Saturday, June 30, 2018

June Check-In

What Bible(s) did I read from this month? I've read a tiny bit in the NKJV. (Okay Genesis through Numbers isn't a tiny bit. It just isn't a lot.)

My main focus has been the KJV Chronological Daily Bible.

How many books by J.C. Ryle did I read this month? 1
Old Paths. J.C. Ryle. 536 pages. [Source: Bought]
Favorite quote(s) by J.C. Ryle:
I entreat you to observe how important it is for Christians to be sound in the faith, and to be armed with clear Scriptural knowledge of the whole system of the Gospel. I fear the increasing tendency to regard all doctrinal questions as matters of opinion, and to look on all “earnest-minded” men as right, whatever doctrines they maintain. I observe how one error in religion leads on to another. There is a close connection between false doctrines. It is almost impossible to take up one alone.

Am I keeping up with my Morning and Evening devotional by Charles Spurgeon? Yes.
Favorite quote(s) by Charles Spurgeon:
Admire the grace which saves you—the mercy which spares you—the love which pardons you!

How many books by R.C. Sproul did I read this month? 1
The Holiness of God. R.C. Sproul. 1985/2012. 226 pages. [Source: Bought]
Favorite quote(s) by R.C. Sproul:
The false conflict between the two testaments may be seen in the most brutal act of divine vengeance ever recorded in Scripture. It is not found in the Old Testament but in the New Testament. The most violent expression of God’s wrath and justice is seen in the Cross. If ever a person had room to complain of injustice, it was Jesus. He was the only innocent man ever to be punished by God. If we stagger at the wrath of God, let us stagger at the Cross. Here is where our astonishment should be focused.

Did I read any Puritans or Reformers this month: Yes.
 Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans. Martin Luther. 1954/1976. Kregel. 224 pages. [Source: Gift]
Favorite quote(s):
In this life we never reach such perfection that we fully possess God, but we must continually seek after Him; indeed we must seek Him evermore, as the Psalmist says in Psalm 105:4. Those who do not make progress in seeking after God, are bound to retrogress;... We must never stand still in seeking after God. (71)
Did I complete at least one book from the TBR Pile challenge? Which one? NO.

Christian fiction books read this month:  Maggie's Dare: The Great Awakening (Sisters in Time #3). Norma Jean Lutz. 2005. Barbour. 144 pages. [Source: Review copy]

How many "new" books did I read (published 2000-present)? 4
How many "old" books did I read (published before 2000)? 3
Which book was my overall favorite? Old Paths. J.C. Ryle. 536 pages. [Source: Bought]

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Second Quarter Challenge Check-Ins

2018 52 Books in 52 Weeks
Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks (about) (links post)
Link back EVERY Sunday
# of books 52

I don't have a problem reading--even reviewing--a book a week. But oh the REMEMBERING to share the review link on the site. That is what will do me in. I have listed twenty-six books. 

Author Love Challenge
Because Reading (sign up)
January - December 2018

I have read fourteen books so far.

2018 Cloud of Witnesses Reading Challenge
Host: Operation Actually Read Bible (sign up)
January - December 2018
# of books: 24 is my goal

20 books--unless I miscounted which is entirely possible. 

Host: Becky's Book Reviews (sign up)
Duration: January 2018 - December 2018
Inspiration: It is a good rule, after reading a new book, never to allow yourself another new one till you have read an old one in between. If that is too much for you, you should at least read one old one to every three new ones. C.S. Lewis
# of books: readers decide

I've read 46 Christian nonfiction books. I've read 15 Christian fiction books. As for old/new 

January: 12 new; 3 old
February: 7 new, 2 old 
March: 7 new, 1 old 
April: 8 new, 2 old
May: 8 new; 3 old
June: 4 new; 3 old 

2018 Mount TBR Reading Challenge
Host: My Reader's Block (sign up)
Dates: January - December 2018
# of Books: I'm committing to the reading level Mt. Ararat--48 books from my TBR pile. My TBR pile is on GoodReads. I will continue to add to it throughout the year, but only books added before January 1, 2018, will count towards this challenge. Right now there are just over 800 books.

I've read twenty-five books. So I'm halfway to my goal. 

Operation Deepen Faith
Host: Operation Actually Read Bible (sign up)
January - December 2018

I've read three bibles so far. The KJV Readers Bible, the NASB Quick Study Bible, the NLT Beyond Suffering Bible.

I've read 46 Christian nonfiction books.

Reformation Reading Challenge
Host: Operation Actually Read Bible (sign up here)
Duration: October 31, 2017 - December 31, 2018
# of books: minimum of 1 book OR 1 sermon series

I've read sixteen books.

The Official 2018 TBR Pile Challenge
Host: Adam (Roof Beam Readersign up here
Dates: January 2018 - December 2018
# of Books: 12 (+2 alternates)
Another note to self: On Social Media, please use #TBR2018RBR

I've read five books.

Victorian Reading Challenge
Host: Becky's Book Reviews
Duration: January - December 2018
Goal: Read a minimum of 4 Victorian books

I've read four books.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Friday, June 29, 2018

Book Review: Old Paths

Old Paths. J.C. Ryle. 536 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: THE volume now in the reader’s hands consists of a series of papers, systematically arranged, on the leading truths of Christianity which are “necessary to salvation.”

