
He lived for us here below a whole lifetime! He laid down that life for us and now He lives again for us. I know not how to speak what I feel concerning the surpassing greatness of His love. He could not be content to give His life once for us, but He must take it again and shall give it over again for us! See how He loves us— He died for us! See how He loves us—He lives again for us! He lives for sinners, for He lives to intercede—and for whom is intercession but for those who need an advocate? "If any man sin we have an Advocate." May I say that Jesus lives two lives for us?
Yet more, it is said, "He ever lives to make intercession for us" so that the whole life of Christ throughout eternity— His boundless, endless, glorified Existence is still for His people! He glorifies the Father and makes glad the hosts of Heaven, but still this is the set purpose of His heart—to live for us. "He loved me and gave Himself for me" is true. But we may read it in the present tense if we like, for it is still true—"He loves me and He gives Himself for me." Christ loved His Church and gave Himself for it—and now He loves His Church and gives Himself to it! What inspiration lies in the endless life of Christ for us! Let our lives be lived wholly for Him since He lives wholly for us.
The Lord Jesus Christ, in His perpetual Priesthood, lives on purpose to be the Advocate, Defender, Patron, Mediator and Interposer for His people. You that come to God by Him will highly esteem this constant service rendered to you by your Lord. Whereas Christ, by His death, provided all that was necessary for your salvation, He, by His life, applies that provision which He made in His death. He lives on purpose to see brought home to you and enjoyed by you, all those blessed gifts and privileges which He purchased upon the Cross when He died in your place. Had He not lived for you, His death for you would have miscarried. He would then have begun the work and provided all the materials for its completion, but there would have been none to render those materials available and to complete the building whose foundation had been laid in so costly a manner.
We are pardoned by the death of Christ, but we are justified by His Resurrection. We are saved because He died, but that salvation is brought home and secured to us because He sits at the right hand of God and continually makes intercession for us. I want you, today, to think as much of a living Christ as you have ever thought of a dead Christ. You have sat down at the foot of Calvary, your eyes suffused with tears, and you have said how delightful it is to behold His love written out in crimson characters in yonder streams of blood which His very heart pours out for our redemption! I want you, now, to sit at the foot of His Throne and, as far as your dim eyes will permit, behold His splendor and see how He spends His Glory-Life in perpetual intercession for you! He is as much ours on the Throne as on the tree. He is always living to apply to us with His own hands what He purchased by the nailing of those hands and the piercing of His heart upon the Cross of our redemption.
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Monday, April 28, 2014

Book Review: Pelican Bride

Pelican Bride. (Gulf Coast Chronicles #1) Beth White. 2014. Revell. 367 pages. [Source: Review copy]

I liked Beth White's The Pelican Bride. It is a historical novel set during a time I'm completely unfamiliar with. It is set in the Louisiana colony circa 1704-05. Most of the characters are French, French Canadian, or Native American. (Several tribes are mentioned, I did not do a great job of keeping track of which character belonged to which tribe.)

The heroine of Pelican Bride is Genevieve Gaillain. She and her sister, Aimee, have come to start a new life in a new colony. These two women are part of a larger group of newly arrived French women. These are women who have agreed to marry with the settlers and soldiers. While some women rush straight into marriage with a soldier, and indeed seem to marry the first man who asks them, Genevieve and her sister appear to be more choosy. Especially Genevieve. The truth is that Genevieve has fallen for a man who is resistant to the idea of marriage. He has no intention of marrying "a Pelican bride." Let other men fight and gamble over the women. But Tristan Lanier can't stop thinking about Genevieve or that delicious crusty bread that she bakes. The two have a handful of conversations together; they decide to marry. But all is far from perfect. They only have one day and night together before he leaves on an oh-so-dangerous mission.

Readers know who the villains are almost from the start which means that impatient readers will spend time yelling at the characters. I spent some time yelling at this book for better or worse.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Read With Me: John, Conclusion

I want to thank everyone who joined me in April to read the gospel of John! I'd love to hear about your experience! There are still a few days remaining in the month, so keep on reading if you're a bit behind!!!

This week's top ten:
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8) (NASB)
He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (2 Corinthians 5:21) (NASB)
For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account. Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:12-16) (NKJV)
And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him. (Hebrews 9:27-28) (ESV)
Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. (Hebrews 10:19-23) (ESV)
But although he made the world, the world didn’t recognize him when he came. Even in his own land and among his own people, the Jews, he was not accepted. Only a few would welcome and receive him. But to all who received him, he gave the right to become children of God. All they needed to do was to trust him to save them. (John 1:10-12) (Living)
See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. (1 John 3:1) (NIV)
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. (1 John 4:7-16) (NIV)
We love because he first loved us. (1 John 4:19)
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Revelation 21:3-4) (NIV)
Our blessed Lord made intercession for transgressors in so many words while He was being crucified, for He was heard to say, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." It is generally thought that He uttered this prayer at the moment when the nails were piercing His hands and feet and the Roman soldiers were roughly performing their duty as executioners. At the very commencement of His passion He begins to bless His enemies with His prayers. As soon as the Rock of our salvation was smitten, there flowed forth from Him a blessed stream of intercession. Our Lord fixed His eyes upon that point in the character of His persecutors which was most favorable to them, namely, that they knew not what they did. ~ Charles Spurgeon, "Jesus Interceding For Transgressors," 1877
The Prophet, however, does not, I suppose, intend to confine our thoughts to the one incident which is recorded by the Evangelists, for the intercession of Christ was an essential part of His entire lifework. The mountain's side often heard Him, beneath the chilly night, pouring out His heart in supplications. He might as fitly be called the Man of Prayers as, "the Man of Sorrows."
He was always praying, even when His lips moved not. While He was teaching and working miracles by day, He was silently communing with God and making supplication for men. And His nights, instead of being spent in seeking restoration from His exhausting labors, were frequently occupied with intercession. Indeed, our Lord's whole life is a prayer! His career on earth was intercession worked out in actions. Since "He prays best who loves best," He was a mass of prayer, for He is altogether Love. He is not only the channel and the example of prayer, but He is the life and force of prayer. ~ Charles Spurgeon, "Jesus Interceding for Transgressors," 1877
To me it is marvelous that He, being pure, should plead for transgressors at all! For you and for me among them—let the wonder begin there. Sinners by nature, sinners by practice, willful sinners, sinners who cling to sin with a terrible tenacity, sinners who come back to sin after we have smarted for it—and yet the Just One has espoused our cause and has become a suitor for our pardon! We are sinners who omit duties when they are pleasures and who follow after sins which are known to involve sorrow. We are sinners, therefore, of the most foolish kind—wanton, willful sinners— and yet He who hates all sin has deigned to take our part and plead the causes of our souls! Our Lord's hatred of sin is as great as His love to sinners. His indignation against everything impure is as great as that of the thrice holy God who revenges and is furious when He comes into contact with evil. And yet this Divine Prince, of whom we sing, "You love righteousness and hate wickedness," espouses the cause of transgressors and pleads for them! Oh, matchless Grace! Surely angels wonder at this stretch of condescending love! Brothers and Sisters, words fail me to speak of it. I ask you to adore! ~ Charles Spurgeon, "Jesus Interceding for Transgressors," 1877
Whenever a soul comes to Christ it need have no hesitancy, seeing Christ has already prayed for it that it might be saved. I tell you transgressors, Christ prays for you when you do not pray for yourselves! Did He not say of His believing people, "Neither pray I for these, alone, but for them, also, which shall believe on Me through their word"? Before His elect become Believers they have a place in His supplications! Before you know yourselves to be transgressors and have any desire for pardon—while as yet you are lying dead in sin—His intercession has gone up even for such as you! "Father, forgive them," was a prayer for those who had never sought forgiveness for themselves! And when you dare not pray for yourselves, He is still praying for you! When, under a sense of sin, you dare not lift so much as your eyes toward Heaven. When you think, "Surely it would be in vain for me to seek my heavenly Father's face," He is pleading for you!
Yes, and when you cannot plead. When, through deep distress of mind you feel choked in the very attempt to pray. When the language of supplication seems to blister your lips because you feel yourself to be so unworthy. When you cannot force, even, a holy groan from your despairing heart—He still pleads for you! Oh, what encouragement this ought to give you! If you cannot pray, He can! And if you feel as if your prayers must be shut out, yet His intercession cannot be denied! Come and trust Him! Come and trust Him! He who pleads for you will not reject you—do not entertain so unkind a thought—but come and cast yourself upon Him. Has He not said, "Him that comes to Me I will in no wise cast out"? Venture upon the assured truth of that Word and you will be received into the abode of His love. ~ Charles Spurgeon, "Jesus Interceding for Transgressors," 1877
From the day in which Christ forgives you, rise to that nobility of character which finds pleasure in forgiving all offenses fully and frankly for Christ's sake. Surely, the Atonement which He offered, if it satisfied God, may well satisfy you and make amends for the sin of your brother against you as well as against the Lord! Jesus took upon Himself the transgressions of the second table of the Law, as well as of the first—and will you bring a suit against your brother for the sin which Jesus bore? Brothers and Sisters, you must forgive, for the blood has blotted out the record! Let these words of Scripture drop upon your hearts like gentle dew from Heaven—"Be you kind, one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God, for Christ's sake, has forgiven you." ~ Charles Spurgeon, "Jesus Interceding for Transgressors," 1877

