Every sermon ought to be prepared and preached
as if the preacher knew that
all who hear him are on the brink of eternity.
Anyone who vainly imagines that he can distinguish
between wheat and tares usually goes about the business
of weeding the Lord’s garden and pulling up tares
with such fervor that the only stalk of wheat left
standing in the garden is himself.
Don Fortner, Grace Bulletin September 12, 2010
Your conscience is the undying echo of God’s holy law in your soul.
Mock and laugh if you dare; but you know that is the truth. You may never acknowledge it this side of eternity; but you do not even question that fact. You know it is so. Your conscience is the undying echo of God’s holy law in your soul.
If I am not mistaken, conscience is the most powerful part of our constitution as moral creatures. Conscience cannot save anyone. Conscience can never bring anyone to Christ. Every man’s conscience is, by reason of sin, blind, ignorant and misdirected. Yet, the conscience raises a loud testimony and protest in the soul against sin. It makes the guilty soul uneasy. It causes the transgressor to tremble. It is the consciousness of guilt and sin that causes all men to fear death, judgment and eternity.
Here’s something to ponder.
Unbelief a Choice; Faith a Gift – Don Fortner
Unbelief is a choice men make, a decision of the rebel will of unregenerate souls. Again and again we read this accusation against the wicked in the Book of God: — “Ye will not believe.” In fact, this is set before us as the very core of wickedness in fallen man. — “They believe not on me” (John 16:9). The wicked perish because they choose not to trust the Son of God. Men and women shall justly bear the judgment of God forever in hell because they will not to believe.
But faith in Christ is never spoken of in Scripture as a decision people make. Faith is never represented as something men will to do. Faith in Christ is the gift of God (Ephesians 2:8). It is the operation of God the Holy Spirit in us (Colossians 2:12), born in us by that same omnipotent, resurrection power of God that raised Christ from the dead (Ephesians 1:19). Faith in Christ is the fruit of life bestowed. As the new born infant finds himself breathing, so the heaven born soul finds himself believing.
If you now find yourself believing on the Son of God, it is because He has given you everlasting life. If you will not to believe, it is because the wrath of God abides on you (John 3:36).
“I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.”
We know that no man can serve two masters. — “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon” (Matthew 6:24). But isn’t that what Paul is saying that he does here? No, remember that Paul identifies two “I’s” in this context. “If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. 17 Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.” (16). The “I” that Paul says does the evil that the other “I” would not do, is the one that serves the law of sin. The “I” which he describes in verse 17, is the one who serves the law of God.
It is not one man serving two masters, but two “men,” the old man and the new man, each serving their own master. They just both happen to be me. One is born of the flesh, the other is born of the Spirit. “Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:5).
One is willing and able to watch with Christ, the other cannot watch for even one hour. “And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour? 41 Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:40).
Notice the words, “I, myself.” These two natures are not some foreign entities that possess our bodies and act out independently, using our members. They are me. When Paul says in verse 17, “it is no more I, but sin that dwelleth in me,” understand he is not excusing his sinfulness by claiming that sin acts independently of him. We are sin. In verse 16 he confesses, it is “I” that do the things that the other “I” would not. Paul either had two distinct natures, or he was a victim of advanced schizophrenia. But understand, the old nature is personified as “sin that dwelleth in me,” but when it acts, it is “I myself” that is complicit in the act.
Likewise, we know that the new man consists of “Christ in us” (Colossians 1:27), the “Spirit that dwelleth in us” (Romans 8:11), but understand that He does not possess us as a foreign entity, but becomes one with us in such a way that it is “I myself,” that loves, serves, worships and believes on Christ. The flesh can do none of these things, and so Paul says, “not I, but Christ that dwelleth in me” (Galatians 2:20).
Christ did not ask Peter, “does the Spirit love me?” Nor did Peter answer for Someone else, but for himself. Yet, we know that it was not Peter’s flesh that loved Christ. The flesh only loves self, and never improves. We live unto God (Galatians 2:19), and we do love Him; yet it is not us (flesh), but it is Christ that dwelleth in us. All glory goes to Him without Whom we can do nothing (John 15:5), but through Whom, we can do all things (Philippians 4:13).
