Faith + Works = Bondage

Those who teach works must be added to faith as a condition for salvation can never tell you when you have done enough. This fact alone exposes the reason why you will never find assurance of salvation in their systems. The problems with believing our right standing before God is a result of Christ’s work plus our merit are innumerable and damning, but the inability of its proponents to answer the question, “How much work is enough?” exposes its corrupting effect on the hearts of those that adhere to it.

The reason why I refer to it as a corrupting effect is that there are only two possible responses to imbibing this theology and neither are edifying. The first is bondage to pride. Someone who is blind to their sinfulness will begin to rejoice in their goodness. After all, they are contributing some merit to their salvation. Jesus has not done it all, so there is room for boasting. To do this, they must either under-estimate their sinfulness or lower God’s righteous standard. The second response is bondage to constant anxiety. Anyone awake to his or her corruption will tend in this direction. They will strive and struggle but will never find themselves able to rest in Christ because, as long as they live, Christ’s work will never be sufficient, and their work will never be complete.

Works do play a role in salvation, but they are the result of our salvation in Jesus, not the cause of it. When we stand before the Lord, there is only one to whom we will point for our acceptance before God, and that is Jesus Christ. He fulfilled the law that we could not, he paid our debt on the cross, and he credits his righteousness to us. We will never point to ourselves. Remember, even the Pharisee gave God the credit for his assumed righteousness and all the works he did, yet he walked away unjustified (Luke 18-9-14). When we point to ourselves in any way, we point to our own condemnation. It is only when we beat our breast like the tax collector and look outside of ourselves to Jesus Christ that we find the righteousness we need.

There is no “It is finished” in faith plus works theological systems, and because of that, there is only bondage. If we want to be free in Christ, we must reject the notion that our righteousness is anything other than Christ’s perfect righteousness accounted as ours. We are justified by faith apart from works of the law (Romans 3:28). Jesus said, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28).”

-D. Eaton

Confronting the Chaos of Our Culture with the Love of Christ

Our culture seems to be described perfectly in 2 Timothy 3:2-4. It says, “Men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.”

As Christians, what is more important than the description of the culture is how scripture calls believers to respond in times like this. The righteous are not to be afraid of bad news; their heart is to be firm, trusting in the Lord (Psalm 112:7). Yet, many churchgoers seem to be at their whit’s end as they watch it all unfold. It is as if they believe this fiery trial is something strange (1 Peter 4:12). It seems we have had it so good for so long that we have forgotten what the Bible promised us. It says, “Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. (2 Tim. 3-12).” In the west, Christians need to remember that the persecution of the church was not put to death; it was only made sick, and it is beginning to recover.

If you asked many believers if they would be willing to die for Jesus, they would say “yes,” yet the sad reality is more and more church members are indicating that even after COVID is no longer a threat, they would prefer to keep watching church online. Their couch and their coffee seem to be too much to sacrifice. Besides, with the world raging around us, our home feels safer, but being safe is not our calling.

If the troubles of 2020 are causing you to lose your spiritual nerve, it would be helpful to recall Paul’s words to Timothy in light of his fallen culture. Paul encouraged Timothy by telling him to “kindle afresh the gift of God that is in you (2 Tim. 1:6). That gift is the faith God has given us through the Holy Spirit. Our lives are to be marked by his presence. Instead of cowering in the corner, we are to remember that God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and self-control (2 Tim. 1:7).

Now is not the time to be ashamed of our faith, we must be willing to stand with those who are persecuted, and be ready to join them in their suffering if called to do so (2 Tim. 1:8): even as a criminal (2 Tim. 2:9). Remember, when the world comes after you, they will not say it is because you are a Christian, they will make up some other charge, and they will be charges of unlawfulness which will have accompanying penal codes. Countless Christians throughout history have been locked up and even put to death in such a manner.

However, there is no reason for us to fear. Jesus has abolished death, so be strong (2 Tim. 1-10). If we are unable to look at the attacks on biblical truth in our culture through the lens of the resurrection, then it is proof that we need to kindle our faith afresh. Are you spiritually minded enough that you would be willing to suffer hardship like a good soldier (2 Tim. 2:3)?