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Week in Review: April 20-26

REB (Revised English Bible)

  • Psalm 119 (3)
  • John
  • 1 John
  • 2 John
  • 3 John
  • Jude 
  • Revelation

NEB (New English Bible)

  • Psalm 119 (3)
  • Mark 1-6
  • Acts
  • Romans
  • 1 Corinthians
  • 2 Corinthians
  • Hebrews
  • James
  • 1 Peter
  • 2 Peter

NIV MacArthur

  • 1 Kings 1-14

NRSV Daily Bible

  • 1 Kings 12-22
  • 2 Kings 1-17

Living Bible

  • John

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Friday, April 25, 2014

Book Review: Love Comes Calling

Love Comes Calling. Siri Mitchell. 2014. Bethany House. 400 pages. [Source: Review copy]

I liked reading Siri Mitchell's Love Comes Calling. I think I would have liked it even more if I hadn't predicted so early on the big misunderstanding of the heroine, Ellis Eton.

Ellis Eton is the heroine of Love Comes Calling. Ellis is unhappy. She may come from a wealthy family, she may be attending a prestigious woman's college, but, Ellis feels like she is a big failure who can only always disappoint the people in her life. Wanting to escape from the failure-feeling, Ellis has plans to run away to Hollywood and become an actress. But first she has to successfully save up some money. (Something that she's tried to do for several years, but, has always failed at.)

It so happens that Ellis Eton looks nearly-exactly like the daughter of one of her family's servants. (I forget if it is a cook, maid, housekeeper.) This person comes to Ellis asking a favor. She wants Ellis to take her place as a "hello girl" (telephone operator) for two weeks while she goes away. (She is trying to arrange the burial of her mother and find her father who is a fisherman; he's been on his boat, he doesn't know of the death). Ellis has never had to work, and is about as unskilled as can be. But with a brief amount of coaching, Ellis is as ready as she'll ever be to work the switchboard.

On her first day on the job, Ellis does horribly. Horribly is being generous. Her sloppiness doesn't go completely unnoticed, but it's not fully realized by her bosses either. Ellis so happens to have heard a conversation that she shouldn't have, a conversation about Ellis' boyfriend.

The rest of the book focuses on Ellis attempting to become a detective on top of everything else. There were scenes that were successfully cringe-worthy. I just didn't want to see what happened next because I was worried that Ellis' foolishness would lead to something awful--or awful humiliating.

It was a quick read, for the most part, but I guessed early on what the conversation was really about. And what the conversation is really about is so far from what Ellis thinks it's about.

One of the novel's strengths is in the setting. This one is set in Boston in 1924. World War I may be over, but, it is not forgotten. Their are men and women still struggling to adapt to this 'new world.' One of the characters, Jack, was a bit thought-provoking. He is a veteran with a lot of unanswered questions. Why did he survive? Why was he the 'lucky' one? Is there any meaning, any purpose to life? Do our choices matter? Jack is not the proper hero of this one. But I did find his scenes interesting. (Griff is our proper hero.)

Prohibition is the subject of this one, the whole idea of CAN morality be legislated and/or enforced? SHOULD morality try to be enforced onto a society, any society? Should people try to control what other people do? Most of the characters agree that drinking irresponsibly is dangerous and "bad." But all struggle with the notion of Prohibition itself and all the things it leads to.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Book Review: For Such A Time

For Such A Time. Kate Breslin. 2014. Bethany House. 430 pages. [Source: Review copy]

I really loved Kate Breslin's For Such A Time. This historical romance is set in Czechoslovakia during World War II. Our heroine is a Jewish woman (Hadassah Benjamin) who was rescued from execution by a Nazi soldier, Colonel Aric von Schmidt. Her papers--false papers--identify her as Stella Muller. His reasons for saving her are a bit ambiguous. He doesn't appear to suspect that she is, in fact, Jewish. She's not taking chances on telling her rescuer either. Let him think whatever he wants. She is taken into his home where she is treated well: given food and clothes and the time to rest and recover physically. She is officially his secretary. And she does do secretarial work for him. That isn't exactly a lie. But he hopes for more. He doesn't expect more--demand more. But he's hoping that she's falling for him as he's falling for her. There's no doubt that his fellow soldiers and perhaps others in the community think that she is in fact his mistress. Is she attracted to him? The truth, the absolute truth, yes. She knows that she perhaps shouldn't "allow" such traitorous thoughts to take root. But she can't help it. He even wants to marry her!

Just as she has secrets, big secrets, she's keeping from him. He is keeping big secrets from her. She is hoping to "rescue" a small handful of Jews through her work. She is given on occasion the task of typing up the lists of those Jews from the ghetto to be deported. She know she can't rescue ALL. Each page contains a hundred names or so. If half the names vanished from the list, she'd be found out very quickly indeed. But eight names per page, well, she's hoping that saving a hundred out of almost two thousand is worth it. She gets away with it at least once. But her "luck" may not continue...

His secrets, well, he knows that in a matter of weeks what the BIG plan is to solve "the Jewish problem." And his orders have him very involved--too involved for his liking. He knows that she could no longer like him or respect him if she knew the truth.

I loved this one. Not only did I care very much about the hero and heroine, I also liked some of the "minor" characters. Stella really really comes to love a Jewish boy working as a servant in the house. His name is Joseph. And she wants more than anything to rescue him and have him be a part of her life forever. She wants to mother him, to protect him. And then there is her uncle...

I definitely recommend this one!

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Book Review: Growing In the Spirit

Growing in the Spirit (Assurance of Salvation #4) D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. 1989. Crossway. 158 pages. [Source: Bought]

The gospel of John is one of my favorite, favorite books of the Bible. And John 17 is definitely a great chapter. Martyn Lloyd Jones published four sermon collections on John 17. These sermons were originally preached in the early 1950s. I think you'll find, if you take the time to read it yourself, that his messages are still very relevant, very timeless. Growing in the Spirit belongs in this collection, in a way, because many of the sermons are grounded in John 17, particularly John 17:17. (I'm guessing that verse was one of the author's favorite verses!) But it also is set apart from the previous three volumes. The book itself seems to be solely devoted to the work of the Holy Spirit, to the notion of "growing in the Spirit." If the previous volume focused on WHAT sanctification is, this last volume focuses on the HOW…or should that be WHO!