J.C. Ryle's Old Paths is a must read for believers. If I were to put a hashtag on the book it would be #alwaysrelevant. I think one reason that J.C. Ryle remains relevant is because much--if not all--of his work is drawn from Scripture. That being the case, his work is timeless and relevant.

Believers of all ages could benefit from reading--from engaging in--Old Paths. The book offers much food for thought. Not that the book is hard to read and dense--it isn't. But the truths brilliantly displayed in Old Paths deserve meditation and absorption. Doctrine is to be lived. And before a doctrine can be lived it must be engaged in as an act of the mind.

This isn't a book designed to make readers feel all comfy-cozy with their faith. It just isn't. Nor is it a book designed to make readers feel so ashamed and hopeless that they never leave their rooms for fear of failure. It is a passionate plea with believers to BELIEVE what they're supposed to believe, a zealous push from behind to live out the faith. Take HOPE, find REST, experience JOY.

Chapters include:

  • Inspiration
  • Our Souls
  • Few Saved
  • Our Hope
  • Alive or Dead?
  • Our Sins
  • Forgiveness
  • Justification
  • The Cross of Christ
  • The Holy Ghost
  • Having the Spirit
  • Conversion
  • The Heart
  • Christ's Invitation
  • Repentance
  • Christ's Power to Save
  • Election
  • Perseverance

Each chapter is PACKED--and I do mean PACKED--with dazzling gems of biblical truth. It's a true treasure. It's a rewarding read. It is wonderful to come to a book and know that it is time well spent.

I have shared quotes from the first sixteen chapters of Old Paths in my Saturday 'My Victorian Year' posts. I will now share quotes from the last three chapters of Old Paths. I would love for you to see exactly what I mean about the richness of Ryle.
THERE is one subject in religion about which we can never know too much. That subject is Jesus Christ the Lord.
True Christians come unto God in a certain peculiar way. They come unto God by Christ, pleading no other plea, mentioning no other name, trusting in no other righteousness, resting on no other foundation than this, that Jesus hath lived, Jesus hath died, Jesus hath risen again for their souls.
We ought to remember that He not only died and went to the grave, but that He rose again, and ascended up on high, leading captivity captive. We ought to remember that He is now sitting on the right hand of God, to do a work as real, as true, as important to our souls, as the work which He did when He shed His blood.
Where Christ is, there His people will be. Where He lives, His perfect merit, His spotless righteousness, His intercession, will make them perfect in the sight of God the Father.
The cross was not the cause and reason of God’s mercy, but the result and consequence of the everlasting love of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost, towards a poor, lost, and bankrupt world. Draw near in faith, by that living way, Christ Jesus, to the Father.
Right views of human nature are certain to lead us to the same conclusion. 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 matters,--once admit all this, and then see where you are. Whether you know it or not, you admit the whole doctrine of Election!
To everyone we ought to say, “Awake,--repent,--believe, come to Christ, he converted, turn, call upon God, strive to enter in, come, for all things are ready.” To tell us that none will hear and be saved except God’s Elect, is quite needless. We know it very well. We will invite all, in the firm belief that the invitation will do good to some. We will prophesy to the dry bones, if God commands us. We will offer life to all, though many reject the offer.
THERE are two points in religion on which the teaching of the Bible is very plain and distinct. One of these points is the fearful danger of the ungodly; the other is the perfect safety of the righteous. One is the happiness of those who are converted; the other is the misery of those who are unconverted. One is the blessedness of being in the way to heaven; the other is the wretchedness of being in the way to hell. I believe that the exceeding privileges of the children of God, and the deadly peril of the children of the world, should be continually set forth in the clearest colours before the Church of Christ.
In all discussions of disputed points in theology, it is impossible to be too accurate in defining terms. Half the abuse which has unhappily been poured on perseverance, has arisen from a thorough misunderstanding of the doctrine in question. When I speak of the doctrine of perseverance, I mean this. I say that the Bible teaches that true believers, real genuine Christians, shall persevere in their religion to the end of their lives. They shall never perish. They shall never be lost. They shall never be cast away. Once in Christ, they shall always be in Christ. Once made children of God by adoption and grace, they shall never cease to be His children and become children of the devil. 
Wherever sin is truly repented of, and Christ is truly trusted, and holiness is truly followed, there is a work which shall never be overthrown. It shall stand when the earth and all the works thereof shall be burned up.
The perseverance I plead for is not that of sinners, but of saints. It is not a perseverance in carnal and ungodly ways, but a perseverance in the way of faith and grace.
I entreat you to observe how important it is for Christians to be sound in the faith, and to be armed with clear Scriptural knowledge of the whole system of the Gospel. I fear the increasing tendency to regard all doctrinal questions as matters of opinion, and to look on all “earnest-minded” men as right, whatever doctrines they maintain. I observe how one error in religion leads on to another. There is a close connection between false doctrines. It is almost impossible to take up one alone.
Truly I often think that the salvation of each saved person is a greater miracle than the passage of Israel through the Red Sea.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Book Review: Commentary on Romans

Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans. Martin Luther. 1954/1976. Kregel. 224 pages. [Source: Gift]

First sentence from the Preface: This Epistle is really the chief part of the New Testament and the very purest Gospel, and is worthy not only that every Christian should know it word for word, by heart, but occupy himself with it every day, as the daily bread of the soul. It can never be read or pondered too much, and the more it is dealt with the more precious it becomes, and the better it tastes. Therefore, I, too will do my best, so far as God has given me power, to open the way into it through this preface, so that it may be better understood by everyone.

