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

Friday, December 14, 2018

Nature or natures?

By Gary Shepard

"O the deep, deep love of Jesus, vast, 
unmeasured, boundless, free!
Rolling as a mighty ocean 
in its fullness over me!
"O the deep, deep love of Jesus, 
love of every love the best!
'Tis an ocean full of blessing,
'tis a haven giving rest!
"Underneath me, all around me,
 is the current of His love
Leading onward, leading homeward 
to Thy glorious rest above!"
I want you to turn in your Bibles this morning to 2 Peter 1. It is a sad thing, sad thing, that men and women in our day are so gullible, so lazy, so unconcerned for the truth that they just simply believe only what preachers say, what their favorite preacher says, I should say. And sadly many preachers capitalize on this for their own gain and their own glory and their followers become like people in the fairytale, the Emperor's New Clothes, when the wicked men told the king and all the people that they had made for the king a beautiful garment but only certain people could see it, when the truth was they hadn't made for him a garment at all but because of pride and because of such things as that, everybody said how beautiful it was and everyone including the king spoke of how beautiful it was. But there was a little boy in the crowd when the king went by who was just honest like a child and he said, "He's naked. Just plain naked." And that's the way it is oftentimes with people when they are told things, they just believe them; they just believe that they are the way they are and if anybody comes along with the truth, they are locked into a place of pride and self-will and they refuse to admit the reality. It's the hardest thing for people to do, to admit they have been wrong. Somebody said sin is like a prison cell, but pride is the lock on the door.
So oftentimes men tell people how things are and they show them things that cannot be supported from the Bible but, after all, So-and-so said it. So-and-so believed it. So-and-so wrote about it. But you really only believe, I've said this to you before, you only really believe what you know to be true from God's word. You only believe what you have read and seen for yourself from this book. That is faith. Faith not because a preacher said it or because a writer said it, but because God said it and it is plain in black and white.
And it's true with what you believe about the nature of man and especially what you believe about the nature of a believer. Does a believer have a nature or natures? Does he have what some have called an old nature and a new nature? And I would ask you simply what does the Bible actually say? Not what does Dr. Gill say or even Brother Hawker, or the most respected persons and preachers that we know. The answer is only to be found in what God says and the truth of the matter is, if we have to run to men to see what we believe, we'll always be deceived.
If I've got to go and check with this book or that commentator or that preacher or this preacher to see what I believe, then we are really in trouble because men are fallible. I'm fallible. I'm subject to error and I have seen some things in recent days that I would not have believed if you had told me with the most sincere heart. I've never known anybody until recent days to take what one believes about the nature of man and make it a point of fellowship. Never. I've never known what one believes about the nature of believers to be made a point of orthodoxy, or for anybody ever being accused one way or the other for what they believed about the nature of man as preaching heresy. Not in 40 years of preaching. I've never seen it. And I have never known it.
But I want to say this morning in the very beginning, that I believe that you must be born again. Jesus said, "Except a man be born again, he cannot see and he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." You must be born again. There must be a supernatural work of God's Spirit in your heart and if you never receive that, you will never believe, you will never ever lay hold of eternal life. And I know this is what Paul says in Romans, "You are not in the flesh but in the Spirit if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now, if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his." It is absolutely necessary that the Spirit of God do a work in us. Absolutely. Just like Christ did a work for us, the Holy Spirit must do a work in us.
But Christ also said something else on that occasion when he was speaking about the necessity of the new birth. He said, "The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit." That is to say there is an element of mystery in the Spirit's unseen work in an individual. Billy Graham may write a book and tell you how to be born again but Jesus never wrote such a book. He said the work of God's Spirit in us is a mysterious work, an unseen work like the wind. Like the wind. Now, let me say that I once believed that in regeneration, a person got a new nature. I once believed that because that's what I read that So-and-so said, that's what I heard So and- so preach, that's what I variously looked and listened to men say, that everybody that is born again has a work of the Spirit, they have a new nature. But one day I began to look at what the Bible said and not man because it seemed to me that what was being said was a whole lot like the black dog/white dog illustration that people usually use naturally to describe what we are. We are like a black dog in one thing, we're like a white dog in another thing. But all I could ever see was the black dog in me, in everybody else, and in the word of God. It's kind of like people used to use the illustration, "Well, I've got an angel sitting on one shoulder and a devil sitting on the other shoulder, each one of them telling me what to do." But I never could see that in anybody and I never could feel that and know that in my own self.
