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O God, stamp eternity on my eyeballs…

Monthly Archives: February 2009

Return to (true) Worship

My wife found this in the book by Ron Owens, Return to Worship, A God Centered Approach.
This Self-inventory was written in the mid-1800’s by a Baptist Minister and was inserted in the Georgia Baptist Christian Index sent out to many churches in the area for appropriate preparation to take the Lord’s Supper. What a devastating word to my own carelessness for that blessed act of Worship. Would that every believer took this and sought to live his/her own life as earnestly as this purports. Would not our observance of the Lord’s body and blood be accompanied with weeping, reverence and fear. Can we, without judgment or bias, look at these 24 questions honestly and see if we are truly in the faith?

On Preparation for the LORD’s Supper
(Or for Preparation for Christian Ministry)
From a mid-1800’s article in the Georgia Baptist Christian Index

Twenty-Four Questions to Ask Yourself:
1. In the interval since last partaking of the Lord’s Supper, what progress have you been making in your Christian life in proportion to the blessings of God you enjoy? Are you really gaining ground?

2. Is your soul actually strengthened and refreshed?

3. Are your corruptions growing weaker and your graces growing stronger?

4. Are you able more successfully to strive against your besetting sin?

5. Is your love for the Savior deepening in your heart and more influential in your life?

6. Is your conformity to His image more distinctly visible to the eye, both of GOD and man?

7. Are you advancing in love and charity to all men?

8. Do you find that since your last commemoration of this feast of love, you have become so much more full of the Holy Spirit, that you cannot only freely forgive from your heart the most unprovoked and aggravated injuries and insults, but you delight in pouring out fervent prayer on behalf of your bitterest enemy and are ready to minister to his temporal and eternal welfare?

9. Have you felt a warmer interest in the welfare of all who come under your influence?

10. Are you treading more closely in the steps of Him who went about doing good to the bodies and souls of men?

11. Have you expended more time and money in acts of practical benevolence to alleviate the wretchedness, and contribute to the enjoyments, both temporal and spiritual, of those whom it is in your power to help?

12. Are you more gentle and affectionate in your manners at home?

13. Are you more consistent in your endeavor to lead to CHRIST those you know who have not yet met Him and to lead those who do know Him into a closer walk with Him?

14. Do you have a growing interest in ministries that labor to promote the glory of GOD?

15. Can you testify that you are denying yourself the excesses of luxury, whether in dress or any other department, in order to support the LORD’s work and thus become a benefactor, in the highest sense of the word, to your family, church, friends, country and all mankind?

Ask yourself also such questions as the following, in your self-examination.
16. Am I advancing in the joys and comforts of the Holy Spirit?

17. Since I last partook of the LORD’s supper, have I more faithfully followed the promptings of the Holy Spirit; have I listened more teachably to the slightest whisperings of His voice; have I cherished more carefully His sanctifying influences; have I guarded more jealously against the indulgence of any thought or desire that would grieve Him, or cause Him to withdraw, even for a season, the manifestations of His love and the communications of His grace?

18. Have I a sweeter sense of my Redeemer’s Love?

19. Do I find communion with Him a foretaste of Heaven?

20. Do I look forward with increasing desire for the day when I shall sit down with Him at the marriage supper of the Lamb?

21. Do I find increasing happiness in meditating on His love when I am alone; in talking about Him when I am with other Christians, and pleading His cause with those who don’t know the preciousness of His name?

22. Since I last commemorated His dying love, do I have a larger measure of gratitude towards Him, that caused the pardoned penitent of old to bathe His feet with her tears, to wipe them with the hairs of her head, and pour upon them the most precious ointment she could afford to purchase, as a token of the gratitude with which her heart overflowed?

23. Do I increasingly feel it to be my highest privilege and happiness to lavish on Him every manifestation of my love; to consecrate to Him whatever I posses most precious; every gift He has bestowed, every talent He has entrusted to me; and to esteem myself honored, with the highest honor that any created being can enjoy, in being permitted to be an instrument in advancing His cause and promoting His glory?

24. Am I continually realizing so much more of the blessed mind of Christ, that I am able to fully enter into the spirit of that sweet hymn which breathed such love to Jesus, while contemplating Calvary’s cross, the kind of love that ought to be perpetually burning on the altar of every believer’s heart and that brings down the very essence of heaven’s joy into the believer’s soul?


Valentine’s Day

We had a lovely weekend up at Petit Jean National Park. A real cool place. The best time was the walk through forest and streams to the great Waterfall at the end. We sat around and was quiet before the Lord, just enjoying the great works of His hand. O, the beauty of His creation echos His beauty, magnificence and Glory.

My wife continues to amaze me; her love of life and zeal for the Lord. How does one remain consistent as she does?

My dear friends, as the day wanes keep your eyes on the Lord. This is such a burdened word, heavy in consequence and heavy in blessing. Yet, it is such a simple word. The whole of the Christian life is a looking away from self and a looking unto Jesus. That simple yet it takes us a lifetime to get anywhere. I am now seven years in the Lord and feel I have yet to take my first step. My how time flies and I look back at the few years behind me and see a history with God. Struggle amidst the blessing all mixed in together and cannot distinguish the blessing from the anguish. O, How lovely is the Lord. How perfect His peace, His mercy, His understanding.

Keep your eyes on Him; earnestly seek Him all the days of your life.

The Cambridge Declaration


Evangelical churches today are increasingly dominated by the spirit of this age rather than by the Spirit of Christ. As evangelicals, we call ourselves to repent of this sin and to recover the historic Christian faith.

In the course of history words change. In our day this has happened to the word “evangelical.” In the past it served as a bond of unity between Christians from a wide diversity of church traditions. Historic evangelicalism was confessional. It embraced the essential truths of Christianity as those were defined by the great ecumenical councils of the church. In addition, evangelicals also shared a common heritage in the “solas” of the sixteenth century Protestant Reformation.

Today the light of the Reformation has been significantly dimmed. The consequence is that the word “evangelical” has become so inclusive as to have lost its meaning. We face the peril of losing the unity it has taken centuries to achieve. Because of this crisis and because of our love of Christ, his gospel and his church, we endeavor to assert anew our commitment to the central truths of the Reformation and of historic evangelicalism. These truths we affirm not because of their role in our traditions, but because we believe that they are central to the Bible.

Sola Scriptura: The Erosion of Authority

Scripture alone is the inerrant rule of the church’s life, but the evangelical church today has separated Scripture from its authoritative function. In practice, the church is guided, far too often, by the culture. Therapeutic technique, marketing strategies, and the beat of the entertainment world often have far more to say about what the church wants, how it functions and what it offers, than does the Word of God. Pastors have neglected their rightful oversight of worship, including the doctrinal content of the music. As biblical authority has been abandoned in practice, as its truths have faded from Christian consciousness, and as its doctrines have lost their saliency, the church has been increasingly emptied of its integrity, moral authority and direction.

Rather than adapting Christian faith to satisfy the felt needs of consumers, we must proclaim the law as the only measure of true righteousness and the gospel as the only announcement of saving truth. Biblical truth is indispensable to the church’s understanding, nurture and discipline.

Scripture must take us beyond our perceived needs to our real needs and liberate us from seeing ourselves through the seductive images, cliches, promises and priorities of mass culture. It is only in the light of God’s truth that we understand ourselves aright and see God’s provision for our need. The Bible, therefore, must be taught and preached in the church. Sermons must be expositions of the Bible and its teachings, not expressions of the preacher’s opinions or the ideas of the age. We must settle for nothing less than what God has given.

The work of the Holy Spirit in personal experience cannot be disengaged from Scripture. The Spirit does not speak in ways that are independent of Scripture. Apart from Scripture we would never have known of God’s grace in Christ. The biblical Word, rather than spiritual experience, is the test of truth.

Thesis One: Sola Scriptura
We reaffirm the inerrant Scripture to be the sole source of written divine revelation,which alone can bind the conscience. The Bible alone teaches all that is necessary for our salvation from sin and is the standard by which all Christian behavior must be measured.

We deny that any creed, council or individual may bind a Christian’s conscience, that the Holy Spirit speaks independently of or contrary to what is set forth in the Bible, or that personal spiritual experience can ever be a vehicle of revelation.

Solus Christus: The Erosion of Christ-Centered Faith

As evangelical faith becomes secularized, its interests have been blurred with those of the culture. The result is a loss of absolute values, permissive individualism, and a substitution of wholeness for holiness, recovery for repentance, intuition for truth, feeling for belief, chance for providence, and immediate gratification for enduring hope. Christ and his cross have moved from the center of our vision.

Thesis Two: Solus Christus
We reaffirm that our salvation is accomplished by the mediatorial work of the historical Christ alone. His sinless life and substitutionary atonement alone are sufficient for our justification and reconciliation to the Father.

We deny that the gospel is preached if Christ’s substitutionary work is not declared and faith in Christ and his work is not solicited.

Sola Gratia: The Erosion of The Gospel

Unwarranted confidence in human ability is a product of fallen human nature. This false confidence now fills the evangelical world; from the self-esteem gospel, to the health and wealth gospel, from those who have transformed the gospel into a product to be sold and sinners into consumers who want to buy, to others who treat Christian faith as being true simply because it works. This silences the doctrine of justification regardless of the official commitments of our churches.

God’s grace in Christ is not merely necessary but is the sole efficient cause of salvation. We confess that human beings are born spiritually dead and are incapable even of cooperating with regenerating grace.

Thesis Three: Sola Gratia
We reaffirm that in salvation we are rescued from God’s wrath by his grace alone. It is the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit that brings us to Christ by releasing us from our bondage to sin and raising us from spiritual death to spiritual life.

