26 June 2016

“Not so much"

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Your weekly Dose of Spurgeon
The 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 Words of Counsel, pages 106-107, Pilgrim Publications.
"I am afraid that this is a magazine-reading age, a newspaper-reading age, a periodical-reading age, but not so much a Bible-reading age as it ought to be."

 In Puritanic times men used to have a scant supply of other literature, but they found a library enough in the one Book, the Bible. And how they did read the Bible! How little of Scripture there is in modern sermons compared with the sermons of those masters of theology, the Puritanic divines!

Almost every sentence of theirs seems to cast side-lights upon a text of Scripture; not only the one they are preaching about, but many others as well are set in a new light as the discourse proceeds. They introduce blended lights from other passages which are parallel or semi-parallel thereunto, and thus they educate their readers to compare spiritual things with spiritual.

I would to God that we ministers kept more closely to the grand old Book! We should be instructive preachers if we did so, even if we were ignorant of “modern thought,” and were not “abreast of the times.” I warrant you we should be leagues ahead of our times if we kept closely to the Word of God.

As for you who have not to preach, the best food for you is the Word of God itself. Sermons and books are well enough, but streams that run for a long distance above ground gradually gather for themselves somewhat of the soil through which they flow, and they lose the cool freshness with which they started from the spring head.

Truth is sweetest where it breaks from the smitten Rock, for at its first gush it has lost none of its heavenliness and vitality. It is always best to drink at the well and not from the tank.

You shall find that reading the Word of God for yourselves, reading it rather than notes upon it, is the surest way of growing in grace. Drink of the unadulterated milk of the Word of God, and not of the skim milk, or the milk and water of man’s word.

19 June 2016

On avoiding the pigpen

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Your weekly Dose of Spurgeon
The 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 Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, volume 43, sermon number 2,525, "Joy in place of sorrow."
"True Christians need never covet the poor joy of worldlings."

We cannot fall into the insanity of living with such miserable ends and objects as those which are compassed within the short pale of our existence here below. It has become slavery to us; and I bear witness for myself and for you also, that we do not forsake the pleasures of the world because we think that we are denying ourselves. It is no self-denial to us, for they would not please us.

I have gone by a whole line of sties, and seen the pigs feeding greedily; but I never thought that I was denying myself because I did not feed with them. I never wished to have a law passed that the unclean beasts should not have their swill.

No, let them have it, and as much as they can eat; and we say just the same of the pleasures of the carnal man. We do not envy him that which is so great a relish, it is no self-denial to us to go without it; we have come out of that style of living, and we do not want to go back to it.

When the man says that he is perfectly happy and satisfied, we think, “Just so; no doubt you are, and we have seen many a fat bullock in the field look perfectly content.” But Christians have different pleasures, and higher joys; and we cannot be bullocks, we cannot be swine.

We have been brought out of that kind of merely animal life, we have been lifted up into another and a higher style of living; and it is nothing short of a miracle of the divine hand which has brought us right out of it, so that we have done with it for ever, and loathe it, and could not go back to it under any circumstances whatever.

Old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. The Lord has brought us out of the region of darkness into his marvellous light, and delivered us for ever from the power and dominion of Satan.

12 June 2016

We can die, but we cannot deny

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Your weekly Dose of Spurgeon
The 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 Lectures to my Students, Second series, pages 45-46, Pilgrim Publications.
"Truth has not fully given thee her friendship till all thy doings are marked with her seal."

We must show our decision for the truth by the sacrifices we are willing to make. This is, indeed, the most efficient as well as the most trying method. We must be ready to give up anything and everything for the sake of the principles which we have espoused, and must be ready to offend our best supporters, to alienate our warmest friends, sooner than belie our consciences.

We must be ready to be beggars in purse, and offscourings in reputation, rather than act treacherously. We can die, but we cannot deny the truth. The cost is already counted, and we are determined to buy the truth at any price, and sell it at no price.

Too little of this spirit is abroad now-a-days. Men have a saving faith, and save their own persons from trouble; they have great discernment, and know on which side their bread is buttered; they are large-hearted, and are all things to all men, if by any means they may save a sum.

There are plenty of curs about, who would follow at the heel of any man who would keep them in meat. They are among the first to bark at decision, and call it obstinate dogmatism, and ignorant bigotry. Their condemnatory verdict causes us no distress; it is what we expected.

05 June 2016

Not “ought" but “must"


Your weekly Dose of Spurgeon
The 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 Lectures to my Students, pages 48-49, Pilgrim Publications. 
"Never can you be short of themes for prayer, even if no one should suggest them to you."