This is an abridged commentary for the 'popular' audience looking for the 'fundamentals' of Luther's evangelical teachings. If you count Luther's Preface to the Epistle to the Romans as a chapter, this one has seventeen chapters. There is one chapter per chapter of Romans. This commentary includes the text of Romans.

I am glad I read it. I want to start off by saying that much at least. Perhaps my expectations were on the high side--expecting every single sentence to be a brilliant gem, expecting every sentence to be as wonderful as the Preface itself. With reasonable expectations, I think this one would rate well with most readers.

I'm not sure if the abridged edition is the perfectly perfect fit for me. Not having the unabridged to compare it to, I can't honestly say for sure. There were times that I found this commentary to be rushed. Whole books could be written--have been written--on short sections of Romans. Romans contains so many grand, glorious, foundational doctrines that to spend just a short time per verse seems a slight injustice. (For example, I could easily imagine an author dedicating 224 pages to unpacking the wonders of Romans 8.)

It reads like a commentary and not a devotional. I think the Luther devotional that I read a year or two ago spoiled me.

But because it was abridged, it did move quickly. One or two chapters per day felt like a good speed. And there is a lot to be said for movement and progress. This one wasn't intimidating, and again that is a plus.

Faith is a living, daring confidence in God's grace, so sure and certain that a man would stake his life on it a thousand times. (xvii)
Judgment day is called a day of wrath and a day of mercy; a day of tribulation and a day of peace; a day of damnation and a day of glory. On that day the wicked will be punished and put to shame, while the righteous will be rewarded and crowned with glory. (55)
In this life we never reach such perfection that we fully possess God, but we must continually seek after Him; indeed we must seek Him evermore, as the Psalmist says in Psalm 105:4. Those who do not make progress in seeking after God, are bound to retrogress;... We must never stand still in seeking after God. (71)
To believe God means to trust Him always and everywhere. (82)
Christ's resurrection is not merely the pledge of our righteousness, but also its cause. (87)
It has been said that human nature knows and wills what is good in general, but that it errs and does not will what is good in special cases. It is better, however, to say that human nature knows and wills what is good in special cases, but that in general it does not know and will what is good. The reason for this is that it knows only what it regards as good, honorable, useful and not what is good in the sight of God and the neighbor. Therefore it knows and wills the good only as it is connected with man's own interests. (118)
Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good (Romans 12:9). This command seems easy to perform but it is most difficult because of the emotions of hate, love, fear, and hope. There is no one who can truly save that he abhors what is evil and cleaves to what is good. (174)
In all we do, we must consider not what we have done, or what there is to be done; not what we failed to do or what we should fail to do; also not what good we have done or what good we have omitted, or what evil we have done or omitted. But we should rather consider of what nature and how strong our good will has been, and the readiness and cheerfulness of our heart which with which we have done all or intend to do all. (197)

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Monday, June 25, 2018

Psalm 146:2, Thoughts

This morning's devotions brought me to Psalm 146. I love Psalm 146:2. I think I love it more each time I read it, perhaps because each time I read it I bring more life experience to it, and can really see it as a choice one makes daily.

My current Bible is the King James Version. (I do read other versions. I am not a KJV only zealot. But honestly it doesn't get better for me than to read the Psalms in the King James Version.)

The KJV reads, "While I live will I praise the Lord: I will sing praises unto my God while I have any being." 

It reads as a call and response. The call: While I live....will I praise the LORD? The response: I will sing praises unto my God while I have any being. 

I also love the KJV's ANY being. If you've lived with pain, with intense pain, with the uncertainty of how long the pain will last, you'll treasure the any too. We're not called to praise God only when we feel good, only when we feel energized and put together and ready to live life at its fullest. We're called to praise God in any and every circumstance. Even when we don't feel like getting out of bed, out of the house, out of our pajamas. If I've got a pulse...any breath at all...I will praise the LORD. Because no matter how I feel--at any given time--the LORD is worthy of praise. And finding joy in the Lord, delighting in the LORD, instead of weakening me will strengthen me.

How does this verse read in other translations: 

