Tag Archives: Truth

Sanctifying Truth

Sanctifying Truth

Today’s Morning and Evening contains instruction, encouragement, and a final warning. It begins with a short primer on the origin and function of sanctification, followed by the implied call to tightly embrace God’s Word and sound teaching. Finally, a warning is made to never make light of error.

God’s Word is truth and that truth sanctifies us. So many men exhaust themselves in the quest to prove that God did not actually write the Bible. For the unbeliever, this is to be expected. But what ground is gained by the confused Christian’s pursuit to discredit the Spirit’s authoritative involvement in authorship?

To the self-inflated inquisitor, the God of Scripture will never be ‘off-the-hook’ or excused from their judgment’s table. He will always be too mean, too judgmental, and too righteous to love. So they try to reconcile the god of the their hopes with the God of the Bible… by pointing to problematic passages and shouting, “Aha! You see! That’s impossible! A perfect God couldn’t possibly inspire that! Let’s throw those silly doctrines of divine authorship, inerrancy, and scriptural authority out the window! Only a fool would believe such nonsense.”

It’s a sad thing that quickly turns ugly. As a best-case scenario, each side feels sorry for the other. The critic feels for the believer who blindly accepts God’s Word as truth. The believer feels for the critic because they reject God’s truth for a lie. As Spurgeon says below, “The passages of Scripture that prove that the instrument of our sanctification is the Word of God are numerous.” In today’s passage, Jesus Himself prayed:

Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. — John 17:17

Likewise, the psalmist declared in Psalm 119:160:

The sum of your word is truth, and every one of your righteous rules endures forever.

Let’s trust God at His Word and not lean on our own understanding for truth. Our earthly perspective is so limited, but our gracious Father sees and knows everything. His ways are always better than our ways, and sanctification comes from His Spirit through His Word.

Here is Alistair Begg’s modern phrasing of the Spurgeon classic.

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Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. — John 17:17

Sanctification begins in regeneration. The Spirit of God implants in man that new living principle by which he becomes “a new creation”1 in Christ Jesus. This work, which begins in the new birth, is carried on in two ways-mortification, whereby the lusts of the flesh are subdued and kept under, and vivification, by which the life that God has put within us is made to be a well of water springing up unto everlasting life.

This is carried on every day in what is called perseverance, by which the Christian is preserved and continued in a gracious state and is made to abound in good works unto the praise and glory of God; and it culminates or comes to perfection in glory, when the soul, being thoroughly purged, is caught up to dwell with holy beings at the right hand of the Majesty on high.

But while the Spirit of God is thus the author of sanctification, yet there is a visible agency employed that must not be forgotten. “Sanctify them,” said Jesus, “in the truth; your word is truth.” The passages of Scripture that prove that the instrument of our sanctification is the Word of God are numerous. The Spirit of God brings to our minds the precepts and doctrines of truth and applies them with power. These are heard in the ear, and being received in the heart, they work in us to will and to do God’s good pleasure.

The truth is the sanctifier, and if we do not hear or read the truth, we shall not grow in sanctification. We only progress in sound living as we progress in sound understanding. “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”2 Do not say of any error, “It is a mere matter of opinion.” No man indulges an error of judgment without sooner or later tolerating an error in practice. Hold fast the truth, for by doing so you shall be sanctified by the Spirit of God.

1 2 Corinthians 5:17, 2 Psalm 119:105

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Posted by on July 4, 2014 in Devotional


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Passing on the Truth Part 2

Here is the follow-up message to this excellent sermon.

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Posted by on May 16, 2014 in Video


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Passing on the Truth

A solid sermon concerning God’s strength and the impact of a deep-seeded conviction of the gospel…


Posted by on April 11, 2014 in Video


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Dr. StrangePunk: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bad Religion Christmas CD

Dr. StrangePunk: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bad Religion Christmas CD

***Warning: Discernment Required Ahead***

For all you aging hipsters out there who are weary of drowning your holiday cheer in Sufjan Stevens and Brighteyes Christmas music… an energetic alternative has emerged from an unlikely source. That’s right… Bad Religion has released a Christmas CD. Gasp!

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Here is the track listing:

  1. Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
  2. O Come All Ye Faithful
  3. O Come, O Come Emmanuel
  4. White Christmas
  5. Little Drummer Boy
  6. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
  7. What Child Is This?
  8. Angels We Have Heard On High
  9. American Jesus (Andy Wallace Mix)

Shocking? Yes. Let’s start with the obvious. Bad Religion has been an outspokenly anti-Christian band since 1979. For as long as I can remember, their logo has looked like this:

Glance at that track listing again. Why would this band choose these Christmas songs? All but two (White Christmas and American Jesus) are hymnal Christmas classics. This CD contains no snowmen, silver bells, hot cocoa, or Santa Claus. But it is replete with lyrics like…

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, and free thine own from Satan’s tyranny
From depths of Hell Thy people save and give them victory o’er the grave
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.


Nails, spear shall pierce Him through,
The cross be borne for me, for you.
Hail, hail the Word made flesh,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.

The songs on this CD do not merely mention baby Jesus as a nativity centerpiece. These are Christocentric, Gospel-saturated Christmas songs! And Bad Religion remains true to the message without changing a word. So what gives? Either these guys have grown weary of suppressing the truth of God written on their hearts (Romans 1:18-20), or they believe the funniest way to offend Christians this year is to release a seasonal worship album with their name on it.

Interestingly enough, they recently shared a third reason for choosing these songs during an 8 minute interview on NPR. The audio and transcript can be found here. At one point, the interviewer observes:

And these are not secular songs, we should point out though. You could’ve done, you know, “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree.” These are religious Christmas hymns.

To which, guitarist and songwriter Brett Gurewitz, responded:

I would disagree. I think that all of these songs are secular. Even though they have their roots in the pulpit or in the church setting, virtually everyone who celebrates Christmas has heard these songs. And so, it’s not Bad Religion that has made them ironic. It’s kind of a secular society that’s made Christmas ironic.

That sounds brilliant! My knee-jerk reaction to such an articulate paradigm shift is one of silent consideration. Does Brett Religion have a point? Are songs like “Angels We Have Heard On High” no longer powerful declarations of Christ’s deity because everyone has heard them? Has the fallen world’s popularization of what they lack in understanding truly made Christmas ironic? Let’s think about that for a moment.

Jesus said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away” (Matthew 24:35; Mark 13:31; Luke 21:33). In other words, He authorized the eternal nature of His divine truth… not us. Gospel truth is tempered and timeless. It will be just as true two thousand years from now, as it was two thousand years ago… regardless of what we think about it. Words that convey His truth will always pack a wallop as the Holy Spirit uses them to soften or harden the hearts of those who hear them. God’s Word will never return to Him empty, but will always accomplish whatever He intends for it to do (Isaiah 55:11).

The guys in Bad Religion are lying to themselves if they truly believe the divine message is lost in these songs. Words matter. In fact, they matter more than the band’s intention behind singing them. Laughing at truth does not make it false. I agree with Brett that there is irony to be found here. It is truly ironic that God’s transforming truth of the Gospel would be proclaimed through such an unlikely source to one of the world’s most outspokenly rebellious people groups. Ironic and awesome. Many hearts will be hardened by this unintentional proclamation of Gospel truth. Let’s pray that a few are softened as well.

For the few of you out there who love Jesus, nineties style punk, and Christmas music… the million dollar question is this: should I purchase this record? Honestly, I can’t tell you what to do. However, I will strongly urge you to obey the Holy Spirit’s leading with regards to your own conscience.

The content is solid, but the delivery is certainly not for everyone. Many people will find the style of music itself to be vulgar because of its speed. That’s fine. Bing Crosby has a number of good Christmas renditions that ignite the senses at a slower pace.

The musicianship and vocal harmonies are excellent. As previously stated, the lyrics are Christocentric and Gospel-saturated songs of worship. There is no such thing as a “demon of atheism” or mystical quality that disintegrates everything Bad Religion touches. And for a band that has been around longer than I have walked the earth, I am not too worried about a six dollar download through eMusic sending a statement. If you acquire this CD and delete the last song, you will have the punk rock Christmas record you have always dreamed of. But if your conscience is unsettled in any way… do yourself a favor and obey the Spirit. His sanctifying work trumps all musical recommendations. There are plenty of good Christmas CDs out there.

So there you have it. Bad Religion has inadvertently released a seasonal worship album.

Come quickly, Lord Jesus! And Merry Christmas!

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Posted by on December 21, 2013 in Article


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The Truth of God

The Truth of God

This morning’s Morning and Evening carries a personal tone. There are no cross references, no great metaphors from nature… just the heart of a man who has felt “the vital power of the Gospel” and known “the strength of the Holy Spirit as He opens, applies, and seals the Lord’s Word.” This fulfilling, enduring, and hopeful disposition springs from one source… the truth of God.

As Spurgeon points out, it is vital for us to remember that we never outgrow divine truth. That which excited us at the beginning should still ring loud in our hearts today. He concludes with a tremendous exhortation to war against error, defend the truth, and abstain from making casualties of others for the sake of the fight. Rather, our love and knowledge of the truth should continue to expand our sympathies and exercise our love. Here is Alistair Begg’s paraphrase of the Spurgeon classic.

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…because of the truth that abides in us and will be with us forever…
— 2 John 2

Once the truth of God has obtained an entrance into the human heart and subdued the whole man to itself, no power, human or infernal, can dislodge it. We entertain it not as a guest but as the master of the house. This is a Christian necessity, and whoever does not believe this is not a Christian.

Those who feel the vital power of the Gospel and know the strength of the Holy Spirit as He opens, applies, and seals the Lord’s Word would rather be torn to pieces than be torn away from the Gospel of their salvation. A thousand mercies are wrapped up in the assurance that the truth will be with us forever, will be our living support, our dying comfort, our rising song, our eternal glory. This is Christian privilege, and without it our faith is worth little. Some truths we outgrow and leave behind, for they are but rudiments and lessons for beginners, but this is not so with divine truth, for though it is sweet food for babies, it is in the highest sense strong meat for men. The painful truth that we are sinners is with us to humble us and make us watchful; the more blessed truth that whoever believes on the Lord Jesus will be saved remains with us as our hope and joy. Experience, far from loosening our hold on the doctrines of grace, has tied us to them more and more firmly; our grounds and motives for believing are now stronger and more numerous than ever, and we have reason to expect that it will remain this way until in death we clasp the Savior in our arms.

Wherever this abiding love of truth can be discovered, we are bound to share in fellowship and to exercise our love. No narrow circle can contain our gracious sympathies; our communion of heart must be as wide as the ocean of grace. Error may be found mingled with truth received; let us go to war with the error but still love the brother for the measure of truth that we see in him. Above all let us love and spread the truth ourselves.

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Posted by on October 25, 2013 in Devotional


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Morning Coffee

Here are the stories I put in my coffee this morning.

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Posted by on August 14, 2013 in Links


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