Take Time to Be Holy (John 17:17)
"Mortify, therefore…" (John 17:17)
Spiritually Well Dressed (John 17:17)
The Work of the Holy Spirit (John 14:26)
Different in Everything (1 Peter 2:13-17)
The Yearning of the Holy Spirit (John 17:17)
Be Filled With The Spirit (John 17:17)
Controlled by The Spirit (Ephesians 5:18)
The Temple of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:16; Ephesians 4:30)
The Wiles of the Devil (Ephesians 6:10-11)
The Unity of the Spirit (John 17:20-23)
With Him in the Glory (John 17:24)

Favorite quotes:
To be saved is not primarily to be happy, it is not primarily to have an experience; the essence of salvation is that we are in the right relationship to God. From the beginning, the great promise of God with regard to salvation is this: "I will be your God, and ye shall be my people" [eg Lev. 26:7], so if we find that our tendency is to view salvation in any way except directly in terms of our knowledge of God and our relationship to him, it is a false tendency. (506)
The thing which marks and differentiates the Christian is that he is someone who is in a given relationship to God. The great doctrine of God, the being and character of God, must override everything else. The whole purpose of the Bible is to reveal God to us and to bring us into communion with him, which is the life eternal. (506)
If I do not read my Bible in such a way as to come to a deeper knowledge of the greatness and holiness of God, there is something wrong in my reading, and the same is true if my reading of the Bible does not humble me, or bend me to my knees. (511)
It is my business as a preacher not only to preach to others, but to myself also, and the real value of my preaching to others is the extent to which I preach to myself before I preach to them. (513)
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

My Year With Spurgeon #16

A Bottle in the Smoke
Charles Spurgeon
“For I am become like a bottle in the smoke; yet do I not forget they statutes.”—Psalm 119:83.
It was never designed by God when he chose his people, that they should be an untried people; that they should be chosen to peace and safety, to perpetual happiness here below, and freedom from sickness and the pains of mortality.
Trials are a part of our lot; they were predestinated for us in God’s solemn decrees; and so surely as the stars are fashioned by his hands, he has fixed their orbits, so surely are our trials weighed in scales; he has predestinated their season and their place, their intensity and the effect they shall have upon us. 
Our Heavenly Father never intended to take away our griefs when under trial; he does not put us beyond the reach of the flood, but builds us an ark, in which we float, until the water be ultimately assuaged, and we rest on the Ararat of heaven for ever, God takes not his people to an Elysium where they become impervious to painful feelings: but he gives us grace to endure our trials, and to sing his praises while we suffer.
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Monday, April 21, 2014

Book Review: Sanctified Through the Truth

Sanctified Through the Truth. (The Assurance of Salvation #3) D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. 1989. Crossway. 153 pages. [Source: Bought]

For years, I've felt I ought to read Martyn Lloyd-Jones. I've felt that if I ever gave him a proper chance, he's a theologian, a writer, I would LOVE. That is very much the case. 2014 is turning out to be the year that I discovered just how wonderful, how rich his work is. Sanctified Through the Truth is the third book in the Assurance of Salvation series by Martyn Lloyd-Jones. The first volume was Saved in Eternity. The second volume is Safe in the World. There are four books in the series. Through all four books, (almost) every verse of John 17 is covered or discussed. The third volume, Sanctified Through the Truth covers John 17:17-19. Other volumes have definitely covered more verses, but, being so focused, so narrowed in focus is not a bad thing! I never really considered how RICH and how DEEP these verses were before.

Lloyd-Jones is on a mission. He's trying to clearly define sanctification and what the Bible means when it speaks of sanctifying or sanctification. The Bible speaks of believers being sanctified. The Bible also speaks of the Lord Jesus Christ being sanctified. Lloyd-Jones covers both in this volume. And when necessary he supplements his work by examining other scriptures on the subject. So even though the primary Scripture is John 17:17, he doesn't rely on that one little verse alone for his discussion.

The Special People of God (John 17:17-19)
Sanctification and Evangelism (John 17:17-19)
"For Their Sakes" (John 17:19)
God's Work Through the Truth (John 17:17)
Sanctification--A Continuous Process (John 17:17)
One All-Inclusive Truth (John 17:17)
The Truth About God (John 17:17)
The Truth About Sin (John 17:17)
New Creatures (John 17:17)
Christ In Us (John 17:17)
The Doctrine of the Resurrection (John 17:17; 1 Corinthians 15:33)

Of the three volumes I've reviewed so far, this may in fact be my favorite!!!

Favorite quotes:
At all costs the church must keep her message pure and clean, and she must take her stand upon the purity of the gospel and upon that alone. Indeed I do not hesitate to go so far as to say that the church, claiming as she does that the gospel is the power of God unto salvation, must be prepared to say that her gospel will work in spite of the world, whatever its state, whatever its condition; that even if hell be let loose on the face of the earth, her gospel is still powerful. (359-60)
If we are concerned about the present state of affairs we must all ask ourselves this question: If my life is not influencing others and bringing them to Christ, why is it not? (373)
You and I can only be sanctified because the Incarnation is a fact; we can only be sanctified because the suffering and death, the resurrection and the risen life of our Lord were all facts. (386)
Before you and I could ever be sanctified, the barrier between us and God had of necessity to be removed. Sanctification ultimately means being like God, sharing the life of God, being in the right relationship with God and having perfect communion with him. Sanctification does not just mean being rid of certain sins. (386)
We must never base our doctrines upon experience, but upon the truth. That is the main reason for not accepting this attitude of letting any man believe what he likes. The Scripture tells us to prove the truth… Our duty, therefore, as Christian people is to discover, as far as we can, the teaching of the Scriptures. (393)
The main characteristic of people who are sanctified is that God is in the centre of their lives. That is the first thing we may say about them. Before we get them to say what they do or do not do with regard to a particular action, we must be clear about the central, primary, most vital thing, which is how the truth sanctifies us. It starts by holding us face to face with God and it tells us the truth about him. The Bible is primarily a revelation of God. It is not primarily interested in man, but in God. It is designed to bring man to a knowledge of God, and so it tells us about him. (433)
Why should anybody come to Christ? What do people do when they come to him? What do they mean when they say they believe on him? How can that possibly happen apart from some understanding of sin? You cannot give yourself, or your heart to Christ, you cannot surrender, you cannot use the term, "Take him as your Savior" unless you know what he is to save you from. So it is surely utterly unscriptural to indulge in any sort of evangelism which neglects the doctrine of sin. There is no real meaning or content to the term "Savior" or "salvation" apart from the doctrine of sin, which has this tremendous emphasis throughout the Bible. (445)
If our understanding of the death of Christ upon the cross does not make us hate sin and forsake it, and hate the world and forsake the world, and give ourselves unreservedly to Christ, we are in the most dangerous condition possible. To imagine that Christ died on the cross simply to allow us to continue living a sinful and worldly life in safety, comes, it seems to me, very near a terrible form of blasphemy. (458)
It is a fatal thing to expect Christian conduct from people who are not Christians. The Bible never asks that. The Bible knows that the natural man, the man born with human nature as it has been since the fall of Adam, cannot possibly live such a life… All the appeals made in the epistles for conduct and behavior--and we must never be tired of pointing this out--are always made to Christian people. (474)
What a man believes is ultimately going to determine his life. (491)
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Read With Me: John, Week 4

Do you have reading plans for the month of April? I'd love to have you join me in reading the Gospel of John. You may read in any translation of the Bible. Ideally, participants would finish all twenty-one chapters of John just in time for Easter, April 20! If you want to meet the Easter goal and still just read one chapter a day, perhaps you might start one day early, March 31. You can let me know you've joined me on the original post or any of the weekly and/or daily posts. (You can still catch up! Yes, even with just eleven days remaining in April. Two chapters a day and you still could finish this month if you began today!)

