Precious Jesus

"Afresh, precious, precious Jesus, I resign this body to You, for doing or suffering, for living or dying. Will You accept it? Will You use me for Your glory more than heretofore, that You may have some little return for all the benefits You have done to me? Oh, do grant this request; my heart longs for it, my spirit pleads for it; and "if You will, You can." You know the hot temptation of which I am the subject. Bring Your glory out of it, and keep me from the evil, and it shall be well." - Ruth Bryan

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Every Day

("Every Day!" Author unknown, 1872)

"I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not be conformed to this world; but be transformed by the renewing of your mind." Romans 12:2

Here is a prohibition and an admonition. O Lord, give me grace to avoid what You forbid--and to do what you enjoin.

Enable me to avoid compliance with those customs and ways of the world which are contrary to Your will.

While in the world--let me not be of it.

Give me grace to come out and to be separate from its ungodly principles and sinful pleasures.

Transform me by the renewal of my mind.

Deliver me from pride, from selfishness, and vain-glory.

Afford me a continual supply of the grace of Christ.

Impress His image on me--and help me to tread in His steps.

Let it plainly appear that I am not of the world--even as He was not of the world. John 17:16

O Lord, work in me to will and to act according to Your good pleasure.

"Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you--and you will be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty." 2 Corinthians 6:17-18


Women praying in the church

(Explanatory Note) In the “Pastor’s Letter” of the Wicket Gate for August 1971, reprinted in edition 76 (January 2009) the issue of women covering their heads while engaged in prayer in the church was considered. In a later edition of the Wicket Gate (October) 1971 the wider question of women being permitted to prayer in the church was briefly dealt with and is now printed below. 

May we say, then, at the outset, that we believe with all our hearts that women should pray in the prayer meetings of the church as the Lord gives them utterance. This He has done so often throughout the church’s history in the past, and we trust again, by His grace, in the future. We say this, in the first place, for this reason; that we refuse to make a fool out of the mighty apostle Paul. 

In the verses referred to, concerning the coverings of the head by women, the apostle Paul is speaking about how the women are to pray, having their heads covered. Surely, we cannot suppose for one minute that Paul is only instructing the women how to pray provided they were allowed to pray! Are we going to make the great apostle say “Now, let me tell you women, if it were permitted for you to pray when the church comes together, let me inform you that you would have to do it with your heads covered”? Surely this is too much. Surely, Paul is assuming that the women will pray in the church and instructing them how they should do it - with your heads covered – just as he is also instructing the men how they should pray – with their heads Uncovered. If we infer from that passage that Paul is instructing the men how to pray, then we must also infer that he is, likewise, instructing the women how to pray, and so, assuming that they do and are able to pray. 

We believe that this is a valid inference, that Paul does, in fact, assume that women pray in the churches; and we substantiate that inference by reminding ourselves that nowhere in the New Testament are women forbidden to pray. Two passages are normally cited by those who would silence the sisters at the prayer meeting: 1st Corinthians chapter 14 verses 34 and 1st Timothy chapter 2 and verse 11. In the Corinthian passage, the words of the apostle Paul are clear: “Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law.” Even a casual glance at that verse will show that it says nothing in the wide world about prayer, and a read through the whole passage, beginning at verse 26 will show that the apostle Paul is dealing with the “orderliness” of church worship, with this overriding concern – “Let all things be done unto edification,” i.e. unto the spiritual benefit of those gathered. He draws a conclusion for us in verse 33: “For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.” 

Obviously, the women at Corinth were guilty of disturbing the “orderliness” of the church’s meeting, and they were apparently guilty of this through their talking during the meeting. And the next verse – verse 35 – explains very clearly to us what form this “talking” assumed – they were obviously asking their husbands questions as the meeting was in progress. “Let your women keep silence in the churches,” says Paul in verse 34, “and if they will learn anything,” he says in verse 35, “let them ask their husbands at home; for” he goes on to say, “it is a shame for women to speak in the church.” Not to pray in the church, mark you, the passage says absolutely nothing about prayer. It has to do with women learning, and the method that the women had apparently adopted in learning at Corinth was to ask their husbands about those things that puzzled them during the meeting together. No, says Paul, let them keep silence, it is not permitted for them to speak – they are disturbing the “orderliness” of the church – and if they will learn anything, let them ask their husbands at home, it is a shame for women to speak in the church. Nothing to do with prayer. 