  • I will praise him as long as I live, yes, even with my dying breath. ~ Living Bible
  • I will praise the LORD as long as I live. I will sing praises to my God with my dying breath. ~ New Living 
  • I will praise the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praises to my God while I have my being. ~ ESV
  • I will praise the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live. ~ NIV
  • I will praise the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praises to my God while I have being. ~ RSV
  • I will spend my life praising you and singing high praises to you, my God, every day of my life! ~ Passion Translation
  • While I live I will praise the Lord;  I will sing praises unto my God while I have my life. ~ MEV
  • While I live I will praise the LordI will sing praises to my God while I have my being. ~ NKJV
  • I will praise the Lord while I live; I will sing praises to my God while I have my being. ~ NASB
  • I will praise the Lord all my life; I will sing to my God as long as I live. ~ HCSB
  • While I live will I praise Jehovah: I will sing praises unto my God while I have any being. ~ ASV
  • I will praise the Lord with all my life; I will sing praises to my God as long as I live. ~ CEB
  • I will praise Adonai as long as I live. I will sing praise to my God all my life. ~ CJB
  • All my life long I’ll praise God, singing songs to my God as long as I live. Message
  • In my life I will praise the LORD; I will sing praises unto my God while I live. ~ Jubilee Bible
  • I will praise him as long as I live; I will sing to my God all my life. ~ GNT
  • I want to praise the Lord throughout my life. I want to make music to praise my God as long as I live. ~ GW
  • I will praise the Lord during my life; as long as I have any being, I will sing unto my God. ~ 1599 Geneva Bible
  • I will praise the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praises to my God all my life long. ~ NRSV
  • I want to praise Yahweh throughout my life. I want to make music to praise my Elohim as long as I live. ~Names of God
There isn't a lot of variation in how the verse translates. One thing I've noticed--besides the "I will" affirmation or declaration is the MY GOD. In the first half of the verse God is God is God. There is something majestic and glorious and HOLY about the LORD. In the second half of the verse, it gets personal. One doesn't sing and praise a distant God, an unknowable God. It is MY God. God is known. God is loved. 

All my life. Another thing I noted is that God is for always; that praising God is for always. In life. In death. There is no time from birth to death where it's not appropriate--not good and right--to praise God. You're never too young, never too old, never too strong, never too weak. God is for always and forever worthy of praise. And what a privilege it is that we can praise Him. God is good, and once God is known, once God is "MY" can anyone keep from singing.

How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word!
What more can He say than to you He hath said,
You, who unto Jesus for refuge have fled?

In every condition, in sickness, in health;
In poverty’s vale, or abounding in wealth;
At home and abroad, on the land, on the sea,
As thy days may demand, shall thy strength ever be.

Fear not, I am with thee, O be not dismayed,
For I am thy God and will still give thee aid;
I’ll strengthen and help thee, and cause thee to stand
Upheld by My righteous, omnipotent hand.

When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of woe shall not thee overflow;
For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless,
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.

When through fiery trials thy pathways shall lie,
My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply;
The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine.

Even down to old age all My people shall prove
My sovereign, eternal, unchangeable love;
And when hoary hairs shall their temples adorn,
Like lambs they shall still in My bosom be borne.

The soul that on Jesus has leaned for repose,
I will not, I will not desert to its foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake. ~ Traditional Hymn

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Week in Review: June 17-23

KJV Chronological Daily Bible

  • 1 Samuel 16-31
  • 2 Samuel 
  • 1 Kings 1-4
  • 1 Chronicles
  • 2 Chronicles 1
  • Ps. 59, 91, 7, 27, 31, 34, 52, 56, 18, 16, 36, 39, 77, 78, 49, 43, 44, 84, 85, 120, 140, 141, 142, 17, 73, 35, 54, 63, 121, 123, 124, 125, 128, 129, 130, 6, 10, 14, 21, 81, 88, 92, 133, 15, 23, 24, 25, 47, 89, 96, 100, 101, 107, 1, 2, 33, 127, 132, 20, 53, 60, 75, 65, 66, 67, 69, 70, 51, 32, 86, 102, 103, 122, 3, 4, 13, 28, 55, 26, 40, 41, 58, 61, 62, 64, 5, 38, 42, 57, 97, 98, 99, 30, 108, 109, 131, 138, 139, 143, 144, 145, 68, 111, 112, 113, 114, 115, 116, 117, 118, 37, 71, 119, 45, 
  • Proverbs 1-24
  • Song of Solomon

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Saturday, June 23, 2018

My Victorian Year #25

This week I'll be sharing quotes from Charles Spurgeon's Morning and Evening and J.C. Ryle's Old Paths.

From Morning and Evening:
“Help, Lord!” will suit us living and dying, suffering or laboring, rejoicing or sorrowing. 
Jesus, the Redeemer, is altogether ours—and ours forever. All the offices of Christ are held on our behalf. He is king for us, priest for us, and prophet for us. Whenever we read a new title of the Redeemer, let us appropriate Him as ours under that name—as much as under any other.
All His thoughts, emotions, actions, utterances, miracles, and intercessions, were for us. He trod the road of sorrow on our behalf, and has made over to us as his heavenly legacy the full results of all the labors of his life. He is now as much ours as heretofore; and he blushes not to acknowledge himself “our Lord Jesus Christ,” though he is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords.
If we would find Christ, we must get into communion with His people, we must come to the ordinances with His saints.
Every individual believer is precious in the sight of the Lord, a shepherd would not lose one sheep, nor a jeweler one diamond, nor a mother one child, nor a man one limb of his body, nor will the Lord lose one of His redeemed people. However little we may be, if we are the Lord’s—we may rejoice that we are preserved in Christ Jesus.
Our prayers and efforts cannot make us ready for heaven, apart from the hand of Jesus, who fashions our hearts aright.

