Watching Daily At Wisdom's Gates

A Yorkshireman's take on life, death, and eternity

Month: October, 2019

Happy Reformation Day!

On this day in 1517, Martin Luther, a German monk, nailed his “95 Theses” to the door of his local church, complaining about the excesses of the Roman Catholic church.

Nowadays he’d have just written an epic blog post!

But in that act he kickstarted a full-blown reformation of Christ’s church and a rediscovery of the Biblical truths of salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, according to Scripture alone, to the glory of God alone.

These truths became known as the five “Solas” or “alones” of the gospel.

I wonder if these truths have been so obscured by the fog of history that they’re in danger of being forgotten.

We always need reminding that salvation is by grace alone. It’s not because we’re loveable, but because God is loving, that we’re saved.

Salvation is by faith alone, not by works, so that no one can boast.

Salvation is according to Scripture alone, not according to the pope on the one hand or our individual subjectivities (I think I just made that word up but I hope you catch my drift!).

Salvation is in Christ alone- 100% dependant on Him. If it was 1% down to us we’d be lost and hopeless.

Salvation is to the glory of God alone: He doesn’t allow us to boast in ourselves that we’re saved, but only in Him the only Saviour.

If you have question marks about these truths, by all means raise them. But we always need reforming into the likeness of Christ, we can’t take the truth of His word for granted, otherwise we’ll end up drifting.

Halloween and the Gospel

I posted something similar last year, but this is just a reminder that Halloween is a great opportunity to share the gospel.

We can tell trick or treaters that come to our doors that satan wants to trick them into hell, whereas Jesus wants to treat them with eternal life!

All the best if you belong to Jesus, in sharing His good news this evening! 🙂

Repent!

Now therefore mend your ways and your deeds, and obey the voice of the Lord your God, and the Lord will relent of the disaster that he has pronounced against you.

Jeremiah 26:13 ESV

https://bible.com/bible/59/jer.26.13.ESV

Jeremiah was preaching judgement and condemnation to destruction over God’s people in God’s temple. Understandably, this didn’t go down well. In fact, his hearers were baying for his blood. But Jeremiah was unrelenting in delivering the message God had laid upon him.

Still, Jeremiah offered his homicidal hearers hope. If they were to mend their ways and their deeds, and obey the voice of the Lord their God, the Lord would relent of the disaster that he pronounced against them. Sadly, they were not willing.

Similarly, we have good news for a hostile world. Although this world is destined for the flames, there is a new creation coming, and we can be part of it. Like Jeremiah, we can’t hide the negative aspects of our message, but if people would receive it, it is positively life everlasting!

Jeremiah might have been somewhat of a hell fire and brimstone kind of preacher. But in the midst of his pronouncements of woe, there are brilliant beams of glorious light, like this verse. It doesn’t matter how far gone we are, there is hope for us in the Messiah, the Lord Jesus.

“Oh Yahweh our God, we acknowledge our sinful rebellion to You, and ask that You would relent of the disaster our sins demand, because of our Saviour Christ, in whose name we pray, amen”

Vanity

Thus says the Lord of hosts: “Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you, filling you with vain hopes. They speak visions of their own minds, not from the mouth of the Lord .

Jeremiah 23:16 ESV

https://bible.com/bible/59/jer.23.16.ESV

Sadly, much of what passes for prophecy nowadays is what Jeremiah refers to here. It’s vain hope and made up visions. In people’s emphasis of the “positive” over the “negative”, they end up speaking fantasies rather than the realism that reflects our fallen world.

In Jeremiah’s day it was people saying “we’ll be back from exile by passover”. Nowadays it might be people saying “Brexit will be over by Christmas!” Then people might have said prosperity was found in Jewish nationalism and resistance to Babylonian hegemony. Nowadays, charlatans might say “plant a seed into my private jet fund and you’ll win the lottery tomorrow”.

I’m very much of the school of thought that says that God’s Word is sufficient. God speaks today through His timeless word, the Bible. We don’t need extra revelation, in fact we’re warned against it at the end of Revelation. We just need a rediscovery and application of God’s eternal Scriptures.