This week's top ten:
“I have wiped out your transgressions like a thick cloud
And your sins like a heavy mist.
Return to Me, for I have redeemed you.”
Shout for joy, O heavens, for the Lord has done it! (Isaiah 44:22-23) (NASB)
Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else. (Isaiah 45:22) (KJV)
Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel,
“I am the Lord your God, who teaches you to profit,
Who leads you in the way you should go. (Isaiah 48:17) (NASB)
Bless the Lord, O my soul;
And all that is within me, bless His holy name!
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And forget not all His benefits:
Who forgives all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases,
Who redeems your life from destruction,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies,
Who satisfies your mouth with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. (Psalm 103:1-5) (NKJV)
He has not dealt with us according to our sins,
Nor punished us according to our iniquities.
For as the heavens are high above the earth,
So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him;
As far as the east is from the west,
So far has He removed our transgressions from us. (Psalm 103:10-12) (NKJV)
How sweet are Your words to my taste,
Sweeter than honey to my mouth! (Psalm 119:103) (NKJV)
Show me Your ways, O Lord;
Teach me Your paths.
Lead me in Your truth and teach me,
For You are the God of my salvation;
On You I wait all the day. (Psalm 25:4-5) (NKJV)
Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good;
Blessed is the man who trusts in Him! (Psalm 34:8) (NKJV)
And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. 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. And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. (John 3:14-19) (NKJV)
For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.  He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything. For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven. And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds,  yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach—if indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard, which was proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, was made a minister. (Colossians 1:13-23) (NASB)
If I go to a sinner and say, “I am exactly the same as you, the only difference is that I have a Savior,” but I do all the same things he does—I tell the same dirty jokes he tells and I waste my time the same way he does and I do everything he does—and then I say, “I have a Savior, you ought to have a Savior,” doesn’t he have the right to ask me what kind of Savior I have? What profit is there for a man to say, “I have a physician” if he is dying on a cot? What does it profit a man to say, “I have a Savior” if he is living in iniquity? ~ A.W. Tozer, Reclaiming Authentic Christianity
I have to say it is a perilous thing to make the Christian message less offensive. It pretty much lives on its offensiveness. It says we are spiritually dead. It says Jesus is our only hope for life. But there is a powerful dynamic at work between the Christian message and the Christian life, because Christian lives should be attractive. Christian lives should be full of love, not to mention grace, truth, and joy. The message of the Gospel is hard for all of us to hear at first. But when people made in the image of God—however distorted the image has become—observe us living attractive lives that increasingly image the love of our Savior, they come to a place where they are prepared to hear this message and to say, “I want to know more about that.” ~ Mark Dever, Message of the New Testament, Promises Kept
Some people have the idea that being saved is exactly that—to accept Jesus at the last jump, just before the devil gets you, leaving something behind maybe in the devil’s hand, but thank God, breathless and panicked and covered with perspiration you get in at last. How utterly silly this whole business is. God Almighty, before the beginning of the world, thought about you and planned your redemption. In those pre-creation times, God was thinking loving thoughts about you; and when you grieved Him by your sins, He still did not turn you over to hell. But a lamb slain from the foundation of the world came to save you and redeem you. At conversion, you have only just started. When converted to Christ, you are a new creature. You have come up out of the old Adamic trash, you have crawled out of the wreckage by the grace of God and been made new. And God introduces you into His royal family and gives you of His Holy Spirit in an increasing measure. ~ A.W. Tozer, And He Dwelt Among Us
To whom does God tell us to look for salvation? It is not “Look to yourself;” if so, then there would be a being who might arrogate some of the praise of salvation. But it is “Look unto me.” How frequently you who are coming to Christ look to yourselves. “O!” you say, “I do not repent enough.” That is looking to yourself. “I do not believe enough.” That is looking to yourself. “I am too unworthy.” That is looking to yourself. “I cannot discover,” says another, “that I have any righteousness.” It is quite right to say that you have not any righteousness; but it is quite wrong to look for any. It is, “Look unto me.” God will have you turn your eye off yourself and look unto him. The hardest thing in the world is to turn a man’s eye off himself; as long as he lives, he always has a predilection to turn his eyes inside, and look at himself; whereas God says, “Look unto me.” From the cross of Calvary, where the bleeding hands of Jesus drop mercy; from the Garden of Gethsemane, where the bleeding pores of the Saviour sweat pardons, the cry comes, “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth.” From Calvary’s summit, where Jesus cries, “It is finished,” I hear a shout, “Look, and be saved.” But there comes a vile cry from our soul, “Nay, look to yourself! look to yourself!” Ah, my hearer, look to yourself, and you will be damned. It is not a consideration of what you are, but a consideration of what God is, and what Christ is, that can save you. It is looking from yourself to Jesus. ~ Charles Spurgeon, Sovereignty and Salvation
The Christian faith is the most exciting drama that ever staggered the imagination of man--and the dogma is the drama...This is the dogma we find so dull--this terrifying drama of which God is the victim and the hero. If this is dull, then what, in Heaven's name, is worthy to be called exciting? The people who hanged Christ never, to do them justice, accused Him of being a bore--on the contrary; they thought Him too dynamic to be safe. It has been left for later generations to muffle up that shattering personality and surround Him with an atmosphere of tedium. We have very efficiently pared the claws of the Lion of Judah, certifying Him "meek and mild," and recommended Him as a fitting household pet for pale curates and pious old ladies. ~ Dorothy Sayers, Creed or Chaos
Let us, in Heaven's name, drag out the Divine Drama from under the dreadful accumulation of slipshod thinking and trashy sentiment heaped upon it, and set it on an open stage to startle the world into some sort of vigorous reaction. If the pious are the first to be shocked, so much the worse for the pious--others will pass into the Kingdom of Heaven before them. If all men are offended because of Christ, let them be offended; but where is the sense of their being offended at something that is not Christ and is nothing like Him? We do Him singularly little honour by watering down His Personality till it could not offend a fly. Surely it is not the business of the Church to adapt Christ to men, but to adapt men to Christ. It is the dogma that is the drama--not beautiful phrases, nor comforting sentiments, nor vague aspirations to loving-kindness and moral uplift, nor the promise of something nice after death--but the terrifying assertion that the same God who made the world lived in the world and passed through the grave and gate of death. Show that to the heathen, and they may not believe it; but at least they may realize that here is something that one might be glad to believe. ~ Dorothy Sayers, Creed or Chaos

Worth Quoting #9 Are We Coming To God?

Are we coming to God? That is the question. Is the direction of our lives towards God? We are either going to God or from God—and by this we may forecast our everlasting destiny. The direction in which the arrow is flying prophesies the target in which it will be fixed—the way the tree is leaning, that way foretells the place of its fall—and where the tree falls, there it will lie.
So let us judge ourselves this day! Which way are we drifting? Have we ever come to God by sincere repentance of our wanderings? Have we come to Him by faith and are we reconciled to Him? Do we come to Him in prayer? Do we come to Him day by day, speaking with Him and desiring to walk with Him? Do we come to God by communion with Him, having fellowship with the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ? Do we, in fact, know the meaning of what it is to draw near to God? It is ill with us if we either have no God, or if He seems to be very far off, an almost unrecognizable phantom, an idea never fully realized, much less approached! Blessed are they that know the name of the Lord and that walk with Him, rejoicing in the light of His Countenance. It is to such that Jesus is precious as their way of access to the Father.
The people who are in the habit of using Christ as their way of access to God are those who will value Him beyond all price—and such persons will delight to hear Him extolled in the highest terms.
Faith in which Jesus is not the foundation of our hope is mere delusion! God cannot accept us if we will not accept His Son. O Sinner, God has opened one Door in Heaven—if you will not go in by that Door, you shall never enter within the walls of the New Jerusalem! God bids you come to Him by One in whom He is well pleased, but if you will not be pleased with Jesus, you can not come to the Father! ~ Charles Spurgeon, The Ever-Living Priest, 1886

