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Alistair Begg on the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation

by WCTS

October 2017 marks the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. This theological revolution is largely ignored and forgotten, not just in our secular culture, but more tragically in an increasingly confused and compromised Church.

At the Reformation’s heart was the question, “How are sinful men and women made right with God?” It was this that preoccupied Martin Luther and caused him great agony of soul. When he came to discover that justification is not a process involving good deeds, but an act of God accounting the work of Christ to the sinner that receives Him, he declared: “I felt myself straightway born afresh and to have entered through the open gates into paradise itself.”

Around the same time in England, Thomas Bilney (the forgotten Reformer) read in Latin the New Testament translated by Erasmus. When he came to 1 Timothy 1:1

5, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners,” he realized he was put right with God not on account of something done by him, but for him. Justification is a once-for-all event of which good works are not a part, but a consequence. The Reformation declared that authority was found in Scripture alone. In looking to Scripture, we find our acceptance with God. In Christ alone, by grace alone, through faith alone—soli Deo gloria.

Let me encourage you to follow up on this by studying for yourself. We are offering a really helpful resource titled These Truths Alone: Why the Reformation Solas Are Essential for Our Faith Today. It’s an in-depth study that will help you or your Bible Study group learn more about the Gospel truth proclaimed by the 16th-century Reformers. Along these same lines, our other offer, The Character of the Church, explains how to consider these truths when assessing local church membership.

The task of Gospel proclamation is not over. At Parkside, we often sing the hymn “Facing a Task Unfinished,” the third verse of which reads:

We bear the torch that flaming
fell from the hands of those

who gave their lives proclaiming
that Jesus died and rose.
Ours is the same commission,
the same glad message ours;
fired by the same ambition,
to Thee we yield our powers.

 

David Jeremiah on Relentless Pursuit

by WCTS

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.
1 Peter 5:8

Recommended Reading: 1 Samuel 24:8-15

In the 1969 comedic Western film, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, the two main characters have committed a robbery and are being pursued by a posse of lawmen. Every time the main characters look over their shoulder, the posse is still there. The robbers repeatedly ask, “Who are those guys?”

Relentless pursuit is part of the Christian life. That is, we are constantly being stalked by “[our] adversary the devil.” It was the same with David in the Old Testament; he was pursued by King Saul who sought to put David to death. Unlike the film characters, we are not being pursued for a specific sin or action. In fact, it is the opposite: We are on God’s side and are relentlessly pursued and attacked by our spiritual enemy, Satan. For that reason, we must “be sober, be vigilant”—we must never let our guard down. We must clothe ourselves daily in the believer’s spiritual armor, our only defense against the “fiery darts of the wicked one” (Ephesians 6:10-18).

Be vigilant, but not fearful. In Christ, we have all the defense we need against our spiritual enemy. We are victorious in Christ.

Satan does far more harm as an angel of light than as a roaring lion.
Vance Havner

Alistair Begg on God’s Faithfulness

by WCTS

The words to the poem “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” written by Thomas O. Chisholm back in 1923 were so moving that the musician who gave them melody prayed earnestly that he might pen a tune worthy of the lyric. His prayer was answered! Today, “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” is sung in churches around the world and is a hymn you likely know well.

“Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father;
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions,
they fail not;
As Thou has been Thou forever will be.
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided;
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!”
– Thomas O. Chisholm

It’s good food for our souls to routinely read of God’s faithfulness in Scripture. This serves as a helpful reminder that the Bible pulsates with the drumbeat of God’s faithfulness from beginning to end. When we study the revelation of God’s character in the Bible, we find that faithfulness is not an external attribute, but one that is grounded innately in His nature. This truth is a great comfort to ponder on a gray afternoon – or on a sunny one for that matter! The Psalms in particular are rich with encouragement along these lines: “As for you, O Lord, you will not restrain your mercy from me; your steadfast love and your faithfulness will ever preserve me!” (Psalm 40:11)

In Galatians, Paul reminds us that faithfulness is part of the fruit that comes as a gift from God’s Spirit. We don’t foster it on our own. It is cultivated in us through the work of the Spirit, therefore we can only become Christ-like and possess the characteristics Paul describes through God’s sovereign grace.

My late friend Jerry Bridges succinctly explained our complete dependence on God’s faithfulness “for deliverance from temptation, for ultimate sanctification, for the forgiveness of our sins, for deliverance through times of suffering, and for the fulfillment of our ultimate hope of eternal life.” It’s humbling when we fully grasp that our journey to salvation is all grace from beginning to end.

Our first resource this month helps us to understand that God’s faithfulness remains even when tragedy strikes. In Where was God when that happened? Christopher Ash gives helpful insight into God’s sovereignty in the wake of painful events. And, in our second offer, we explore the greatest image of God’s faithfulness – the sending of the Lord Jesus to reconcile us to Himself. Name above All Names explores the Scripture to provide an in-depth portrait of Jesus. As always, I commend both these books to you highly.

Upcoming Series on Truth for Life with Alistair Begg

by WCTS

Dangers, Toils, and Snares

Dates: November 1-22
Scripture: Various

What are the purposes of suffering and trials? Why does God allow them? Those around us might tell us that suffering is pointless, that we should ignore it or rise above it, or that karma is paying us back for a wrong we have committed. However, the Bible gives a very different answer. Scripture clearly addresses suffering—both its presence and its purpose. (After all, no one suffered more than Christ, our Savior.) Its many examples of faithful men and women who encountered various trials demonstrate God’s hand at work throughout history and for His glory.

In this series, Alistair Begg address the difficulties and worries of life by turning our attention to God’s Word and His promises. We may be tempted to long for greener pastures, but amid life’s trials, God’s Word assures us that peace is found in Christ alone.

Listen to this series


Why Bother With the Bible?

Dates:November 29-December 6
Scripture:2 Timothy 3:14-17

Some people say that they can find God in Nature or through personal spiritual practices. If that’s true, then why bother with the Bible? Isn’t it just an archaic book that’s not relevant to our modern lives? In a day when so many claim to converse directly with God, is the Bible really needed?

In this series, Alistair Begg examines why the Bible isn’t just an important part of Christian worship; it’s the safest and only sure way to hear God’s voice. God knew we would desperately need our emotions healed, our broken lives restored, and our deepest questions answered. He gave us Scripture, therefore, as both a source of spiritual vitality and a plumb line against which we can measure all claims to truth. How can we be saved? Then once we’ve been saved, how do we live? The Bible’s answers are clear. If we wish to know that we belong to God, we must start by reading, hearing, and meditating on His Word.

Listen to this series


Here is Your God

Dates:December 7-19
Scripture:Various

In ancient days, when people created idols for themselves, God spoke through the prophet Isaiah to declare the futility of idol worship and to remind His people of His promised Messiah. Idolatry persists today, although our gods and idols tend to be subtler. Sometimes, even good things can siphon off the devotion that is solely due to God—but how do these idols measure up against the God of the Bible?

The best way to identify false gods is by studying and knowing the one true God. In this series of messages, Alistair Begg demonstrates how Isaiah’s prophecies find their fulfillment in Jesus. By examining God’s character as revealed both in the Bible and through His Son, we learn how vastly the true God differs from the false idols we all set up in our hearts. A relationship with this sovereign God satisfies our intellectual quests and emotional longings as we trust not in our futile efforts, but in His accomplished work.

Listen to this series