Repentance starts at home. The Lord knows who are his, and everyone who names the name of the Lord is to abstain from wickedness (2 Tim. 2:19). Even if the world calls us a danger to society for doing it. If we cleanse ourselves from these things, we will be a vessel of honor, sanctified, useful to the Lord (2 Tim. 2:21). As we see what appears to be the slow collapse of the culture around us, it is time for the church to be a city on a hill. It is time for Christians to be salt and light. The way we do that is not by following the world’s pattern of grasping for power. We are to confront the culture with the love of Christ. This means to love our enemies, bless those who curse us, be meek, humble of heart, and be willing to be persecuted for his name’s sake.

Why would we do that? The love of Jesus. We love our great Savior, and we love the ungodly. We understand them because we used to be them. We have been lovers of self, unholy, ungrateful, and unloving. We know that the sexually immoral, the idolater, the adulterer, and those who practice homosexuality will not inherit the kingdom of God (1 Cor. 6:9-10). More than that, we understand that such were some of us, but we were washed, we were sanctified. The wrath of God that stood over us for our sins, Christ bore on the cross as our substitute. We have been justified in the name of Jesus (1 Cor. 6:11).

Jesus has blotted out our iniquities and removed our death sentence. What else could we need? What else could we want? What else do we have to fear? Because of his great love for us, we deny ourselves, take up or cross, and follow him (Matt. 16:24). We are no longer debtors to the flesh to live according to its dictates (Romans 8:12). By the spirit, we resist our sinful desires because we have a greater love: Jesus Christ. The world is living according to the flesh, and those who live according to the flesh will die (Rom. 8:13). The wages of sin still hangs over them. We cannot, and we will not participate in their ways. We will not go back to the bondage now that Christ has set us free.

We will call the lost world to salvation in Jesus, even if many in this world hate us for it. We will continue to the point the way because it is what they need more than anything. If they must go to hell, let us make them leap over our dead bodies to get there (C. Spurgeon). Greater love has no one but this, that someone would be willing to lay down their life for them (John 15:13). As we share in the suffering of Christ, our pain will be a present reality of how much he loves them. There is no wrath or torment that man can throw our way to make us move. There is no peace this world can offer that can compare to the peace of God and the eternal glory that awaits.

The world may do terrible things to the Church, but, in a fallen world, times of trial and persecution are often when the gospel shines the brightest. Persecution will indeed blow away the tares among us. I fear many professing Christians have forgotten our calling. They have lost the plot and traded it in for a life of pursuing earthly pleasures. In times of trouble, we will see many go out from us because they were never really of us (1 John 2:19). At that point, we will not hate them for their betrayal; we will see their lost spiritual condition, love them, and call them to find salvation in Jesus in the same way we do for all the lost. The chaos of our culture is not a threat to our witness; it is a prime opportunity for it. Indeed, all who desire to live for Jesus will be persecuted, and through it, our great God will be glorified as we confront the world with the love of Christ.

-D. Eaton

Is Guiltlessness the Same as Righteousness?

I recently had the privilege of preaching at First Artesia Christian Reformed Church. In this clip from the sermon, we take a look at how Christ’s righteousness imputed to us is better than the guiltlessness that Adam lost. Below is the transcript of the video with a few edits to better fit this format.

When we talk about justification, the biblical and theological term of justification, we are talking about two imputations. First, as I already mentioned, our sins are imputed to Jesus. He bears our punishment on the cross, but the second part is that his righteousness is imputed to us and, we are counted righteous in Jesus.

Now some may say, “Well, isn’t guiltlessness the same as righteousness? I mean, if I haven’t sinned, am I not righteous? Well, it is much deeper than that. Let me give you an analogy.

Let us say a mom walks into her son’s room, and her son’s room is a mess. It’s been a mess for a week, and she is kind of getting tired of it. It is morning time, and she says, “Son, you will clean this room by five o’clock today. If you have it clean by five o’clock today, I am going to give you movie tickets for you and your two friends so you can go see that movie you have been wanting to see. If you do not have it cleaned, you’ll be grounded for a week.

Get the analogy here. Here is the law. There are blessings if you do it, and cursings if you do not. Now, imagine the mom comes back at five o’clock, and he hasn’t even started on it. The room is still a mess. She would say, “Okay, you are grounded for a week.”

Now imagine a week goes by, and he has paid his penalty. The son comes back to the mom and says, “Mom, I have paid my penalty. You can no longer punish me for this act.” The mom would say, “That is correct, that was the agreement. Imagine the son then saying, “Now give me my movie tickets.” You would say, “Wait a minute, you never did what was required to get the reward. I cannot punish you anymore, but you do not get the reward.”

Now think about Christ on the cross. We are not just in a place where we cannot be punished anymore. Christ lived the perfect life. He fulfilled all the requirements of the law. He has justly received the reward, and his righteousness is now counted as ours. We are co-heirs with him. That is the beauty of the holiness and the righteousness of Christ. Take that to heart. We are declared righteous in Christ as if we have fulfilled the law.

Thomas Brooks, a great Puritan, said this, “Christ provides a better righteousness than Adam lost.

To view the entire sermon, click here.

-D. Eaton

What do we Fight in the Fight of Faith?

The true Christian is called to be a soldier, and must behave as such from the day of his conversion to the day of his death, he is not meant to live a life of religious ease, indolence, and security, He must never imagine for a moment that he can sleep and dose along the way to heaven, like one travelling in an easy carriage.  If he takes his standard of Christianity from the children of this world he may be content with such notions, but he will find no countenance for them in the Word of God.  If the Bible is the rule of his faith and practice, he will find his lines laid down very plainly in this matter.  He must “fight.”

With whom is the Christian soldier meant to fight? Not with other Christians.  Wretched indeed is that man’s idea of religion who fancies that it consists in perpetual controversy.  He who is never satisfied unless he is engaged in some strife between church and church, chapel and chapel, sect and sect, party and party, knows nothing yet as he ought to know.  Never is the cause of sin so helped as when Christians waste their strength in quarreling with one another, and spend their time in petty squabbles.

No, indeed!  The principal fight of the Christian is with the world, the flesh, and the devil.  These are his never-dying foes.  These are the three chief enemies against whom he must wage war.  Unless he gets the victory over these three, all other victories are useless and vain.  If he had a nature like an angel, and was not a fallen creature, the warfare would not be so essential.  But with a corrupt heart, a busy devil, and an ensnaring world, he must either “fight” or be lost.

He must fight the flesh Even after conversion he carries within him a nature prone to evil, and a heart weak and unstable as water.  To keep that heart from going astray, there is need of a daily struggle and a daily wrestling in prayer.  “I keep under my body,” cries St. Paul, “and bring it into subjection.”  “I see a law in my members warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity.”  “O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death?  .… They that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.”  “Mortify your members which are upon the earth” (1 Cor. ix. 27; Rom. vii. 23, 24; Gal. v. 24; Coloss. iii. 5).

He must fight the world.  The subtle influence of that mighty enemy must be daily resisted, and without a daily battle can never be overcome.  The love of the world’s good things, the fear of the world’s laughter or blame, the secret desire to keep in with the world, the secret wish to do as others in the world do, and not to run into extremes—all these are spiritual foes which beset the Christian continually on his way to heaven, and must be conquered.  “The friendship of the world is enmity with God: whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world, is the enemy of God.”  “If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”  “The world is crucified unto Me, and I unto the world.”  “Whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world.”  “Be not conformed to this world” (James iv. 4; 1 John ii. 15; Gal. vi. 4; 1 John v. 4; Rom. xii. 2).

He must fight the devil That old enemy of mankind is not dead.  Ever since the fall of Adam and Eve he has been going to and fro in the earth, and walking up and down in it, and striving to compass one great end—the ruin of man’s soul.  Never slumbering and never sleeping, he is always going about as a lion seeking whom he may devour.  An unseen enemy, he is always near us, about our path and about our bed, and spying out ail our ways.  A murderer and a liar from the beginning, he labors night and day to cast us down to hell.  Sometimes by leading into superstition, sometimes by suggesting infidelity, sometimes by one kind of tactics and sometimes by another, he is always carrying on a campaign against our souls.  “Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat.”  This mighty adversary must be daily resisted if we wish to be saved.  But “this kind goeth not out” but by watching and praying, and putting on the whole armour of God.  The strong man armed will never be kept out of our hearts without a daily battle.  (Job i. 7; 1 Peter v. 8; John viii. 44; Luke xxii. 31; Ephes. vi. 11).

Reader, perhaps you think these statements too strong.  You fancy that I am going too far, and laying on the colours too thickly.  You are secretly saying to yourself, that men and women in England may surely get to heaven without all this trouble and warfare and fighting.  Listen to me for a few minutes, and I will show you that I have something to say on God’s behalf.  Remember the maxim of the wisest general that ever lived in England: “In time of war it is the worst mistake to underrate your enemy, and try to make a little war.”  This Christian warfare is no light matter.  Give me your attention and consider what I say.

What saith the Scripture? “Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life.  .… Endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.”  “Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.  For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.  Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.”  “Strive to enter in at the strait gate.”  “Labour for the meat that endureth unto everlasting life.”  “Think not that I am come to send peace on the earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.” “He that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one.”  “Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong.”  “War a good warfare; holding faith, and a good conscience” (1 Tim. vi. 12; 2 Tim. ii. 8; Ephes. vi. 11-13; Luke xiii. 24; John vi. 27; Matt. x. 84; Luke xxii. 36; 1 Cor. xvi. 18; 1 Tim. i. 18, 19).  Words such as these appear to me clear, plain and unmistakable.  They all teach one and the same great lesson, if we are willing to receive it.  That lesson is, that true Christianity is a struggle, a fight, and a warfare.

-J.C. Ryle

I Have Been Praying 15 Years for Faith

A stranger to the life of faith makes a snuffle at believing, and thinks no work so easy, or so trifling. He wonders why such gentle business should be called the fight of faith, and why the chosen twelve should pray for faith, when, as they believe, every human brain might quickly furnish out a handsome dose.

For my own part, since first my unbelief was felt, I have been praying fifteen years for faith, and praying with some earnestness, and am not yet possessed of more than half a grain. You smile, Sir, I perceive, at the smallness of the quantity; but you would not, if you knew its efficacy. Jesus, who knew it well, assures you that a single grain, and a grain as small as mustard-seed, would remove a mountain; remove a mountain-load of guilt from the conscience, a mountain-lust from the heart, and any mountain-load of trouble from the mind.

The Saviour’s word to his people is, Fear not, stand still, and see the salvation of God. (Exodus 14:13). In quietness and confidence shall be your strength (Isaiah. 30:15). Cast thy burden on the Lord, and he shall support thee (Psalm 55:22). Look to me for salvation, all the ends of the earth (Isaiah 14:22). Call on me in time of trouble, I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me (Psalm 50:15).

-John Berridge

4 Ways Incense is a Picture of Prayer in the Bible

May my prayer be set before you like incense. – Psalm 141:2

Throughout the Old Testament, we see incense playing a significant role in the worship God had prescribed for his people. It was so essential that there was an altar of incense in the Holy Place. As we consider this topic, it is important to remember the ceremonies of the old covenant were pictures and shadows of what Christ would accomplish in His atoning work on the cross, and incense is part of that picture. Ultimately, incense is a picture of the sacrifice of Christ, which is the sweet aroma that goes before the Father on our behalf. Still, in another sense, incense also typifies prayer. John Owen, in his commentary on Hebrews, lays out four ways incense is like prayer.

1. The incense was beaten and pounded before it could be used.  Likewise, acceptable prayer proceeds from a broken and contrite heart. 

Psalm 51:17 says, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” Elsewhere we are told that God “resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.” For our prayers to be as incense, we must approach the Throne of Grace in poverty of spirit, knowing that our sinfulness has separated us from God and that only through Christ our mediator do we have peace with Him. This is biblical brokenness. If we approach God in any other way, we are like the tax collector trusting on our own righteousness, and he went away unjustified. Humble yourself in the sight of the Lord, and he will lift you up.

2. Incense rises toward heaven, and the point of prayer is that it ascends to the throne of God.

One of the significant points made in the book of Hebrews is that Christ is exalted and sitting at the right hand of the Father. Yet, we are encouraged to approach the Throne of Grace with confidence. When we pray, we are doing precisely that. We are bringing our praises and petitions to the throne of God. Though we have no merit of our own, God still embraces us with love because of the merit of Jesus and His righteousness. For our prayers to be as incense, we need to be aware of the great heights they are reaching as we commune with the exalted Christ. This goes hand in hand with our brokenness. Pray with confidence. Despite your sinfulness, your prayers rise to the Most High, maker of heaven and earth, and there is no one above Him.

3.  Incense requires fire for it to be useful, and prayer has no virtue unless it is set on fire by the power of the Holy Spirit.

By this, we are not referring to some mystical experience. The fact that a believer desires to go to the Lord in prayer is the work of the Holy Spirit. Prayer is not the natural man’s disposition. The only prayer that can take place without the Spirit is prayer that is not in accord with the Word of God. For example, prayers to false gods, and ritualistic prayers by those who believe they will be heard because of mere formality and many words. We must pray in accordance with the Word of God. When this happens, it is because the Spirit is moving. When you feel the urge to pray, do not neglect that desire because your incense is being set on fire by the power of the Holy Spirit.

4.   Incense yields a sweet aroma, and our prayers are a sweet fragrance to the Lord.

This seems to be at the heart of the Psalmist’s cry.  “May my prayer be as incense,” means, may it be a sweet aroma to the Lord.  In Revelation 8:4, we see that the smoke of incense rose with the prayers of the saints. This seems to signify that there is a sweet fragrance associated with our prayers, and the sweet scent is because we approach the Lord in Christ’s name. Our prayers are pleasing to the Lord, and the fact we can bring pleasure to God is something that should cause us to drop to our knees with joy. Pray boldly in Jesus’ name, because it brings pleasure to God almighty.

May this short study encourage you to spend more time on your knees this week. You may not feel worthy to approach him, but that is the only proper way to draw near to the Throne of Grace. From there, your lowly supplications will rise to the heavens where Christ is exalted. If this encourages you to pray, know that it is the Holy Spirit who is encouraging you to do so. Finally, as you pray, you will bring pleasure to the only King of Heaven as the offering Jesus made for sin is presented to the Father on your behalf.

D. Eaton

Social Media and Isolation: A Toxic Combination

Chances are you feel less safe today than you did four months ago, and it has little to do with COVID-19. If you have been spending most of your time at home with little interaction with people you do not know, and have been spending significant amounts of time on social media, you probably have a distorted picture of the outside world.

These days, you cannot spend time on social media without seeing videos of vandalism, domestic abuse, beatings, and even shootings. They flood your feed, and people you love and trust put them there. Posts that cause anger or outrage are the posts most likely to receive likes, comments, and shares, and that is what most people on these platforms are seeking. Social media was supposed to give a voice to the people, but it has become a megaphone for ignorance, and we are the ones spreading it.

If you spend enough time viewing acts of idiocy and downright evil while being isolated, you will begin to have anxiety about what is outside your door. You will become much more suspicious of people who want nothing more than to go about their day and be polite. If more and more people begin to feel this suspicion, there will be more and more distrust and conflicts.

If you are a Christian, and anything in these first three paragraphs resonated with your current experience, here are three things you should do to calm the anxiety clear up the distorted view of the world around you.

1. Get off social media, or at least reduce your time significantly.

In the U.S. violent crime has fallen sharply over the past 25 years, but because we see so many videos of criminal acts online, we feel less safe than when the crime rate was higher. From package thieves robbing front porches, to scam warnings, and attempted kidnappings, it is all right there for you to watch. In the past, when you would hear about a murder on the news, they would never actually show you the killing. Now you can watch it all unfold right in the palm of your hand on repeat, and your life is undoubtedly worse off because of it.

It is time to silence the input in your life that causes you anger and fear, especially in aspects of your life where you have no control. This is not a bury your head in the sand mentality; we should know what is going on in our world, but we do not need to know at such a granular level every time someone is robbed or beaten, and we certainly do not need to watch it all online. On top of that, we do not need to know every ridiculous idea that floats around online that strikes right at the heart of civilized society.

2. Be around people, especially people you do not know.

Practice social distancing and be cautious, but go to parks, take a short day trip and interact with people. What you will find is the picture of our world painted for you on Twitter and Facebook does not match reality. Most people are quite friendly and ready to share the world with you. They will have their own beliefs, but they will not try to manipulate or bully you into their worldview. Even disagreements can be civil and beneficial. The ability of people to care for each other has not changed much since the lock down began in March. Most people are quite pleasant.

3. Spend time in the Bible daily.

The word of God will do two things. First, it will give us a solid footing in a world where everyone on social media to trying to tell you what to think and how to believe. Views on sexuality, race, and human nature come at us with threats of cancel culture. There are even views contrary to scripture that come with the endorsement of the Supreme Court of the United States. It is not easy to take every thought captive to Christ in a world like this, but regular time in the word of God is a necessary step in the right direction. The second thing the Bible will do is calm our fears. We will see that God is still in control, and even the hardships we face work for the good of those who love him and are called according to his purposes. In the end, the Holy Spirit uses scripture to empower us to love our enemies and bless those who curse us. Instead of fearing the people around us, we will love them and desire to be with them and share the good news of salvation. We will find joy in the Lord as we act as salt and light in a fallen world, and the joy of the Lord will be our strength. Even in a world like ours, there is a peace that passes all understanding as we stand upon the rock of Christ Jesus.

-D. Eaton

The Holy Spirit is Our Only Hope

When He comes, He will convict the world about sin, righteousness, and judgment! – John 16:8

The Holy Spirit is the only effectual reformer of the world! If He is absent, legislators may make laws against crime; philosophers may reason against vice; ministers may preach against sin; conscience may remonstrate against evil; the divine law may prescribe, and threaten Hell; the gospel may invite, and allure to Heaven; but all will be in vain!

The strongest arguments, the most melting entreaties, the most alarming denunciations from God and man, enforced with the highest authority, or the most compassionate tears, all will have no effect, all will not effectually reclaim one sinner, nor gain one sincere convert to righteousness!

Paul, Apollos, and Peter, with all their apostolic abilities, can do nothing, without the Holy Spirit. Paul may plant the seed, and Apollos may water it; but God alone can make it grow! “So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow!” (1 Corinthians 3:6, 7)

Never will peace and harmony be established in this jangling world until this Divine Agent takes the work in hand. It is He alone, who can melt down the obstinate hearts of men into love and peace! It is He alone, who can soften their rugged and savage tempers, and transform them into mutual benevolence!

It is He alone, who can quench those lusts that set the world on fire, and implant the opposite virtues and graces. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, are mentioned by Paul, as the fruit of the Spirit, because the Spirit alone is the author of them. And if these dispositions were predominant in the world, what a serene, calm, peaceful region would it be, undisturbed with the hurricanes of human passions!

Oh, how much do we need the influence of the blessed Spirit to break the heart of stone, to enlighten the dark mind, and to comfort the desponding soul!

-Samuel Davies, Serious Reflections on War – 1757

Was That Worship?

For many evangelicals, it seems goosebumps are the litmus test as to whether a song is anointed, but an emotional reaction can be misleading. I once had a co-worker who loved just about everything Disney. He put a sticker on his car, and he would proudly wear Disney hats and shirts. He was one of the managers at the store where I was working at the time, and I remember one day when everything was going wrong, he said to me, “when this day is over I am going home, and I’m going to watch an old Disney movie.” When I pressed him a bit as to why he chose to watch an old Disney movie as opposed to anything else, he said, “Disney things just bring me back to when I was a kid.” Ultimately, there was a sense of nostalgia from all the memories of growing up, and these things moved his affections in a way that made him feel a bit better after a hard day.

On another note, music has a way of doing the same type of things for us. I can remember in high school and college when I would be listening to secular radio, and that new song that I had been waiting to hear would come on. Immediately, I would turn up the volume, and I would be energized by what I was hearing. I would sing along with all the passion I could muster, sometimes to questionable lyrics.

There is nothing wrong with a bit of nostalgia and being energized or moved by some piece of music, provided the context is not sinful. Still, when you put these things together with a Christian worship service or program, we must be careful to discern our emotions. I bring this up because sometimes we can be misled to think that we have had a time of worship, or that we have heard a great sermon, on the sole basis that it moved our affections.