Week In Review: April 13-19

ESV Thinline Bible

  • Psalm 119 (5)
  • John 
  • 1 John
  • 2 John
  • 3 John
  • Jude 
  • Revelation

NASB MacArthur Study Bible

  • John 14-21


  • John 14-21

RV 1885

  • John 14-21

New English Bible

  • Psalm 119 (3)
  • Isaiah 40-66
  • Philippians
  • Colossians
  • 1 Thessalonians
  • 2 Thessalonians
  • 1 Timothy
  • 2 Timothy
  • Titus
  • Philemon


  • Psalm 119
  • Matthew
  • Mark
  • Luke
  • John
  • 1 John
  • 2 John
  • 3 John
  • Jude
KJV Chronological Life Application

  • Isaiah 49-59

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Quoting Martyn Lloyd-Jones #4

One of the devotionals I am using this year is Walking with God Day by Day by Martyn Lloyd-Jones. I thought I would share some of my favorite passages month-by-month. (January,February, March,)

From April 2
What is the message of the Christian Gospel and of the Christian church? Now at the risk of being misunderstood I will put it like this: It is not primarily the teaching of our Lord. I say that, of course, because there are so many today who think that this is Christianity. They say, “What we need is Jesus’ teaching. He is the greatest religious genius of all times. He is above all philosophers. Let us have a look at His teaching, at the Sermon on the Mount and so on. That is what we want. What the world needs today,” they say, “is a dose of the Sermon on the Mount—a dose of His ethical teaching. We must preach this to people and teach them how to live.” But according to the apostle Paul, this is not their first need. And I will go further. If you only preach the teaching of the Lord Jesus Christ, not only do you not solve the problem of mankind, but in a sense you aggravate it. You are preaching nothing but utter condemnation, because nobody can ever carry it out. So they did not preach His teaching. Paul does not say, “God forbid that I should glory, save in the Sermon on the Mount” or “God forbid that I should glory save in the ethical teaching of Jesus.” He does not say that. It was not the teaching of Christ, nor the example of Christ either. What they preached was His death on the cross and the meaning of that event.
From April 4
The test of whether someone is teaching the cross rightly or wrongly is whether it is an offense to the natural man or not. If my preaching of this cross is not an offense to the natural man, I am misrepresenting it.
From April 6
Looking at our Lord on the cross, what I see above everything else is the love that made Him do it all. “Love so amazing, so divine.” What does it mean? Let the apostle himself answer the question. This is how he puts it: “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life” (Romans 5:6-10). It comes to this, my dear friends: He is dying there because of His love for you, His love for me, His love for those who are sinners, those who are rebels, those who are enemies. He died for people who hated Him. As He was dying there, Saul of Tarsus was hating Him, but He was dying for Saul of Tarsus. As Paul (to give his subsequent name) puts it later: “... the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). He did not wait until Paul was converted before He loved him. He loved him even when Saul of Tarsus was blaspheming His holy name, ridiculing His claim that He was the Son of God and the Lord of Glory, ridiculing the idea that He came to teach us and to die for us and to save us, pouring his blasphemous scorn upon Him. While Paul was doing that, Christ was dying for Paul. And He was doing the same for you and for me.
From April 7
Why is the Son of God there on the cross? The first thing the Scriptures say is that it is not merely the action of men. Oh, but, you say, it is men who are hammering in those nails. I agree, but that would be the remark of a very superficial observer. What made the men do it? Is there nothing behind them? You see, the whole trouble in the world today is that we are all looking at everything superficially. We choose some activity, then we set up a royal commission to look into it, and we have a little superficial reporting. It makes no difference, nothing is any different, because we are superficial in our diagnosis—we are not able to see the depths of things beneath the surface. It is the same here. Why do I say that it was not merely the action of men? Why am I saying that it was not merely an accident? My answer is, of course, that it was something that had been prophesied. Take the passage in Isaiah 53, an exact prophecy of what happened on the cross. Again, read the 22nd Psalm. That is another perfect prophecy of the death of our Lord upon the cross. It is prophesied many times in the Old Testament. Indeed, you will see it if you go back to books like Leviticus and other books of the law that people say they find utterly boring and beyond their understanding. If you only know how to read them, you will find that they are all pointing to the cross. Or go back to Exodus and the story of the exodus of the children of Israel from the captivity of Egypt. Why did they have to kill that lamb, the paschal lamb as we call it, at night and put its blood on the doorposts and the lintels? It is a prophecy of this. Everything in the Passover story points to this event.
From April 8
If you want to know God, if you want to know the everlasting and eternal God, this is the way, the only way: Look at the cross. Gaze on, meditate on, survey the wondrous cross. And then you will see something of Christ. The first thing you will see is the grace of God. Grace is a great word in the Bible, the grace of God. It is most simply defined in these words—it is favor shown to people who do not deserve any favor at all. And the message of the Gospel is that any one of us is saved and put right for eternity solely and entirely by the grace of God, not by ourselves. “By grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8). My friend, is it not about time we all admitted it? Do what you like, you will never save yourself. You will never save yourself from the world, the flesh, or the devil; you will never save yourself from your own misery. Still less will you save yourself from the law of God and judgment and hell. You cannot do it. Men have tried it throughout the centuries. They have all admitted failure.
From April 11
And the simple message of the whole of the Bible is that the world, everything that is opposed to God and trusts in man and in his own power, is all going to be judged and condemned to everlasting misery and destruction. Now you see why Paul glories in the cross. It is the cross alone that saves any one of us from the destruction that is coming to the world. The whole world lies guilty before God, “for the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness” (Romans 1:18). The whole world is going to be judged and is going to be destroyed. We are all born in the world and of it. And unless we can be separated from that world, we will share its fate. God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world is crucified unto me, and I am separated from it. How? Let me make it clear. On that cross, the Lord Jesus Christ took upon Himself the punishment that is coming to all who belong to the world. That is why He died; He was receiving the punishment of the sins of men.
From April 14
Why did the Son of God ever come into this world? Why did He leave the courts of glory? Why was He born as a little babe? Why did He take unto Him human nature? There is only one answer. He came because man could not save himself. He said that. “The Son of man,” he says, “is come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). And when I look at the cross and see Him dying there, what He tells me is this: You have nothing whereof to boast. The cross tells me that I am a complete failure, and that I am such a failure that He had to come from heaven not merely to teach and preach in this world, but to die on that cross. Nothing else could save us.
From April 23
Before man can ever know peace, and in particular peace with God, the two sides must be dealt with. Man is at enmity with God, and God’s wrath is upon man. Something has to happen on God’s side, and the message of the cross is that this has happened. When our Lord died upon the cross, He was fulfilling every demand of God’s holy law. The righteousness and the justice and the holiness of God were fully satisfied. God poured out His wrath upon sin in the body of His own Son. Christ’s soul was made an offering for sin, and all the demands of God on His holiness were satisfied there. And, thank God, it works on our side also. We have a feeling that God is against us. We think of God as some great ogre or monster waiting to pounce upon us and to punish us; we feel that He hates us and that He is against us and spoiling our lives. We do not want to be bothered by Him and want to go our own way. Then the moment comes when we look at that cross and see that God sent His only begotten, dearly loved Son into this world in order that He might go to the cross. It was God who sent Him to it. “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself ...” It was God who “laid on him the iniquity of us all.” It was God who smote Him and struck Him and gave Him the punishment that we deserved. As you look at the cross, I say again, our whole attitude toward God, and our whole opinion of God, changes completely. There we see that God is love and full of mercy and of compassion, that God loves us with an everlasting love. So you see that by the cross, God’s wrath is satisfied and appeased, and our folly and our rebellion are taken away, and God and man are brought together, and our peace is made with God.
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Book Review: The Life Of Our Lord

