Doug Wilson vs. Pro-Gay Activists at IU in Bloomington

Pastor Doug Wilson, from Moscow Idaho, went to the campus of Indiana University back in April to do some talks on sexuality (link to complete lectures and Q&A). About half the room that showed up were there to yell, ridicule, heckle, and completely disrespect him based on his stance that homosexuality is a sin, all while yelling at him about love and tolerance.

I love Wilson’s quote: “The diversity crowd has two fundamental tenets: the first is that they have an absolute commitment to free speech, and the second tenet is, ‘Shut up.'” (Immediately followed by a heckler yelling, “Yeah, shut up!” – Seriously, the irony would be funny if it weren’t so sad.)

Denny Burk has some good observations about this whole thing:

1. The gay activists shouting for “tolerance” are the most shrill, intolerant personalities in the room. The irony seems to be completely lost on the protesters and naysayers who are quite disrespectful and cruel to Doug Wilson throughout his presentations. They demanded Wilson to give them logic and respect, but they gave him none in return.

2. Thanks be to God for Doug Wilson who rose to the task and answered their questions biblically and with good humor! He actually looks like he enjoys the sparring. That kind of winsomeness goes farther than winning every argument (though he also seems to win every argument too). Christians, take note. When reviled, do not revile in return (1 Pet. 2:23). Instead, bless those who curse you (Luke 6:28). Sweetness of speech increases persuasiveness (Prov. 16:21). A gentle answer turns away wrath, and the tongue of the wise makes knowledge acceptable (Prov. 15:1-2).

3. Post-modern gobbledygook thinking is on massive display here. The students aren’t interested in attacking the reliability of the Bible on scientific or historical grounds. Traditional apologetics would have been useless here. Almost to a man, they were concerned with judging the morality of the Bible. They deconstructed the Bible and manipulated texts to their own ends but then also stood in judgment over the Bible where it didn’t fit their views. In everything, their intuitions and feelings about the nature of reality defined everything.

4. It is not difficult to see how the hostility on display in this video might be turned into open persecution of Christians. I do not mean to be an alarmist, but it is hard to ignore the level of vitriol that more and more seems to be directed toward Christians for their views on homosexuality. This encounter with Wilson is just a single instance of a disdain that is becoming more widespread in the culture. What will be the public implications of that disdain in the next 10, 20, or even 30 years? It seems to me that the vitriol on display in this video is on its way to becoming the majority view. For Christians, this is not likely to get any easier for us going forward.

5. The Lord’s arm is not too short to save (Is. 59:1). Our culture’s spiritual decline is not inevitable. Who knows what God might do if we bear witness faithfully to the gospel of Jesus Christ? Let’s do that, and pray for God to have mercy on us and our neighbors.

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The Great Battle – by J. C. Ryle

All men ought to love peace. War is an immense evil, though it is a necessary evil sometimes. Battles are bloody and distressing events, though sometimes nations cannot maintain their rights without them. But all men ought to love peace. All ought to pray for a quiet life.

All this is very true, and yet there is one war which it is a positive duty to carry on; there is one battle which we ought to be always fighting. The battle I speak of is the battle against the world, the flesh, and the devil. With these enemies we never ought to be at peace; from this warfare no man ought ever to seek to be discharged, while he is alive.

Reader, give me your attention for a few minutes, and I will tell you something about the great battle.

Every professing Christian is the soldier of Christ. He is bound by his baptism to fight Christ’s battle against sin, the world, and the devil. The man that does not do this, breaks his vow–he is a spiritual defaulter; he does not fulfill the engagement made for him. The man that does not do this, is practically renouncing his Christianity. The very fact that he belongs to a Church, attends a Christian place of worship, and calls himself a Christian, is a public declaration that he desires to be reckoned a soldier of Jesus Christ.

Armor is provided for the professing Christian, if he will only use it. “Take unto you,” says Paul to the Ephesians, “the whole armor of God.” “Stand, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breast-plate of righteousness.” “Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.” “Above all, take the shield of faith” (Ephes. vi. 13-17). And not least, the professing Christian has the best of leaders, —Jesus the Captain of salvation, through whom he may be more than conqueror; the best of provisions—the bread and water of life; and the best of pay promised to him—an eternal weight of glory.

All these are ancient things. I will not be drawn off to dwell on them now.