From Old Paths, chapter sixteen, Repentance:
I can fancy some one saying, “Is this the Gospel? . . . Are these the glad tidings? Are these the good news of which ministers speak?” “This is a hard saying, who can hear it?” (John 6:60.)
But from whose lips did these words come? They came from the lips of One who loves us with a love that passeth knowledge, even Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
They were spoken by One who so loved us that He left heaven for our sakes,--came down to earth for our sakes,--lived a poor, humble life, for three and thirty years on earth for our sakes,--went to the cross for us, went to the grave for us, and died for our sins. The words that come from lips like these, must surely be words of love.
The words, “Except ye repent, ye shall all perish,” may seem at first sight stern and severe. But they are words of love, and may be the means of delivering precious souls from hell.
There are three things to which I ask attention in considering this text of Scripture. 1. First of all, I will speak of the nature of repentance:--What is it? 2. Secondly, I will speak of the necessity of repentance:--Why is repentance needful? 3. Thirdly, I will speak of the encouragements to repentance:--What is there to lead men to repent?
Repentance is one of the foundation-stones of Christianity. Sixty times, at least, we find repentance spoken of in the New Testament. What was the first doctrine our Lord Jesus Christ preached? We are told, that He said, “Repent ye, and believe the Gospel.” (Mark 1:15.)
We are all born in sin. We naturally love sin. We take to sin, as soon as we can act and think, as the bird takes to flying, and the fish takes to swimming. There never was a child that required schooling or education in order to learn deceitfulness, sensuality, passion, self-will, gluttony, pride, and foolishness. Now when this heart of ours is changed by the Holy Ghost, when this natural love of sin is cast out, then takes place that change which the Word of God calls “repentance.” The man in whom the change is wrought is said to “repent.” He may be called, in one word, a “penitent” man.
It is not safe to deal in general statements, when doctrines of this kind are handled. I will try to take repentance to pieces, and dissect and analyze it before your eyes. (a) True repentance begins with knowledge of sin. The eyes of the penitent man are opened. He sees with dismay and confusion the length and breadth of God’s holy law, and the extent, the enormous extent, of his own transgressions. (b) True repentance goes on to work sorrow for sin. The heart of a penitent man is touched with deep remorse because of his past transgressions. (c) True repentance proceeds, further, to produce in a man confession of sin. The tongue of a penitent man is loosed. He feels he must speak to that God against whom he has sinned. Something within him tells him he must cry to God, and pray to God, and talk with God, about the state of his own soul. (d) True repentance, furthermore, shows itself before the world in a thorough breaking off from sin. The life of a penitent man is altered. (e) True repentance, in the last place, shows itself by producing in the heart a settled habit of deep hatred of all sin. 
But now, is the picture of repentance complete? Can I leave the subject here, and go on? I cannot do it. There remains yet one thing behind which ought never to be forgotten. True repentance, such as I have just described, is never alone in the heart of any man. It always has a companion, a blessed companion. It is always accompanied by lively faith in our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
Take heed that your repentance be a business of your heart. It is not a grave face, or a sanctimonious countenance, or a round of self-imposed austerities,--it is not this alone which makes up true repentance towards God. Take heed that your repentance be a repentance whereto you turn to God. Take heed that your repentance be a repentance attended by a thorough forsaking of sin. Take heed, above all things, that your repentance be closely bound up with faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. See that your convictions be convictions which never rest. except at the foot of the cross whereon Jesus Christ died.
I pass on now to the second point which I proposed to handle. I will consider the necessity of repentance. Why is repentance needful? All born of the seed of Adam,--all, without exception, need repentance toward God. 
Why is such tremendously strong language used about this necessity? What are the reasons, what the causes, why repentance is so needful? For one thing, without repentance there is no forgiveness of sins. 
The Lord Jesus Christ is ready to pity, pardon, relieve, cleanse, wash, sanctify, and fit for heaven. But the Lord Jesus Christ desires to see a man hate the sins that he wishes to be forgiven.
Without repentance there is no happiness in the life that now is. There may be high spirits, excitement, laughter and merriment, so long as health is good, and money is in the pocket. But these things are not solid happiness.
Heaven is a prepared place, and they who go to heaven must be a prepared people. Our hearts must be in tune for the employments of heaven, or else heaven itself would be a miserable abode.
No one ever reached heaven without “repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Let no man ever persuade you that any religion deserves to be called the Gospel, in which repentance toward God has not a most prominent place. A Gospel, indeed! That is no Gospel in which repentance is not a principal thing.--A Gospel! It is the Gospel of man, but not of God. A Gospel! It comes from earth, but not from heaven.--A Gospel! It is not the Gospel at all; it is rank antinomianism, and nothing else.
So long as you hug your sins, and cleave to your sins, and will have your sins, so long you may talk as you please about the Gospel, but your sins are not forgiven.
Christ is a Saviour from sin, not a Saviour for man in sin. If a man will have his sins, the day will come when that merciful Saviour will say to him, “Depart from Me, thou worker of iniquity! depart into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.” (Matthew 25:41.)
I make my solemn protest against those modem delusions, “that all men shall go to heaven at last, that it matters not how you live,--that whether you are holy or unholy it does not signify, that whether you are godless or God-fearing, it is all the same thing,--that all at length will get to heaven.”
I cannot find such teaching in the Bible. I find the Bible contradicting it flatly. However speciously this new idea may be propounded, and however plausibly it may be defended, it cannot stand the test of the Word of God.
Heaven is the place to which God’s people shall go. But for those who are impenitent and unbelieving, and will not come to Christ, for such the Bible says, plainly and unmistakably, there remains nothing but hell.
I come now to the third and last thing of which I promised to speak. I will consider the encouragement there is to repentance. What is there to lead a man to repent? I know how slow man is to give up sin. You might as well tell him to cut off a right hand, or pluck out a right eye, or cut off a right foot, as tell him to part with his darling sins
At first they are all like cobwebs. At last they are iron chains. I know the power of pride, and that “fear of man that bringeth a snare.”
There are things in the Word of God which ought to nerve every heart, and arouse every one to repent without delay. (a) Hear, for one thing, what a gracious Saviour the Lord Jesus Christ is. I place Him first and foremost, as the great argument, to encourage a man to repentance I say to every doubting soul, Look at Christ, think of Christ. (b) Hear, for another thing, what glorious promises the Word of God contains. It is written: “Whosoever confesseth and forsaketh his sins shall find mercy.” (c) Hear, for another thing, what gracious declarations the Word of God contains: “When the wicked man turneth away from his wickedness that he hath committed, and doeth that which is lawful and right, he shall save his soul alive.” (d) Hear, for another thing, what marvellous parables our Lord Jesus spoke upon this subject. (e) Hear, lastly, what wonderful examples there are in the Word of God, of God’s mercy and kindness to penitent men.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Book Review: The Holiness of God