The Life of Our Lord: Written For His Children During the Years 1846 to 1849. Charles Dickens. 1934/1999. Simon & Schuster. 128 pages. [Source: Book I Bought]
My dear children, I am very anxious that you should know something about the History of Jesus Christ. For everybody ought to know about Him. No one ever lived, who was so good, so kind, so gentle, and so sorry for all people who did wrong, or were in anyway ill or miserable, as he was. And as he is now in Heaven, where we hope to go, and all to meet each other after we are dead, and there be happy always together, you never can think what a good place Heaven, is without knowing who he was and what he did.
He was born, a long long time ago - nearly Two Thousand years ago - at a place called Bethlehem. His father and mother lived in a city called Nazareth, but they were forced, by business to travel to Bethlehem. His father’s name was Joseph, and his mother’s name was Mary.
As a non-theological biography of Jesus Christ, Dickens children's book proves charming at times. I think my favorite was his retelling of the Christmas story itself, this is the first chapter. As the story progressed, however, I became more dissatisfied. Dissatisfied because this one misses the point, the essence. By not getting the "why" right, it falls short of what it could have been, should have been. Why did Jesus come? Why was he born? Why did he live? What was his mission or purpose while on earth? Why did he have to die? Why did he have to rise again? What did his life accomplish? What did his death accomplish? What did his resurrection accomplish? Why does it matter?

Yes, I'd probably give Dickens a B in terms of getting most of the facts--plain facts--in. But in terms of piecing together a big picture, a WHY picture, I can't be that generous. The book falls short in the what it means to be a Christian and what Christians should believe department.
Remember! - It is christianity TO DO GOOD always - even to those who do evil to us. It is christianity to love our neighbour as ourself, and to do to all men as we would have them Do to us. It is christianity to be gentle, merciful, and forgiving, and to keep those qualities quiet in our own hearts, and never make a boast of them, or of our prayers or of our love of God, but always to shew that we love Him by humbly trying to do right in everything. If we do this, and remember the life and lessons of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and try to act up to them, we may confidently hope that God will forgive us our sins and mistakes, and enable us to live and die in Peace.
The stress seems to be on the wrong things. Christianity is not be good, and try your best. It is not make your best effort and if you mostly make the right choices and always say you are sorry when you make bad ones then "God will forgive us our sins and mistakes." Christianity is a DONE religion. And it is Jesus who does the doing. It is through Jesus alone that we are saved, justified, sanctified, and glorified. It is through Jesus' life, death, resurrection, and, yes, ascension that we can "confidently hope" in heaven. Dickens' conclusion has Jesus as more of our example than our actual Savior and Lord. "Remember the life and lessons" and "try to act up to them." That is NOT the message we should be walking away with.

A few weeks ago, I read God in the Whirlwind. David Wells can say it so much better than I ever can:
Christ, who made our sin his own, entered a place that should have been ours. He entered our existence and made it his own. He entered our world and made our plight his own. He took up our cause. He took up what was not properly his so that we might have that to which we have no right. He stood before God, at the cross, as our representative. He tasted death for us by dying in our place. In a strange and beautiful paradox, he who is our Judge submitted to the penalty for our sin. And in this moment, this moment of judgment, our sin was no longer ours. It became his. That righteousness which was and is his became ours by a transfer that is as mysterious as it is real. (139)
Should this message, this gospel message, be included in children's bible story books? I think so. One of my favorites--which was first published in 1938--is Catherine Vos' The Child's Story Bible.
Keeping rules does not get us into the kingdom of God at all. Unless the Holy Spirit gives us a new heart, and we put our trust in Jesus who died to pay for our sins, we cannot see the kingdom of God.
It is very painful to you and me to see our beloved Lord hanging there on the cross, with His blood dripping down. But even though it is painful, we need to look, for He hangs there because of what we have done. His blood is being shed to pay for our sins. He loved us so much that He chose to die in our place.
Jesus was suffering pain from the nails in His hands and feet, but He was also suffering a much deeper kind of pain. For during these three hours God Himself turned His back on His dearly beloved Son and left Him.
All His life on earth Jesus had loved God and served Him perfectly, without any sin. But now He had taken upon Himself all the sin that ever has been done or ever will be done in the whole world - your sin, and my sin, and the sin of every single person who puts his trust in Jesus as his Saviour. God gave Him the punishment you and I deserved to suffer. God separated Himself from Jesus so that Jesus felt only God's anger against sin and no longer His love for His Son. And that is the worst punishment any person can ever suffer. 
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Book Review: Safe In The World

Safe in the World (The Assurance of Salvation #2). D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. 1988. Crossway. 160 pages. [Source: Bought]

Safe in the World is the second book in the Assurance of Salvation series which is a collection of sermons--preached by Martyn Lloyd-Jones in the early 1950s--focused on exploring every aspect of John 17. The first book, Saved In Eternity, covered John 17:1-5. The second book covers John 17:6-15.

The Gospel of John is one of my favorite, favorite books of the Bible. I loved spending so much time in just one little chapter from that gospel. I wish that Martyn Lloyd-Jones covered every single chapter of the gospel of John.

There are twelve chapters:

Our Lord Prays For His Followers: His Reasons and Requests (John 17:6-19)
Not of the World (John 17:9)
God's People (John 17:6)
The Name of God (John 17:6-8)
The Name of God Revealed (John 17:6-8)
The Christian and the Truth of God (John 17:6-8)
Christ Glorified In Us (John 17:10)
Manifesting the Work of Christ (John 17:10)
True Joy (John 17:13)
Kept and Guarded but… (John 17:11-12, 15)
The World and the Devil (John 17:11-15)
God's Perfect Will (John 17:15)

I recommend The Assurance of Salvation because these sermons cover the essentials of the Christian faith. It addresses what it means to be a Christian, it focuses on how Christians should be living. I love the scriptural focus. I love how they make much of Christ!

Favorite quotes:
The more I try to live this Christian life and the more I read the New Testament, the more convinced I am that the trouble with most of us is that we have never truly realized what it is to be a Christian. It is our whole conception of what a Christian is, and of what the Christian life is meant to be, that is so defective, and that is why we miss so many blessings. That is why, too, we are often so troubled and perplexed and bewildered and why we react as we do to so many of the things that happen to us in this life and in this world. If only we understood what the Christian really is and the position in which he is placed, if only we realized the privilege and the possibilities of that position, and above everything, the glorious destiny of everyone who is truly a Christian, then our entire outlook would be completely changed. (207)
The way to love God is to begin to know God's love to you, and this doctrine is the high road to that love. Before time, before the creation of the world, he set his eye upon you, he set his affection upon you, you were marked, you were already put among his people. (229)
We talk about God, we argue about God, we express our opinions and we pray, yes, but the question is, do we know God, is God living to us, is he real to us? Is our prayer, therefore, vital? Is it a living communication and is a real transaction taking place? (245)
The basic, central thing about the Christian is that he is in a given relationship to the truth concerning our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (258)
The Christian, by definition, is a man who says, "I am nothing, I am what I am entirely by the grace of God." He is a man who is always flying to Christ, and one who disclaims anything in and of himself. (274)
Are we living epistles, read of all men, commending him, testifying to him and the power of his grace? That, the New Testament tells us, is what is meant by being a Christian. (283)
I know of no better way of starting my day than by saying to myself every morning, "I am one of the people in the world today through whom Christ is to be glorified. I am not here for myself, or for anything I want to do, the main thing for me this day is that Christ should be glorified in me." (292)
The Christian is meant to be a joyful person, one who is meant to experience the joy of salvation. (298)
I suppose there is nothing that so tends to rob us of our joy as our realization that we do not love him as we ought, because when we realize this, we become unhappy and miserable. I will tell you the best antidote to that: when you realize your love is weak and faint and poor and unworthy, stop thinking about your love, and realize that in spite of its poverty, he loves you. (303)
To know the Lord's joy is to realize that, and to realize, furthermore, that the Lord Jesus Christ came into the world for us, that he came in order to prepare us for God, and to deliver us from the guilt of our sin. He has done it all. He has borne the guilt and the punishment and the law is satisfied. (304)
The very fact that the Son of God came into this world at all is proof positive that man can never save himself. If man could save himself by his own exertions, the Son of God would never have come. The very fact that he has come proclaims that man at his best and highest will never be good enough. (325)
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Book Review: Saved In Eternity

Saved In Eternity (The Assurance of Salvation #1) D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. 1988. Crossway. 187 pages. [Source: Bought]

From the preface: The sermons in this book form the first part of a series on John 17 which Dr. Lloyd-Jones delivered on Sunday mornings in Westminster Chapel between 1952 and 1953. These particular sermons [Saved in Eternity] were preached between April and July 1952.