The one point I want to impress on your soul just now is this—that if you want to be saved, you must not only be a soldier, but a victorious soldier. You must not only profess to fight on Christ’s side against sin, the world, and the devil, but you must actually fight and overcome.

Now this is one grand distinguishing mark of true Christians. Other men perhaps like to be numbered in the ranks of Christ’s army; other men may have lazy wishes, and languid desires after the crown of glory–but it is the true Christian alone, who does the work of a soldier. He alone fairly meets the enemies of his soul, really fights with them, and in that fight overcomes them.

Reader, one great lesson I wish you to learn this day is this—that if you would prove you are born again and going to heaven, you must be a victorious soldier of Christ. If you would make it clear that you have any title to Christ’s precious promises, you must fight the good fight in Christ’s cause, and in that fight you must conquer.

Victory is the only satisfactory evidence that you have a saving religion. You like good sermons, perhaps; you respect the Bible, and read it occasionally; you say your prayers night and morning; you have family prayers, and give to religious societies. I thank God for this–it is all very good. But how goes the battle? How does the great conflict go on all this time? Are you overcoming the love of the world and the fear of man? Are you overcoming the passions, tempers, and lusts of your own heart? Are you resisting the devil, and making him flee from you? How is it in this matter? My dear brother or sister, you must either rule or serve sin, and the devil, and the world. There is no middle course. You must either conquer or be lost.

I know well it is a hard battle that you have to fight, and I want you to know it too. You must fight the good fight of faith, and endure hardships, if you would lay hold of eternal life; you must make up your mind to a daily struggle, if you would reach heaven. There may be shortcuts to heaven invented by man; but ancient Christianity—the good old way—is the way of the cross–the way of conflict. Sin, the world, and the devil must be actually mortified, resisted, and overcome.

This is the road that saints of old have trodden in, and left their record on high.

When Moses refused the pleasures of sin in Egypt, and chose affliction with the people of God—this was overcoming: he overcame the love of pleasure.

When Micaiah refused to prophesy smooth things to king Ahab, though he knew he would be persecuted if he spoke the truth—this was overcoming: he overcame the love of ease.

When Daniel refused to give up praying, though he knew the den of lions was prepared for him—this was overcoming: he overcame the fear of death.

When Matthew rose from the receipt of custom at our Lord’s bidding, left all and followed Him—this was overcoming: he overcame the love of money.

When Peter and John stood up boldly before the Council and said, “We cannot but speak the things we have seen and heard”—this was overcoming: they overcame the fear of man.

When Saul the Pharisee gave up all his prospects of preferment among the Jews, and preached that Jesus whom he had once persecuted—this was overcoming: he overcame the love of man’s praise.

Reader, the same kind of thing which these men did you must also do, if you would be saved. They were men of like passions with yourself, and yet they overcame; they had as many trials as any you can possibly have, and yet they overcame. They fought, they wrestled, they struggled: you must do the same.

What was the secret of their victory? Their faith! They believed on Jesus, and believing were made strong. They believed on Jesus, and believing were held up. In all their battles they kept their eyes on Jesus, and He never left them or forsook them. They overcame by the blood of the Lamb, and the word of His testimony, and so may you.

Reader, I set these truths before you: I ask you to lay them to heart. Resolve, by the grace of God, to be an OVERCOMING Christian.

I do fear much for many professing Christians: I see no sign of fighting in them, much less of victory; they never strike one stroke on the side of Christ. They are at peace with His enemies: they have no quarrel with sin. Reader, I warn you–that this is not Christianity; this is not the way to heaven.

Men and women who hear the Gospel regularly, I often fear much for you. I fear lest you become so familiar with the sounds of its doctrines, that insensibly you become dead to its power. I fear lest your religion should sink down into a little vague talk about your own weakness and corruption, and a few sentimental expressions about Christ, while real practical fighting on Christ’s side is altogether neglected. Oh, beware of this state of mind! “Be doers of the Word, and not hearers only.” No victory—no crown! Fight and overcome!

Young men and women, and especially those who have been brought up in religious families, I fear much for you. I fear lest you get a habit of giving way to every temptation. I fear lest you be afraid of saying “No!” to the world and the devil—and when sinners entice you, think it least trouble to consent. Beware, I do beseech you, of giving way. Every concession will make you weaker. Go into the world resolved to fight Christ’s battle—and fight your way on.

Believers in the Lord Jesus, of every Church and rank in life, I feel much for you. I know your course is hard: I know it is a sore battle you have to fight; I know you are often tempted to say, “It is of no use, and to lay down your arms altogether.”

Cheer up, dear brethren and sisters: take comfort, I entreat you; look at the bright side of your position. Be encouraged to fight on: the time is short, the Lord is at hand, the night is far spent. Millions as weak as you have fought the same fight; not one of all those millions has been finally led captive by Satan. Mighty are your enemies—but the Captain of your salvation is mightier still–His arm, His grace, and His Spirit shall hold you up! Cheer up! be not cast down.

What though you lose a battle or two? You shall not lose all. What though you faint sometimes? You shall not be quite cast down. What though you fall seven times? You shall not be destroyed. Watch against sin–and sin shall not have dominion over you. Resist the devil–and he shall flee from you. Come out boldly from the world–and the world shall be obliged to let you go. You shall find yourselves in the end more than conquerors: you shall overcome.

Reader, let me draw from the whole subject a few words of application, and then I have done.

For one thing, let me warn all formalists and self-righteous people–to take heed that they are not deceived. You imagine that you will go to heaven because you go regularly to church; you indulge an expectation of eternal life, because you are always at the Lord’s table, and are never missing in your pew. But where is your repentance? Where is your faith? Where are your evidences of a new heart? Where is the work of the Spirit? Where are the proofs that you are fighting the great battle? Oh, formal Christian, consider these questions! Tremble! Tremble, and repent!

For another thing, let me warn all careless members of Churches to beware lest they trifle their souls into hell. You live on year after year as if there was no battle to be fought with sin, the world, and the devil; you pass through life a smiling, laughing, gentleman-like or ladylike person, and behave as if there was no devil, no heaven, and no hell. Oh, careless Churchman, or careless Dissenter, careless Episcopalian, careless Presbyterian, careless Independent, careless Baptist, awake and see eternal realities in their true light! Awake, and put on the armor of God! Awake, and fight hard for life! Tremble! Tremble, and repent!

Reader, the great battle must be fought by all who want to be saved. And more than this, it must be won!

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Proof of the Resurrection – The Empty Tomb

In addition to the motives of followers of Christ and secular corrborating evidence for the crucifixion and resurrection, we have a third proof, indeed the most compelling and irrefutable – the empty tomb! As in the last two posts, we present only a small amount of the available historical data to support the proof presented.

Justyn Martyr, 165 AD, cites a letter circulated by Jews in Jerusalem that were antagonistic to Jesus.

“A godless and lawless heresy had sprung from one Jesus, a Galilean deceiver, whom we crucified, but his disciples stole him by night from the tomb, where he was laid when unfastened from the cross, and now deceive men by asserting that he has risen from the dead and ascended to heaven.” (Justin Martyr, Dialogue With Trypho, Chapter 108 –Apologetic Press)

Here we have a record of Jewish unbelievers, unwittingly affirming what was written in Matthew 28:13 (Chief priests to the soldiers): “You are to say, ‘His disciples came by night and stole Him away while we were asleep.’”

Toledoth Yeshua, a derogatory account of the life of Jesus, written around 600 A.D, records:

“Diligent search was made and he (Jesus) was not found in the grave where he had been buried. A gardener had taken him from the grave and had brought him into his garden and buried him in the sand over which the waters flowed into the garden. (Apologetic Press.org)”

Jesus enemies didn’t even refute the resurrection empty tomb!

Additional food for thought:

1. If the disciples stole the body, and grave robbing was a crime under roman law, why no arrests?

2. If, on resurrection morning, the women went to wrong tomb, why didn’t the Jews produce the body?

4. If a gardner stole body, why did the Jews initially claim that disciples stole the body?

5. If Jesus didn’t really die, what about the blood and water pouring from the spear wound? 

Peter preaches in Jerusalem during Pentecost

If the above questions don’t arouse your curiosity, consider Peter’s sermon (Acts 2) in the streets of Jerusalem to a large crowd of what had to be nearly all Jews:

“Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know– this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it. (vv 22-24)

Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing. For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says, “‘The Lord said to my Lord, Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.’ Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” (29-36)

The response of the crowd accused of sending Christ to his death:

“Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” (v 37)

A final question:

If the death and bodily resurrection of Christ was not true, why would even a single person in the listening crowd be cut to the heart and cry “…what shall we do?”

