A Church MUST Pray

by Frank Jones

One necessity of every professing New Testament churches is PRAYER. It is one of the four non-negotiables for all New Testament churches (Act 2:42). When I came to my present ministry in 2001, I asked for such commitment from its congregation. I quoted Spurgeon's acceptance at New Park Street.

"And now one thing is due to every minister, and I pray you to remind the church of it, namely, that in private, as well as public, they must all earnestly wrestle in prayer to the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, that I may be sustained in the great work."

I never asked anyone whether that commitment was accepted by the church (or even if they notified of my request). When Archibald Brown went to the Stepney Green Tabernacle, he took notice of their non-solicited commitment to individual and corporate prayer.

"I think of thirty years ago, when I stood on Stepney Green for the first time in my life and looked across at that chapel that was pointed out to me as Stepney Green Tabernacle, then in want of a pastor. And I think of those who gathered round me in those early days and said, 'Well, pastor, you preach, and we will pray.' They constituted a noble band." (Murray, Iain. Archibald Brown, Banner of Truth, 38)

My heart yearns for such reviving in professing Christian churches.

Educating Preachers

by Frank Jones

"When the Pastor's College was fairly moulded into shape, we had before us but one object, and that was, the glory of God by the preaching of the gospel. To preach with acceptance, men, lacking in education, need to be instructed; and therefore our Institution set itself further to instruct those whom God had evidently called to preach the gospel, but who labored under early disadvantages. We never dreamed of making men preachers, but we desired to help those whom God had already called to be such. Hence, we laid down, as a basis, the condition that a man must, during about two years, have been engaged in preaching, and must have had some seals to his ministry, before we could entertain his application. No matter how talented or promising he might appear to be, the College could not act upon mere hopes, but must have evident marks of a Divine call, so far as human judgment can discover them. This became a main point with us, for we wanted, not men whom our tutors could make into scholars, but men whom the Lord had ordained to be preachers." (Spurgeon, C.H. Spurgeon: the Early Years, vol. 1, Banner of Truth, 386.)

"Hold on somehow!"

by Frank Jones

"On November 30 [1878], a group gathered in the old market house to hear [Archibald Brown] for the first time. They were not yet formed as a church and it was scarcely a lively group that the newcomer found. As well as taking the service, he had to open the doors, dust the chairs, and find himself a glass of water. His remuneration was the not over-genuous sum of 2 shillings and 6 pence. The Sword and the Trowel would later report this story of Brown's first Sundays in Bromley:

On the Monday following his second visit, in reply to an enquiry as to 'how he got on', he answered that his sermon had some effect, for the congregation of 18 persons on the first occasion had come down to 12: he had evidently 'moved' half a dozen. The next Monday he reported further progress in the same direction, for he had but 6 hearers on the third occasion, and he remarked that it only required another Sunday to finish the work.'

... Part of Spurgeon's Friday duties, after the class was over, was to hear men's accounts of where they had preached, and this gave Archie the opportunity to state the poor prospects he was facing. The response was memorable, 'Hold on with your teeth, and if you cannot hold on with your teeth, hold on with your eye-lashes -- but hold on somehow!' Brown did 'hold on'." (Murray, Iain. Archibald Brown, Banner of Truth, 34-35)

A Little Plain Speaking

by Frank Jones

"[Archibald] Brown would later say that his first pulpit was a wheelbarrow, turned upside down, on which he sat to read the Bible and talk to these workmen in their break from work. Certainly he had all the zeal of a young convert. One day at this period, as he went up Streatham Hill he overtook one of his friends on his way to play cricket, and still as careless as he had so recently been. Immediately Brown faced him with the question, ‘Carlile, do you know where you are going?’ and brushing aside a response about cricket, Archie told him, ‘You’re going to hell.’ Unwelcome although the words were, his friend would later say he wished he had heeded the warning at the time." (Murray, Iain. Archibald G. Brown: Spurgeon’s Successor, Banner of Truth, 16.)