I have now read all four books in Lloyd-Jones' Assurance of Salvation collection. These four books explore the rich depths of John 17.

The first book, Saved In Eternity, merely covers the first five verses of John 17. Thirteen glorious chapters cover five glorious verses!

The Lord's Own Prayer (John 17:1)
Why Pray (John 17:1)
The Glory of God in the Plan of Salvation (John 17:1)
Our Security in God (John 17:1-5)
The Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of Glory (John 17:1-5)
Antidote to Introspection (John 17:1-5)
It Is Finished (John 17:1-5)
The Hour Is Come (John 17:1)
That He Should Give Eternal Life To As Many As Thou Hast Given Him (John 17:2)
The Only True God (John 17:2-3)
A New Principle (John 17:2-3)
Filled With Life Anew (John 17:2-3)
Safe In His Eternal Kingdom (John 17:1-5)

I always suspected that I would love, love, love, absolutely LOVE Martyn Lloyd-Jones work if only I could stop being intimidated long enough to immerse myself. And indeed I do love him!!! I find him very readable! His writing is rich in scriptural truth. His love for the Word of God is very evident in his writing. I also love the depth and substance in his sermons. They are meaty sermons, but, ever-relevant.

From "The Lord's Own Prayer"
A quaint preacher in the seventeenth century said what is, I believe, the eternal truth about this prayer. "It is the greatest prayer that was ever offered on earth and it followed the greatest sermon that was ever preached on earth." In a sense nothing can be added to that. (11)
If we had nothing but John 17 we would surely have more than enough to sustain us, because here our Lord has given us an insight into our whole position, and into everything that is of importance and of value to us while we are in this world of time. (13)
We sometimes think that prayer is simple, but it is not. The great saints of all the centuries are agreed in saying that one of the most difficult things of all is to learn how to pray. If any Christian has been feeling cast down because he or she has found prayer difficult, they must not be discouraged, because it is the common experience of the saints. (16)
What he has done for us is that he has satisfied the law and all its demands. It is amazing to me how people can look at and preach about Christ, his life and death and never mention the law. Unless the law of God is satisfied, there is no salvation. (19)
From "Why Pray?"
Prayer, in many ways, is the supreme expression of our faith in God and our faith and confidence in the promises of God. There is nothing that a man ever does which so proclaims his faith as when he gets down on his knees and looks to God and talks to God. (35)
There is no conflict between the sovereignty of God and prayer, for it is the sovereign God who has chosen to do his work in this world through praying men and women. (37)
From "The Glory of God in the Plan of Salvation"
We want a bird's eye view of the whole Bible, and the result is that we miss the doctrine. (44) 
It is a tragedy that we tend to live as paupers in the spiritual realm, when God means us to be princes. (44)
Strangely enough, the Christian gospel--let me say this with reverence, lest I be misunderstood--the Christian gospel does not start even with the Lord Jesus Christ, it starts with God the Father. The Bible starts with God the Father always, everywhere, and we must do the same, because that is the order in the blessed Trinity: God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit. Salvation is entirely of God, it is the gift of God. (44)
The ultimate aim and object of our salvation is that we may glorify God. The essence of sin is that we do not glorify God--let us be quite clear about this; the essence of sin does not lie in the particular sins or actions of which you and I and others may be guilty. Now that is where we go wrong. We think of sin in terms of particular sins and that is why respectable people do not think they are sinners. They utterly fail to realize that the essence of sin is not to glorify God, and anybody who does not glorify God is guilty of sin of the foulest kind. (47)
From "It Is Finished"
God being God, cannot just forgive sin. Now the common idea about God, the one that we have instinctively, is that when we admit that we have sinned, all that is necessary is that we should come to God, say we are very sorry, and God will forgive us. But according to the Bible that is impossible, and I do not hesitate to use that word. As a preacher of the Christian gospel, I am compelled to say this and I say it with reverence: God, because he is God, cannot just forgive sin like that.
If you want me to prove what I am saying, this is how I do it. If God could have forgiven sin just by saying, "I forgive," he would have done so, and Christ would never have been sent into this world. The work that was given to him to do, this work, this assignment, this task, was given to the Lord Jesus Christ because, I say again, without it, God cannot forgive sin. He must not only justify the ungodly, he must remain just. The way of salvation must be consistent with the character of God. He cannot deny himself, he cannot change himself, he is unchangeable. (101)
He came to do certain things himself, and we are saved by what Christ has done for us, and not by what he tells us to do. (102)
He has done everything that is necessary for man to be reconciled to God. Have you realized, my friends, that this work is finished? (107)
The beginning of Christianity is the acceptance of this statement: "I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do." (107)
From "The Hour Is Come"
My friend, he came from heaven, he laid aside his glory, as we were considering earlier, in order to come to 'this hour.' He knew it from the beginning. He came to die, specifically to die. We have seen that, apart from that death on the cross, he cannot deliver me; that apart from the death on the cross, I say it again with reverence, even God cannot forgive man. The cross is absolutely essential, the cross was planned before the world was ever created. So the hour that produced the cross is the central, pivotal point, of history and God always knew about it, the Lord came for that hour. So we must never think of this hour as taking him by surprise, it was an hour that was appointed and determined, it was the crisis of the world itself. (113)
The cross of Jesus Christ makes this great proclamation. Unless I believe in him, unless I believe that his death at that hour is the only thing that reconciles me to God, I remain under the wrath of God. If I do not see that the wrath of God against my sin has been borne there by the Son of God, then the alternative is that I must live to experience the wrath of God: that is the essence of the Christian gospel. (120)
From "Filled With Life Anew"
To spend time in reading the Bible and in meditation is no burden to those who have eternal life. They delight in it, it is their greatest joy, because knowing God as they know him, they enjoy him. (169)
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

My Year With Spurgeon #15

Good Works
Charles Spurgeon
“Zealous of good works.”—Titus 2:14.
The children of God are a holy people;—for this very purpose were they born and brought into the world, that they should be holy; for this they were redeemed with blood and made a peculiar people. God’s end in election, the end of all his purposes, is not answered until they become a people “zealous of good works.”
Our good works, if we have any, spring from a real conversion; yet more, they spring also from a constant spiritual influence exercised upon us, from the time of conversion even until the hour of death. Ah! Christian, thou wouldst have no good works if thou hadst no fresh influence day by day… we think that good works spring from union with Christ. We believe that the more a man knows and feels himself to be one with Jesus, the more holy will he be. The very fact that Christ and the Christian become one, makes the Christian Christ-like. Why is a Christian’s character like Christ’s character? Only for this reason, that is joined and united to the Lord Jesus Christ.
The use of good works is, that they are a Christian’s sermon. A sermon is not what a man says, but what he does. You who practice are preaching; it is not preaching and practising, but practising is preaching. The sermon that is preached by the mouth is soon forgotten, but what we preach by our lives is never forgotten. There is nothing like faithful practice and holy living, if we would preach to the world.
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Monday, April 14, 2014

Book Reviews: And He Dwelt Among Us

And He Dwelt Among Us: Teachings From the Gospel of John. A.W. Tozer. 2009. Regal. 224 pages. [Source: Bought]

A.W. Tozer is one of my favorite writers. He's not a favorite because I agree with him theologically 100% of the time. He's a favorite because he was a man--a preacher, a writer--who loved God zealously, passionately. His love of Christ, his desire to glorify Christ, is seen in his writings, in his sermons. This is a collection of sermons from the gospel of John--my favorite gospel. I knew it would be a great book!