All Scripture is God breathed and is sufficient for every spiritual need. We don’t need phoneys and wolves in sheep’s clothing to try and pull the wool over our eyes. We just need God’s Word applied for today by God’s Spirit.

“Almighty God, forgive us for looking to the wrong places for spiritual insights. May we focus in on Your Word by Your Spirit, in Christ’s name, amen”

The “Stop Brexit” Man and the Gospel!

The “Stop Brexit” man has become a minor celebrity in the UK. He stands outside of Westminster and shouts “Stop Brexit” while news reporters are trying to report the news.

I read an article about him. He’s a former rare and antique coins dealer from South Wales who’s become so politicised that he has given up his job and spends his days shouting “Stop Brexit”, to the amusement of some and the bemusement of others.

But it struck me this evening. That man is devoting his life to stopping Brexit.

The whole reason we as Christians haven’t been beamed up to heaven is to stop other people going to hell by telling them the good news of salvation in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Now that’s something to shout about! And that’s how revival has always happened- from Simon Peter to George Whitfield to Billy Graham.

If we actually believed we’re saved from hell and going to heaven, and others can join us, now that’s something worth shouting about!

I’ve convicted myself in that regard, if you belong to Jesus I hope I’ve convicted you too. May God give us the grace to proclaim His grace to a lost and dying world, amen!

What Kind of Theologian Are You?

We’re all theologians. It’s just a question of what kind of theologians we are. Theology is the study of God. Some of us may be lazy students, but we all have an opinion about God, even if we think He’s a myth or an irrelevance.

This question was sparked in my mind by reading a free ebook from Ligoner ministries called The Legacy of Luther edited by RC Sproul and someone else whose name escapes me (I might do a proper review in time, but this post was just inspired by a snippet from that book).

Apparently Luther talked about theologians of glory Vs. theologians of the cross.

It seems to me we still have those kind of theologians today. Theologians of glory would make Christ a slave of our health, wealth and happiness.

Theologians of the cross would emphasise that to follow Christ rather than to chase after health, wealth and happiness is to go the way of the cross.

So what kind of theologian are you? One who makes Christ the means to an end, or one who exalts Him as the means and the end- the be all and end all?

Okay, so we trust that glory awaits us who trust in Christ. But the cross is before the crown that we will cast before Him, so that all the glory might go to Christ our Saviour.

I guess there’s at least one other kind of theologian- who I might call the theologian of irrelevance. This kind of theologian might say, “There probably isn’t a God, so stop worrying and enjoy your life”. This assumes that any God there might be is a cosmic killjoy rather than the source of all joy, even in the midst of suffering.

Theologians of irrelevance might even admit that “love your neighbour” is a better ethic than “survival of the fittest”, but they want to eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow they die.

I suppose theologians of irrelevance could be described as theologians of self, because in dethroning God, they make self their god.

To be honest, I think theologians of glory more subtly do this, by making their own glory their chief purpose, rather than crucifying their pride and exalting the Lamb who was slain.

So what kind of theologian are you?

As for me I hope I’m a theologian of the cross, although I suspect I allow the gospel to be too implicit rather than explicit in my posts. And I still await the glory of the new creation, when I’ve finally died once and for all to self and come alive to Christ.

Surrender

He who stays in this city shall die by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence, but he who goes out and surrenders to the Chaldeans who are besieging you shall live and shall have his life as a prize of war.

Jeremiah 21:9 ESV

https://bible.com/bible/59/jer.21.9.ESV

In the previous verse, Jeremiah declares that God’s setting before his people a choice between life and death. Sounds like a no-brainer! But in this verse He elaborates, and His advice seems counterintuitive.

“This city” is the city of God, Jerusalem, where God’s temple resided and where God’s people could be closest to God. And yet Jeremiah declares that those who stay would die untimely deaths by war or famine. Patriotic, nationalistic Jews chafed against God’s instructions.

On the other hand, God promises, if you surrender to the brutal pagan Babylonian oppressors, you’ll have your life as a prize of war. What we might assume is the wrong way might be the right way. What we assume is the right way may well be the wrong way.

I can’t help but think about Brexit in the UK, where Brexiteers use the language of “traitor” (as people accused Jeremiah) and “surrender” to the EU. They could hardly countenance it, but maybe, just maybe, it’s God’s will that we remain. More importantly, life is ultimately in Christ, and death in trusting in our own understanding.

“Sovereign Lord, help us to trust Your ways over our own, even if they seem counterintuitive. May we choose life in Christ over our own understanding. In His name we pray, amen”

Fire

If I say, “I will not mention him, or speak any more in his name,” there is in my heart as it were a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot.

Jeremiah 20:9 ESV

https://bible.com/bible/59/jer.20.9.ESV

This is impressive. When someone tells us they have a burning passion to do something great, like blogging dare I say it, we’re impressed. But Jeremiah wasn’t just a scribe, but a prophet of the Most High God.

Not only so, but in the context, Jeremiah has just been beaten up and put in the stocks for preaching the full counsel of God. This includes judgement and condemnation for unrepentant sinners, who don’t take the message well. I suspect it’s from Jeremiah that we get the phrase “laughing stock”, because that’s what he complained to God he’d become.

But despite the persecution, Jeremiah’s passion was such that he couldn’t just pack it in and become a hermit in the wilderness, much as he would have liked that respite. If we’re born again of the Holy Spirit, His fire means that we cannot keep quiet about our Lord. If we do keep quiet, we’ll be like Lot in Sodom, compromised and miserable.

We shouldn’t expect any better treatment from our Lord than Jeremiah. He told us that we’re blessed when we’re persecuted, because great is our reward in heaven. This doesn’t mean to say we won’t necessarily complain like Jeremiah, but God is gracious to us if we do.

“Dear Lord, just as You were despised and rejected by mankind, help us Your people be prepared for the same. May we speak up for You and Your gospel, whatever the cost to ourselves, because Your love compels us. For Your honour and praise, amen”

Depression isn’t an excuse for laziness!

I feel like I need to hear the title of this post more than anyone!

When I get depressed, I get what someone described as Dive-Under-The -Duvet Syndrome: the human equivalent of an ostrich burying it’s head in the sand!

The problem with trying to sleep away your troubles is that it doesn’t solve them.

Please pray that I’d be able to resolve my problems so that the outcome is that God’s perfect will is done!

Stronghold

O Lord , my strength and my stronghold, my refuge in the day of trouble, to you shall the nations come from the ends of the earth and say: “Our fathers have inherited nothing but lies, worthless things in which there is no profit.

Jeremiah 16:19 ESV

https://bible.com/bible/59/jer.16.19.ESV

By this chapter, Jeremiah’s complaints have been answered graciously by the Lord. He seems to be in a much better place in this verse, declaring that the Lord is his strength- and he needed it for his grim message of judgement on God’s unreceptive people.

The Lord was Jeremiah’s stronghold too- keeping him safe from all his persecutors. We all need to take refuge in God in days of trouble, because anything else we might seek refuge in will let us down. Thankfully God is unfailing in His faithfulness.

Although Jeremiah prophesied of exile for God’s people in their history, he envisaged a brighter day to come, when nations would come from the ends of the earth. I’m reminded of Pentecost, when Jews, converts to Judaism and God-fearers from round the ancient world gathered in Jerusalem and heard Peter declare Jesus to be the Messiah. He is the fulfilment of all God’s promises in the old testament.

The nations declare they’ve inherited nothing but lies, worthless things of no profit. My parents inherited empty religion in the form of dead Methodism and Anglicanism (although some corners of those denominations have got life). They were taught man made religion, not living faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Thankfully, they’ve come to trust in Him as their Saviour.

“Lord, let us never forget that true faith is in You, not in the emptiness of our flawed religious works. Thank You for awakening us to Your salvation, please don’t let us become complacent about Your love, in Christ’s name, amen”