Satisfied with Future Explanation?

by Frank Jones

"What I do you do not realize now, but you will understand hereafter." (Joh 13:7)

"Thus far, then, and in the question itself, I see nothing but the most profound and beautiful astonishment at an act of condescension which appeared to him quite incomprehensible. And accordingly you will observe that as yet our Lord administers no rebuke, but only bids him wait a little, and he shall understand it all ... for indeed it was not long that he had to wait for an answer from his Master's lips (verses 12, 13). ... And now, surely, with such a promise as this, Peter will be perfectly satisfied. But no; but, instead of this, he says: 'Thou shalt never wash my feet' - more emphatically, 'never shalt thous wash my feet.' What obstinacy is this! It is impossible any longer to defend Peter; his conduct admits not of the least palliation or excuse; it amounts to positive rebellion. The element of pride and self-righteousness, which might have been secretly working in his heart before, is now fully developed, and stands forth undisguised. And yet how often may the believer be guilty of the same conduct still, spurning away from him the offers of the Savior's grace. Ah! brethren, it is not true humility to refuse what the Savior offers to do for us, or to deny what he may have already done for us, in his grace. No, this is not true humility, but pride -lofty self-presumption- not rare, however in certain circles of lofty religious profession and traditional spirituality. The truest humility is reverentially to accept, and thankfully to acknowledge, all the blessings of his grace." (Ross, Charles. The Inner Sanctuary, 22, 23)

Devil's Mission of Amusement (Archibald Brown)

by Frank Jones

This was an 7-page tract published in 1889 by Archibald Brown (a contemporary of C.H. Spurgeon) in the late 1800's. It is lengthy for a blog post but through it relevant. We are over a century pass it's publication. As to the obvious, it has not gotten better. (The text is freely available in many internet locations.)

The Church's Task-Entertainment or Evangelization?

The Devil's Mission of Amusement

By Archibald Brown

          Different days demand their own special testimony.  The watchman who would be faithful to his Lord and the city of his God has need to carefully note the signs of the times and emphasize his witness accordingly.  Concerning the testimony needed now, there can be little, if any, doubt.  An evil is in the professed camp of the Lord, so gross, so brazen in its impudence, that the most shortsighted of spiritual men can hardly fail to notice it. During the past few years it has developed at an abnormal rate, ever for evil, It has worked like leaven until now the whole lump ferments, Look which way you may, its presence makes itself manifest.  There is little if anything to choose between Church, Chapel, or Mission Hall.  However they may differ in some respects, they bear a striking likeness in the posters that figure upon and disfigure their notice boards.  Amusement for the people is the leading article advertised by each.  If any of my readers doubt my statement, or think my utterance too sweeping, let them take a tour of inspection and study "the announcements for the week" at the doors of the sanctuaries of the neighborhood; or let them read the religious advertisements in their local papers.  I have done this again and again, until the hideous fact has been proved up to the hilt, that "amusement" is ousting "the preaching of the Gospel" as the great attraction."Concerts," "Entertainments," "Fancy Fairs," "Smoking Conferences," "Dramatic Performances," are the words honoured with biggest type and most startling colours.  The Concert is fast becoming as much a recognized part of church life as the Prayer Meeting, and is already, in most places, far better attended.

          "Providing recreation for the people" will soon be looked upon as a necessary part of Christian work and as binding upon the Church of God, as though it were a Divine command, unless some strong voice be raised which will make themselves heard.  I do not presume to possess such a voice, but I do entertain the hope that I may awaken some louder echoes.  Anyway, the burden of the Lord is upon me in this matter, and I leave it with Him to give my testimony ringing tone, or to let it die away in silence.  I shall have delivered my soul in either case.  Yet the conviction fills my mind that in all parts of the country there are faithful men and women who see the danger and deplore it and will endorse my witness and my warning.

          It is only during the past few years that "amusement" has become a recognized weapon of our warfare and developed into a mission.  There has been a steady "down grade" in this respect.  From "speaking out," as the Puritans did, the Church has gradually toned down her testimony: then winked at and excused the frivolities of the day.  Then she has tolerated them in her borders, and now she has adopted them and provided a home for them under the plea of "reaching the masses and getting the ear of the people." The devil has seldom done a cleverer thing than hinting to the Church of Christ that part of her mission is to provide entertainment for the people with a view to winning them into her ranks.  The human nature that lies in every heart has risen to the bait.  Here, now, is an opportunity of gratifying the flesh and yet retaining a comfortable conscience.  We can now please ourselves in order to do good to others.  The rough old cross can be exchanged for a "costume," and the exchange can be made with the benevolent purpose of elevating the people.

          All this is terribly sad, and the more so because truly gracious souls are being led away by the specious pretext that it is a form of Christian work.  They forget that a seemingly beautiful angel may be the devil himself, "for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light" (2 Cor. 11:14).