 And one of the examples, one of the reasons that people used to speak of this duality of natures is they say, "Well, Christ had two natures: he had a nature and he had a divine nature, so that two natures can be in the same person at one time." But the truth is the nature of Christ and the nature of God is one and the same and it is not a conflicting nature but it is a holy nature, a perfect nature, so that in him it is all the same. So I began to search the Scriptures and I could not find, nor will you find in your search, one time when I see the phrase "new nature." Not one time. But then you don't find the word "sovereignty" in Scripture either, so I knew that something can be a reality and actually not have the word or terminology that men choose to use. But it made me begin to think because everybody seemed to stress so much importance on this new nature, that
I began to look. What I did find in investigating closely, what I did find was that every reference to "nature" or to "natural" had to do with the old Adamic nature except for two.
Every time you find the word "nature" in the New Testament or "natural," it says
something like this, "The natural man receiveth not the things of God. We were by nature the children of wrath." Everywhere in the Bible except two, and in those two places, one of them it is used in relationship to the nature of angels, "He took not on himself the nature of angels." And in the other verse, it has to do with a reference to God himself. To God himself.
And when I began to examine the so-called proof texts, I found out as I often have, that many of the proof texts are just simply out of context. You'd better beware of proof texts.
You'd better read the context that they're in, and oftentimes the proof texts don't prove what a man is saying at all. Often it proves just the opposite.
But turn with me in 2 Corinthians 5 and I want you to look at one of those so called proof texts. This is one often given here. In 2 Corinthians 5:17, "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." And that is given as a proof text that someone has a new nature, a believer has a new nature. But the truth of the matter is Paul's subject here in 2 Corinthians 5 is not regeneration, it's reconciliation, and he's not talking about what a man is made by Christ, what a man is made in Christ. He's talking about a positional thing that we are in if we are in Christ. What is that? Reconciled to God.
"Therefore if any man be in Christ." That's a wonderful thing. That's a wonderful place to be and that's the place that he is standing here telling us about in relationship to our standing before God, in Christ. "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature," or as most translations give that, "he is a new creation." But the giveaway is this: the thing that makes us know that he cannot be talking about regeneration is that he says this, "old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." Is there any believer here in this hour that would dare say that in conversion old things were all passed away?
All things pertaining to the nature of sin in us are surely not passed away and they are not all made new. He can't be talking about regeneration here. But in reconciliation, as to what we were in Adam and what we are now in Christ, that surely rings true. We are reconciled to God. All those old things in Adam are gone and everything is new in Christ.
Adam symbolized the old creation and Christ is the new creation and if we are in him, old things are passed away. Every single solitary one of those old things with regard to how we first stood in our federal head, Adam, they are all passed away and we now stand before God reconciled in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Well, what about those references where we find "old man" and "new man"? They are all given for the same reason as Paul was giving us this passage of Scripture, they are all given to remind us of what we are to depart from and what we are to aspire to because of our position in him.
Now, I want you to look with me in Ephesians 4 and look at verse 22. Here is an admonition by the apostle wherein he says, "That you put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness." Who is the new man? Who are we to aspire to be? Who are we to find as the reason for all abstaining from sin and all of the things that we ought not to do, all the things that he has been talking about here that characterize what we are in the old man? It is in Christ, the new man. In other words, the apostle is saying to us we are to act, we are to conduct ourselves, we are to strive to be what we already are. We are new men, we are new women in Christ.
Turn over just a few pages to the book of Colossians, chapter 3. Look at verse 8, "But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him." How do we do that? How do we put on the new man? We put on the new man by looking to the Lord Jesus Christ. We put on the new man by faith. We believe what we are in Christ Jesus, the Lord. We don't believe that we are something new and special in ourselves because of what we have been made, we look to Christ. We are new people in Christ and we are to put off, you might as well say, we are to quit acting like we acted when we were old men and start acting like we are when we are new people in Christ.
But the real thing that tells me that this is not old nature and new nature is found in Romans 6. Romans 6:6. Now, you can go and you can get a concordance or you can get a Greek dictionary or you can get another translation and you can do whatever you want, I think the consensus is this: that when Paul uses "is" in the King James in Romans 6, the better translation is "was." Alright, this is verse 6 of Romans 6, "This knowing, that our old man was crucified with him, that the body of sin may be made useless for our no longer serving the sin." Now, the important thing here is that Paul says that our old man was crucified with him, with Christ.