___________

It is our hope that in reading these last few posts, you have been encouraged to conduct your own research into proofs for the resurrection of our Savior, both for personal edification and to become better equipped to defend your faith in the ‘marketplace’.

God Bless!

Proof of the Resurrection – Corroborating Evidence

Sounds like a TV crime show, doesn’t it?

Corroborating evidence is evidence that tends to support a proposition that is already supported by some evidence. For example, W, a witness, testifies that she saw X drive his automobile into a green car. Y, another witness, testifies that when he examined X’s car later that day he noticed green paint on its fender.

There are Secular sources that corroborate the Biblical account of the resurrection :

Tacitus senator and historian of Rome (56-117 AD)

“Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome…” (Tacitus, Annals, 15.44).

What do we learn from the above excerpt from Tacitus’ Annals?

1. Christ existed

2. Christ was crucified

3. Christians followed Him

4. During reign of Tiberius

5. Pontius Pilate Existed

6. Resurrection mentioned (mischievous persistent ‘superstition)

Titus Flavius Josephus (Joseph son of Matthias)

“About this time there lived Jesus, a wise man, if indeed one ought to call him a man. For he was one who wrought surprising feats and was a teacher of such people as accept the truth gladly. He won over many Jews and many of the Greeks. He was the Christ. When Pilate, upon hearing him accused by men of the highest standing among us, had condemned him to be crucified, those who had in the first place come to love him did not give up their affection for him. On the third day he appeared to them restored to life, for the prophets of God had prophesied these and countless other marvelous things about him. And the tribe of Christians, so called after him, has still to this day not disappeared.” (Josephus, The Antiquities, 18.63-64).

Phlegon and the Darkness on the day of Christ’s Crucifixion

Phlegon wrote Olympiads which chronicles the Greek games from 776 B.C. to 137 A.D. in 16 books. He also wrote of the darkness and earthquake that occurred on the day Christ was crucified recorded in Matthew 27, Luke 23, and Mark 15.

This phenomenon, evidently, was visible in Rome, Athens, and other Mediterranean cities. According to Tertullian…it was a “cosmic” or “world event.” Phlegon, a Greek author from Caria writing a chronology soon after 137 A.D. reported that in the fourth year of the 202nd Olympiad (i.e., 33 A.D.) there was “the greatest eclipse of the sun” and that “it became night in the sixth hour of the day (noon) so that stars even appeared in the heavens. There was a great earthquake in Bithynia, and many things were overturned in Nicaea” (Paul Maier, Pontius Pilate, 101).

That darkness occured is not in question. What exactly it was became a question, solar eclipse being a common and still held belief. Wikipedia actually had an interesting article about the events that includes the statement”

“. . .it was known in medieval times that a solar eclipse could not take place during Passover when there is a full moon, it was considered a miraculous sign rather than a naturally occurring event. The astronomer Johannes de Sacrobosco wrote, in his The Sphere of the World, “the eclipse was not natural, but, rather, miraculous and contrary to nature”.

 

NOTE: The above is only a sample of corroborating evidence from secular sources for the Biblical accounts of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I hope it has aroused your curiosity to find more!

Proof of the Resurrection of Christ – Motive

The simple Gospel Message that the Apostle Paul preached:

“For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.” – 1 Cor 15:3-8

The previous post, concerning the motive of Jewish followers of Christ,  asked the question: 

Why would so many Jews follow a crucified man?

Those to whom Christ appeared after his resurrection that are mentioned by Paul was merely the beginning of a ‘religious’ movement that turned the world upside down. History books are full of the accounts of of those who have been martyred simply because they believed in and proclaimed as Savior and Lord the One who died for their sins and was raised up again, according to Scripture. Perhaps more significant to a discussion of motive are not those who were Jesus’ constant followers during His life, but those who did not believe, but having seen Him after His death and resurrection, they came to belief. Two are mentioned in the 1 Corinthians passage; James and Paul himself.

James was one of Jesus’ half-brothers, who did not initially believe in Him as Messiah (John 7:5). Josephus records that the same James, the brother of Jesus, was put to death by Annas and the Sanhedrin during the reign of Nero (62 AD). (Antiquities, book 20, chapter 9) In James’ instance, we have the Biblical record and a bit of reputable historical record that a man who before the resurrection did not believe Jesus was the Jewish Messiah, and came to believe exactly that after seeing the risen Christ, and was martyred for his belief.   

What accounts for the change?

Then we have Saul, who became Paul after his Damascus Road experience. it is important to note that six major things separated the Jews from other segments of society (pagans as well as believers in Christ): the Sabbath, circumcision, sacrifices, dietary laws, Messiah of Glory (non-suffering Messiah), and monotheism

Later, after his conversion and encounter with the risen Christ, Saul became Paul and had these things to say:

Colossians 2:16-17 So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a feast day or a new moon or sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ.

Galatians 5:6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love.

1st Corinthians 1:23 …but we preach Christ crucified….

Philippians 3:4b-7 If anyone else has a mind to put confidence in the flesh, I far more: circumcised the eighth day, of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the Law, a Pharisee; as to zeal a persecutor of the church; as to the righteousness which is in the Law, found blameless. But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ.

What accounts for the change?

The change from a position of non-belief (James and Paul), and even from being a persecutor of Christians to becoming one (Paul), are effects pf a cause. In this case, the cause is having seen the risen Lord!

Is this proposed proof of the resurrection of Jesus completely irrefutable by those who do not want to believe it? No, but it should give a person cause to at least think about it and ask the question:

WHAT ACCOUNTS FOR THE CHANGE?

How Reliable are Biblical Accounts of Christ’s Resurrection?

One of the reasons we can trust the reliability of biblical accounts are supernatural acts of God (miracles) that are not only recorded in Scripture, but that also have historical and archeological evidence. The intent of this blog post is to peak your interest and encourage personal Bible study and research. In addition to increasing personal confidence in the truth of Scripture, such endeavors will serve to equip the believer for conversation/debate with non-believers.

There are two events in the Old Testament that are significant examples; the fall of the walls of Jericho, and the defeat/destruction  of  Sennacherib’s army, which had beseiged Jerusalem. I’ll leave further investigation to those interested in history and archeology, and ask that research be done without any agenda (pro or con). So if you are curious, go for it! You can just perform an online search for “historical/archeological evidence of ___________” for either, and have a lot of information to filter through and research.

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is second of three events recorded by Paul as integral to the Gospel message:

“Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you–unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.” – 1 Cor 15:1-8

Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, was raised according to the Scriptures, and was seen by many after the resurrection. The first two events were prophesied in previously recorded Scripture, and the third provides evidence that the first two had to be either a hoax or a supernatural miracle.

Three possible proofs for a supernatural act of God are these:

1. Motive: Why would so many Jews follow a crucified man?

2. Corroborating evidence of gospel accounts: If all other historical facts prove to be true, why not the resurrection?

3. The empty tomb: Even the greatest antagonists to the resurrection of Jesus affirm His tomb was empty!

All three possible proofs fall into the arena of human logic. At the same time, the resurrection of Jesus Christ is so critical to our Christian faith, that Paul emphatically declared in 1 Corinthians, Chapter 15, that if the resurrection of Jesus Christ is not true, our faith is in vain!

Does this writer have a personal opinion? Of course, but his ‘opinion’ is not the issue. As open, professing believers in Christ, we eventually are engaged in discussion about the genuineness and reality of our faith, with other believers, as well as non-believers (unless we are ashamed of the gospel).

Such discussions with non-believers are more than just ‘words’ deep, they are engagements in spiritual warfare and opportunities to present logical intellectual arguments to those who ostensibly appeal to logic and rational thinking in order to prove our faith illogical and irrational.

Hopefully the next few posts will encourage greater development of the Christian ‘mind’ and equip readers to defend their faith on the enemy’s terms.

If you are reading this, stay tuned for separate posts addressing the aforementioned proposed proofs of the Resurrection!

Developing a Warrior’s Heart – Holy Conversation

Excerpted from “The Christian Soldier” by Thomas Watson

Indeed we are hesistant, therefore we must encourage ourselves, Mal. 3:16 “They that feared the Lord spoke often one to another.” A gracious person has not only piety only in his heart—but also in his tongue, Psalm 37:30. “The law of God is in his heart, and his tongue talks of judgment:” he drops holy words as pearls. It is the fault of Christians, that they do not in company provoke themselves to good conversation: it is a sinful modesty; there is much visiting—but they do not give one another’s souls a visit. In worldly things their tongue is as the pen of a ready writer—but in matters of piety, it is as if their tongue did cleave to the roof of their mouth.