The second passage is almost identical, in 1st Timothy chapter 2 verse 12. “But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.” Again, there is not a word about the woman being prohibited the right to pray in the church. The injunction in this case has to do with the woman “teaching” and “usurping authority over the man,” and, of course, we would hold very firmly that a woman may do neither of these things. These are the marks of the Elders of the church and no woman may be an Elder. Therefore, she may not teach the church, nor rule the church – she may not assume the office of Elder. But, there is nothing about prayer. 

A glance at the preceding verse – verse 11 – will show that it is the same situation that Paul has dealt with in the Corinthian passage: “Let the women learn in silence with all subjection.” Both passages have to do with how the women are to learn (a) they are to learn in silence and (b) if they would know anything they are to ask their husbands at home, and not disturb the church’s gathering. There is nothing about prayer. 

The passage dealing with women and prayer (1st Cor. 11) deals with how women should pray – with their heads covered. We therefore assume that it is their privilege in Christ to do so. 

W. J. Seaton 

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

How important is right or sound doctrine?

Many in our day will argue stating sound doctrine is not essential for Christians. These same people oftentimes are worldly and filled with unrepentant sin, having a form of godliness but lacking the power. Here's an example; my daughter was flabbergasted by a classmate who is homosexual and yet has a tattoo of a cross with 'Jesus is my Savior' inside the cross. She wondered how this could be, keep in mind, my daughter is not saved. This is an example of adhering to wrong teaching.

Here is an excellent article from A.W. Pink on the importance of right teaching....

“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16).
Since they are inspired by God it naturally and necessarily follows that they are “profitable,” for He could not be the Author of what was purposeless and useless to its recipients. For what are the Scriptures “profitable”? FIRST, for doctrine, that is, for sound and wholesome doctrine, “doctrine which is according to godliness” (1 Tim. 6:3).
The word doctrine means “teaching” or instruction, and then the principle or article received. In the Scriptures we have the truth and nothing but the truth on every object and subject of which they treat, such as no mere creature could have arrived at or invented. The unfolding of the doctrine of God is a revelation of his Being and character, such as had never been conceived by philosophers or poets. Their teaching concerning man is such as no physicist or psychologist had ever discovered by his own unaided powers. Such, too, is its doctrine of sin, of salvation, of the world, of Heaven, of Hell.
Now to read and ponder the Scriptures for “doctrine” is to have our beliefs formed by its teachings. So far as we are under the influence of prejudice, or receive our religious ideas on human authority, and go to the Word not so much with the desire to be instructed on what we know not, but rather for the purpose of finding some thing which will confirm us in what we have already imbibed from man, be it right or wrong, so far we exercise a sinful disregard to the Sacred Canon and may justly be given up to our own deceits.
Again; if we set up our own judgment so as to resolve not to accept anything as Divine truth but what we can intellectually comprehend, then we despise God’s Word and cannot be said to read it either for doctrine or correction. It is not enough to “call no man Master”: if I exalt my reason above the infallible dictates of the Holy Spirit, then my reason formulates my creed. We must come to the Word conscious of our ignorance, forsaking our own thoughts (Isa. 55:7), with the earnest prayer “that which I see not, teach thou me” (Job 34:32), and that, so long as we remain on earth.
FIRST AND FOREMOST THEN THE INSPIRED SCRIPTURES ARE PROFITABLE FOR DOCTRINE: that our thoughts, ideas and beliefs concerning all the subjects of Divine revelation may be formed and regulated by their infallible teachings. How that rebukes those who sneer at theological instruction, who are prejudiced against the doctrinal exposition of the gospel, who ignorantly account such “dry” and uninteresting, who are all for what they term “experimental religion.” We say “ignorantly,” for the distinction they seek to draw is an unscriptural and invalid one.
The Word of God nowhere draws a line between the doctrinal and the experimental. How could it? when true experimental piety is nothing but the influence of truth upon the Soul under the agency of the Holy Spirit. What is godly sorrow for sin but the influence of the truth upon the conscience and heart! Is it anything else than a realization or feeling sense of the heinousness of sin, of its contrariety to what ought to be, of its being committed against light and love, dissolving the heart to grief? Until those truths are realized there will be no weeping over your sin. . .
Yes, first and foremost the Scriptures are “profitable for doctrine”: God says so, and those who declare otherwise are liars and deceivers. . .That personal piety or holy living may be neglected through an excessive attachment to favorite theological tenets is readily granted, but that doctrinal instruction is inimical to following the example which Christ has left us, we emphatically deny. The whole teaching of Scripture is “the doctrine which is according to godliness” (1 Tim. 6:3): that is to say, it is the doctrine which inculcates godliness, which supplies motives to godliness, and which therefore promotes it. If Divine truth be received according to the lovely proportions in which it is presented in the Word, so far from such a reception of it enervating practical godliness, it will be found to be the life of it. Doctrinal, experimental and practical religion are so necessarily connected together, they could have no existence apart from each other. The influence of the truth upon our hearts and minds is the source of all our spiritual feelings, and those feelings and affections are the springs of every good word and work.
SECOND, THE INSPIRED SCRIPTURES ARE PROFITABLE “FOR REPROOF” OR CONVICTION. Five times the Greek word is rendered “rebuke” and once “tell him his fault” (Matthew 18:15). Here is the chief reason why the Scriptures are so unpalatable to the unsaved: they set before him a standard concerning which he knows he falls far short: they require that which is thoroughly distasteful to him and prohibit those things which his evil nature loves and craves. Thus, their holy teachings roundly condemn him. It is because the Word of God inculcates holiness and censures every form of evil that the unregenerate have such a disrelish for it. It is because the Word convicts its reader of his sins, upbraids him for his ungodliness, blames him for his inward as well as outward lack of conformity thereto, that the natural man shuns it. Flesh and blood resent interference, chafe against being censured, and is angry when told his or her faults. It is much too humbling for the pride of the natural man to be rebuked for his failures and chided for his errors. Therefore he prefers “prophecy” or something which pricks not his conscience!
“Profitable for reproof.” Are you, am I, willing to be reproved? Are we really, honestly desirous of having made known to us everything in us which is contrary to the law of the Lord and is therefore displeasing to Him? Are we truly agreeable to be searched by the white light of the truth, to bare our hearts to the sword of the Spirit? The true answer to that question reveals whether or not we are regenerate, whether a miracle of grace has been wrought in us or whether we are still in a state of nature. Unless the answer be in the affirmative, there cannot possibly be any spiritual growth for us. Of the wicked it is said “They despised all my reproof” (Prov. 1:30). On the one hand we are told “he that hateth reproof is brutish” and “shall die” (Prov, 12:1; 15:17); on the other, “reproofs of instruction are the way of life,” “he that heareth reproof getteth understanding” (Prov. 6:23; 15:32). If we are to profit from the Scriptures we must always approach them with an honest desire that all amiss in us may be rebuked by their teachings and be humbled into the dust before God in consequence thereof.
THIRD, THE SCRIPTURES ARE PROFITABLE “FOR CORRECTION.” The Greek word occurs nowhere else in the New Testament, but signifies “setting right.” The reproving is but a means to an end: it is a showing us what is wrong that it may be put right. Everything about us, both within and without needs correcting, for the fall has put man all out of joint with God and holiness. Our thoughts on everything are wrong and need readjusting. Our affections are all disorderly and need regulating. Our character is utterly unlike Christ’s and has to be conformed to His image. Our conduct is wayward and demands squaring with the Rule of righteousness. God has given to us His Word that under its guidance we may regulate our beliefs, renovate our hearts and reform our lives. Hence it answers but a poor end to read a chapter once or twice a day for the sake of decency, without any definite intention of complying with the mind of God as revealed therein. Since He has given us the Scriptures “for correction” we should always approach them with a sincere purpose of bringing into harmony with them everything that is disorderly within us and irregular without us.
FOURTH, the Scriptures are profitable “for instruction in righteousness.” That is the end for which the other three things are the means. As Matthew Henry pointed out: the Scriptures are “profitable to us for all the purposes of the Christian life. They answer all the ends of Divine revelation. They instruct us in that which is true, reprove us for all that which is amiss, direct us in all that which is good.” ”Instruction in righteousness” refers not to the imputed righteousness of Christ, for that is included in ”doctrine,” but relates to integrity of character and conduct—it is inherent and practical righteousness, which is the fruit of the imputed. For that we need “instructing” out of the Word, for neither reason nor conscience are adequate for such a task.
If our judgment be formed or our actions regulated by dreams, visions, or supposed immediate revelations from Heaven, rather than by the plain meaning of the Holy Scriptures, then we slight them and God may justly give us up to our own delusions. If we follow the fashion, imitate our fellows, or take public opinion for our standard, we are but heathen. But if the Word of God is the only source of our wisdom and guidance, we shall be found treading ”the paths of righteousness” (Ps. 23:6).{HT - Mike Jeshurun}

Lastly, I think this quote from Martyn Lloyd Jones is spot on - "The Apostle Paul says, 1 Cor 15:33 ‘Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners’. He means that wrong teaching is desperately dangerous. He is there dealing with the great question of the resurrection, he is concerned with that one doctrine, and he says, Make no mistake about this; it is not a matter of indifference as to whether you believe in the literal physical resurrection or not. ‘Ah but,’ you say, ‘I am a practical man of affairs, I am not interested in doctrine, I am not a theologian, I have no time for these things. All I want is something to help me to live my daily life.’ But according to the Apostle you cannot divorce these things, ‘Evil communications’ —wrong teaching, wrong thinking, wrong belief — ‘corrupt good manners’. It will affect the whole of your life. One of the first things you are to learn in this Christian life and warfare is that, if you go wrong in your doctrine, you will go wrong in all aspects of your life. You will probably go wrong in your practice and behaviour; and you will certainly go wrong in your experience."

The gospel of the Anti-Christ

Monday, September 19, 2016

Titles of distinction?

But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren.  - Matthew 23:8

Today, we have men and women who attach titles before their name, as if they should be exalted to a higher status over the brethren. For example, 'Dr. R.C. Sproul', 'Dr. John MacAthur', or the various other titles such as reverend, apostle, etc. The verse I gave is from our Lord; He forbids such nonsense. Let's look at Albert Barnes' commentary on the first part of the text, "Jesus forbade his disciples to seek such titles of distinction. The reason which he gave was that he was himself their Master and Teacher, They were on a level; they were to be equal in authority; they were brethren; and they should neither covet nor receive a title which implied either an elevation of one above another, or which appeared to infringe on the absolute right of the Saviour to be their only Teacher and Master. The direction here is an express command to his disciples not to receive such a title of distinction. They were not to covet it; they were not to seek it; they were not to do anything that implied a wish or a willingness that it should be appended to their names. Everything which would tend to make a distinction among them or destroy their parity - everything which would lead the world to suppose that there were ranks and grades among them as ministers, they were to avoid. It is to be observed that the command is that they were not to receive the title".  'Rabbi' - This title corresponds with the title “Doctor of Divinity” as applied to ministers of the gospel; and, so far as I can see, the spirit of the Saviour’s command is violated by the reception of such a title, as really as it would have been by their being called “Rabbi.” It makes a distinction among ministers. It tends to engender pride and a sense of superiority in those who obtain it, and envy and a sense of inferiority in those who do not; and the whole spirit and tendency of it is contrary to the “simplicity that is in Christ.” A. Barnes

How is it then we have many within the ranks of evangelicalism that sport such titles proudly? This is a direct violation of the text. We are not to give titles to ourselves, regardless of the schooling one boasts of to back the title. 

Matthew Henry is in agreement with Barnes, "1. Christ's ministers must not affect the name of Rabbi or Master, by way of distinction from other people; it is not agreeable to the simplicity of the gospel, for them to covet or accept the honour which they have that are in kings' palaces. 2. They must not assume the authority and dominion implied in those names; they must not be magisterial, nor domineer over their brethren, or over God's heritage, as if they had dominion over the faith of Christians: what they received of the Lord, all must receive from them; but in other things they must not make their opinions and wills a rule and standard to all other people, to be admitted with an implicit obedience. The reasons for this prohibition are,
(1.) One is your Master, even Christ, Mat_23:8, and again, Mat_23:10. Note, [1.] Christ is our Master, our Teacher, our Guide. Mr. George Herbert, when he named the name of Christ, usually added, My Master. [2.] Christ only is our Master, ministers are but ushers in the school. Christ only is the Master, the great Prophet, whom we must hear, and be ruled and overruled by; whose word must be an oracle and a law to us; Verily I say unto you, must be enough to us. And if he only be our Master, then for his ministers to set up for dictators, and to pretend to a supremacy and an infallibility, is a daring usurpation of that honour of Christ which he will not give to another."