We deny that salvation is in any sense a human work. Human methods, techniques or strategies by themselves cannot accomplish this transformation. Faith is not produced by our unregenerated human nature.

Sola Fide: The Erosion of The Chief Article

Justification is by grace alone through faith alone because of Christ alone. This is the article by which the church stands or falls. Today this article is often ignored, distorted or sometimes even denied by leaders, scholars and pastors who claim to be evangelical. Although fallen human nature has always recoiled from recognizing its need for Christ’s imputed righteousness, modernity greatly fuels the fires of this discontent with the biblical Gospel. We have allowed this discontent to dictate the nature of our ministry and what it is we are preaching.

Many in the church growth movement believe that sociological understanding of those in the pew is as important to the success of the gospel as is the biblical truth which is proclaimed. As a result, theological convictions are frequently divorced from the work of the ministry. The marketing orientation in many churches takes this even further, erasing the distinction between the biblical Word and the world, robbing Christ’s cross of its offense, and reducing Christian faith to the principles and methods which bring success to secular corporations.

While the theology of the cross may be believed, these movements are actually emptying it of its meaning. There is no gospel except that of Christ’s substitution in our place whereby God imputed to him our sin and imputed to us his righteousness. Because he bore our judgment, we now walk in his grace as those who are forever pardoned, accepted and adopted as God’s children. There is no basis for our acceptance before God except in Christ’s saving work, not in our patriotism, churchly devotion or moral decency. The gospel declares what God has done for us in Christ. It is not about what we can do to reach him.

Thesis Four: Sola Fide
We reaffirm that justification is by grace alone through faith alone because of Christ alone. In justification Christ’s righteousness is imputed to us as the only possible satisfaction of God’s perfect justice.

We deny that justification rests on any merit to be found in us, or upon the grounds of an infusion of Christ’s righteousness in us, or that an institution claiming to be a church that denies or condemns sola fide can be recognized as a legitimate church.

Soli Deo Gloria: The Erosion of God-Centered Worship

Wherever in the church biblical authority has been lost, Christ has been displaced, the gospel has been distorted, or faith has been perverted, it has always been for one reason: our interests have displaced God’s and we are doing his work in our way. The loss of God’s centrality in the life of today’s church is common and lamentable. It is this loss that allows us to transform worship into entertainment, gospel preaching into marketing, believing into technique, being good into feeling good about ourselves, and faithfulness into being successful. As a result, God, Christ and the Bible have come to mean too little to us and rest too inconsequentially upon us.

God does not exist to satisfy human ambitions, cravings, the appetite for consumption, or our own private spiritual interests. We must focus on God in our worship, rather than the satisfaction of our personal needs. God is sovereign in worship; we are not. Our concern must be for God’s kingdom, not our own empires, popularity or success.

Thesis Five: Soli Deo Gloria
We reaffirm that because salvation is of God and has been accomplished by God, it is for God’s glory and that we must glorify him always. We must live our entire lives before the face of God, under the authority of God and for his glory alone.

We deny that we can properly glorify God if our worship is confused with entertainment, if we neglect either Law or Gospel in our preaching, or if self-improvement, self-esteem or self-fulfillment are allowed to become alternatives to the gospel.

A Call To Repentance & Reformation

The faithfulness of the evangelical church in the past contrasts sharply with its unfaithfulness in the present. Earlier in this century, evangelical churches sustained a remarkable missionary endeavor, and built many religious institutions to serve the cause of biblical truth and Christ’s kingdom. That was a time when Christian behavior and expectations were markedly different from those in the culture. Today they often are not. The evangelical world today is losing its biblical fidelity, moral compass and missionary zeal.

We repent of our worldliness. We have been influenced by the “gospels” of our secular culture, which are no gospels. We have weakened the church by our own lack of serious repentance, our blindness to the sins in ourselves which we see so clearly in others, and our inexcusable failure to adequately tell others about God’s saving work in Jesus Christ.

We also earnestly call back erring professing evangelicals who have deviated from God’s Word in the matters discussed in this Declaration. This includes those who declare that there is hope of eternal life apart from explicit faith in Jesus Christ, who claim that those who reject Christ in this life will be annihilated rather than endure the just judgment of God through eternal suffering, or who claim that evangelicals and Roman Catholics are one in Jesus Christ even where the biblical doctrine of justification is not believed.

The Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals asks all Christians to give consideration to implementing this Declaration in the church’s worship, ministry, policies, life and evangelism.

For Christ’s sake. Amen.

Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals Executive Council (1996)

Dr. John Armstrong
The Rev. Alistair Begg
Dr. James M. Boice
Dr. W. Robert Godfrey
Dr. John D. Hannah
Dr. Michael S. Horton
Mrs. Rosemary Jensen
Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr.
Dr. Robert M. Norris
Dr. R.C. Sproul
Dr. Gene Edward Veith
Dr. David Wells
Dr. Luder Whitlock
Dr. J.A.O. Preus, III

This declaration may be reproduced without permission. Please credit the source by citing the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals.
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