What should be more natural for Christian to discuss among themselves, but Heaven? The world is a great Inn; we are guests in this Inn. Travelers, when they are met in their Inn, do not spend all their time in speaking about their Inn; they are to lodge there but a few hours, and are gone; but they are speaking of their home, and the country wither they are traveling. So when we meet together, we should not be talking only about the world; we are to leave this presently; but we should talk of our heavenly country, Heb. 11:16.

So that we might encourage ourselves to good conversation, let us consider these:

“The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.” Luke 6:45. Our conversation demonstrates what is in the heart. As the looking-glass shows what the face is—whether it be fair or foul; just so, our words show what our heart is. Useless conversation reveals a light, feathery heart. Gracious conversation reveals a gracious heart. The water in the conduit shows what the spring is.

Holy conversation is very edifying. The apostle bids us “edify one another,” 1 Thess 5:11. And how more than in this way? Godly conversation enlightens the mind when it is ignorant; settles it when it is wavering. A good life adorns piety; godly conversation propagates it.

Gracious conversation makes us resemble Christ. His words were perfumed with holiness: “grace was poured into his lips,” Psalm 45:2. He spoke to the admiration of all: his hands worked miracles and his tongue spoke oracles, Luke 4:22. “All bare him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth.” Christ never came into any company—but he introduced good conversation. Levi made him a feast, Luke 5:29. and Christ feasted him with holy conversation. When he came to Jacob’s well, he presently speaks of the “water of life,” Jude 4. The more holy our conversation is, the more we are like Christ. Should not the members be like the head?

God takes special notice of every good word we speak when we meet. “Then those who feared the Lord talked with each other, and the Lord listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence concerning those who feared the Lord and honored his name.” Malachi 3:16. As God has a bottle for the tears of his people—so he has a book in which he writes down all their good speeches, and will make honorable mention of them at the last day. “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” Colossians 4:6

Holy conversation will be a means to bring Christ into our company. The two disciples were communing of the death and sufferings of Christ; and while they were speaking, Jesus Christ came among them, Luke 24:15. “While they communed together, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them.” When men entertain bad conversation, Satan draws near, and makes one of the company; but when they have holy and gracious conversation, Jesus Christ draws near, and wherever he comes, he brings a blessing along with him.

Developing a Warrior’s Heart – Self-Examination

Excerpted from “The Christian Soldier” by Thomas Watson

Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?” 2 Corinthians 13:5.

This is a duty of great importance: it is a parleying with one’s own heart, Psalm 77:6. “I commune with my own heart.”

Self-examination in itself is difficult:

  • It is a work of self-reflection; it lies most with the heart. It is hard to look inward. External acts of religion are easy; to lift up the eye to Heaven, to bow the knee, to read a prayer—this requires no more labor than for a Catholic to count over his beads; but to examine a man’s self, to turn in upon his own soul, to take the heart as a watch all in pieces, and see what is defective; this is not easy. Reflective acts are hardest. The eye can see everything but itself. It is easy to spy the faults of others—but hard to find out our own.
  • Examination of a man’s self is difficult, because of self-love. As ignorance blinds, so self-love flatters. Every man is ready to think the best of himself. What Solomon says of love to our neighbor is most true of self-love; “it hides a multitude of sins,” Proverbs 10:12. When a man looks upon himself in the looking-glass of self-love, his virtues appear greater than they are, and his sins less. Self-love makes one rather excuse what is amiss, than examine it.

As self- examination is in itself difficult, so it is a work which we are hesitant to perform for these reasons:

  • Consciousness of guilt. Sin clamors inwardly, and men are loathe to look into their hearts lest they should find that which should trouble them. It is little pleasure to read the hand writing on the wall of conscience.
  • Foolish, presumptuous hopes keep men from it: they fancy their estate to be good, and while they weigh themselves in the balance of presumption, they pass the test. Many take their salvation on trust.  How confident are some of salvation—yet never examine their title to Heaven.
  • Men like to rest in the good opinions of others: how vain this is! Alas, one may be gold and pearl in the eye of others—yet God may judge him reprobate silver! Bystanders can but see the outward behavior—but they cannot tell what evil is in the heart. Fair streams may run on the top of a river—but vermin may lay at the bottom.
  • Men hesitate to examine themselves, because they do not believe Scripture. The Scripture says, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” Jeremiah 17:9. The heart is the greatest impostor. It will persuade that a slight tear is repentance; a lazy desire is faith.

In self-examination great advantage will accrue to us: the benefit is great whichever way things turn. If upon examination we find that we have not saving grace—then the mistake is discovered, and the danger can be prevented. If we find that we have saving grace—we may take the comfort of it. How glad was he who had “found the pearl of great price?” He who upon search finds that he has but the least degree of grace, is like one who has found his box of evidences; he is heir to all the promises, and in a state of salvation!

So that we would be successful in our self-examination, let us desire God to help us to find out our hearts, Job 34:32. “That which I see not teach you me.”—Lord, take off the veil; show me my heart; let me not perish through mistake, or go to hell with hope of Heaven. “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Psalm 139:23-24.

Developing a Warrior’s Heart – Holy Meditation

Excerpted from “The Christian Soldier” by Thomas Watson

Meditation may be described as a holy exercise of the mind; whereby we bring the truths of God to remembrance, and do seriously ponder upon them and apply them to ourselves.  It is a serious thinking upon God. It is not a few transient thoughts that are quickly gone—but a fixing and staying of the mind upon heavenly objects.

Upon what should we meditate?

1. Meditate seriously upon the CORRUPTION of your nature. We have lost that pure holy frame of soul that we once had. There is a sea of sin in us. Our nature is the source and seminary of all evil. The meditation of this would be a means to pull down our pride. Even those who have grace have cause to walk humbly.

2. Meditate seriously upon the death and passion of CHRIST. His soul was overcast with a cloud of sorrow when he was conflicting with his Father’s wrath; and all this we ourselves, should have suffered, Isaiah 53:5. “He was wounded for our transgressions.” As David said, “Lo, I have sinned—but these sheep, what have they done?” 2 Sam. 24:17. So we have sinned—but this Lamb of God—what had he done?

The serious meditation of this would produce repentance and fill our hearts with love for Christ ..

3. Meditate on your EVIDENCES for heaven. What have you to show for Heaven, if you should die this night?

  • Was your heart ever thoroughly convinced of sin? Did you ever see yourself lost without Christ? Conviction is the first step to conversion. 
  • Has God ever made you willing to take Christ upon his own terms? Zech 6:13. “He shall be a priest upon his throne.” Are you as willing that Christ should be upon the throne of your heart to rule you—as well as a priest at the altar to intercede for you? Are you willing to renounce those sins to which the bias of your heart does naturally incline?
  • Do you have the indwelling presence of the Spirit? If you have, what has God’s Spirit done in you? Has he made you of another spirit? meek, merciful, humble? Is he a transforming Spirit? Has he left the impress of its holiness upon you?

4. Meditate on God’s severity against SIN. Every arrow in God’s quiver is shot against sin. Sin burned Sodom, and drowned the old world. Sin kindles hell. If when a spark of God’s wrath flies into a mans conscience, it is so terrible, what is it when God ‘stirs up all his wrath”? Psalm78:38. The meditation of this would frighten us out of our sins. There cannot be so much sweetness in sin—as there is sting. How dreadful is God’s anger! Psalm 90:11. “Who knows the power of his wrath?”

6. Meditate on ETERNAL LIFE. 1 John 2:25. “This is his promise, even eternal life.” Life is sweet, and this word eternal makes it sweeter. This lies in the immediate vision and fruition of God.

What are the benefits of Holy meditation?

1. Meditation makes the Word preached to profit; it works it upon the conscience. As the bee sucks the honey from the flower, so by meditation we suck out the sweetness of a truth.

2. Holy meditation quickens the affections. “Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long.” Psalm 119:97.  As the musing on worldly objects makes the fire of lust burn; the musing on injuries makes the fire of revenge burn; just so, meditating on the transcendent beauties of Christ, would make our love to Christ flame forth.

3. Meditation has a transforming power in it. The hearing of the Word may affect us—but the meditating upon it does transform us. Meditation stamps the impression of divine truths upon our hearts.

4. Meditation produces reformation. Psalm 119:59. “I have considered my ways and have turned my steps to your statutes.” Did but people meditated on the damnableness of sin; they would realize that there is a rope at the end of it, which will hang them eternally in hell; they would break off a course of sinning, and become new creatures. Let all this persuade us to holy meditation. I dare be bold to say that if men would spend but one quarter of an hour every day in contemplating heavenly objects, it would leave a mighty impression upon them, and, through the blessing of God might prove the beginning of a happy conversion.