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Daily Devotions - God Has the Answers (August 29, 2022) Proverbs 27:20 Hell and destruction are never full; so the eyes of man are never satisfied.
The Perils of Loving Money--(Thursday PM, 5/19/22) Ecclesiastes 5:10-12 "He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he that loveth abundance with increase: this is also ...
Satisfied (3-13-2022) Part 2 Sermon by Pastor Paul Timmerman of the First Baptist Church in Worcester, NY.
Be Content (3-13-2022) Part 2 Sermon by Pastor Paul Timmerman of the First Baptist Church in Worcester, NY.
Be Content (3-13-2022) Part 3 Sermon by Pastor Paul Timmerman of the First Baptist Church in Worcester, NY.
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“Heaven is a fairy tale for people afraid of the dark.” –Stephen HawkingI'm afraid of the dark.If we're talking about the endless kind of darkness that offers no light anywhere, no hope ever, and nothing but nothingness, who among us would not panic at the thought of that?I expect people like Mr. Hawking simply find the idea of Heaven too good to be true, and thus conclude that it must be a product of man's delusional yearning for “pie in the sky by and by.”And yet, there are solid reasons for reasonable people to believe in the concept of a Heavenly home after this earthly life. Here are some that mean a lot to me. By no means is this list exhaustive. It's simply my thinking on the subject.The God who made us created us with a longing for Himself and a satisfaction in nothing less.When we get to Heaven, we will finally be satisfied, but not until then. “I shall be satisfied with Thy likeness when I awake” (Psalm 17:15).“I go to prepare a place for you,” said our Lord. “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto myself, that where I am, there you may be also.” (John 14:3).If it were not so, I would have told you.Jesus said that. I believe Him.I choose to believe.Image courtesy: Getty Images / ArtyFree
by Phil Johnson finally had an opportunity to see the documentary "Enemies Within the Church," and as promised, here is a candid review:  The Good     You need to watch this documentary. Its central message sounds a clear and necessary alarm that today's evangelicals (leaders and lay persons alike) urgently need to hear and heed. It is a two-hour video presenting undeniable evidence that influential forces within the church have been (and still are) working hard to advance an agenda that is rooted in neo-Marxism, overlaid with identity politics, and peppered with postmodern jargon. In other words, countless Christians are being force-fed an ideology that comes from the world, not from Scripture. It is being pushed in our seminaries and churches with tactics (and a lot of financing) taken from secular left-wing sources. The worldview and values these change-agents promote are clearly influenced by radical feminism, the sexual revolution, academic elitism, socialist tenets, and critical theory. Those who traffic in these ideas don't necessarily sound overtly hostile to the authority of Scripture. Instead, they subtly undermine moral principles, vital doctrines, and the gospel itself. They subvert historic evangelical convictions by lobbying for Woke doctrines and liberal trends while relentlessly warning evangelicals that the church will lose the next generation, maybe even die, if we don't stay in step with the drift of the secular intelligentsia. This is by no means a new phenomenon. There is an easily traceable line of descent that runs from the Socinians of the 16th and 17th centuries through the Deists and Unitarians of the 18th century, the modernists of the 19th century, the liberals and pragmatists of the 20th century, and the Emergents of the 21st century. Today's Wokevangelicals are following identical lines of argument, employing similar rhetoric, and drifting in the same direction as all of those previous departures from evangelical orthodoxy. In 1887, The Sword and the Trowel (Charles Spurgeon's monthly journal) published two articles titled "The Down Grade," by Robert Schindler. A fierce polemical war ensued and lasted for several years, known as "The Downgrade Controversy." Anyone who has read about Spurgeon's final years of ministry knows of this controversy. Spurgeon himself and most who were close to him believed the stress of fighting the Downgrade hastened his death. He died less than five years after publishing Schindler's articles. Robert Schindler's (and Spurgeon's) whole point was that the path of liberal apostasy is well-worn and familiar, and it should therefore be obvious to any vigilant observer when a church, educational institution, denomination, or Christian leader starts down that path. As the title suggests, Schindler noted that it's a steep downhill path, so once any person or group takes that turnoff, it becomes nearly impossible to stop the movement downhill. Schindler was warning against the modernist influence that infected the Baptist Union