Now, you can't say, I can't say, that I am crucified. Crucifying is something that men do to other men but Paul says that our old man was crucified with him. How long was it ago that Christ was crucified? Well, now it is over 2,000 years so if we believe, we can't say this is the old man here and a different old man there, the old man was crucified with him long long ago. He doesn't exist anymore. He is not what we are anymore. We are new men and women in Christ Jesus.
And with those texts, honestly and in their context being interpreted and being defined as they are, where do they say or what is left to suggest that we have a new nature? Well, the one that is most often used is right here in 2 Peter and the fourth verse. Now, I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt, be honest with you, that I have seen a phrase in this verse made up of just a few words quoted, given as proof texts, over and over and over and over again in support of our having a new nature. Here it is,
4 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
Here it is: partakers of the divine nature. We are partakers of the divine nature. That's given as a quote, a proof text that we have a new nature. I'm sure of one thing, I may not be sure of a lot but I'm sure of this one thing: anybody with a divine nature is divine. That's right. The word "divine" means "of or like God, or a god; deity." I don't know about you but I'm not God. I'm not a little god. I'm not a little Jesus. There has only been one man with a divine nature and that is the Lord Jesus Christ. Now, you mark that down. He had a divine nature. He has right now a divine nature.
Well then, what does that mean when it says or refers to us as partakers of the divine nature? I came to that verse and I used probably the most faithful, the most tried and tested way of trying to find out how a word or what a word means in the Bible. I went and looked at everywhere that word in the Greek was used and I sought to determine from those usages, all of them together, what the word "partakers" means. I went to Strong's Greek dictionary and the word "partakers" is defined as "associate; companion; partner; fellowship." And the way it was used the very most all those places in Scripture, it was used to express things people have in common such as this verse in Acts 2:44, "And all that believed were together, and had all things common." Fellowship. That we might have fellowship with the divine nature.
Turn over and look at 1 John 1 because here in 1 John 1, a word that is close akin, close akin to the word "partakers" as it is translated here, the word is used in 1 John 1 quite a few times. Verse 3, "That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full. This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin."
Now, when Peter writes what he writes, he talks about us being made partakers of the divine nature, but he says something before that, doesn't he? And this alone ought to tell us something about what he means here. Well, I'll go back and read verse 2, "Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord,  According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these," by these what? Exceeding great and precious promises. What is that if it is not the Gospel? If it is not the word of God? In other words, we hear from God as he is, and we hear how he is, and we learn about him, and we commune with him, and we know the way that we can have fellowship with God.
I challenge anybody to have fellowship with God who you can't see without the word, without these exceeding great and precious promises. I can have fellowship with you. I can see you. I can see how you are. I can talk to you. I can listen to what you say. I can see how you act. But I can't do that with God. But more than that, more than that, how can I, how can you, have fellowship with God, be a partaker, a companion, an associate, have fellowship with a thrice holy God? If you know anything about him and if you know anything about yourselves, it is an impossible thing naturally but John said if we walk in the light as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another. We have fellowship with God if we walk in the light. And sadly, most people take that to believe if we conduct ourselves in the proper way, or if we don't tell any lies for a week, or if we don't do anything bad for a week, and if we kind of clean ourselves up, we're walking in the light, we can have fellowship with God. It ain't so. It ain't so. The only way we can have fellowship with God and the only way we walk in light is to walk in the light of the truth as it is in Christ Jesus. He is the light. We can only have fellowship with God on the basis of our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the one and the only one that we can both agree on.
Zechariah, he says, "Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow." God says, "He's my fellow." Do you know what I say? He's my fellow too. In the strictest sense, we can have fellowship with God, we can agree with God, we can be accepted by God in only one way, we can partake of the divine nature in only one way, and that is in Christ. I agree with God on Christ. He agrees with me on Christ and that is that he is all.
I don't claim any new nature. I've only got one nature and it's a bad one. It's amazing to me that some of those who claim a new nature, they sure have a funny way of showing it. I only have a sinful nature. In other words, there is only one nature that's natural to me and that's the natural body, the nature of sin. That's the only thing that's natural to me. Anything I believe about Christ is supernatural. Supernatural. You see, in the light, in the truth by these exceeding great and precious promises that we have in the Gospel that tell of Christ, the tell of his bloodshed, that tell of his righteousness, that tell of everything being in him, I can have fellowship with God.
