Should Christians be watching “Game of Thrones”?

John Piper gives a very candid and inspiring reply here entitled 12 Questions to Ask Before You Watch ‘Game of Thrones’.

In the midst of that post he makes this blunt statement:

“The world does not need more cool, hip, culturally savvy, irrelevant copies of itself. That is a hoax that has duped thousands of young Christians. They think they have to be hip, cool, savvy, culturally aware, watching everything in order not to be freakish. And that is undoing them morally and undoing their witness.’

Amen.
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Our help in this world of snares

This world is no friend to those desiring to live in a manner pleasing to God. Thomas Manton wrote, 1308371_81342165

The world is full of snares; we are carnal, and there are carnal persons around us, and the devil is a restless enemy watching for all opportunities; and surely having so much pride in us, and love of pleasure, and so many worldly desires — we give in but too, too often. Therefore, unless GOD keep us, we shall be tossed to and fro like feathers with the wind of every temptation.

How glad we are to have God as our gracious and great helper! The doxology that ends the Epistle of Jude stirs us to praise the Lord —

Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.
(Jude 1:24-25, ESV)

Learn from Judas Iscariot

On the first Good Friday, when Jesus had finished wrestling in prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, His disciple Judas came to Him, leading a band of Jewish officials and armed men. “Jesus said to him, ‘Judas, would you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?’” (Luke 22:48, ESV). It is a moment of spiritual treason as a disciple — one of the Twelve Apostles — betrays his master to His mortal enemies.

1158157_96927848We do well to pause and learn from Judas here. You should ask yourself some serious, spiritual questions on this Good Friday. I was led to do so after reading a couple pages in a recent book by Michael McKinley entitled PASSION, How Christ’s Final Day Changes Your Every Day (The Good Book Co., 2013). Here’s a good way to learn from Judas —

It’s worth remembering the things that Judas had seen and done. He was one of the disciples sent out to preach the gospel with power to cast out demons and heal people (Luke 9:1-2). He sat in a boat as Jesus calmed a storm with a word (8:22-25). He saw Jesus feed the 5,000 (9:10-17). He watched as Jesus raised people from the dead (7:11–17). He heard Jesus’ sermons, probably multiple times. He was personally selected by Jesus to be part of HIs inner circle. He had even had his feet washed by Jesus!

And yet… despite all of those amazing experiences, Judas turns out not to be a disciple. He is not a true follower of Jesus. In the end, he is a traitor and a liar and a thief. He is a real-life example of what Jesus warns in Matthew 7:21-23:

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’” (ESV)

Judas is a chilling reminder to us that you can’t rely on your past experiences as an indication of your current spiritual condition. And so Judas’ example should cause us to pause. If you think of yourself as a Christian, have you ever stopped to think how you can be sure you really are a Christian? Why are you confident that you are a genuine follower of Jesus? Because your parents are believers? Because you go to a church and everyone there assumes you are a Christian? Because you have served faithfully in your church? Maybe even because you’ve preached sermons or led people to Christ?

Judas reminds us that nothing you have done in the past can assure you that you are truly a follower of Christ. Yes, good fruit in your life is a good sign. But look at Judas; examine the resume that he could roll out for you. He looked good on paper, but in reality he sent Jesus to His death. Nothing you or I have seen or accomplished, nothing in our pedigree or experience can ultimately makes us a Christian.

from PASSION, How Christ’s Final Day Changes Your Every Day, by Mike McKinley, pages 30-31.
[boldface added]

Spiritual Self-Watchfulness

“There is need of constant watchfulness on the part of the professors of Christianity, lest under the influence of unbelief they depart from the living God, said Dr. John Brown of Edinburgh (1784-1858), commenting on a passage in Hebrews.

“Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end.”
Hebrews 3:12-13 esv

Passages such as this ought to arrest a presumptuous believer, and make him immediately more prayerful as he clings more closely to Christ.

Brown continues, There is nothing, I am persuaded, in regard to which professors of Christianity fall into more dangerous practical mistakes than this. They suspect everything sooner than the soundness and firmness of their belief. There are many who are supposing themselves believers who have no true faith at all — and so it would be proved, were the hour of trial, which is perhaps nearer than they are aware, to arrive. And almost all who have faith suppose they have it in greater measure than they really have it. There is no prayer that a Christian needs more presently to present than, “Lord, increase my faith” and “deliver me from an evil heart of unbelief.” All apostasy from God, whether partial or total, originates in unbelief. To have his faith increased — to have more extended, and accurate, and impressive views of ‘the truth as it is in Jesus’ — ought to be the object of the Christians most earnest desire and unremitting exertion.

Tooth and Nail?

“But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.” Galatians 5:15 esv

Such violence is brutish. God hath armed the beasts with teeth and claws, but man with reason and judgment; to smite with the hand is beneath a man; to smite with the tongue beneath a Christian…

Thomas Manton, Works v:400

No parole for this sinner, just a pardon

Dear Breadline readers,
I have been invited to also post at a new blog — Coffee Rings — created by my friend Chad Granger. I encourage you to visit there (and do so often!). You might even want to subscribe to Coffee Rings by email, so you don’t miss a post.

TODAY, on the 34th anniversary of my conversion, I’ve posted this:
No parole for this sinner, just a pardon.”

Praise God for His amazing grace to me!
~ pdb

Peace … like the Chicago River?

A. H. Strong, in a 1905 sermon in London shared this:

How shall I, how shall society, find healing and Purification within? Let me answer by reminding you of what they did at Chicago.

In all the world there was no river more stagnant and fetid than was Chicago River. Its sluggish stream received the sweepings of the watercraft and the offal of the city, and there was no current to carry the detritus away. There it settled, and bred miasma and fever.

At last it was suggested that, by cutting through the low ridge between the city and the Des Plaines River, the current could be set running in the opposite direction, and drainage could be secured into the Illinois River and the great Mississippi. At a cost of fifteen millions of dollars the cut was made, and now all the water of Lake Michigan can be relied upon to cleanse that turbid stream.

What the Chicago River could never do for itself, the great lake now does for it. So no human soul can purge itself of its sin; and what the individual cannot do, humanity at large is powerless to accomplish.

Sin has dominion over us, and we are foul to the very depths of our being, until with the help of God we break through the barrier of our self-will, and let the floods of Christ’s purifying life flow into us. Then, in an hour, more is done to renew, than all our efforts for years had effected. Thus humanity is saved, individual by individual, not by philosophy, or philanthropy, or self-development, or self-reformation, but simply by joining itself to Jesus Christ, and by being filled in Him with all the fulness of God.

*Thanks to Tony Reinke for posting this great quote [and embedded link] a few weeks ago.

What Kind Of A Pastor Do Sinners Need?

A wonderful reminder…
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What Kind Of A Pastor Do Sinners Need?.

Faith versus sin’s instant gratification

Why do we find the power of a temptation to sin so great, and let go of the delights and future glories that are promised us? Why does the temptation to sinful instant gratification often eclipse our joy in the future gratification offered to us in Christ?

An excerpt today from Thomas Manton is most helpful — beginning with a keen diagnosis of how present temptations work, and then how faith brings us help. pdb

We should have such a faith to substantiate our hopes and to check sensuality, for we find the corrupt heart of man is all for present satisfaction. Though the pleasures of sin be short and inconsiderable, yet, because they are near at hand, they have more influence than the joys of heaven, which are future and absent. We wonder at the folly of Esau to sell his birthright for a morsel of meat, (Heb. 12:16). …When lust is up and eager for fulfilment, all considerations of eternal glory and blessedness are laid aside to give it satisfaction.

A little pleasure, a little gain, a little happiness in the world will make men part with all that is honest and sacred. A man would wonder at their folly, but the great reason is, they live by sense: “Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me” (2 Tim. 4:10). Here lies the bait, these things are present; we can taste the delights of the world, and feel the pleasures of the flesh; but the happiness of the world to come is a thing unseen and unknown. “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die” (1 Cor. 15:32).

This is the language of every carnal heart. …Present advantages and vanities, though they are small and but trifles, have more power to pervert us than good things at a distance, and the promises of God, even, to allure and draw in our hearts to God. Here lies the root and strength of all temptations; the inconveniences of strictness in religion are present, and they may have present distaste and present trouble to the flesh, and our rewards are yet future.

So, how can we check this ‘living by sense’ that is so natural to us? Why, faith, substantiating our hopes provides a remedy. Faith makes things to become as real as if they were already enjoyed. …Where faith is alive and strong, and is “the conviction of things not seen”, it baffles and defeats all temptations.

~ Thomas Manton (1620-1677)

*This comes from Manton’s reflections on Hebrews 11. They are all profitable sermons, available online (plain text format), but also published by The Banner of Truth Trust.

“A Worse Kind of Blind”

Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. (John 9:3 esv)

John Knight writes the following today at the Desiring God blog

The Bible is full of references to disease and disability — more than 350 verses in 40 of the 66 books.

Some references to disability are metaphors for something else. For example, Paul writes to the Corinthians:

In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. (2 Corinthians 4:4)

Blinded the minds” is obviously pointing to something other than a lack of physical sight. This is a devastating blindness. Are we stunned by this? Paul is not just playing with words to get people’s attention. He is talking about a literal blindness far worse than not being able to see in this physical world.

Pastor John writes:

The glory of God is the beautiful brightness of God. There is no greater brightness. Nothing in the universe, nor in the imagination of any man or angel, is brighter than the brightness of God. This makes the blindness of 2 Corinthians 4:4 shocking in its effect.

Calvin says it with the kind of amazement it deserves: “They do not see the midday sun.” That is how plain the glory of God is in the gospel.

When God declares the omnipotent word of creation and “[shines] in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ,” the curtains are pulled back in the window of our Alpine chalet, and the morning sun, reflected off the Alps of Christ, fills the room with glory. (God Is the Gospel, 74, paragraphing mine)


And we were blind to this glory. Many are still blind like this. Nothing could be worse.

If you see the glory of Christ, you have been given the best sight of all — regardless of whether your physical eyes work or not. Praise him. This is amazing. And if you have not seen him yet, look to him today. Look to Jesus and behold all that God is for you in him.

~ John Knight from the Desiring God blog