Chris Cunningham, Pastor
College Grove Grace Church
College Grove, Tennessee (USA)
Sent to me by Don Fortner
Don Fortner in his Sunday Morning Bulletin
Web Page: Don Fortner
Grace Baptist Church of Danville
Donald S. Fortner, Pastor
2734 Old Stanford Road
Danville, Kentucky 40422-9438
There are many ways in which my own experience of God’s grace and his good providence compel me to adopt the language used by Job’s messenger as my own.
Looking back to the day of my birth, had not the Lord God preserved me from my mother’s womb, I would have surely perished. Many did in those days. But he who formed me in the belly loved me. Before I came forth from my mother’s womb, he sanctified me and ordained me as his messenger to you (Jeremiah 1:5). — “And I only am escaped alone to tell thee.”
My childhood, like yours, was filled with perils and dangers, in which multitudes dropped all around me. Many with whom I attended school are in hell today, others are in prison; and I would certainly have been in one or the other, had it not been for the fact that God spared me. He preserved me by his boundless, free grace and distinguishing mercy. — “And I only am escaped alone to tell thee.”
When, as a youth I lived at the edge of hell, playing with death, with my fists clinched, shaking them in my ever-gracious God’s face, courting his wrath every day, flirting with hell every night, the only reason I did not perish in the way I chose is the fact that I was “preserved for Jesus Christ” from eternity (Jude 1). Nothing else can satisfactorily explain why my actions did not result in my death. — “And I only am escaped alone to tell thee.”
Oh the wonders of God’s distinguishing love toward me as the highly favored object of his mercy, by which he hedged me about and kept me (Hosea 1:6), when I had no awareness of his love for me, when I was utterly unconscious of the fact that he was watching over me and performing all things for me (Psalm 57:2), preserving me unto the day that he would call me by his grace! Hawker asked with astonishment, “Who shall count the sum of distinguishing mercy, in preserving and upholding providences, during the whole of an unconverted state?”— “And I only am escaped alone to tell thee.”
Then, after he called me by his grace, giving me life and faith, salvation and forgiveness in Christ, how magnificently he has continued to uphold and preserve me from all evil, sparing my life in the midst of one sickness and then another! Why has he spared me? Why do I still reside in this tabernacle? I am convinced that there is no other reason but this: — “And I only am escaped alone to tell thee.”
All around me I see multitudes dying and dead in trespasses and sins, unawakened, unconcerned, unregenerated. I understand, (O Spirit of God remind me constantly!), that I have been spared, that I live to “declare the works of the Lord” (Psalm 118:17). — “And I only am escaped alone to tell thee.” God give me grace to proclaim with earnestness the glorious gospel of his dear Son. To tell all who can be reached by my voice, and pen, and influence of the wonders of redeeming love. — “Come and hear, all ye that fear God, and I will declare what he hath done for my soul” (Psalms 66:16). — “And I only am escaped alone to tell thee.”
By Don Fortner in Grace Bulletin August 3, 2008
In the story of our Lord Jesus turning water into wine we have a good picture of God’s method of grace, a picture of the way God saves sinners.
It was the Son of God who performed the miracle. Yet men were called to fetch the pots, fill them with water, draw off the wine, and carry it to the governor of the feast. The means used were human; though the power that performed the miracle was Divine. It may have seemed foolish to fill the pots with water, but water is a symbol of the written Word (Ephesians 5:26); and the way to bring joy and comfort to the human heart today is to fill it with the preached Word. God makes it effectual to whom he will (Isaiah 55:11; Romans 10:17).
Of course, we know that the Son of God could have supplied all the wine that was needed without employing these servants. He did not need them! But they would have missed the blessed benefit of being instruments by whom the Son of God brought his miraculous boon of mercy to the wedding guests. Before anyone else knew what the Master had done, “the servants which drew the water knew.”
What a high honor it would be for the Son of God to use you and me to draw water from his Word and carry it to one of his chosen as the wine of his grace!
By Don Fortner July 20th Bulletin