The Holiness of God. R.C. Sproul. 1985/2012. 226 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: I was compelled to leave the room. A deep, undeniable summons disturbed my sleep; something holy called me.

Holiness of God is a classic by R.C. Sproul that every Christian should read at least once. Emphasis on at least once. I think it happens to be one of those books where you might even want to reread it every other year or so.

So what is it about? It's about God, about who HE is, about his HOLINESS and righteousness. But it is also about who we are. It's about sin--what it is, how it divides us, how it damns us--about grace, about justice. It is about our holiness as well. Why are believers called saints? Why are we called to be holy and to live holy lives? Ultimately, the book is a refresher course on the gospel itself.

In the first chapter, Sproul writes: "Today I am still absorbed with the question of the holiness of God. I am convinced that it is one of the most important ideas that a Christian can ever grapple with...How we understand the person and character of God the Father affects every aspect of our lives. It affects far more than what we normally call the “religious” aspects of our lives." If you agree, then this book is a must read. And if you don't agree, well, then perhaps reading the book will change your mind.

I have read this one three times now. I think I love it more each time.

Here is the promise of God: We shall see Him as He is. Theologians call this future expectation the beatific vision. We will see God as He is.
Right now it is impossible for us to see God in His pure essence. Before that can ever happen, we must be purified. When Jesus taught the Beatitudes, He promised only a distinct group the vision of God: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God” (Matt. 5:8).
None of us in this world is pure in heart. It is our impurity that prevents us from seeing God. The problem is not with our eyes; it is with our hearts.
Only once in sacred Scripture is an attribute of God elevated to the third degree. Only once is a characteristic of God mentioned three times in succession. The Bible says that God is holy, holy, holy.  Not that He is merely holy, or even holy, holy. He is holy, holy, holy. The Bible never says that God is love, love, love; or mercy, mercy, mercy; or wrath, wrath, wrath; or justice, justice, justice. It does say that He is holy, holy, holy, that the whole earth is full of His glory.
In a very real sense, the word holy is a foreign word. The problem we face, however, is that the word holy is foreign to all languages. No dictionary is adequate to the task. 
Sinful people are not comfortable in the presence of the holy. The cliché is that misery loves company. Another is that there is fellowship among thieves. But thieves do not seek the consoling presence of the fellowship of police officers. Sinful misery does not love the company of purity.
If we fix our minds on the holiness of God, the result might be disturbing.
“Love God? Sometimes I hate Him.” This is a strange quote to hear from the lips of a man as respected for his religious zeal as Luther.
 Two things separated Luther from the rest of men: First, he knew who God was. Second, he understood the demands of God’s law. He had mastered the law. Unless he came to understand the gospel, he would die in torment.
“The just shall live by faith.” This was the battle cry of the Protestant Reformation. The idea that justification is by faith alone, by the merits of Christ alone, was so central to the gospel that Luther called it “the article upon which the church stands or falls.” Luther knew that it was the article by which he would stand or fall.
There is no such thing as evil justice in God. The justice of God is always and ever an expression of His holy character.
What God does is always consistent with who God is. He always acts according to His holy character. God’s internal righteousness is the moral excellence of His character.
God does not always act with justice. Sometimes He acts with mercy. Mercy is not justice, but it also is not injustice. Injustice violates righteousness. Mercy manifests kindness and grace and does no violence to righteousness. We may see nonjustice in God, which is mercy, but we never see injustice in God.
The false conflict between the two testaments may be seen in the most brutal act of divine vengeance ever recorded in Scripture. It is not found in the Old Testament but in the New Testament. The most violent expression of God’s wrath and justice is seen in the Cross. If ever a person had room to complain of injustice, it was Jesus. He was the only innocent man ever to be punished by God. If we stagger at the wrath of God, let us stagger at the Cross. Here is where our astonishment should be focused.
It is impossible for anyone, anywhere, anytime to deserve grace. Grace by definition is undeserved. As soon as we talk about deserving something, we are no longer talking about grace; we are talking about justice. Only justice can be deserved. God is never obligated to be merciful. Mercy and grace must be voluntary or they are no longer mercy and grace.
God never “owes” grace. He reminds us more than once: “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy” (Exod. 33:19). This is the divine prerogative. God reserves for Himself the supreme right of executive clemency.
The moment awareness of His divine presence begins, the deepest personal struggle a person can experience begins as well.
We may wrestle with the Holy One. Indeed, for the transforming power of God to change our lives, we must wrestle with Him. We must know what it means to fight with God all night if we are also to know what it means to experience the sweetness of the soul’s surrender.
One of the names by which God is revealed in the Old Testament is the name El Shaddai. The name means “the thunderer” or “the overpowerer.” It was by the name El Shaddai that God appeared to Job. What Job experienced was the awesome power of a sovereign God who overpowers all people and is Himself overpowered by no one.
How much time elapses before the sinner begins to become pure? The answer is none. There is no time lapse between our justification and the beginning of our sanctification. But there is a great time lapse between our justification and the completion of our sanctification.
Semi-Pelagianism is the majority report among evangelical Christians and probably represents the theology of the vast majority of people who read this book. But I am convinced that with all of its virtues, Semi-Pelagianism still represents a theology of compromise with our natural inclinations. Evangelicals today have unconverted sinners who are dead in trespasses and sin bringing themselves to life by choosing to be born again. Christ made it clear that dead people cannot choose anything, that the flesh counts for nothing, and that we must be born of the Spirit before we can even see the kingdom of God, let alone enter it. The failure of modern evangelicalism is the failure to understand the holiness of God. If that one point were grasped, there would be no more talk of mortal enemies of Christ coming to Jesus by their own power. The only kind of God we can love by our sinful nature is an unholy god, an idol made by our own hands. Unless we are born of the Spirit of God, unless God sheds His holy love in our hearts, unless He stoops in His grace to change our hearts, we will not love Him.
God is not at the edge of Christians’ lives but at the very center. God defines our entire life and worldview.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Week in Review: June 10-16