Might not Henry Martyn’s journal shame us, where we find such entries as these; “Sept. 24th—The determination with which I went to bed last night, of devoting this day to prayer and fasting, I was enabled to put into execution.

In my first prayer for deliverance from worldly thoughts, depending on the power and promises of God, for fixing my soul while I prayed, I was helped to enjoy much abstinence from the world for nearly an hour. Then read the history of Abraham, to see how familiarly God had revealed himself to mortal men of old.

Afterwards, in prayer for my own sanctification, my soul breathed freely and ardently after the holiness of God, and this was the best season of the day.” We might perhaps more truly join with him in his lament after the first year of his ministry that “he judged he had dedicated too much time to public ministrations, and too little to private communion with God.”

How much of blessing we may have missed through remissness in supplication we can scarcely guess, and none of us can know how poor we are in comparison with what we might have been if we had lived habitually nearer to God in prayer.

Vain regrets and surmises are useless, but an earnest determination to amend will be far more useful. We not only ought to pray more, but we must. 

02 June 2016

The Fruits of True Evangelism

by Frank Turk

From 2006 to 2012, PyroManiacs turned out almost-daily updates from the Post-Evangelical wasteland -- usually to the fear and loathing of more-polite and more-irenic bloggers and readers. The results lurk in the archives of this blog in spite of the hope of many that Google will "accidentally" swallow these words and pictures whole.

This feature enters the murky depths of the archives to fish out the classic hits from the golden age of internet drubbings.

The following excerpt was written by Frank back in July 2012. It was the third of a three-part post on evangelism, derived from an transcript of a talk that Frank gave at the 2012 Call to Discernment Conference.

As usual, the comments are closed.
Let me say this as plainly as possible: as human beings, we have a great eye for the faults of other people’s way of doing things, and not much of an eye for what we ourselves are doing poorly. The challenge in the balance of our key passage from the book of Acts is to see that all kinds of evangelism falls so far short of the first act of evangelism that we ought to be embarrassed by all of them rather than justifying our way over another method which, obviously, gets so much wrong.

True evangelism is going to get people convicted of sin and get them grateful to God – and draw them into a community of believers. The problem we as believers face is that we don’t act like these things go together. And this contributes to the problems that exist in the church today.

Here is what I am not about to say: I am not about to say that there is no value in personal evangelism or open-air preaching. I am not saying you ought not to declare the Gospel, and also never to be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that is in you. Evangelism is necessary and important. But Evangelism that saves people to a solitary life of independent Bible reading and no connection to other believers, no way to mature in the faith, no accountability to Elders and to other people who love them and Christ is a recipe for failure – and a model found no where in the New Testament.

When Peter evangelized the Jews in Jerusalem at Pentecost, he did not save them to some kind of smug and solitary lifestyle. Peter preached to them so that the following things must happen:

• Those evangelized must repent and be baptized be baptized into the family of God. Look: there is nothing magical or metaphysical about baptism. It is utterly right to say that the thief on the cross was saved and entered into the kingdom of God without even a mere sprinkle, let alone a proper full-body submersion in water. But unless you are evangelizing on death row just before someone is executed, your message ought to be Peter’s message: repent and be baptized. Get added to the assembly of God’s people – not in theory, or in your head, but into a real body of local believers. If Christ’s commands are commands and not requests, you yourself ought to belong to a local church, and the goal of your actions ought to be to add people to a local church. Getting a confession of sin from people without turning them over to local elders and pastors for the care of their soul is spiritual malpractice.

• Those evangelized must be devoted to the apostles' teaching.  I guess I don’t understand how any activity is called “evangelism” or can pose as “obedience” when what it does is cause people to be accountable to no one and set up for failure rather than success. Think about this: if you hire somebody at work, you don’t tell them, “well, thanks for you application: we accept you! Now you set your own schedule, you define your own work, you tell me when you’re successful and when you’re slacking off.” The very least you do for someone new to a job is to train them in the basics and give them a schedule so they know when and where they need to show up. We can’t expect someone who knows nothing about Jesus or the Bible to do self-service discipleship.

• Those evangelized must be devoted to corporate worship.  Acts tells us those Peter evangelized did this: “And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people.” That is: they spent time together making God the most important thing.  It also says they were “together and [had] all things in common -- They were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need.”

Look: that’s a commitment to other people bigger than an intellectual commitment to the idea that God has an invisible church of truly-saved people which (you hope) you are adding people to. It means that in some way Christ dying for you doesn’t simply give you a right to call God “Father”: it gives you a role in a family, a place in a close community where we ought to be willing to suffer for and suffer with each other through the challenges in Life. It paints a picture of worship which is greater than the temple, a kind of worship which is both in Spirit and in Truth.