Listen Live – The Aggressive Power of the Christian Church

Listen live to the “Aggressive Power of the Christian Church” evangelism conference!

The conference starts tonight at 6:30 EST. You can find more details, as well as a schedule here:

Live video here (poor quality, low bandwidth):

Live audio here:

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Fear of God Devotional: Is All of Life Worship?

Is all of life worship?

Sam Waldron explains in this video that there is a saying that “All of life is worship,” but that statement is not entirely accurate. All of life is not worship in the same sense that the church gathers for corporate worship. For instance, God never told Moses what furniture to put in his own tent or how to arrange that. While there were certain moral principles, God never told him how to set up his tent.

But, there was another tent. We have chapter after chapter in the Old Testament that tells us exactly how God wanted His tent ordered. There is a difference between our tent and the regulative principle of worship and how God regulates the worship that takes place in His tent.

John 14:21 (NKJV) – “He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.”

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Gospel Refreshers: David Platt – God Hates & Loves Sinners

I wrote this little orange book and it has gotten some publicity in a few different places, and one place in particular locally for us was in the Birmingham news. So this guy from the Birmingham news decides to pick a couple of quotes and have a good time with them… and so one quote he used – he said “While it's a common pulpit truism that God hates sin but loves the sinner, Platt argues that God hates sinners.” and then the article just kind of moves on. That's a quote from the book and so people started emailing, calling churchmen. Because people started coming to them saying: “Your pastor preaches hatred.” Pastor, do you believe God hates sinners? Did you say that? It's one of those places where we can find ourselves in a bit of trouble for quoting the Bible. Does God hate sinners? 

Let me read to you, you don't have to turn there, Psalm chapter 5 verse 5: “The boastful shall not stand before your eyes Lord, You hate all evildoers, You destroy those who speak lies. The Lord abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man.” Maybe I should have said abhors? Maybe that's a better word? No God doesn't hate sinners He abhors them, and destroys them. Could you quote me on that? You look at it and 14 times in the first 50 songs alone we see God's hatred for the sinner, His wrath on the liar and so on and so on. It's not just Old Testament, in the New Testament one of the chapters contains the most famous verses about God's love in John 3:16. We find one of the most neglected verses about God's wrath in John 3:36. So does God hate the sin and love the sinner? Sure in a sense but does God hate the sinner as well? Yes and this is so key to understanding the cross. 

We have this tendency to think of sin as if it is something that is outside of us, and then when Jesus went to the cross he was enduring the penalty for all this stuff that we have done all these things such as lying and cheating or lusting or whatever it is, all these things are outside of us brothers and sisters our sin was not outside of us it is a part of us. It is the core of who we are in this world. We are sinners with a deep sinful nature and all holy God who is dead set against sin is also dead set against sinners. His Holy hatred and holy wrath due sin is not just do something outside of us, it is due us. This is the beauty of the cross because when Jesus went to the cross He did not just takes sin like it's something outside of us upon Himself, He stood where we belong, He stood in our place and he took the full force of the holy righteous wrath and hatred of God due sin and sinners alike upon Himself in our place instead of us. So let us not be quick to lean on trite and comfortable clichés in our culture that robbed the cross of its meaning. Jesus stood in the place sinners. 

This is the deal, we are sinners we like sheep have gone astray there are obviously many preachers who say that we should believe in ourselves and trust ourselves and confident have confidence in ourselves and they are lying. The last thing we need to do is believe in ourselves our trust in ourselves and have confidence in ourselves we are dumb sheep. The smartest, most intelligent, richest, wealthiest, most talented person is nothing more than a dumb sheep who is prone to wander. We are sinners and God infinitely holy and possesses holy hatred of sin and sinners alike, and he loves sinners. 

So how is this possible? How can God show wrath towards sinners and love towards sinners at the same time? How can God express the fullness of his attributes how can He satisfy Himself and save sinners at the exact same time? That is the question of the Bible, and the answer is the cross. Does God hate sinners? Look at Isaiah 53 verses 4 through six. All of these things pierced, crushed, punishment, wounds all of these things are evidence of the wrath of God upon sinners. Look at the cross: absolutely God hates sin and sinners. Does God loves sinners? Look at the cross because the Lord's will force tends to crush his son for the salvation of His people. He absolutely hate sin and sinners, and he absolutely loves sinners. And then the cross: we see the full expression of His holy wrath and His Holy love coming together in one glorious moment for our salvation, and that is a scandal. Because now and you read throughout the rest of Isaiah 53 and you see that all who trust in Christ my righteous servant (verse 11) says will justify many. You trust in Christ and your sins are removed. Isaiah 43:25 says He will remember them no more. That's good news. And it's not that God has amnesia. He is omniscient, He knows everything, but by the grace of God expressed in the cross of Christ, the God who knows everything has chosen for the sake of His name, (Isaiah 48:9-11), for the sake of His name has chosen not to hold any one of your sins against you. 