KJV Daily Chronological Bible

  • Exodus
  • Leviticus
  • Numbers
  • Deuteronomy
  • Joshua
  • Judges
  • Ruth 
  • 1 Samuel 1-16
  • Psalms 90, 95

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Saturday, June 16, 2018

My Victorian Year #24

This week I'll be sharing quotes from Charles Spurgeon's Morning and Evening and J.C. Ryle's Old Paths.

From Morning and Evening:
Beloved, no sin of a believer can now be an arrow mortally to wound him, no condemnation can now be a sword to kill him, for the punishment of our sin was borne by Christ, a full atonement was made for all our iniquities, by our blessed Substitute and Surety. Who now accuses? Who now condemns? Christ has died, yes rather, has risen again. Jesus has emptied the quivers of hell, has quenched every fiery dart, and broken off the head of every arrow of wrath! 
Salvation is not a blessing to be enjoyed upon the dying bed, and to be sung of in a future state above—but a matter to be obtained, received, promised, and enjoyed now.
The Christian is perfectly saved in God’s purpose; God has ordained him unto salvation, and that purpose is complete. He is saved also as to the price which has been paid for him, “It is finished” was the cry of the Savior before He died.
This complete salvation is accompanied by a holy calling. Those whom the Savior saved upon the cross—are in due time effectually called by the power of God the Holy Spirit unto holiness. God neither chose them nor called them because they were holy—but He called them that they would be holy; and holiness is the beauty produced by His workmanship in them.
 The happiest state of a Christian is the holiest state. As there is the most heat nearest to the sun—so there is the most happiness nearest to Christ. No Christian enjoys comfort when his eyes are fixed on vanity—he finds no satisfaction unless his soul is quickened in the ways of God.
Admire the grace which saves you—the mercy which spares you—the love which pardons you!
Jesus is the keeper of the gates of paradise, and before every believing soul He sets an open door, which no man or devil shall be able to close against it. What joy it will be to find that faith in Him is the golden key to the everlasting doors.
After conversion our God is our joy, comfort, guide, teacher, and in every sense our light—He is light within, light around, light reflected from us, and light to be revealed to us.
Note, it is not said merely that the Lord gives light—but that He is light; nor that He gives salvation—but that He is salvation. He, then, who by faith has laid hold upon God, has all covenant blessings in his possession.