We must pay close attention to what is stirring our hearts to discern whether what we are experiencing is worship or even spiritual. When the worship leader plays the first chords of our favorite praise song, are we being energized much like the natural man who hears a secular song that causes him to turn up the radio, or are we genuinely worshipping? When grandma’s favorite hymn starts to play and causes us to experience a time of peace and contentment while thinking back to when she used to sing it to us as a child, do we sometimes confuse that with worship?

Now, I am not saying we should only sing dull songs or songs that do not remind us of anything, or that it is impossible to be genuinely worshipping during these times. On the contrary, I think it can be helpful to remember our family worship from when we were growing up, and I believe it is good that we still have people today writing new psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs for us to sing that gets us excited. What I want to stress is that merely because we have these moments, does not mean we are worshipping or that we have drawn near to God in adoration.

Charles Spurgeon once said that if he wanted to, he could move congregations to tears by telling them sad stories of mothers with sick children or energize them by telling them stories of men and women who accomplished great things. He then went on to say, it would be a waste of time unless they were moved to cry over their sin and take joy in Christ and the cross. In other words, were their hearts and attention drawn to Jesus?

Even the natural man’s affections move in powerful ways, but those emotional stirrings will never be worship unless the truth of scripture moves us as the Holy Spirit points us to Christ and what He has done for us. Whether we attend a modern or traditional worship service is not the biggest issue, but we must be sure to seek out worship and preaching that convicts us of sin and shows us the remedy in Christ, which is the foundation of all true spiritual worship.

-D. Eaton-

Then Comes the End

The state of our culture has many people living in fear, but this should not be the case for the Christian. The world is shuddering with anxiety over economic collapse, civil unrest, and even the fear of death. Its desperation is on full display. You cannot spend time on social media without being inundated with doomsayers, conspiracy theorists, and social pressures to conform to the world’s narrative. It seems we are in danger every hour.

This fear causes many Christians to hold their tongues, keep their faith private, and fall in line with the ways of the world. They have no voice of truth to offer our culture because the world has stifled them. They stagger along, barely able to stand. It is time to wake up from our drunken stupor. We must not go on sinning. Many who bear the name Christian have no knowledge of God, and this is to their shame (1 Corinthians 15:34).

We have allowed the fear of unrest and becoming social outcasts to silence us. Many Christians live lives cowering in the corner when they should be standing boldly for the world to see. Now, more than ever, the world needs to hear the truth of the gospel, but we are too busy trying to maintain personal peace and affluence.

The conflicts of our day are not the time for Christians to be afraid. We must be willing to put ourselves in danger. Speaking the truth of Christ and biblical standards, especially when it comes to sexuality, will cause you problems. You will subject yourself to cancel culture. Your social media accounts could be censored or shut down completely. You could even become unemployable because your views will not fit the world’s narrative. There is peace in Christ but that peace is not with the world.

Sooner or later, after our time here is done, we are going to die, and then what? Then comes the end, or should I say, the beginning. Christ will eventually return. He will destroy every rule, every authority, and every power that is contrary to his (1 Corinthians 15:24).

For those who bowed in fear to the world, what will you have then? You will have capitulated to the powers of those who will be on the wrong side of history. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet, and the last enemy to be destroyed is death (1 Corinthians 15:24).

Even death will be extinguished so we have nothing to fear. As Jesus himself rose from the dead, so will all believers. We will be raised in spiritual bodies that are imperishable, glorious, and full of power (1 Corinthians 15:44). Why do we fear the world’s rage? Do we not believe the King of Kings?

We shall not all sleep, but we shall be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead shall be raised imperishable, and our mortal bodies shall put on immortality (Corinthians 15:51-53).

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law, but for those who are in Jesus, his blood has washed us clean. He has purchased us, he has risen from the dead, and he gives us the victory (1 Corinthians 15:56-57).

We are not to speak the truth with the world’s venom, we are to speak the truth in love. Why do you let the world cause you to cower? Why do you hide your light under a bushel? We are a city set on a hill. We are the light of the world, and even though the world loves darkness rather than light, we must shine his love for them to see. We must be the salt of the earth. Do not let Satan steal your saltiness because he has already lost.

Therefore, my beloved brothers and sisters, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord, your labor is not in vain (1 Corinthians 15:58). Be willing to pour out your life as a drink offering; then comes the end, and it will be glorious.  

-D. Eaton