Chapter titles:

  • God Has Put Everlasting Into Our Souls (John 1:1)
  • A Time Before Time Began (John 1:3-5)
  • The Beauteous World As Made By Him (John 1:10)
  • The Tragic Side of Christ Becoming Flesh (John 1:11)
  • The Mystery of the Word Made Flesh (John 1:14)
  • The Old Testament Messiah Versus The New Testament Christ (John 1:29-37)
  • What Really Matters to God? (John 3:16)
  • The Personal Application of Christ's Coming Into the World (John 3:17)
  • Perfect Harmony and Unity in the Trinity (John 5:19)
  • The Eternal Christ Is Both Judge and Savior (John 5:22-29)
  • The Wonder and Mystery of the Eternal Christ Identifying with Man (John 6:1-13)
  • Living Victoriously in Two Kingdoms (John 5:24)
  • The Importance of a Proper Concept of God (John 14:7-11)

I absolutely loved, loved, loved this one. It would be a great introduction to Tozer's work.

Favorite quotes:
Any kind of sin will damn any man that does not get free from it by the blood of the Lamb.
John uses some very simple words: “He was,” “in Him was,” “He was with,” “He was God,” “He was in.” Although these are very simple words, they are the root of theology and the root of all truth.
The story of pity and mercy and redeeming love are all here in two words: “He came.” All the pity that God is capable of feeling, all the mercy that He is capable of showing and all the redeeming grace that He could pour out of His heart are at least suggested here in two simple words: “He came.”
This world we buy, sell, kick around, lord over and take by force of arms—this world is Christ’s world; He made it and He owns it all.
Here we have the “Light of the world,” the very Son of God, and we cannot get up enough steam or enthusiasm even to keep from looking bored when we talk about Him.
It must always be kept in mind that what God thinks about a man is more important than what a man thinks about himself.
It was what Jesus was that made Him the glorious person that John writes about. His glory lay in the fact that He was perfect in a loveless world; He was purity in an impure world; He was meekness in a harsh and quarrelsome world. Everything that the world was, Christ was the exact opposite. That was what made Him glorious. “We beheld his glory” referred to the deathless devotion of Christ and His patient suffering and unquenchable life, and the grace and truth at work in Him. He was the glory of the only begotten Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. That was what made Jesus wonderful. That was His glory among men.
It is hard to find anything to compare with this 25-word text. [John 3:16] To me it is as a diamond expertly cut by craftsmen. In order for a diamond to be made, it must crystallize under tremendous pressure. It does not take much for me to put this text in that category. This text has come under the tremendous pressure of the triune God to such a point that it has been crystallized into a shining diamond of truth. A truth so powerful that its brilliance dazzles the believing heart.
I can restate this phrase by simply saying it means I mean something to God. Once that phrase is stated, nothing more needs to be said. That sums up in compressed, pressurized fashion the whole intent of the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation.
When you read, “God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world” (John 3:17), think in personal terms. The cross is not mentioned in John 3:17, and the cross is not mentioned in John 3:16. We sometimes imagine that we have to open our mouths and in one great big sentence say all the theology there is to say. God is not so squeamish. He says it all somewhere in the Book, and the cross stands out like a great, bright, shining pillar in the middle of the Scriptures. Without that cross on which the Savior died there could be no Scripture, no revelation, no redemption. But He did not say anything about the cross here. He simply said He sent His Son and He gave His Son—those two words, “sent” and “gave.” He gave His Son, He sent His Son. Later the text develops the truth that in giving His Son, He gave Him to die on the cross; but He did not say so here.
Single yourself out, not somebody else, but you. Jesus Christ came not to condemn you but to save you, knowing your name, knowing all about you, knowing your weight right now, knowing your age, knowing what you do, knowing where you live, knowing what you ate for supper and what you will eat for breakfast, where you will sleep tonight, how much your clothing cost, who your parents were. He knows you individually as though there were not another person in the entire world. He died for you as certainly as if you had been the only lost one. He knows the worst about you and is the One who loves you the most.
God knows that the most mature of us still need coddling sometimes, and so He is quick to overlook our ignorance, but He is never quick to overlook our sins.
You come to Jesus Christ as you are, weary and worn and sad. Come to Jesus Christ as you are, sinful and tired and without self-confidence, knowing that you cannot live it, and knowing that, you come anyway. Hear the words of Jesus and believe on the Father and the Son. Trust the words of Jesus, that is, believe on Him, and God will give you eternal life and promise you that you will never come into judgment or condemnation.
God has given Him authority to judge mankind so that He is both the judge and the Savior of man. That makes me both love Him and fear Him; love Him because He is my Savior, and fear Him because He is my judge. Unfortunately, the ten-cent-store Jesus being preached now by many men is not the Jesus that will come to judge the world. This plastic, painted Christ who has no spine and no justice, but is a soft and pliant friend to everybody, if He is the only Christ, then we might as well close our books, bar our doors and make a bakery or garage out of our church buildings. The popular Christ being preached now is not the Christ of God nor the Christ of the Bible nor the Christ we must deal with finally. For the Christ that we deal with has eyes as a flame of fire. And His feet are like burnished brass; and out of His mouth cometh a sharp two-edged sword (see Rev. 1:14-16). He will be the judge of humanity. You can leave your loved ones in His hands knowing that He Himself suffered, knowing that He knows all, no mistakes can be made, there can be no miscarriage of justice, because He knows all that can be known. It was said one time as an afterthought that Jesus need not that any should testify of man, for He knew what was in man. “Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation” (John 5:28-29). This coming out of the grave will be at the invitation of the Son of God Himself. Like an army file officer, He will command and they will stand on their feet, a great army to receive judgment, and the judgment will be based strangely enough upon the kind of life they lived in this world. That is another forgotten doctrine, but it is here. They that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation. And this is the judge of all. Jesus Christ our Lord, the judge with the flaming eyes, is the one with whom we must deal. We cannot escape it. They can shrug Him off and drive away in a cloud of fumes, but everyone must come back and deal with Him finally. Be sure of one thing, He will either be Savior now or judge then. And the tenderness and sympathy of the Savior now will be laid aside while the justice and severity of the judge comes to the front. Without canceling out one, He will exercise both. So that Jesus Christ is both the Lord and the judge of men as well as the Savior of men.
Which is He going to be for you: Savior or Judge? He will be one or the other. If He is the first, He will not be the second. But if He is not the Savior, He will be the Judge. I, for my part, cannot afford to face Him as my Judge. I must have His protecting blood and face Him as my Savior now. He knows too much about me for me to brazenly barge into His presence and let Him judge me.
It is not what a church believes that matters so much as what that church believes enough to emphasize. It is not what a preacher will admit theologically when you pin him down and make him talk; it is what he believes with sufficient urgency to make it a living, constant part of his message.
The horrible travesty we have in America today is Christianity without holiness. If you say you accept Jesus, and then go raise hell, you have not accepted Jesus at all. You are a deceived man. You are no better off than if you had never heard of God. The very first qualities of Christianity are holiness, purity, right living, right thinking and right longing. But we have a Christianity today that has no holiness in it. The Son of God was a holy Son. The Father is the holy Father in heaven. And the Holy Ghost is the Holy Ghost. Our Bible is the Holy Bible, and the Church is called the holy Church. Heaven is a holy heaven, and the angels are holy angels. Therefore, we ought to take seriously the biblical doctrine of spirituality and holiness.
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible