Three Lies We Easily Believe (by Pastor Jim Savastio)

This was orignially posted at Reformed Baptist Fellowship blog.

Three Lies We Easily Believe

When we choose (*) to absent ourselves from the gathering of the saints we may well be the victim of one or more of Satan’s lies.

The first lie is that I don’t need ‘it’. By ‘it’ I mean that time of worship, that time of instruction, that time of fellowship, or that time of prayer. When placed on the scales of whatever else it is that I want or prefer at that time I am believing the lie that the means of grace matter little to me. I don’t get much out of prayer meetings, I don’t benefit from Sunday School, I don’t like it when that particular preacher preaches. I certainly don’t need it.

The second lie is that I don’t need ‘them’. That is the saints. I could be with them. I could fellowship with them, enjoy them, be strengthened by them. When I choose to consistently absent myself when they are together, I am believing the devil’s lie that I am sufficient within myself.

The third lie that we can easily believe is that they don’t need ‘me’. My presence or absence makes no difference. Whether I am beside that brother or sister, whether my pastor sees me and interacts with me, whether or not my voice is joined in praises or my heart is lifted up with my brethren in prayer is a matter of indifference. It is true that the church will get by, but there is a great difference between full strength and partial strength. There is a difference between a family when all are present, a body without parts missing, a building with all the walls or stones in place.

The gathering of the saints matters. May we not carelessly neglect it.

*I am not referring to what we generally call ‘providential hindrance’ or necessary absence–I am referring to habitually absenting ourselves from the means of grace.

Jim Savastio, Pastor
Reformed Baptist Church of Louisville

The Philip Project

Philip Project TIFFPuzzled or confused about the Bible, or what it teaches? A few thousand years ago, a very intelligent man was but God gave him help. We read in Acts 8

Acts 8:27-31 And there was an Ethiopian, a eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure. He had come to Jerusalem to worship 28 and was returning, seated in his chariot, and he was reading the prophet Isaiah. 29 And the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over and join this chariot.” 30 So Philip ran to him and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” 31 And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.

Would you appreciate a Philip to come and help you to understand what you read? Perhaps you’re never read the Bible at all? Pop over to our ‘Philip Project‘ page and get in contact with us.

Christian? Church Member?

‘To be a Christian is, by definition, to be part of the community of God’s people. To be united with Christ is to be part of His body. The assumption of the New Testament is that this always finds expression in commitment to a local church. The centrality of the church means the centrality of the congregation or it means nothing. Commitment to the church is easy while the church is an abstract, universal reality. But the New Testament assumes commitment to real people in local churches with all their faults and foibles.’

Tim Chester and Steve Timmis, Total Church, pp,85-6.

Select Quotes on the Lord’s Supper

wine and breadFurther to last Lord’s Day sermon and in anticpation of the Lord’s Supper this week, here a number of quotations. Most of these were taken from the new book from Reformation Heritage Books, A Puritan Theology.

First, John Owen sets before us a reason why we may not value or benefit from the sacrament as we could and should.

One reason why we so little value the ordinance, and profit so little by it, may be because we understand so little of the nature of that special communion with Christ which we have therein.

Second, from Stephen Charnock, concerning the excellence of communion with Christ is the sacrament,

There is in this action [the Lord’s Supper] more communion with God….than in any other religious act….We have not so near communion with a person either by petitioning for something we want, or returning to him thanks for favour received, as we have sitting with him at his table, partaking of the same bread and the same cup.

Charnock again, stressing the true nature of our communion with Christ,

Christ is really present to us, and faith really takes him, closes with him, lodgeth him in the soul, makes him an indweller; and the soul have spiritual communion with him in his life and death as if we did really eat his flesh and drink his blood presented to us in the elements.

Finally, Matthew Poole,

When he saith, Take, eat, he means no more than that true believers should by the hand of their body take the bread, and with their bodily mouths eat it, and at the same time, by the hand and mouth of faith receive, and apply all the benefits of his blessed death and passion.

The need for reality

From the pen of J.C. Ryle,

First of all speaking of the strong words Christ had concerning the Pharisees, Scribe etc.

What may we learn from these tremendously strong expressions? How is it that our gracious and merciful Saviour used such cutting words about people who at any rate were more moral and decent that the publicans and harlots? It is meant to teach us the exceeding abominableness of false profession and mere outward religion in God’s sight. Open profligacy and wilfil obedience to fleshly lusts are no doubt ruinous sins, if not given up. But there seems nothing which is so displeasing to Christ as hypocrisy and unreality.

Secondly his exhortation to us,

Let there be nothing of reserve, or double-dealing, or part-acting, of dishonesty, of sham, of counterfeit in your Christianity. Never be content to wear a cloak of religion. Be all that you profess. Though you may err, be real. Though you may stumble, be true.

How to Listen to a Sermon

How to Listen to a Sermon
by George Whitefield

Keys for getting the most out of what the preacher says

Jesus said, ‘Therefore consider carefully how you listen’ (Luke 8:18). Here are some cautions and directions, in order to help you hear sermons with profit and advantage.

1. Come to hear them, not out of curiosity, but from a sincere desire to know and do your duty. To enter His house merely to have our ears entertained, and not our hearts reformed, must certainly be highly displeasing to the Most High God, as well as unprofitable to ourselves.

2. Give diligent heed to the things that are spoken from the Word of God. If an earthly king were to issue a royal proclamation, and the life or death of his subjects entirely depended on performing or not performing its conditions, how eager would they be to hear what those conditions were! And shall we not pay the same respect to the King of kings, and Lord of lords, and lend an attentive ear to His ministers, when they are declaring, in His name, how our pardon, peace, and happiness may be secured?

3. Do not entertain even the least prejudice against the minister. That was the reason Jesus Christ Himself could not do many mighty works, nor preach to any great effect among those of His own country; for they were offended at Him. Take heed therefore, and beware of entertaining any dislike against those whom the Holy Ghost has made overseers over you.

Consider that the clergy are men of like passions with yourselves. And though we should even hear a person teaching others to do what he has not learned himself, yet that is no reason for rejecting his doctrine. For ministers speak not in their own, but in Christ’s name. And we know who commanded the people to do whatever the scribes and Pharisees should say unto them, even though they did not do themselves what they said (see Matt. 23:1-3).

4. Be careful not to depend too much on a preacher, or think more highly of him than you ought to think. Preferring one teacher over another has often been of ill consequence to the church of God. It was a fault which the great Apostle of the Gentiles condemned in the Corinthians: ‘For whereas one said, I am of Paul; another, I am of Apollos: are you not carnal, says he? For who is Paul, and who is Apollos, but instruments in God’s hands by whom you believed?’ (1 Cor. 1:12; 2:3-5).

Are not all ministers sent forth to be ministering ambassadors to those who shall be heirs of salvation? And are they not all therefore greatly to be esteemed for their work’s sake?

5. Make particular application to your own hearts of everything that is delivered. When our Savior was discoursing at the last supper with His beloved disciples and foretold that one of them should betray Him, each of them immediately applied it to his own heart and said, ‘Lord, is it I?’ (Matt. 26:22).

Oh, that persons, in like manner, when preachers are dissuading from any sin or persuading to any duty, instead of crying, ‘This was intended for such and such a one!’ instead would turn their thoughts inwardly, and say, ‘Lord, is it I?’ How far more beneficial should we find discourses to be than now they generally are!

6. Pray to the Lord, before, during, and after every sermon, to endue the minister with power to speak, and to grant you a will and ability to put into practice what he shall show from the Book of God to be your duty.

No doubt it was this consideration that made St. Paul so earnestly entreat his beloved Ephesians to intercede with God for him: ‘Praying always, with all manner of prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and for me also, that I may open my mouth with boldness, to make known the mysteries of the gospel’ (Eph. 6:19-20). And if so great an apostle as St. Paul needed the prayers of his people, much more do those ministers who have only the ordinary gifts of the Holy Spirit.

If only all who hear me this day would seriously apply their hearts to practice what has now been told them! How ministers would see Satan, like lightning, fall from heaven, and people find the Word preached sharper than a two-edged sword and mighty, through God, to the pulling down of the devil’s strongholds!