Not Supported By Scripture

I.  My first contention is that providing amusement for the people is nowhere spoken of in Holy Scripture as one of the functions of the church.  What her duties are will come under our notice later on.  At present it is the negative side of the question that we are dealing with.  Now, surely, if our Lord had intended His Church to be the caterer of entertainment, and so counteract the god of this world, He would hardly have left so important a branch of service unmentioned.  If it is Christian work, why did not Christ at least hint it?  "Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature," is clear enough.  So would it have been if He had added, "and provide amusement for those who do not relish the Gospel." No such addendum, however, is to be found, nor even an equivalent for such, in any one of our Lords utterances.  This style of work did not seem to occur to His mind.  Then again, Christ, as an ascended Lord, gives to His Church specially qualified men for the carrying on of His work, but no mention of any gift for this branch of service occurs in the list.  "He gave some, apostles;. and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers - for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ," Where do the "public entertainers" come in?  The Holy Ghost is silent concerning them, and his silence is eloquence.

If "providing recreation" be a part of the Church's work, surely we may look for some promise to encourage her in the toilsome task. Where is it?  There is a promise for "My Word"; it "shall not return unto Me void." There is the heart-rejoicing declaration concerning the Gospel: "it is the power of God." There is the sweet assurance for the preacher of Christ that, whether he be successful or not as the world judges success - he is "sweet savour unto God." There is the glorious benediction for those whose testimony, so far from amusing the world, rouses its wrath: "Blessed are ye when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for My sake.  Rejoice, and be exceedingly glad: for great is your reward in heaven; for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you." Were the prophets persecuted because they amused the people, or because they refused to?  The Gospel of amusement has no martyrology.  In vain does one look for a promise from God for providing recreation for a godless world.  That which has no authority from Christ, no provision made for it by the Spirit, no promise attached to it by God, can only be a lying hypocrite when it lays claim to be "a branch of the work of the Lord"

Not Taught By The Saviour

II.  But again, providing amusement for the people is in direct antagonism to the teaching and life of Christ and all his apostles.  What is to be the attitude of the Church towards the world according to our Lord's teaching?  Strict separation and uncompromising hostility.  While no hint ever passed His lips of winning the World by pleasing it, or accommodating methods to its taste, His demand for unworldliness was constant and emphatic.  He sets forth in one short sentence what He would have His disciples to be: "Ye are the salt of the earth." Yes, the salt: not the sugar-candy nor a "lump of delight." Something the world will be more inclined to spit out than swallow with a smile.  Something more calculated to bring water to the eye than laughter to the lip.

          Short and sharp is the utterance, "Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God." "If ye were of the world, the world would live his own; but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you." "In the world ye shall have tribulation but be of good cheer; for I have overcome the world.." "I have given them Thy Word, and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world."

          "My kingdom is not of this world." These passages are hard to reconcile with the modern idea of the Church providing recreation for those who have no taste for more serious things - in other words, of conciliating the world.  If they teach anything at all, it is that fidelity to Christ will bring down the world's wrath, and that Christ intended His disciples to share with Him the world's scorn and rejection.  How did Jesus act?  What were the methods of the only perfectly "faithful witness" the Father has ever had?

          As none will question that He is to be the worker's model, let us gaze upon Him.  How significant the introductory account given by Mark, "Now, after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee preaching the Gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the Gospel." And again, in the same chapter, I find Him saying, in answer to the announcement of His disciples that all men were seeking for Him, "Let us go into the next towns that I may preach there also, for therefore came I forth.  Matthew tells us, "And it came to pass when Jesus had made an end of commanding His twelve disciples, He departed thence to teach and preach in their cities." In answer to John's question, "Art Thou He that should come?" He replies, "Go and show John those things which ye do hear and see; the blind receive their sight, and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up, and the poor have the Gospel preached to them." There is no item in the catalogue after this sort.  "And the careless are amazed, and the perishing are provided with innocent recreation.  "

          We are not left in doubt as to the matter of His preaching, for "when many were gathered together, insomuch that there was no room to receive them, no, not so much as about the door, He preached the Word unto them," There was no change of method adopted by the Lord during His course of ministry; no learning by experience of a better plan.  His first word of command to His evangelists was, "As ye go, preach." His last, "Preach the Gospel to every creature." Not an evangelist suggests that at any time during His ministry He turned aside from preaching to entertain, and so attract the people.  He was in awful earnestness, and his ministry was like Himself.  Had He been less uncompromising, and introduced more of the "bright and pleasant" element into His mission, He would have been more popular.

          Yet, when many of His disciples went back. because of the searching nature of His preaching, I do not find there was any attempt to increase a diminished congregation by resorting to something more pleasant to the flesh.  I do not hear Him saying, "We must keep up the gatherings anyway: so run after those friends, Peter, and tell them we will have a different style of service tomorrow.  Something very short and attractive, with little, if any, preaching.  Today was a service for God, but tomorrow we will have a pleasant evening for the people.  Tell them they will be sure to enjoy it, and have a happy hour.  Be quick, Peter; we must get the public somehow,- if not by Gospel, then by nonsense.  " No, this was not how He argued.  Gazing in sorrow on those who would not hear the Word, He simply turns to the twelve, and asks, "Will ye also go away?

          Jesus pitied sinners, pleaded with them, sighed over them, warned them, and wept over them; but never sought to amuse them, When the evening shadows of His consecrated life were deepening into the night of death, He reviewed His holy ministry, and found comfort and sweet solace in the thought, "I have given them Thy Word." As with the Master, so with His apostles- their teaching is the echo of His.  In vain will the epistles be searched to discover any trace of a gospel of amusement.  The same call for separation from the world rings in everyone, "But not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed," is the word of command in the Romans.  "Come out from among them. and be ye separate and touch not the unclean thing." It is the trumpet call in the Corinthians. Ln other words it is come out - keep out - keep clean out - for "what communion hath light with darkness, and what concord hath Christ with Belial?"

          "God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom the world is crucified unto me and J unto the world. " Here is the true relationship between the Church and the world according to the Epistle to the Galatians.  "Be not ye, therefore, partakers with them.  Have no fellowship with the unf ruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them," is the attitude enjoined in Ephesians.  "Sons of God without rebuke in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world: holding forth the Word of life," is the word in Philippians.  "Dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world," says the Epistle to the Colossians, "Abstain from all appearance of evil" is the demand in Thessalonians.

          "If a man, therefore, purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the Master's use," is the word to Timothy.  "Let us go forth, therefore, unto Him without the camp, bearing His reproach," is the heroic summons of the Hebrews.  James, with holy severity, declares that "The friendship of the world is enmity with God; whosoever, therefore, will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God." Peter writes: "Not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance; but as He which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation".  John writes a whole epistle, the gist of which is, "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.  And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof, but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever."

          Here are the teachings of the apostles concerning the relationship of the Church and the world.  And yet, in the face of them, what do we see and hear?  A friendly compromise between the two, and an insane effort to work in partnership for the good of the people.  God help us, and dispel the strong delusion.  How did the apostles carry on their mission work?  Was it in harmony with their teaching?

Let the Acts of the Apostles give the answer.

          Anything approaching the worldly tooling of to-day is conspicuous by its absence.  The early evangelists had boundless confidence in the power of the Gospel, and employed no other weapon.  Pentecost followed plain preaching.  When Peter and John had been locked up for the night for preaching the resurrection, the early Church had a prayer meeting. Directly they returned, and the petition offered for the two was, "And now, Lord, grant unto Thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak Thy word.  "They had no thought of praying, "Grant unto Thy servants more policy, that by a wise and discriminating use of innocent recreation they may avoid the offence of the cross, and sweetly show this people how happy and merry a lot we are."

          The charge brought against the apostles by the members of the Council was, "Ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine." Not much chance of this charge being brought against modern methods.  The description of their work is, "And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ," Then, it they "ceased not" from this, they had no
time for arranging for entertainments: they gave themselves continually to the ministry of the word.  Scattered by persecution, the early disciples "Went everywhere preaching the word."

          When Philip went to Samaria, and was the means of bringing "great joy in that city," the only recorded method is, "He preached Christ unto them." When the apostles went to visit the scene of his labours it is stated, "And they, when they had testified and preached the word of the Lord, returned to Jerusalem, and preached the Gospel in many villages of the Samaritans." As they went back to Jerusalem directly they had finished their preaching, it is evident they did not think in their mission to stay and organize some "pleasant evenings" for the people who did not believe.

          The congregations in those days did not expect anything but the word of the Lord, for Cornelius says to Peter, "We all are here present before God, to hear all things that are commanded thee of God." The message given was, "Words whereby thou and all thine house shall be saved." Cause and effect are closely linked in the statement, "Men of Cyrene spake unto the Grecians, preaching the Lord Jesus; and the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number believed, and turned to the Lord."  Here you have their method - they preached.  Their matter - the Lord Jesus.  Their power - the hand of the Lord was with them.  Their success - many believed.

          What more does the Church of God require to-day?  When Paul and Barnabas worked together, the record is, "The Lord gave testimony unto the word of His grace," When Paul, in a vision, hears a man of Macedonia saying, "Come over and help us," he assuredly gathers that the Lord had called him to preach the Gospel unto them.  Why so?  How did he know but that the help needed was the brightening of their lives by a little amusement, or the refining of their manners by a collection of paintings?  He never thought of such things.  "Come and help us!" meant to him, "Preach the Gospel." "And Paul:, as his manner was, went in unto them, and reasoned with them out of the Scriptures" - not "about" the scriptures, mark, but "out" of them - "opening and alleging that Christ must needs have suffered and rise from the dead." That was the "manner" of evangelistic work in those days, and it seems to have been wonderfully powerful; for the verdict of the people is, "These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also." Just now the world is turning the Church upside down; that is the only difference.

          When God told Paul that He had much people in Corinth, I read, "And he continued there a year and six months, teaching the Word of God among them." Evidently then, he judged that the only way to bring them was by the Word.  A year and a half, and only one method adopted. Wonderful!  We should have had a dozen in that time!  But then Paul never reckoned that providing something pleasant for the ungodly was part of his ministry; for, on his way to Jerusalem and martyrdom, he says, "Neither count my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the Gospel of the grace of God."  This was all the ministry he knew.  The last description we have of the methods of this prince of evangelists is of a piece with all that has gone before, "He expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses and out of the prophets, from morning til evening, preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus." What a contrast to all the rot and nonsense now being perpetrated in the holy name of Christ!  The Lord clear the Church of all the rubbish that the devil has imposed upon her, and bring us back again to apostolic methods!

Not Spiritually Fruitful

III.  Lastly.  The mission of amusement utterly falls to effect the desired end among the unsaved; but It works havoc among the young converts.  Were it a success, it would be none the less wrong. Success belongs to God. Faithfulness to His instructions belongs to me, But it is not, "test it even by this", and it is a contemptible failure.  Let that be the method which is answered by fire, and the verdict will be, "The preaching of the Word, that is the power." Let us see the converts who have been first won by amusement.  Let the harlots and the drunkards to whom a dramatic entertainment has been God's first link in the chain of their conversion stand forth.  Let the careless
and the scoffers who have cause to thank God that the Church has relaxed her spirit of separation and met them half-way in their worldliness, speak and testify.  Let the husbands,, wives, and children, who rejoice in a new and holy home through "Sunday Evening Lectures on Social Questions" tell out their joy.  Let the weary, heavy-laden souls who have found peace through a concert, no longer keep silence.  Let the men and women who have found Christ through the reversal of apostolic methods declare the same, and show the greatness of Paul's blunder when he said, "I determined not to know anything among you save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified." There is neither voice nor any to answer.  The failure is on a par with the folly, and as huge as the sin.  Out of thousands with whom I have personally conversed, the mission of amusement has claimed no convert.

          Now let the appeal be made to those who, repudiating every other method, have staked everything on The Book and The Holy Ghost.  Let them be challenged to produce results.  There is no need.  Blazing sacrifices onevery hand attest the answer by fire.  Ten thousand times ten thousand voices are ready to declare that the plain preaching of the Word was, first and last-, the cause of their salvation, But how about the other side of this matter - what are baneful effects? Are they also nil?  I will here solemnly as before the Lord, give my personal testimony.  Though I have never seen a sinner saved, I have seen any number of backsliders manufactured by this new departure.  Over and over again have young Christians, and sometimes Christians who are not young, come to me in tears, and asked what they were to do, as they had lost all their peace and fallen into evil.  Over and over again has the confession been made, "I began to go wrong by attending worldly amusements
that Christians patronized." It is not very long since that a young man, in an agony of soul, said to me, "I never thought of going to the theater until my minister put it into my heart by preaching that there was no harm in it.  I went, and it has led me from bad to worse and now I am a miserable backslider; and he is responsible for it."

          When young converts begin to "damp off," forsake the gatherings for prayer, and grow worldly, I almost always find that worldly Christianity is responsible for the first downward step.  The mission of amusements is the devil's half-way house to the world.  It is because of what I have seen that I feel deeply, and would fain write strongly.  This thing is working rottenness in the Church of God, and blasting her service for the King.  In the guise of Christianity, it is accomplishing the devil's own work.  Under the pretense of going out to reach the world, it is carrying our sons and daughters into the world, With the plea of "Do not alienate the masses with your strictness," it is seducing the young disciples from the simplicity and the purity that is toward Christ.  Professing to win the world, it is turning the garden of the Lord into a public recreation ground, To fill the temple with those who see no beauty in Christ, a grinning Dragon is put over the doorway.

          It will be no wonder if the Holy Ghost, grieved and insulted, withdraws His presence; for "what concord hath Christ with Belial, and what agreement hath the temple of God with idols?"

          "Come out!" is the call for today.  Sanctify yourselves. Put away the evil from among you.  Cast down the world's altars and cut down her groves. Spurn her offered assistance.  Decline her help, as your Master did the testimony of devils, for "He suffered them not to speak, because they knew Him." Renounce all the policy of the age.  Trample upon Saul's armour. Grasp the Book of God.  Trust the Spirit who wrote its pages.  Fight with this weapon only and always, Cease to amuse and seek to arouse.  Shun the clap of a delighted audience, and listen for the sobs of a convicted one. Give up trying to "please" men who have only the thickness of the ribs between their souls and hell; and warn, and plead, and intreat, as those who feel the waters of eternity creeping upon them.

          Let the Church again confront the world; testify against it; meet it only behind the cross; and, like her Lord, she shall overcome, and with Him share the victory.

    Using God ... ?

    by Frank Jones

    "In Romans 1:22, Paul speaks of human pride in these terms: “Claiming to be wise, they became fools.” Because of sin, we suppress the fact that God is the source of all that we have. We see ourselves as far more important than we are. … Therefore, we are constantly tempted to use God to suit our own sinful ends.

    Perhaps it might help to frame the matter like this: When we become great in our own eyes, our estimation of God and his purposes is necessarily diminished. … A great God makes proud sinners uncomfortable, a diminished God less so. Given our sinful proclivity to exalt ourselves, the diminished God can easily become a means to an end. While such a God is still much bigger and more powerful than we are, nevertheless the smaller we make him, the greater opportunity to manipulate his power to further our sinful ends … , the diminished God exists to do whatever pleases us. On call 24/7, he is there to attend to all our whims and respond to our constant whining. This God is not to be served and adored, rather, he is a means to an end. Like the genie freed from his bottle, this God is there to answer our prayers and give us what we wish.

    Sometimes we use God quite intentionally; other times we do it without even knowing it. The bottom line is that we use God to suit our own ends because we live our lives through the distorted lens of human pride. Inevitably, we see our own interests and agendas as far more important than they really are. From this distorted perspective God exists to enable us to achieve that which we have decreed, that which pleases us – the complete reversal of the two biblical passages just cited (Rom. 1:22; Deut. 8:11-14, 17). This, of course, is the height of human folly and the sad consequence of sinful pride.…

    … Jesus’ messianic mission was not to serve as a walking emergency room or medical clinic. Instead his mission would take him to the cross, the very place the suffering crowds did not want to see him go. The multitudes who sought out Jesus didn’t care about the root cause of their suffering. They just wanted to be healed, right then and there. And they could not see, nor did they much care, how a crucified Jesus would save them from something much greater than sickness. … Sufferers don’t want ultimate solutions as much as they want immediate relief. These crowds saw in Jesus a means to an end. In their eyes, it didn’t matter why Jesus came, it only mattered that he had the power to heal them.

    Because of human sin and pride, they saw in Jesus an opportunity to gain relief. They were using God without even knowing that they were doing so." (Using God, Kim Riddlebarger)

    Jesus' Love to those in the World

    by Frank Jones

    Now before the Feast of the Passover, Jesus knowing that His hour had come that He would depart out of this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end. (John 13:1)

    "But clearly the inspired Evangelist is speaking here of Christ's love to his own that were then in the world, as distinct from that part of the one great family that had already gone home to glory; and to this point, therefore, our attention must for the present be confined. What, then, were some of those ways in which Jesus had specially manifested his love to his own that were then in the world as distinct from those who had already gone home? Indeed, his whole conduct towards them may be briefly summed up in these words: 'He loved them'. He always loved them; and there was not a single word that he ever spake to them, or a single action that he ever performed towards them, but it emanated from his love to them. ... And who can tell in how many ways Jesus loves his own that are in the world still - visiting them with his gracious presence, instructing and guiding them by his word and Spirit, preserving them in his providence, strengthening them by his grace, comforting them with his love, and maturing them for his eternal glory?" (Ross, Charles. The Inner Sanctuary: An Exposition of John Chapters 13-17. Banner of Truth, 8-9, 10)

    An Attack of Literature?

    by Frank Jones

    "The kingdom of Satan would have little to apprehend from an attack of literature, or from any systematic mechanism of external forms. The outworks might be stormed, but the citadel would remain impregnable. 'The prey' will never be 'taken from the mighty, nor the lawful captives delivered,' by any other power than the Ministry of the Gospel clothed with Almighty energy. ... The Christian Ministry is a work of faith; and, that it may be a work of faith, it must be a work of prayer. ... Thus spiritual, enlightened, and encouraging views of the Ministry flow from the habit of diligent waiting on God. ... If then the candidate for the sacred office should never bow his knee, without making the momentum work before him a subject of large supplication, he will do well. But if he should add to his customary times of prayer seasons of retirement, consecrated to the sole purpose of contemplating the work, and separating himself to its service, he will do better. (Bridges, Charles. The Christian Ministry, 62-63)

    Do Not Refuse the One Speaking

    by Frank Jones

    See to it that you do not refuse him who is speaking. For if those did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape who turn away from him who warns from heaven. (Her 12:25)

    "Sinai, once definitive for relating to God, is now outmoded. These verses convey both a temporal and spatial contrast between the two speaking events, and they imply that the new covenant speech requires special attention .... God did speak from a mountaintop at Sinai, but that was in reality an act of condensing; he now speaks from the true heaven, Zion above. Since his new covenant speech comes from heaven itself, the warning is all the more serious. ... For the listeners of this sermon, the injunction not to 'refuse the one who is speaking' must have given the impression that the preacher before them demanded attention to his words. Such an impression was probably intentional: the preacher evidently saw himself standing before his addressees as God's spokesman, delivering his words." (Griffiths, Jonathan. Hebrews and Divine Speech, LNTS, 149.)

    True Grace

    by Frank Jones

    Salt & Light Summer 1994

    By Silvanus, a faithful brother unto you, as I suppose, I have written briefly, exhorting, and testifying that this is the true grace of God wherein ye stand. (1 Pet 5:12)

    The professing church of Jesus Christ is being led astray by a multitude of clamorous voices defining what is the true grace of God. Many people claim that the true grace of God is received by being baptized, joining a church, being sprinkled as an infant, following the Ten Commandments, believing a right creed or doctrine, or even by speaking in “tongues.” Yet the sole basis and authority of our life, the Word of God, states for by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast. (Eph 2:8-9) Salvation is by the grace of God through faith, and nothing we do can merit this salvation because it is not of our works. How can we know if we possess the true grace of God which takes us to heaven or the counterfeit, imitation, satanic grace that casts us unto the Lake of Fire?

    True Grace Practices Holiness in Submission and Patience in Suffering

                Peter testifies that his epistle manifests the qualities and attributes of the true grace of God wherein every true believer is Christ stands. (1 Pet 5:12) The theme of this epistle is holiness in our behavior. (1 Pet 1:15-16) This holiness is seen by a heart attitude which responds by submission to our authorities and by suffering for His name’s sake. (1 Pet 2:11-12, 21-25; 4:1-7) True grace manifested in our hearts does not rail (habitually reproach or have injurious speech) on those whom our Lord has placed in authority over us. Does not our speech betray us as we speak venomously towards our federal, state, and local governments, our employers, our spouses, our parents, or even towards our neighbors, church or pastor? True grace rejoices in meekness (willing to be governed by God) and spends more time on her knees beseeching the throne of grace for our authorities than in criticizing their policies. We are to stand and speak out for the righteousness of Jesus Christ; not in railing but with a broken heart of the love of Christ. Also, true grace teaches us that the born-again believer knows that he has been called to suffer for righteousness sake, therefore he trusts in God concerning his circumstances. (1 Pet 2:21-23) The Christian life is not ease in Zion, but a fight and a struggle against principalities, powers, and spiritual wickedness in high places. (Eph 6:12-18) True grace demands God’s children to arm themselves with the mind of Christ so that they may live their life to the will of God, not to the satisfying of the flesh. (1 Pet 4:1-2) Do we possess the true grace of God in our hearts that habitually cries out for holiness in submission and patient endurance in suffering for Christ? Could it be we do not possess the true grace of God?

    True Grace Teaches Us to Deny Ungodliness and Worldly Lusts

    For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world: (Tit 2:11-12)

                Too many people, who profess the name of Jesus Christ, habitually live in ungodliness and worldly lusts. Yet, the Bible clearly states that true grace teaches Christians to deny worldly lusts and ungodly practices. Can we not hear the Spirit of God that writes against those who have a lifestyle of: fornication, covetousness, idolatry, adultery, sodomy, thieves, drunkards, railers, revilers, extortioners, unclean persons, lasciviousness, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, and revelings? These shall not inherit the kingdom of God. (1 Cor 5:11; 6:9-10; Gal 5:19-21; Eph 5:5-6) Do we not understand that our righteousness must exceed the righteousness of the Pharisee (an external righteousness only) or we shall in no case enter the kingdom of heaven? (Mat 5:20) Our standard is not a church, a pastor, or our imagination. Our standard is the righteousness of Jesus Christ the Lord, who is coming imminently to judge the living and the dead. (1 Pet 4:3-5) Is true grace habitually exhibited in our lives? Could it be we do not possess the true grace of God?

    True Grace of God Abounds in Sacrificial Giving

    Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia; (2 Cor 8:1)

                Does not this condemn our supposedly “Christian” society that glories in her covetous heart and refuses to sacrificially give? That closes her ears to the cry of the poor. That shuts her heart to the millions of souls lost without Christ and will not give to the Great Commission through the local church. (Mat 28:19-20) Who will not read her Bible; believe it, practice it, and then go, and tell others of the marvelous grace of God. True grace, that was on the churches and individuals of Macedonia, gave while in deep poverty and in a great trial of suffering and affliction. Yet it was the abundance of their joy that abounded to their liberality. In fact, Paul was reluctant to ask for a gift from these particular churches because of their poverty. Yet these churches begged Paul to be part of the giving! New Testament Christianity teaches the attitude of contentment with the necessities of food and raiment (1 Tim 6:6-8) and a heart of love which abundantly gives. Do we stand in the true grace of God? Does our heart yearn to give or do we reach out in our desire to be rich and hoard for the last days of the wrath of God? (Jam 5:1-3) Could it be we do not possess the true grace of God?

    True Grace and Salvation is in Jesus Christ

    But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man. (Heb 2:9)

                True grace is the gospel of Jesus Christ. (Act 20:24) The truly saved have this grace abiding in them. (II Corinthians 9:14) True grace can be summed up in one word, Christ. For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. (Joh 1:17) No church or individual is perfect, yet there are certain heart attitudes that define the true child and church of God. They have Christ’s truth and grace living abiding, and working within them daily. They long to rejoice in meekness, desiring willingly to suffer for His name’s sake, growing in the denial of worldly lusts and ungodliness, striving for holiness, and abounding in the grace of giving. Jesus Christ, by the grace of God, tasted death for every man. Jesus was made sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him. (2 Cor 5:21) Christian, will you not grow in the true grace of God? You were not saved by the flesh, neither do you grow spiritually by the flesh, but by the Holy Spirit. As a true sheep of Jesus Christ, will you forsake the sheepfold of the local church and thereby not grow in the grace of God?

                If you do not possess this true grace of God, will you not examine your heart and have repentance towards God and faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ. (Act 20:21) Will you not lay aside your external “man-made salvations” of church memberships, baptisms, sprinklings, believing right creeds, speaking in “tongues”, and trying to obey the Ten Commandments. Behold Christ dying for you! O’sinner, be saved! Look unto Christ! Seek the Word of God. Know that the Word of God and the true church of God points only to the Resurrected Christ. Come to Christ He will receive you!

    Where is the Salt?

    by Frank Jones

    "If the house is dark when nightfall comes, don't blame the house (that's what happens when the sun sets). The question to ask is "Where is the light?" If the meat goes bad and becomes rancid and inedible, don't blame the meat (that's what happens when bacteria are left alone to breed). The question to ask is: "Where is the salt?" Just so, if society deteriorates and standards decline till it becomes like a dark night or stinking fish in Western culture, there is no sense in blaming society, for that is what happens when fallen men and women are left to themselves and human selfishness is unchecked. The question to ask is: "Where is the church? Where are God's people? Why are the salt and light of Jesus Christ not permeating and changing the world around them"" (Stott, John R.W.; Decisive Issues Facing Christians Today)