There’s a story about a wealthy Englishman who bought the Royals Royce. Royals Royce was billed as the car that would never ever ever break down and so he bought one at a hefty price and he was driving one day actually in France the car broke down. And so he called Royals Royce and said: “Well the car you said would never break down has broken down.” And what they did, immediately, is that put a mechanic on a plane flew him to France, fixed the car as fast as they could, and the mechanic flew back. And the guy drove on the guy expected to receive a bill, it's not often that someone will send a mechanic to you fix your car and fly him back, and so he's a wealthy man he could pay his bill… But the bill wasn't coming and so he called Royals Royce and he said “Listen I'd like to get this behind and just pay my bill.” And the people at Royals Royce told that man “We're sorry sir but we have absolutely no record of anything ever having gone wrong with your car.” Yes! To think that the holy God of the universe has looked upon your life and my life based on the Suffering Servant and He pronounces: “I have absolutely no record of anything ever having gone wrong in your life.” That is a scandal scandalous mercy. 

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Fear of God Devotional: Holiness Flows From Affections That Are Fixed On Jesus

What is holiness and how do we grow in it?

Jason Dohm explains in this video that for many people, when they hear of “holiness,” it makes them think of self-righteousness. But this is an incorrect thinking of the word. Holiness means being completely set apart for God. Being available to do His will at all times. Holiness stems from a heart of love for God and His ways.

What we desire should be based upon an overflow of affection for God. Hearts that love God most want to be set apart to do whatever it is that He is pleased with. That is the nature of holiness. It flows from a life of affections that are fixed on God. Consequently, we desire to be set apart for Him.

Matthew 22:37 (NKJV) – “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.”

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The People Who Feared God – Obadiah

How do we fear God despite severe trials?

Jason Dohm explains in this video how we can learn from Obadiah’s example of fearing God despite his own life being in danger. It is evident that Obadiah greatly feared the Lord. In fact, he put his life on the line to save 100 of the Lord’s prophets. He sheltered them, hid them, and fed them. Though he served under a queen who was intent on killing the prophets, he feared God more than he did the queen.  

Importantly, this fear of God was already present in Obadiah’s life since his youth. It didn’t just show up in his life when he was in the moment of testing. The fear of the Lord was established in the heart of this man long ago, perhaps decades ago. Fearing the Lord is not only for “adult life.” The day of testing often comes at a time when you don’t expect it. Oftentimes, it’s too late to cultivate it at that point. The fear of the Lord must be cultivated before the day of testing. 

John 16:33 (NKJV) – “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” 

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Fear of God Devotional: Temporarily Bedazzled but Ever Idolatrous

Do we have idols in our life that prevent us from serving and loving God with our whole heart?

Craig Houston explains in this video that he is deeply concerned that too many people come to church for an hour each week but then live their life however they please. Unfortunately, many churches promote this wrong lifestyle. They have an entertainment focus, people come and get entertained, and they go about the rest of their lives living in a manner that is not distinct from culture.

This low view of God, His Word, and the church causes people to refuse to give up their place in the world and stand with Christ and His church. There will be a mass exodus when there is a choice to either serve God or to serve idols. Men and pastors need to boldly say that they will cast aside idols and serve God.

Exodus 20:4 (NKJV) – “You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.”

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Fear of God Devotional: Family Worship – Advice For Busy Fathers

How should a busy father prepare for family worship?

Joel Beeke explains in this video that while fathers often find themselves busy, they should not use that as an excuse for neglecting times of family worship. Instead, he suggests two areas that fathers should focus on to help them better prepare for family worship. First, they ought to be prayerful men who are in frequent communion with God. In addition, fathers should be widely read in all kinds of spiritual and practical matters.