From Old Paths, chapter 15, Faith

“God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”--John 3:16
Questions about things necessary to salvation, questions which probe the conscience, and bring men face to face with God, such questions often bring life and health to souls. I know few questions more important than the one which arises out of this text:-DO WE BELIEVE?
There are four things which I wish to consider, and to impress upon the minds of all who read this volume.
These four things are as follows:-- 1. God’s mind towards the world:--He “loved” it. 2. God’s gift to the world.--“He gave His only begotten Son.” 3. The only way to obtain the benefit of God’s gift:--“Whosoever believeth on Him shall not perish.” 4. The marks by which true belief may be known.
Let us consider, in the first place, God’s mind towards the world:--He “loved” it. But what kind of love is this with which the Father regards all mankind? It cannot be a love of complacency, or else He would cease to be a perfect God. 
The world-wide love of which Jesus speaks, is a love of kindness, pity, and compassion. Fallen as man is, and provoking as man’s ways are, the heart of God is full of kindness towards him.
While as a righteous Judge He hates sin, He is yet able in a certain sense to love sinners! The length and breadth of His compassion are not to be measured by our feeble measures. Righteous, and holy, and pure as God is, it is yet possible for God to love all mankind.
There lives not the man or woman on earth whom God regards with absolute hatred or complete indifference. His mercy is like all His other attributes. It passes knowledge. God loves the world.
Beware of the common idea that God the Father is an angry Being, whom sinful man can only regard with fear, and from whom he must flee to Christ for safety. Contend earnestly for all the attributes of God,--for His holiness and His justice, as well as for His love. But never allow for one moment that there is any want of love towards sinners in any Person in the Blessed Trinity. 
The Father loves, and the Son loves, and the Holy Ghost loves. When Christ came on earth, the kindness and love of God toward man appeared. (Titus 3:4.).
The cross is the effect of the Father’s love, and not the cause.
Let us resist to the death the unscriptural doctrine of universal salvation. It is not true that all mankind will be finally saved. But let us not fly into the extreme of denying God’s universal compassion.
The next thing I want to consider is God’s gift to the world. “He gave His only begotten Son.” 
The love of God towards the world is not a vague, abstract idea of mercy, which we are obliged to take on trust, without any proof that it is true. It is a love which has been manifested by a mighty gift.

His love is not displayed at the expense of His holiness and justice. It flows down from heaven to earth through one particular channel. It is set before men in one special way.
It is only through Christ, by Christ, on account of Christ, and in inseparable connection with the work of Christ. Let us glory in God’s love by all means.
Let us proclaim to all the world that God is love. But let us carefully remember that we know little or nothing of God’s love which can give us comfort, excepting in Jesus Christ.
It is not written that God so loved the world that He will take all the world to heaven, but that He so loved it, that He has given His only begotten Son.
He that ventures on God’s love without reference to Christ, is building on a foundation of sand.
He that thinks lightly of man’s need and man’s sin, would do well to consider man’s Saviour. Sin must indeed be exceeding sinful, when the Father must needs give His only Son to be the sinner’s Friend! 
The way to heaven is narrow enough already, by reason of man’s pride, hardness, sloth, listlessness, and unbelief. But take heed that you do not make that way more narrow than it really is.
The third thing I propose to consider, is the way in which man obtains the benefit of God’s love and Christ’s salvation. It is written that “whosoever believeth shall not perish.”
Without believing there is no salvation. It is vain to suppose that any will be saved, merely because Christ was incarnate, not because Christ is in heaven, or because they belong to Christ’s Church, or because they are baptized, or because they have received the Lord’s supper. All this is entirely useless to any man except he believes.
We must have personal faith in Christ, personal dealings with Christ, personal transactions with Christ, or we are lost for evermore.
He dwells only in those hearts which have faith; and all, unhappily, have not faith. He that believeth not in the Son of God is yet in his sins, “the wrath of God abideth on him.” “He that believeth not,” says our Lord Jesus Christ in words of fearful distinctness,--“he that believeth not shall be damned.”
True belief in Christ is the unreserved trust of a heart convinced of sin, in Christ, as an all-sufficient Saviour. It is the combined act of the whole man’s head, conscience, heart, and will. It is often so weak and feeble at first, that he who has it cannot be persuaded that he has. 
(1) Believing is the soul’s coming to Christ. (2) Believing is the soul’s receiving Christ. (3) Believing is the soul’s building on Christ. (4) Believing is the soul’s putting on Christ. (5) Believing is the soul’s laying hold on Christ. (6) Believing is the soul’s eating Christ. (7) Believing is the soul’s drinking Christ. (8) Believing is the soul’s committal of itself to Christ. (9) Last, but not least, believing is the soul’s look to Christ.
No doubt belief is not the only grace to be found in the heart of a true Christian. But only belief gives him an interest in Christ. Prize that doctrine as the peculiar treasure of Christianity. Once let it go, or add anything to it, and there is an end of inward peace.
The fourth and last thing which I propose to consider is a point of great practical importance. I wish to show you the marks by which true belief in Christ may be discerned and known. (1) He that believeth in Christ has inward peace and hope. (2) He that believes in Christ has a new heart. (3) He that believes in Christ is a holy person in heart and life. (4) He that believes on Christ works godly works. (5) He that believes on Christ overcomes the world. (6) He that believes on Christ, has an inward testimony of his belief. (7) Last, but not least, he that believes on Christ, has a special regard in all his religion, to the person of Christ Himself.
Salvation is never made to turn on the question, whether Christ died for a man or not. The turning-point which is always set before us is believing. DO YOU BELIEVE?
Life is short and uncertain. Death is sure. Judgment is inevitable. Sin is exceeding sinful. Hell is an awful reality. Christ alone can save you. There is no other name given under heaven, whereby you can be saved.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible