Thursday, May 26, 2011


By Pastor Bruce Oyen

      I am presently ( May, 2011) reading an interesting and informative book on theology by Roger E. Olsen. The title is: "The Mosaic Of Christian Belief (Twenty Centuries Of Unity And Diversity)." If you enjoy reading historical theology, you will enjoy this book.
     However, this is not a blanket endorsement of all of Roger Olsen's opinions, any more than favorably quoting from the King James Version is an endorsement of the many false doctrines of King James and his translators. Olsen is not narrow-minded enough to suit me on some points.
     But, it is a valuable book just the same. If we read a book only when we agree with every thing an author says, we won't read much at all. And, we certainly won't grow much intellectually, and perhaps not much spiritually, or in knowledge of the Bible. Our minds and hearts will remain shallow wells, from which little water can be drawn. Reading confronts us with new ideas that stretch the muscles of the mind. Reading acquaints us with unfamiliar words that increase our vocabulary.
     Perhaps it was A. W. Tozer who said a man can't preach from an empty head. I say, if a preacher doesn't read much, he is attempting to do just that. That is especially true for those preachers who do little Bible reading. If one has little time to read books about the Bible and the Bible itself, by all means, read the Bible more than books about it. But attempt to do both. About reading books, C. H. Spurgeon said that he won't read won't be read, and he who won't quote won't be quoted.
    What follows is a quote from pages 42 and 43 of chapter one of Olsen's book. The context has to do with someone moving to a new location and trying to select a church to join. He gives good insight about both those seeking a new church, and the condition of churches these days. Perhaps we could say that the seekers and the churches often are in sad shape. Olsen wrote:
   "Sociologists of religion tell us that two things have happened in the last decades of the twentieth century that complicate this matter of choosing a church. First, many people have such little familiarity with or concern for beliefs that they don't even know what to look for other than clues to how churches worship. Many people base their decisions about churches more on worship styles or programs for children, youth or adults than on what the churches believe. And yet every church has beliefs. Finding out what they are is not as easy as it used to be, and many church hunters don't have any idea what questions to ask or what clues to look for. Denominational titles don't help as much as they used to, and the list of nondenominational churches (many of which actually do have a denominational affiliation but wish to hide it) is getting longer every year. Second, many and perhaps most churches have seriously downplayed theology and doctrine in the second half of the twentieth century. It is very hard to find out what a church believes and whether or not it actually takes the beliefs it says it holds seriously." 

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

About Abstaining From Alcoholic Beverages

By Pastor Bruce Oyen
      The following article, taken from  Wm. Cathcart's Baptist Encyclopedia, is listed under the subject Temperance in that book, which was written in the 1800's. Though it is an old article, it has a good message for today. It is certainly not a popular message, but it is a good one. 
     The opening verse is from Proverbs 20:1. The reference is not given in the book.  The other quote is from Proverbs 23:31. Both verses are in black print.
      The Encyclopedia says the following:
      "TEMPERANCE.  'Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging, and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.'  This divine testimony is abundantly illustrated in daily life. No habit is so deceptive as that of using alcoholic beverages. Slowly but certainly it rivets its fetters upon its victim, who too frequently only realizes its  power when the attempt is made to break it. With many the struggle is unsuccessful. He only is the victor who trusts not in his own strength but daily seeks divine help.
      "Careful investigation has proved that the use of alcoholic stimulants is not needful to the enjoyment of the highest health; that it does not secure greater strength for either bodily or mental effort, and that it tends to shorten life. Surely he acts wisely who follows the divine command, 'Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his color in the cup, when it moveth itself aright; at the last it biteth like a serpent and stingeth like an adder.'
     "Intemperance brings disgrace, privation, and poverty upon the drunkard and his family, and injures society by the increased burdens imposed by the crime and pauperism resulting from it.
     "Intemperance deadens the conscience, hardens the heart, and leads men to dishonor God. It is Satan's most successful weapon against the church and the truth, and for the destruction of immortal souls.
     "Among the obstacles to the temperance reform needing thoughtful consideration by Christians, are, First, The manufacture of domestic wines, not for sale, but for home use. These are claimed to be unintoxicating, and consequently harmless.
     "Analysis, however, has shown that they contain from 4 to 12 percent, or more, of alcohol, and therefore tend to create the appetite for stronger drink.
     "Second. The medical use without the special advice of a conscientious physician, of alcoholic liquors.
     "Ezra M. Hunt, M. D., in a very able paper read before the International Medical Congress, held in connection with the Centennial Exhibition, at Philadelphia, says, ' We cannot conceal from ourselves as physicians that thousands with sincerity indulge in the use of alcoholic stimuli because they entertain the idea that health requires it. Some physician had advised a little wine or brandy or ale for a special ailment, and the patient continues the prescription, or renews it repeatedly, because ' his constitution requires it.' We have been saddened to find those pledged to total abstinence thus using the beverage, and really deceiving themselves.  So exceptional is the need of alcoholic liquors in any chronic ailment, that no one who  claims to be using them as medicines should forget to consult his physician very frequently about the necessity of their continuance. If such were the rule, and if physicians were truly conscientious, thousands who now use them medicinally would cease to touch them.'
    "The position of the Baptist denomination on the temperance reform is indicated by the repeated action of leading Associations declaring, in emphatic terms, their approval of total abstinence. No Baptist church in the Northern States would receive or retain in its membership anyone engaged in the manufacture or sale of these beverages, neither would it accept as a member the house owner who rented his property for such purposes.
     "Let Christians live in the practice of total abstinence from all intoxicating liquors, discountenancing their use on wedding or other private or public occasions, and may God hasten the abolition of their manufacture and use throughout the whole earth!"

Friday, May 13, 2011


       Here is a great statement by F. B. Meyer on the content of sermons. It is taken from his expositions of Peter's first letter or epistle. The book of expositions is called "TRIED BY FIRE." The quote is taken from what Meyer said on First Peter 2:1 - 3.
       Meyer said:  "Oh, well would it be if we were to minister to the regenerated spirits around us more of the pure and unadulterated Word of God! It is this which they really need. They may be attracted and pleased for a time by flowers of rhetoric and the dazzling glow of eloquence; but they will not be satisfied with these things. Underneath all there will be a greater hunger for the sincere milk of the Word. And when that Word is presented in all its fullness and simplicity, eager appetites will gather around as bees attracted by the flower- gardens, or the fragrant growth of the heather. 'Before conversion, wit or eloquence may draw a man to the Word, and possibly prove a happy bait to catch him; but when once he is born again then it is the milk itself that he desires.' (Meyer did not say who this quote came from.)
       "And here surely we are taught the reason why so many Christians around us are so puny and stunted in their growth. They are always needing attention, nursing, wheeling about in perambulators, because their teachers have not provided them with the nutriment which they really need. An unsuitable food, however abundant, will soon tell its own tale on the pinched face of a babe, so the sickly condition of so many Christians sets forth a lamentable complaint of the food with which they are supplied. To say nothing of strong meat, they do not even get milk. Hence the Church of God too much resembles the ward of a children's hospital." ("Perambulators" are baby carriages.)
       Perhaps you preachers would enjoy F. B. Meyer's book, "EXPOSITORY PREACHING." It certainly was a blessing to me.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


    What follows was taken from the Cybersalt Digest. It is thought-provoking.
They say that prayer changes things, but does it REALLY change anything?
Oh yes! It really does!
Does prayer change your present situation or sudden circumstances?
No, not always, but it does change the way you look at those events.
Does prayer change your financial future?
No, not always, but it does change who you look to for meeting your daily needs.
Does prayer change shattered hearts or broken bodies?
No, not always, but it will change your source of strength and comfort.
Does prayer change your wants and desires?
No, not always, but it will change your wants into what God desires!
Does prayer change how you view the world?
No, not always, but it will change whose eyes you see the world through.
Does prayer change your regrets from the past?
No, not always, but it will change your hopes for the future!
Does prayer change the people around you?
No, not always, but it will change you - the problem isn't always in others.
Does prayer change your life in ways you can't explain?
Oh, yes, always! And it will change you from the inside out!
So does prayer REALLY change ANYTHING?
Yes! It REALLY does change EVERYTHING!

Friday, May 6, 2011


   What follows is a prayer for a new day by F. B. Meyer. It is taken from W. Y. Fullerton's biography of Meyer. It makes many references to the Bible, sometimes quoting it, sometimes making allusions to it. May the prayer bless and challenge your heart as it does mine. Meyer prayed:
      "AS I STAND ON THE DOORWAY OF THIS NEW DAY I come to Thee, most blessed Lord, to renew my vows. My soul lies low in penitence before Thee, as I recall all Thy patience and loving kindness. I solemnly renounce and put away the evil things which have usurped an unholy supremacy with me - the companionships, books and amusements that that have cast a shadow on my hours of fellowship; the sin that so easily besets me; the soft yielding to sloth; the desire to please men rather than Thee, and to succeed in this world rather than be Thy humble servant. In myself, I cannot keep these resolutions; my will is like a bruised reed. O keep Thou me from unfaithfulness!
     "IN MY INNER LIFE I desire to be kept absolutely pure and lovely. O Holy and Spotless One, be in me the crystal fountain of purity! O Lamb of God, be in me the source of absolute meekness and humility! O Lover of men, be in me a fire of unwaning and all-subduing tenderness! Make me sensitive to any uncharity.
     "IN MY HOME LIFE may I be a blessing; a tender comfort when days are full of pain; always thinking of others before myself, and never imposing upon them my private sorrows or moods.
     "IN MY DAILY CALLING make me diligent in business, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord. May I work, not for the wages I may receive, or for advancement, but so as to please Jesus, my Master. May I do all to the glory of God; not with eye-service as pleasing men; but in singleness of heart fearing the Lord. In my use of money, I would not be anxious about the future or hoard for myself. I want to use all things as Thy steward.
     "IN MY USE OF TIME, HEALTH, AND THE OPPORTUNITIES OF LIFE I desire to act with reverent care; conserving my body as the pure temple of the Holy Ghost; so partaking of recreation that I may better serve Thy purpose in my creation and redemption. Teach me what my talents are, and help me to make the two four and the five ten. Through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen." 

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


By Pastor Bruce Oyen
Grace Baptist Church
Rochester, WA

      F. B. Meyer was a Bible-believing Baptist preacher and author who was a contemporary of C. H. Spurgeon, though he outlived Spurgeon by several years. Fortunately for the world, many of Meyer's books are still in print. I have read a number of them with great profit. Presently, I am preaching expositorily through First Peter, and have benefited from re-reading his exposition of this letter of Peter. His book is called "Tried By Fire," and is filled with interpretation and application. In typical Meyer fashion, the book is relatively short and to the point.
      Here is the last paragraph of chapter 9 in this book, in which Meyer expounded on the closing verses of First Peter, chapter one, which are about the Word of God. Meyer wrote: "That the Bible is amongst us today -- in spite of all that has been done to destroy it, by fire, and search, and sword -- attests the fact that there are properties in it which divide it by an impassable chasm from all books beside. It is clearly true of all Scripture words, that they 'are spirit and life,' and can never pass away; and that not one jot or tittle shall fail. And this fact that the Bible lives and abides, notwithstanding all that has been done against it, proves that it possesses something of the life of the eternal and infinite God. God is manifestly in this Book, as of old in the acacia bush of the desert; or as natural life burns like a tiny spark within each seed falling down the bank. The persistence of the Book proves God to be in it. And therefore it is God's life which enters dead human souls through the Word and makes them live. The life which is thus begotten in them is infinite and eternal as Himself. And, being so, it lifts its possessors above the time-sphere into the very realm of heaven, and enables them to love, not with the poor faltering love of man, but with the royal, pure, unfeigned, blessed love, which is the very soul of the life of God Himself."
    Let all Bible-believers say a hearty "AMEN!" to Meyer's statements about the Bible.

Sunday, May 1, 2011


By Pastor Bruce Oyen

       This missive is a defense of small churches. This might seem  like an odd theme to Americans, because to us bigger is better. This is proven by the fact that we go to fast food restaurants, and what do we get? Bigger burgers, bigger fries, bigger drinks, and bigger desserts, the end result of which is bigger bellies. Not only are our foods and bellies bigger. So are our houses. Nearly every time I have seen a TV report on house foreclosures, the houses are big ones. So big, in fact, that the owners are weighed down by big  monthly payments that are too big for them to make when things go bad. Another indication of American emphasis on bigness are the super-sized shopping malls found across the land.
       With the bigness of the things just mentioned, it is no wonder that we think churches should be big, too. So, what churches do we read about in news magazines and see on TV news reports? The big churches. They are considered by many to be the successful churches. And in terms of size, they are successful.
       But what is a big church? In a way, that question is hard to answer because it has everything to do with one's point of comparison. For example, if one attends a church with 10,000 attendees, a church with 5,000 attendees might be considered small. If one attends a church with 5,000 attendees, a church of 2,500 might be considered small. And the comparisons can go down and down and down. To me, a church with 200 (two hundred) attendees would be big.
      However, the fact of the matter is this: while the mega-churches get all the attention, Christians who have  looked to the Word of God, the Bible, for God's perspective on this matter have learned for themselves that God does not put a great deal of emphasis on big churches.
      Sure, the New Testament tells us that the church at Jerusalem was big, though the term is not used to describe its size. The book of Acts, chapter 2,  tells us that 3,000 persons became Christians and were then baptized. But the way such facts about church growth are recorded in the New Testament does not give us the impression that bigness was a big deal to those first century Christians.  Bigness was not a big deal to them, because it was not a big deal to the Lord Jesus Christ, whom they served.
     Those of us who have read the Bible many times have seen a completely different emphasis in it on this matter. The first-century Christians wanted to win as many persons to faith in Jesus Christ as they could, because they knew the Lord had died to save the whole world (so we read in verses such as 1 Timothy 2:6), and they knew he wants all persons to come to repentance (so we read in verses such as 2 Peter 3:9). Acts, chapters 2, 8, and 18 make us conclude there was a lot of enthusiasm when one or many persons became Christians. But, even so, we do not find an emphasis that big churches were better than small ones. I have not found one statement in the New Testament in which a church was told it was too small. Some churches were reprimanded for being sinful, selfish, and sleepy, but not for being small.
      The apostles knew that what counted with the Lord was the attempts of the Christians to reach others with the Gospel. That is why Paul commended, for example, the churches at Rome and Thessalonica for their evangelistic zeal (so we read in Romans 1:8 and in 1 Thessalonians 1:7, 8). They knew that it was their job to plant the seed of the Gospel in the hearts of non-Christians, water it afterward, and then leave the result to the Lord (so we read in 1 Corinthians 3:6, 7).
      The apostles would have rejoiced at any church's numerical growth, so long as it was the result of true evangelistic effort, and so long as the new converts to Jesus Christ were given opportunity to become strong Christians through being taught the Word of God. Acts 2:42 illustrates the emphasis that the apostles of Jesus put on making disciples of new converts. It says, "And they continued steadfastly in the apostles doctrine (teaching) and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers."  The same emphasis is seen in Acts 18, in which we read about the founding of the church in the city of Corinth. Verse 18 informs us that the church got started by the preaching of the Gospel to those in need of it. And verse 11 tells us the apostle Paul then "continued there a year and six months, teaching the Word of God among them." No doubt, this was done to establish the new Christians in the faith.  Verse 18 could well mean Paul stayed in Corinth even longer than 1 1/2 years to make disciples of the new Christians.
      Now, here is the point I have been working toward: it is very possible to have a numerically successful church, but it be one that fails to do what the apostles of Jesus Christ did with their converts, which was to ground them in Biblical truth, and to teach them to pursue Christ-likeness in their daily lives.
      Therefore, we must conclude that smaller churches that do what the apostles of Jesus did with new Christians are doing a better job than many big churches. So, bigger is not always better. Sometimes, smaller is better.
     Praise the Lord, if he blesses a church with a big or very big congregation. But don't let a small one seem insignificant. After all, small churches are not insignificant to the Lord.