Counterfeit Worship

I’ve just released a new book of three essays on “Counterfeit Worship,’ which centers on John Knox’s famous treatise on the “Idolatry of the Mass.” In this short work, Knox explains how inventions in worship are idolatry.  Here is one of the statements he makes exposing various inventions in worship that were popular in his day,

“In the Papistical mass the congregation gets nothing except the beholding of your juking’s*, nodding, crossings, turning, uplifting, which are all nothing but an evil profaning of Christ’s Supper.  Now, juke*, cross, and nod as you wish.  They are but your own inventions.  And finally, brethren, you receive nothing, but gazed and beheld while that one ate and drink all.”

– John Knox

To order your copy of Counterfeit Worship, click here.

*Juke, v. i. [from Scottish jouk to bow.] To bend the neck; to bow or duck the head. [Written also {jook} and {jouk}.] [1913 Webster]


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Making Students Unlike Their Fathers

While president of Princeton, Woodrow Wilson said, “Our problem is not merely to help the students to adjust themselves to world life,” he said. “Our problem is to make them as unlike their fathers as we can. Their fathers are specialized persons. The problem of the college faculty is to generalize the younger generation all over again.” from The New York Times in 1909.

This type of thinking is not the product of the Bible but of the world. Fathers are to have an intimate role in the discipleship of their children (Deut. 6:6-9). Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.” This can apply to a discipline, a trade, or a career as well.

It is not the duty of teachers to undo the training of fathers. It is the duty of children to honor their fathers and what they have taught them. Proverbs 6:20-21 says, “My son, keep your father’s command, and do not forsake the law of your mother. Bind them continually upon your heart; tie them around your neck.”

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Warnings Against Empty Religion

Prayer is essential to the Christian life. There are those however who may cry out to God and yet worship themselves.

Hosea says, “They did not cry out to Me with their heart when they wailed upon their beds” (Hos. 7:14). Again he says, “Though they call to the Most High, none at all exalt Him” (Hos. 11:7).

Then, in Matthew, we read, “These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me” (Matt. 15:8).

When we pray or live therefore, let us pray with our mouth and with our heart and worship the God of heaven.

“Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Luke 18:10-14).

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The Trinity Explained Visually

Spurgeon Explains the Looseness of the Age

Mark you, in proportion as the modern theology is preached the vice of this generation increases. To a great degree I attribute the looseness of the age to the laxity of the doctrine preached by its teachers. From the pulpit they have taught the people that sin is a trifle. From the pulpit these traitors to God and to his Christ have taught the people that there is no hell to be feared. A little, little hell, perhaps, there may be; but just punishment for sin is made nothing of. The precious atoning sacrifice of Christ has been derided and misrepresented by those who were pledged to preach it. They have given the people the name of the gospel, but the gospel itself has evaporated in their hands.

From hundreds of pulpits the gospel is as clean gone as the dodo from its old haunts; and still the preachers take the position and name of Christ’s ministers. Well, and what comes of it? Why, their congregations grow thinner and thinner; and so it must be. Jesus says, “Follow me, I will make you fishers of men;” but if you go in your own way, with your own net, you will make nothing of it, and the Lord promises you no help in it.

The Lord’s directions make himself our leader and example. It is, “Follow me, follow me. Preach my gospel. Preach what I preached. Teach what I taught, and keep to that.” With that blessed servility which becomes one whose ambition it is to be a copyist, and never to be an original, copy Christ even in jots and tittles. Do this, and he will make you fishers of men; but if you do not do this, you shall fish in vain.

Charles Haddon Spurgeon, The Soul Winner, (New York: Cosimo Publications, 2007) p. 227.

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Who is Your Pastor?

We live in an environment where many people really have no shepherds who know them personally.  Here is an article that appeared on Pyromaniacs a while back that I felt identified some of the problems with this – Who is YOUR pastor? No, really…

[S]ome professed Christians sin outright, by never physically attending an actual, in-person church. We’ve talked about that, and they aren’t our focus. But others do attend a church — physically. They come in, they sit down. They sing, they may give financially. They may look at you, Pastor, as you preach. But you know their heart belongs to another. Their real pastor isn’t you. It’s Dave Hunt. Or it’s John Piper. Or it’s John MacArthur, or Ligon Duncan, or Mark Dever, or David Cloud, or Joel Osteen. Or it’s Charles Spurgeon, or D. M. Lloyd-Jones, or J. C. Ryle. Or Calvin, or Luther, or Bahnsen, or de Mar, or R. B. Thieme, or J. Vernon McGee. And they’re such better pastors than you are! You know they are!


Well, paper pastors are never in a bad mood. They’re never cranky, or sleepy or sick. (Especially the dead ones.) They’ve never just had someone else pull their guts out with a rusty fork, and then had to turn and listen graciously to your complaint about the translation they preach from, or argue about a Greek word you can’t even pronounce. They don’t have a family who loses the time you use. They never half-listen, never have an appointment that cuts short their time. Their office hours are your office hours. They’re available 24/7, and everywhere, at your whim, and you always have their undivided attention. What’s more is they always have all the answers! They can tell you with complete confidence and masterful eloquence. They never stammer, guess, nor search their memory. And they can prove it — whatever they’re saying! With footnotes! And these paper pastors maintain the perfect distance. If you don’t want to hear something, they don’t press it — or you can instantly shut them up, snap! They never ask you to do something uncomfortable and follow up on you. They never persistently probe an area of sin, in you, in person, eyeball to eyeball… nor will they. Church discipline will not be a threat with them. Ever. Because they don’t know you from Adam.

Yet how many pastors know that there are people in their flocks, thinking, “John Piper would never say it that way. Dave Hunt says that what he just preached is heresy. John MacArthur isn’t like that. Mahaney says that… Mohler says that… Lloyd-Jones said….”So, because it’s awkward for your pastor to say it to you — and because I’ve no church who’d suspect I’m talking to them, at the moment — I’ll just tell you plain:

Brother, sister: John Piper isn’t your pastor. John MacArthur knows nothing about you. Dave Hunt never got on his knees and prayed for you. Lloyd-Jones won’t come to your house when you’re recovering from surgery, or one of your children shatters your heart, or your marriage is shaking and rocking and barely hanging on. Charles Spurgeon won’t weep with you as you weep. You could buy or not buy _____’s next book, and he’d never know it. But if you’re in a manageable-size church with a caring pastor and you’re suddenly gone next Sunday, he’ll be concerned. He may call. He may ask if everything’s okay. God gave you the pastor He gave you. God told Paul to tell you:

We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves (1 Thessalonians 5:12-13).

God told the writer to the Hebrews to tell you:

Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you (Hebrews 13:17).

Your flesh-and-blood pastor can’t compete with these paper pastors for the same reason you can’t compete with paper women and paper men.

Because they’re not real

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Advice on Family Prayer

I have posted this before, and am doing it again because it is so helpful… On April 16,1604, Matthew Henry preached an abundantly practical sermon to the families gathered in his congregation. (You can get the entire sermon from our store, under the title, Building a God-Centered Family.) One part of the sermon was for equipping them for prayer in their households. Here is what he said,

Five things especially you should have upon your heart in your family prayer, and should endeavor to bring something of each into every prayer with your families:

1. You ought to make family-Acknowledgements on your Dependence upon God and his Providences as you are a family.

give unto the Lord the Glory due unto his Name;

Give honor to God as the Founder of Families by his Ordinance, because it was not good for man to be alone; as the founder of your Families by his Providence, for he it is that buildeth the House, and setteth the Solitary in Families. Give Honor to him as the owner and Ruler of families…

2. You ought to make Family-Confessions of your Sins against God; those Sins you have contracted the Guilt of your Family…

How sad is the Condition of those Families that sin together, and never pray together, that by concurring in Frauds, Quarrels and Excesses, by Strengthening one another’s Hands in Impiety and Profaneness, fill the measure of Family-Guilt, and never agree together to do any thing to empty it.’

And even Religious Families, that are not polluted with gross and scandalous Sins, yet have need to join every Day in the Solemn Acts and Expressions of Repentance before God for their Sins of daily infirmity. Their vain words, and unprofitable conversation among themselves; their manifold defects in relative duties, provoking one another

3. You ought to offer up Family Thanksgivings for the blessings which you, with our Families, receive from God.

Many are the mercies which you enjoy the Sweetness and Benefit of in common; which if wanting to one, all the Family would be sensible of it. Hath not God made a Hedge of Protection about you and your houses and all that you have…

4. You ought to present your Family-Petitions for the Mercy and Grace which your Families stand in need of.

Daily Bread is received by Families together, and we are taught not only to pray for it every day, but to pray together for it, saying ‘Our Father, give it us’. There are Affairs and Employments which the Family is jointly concerned in the Success of, and therefore should jointly ask of God Wisdom for the Management of them, and Prosperity therein. There are family cares to be cast upon God, by Prayer, Family Comforts to be fought for, and Family-Crosses which they should together beg for the Sanctification and Removal of.

5. You ought to make Family-Intercessions for others also.

There are Families you stand related to, or which by Neighborhood, Friendship or Acquaintance, …
utmost Corners of the Earth, and to them that are afar off upon the Sea.”

A Church in the House, A Sermon concerning Family-Religion, by Matthew Henry

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Five Mankillers

After many years of ministry to men, it is clear to me how simple men are. They all struggle with the same basic things.  That’s one thing I like about working with men. Men are not complex. I have come across several summaries of the things that kill men off. I know a law enforcement professional who identifies these: Lying, Liquor, Lust, and Loyalty as the top four mankillers in his profession. They see these common denominators on the street all the time. I know an attorney who categorized them this way: Greed, Sex, and Power.  Here is my list: Fear, Lust, Anger, Feminism, and Abdication. (more…)

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Bringing Many Sons to Glory

By the end of the year, we will have completed eleven Master’s Plan for Fatherhood conferences around the nation. Here is a clip from the Wake Forest meeting we had last week. During these conferences, we have spoken of the various ways God has ordained fathers to dedicate their best energies to the whole purpose of fatherhood: to bring many sons and daughters to glory. Hebrews 2:9-10 gives us this powerful language of fatherhood, “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone. For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.”

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Spurgeon on the Many Ministries in the World – Making Much of Christ

Spurgeon says:

“There are many ministries in the world, and they are very different from one another, but this truth will enable you to judge which are right out of them all. The ministries that discredit Him, ignore Him, or put Him in the background in any degree are not of the Spirit of God.

Any doctrine that magnifies man, but not man’s Redeemer, any doctrine that denies the depth of the Fall, and consequently detracts from the greatness of salvation, any doctrine that makes man sinless, and therefore makes Christ’s work less – away with it, away with it! This will be the infallible test as to whether it is of the Holy Spirit or not, for Jesus says, “He shall glorify me.”

-C. H. Spurgeon, Spurgeon on the Holy Spirit, p. 55-56

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I Was on the Janet Mefferd Show Last Weekend

The times I’ve been on the Janet Mefferd show have been a pleasure, she’s such a fantastic talk show host. Friday afternoon we were discussing our national survey “Is Youth Group Even Biblical?“.
Click here to listen.

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Fifteen Indispensable Pursuits That Prepare the Next Generation for Marriage

Here are “Fifteen indispensable pursuits that prepare the next generation for marriage.”

  1. The Clearest understanding of the Gospel, Col. 1:14
  2. The Gladdest embrace of God, Ps. 100
  3. The Thirstiest passion for the Word of God, Ps. 119
  4.  The Keenest inclination for repentance, Ps. 51
  5. The Hottest desire for holiness,1 Pet. 1:16
  6. The Sweetest harmony in marriage, Eph. 5:22-33
  7. The Quickest pursuit of reconciliation, Eph. 4:26
  8. The Highest investment in the church, Eph. 1:23; 5:32
  9. The Biggest vision for life, 1 Cor. 10:31
  10. The Liveliest, zippiest daily life, Deut. 6:1-9
  11. The Sharpest conception of marriage, Eph. 5:22-33
  12. The Tightest embrace of biblical manhood and womanhood, Tit. 2
  13. The Strongest sense of the sovereignty of God, Dan. 4
  14. The Hungriest desire to worship the one true God, John 4:23
  15. The Humblest acts of service toward the needy, Prov. 19:7

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Why Your Family Should Come to the Worship of God Conference

Are Your Children Walking with the Wise?

In Proverbs 13:20, God commends those who seek out wisdom by walking with those who are wise. However, someone who spends his time with fools will be destroyed. In Proverbs 22:15, God says, “Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child.” Why then do people lump their children with other children, as a dominant source of companionship, such as during youth group? Is it for relationship? Is it so they can have fun? Is it because parents do not want to spend the time to train them? Is it because they want to worship without distraction?

Do you want your children to be wise? Put them in the company of biblically wise people. Do you want your children to be wise? Train them as it says in Deuteronomy 6:6-9. Do you want your children to be wise? Obey the Word of God and command them to seek wisdom with all of their heart. Model this for them, and seek that wisdom with your children.

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What is the Heart of the Gospel?

There can be no personal transformation, no holy family life, no sanctified church life or any kind of life without the foundation of the gospel. In July 1886, Charles Spurgeon began his message with this statement,

“The heart of the gospel is redemption, and the essence of redemption is the substitutionary sacrifice of Christ. They who preach this truth preach the gospel in whatever else they may be mistaken; but they who preach not the atonement, whatever else they declare, have missed the soul and substance of the divine message.” He goes on to say, “I will speak upon THE GREAT DOCTRINE. The great doctrine, the greatest of all, is this, that God, seeing men to be lost by reason of their sin, hath taken that sin of theirs and laid it upon his only begotten Son, making him to be sin for us, even him who knew no sin; and that in consequence of this transference of sin he that believeth in Christ Jesus is made just and righteous, yea, is made to be the righteousness of God in Christ. Christ was made sin that sinners might be made righteousness. That is the doctrine of the substitution of our Lord Jesus Christ on the behalf of guilty men.”

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