He explains that being well-read and well-versed about their children’s needs will allow fathers to be more effective at leading family worship. Ideally, the father will also get up and read over the chapter beforehand and check a commentary or two. Though the life of a father is often busy, he must always prioritize leading his family in the discussion of God’s Word.

2 Timothy 2:15 (NKJV) – “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”

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Fear of God Devotional: Disaster – Separating Justification and Sanctification

What are the effects of separating justification from sanctification?

Kevin Swanson explains in this video that we are not free to sin. Rather, we are free from sin and transgressing the law of God because of the grace of Christ that takes care of the guilt of our sin and the corruption and power of sin over us. Today, many people want only to rid themselves of the guilt of sin but not its power over them. They want to continue to embrace sin instead of desiring that it be put to death.

If Christ’s blood takes care of the guilt, it will do just as much for the corruption of our sins. We cannot separate Christ’s death from his resurrection. To do so is to separate our justification from our rising and walking in the newness of life. We are saved by faith and by the sanctification of the Spirit of God. It cannot be one and not the other.

1 Thessalonians 5:23 (NKJV) – “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

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Gospel Refreshers: Paul Washer, The Gospel. The most terrifying truth of Scripture…

First of all the gospel begins with God. You see the whole problem really comes back to the nature of God. God is a just God, a holy God. He cannot violate His attributes, He cannot do something that contradicts Himself. He is a righteous God. Now that is a good thing it would be terrifying to know that this universe was created by an evil god an omnipotent god that was evil it would be absolutely terrifying so it's good that God is just. But then it presents also another problem: if God is just what does He do with us?

Let me illustrate the problem for you. A few years ago I was in in Europe and i was going to speak at the University and I knew that the crowd was really going to be against me and they all had this idea that this social dinosaur was going to come over with some Puritan type message and tell them that they were all sinners. So when I walked out on the stage I was really praying – Lord please help me. – I feel like He gave me some wisdom. I looked at this crowd of university students and I said: “I am going to share with you the most terrifying truth in the Scriptures.” I kept telling them and warning them “I'm about to share with you the most terrifying truth that anyone could ever know about God.” So when they were all poised on the edge of their seat I looked at them and I said “Here it is the most terrifying truth of Scripture is that God is good.” Now at that moment they all kind of started laughing snickering like “What's the problem?” Some of them even voiced it: “So what's the problem with a good God? I mean why is that bad news why is it terrifying that God is good?” My answer was this it's terrifying to know that God is good because we are not. So what does a good God do with people like us sinners? We've sinned against God, we've sinned against one another, we have sinned against nature, we’ve sinned against everything. All of creation calls for our condemnation. If God is truly just then what does He do with us? 

If a just God simply pardons the wicked He is no longer just. If a holy God calls the wicked to Himself to have fellowship with Him he's not a holy God. So the great question of all the scriptures this: How does adjust God pardon wicked men and still be just? How does a holy God call wicked men into fellowship with Him and still be holy? The answer is found in the cross of Jesus Christ. In the cross of Jesus Christ we see this tremendous unique revelation of the fullness of God's attributes. God is just, He must condemn our sin. God is love and so He becomes a man in His son, lives a perfect life as a man, and then goes to that tree and on that tree the sins of His people are cast upon Him, and all the Justice of God, all the wrath of God that we deserve is thrown down upon the head of Christ. The exact measure that was required in order to fully satisfy the Justice of God.

After suffering Christ said it is finished that meant he did what was required to satisfy God's justice against God's people. He paid the price in full. This is so very important understand: It wasn't that what that our sins were atoned for simply because the Romans beat Jesus up and nailed him on across. Our sins were atoned for because on that tree He bore our sin and it pleased the Lord, it pleased Yahweh to crush him. The wrath of God that should have fallen upon me and you fell upon His only begotten Son and He suffered it in full. He paid the price, He died, for the wages of sin is death and on the third day He rose again from the dead and now He's seated at the right hand of God and there is no other name, no other name in any other world, there is no other name given to men whereby we might be saved except for the name of Jesus Christ. He's the way, the truth, and the life, and no one comes to the Father except through Him. There is one God and one mediator between God and men: the man Christ Jesus, and in order to be saved the Bible calls all men to repent of their sins and to believe the gospel. 

What does it mean to repent? Many have defined the term as “to change one's mind.” That's what the word means in Greek and and that truth is there, but that means so much more than what you and I can conceive in our culture today. You think “Well to change one's mind, that's pretty superficial.” Well it might be, but then it's not if you understand what the mind is. The mind, and the Bible refers to the the mind as the heart, it is very it is the control center of a human being. It's the control center of our will, our emotions, our intellect, our decision-making process, and so what he's saying is: If you have changed your mind everything else will change along with it. 

Let me give you a perfect description of repentance: the Apostle Paul, he had a change of mind, Now when he left to go on the road to Damascus he left with orders to capture Christians. Now this is what he believed, this is what Paul thought: Paul thought that Jesus of Nazareth was the greatest blasphemer who ever had walked the planet, that's what he thought. He also thought that the Christians were a terrible sect that ought to be destroyed, that's what he thought. And then on the road to Damascus he had an encounter with the resurrected Christ and what happened is his thinking changed. His entire reality was proved to be wrong. Everything he thought about reality especially with regard to God was wrong. He recognized he was wrong and began to think completely different. He now thought that Jesus was the Son of God and the long-awaited Messiah. He now thought that the Christians were the very people of God the very Israel of God and because his thoughts changed. Everything else changed after being baptized. He began to minister and to preach the gospel and to be persecuted for the very faith that he was once persecuting. You see to repent is to realize that all your thinking your entire view about reality was wrong and then to see and to submit to God's truth about who He is about who you are and about who Jesus is and what He's done for you. 

Now the question is have you repented? Has your mind changed has that change of mind led to a change of the intellect, to a change of the will, a change of your emotions. The sins you once loved do you now hate? The holiness you once ignore do you now desire? The Christ that you had no part with, that you lived apart from do you now esteem him do you consider the kingdom of heaven to be a pearl of great price? Those are certain evidences that a work of repentance has been done in your heart. Not only must we we repent, but we must believe in Jesus Christ. To recognize that there is absolutely nothing in us that can save us, as the hymn writer said: “Nothing in my hands I bring but only to the cross of Christ I cling.” It is a recognition that you have only one hope and one hundred percent of that hope is found in the person and work of Jesus Christ, that you know that you cannot save yourself to the point that if someone were to even suggest that you would enter into heaven by some works of righteousness it would cause you to be nauseous and you would cry out “No, no, blasphemy! No I am saved for only one reason: Two thousand years ago the Son of God bled and died for me salvation comes to us through repentance and through faith in Jesus Christ.” 

Now if you truly believe in Christ you have eternal life but how do you know you have truly believed? Even if you've had some sort of conversion experience and you felt some sort of peace of God and and so many other emotions how do you really know it's real? One of the ways that you know it's real is that it will continue. Its not that necessarily the emotional high will continue but what will continue is you will continue to grow in grace, you will continue to deepen in your repentance, you will continue to deepen in your faith little by little, you will be transformed more and more into the image of Jesus Christ. You say “Well brother Paul does a real Christian sin?” Yes sadly enough yes can a real Christian fall into sin, yes, but here's the difference: a real Christian cannot live in a continuous state of carnality, a continuous state of immaturity, because the Bible says He who began a good work in you will finish it. The Bible talks about in Hebrews 12, that one of the greatest signs of true conversion is that God will watch over you with loving parental care and He will even discipline you, chastise you when you turn off the path, not because His attitude toward us changes, but because He loves you and He desires your holiness. 

You see, once you become a Christian you become a part of God's providence, and He who began a good work will finish it. The gospel of Jesus Christ is that God is just, that man is radically depraved and worthy of all condemnation, that in order to forgive men, God's justice had to be first satisfied and that was done on the cross where Christ stood in the place of His people, bore their sin and was crushed under the full weight of God's wrath against them. Dying, He paid the price in full. He has risen from the dead and now all men everywhere may be saved through faith, through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ and the evidence of that repentance unto salvation and that faith unto salvation will be the continuing work of God.

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Fear of God Devotional: Is Sola Scriptura Worth Dying For?

Are we willing to sacrifice much to be faithful to the commands of God found in Scripture?

Sam Waldron explains in this video that the Latin phrase “Sola Scriptura” or “by Scripture alone” was something that reformed Protestants closely adhered to and sacrificed greatly for. The Puritans held that Scripture applied to all things and specifically, in matters of worship, allowed them to do only what God commanded them to do.

Their decision to remain faithful to Scripture proved to be costly. Over 2,000 Puritan ministers were ejected from their churches and some, like John Bunyan, were even jailed. Men were forced to make a decision of compromising Scripture to keep their positions in the church or to remain true to the clear commands of Scripture. Despite persecution, they resolutely believed that Scripture governed all matters of life, not just the issues regarding the doctrine of the church.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NKJV) – “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

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The People who Feared God – Zacchaeus

How is a God-hating man transformed into a God-fearing man?  

Gary Powers shares the story of Zacchaeus in this video and explains how Zacchaeus was a powerful man – he was the chief of tax collectors. He was greatly feared. Yet, he wanted to see who Jesus was and climbed up a tree to get a better view. Already, we begin to glimpse the work of regeneration in his heart. Rich, powerful men do not do this. They don’t humble themselves to the point of climbing into a tree. He was desperate and willing to suffer humiliation by climbing a tree to see Christ. 

Jesus then comes, sees him, and speaks to him by name. This encounter is not by coincidence. We then see the fruit of Zacchaeus’ repentance. He gave half of his goods to the poor and if he wrongfully took what was not his, he repaid it four-fold. Taking such measures would have significantly disrupted the life that he was accustomed to. Yet, he was adhering to the law of God to make restitution. These were signs of conversion, fruit of a new life. In short, he feared God. One of the signs of conversion is that we are not terrorized by the law of God but delight in it. Nothing is too hard for God. He can change the nature of a wealthy, greedy man and turn him into a joyful giver who loves Him and loves His law. 

Romans 1:16 (NKJV) – “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.”

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Fear of God Devotional: The Use of the Law for an Unbeliever

How is an unbeliever affected by the laws of God?

Jason Dohm explains in this video that the law has multiple uses and has different functions for unbelievers and believers. For instance, it can be a crushing weight on an unbeliever, one that helps them to see their desperate need for mercy and to ultimately drive them to the cross. The law condemns sinners so that they go to God for mercy and pardon, which is offered to us through the finished work of Christ.

The law helps us to realize just how sinful we are and how hopeless it is to think that we can somehow earn our salvation. Romans 3:20 says that: “Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” Through the law, we understand that we are completely sinful and in desperate need of a Savior.

Romans 7:7 (NKJV) – “What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, ‘You shall not covet.’”

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Fear of God Devotional: Singing as Worship

Why is it important to sing and participate during times of worship?

Craig Houston explains in this video that he is passionate about singing because God is passionate about singing as worship. Singing in worship enlivens the heart of God’s people as they sing together unto the Lord. Throughout Scripture, we see numerous instances of individuals singing and worshipping God. There is nothing more magnificent than God’s people singing together.

Regrettably, many people do not sing today. They’re there to receive something but they do not participate in a worshipful way. This is not what we see in Scripture. In both the New and Old Testament, Scripture makes it clear that we are to lift up our voices as one to the Lord, singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs.

Colossians 3:16 (NKJV) – “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.”

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Fear of God Devotional: Probing Children in Spirtual Matters

How can fathers more effectively discuss spiritual matters with their children?

Joel Beeke explains in this video that as a father, it is important to gently and lovingly discuss theological matters with your children. He recommends that fathers ought to ask questions to a child at their age level or just a bit above it. Asking them questions about a specific passage or verse is an ideal way to do this.

Your questions should be asked in love, with good eye contact, and with care. After reading a Scripture passage, you can ask questions to your child like, “Have you ever had that happen in your life before?” You can also share examples and instances from your own life. Additionally, you can encourage your children to think about that verse or encourage them to ask God to teach them.

Deuteronomy 6:6-8 (NKJV) – “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.”

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Fear of God Devotional: Legalism and Her Children

What is the balance between faith and works?

Kevin Swanson explains in this video that legalism always seems to break down into antinomianism. Both are incorrect. Legalism is salvation by works or our own fake application of God’s laws. Antinomianism involves abandoning of all God’s laws.

What we need theologically is to bring these together – faith and works. We need to see them as distinct but not separate. We need to pull together a proper biblical theology, express God’s law for the purposes for which it is intended, and then live by God’s law because we have been saved by grace and love Him. This is the basic theological concept that must permeate through every worship service. The world negatively affects us in so many ways and can easily distort our thinking. Accordingly, we must purge unbiblical worldviews by the faithful preaching of God’s Word.

Ephesians 2:8-10 (NKJV) – “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”

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