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Showing posts from September, 2016


There is a wonderful example of fundraising in the book of Romans. Here it is: “But now that there is no more place for me to work in these regions, and since I have been longing for many years to see you, I plan to do so when I go to Spain. I hope to visit you while passing through and to have you assist me on my journey there, after I have enjoyed your company for a while” (Rom. 15:23-24). This letter to the Romans caused the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century and the Wesleyan revival of the 18th century. The letter does not command fundraising. At best, it is an example of a good support-raising letter. It gives far more than it gets. Paul did not ask for money to go to Jerusalem or to go to Rome. He did ask for assistance on his way to Spain. We do not know if he ever went to Spain, so that request may not have been met. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to receive a request for money at the end of a letter like the book of Romans? The Bible includes other examples of raising mo

The True Church (J.C. Ryle)

Since the last few posts have been about the Church, I would like to share this article written by Bishop J.C. Ryle. I want you to belong to the one true Church: to the Church outside of which there is no salvation. I do not ask where you go on a Sunday; I only ask, “Do you belong to the one true Church?” Where is this one true Church? What is this one true Church like? What are the marks by which this one true Church may be known? You may well ask such questions. Give me your attention, and I will provide you with some answers. The one true Church is composed of all believers in the Lord Jesus. It is made up of all God’s elect—of all converted men and women—of all true Christians. In whomsoever we can discern the election of God the Father, the sprinkling of the blood of God the Son, the sanctifying work of God the Spirit, in that person we see a member of Christ’s true Church. It is a Church of which all the members have the same marks. They are all born again of the Spirit;

The Membership of the Church

The Scriptures are completely inspired (1 Timothy 3:16), but they do not always speak in exact terms. Look at Acts 2:41: “Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.” Earlier in Acts, we see that the believers were “a group numbering about a hundred and twenty” (Acts 1:15). This number included women. We can draw several conclusions about that group of people: • They were believers. • They were baptized. • They were “added to their number.” That is, about 3,000 were added to about 120. After this initial jump in numbers, Acts 2:47 says, “and the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” Again, there is no exact number given. After Peter’s preaching in Acts 3, we find the number of believers had increased again: “But many who heard the message believed, and the number of men grew to about 5,000.” This time only the number of men who believed is given, and even that is an approximate number. In Ac

The Character of the Church

"His purpose was to create in Himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to GOD through the cross, by which He put to death their hostility." (Eph. 2:15-16) This is the mystery explained to us by St. Paul. The hostility spoken of here is that between the Jews and Gentiles. When people are reconciled to God by the cross, their hostility is put to death. It is done away with. However, hostility in any form between any peoples is also put to death because God’s purpose is to create in Himself one new man. This means that Turks who have been reconciled to God and Armenians who have been reconciled to God are now one. It means Hutus and Tutsis in Rwanda who have been reconciled to God have lost their hostility. It means Shiites and Sunis who have been reconciled to God by the cross have ended their hostility. Do they meet together for the Lord’s supper? Yes! What about their language and culture differences? Those thin

International Evangelism

Did you know that a major test of ancient Israel’s godliness was how orphans, widows, and strangers in the land were treated? Here are a few select texts: "For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes. He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the alien, giving him food and clothing. And you are to love those who are aliens, for you yourselves were aliens in Egypt" (Deut. 10:17-19). "When an alien lives with you in your land, do not mistreat him" (Lev. 19:33). "The LORD watches over the alien and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked" (Psalm 146:9). "Do not mistreat an alien or oppress him, for you were aliens in Egypt. Do not take advantage of a widow or an orphan" (Ex. 22:21-22). It is normal to have compassion on widows and orphans, so it is not surprising when a nation is judged

Honor Your Parents

“Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.” (Ex. 20:12) The first four commandments have to do with our attitude and conduct towards God. This command concerns other people. The first “other people” we know after birth are our father and mother, and we are to stay with them until we are married. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.” (Gen. 2:24) That may be a long time. This attitude and action of honor is to continue all the time before and after we are married. It has nothing to do with whether our parents are good or bad parents. They are our parents. Disrespect, disobedience, or rebellion in thought or action is not honor. Eight of the ten commandments are negative commands (“thou shalt not”). This command and the Sabbath day commands are the only ones that are expressed positively. Violation of this command is sin and needs to b

Christian Love

“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them.” (Luke 6:32) This kind of love is not a distinctive Christian trait. In fact, Jesus said that “even sinners love those who love them.” Many Christians love those who love them or love lovely people and think that they are evidencing Christian love by doing this, when in fact they are loving in a humanistic fashion. In other words, they love in the same way every other human being loves. There is distinctive love that only Christians have. They have it because they received it when it was given to them by the Lord. “But God shows His love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8). His love for us had nothing to do with our loveliness or our love for Him. It had to do with His nature and our need. When we share this love with others, it should have nothing to do with their love for us or their loveliness. (In fact, those who need love the most are the


This article was written by my good friend Jim Hardie for Roots by the River magazine in 1973. In Luke 5:16-26, a wonderful account is given how people came from all over the area to hear Jesus speak. Four men heard that Jesus was speaking nearby. They had a friend who was paralyzed. They believed that Jesus could heal him, so they made a stretcher and carried their friend to where Jesus was speaking, but they couldn’t get anywhere near Him due to the great crowd gathered around the building. They could have been discouraged, but instead they found their way to the roof of the building. They made a hole in the roof and lowered their sick friend right at the feet of Jesus. Jesus looked up, and when He saw their faith, their anticipation, He did more than they expected. He saw the man with a much bigger need than just physical healing. He said to the man at His feet, “Man, your sins are forgiven you.” Well, the religious leaders present really jumped on that one. “Aha! He speaks bl

Roots by the River

I have been posting here on Roots by the River for eleven years now. Most of the posts have been for believers, but some are on the gospel for unbelievers. Most of the posts are short and therefore strong, but maybe not always comprehensive. Feel free to leave comments or questions on any of the posts. Just click on "Post a Comment" at the bottom of each post. Roots by the River started out in 1972 as a small magazine published by the Inland Christian Laymen in Moscow, Idaho. Here is the first article I wrote for it in 1973: Roots by the River March 1973 Vol. I No. 2 “Thus says the Lord: ‘Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his arm, whose heart turns away from the Lord. He is like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see any good come. He shall dwell in the parched places of the wilderness in an uninhabited salt land. Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water that sends out its roots by the

Evangelism Conference in Moscow

Trinity Reformed Church is hosting a conference for people who want to know more about sharing their faith, the hope that is in them, particularly with unbelievers. This is a free conference - no registration required. I am not speaking at the conference, but I will be there for the Friday evening session, and CCM will be hosting a book table both days. Mini Conference Schedule Friday, September 16th 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm: Toby Sumpter & Mitch Stokes Saturday, September 17th 9 am - 12 pm: James Urquidez, Keith Darrell, & Ty Knight Saturday there will be breakfast food at 8:30, and a round table discussion with all the speakers at 11. Location: Trinity Reformed Church 101 E. Palouse River Dr. Moscow, Idaho

Dealing with Sin: Illness vs. Symptoms

I recently came across these few paragraphs, written years ago by my wife Bessie. I hope they will be of some benefit to you. “Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted” (Gal. 6:1). How do you help someone who is not a Christian when you see a problem in their life? Well, what is the main problem of non-Christians? They do not have a relationship with Jesus Christ. Instead of dealing with that, so often what Christians do is jump on the symptoms of this problem. Imagine that you are sick; there are spots all over you. You go to the doctor for help, and all he does is say, “We’ll cover these spots up,” and he doesn’t do anything about the sickness itself. We would be better witnesses for Jesus Christ if we didn’t get hung up on the symptoms of sin. A friend of mine is discouraged sometimes when her mother says something detrimental to her. But that is just a symptom. She is expecting

Questions for a Moral Future

Here are a few questions you may not have thought about. Please think of the answers as you read. The questions are subjective, so the answers will be subjective. There are no absolute right answers. By your own standard of right and wrong, whatever that is, were you more right, more moral, at the age of four or the age of eight? Eight or twelve? Twelve or sixteen? Sixteen or twenty? Twenty or twenty-four? Is there a pattern in your answers? Based on the pattern, can you project your moral future? The answers are for your own self-evaluation. However, you may send me your answers if you would like to. I will be glad to correspond with you on how to ensure a moral future.

No Sin is Too Great

“Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” (1 Cor. 6:9-10) These are bad actions in a continuous sense. They are not isolated events. These are lifestyles, addictions, habits. These people will not inherit the kingdom of God. Bad people = No heaven. That is the bad news. “And that is what some of you were . But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Cor. 6:11) Of these awful people, some of them: • Have been washed • Have been sanctified, set apart, made holy • Have been justified, that is, made righteous. How? In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. This is very good news. “The law was added so that the

My Testimony/Explanations for Unbelievers, part 2

If you are the person described in the last post, then I have a major problem on my hands—how to open your mind when it has been blinded by Satan. This opening of eyes must take place before you can see the light. Here is a small attempt to open your eyes. It is the story of my passing from death into life on October 18, 1947. From Death to Life About one hundred years before my great-grandfather lived, a Wilson came from Scotland to Vermont. A later migration brought his descendants to Pennsylvania. In the early 1850’s my great-grandfather went to the gold rush in California. He never returned. One of his sons later homesteaded in Kansas, where my father was born, the youngest, along with his twin sister, of nine children. That was October 3, 1899. My maternal grandfather came with his parents from Scotland to Canada at age 4, and later moved to Nebraska. He met his wife-to-be at an artesian well at her home where he had stopped for a drink of water. She had been born in a d

Explanations for Unbelievers

Those of you who are not yet Christians may be wondering why you do not understand the simplicity of the good news and freeness of grace. Here are a few explanations from the Bible for why you do not understand. “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” (2 Cor. 4:4) The god of this age is Satan. He has blinded your eyes. “The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Cor. 2:14) You are without the Spirit; you cannot understand. “When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness.” (Rom. 6:20) You are a slave of sin. “…and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.” (2 Tim. 2:26) You have been taken captive by t