So is A.W. Pink, "What strange methods God sometimes employs in teaching His children much needed lessons. This has recently been the writer’s experience. He has been approached by a “University” to accept from them a degree of “D.D.” Asking for time to be given so that he might prayerfully seek from God, through His written Word, a knowledge of His will, fuller light came than was expected. He had very serious doubts as to the permissibility of one of God’s servants accepting a title of (fleshly) honour. He now perceives that it is wrong for him to receive it even complimentary. Various friends, as a mark of respect, have addressed us as “Dr. Pink.” We now ask them to please cease from doing so. Let it not be understood that we hereby condemn other men for what they allow. No, to their own Master they stand or fall. The principal passages which have helped us we now mention, praying that it may please God to also bless them to others. First, to the false comforters of Job, Elihu (God’s representative) said, “Let me not, I pray you, accept any man’s person, neither let me give flattering titles unto man” (Job 32:21). Second, “Be not ye called Rabbi” (Mat 23:8), or “Teacher,” which is what “Doctor” signifies. Third, John 5:44 reproves those who “receive honour one of another,” and bids us seek “the honour that cometh from God only.” Fourth, none of the Lord’s servants in the New Testament ever employed a title: “Paul, an apostle,” but never “the Apostle Paul.” Fifth, the Son of God “made Himself of no reputation” (Phi 2:7). Is it then fitting that His servants should now follow an opposite course? Sixth, Christ bids us learn of Him who was “meek and lowly” (Mat 11:29). Seventh, one of the marks of the Apostasy is “having men’s persons in admiration because of advantage” (Jude 16). Eighth, we are bidden to go forth unto Christ outside the camp “bearing His reproach” (Heb 13:13). For these reasons it does not seem to us to be fitting that one who is here as a representative and witness for a “despised and rejected” Christ should be honoured and flattered of men. Please address us as “Brother Pink.”

Isn't that exactly what our Lord states when He said "all ye are brethren"? Let us not break the command of the text by referring to any mortal man as anything other than a brother or sister. 

Sunday, September 18, 2016

He hath a name suitable

"Nevertheless, he saved them for his name's sake."—Psalm 106:8.

We tender our exhortation to believers, in particular, who have run to this strong tower of salvation, the name of the Lord. O admire his goodness, admire his name. He knows all your sins against him, and against his name; yet for his name's sake, he shows mercy. O! let sin against so good a God be abhorred: let his goodness lead you to repentance more and more: "The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord." O believer, are you called by his name; praise him for his mercy, truth, faithfulness: "According to thy name, O God, so is thy praise unto the ends of the earth; thy right hand is full of righteousness," Psal. 18:10. O sirs, ascribe all the mercy you met with to his name; and study to be meet objects for God's name, to be more and more glorified, upon his engaging his name for your help. Study to become such persons as the scriptures require: for though sinners have a ground of hope, that he MAY do, for his name's sake; yet saints have a ground of hope that he WILL do for his name's sake: the graceless may run to him with hope, that he may begin the good work, for his name's sake; but the gracious may run to him with hope that he will perfect the good work for his name's sake. His name is engaged.
In a word, O improve his name in every case; for he hath a name suiting every want, every need. Do you need wonders to be wrought for you? His name is Wonderful; look to him so to do, for his name's sake. Do you need counsel and direction? His name is the Counsellor: cast yourself on him and his name for this. Have you mighty enemies to debate with? His name is the mighty God; seek that he may exert his power for his name's sake. Do you need his fatherly pity? His name is the everlasting Father; "As a Father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him." Plead his pity, for his name's sake. Do you need peace external, internal, or eternal? His name is the Prince of Peace; seek, for his name's sake, that he may create peace. Do you need healing? O sirs, his name is JEHOVAH-ROPHI, the Lord the healer and physician; seek, for his name's sake, that he may heal all your diseases. Do you need pardon? His name is JEHOVAH-TSIDKENU, the Lord our righteousness; seek, for his name's sake, that he may be merciful to your unrighteousness. Do you need defence and protection? His name is JEHOVAH-NISSI, the Lord your banner. Seek for his name's sake, that his banner of love and grace may be spread over you. Do you need provision in extreme want? His name is JEHOVAH-JIREH, in the mount of the Lord it shall be seen, the Lord will provide. Do you need his presence? His name is JEHOVAH-SHAMMAH, the Lord is there: IMMANUEL, God with us: look to him to be with you, for his name's sake. Do you need audience of prayer? His name is the Hearer of prayer. Do you need strength? His name is the Strength of Israel. Do you need comfort? His name is the Consolation of Israel. Do you need shelter? His name is the city of refuge. Have you nothing and need all? His name is All in All. Sit down and devise names to your wants and needs, and you will find he hath a name suitable thereunto; for your supply, he hath wisdom to guide you; and power to keep you; mercy to pity you; truth to shield you; holiness to sanctify you; righteousness to justify you; grace to adorn you; and glory to crown you. Trust in his name, who saves for his name's sake.

  Ralph Erskine