in Victorian England, but his words are totally applicable to the current drift of Wokevangelicalism. Be forewarned: "Enemies Within the Church"—like those 1887 articles in The Sword and the Trowel—will be deeply controversial. Sadly, many believers will conclude that the controversial nature of the documentary basically nullifies its message. After all, aren't Christians supposed to love one another? How can we warn against the influence of fellow church members and not be guilty of divisiveness? But the New Testament is full of admonitions to be on guard against destructive influences within the church. These are wolves in sheep's clothing (Matt. 7:15)—"fierce wolves [that] will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them" (Acts 20:29-30). We are commanded to "to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 3)—especially against those who want to rewrite the faith anew for each generation. This documentary does a superb job in that task, and for that reason I commend it. The cinematography is stunning. The editing is superb. The story is told in a clear and compelling way. The message is poignant. Overall, I give the production high marks, and I hope it gains a large audience. The Bad     I should, however, mention that I have a few minor theological quibbles. The narrator (Cary Gordon) and several of the featured faces seem to be from Wesleyan backgrounds. That's not my complaint (though I'm a Calvinist). If there was any overt Arminianism in the presentation, I didn't notice it. On the whole, they did a fine job. But at times speakers mentioned points of doctrine that I thought should have been presented with greater care, or omitted completely. For example, around 47:40, one of the interviewees mentioned John 1:14, "The Word became flesh and dwelt among us." Pastor Gordon replies, "That means the Old Testament was made flesh in Jesus Christ." "Yup," says the interviewee. Pastor Gordon continues: "So if we're to vilify the Old Testament and say we don't need it anymore, we're talking about some part of Jesus." "No!" I say out loud. That's not what the apostle John is saying. The expression "the Word" throughout John 1 is a reference to Christ in his eternal glory, not the Old Testament. I share Pastor Gordon's contempt for the idea that Christians don't need the Old Testament, but it's not necessary make that point by getting sloppy with our exegesis of John's gospel. Still, that's a disagreement that doesn't materially affect my endorsement of the film. It doesn't alter or diminish the validity of the larger central message. A bigger objection of mine would be the way the documentary deals with the Ten Commandments. Here again, I agree with the point the documentary apparently wants to make, but I'm not completely satisfied with how they make it. Here's the part I agree with: Postmodern evangelicals do overemphasize the love of God and deliberately truncate what Scripture says about sin, righteousness, and judgment—to the point where most in the evangelical movement today seem to think the whole gospel message is that God is love, or that God loves you in particular. The documentary correctly points out that we have not preached the gospel at all if we don't deal with the problem of sin and call unbelievers to repentance (Acts 17:30). (I also agree that anyone who says the Ten Commandments have no relevance for Christians is an antinomian. And when you try to syncretize Wokeism with evangelicalism, antinomianism is one of the inevitable, and spiritually deadly, results.) Nevertheless, I wish the documentary had taken greater pains to make clear that the Ten Commandments are not the gospel, or even part of the gospel. They are a prelude to the gospel—a tutor that points us toward Christ and the gospel (Gal. 3:24). The gospel itself is a message about the work of Christ to liberate us from the bondage of sin and the condemnation of the law. The heart of the gospel is the doctrine of justification by faith—not the Ten Commandments. I'll mention just one other nagging complaint: I think what the documentary says about pietism vs. political activism seems to imply that these are the only two options in a fairly well-defined either/or choice for Christians. But lots of godly, biblically astute, reasonable Christians are neither pietists nor political Zealots. They recognize that churches tend to lose their focus and sometimes even cease preaching the gospel when they become immersed in unbridled political activism. The true remedy for what ails both the evangelical movement and secular culture is not something that can imposed by legislation. Nor can righteousness be achieved by Christians flexing their collective political clout. "If a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law" (Gal. 3:21). Dominionism is a corruption of the church's true agenda (Matt. 20:25-26). The disciples, not the party of the Zealots, are our role models in seeking to turn the world upside down. The Ugly     Now, if you've