• Have Your Forsaken Your First Love? Questions to Help You Gauge Your Love for Christ

    by Shawn Merithew on July 26, 2016

    “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Rom 8:28)

    As God gives us one of the greatest assurances Christians have in the Bible, why does he choose the virtue of love as the main descriptive for His people? Why doesn’t he say, “God causes all things to work together for good to those who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ?” Or, since the context of Romans 8 speaks much of suffering, why doesn’t He say, “God causes all things to work together for good to those who take up their cross and follow Jesus.” Why does God, through Paul, choose to elevate the virtue of love here in this verse?

    D. Martin Lloyd Jones gives us several reasons. First, love is the preeminent Christian virtue. When the religious leaders asked Jesus to name the greatest commandment, He said, “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.” (Mark 12:30) Faith is the means of life in Christ, love is the motive of life in Christ, and they are inseparable gifts of God to the child He regenerates. However, one day our faith will give way to sight, but love will last eternally (1 Cor 13:13).

    Second, love for God is the virtue that most clearly distinguishes Christians from non-Christians. No matter what the world may profess to believe about Jesus Christ, the fact of the matter is they either hate Him or they are indifferent to Him. But the true child of God will love God, even when God tells him things that are hard to hear, even when life is full of tribulations. Third, the most absolute proof of God’s love for us IS our love for Him. Consider 1 John 4:19: “We love, because He first loved us.” If God had not loved us first, we would never love Him. Our love for Him is the spiritual fruit of Him first loving us, drawing us to Himself, and regenerating us in the power of the Holy Spirit.

    All of these truths bring us to this most pertinent question: Do you love God? All good Christians say we love the Lord, but do we really walk in love for Him? More specifically, are the affections of your heart set first upon the perfections of God revealed in Christ? Here are six questions to help you gauge your love for Christ:

    1) Do you long for and seek personal communion with Christ? More precisely, do you desire to be with Him and take action to be with Him through the normal means of grace?

    2) Do you find your greatest sense of belonging and assurance in who Christ is and His expressions of love for you?

    3) Do the main priorities of your life demonstrate that Christ is foremost in your affections?

    4) Are the loves of your life derived from your love for Him? In other words, because you love Him, do you love what He loves and hate what He hates?

    5) Is there anything you desire more than Him and His presence?

    6) When you sense that your love for Christ is waning or faltering, do you pray for God’s help to love Christ more?

    I want to be careful to say that none of us will love Christ perfectly. Because we are still bound to our sinful flesh, our love will ebb and flow with times of weakness and times of intensity. Thus, none of us will love Christ perfectly; but if we belong to God, we will love Christ truly. I believe that the greatest spiritual struggles of our lives are most often traced back to this one thing: We are not cultivating love for Christ by drawing near to Him and knowing Him and treasuring Him. We say we love Him, but we have placed other things higher than Him in our affections. Remember what Jesus had to say to the church at Ephesus: “But I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first.” (Rev 2:4-5)

    Have you left your first love? Are you focused more on right doctrine than upon loving God? Do you see yourself trusting in your own works rather than loving Christ and trusting in His work? Is your heart drawn more to the world and the things you want here rather than to Christ? Do you constantly make the excuse that you are too busy to pursue Christ the way you know you should? Are you bearing the shame of hidden sin so heavily that you feel Christ doesn’t want you?

    Remember, dear child of God, no matter how many steps you have taken away from Christ, it only takes one step to get back. Take that step of repentance. Lay yourself at His feet, and you will see that He never stopped holding you. He died in your place to secure you in His embrace. Look into your Savior’s eyes and see how fiercely He loves you. Then let the truth of His love for you renew your love for Him. Go to the Word, and be diligent to set Christ before yourself, and the Spirit within you WILL deepen your passion for Him.

    “The LORD your God is in your midst, A victorious warrior. He will exult over you with joy, He will be quiet in His love, He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy.” (Zeph 3:17)

  • Discipline for Church Abandonment

    by Tom Hicks on September 29, 2015

    The following post is a “pastoral position paper,” prepared and unanimously approved by the pastors body at Morningview Baptist Church.  We offer it here so Morningview members may review it.  We’ll be providing hard copies for the whole church on Sunday.

    In 1 Peter 1:22, Christ commands us to “love one another fervently, from the heart.” One of the crucial ways we love one another is by holding one another accountable. Hebrews 12:5-11 teaches us that God’s discipline of His children is a crucial aspect of His grace and love for us, and therefore, the exercise of church discipline is an exercise of His grace of love for the church as well as for the member who persists in unrepentant sin. Church attendance and involvement is one of the most central expressions of our faith in Christ. The idea of a believer who does not identify with a local church is completely foreign to the New Testament. So, when we allow members of our church to forsake all fellowship and participation with God’s people, we are not demonstrating love. We are demonstrating an extreme indifference and disregard for their souls. Because we love Christ, love His Word, and love one another, when one of our brothers or sisters refuses our admonishment to obedience in this area and persists in unrepentance, we must move through the steps of Matthew 18:15-17 to address their sin of church abandonment. (more…)

  • What Kinds of Sin Warrant Church Discipline?

    by Tom Hicks on May 6, 2015

    Church DisciplineOccasionally, when discussions of church discipline arise, some people worry that discipline might be applied to every kind of sin. If we discipline people who persist unrepentantly in adultery, does that mean that we should also discipline people for not giving faithfully, for not reading their Bibles and praying faithfully, for marital conflict, etc.?  Where do we draw the line?   (more…)

  • True and False Repentance: What’s the difference? John Colquhoun answers.

    by Tom Hicks on April 23, 2015

    Screen Shot 2015-04-23 at 12.52.18 PMIn his excellent book, Repentance, John Colquhoun gives 8 distinctions between true and counterfeit repentance. For ease of reading, I’ll put his points in my own words and provide summaries and quotations under each point, though I haven’t distinguished between quotations and summaries.

    1. False repentance flows from faith in the law (as a covenant) and is legal; but true repentance flows from true faith in the law and the gospel.

    False repentance comes from a temporary faith in the commands and curses of the broken law which a falsely repentant man fears. When the holy law strikes his conscience, he is forced to believe that it requires perfect obedience and its curse for disobedience stands against him. The only refuges  he has from the curse of the law to pacify his guilty conscience and to satisfy Divine justice and to give himself hope include verbal resolutions, reformations, renewed duties, and other self-righteous schemes. He does not actually become righteous because he seeks it by works (Rom 9:31-32). He may pretend some regard to Christ in this legal progress. He may hope that God, for the sake of Christ, will accept his repentance and forgive his sins.

    True repentance, however, flows from humble belief in the law and gospel. Godly sorrow for sin and turning from the love and practice of sin to the love and practice of holiness issue from reliance on the righteousness of Jesus Christ for all our title to pardon and sanctification and from trusting in Him for pardoning mercy and sanctifying grace. True repentance has a humbling, self-condemning, broken, whole-hearted longing for God’s pardoning mercy. (more…)

  • Why is Denying Justification such a Serious Error?

    by Tom Hicks on February 23, 2015

    JustificationThe doctrine of justification by faith alone on the ground of Christ’s imputed righteousness remains under direct attack in various quarters. Reformulations of the doctrine among proponents of the New Perspectives on Paul (Sanders, Dunn, Wright) as well as men such as Dan Fuller, Norman Shepherd, and Peter Leithart have dangerously distorted the biblical teaching.  As someone who wrote his PhD dissertation on the doctrines of justification in Richard Baxter and Benjamin Keach, I am convinced that modifying the biblical doctrine is a serious theological error. As a pastor of a local church, I have observed how the doctrine of justification humbles the proud, strengthens the fainthearted, gives assurance to the fearful, encourages vulnerable and motivates self-sacrificing love. To deny this doctrine is to deny the very heart and power of the gospel. May the Lord bring theological clarity on this doctrine for the sake of His own glory and for the good of His beloved bride. (more…)

  • Our New Logo and New Look

    by TJ Weaver on September 7, 2014

    As you can see, things look a little different around here. Our old website and logo had gotten to be a little outdated and didn’t really reflect the culture of our congregation anymore. As we have grown and changed, we thought that our website and logo should (more…)

  • Is “How People Change” in Sunday School really a “Bible study?”

    by Tom Hicks on August 29, 2013

    How People Change

    Interestingly enough, Bible teaches us that there are many different ways to study the Bible. If we focus on just one of the ways we’re supposed to study the Bible, then our knowledge of the Bible, of Christ, and of ourselves will be greatly impoverished. Let me list (more…)

  • Why Study "How People Change" in Sunday School?

    by Tom Hicks on August 5, 2013

    How People Change
    Tim Lane and Paul Tripp
    September 8 – December 8

    I don’t normally favor having video series and workbook studies in Sunday school. But Tim Lane and Paul Tripp’s study, How People Change, is an important exception. The pastors body has asked us to have this fourteen week study in (more…)

  • God's New Year's Resolutions

    by Tom Hicks on December 31, 2012

    Tis the time for “New Year’s Resolutions.” While I’m not totally opposed to making New Year’s resolutions, I would submit that there is no power in them at all. The power to change your life does not come from your personal resolve, but from God’s resolve.

    When we make New Year’s resolutions, we often focus on ourselves, our determination, our discipline, and our personal efforts. But our focus should never be on ourselves, especially when it comes to personal change. Our focus should be on God and what He has done in Christ, is doing in Christ and will do in Christ. When we think on God’s resolutions, our hearts are won to Him and then we lovingly, joyfully, and willingly resolve to change for His glory.

    So this year, rather than making “New Year’s resolutions” (especially ones not found in the Bible), I would encourage you to think on God’s resolutions. Certainly God’s resolutions are never limited to the New Year, and that’s part of their beauty. God’s resolutions originate in eternity, and they remain immutably constant in time. God’s resolutions never need to be renewed because He brings every one of them to pass according to the times appointed in His eternal decree.

    Let us simply look on Him and His works. Let us look away from ourselves, away from our sins, away from our faith, away from our love and good works, and instead set our eyes upon our God.

    Consider just a few of God’s eternal resolutions related to “newness.”

    1. He resolved to forgive us. “Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. . . . I, I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins” (Isa 43:19, 25).

    2. He resolved to create a new heavens and a new earth in which weeping will be no more. “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth, and the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in that which I create; for behold, I create Jerusalem to be a joy, and her people to be a gladness. I will rejoice in Jerusalem and be glad in my people; no more shall be heard in it the sound of weeping and the cry of distress” (Isa 65:17-19).

    3. He resolved to make an unbreakable new covenant, unlike the old covenant. “Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the LORD. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more” (Jer 31:31-34).

    4. He resolved that His love and mercy will never come to an end, but that they are new every morning. “The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (Lam 3:22-23).

    5. He resolved to give His people one heart and a new spirit that walks in His commandments. “And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God” (Ezek 11:19-20).

    6. He resolved to make His people a new creation in Christ. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Cor 5:17).

    7. He resolved to end the division between Jews and Greeks (and all racial/ethnic divisions) and to make one new man in Christ. “For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility” (Eph 2:14-16).

    8. He resolved to open a new and living way to Himself through the shed blood of His Son. “We have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh” (Heb 10:19-20).

    9. He resolved to make all things new. “And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true” (Rev 21:5).

  • WHAT ARE THE ANSWERS TO LIFE'S BIGGEST QUESTIONS?

    by Shawn Merithew on March 17, 2010

    Four of the biggest questions we are faced with in this life are:  (1) Why am I here?  (2)  What is wrong with the world? (3) What happens when I die? and (4) How is it all going to end?  Interestingly enough, the answers to these questions form the basis of what is called a “World-View,” and your “World-View” is your basic scheme or philosophy (more…)

Connect with MorningView Baptist Church

RSS Twitter Facebook Podcasts Instagram