seen the online chatter surrounding the release of this documentary, you may be aware that there's a noisy squad of smart-alecky Zealots who began badgering a list of conservative Christian leaders who had previously spoken out against the influence of Wokeism. The Zealots demanded endorsements for this documentary almost as soon as it appeared in a downloadable format. Their nagging quickly turned to ugly public taunts and accusations. I don't believe the documentary's producers were directly involved in or keenly aware of that campaign of harrassment. In fact, Judd Saul, the project's director, responded graciously to all the noise by making sure I had a speedy opportunity to see the full documentary. I would have eventually watched it anyway and most likely posted a recommendation, but I appreciate Judd's efforts to link me up with a timely review copy. Still, those unauthorized efforts to promote the film by browbeating men in Christian leadership have prompted me to say once again that nothing undermines biblical discernment and the cause of truth more deeply and hurtfully than haughty controversialists who act like they firmly believe they are the kingpins and custodians of the cosmic war against false teaching. They seem to think the truth is best advanced by intimidation, insults, crass language, and caustic rhetoric. Passages like 1 Corinthians 13:4-7; Galatians 5:22-23; and 2 Timothy 2:24-25 have no obvious impact on their dealings with others—because as they will point out, undiscerning people misuse those texts to justify their refusal to contend for the faith. But that doesn't give spiritual warriors license to ignore those features of true Christlikeness altogether. My counsel: Beware of anyone who treats captiousness as sport. Frankly, such people actually undermine the cause of truth, and in their own way, they can be just as dangerous to the spiritual health of the church as the out-and-out Marxists. One Final Thing     Virtually all the negative pushback I have seen aimed at "Enemies Within the Church" has come from Southern Baptist sources. The Conservative Baptist Network promoted the film and announced that they would host the premier on the campus of Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary. The President of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary protested the showing and Tweeted an open letter expressing with "deep disappointment but strong conviction," a charge that the documentary contains "scandalous and scurrilous slander." What about that claim? What is the right response to those who claim the documentary is slanderous? Let me speak plainly: I don't have the time or the need to investigate and verify every individual claim made in the documentary. "Enemies Within the Church" echoes an opinion I have stated many times already, so yes I emphatically agree with the central message. Most of the claims made are either well-established facts, or they are sufficiently documented in the film itself with video records and direct quotations. Plus, the clear and persuasive testimony of multiple eyewitnesses is hard to gainsay. So the documentary raises questions that need to be answered. It points out issues that need to be addressed. It highlights problems that need to be corrected. To single out a disputed claim or two and blow the whole thing off as "slander" would be a monumental mistake. Deconstructing the critics' concerns by splitting hairs over terminology or by denying that Critical Race Theory (CRT) has infiltrated Baptist seminaries is not an adequate answer to the concerns raised in this documentary. We've all seen the videos where Baptist seminary professors do parrot rhetoric from CRT sources. The concerns raised by this film cannot be sidestepped or pushed aside. They must be answered. For the record, I didn't notice any factual claims in the documentary that struck me as questionable. Some statements were made that I would like to see thoroughly documented. For example, a critic might claim that some of the connections drawn between various people and organizations may or may not be more tenuous than the narration noted. However, it would be ludicrous for any biblically minded believer to deny that large-movement evangelicalism is speeding quickly in a bad direction; that some of the very best leaders in key evangelical institutions do not appear to be trying very hard (if at all) to reverse the drift; and that many other key leaders are aggressively promoting wokeism, identity politics, and other ideas that clearly obscure the straightforward simplicity of the gospel. Those are all legitimate—and weighty—concerns. In the 1970s, all conservative evangelicals regarded the Sojourners organization as a left-wing outlier and a threat to orthodoxy because of the socialist and radical political agenda they were pushing. Today that point of view is considered mainstream in the larger evangelical movement. Such a profound shift does raise vital questions (or should I say "serious doubts"?) about whether we are truly together for the same gospel. "Enemies Within the Church" demands a careful inquiry and answers to those questions. Phil's signature
I Thessalonians 4: 3-8INTRODUCTION:Paul reveals in this passage that God's will for us is that we be sanctified. The word sanctified means to be set apart for a holy use. When God saved us, it was his will that our bodies be set apart as a temple in which His Holy Spirit would reside. Paul tells us in I Corinthians 3: 16, "Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you." Just like God's presence dwelt in the Holy of Holies in the Old Testament, so His Spirit dwells in the heart of the believer today. Our body is to be set apart for His purpose. It is to be holy, clean and dedicated to Him. To live a life to where we open our heart to sin is to resist the leading of the Spirit. His desire is to lead us to live a life of righteousness and holiness. When we resist His leadership, we end up quenching and grieving the Holy Spirit. That will then deprive us of the joy that only the Holy Spirit can give. It will also end up depriving us of the power that only he can give.  Sanctification therefore calls for us to live a holy and pure life. The sanctified life is a life that resists and overcomes temptation. Because we have an Adamic nature bent toward sin, temptation is an ongoing, inward struggle that we never fight a final battle with. But, if we don't fight these daily battles with temptation, sin can eventually overcome us and leave us addicted to habits and overcome with strongholds. The sin that overcomes and becomes a stronghold doesn't have to be a scandalous sin-- it can be a respectable sin. There are many who have been overtaken with pride, greed, sins of the tongue and sinful attitudes.  However, Paul uses this passage to deal with scandalous sin-- sexual immorality. Let's understand something. Believers can commit such sin or Paul wouldn't have given us this warning. He says, don't act like the Gentiles v. 5. Also remember, David, a man after God's own heart committed adultery. If he could fall, let us not think that we are above falling. Believers can be tempted by the pleasures of sin as much as an unbeliever.   WHY SEXUAL IMMORALITY IS WRONG Sexual immorality is wrong because it violates God's purpose for the family. One of the reasons God ordained the family is because of the need for human companionship. God saw man in the garden of Eden and He said that it was not good that man should be alone. Because of man's need of a companion, a mate, God made the woman for the man. God then brought the woman to the man and gave her away to the man. God also ordained that the man and woman become one flesh. Certainly, this is an allusion to the sexual aspect of marriage. In the marriage relationship, sex was to be used to express love, oneness and intimacy. It was also intended to bring mutual pleasure to each partner. Sex was also to be used to bring forth children as a result of a loving relationship between a husband and wife. This is why Hebrews 13: 4 says, "Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled." To have sex outside marriage undermines God's purpose for marriage, which by the way, is one man for one woman until death do us part.  Sexual sin is wrong because it is a sin against others. In verse six, Paul states that sexual immorality defrauds. First, sexual immorality is a sin against our mate. It destroys the trust in our mate that is needed for a healthy marriage to survive. I realize that the offended party may be asked to forgive and that that forgiveness may be readily given. But, there is a difference between forgiving and having trust restored. It could take years for a broken trust to be restored. Sexual immorality also destroys the self esteem of the innocent party. Many an innocent victim of an unfaithful partner is left asking a question that shouldn't be asked, "What was it about me that fell short in satisfying my mate?" Satan likes it when the innocent party blames themselves for the sin committed by an unfaithful partner. Sexual immorality also defrauds our mate by giving something to someone else that should only belong to our mate. The Bible teaches that the husband's body belongs to the wife and the wife's body belongs to the husband. Sexual immorality takes something precious away from our spouse and gives it to someone who is underserving.  Sexual immorality is also a sin against the other guilty party. It is a sin against the one who's body has been used for selfish gratification. Let's face it. Most immoral relationships have nothing to do with love-- only for selfish physical gratification. It is a time when two people simply use one another. Sexual immorality is also a sin against the guilty party's mate. That person has been defrauded just as much as the offender's mate. This is why Proverbs 6: 30-35 states that there is no restitution that an adulterer can pay that will undo the sin and satisfied the offended parties. Sexual immorality is also a sin against our own bodies. I Corinthians 6: 18, "Every sin that a man does is outside his body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body." GOD HIMSELF WILL DEAL WITH ONE WHO COMMITS SEXUAL IMMORALITY V. 6 God will deal with such because this sin is a rejection of His commands and as such is a rejection of His Person. Notice how God deals with a sexually immoral person. A sexually immoral person will receive dishonor and a reproach that will never be wiped away-- Proverbs 6: 33. This was certainly true of King David. We remember him as a man after God's own heart. But aside from his fight with Goliath, what we remember most about David was his affair with Bathsheba. David's dishonor has never been wiped away or forgotten. Even in our day, people don't remember the good that Jimmy Swaggart or Jim Bakker did. They remember the immoral behavior. That same thing can even be said of politicians. Presidents Kennedy and Clinton both left tarnished legacies because of their womanizing. A sexually immoral person will receive dishonor and a reproach that will never be wiped away.A sexually immoral person can be judged by disease and death. No one ever has to worry about a Sexually Transmitted Disease if they follow God's plan. Abstinence before married and faithfulness to our marriage partner take care of the problem of disease. Disease and death follow the immoral.  CONCLUSION: How do we avoid sexual immorality? First, realize that all of us can be tempted. Even a man after God's own heart fell. Second, avoid things which might tempt us. TV and radio promote immoral lifestyles. Be careful what you allow inside your thought process. As a man thinks in his heart, so is he. Also, avoid pornography. Jesus said if we look at a woman to lust after her we have committed adultery. Pornography will fill the mind with such images that sexual immorality is seen to be normal. Pornography will destroy a marriage. It is also addictive. To aid in this battle www.xxxchurch.com has some accountability software that should be on every man's computer. This is free software, so no one has an excuse as to not be accountable. Finally, to avoid sexual immorality, stay in love with your spouse. Don't allow a moment of pleasure to bring you a lifetime of guilt, shame and reproach.
Your weekly Dose of SpurgeonThe PyroManiacs devote some space each weekend to highlights from the lifetime of works from the Prince of Preachers, Charles Haddon Spurgeon.  The following excerpt is from the MTP, volume 14, sermon number 843, "Effectual calling."  Image result for charles spurgeon"Brethren, it is no child's play to be a Christian." Many have I known who have had a call of a certain sort, who have tried to go to Canaan and yet to stop at Haran. They would fain serve God and yet live as they used to live. They think it possible to be a Christian and yet to be a servant of the world. They attempt the huge impossibility of yoking the Lion of the tribe of Judah and the lion of the pit in the same chariot, and driving through the streets of life therewith.Ah, sirs! the call which comes from God brings a man right out, while the call which only comes to your fleshly nature leaves us with the rest of mankind, and will leave us there to be bound up in the same bundle with sinners, and cast into the same fire. Many come out of Egypt but never arrive at Canaan, like the children of Israel who left their carcasses in the wilderness, their hearts are not sound towards the Lord.They start fairly, but the taste of the garlic and the onions lingers in their mouth, and holds their minds by Egypt's fleshpots still. Like the planets, they are affected by two impulses: one would draw them to heaven, but another would drive them off at a tangent to the world; and so they revolve, like the mill-horse, without making progress; continuing still nominally to fear the Lord, and yet to serve other gods practically and in their hearts.Beware, dear friends, of the call which makes you set out, but does not lead you to hold out. Pray that this text may be true to you, “They went forth to go into the land of Canaan, and to the land of Canaan they came.” Do not be content with praying to be saved, never be satisfied until you are saved.Do not be content with trying to believe and trying to repent; come to Christ, and both repent and believe, and give no slumber to your eyelids till you are a penitent believer. Make a full and complete work of your believing. Strive not to reach the strait gate, but to enter it. For this you must have a call from the Lord of heaven.I can call you as I have called many of you scores of times, and you have gone a little way, and you have bidden fair to go the whole way; but when your goodness has been as a morning cloud and as the early dew, it soon has been scattered and has gone. God grant you yet to receive the call of his eternal Spirit, that you may be saved.
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