I sat down this week and I read Psalm 71 that I just read to you a bit earlier and it was just like he was talking to me, and it was just like the Psalmist was saying the things that I wanted to say. All these exceedingly great and precious promises that he says are yea and amen in Christ.
Well, what happens when we are born again? We don't get a new nature. What happens when we are born again? We are indwelt by the Spirit of God. We don't get a new nature, we got a new resident. The third person of the Godhead. The Father is active in saving us, the Son was active in saving us, and the Holy Spirit is active in saving us. He indwells every person that is born of God. God is said to be our God, our Savior, and God, the Holy Spirit, is not an influence, it's not a feeling, it's a person. And that's why I say it's dangerous to attribute a work that is done in us as being the cause of some things when it is actually the Holy Spirit in us.
Listen to this, Romans 8, "But you are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit," capital letters, "is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you." That's Roman 8:9-11. And all that is said there, the two things that are spoken of there, is the flesh and the Holy Spirit.
Well, they say, "What brings about the change? What brings about the fact that we one day don't believe and the next day we do? Or one day we hate God, the next date we love God? All these other things?" I suggest to you it's not a new nature, it's the Holy Spirit. It's the Holy Spirit.
Turn over to Galatians 5. Now, if you'll notice in these verses, the only Spirit that is mentioned is in capital letters. Somebody said, "Well, Paul is talking about the conflict between the old nature and the new nature in Romans 7." I don't think so, not if he writes this. Verse 16, "This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another."
Now, when he's talking about this struggle, he's talking about these two contrary things, there is not a third person in there. He doesn't say that there is a struggle between the old nature, which is here called the flesh, and the new nature and the Spirit. He says there is a struggle between two, the flesh and the Spirit. Capital letters, Holy Spirit. Not three, two. It always boils down to this: what I am by nature, what God has made me by grace. If I chew you out, if I say something bad to you, treat you bad, get angry with you, you don't have to worry about where that's coming from, that's all me. That's my nature. But if I have to treat you kind, if I happen to quote a verse of Scripture, if I happen to put my arms around you or help you or something, that's God. That's the Spirit of God.
The fruit of the Spirit. Think about that. Fruit grows on a tree. Which tree is it? The Spirit's tree. The fruit of the spirit is love and peace, joy, long-suffering, gentleness, all these things. Not the fruit of the flesh, not the fruit of a new nature. You see, the work of God's Spirit is one of revelation and one of preservation. He keeps us and all that we are enabled to believe, all we are enabled to do that is right, all that we are able to do of good works, whatever it is, it's him working in us. And I do not doubt that if the Holy Spirit did not indwell us, did not continue to save us, we would show ourselves for the nature that we have. Suppose if you say we have a new nature, would you like for the Holy Spirit to just withdraw from you and let your new nature take control? I'm sorry, I wouldn't, and if you've got any sense, you wouldn't.
David cried out and he said, "Lord," he said, "don't take your Holy Spirit from me or I will be a devil. You relax your hand on me enough to let me know just exactly what I'd be. Take not your Holy Spirit from me." No, we have no confidence in the flesh. And what men call a new nature, I believe, you don't have to believe this, I won't break fellowship with you if you don't, I certainly won't call you a heretic and accuse you of preaching heresy, but I believe that rather than a new nature, we have the third person of the Godhead, the Holy Spirit indwelling us, and any good that comes is his work. And besides, the real question is not what we believe about the nature of man, the real question is what think you of Christ?
I hate to preach a message like this so bad because it makes us to delve into things that I'm afraid take our eyes off Christ. Why would somebody make an issue of that? To speak of the glories and the wonders of Christ as my delight? You who hear me weekly, you know I don't dwell on the nature of man except the fact that it is a sinful nature. We dwell on Christ. But that's what I believe and I'll tell you something: if you can show me different from the word of God, I'll stand corrected and I'll believe you, but until then, saying that a believer has a new nature is just like the men that told the king that they had made for him a new garment. It sounds good but it's not true, not true in the word of God. I don't feel threatened if you don't believe it. I don't feel threatened one bit but I'm going to believe it until God shows me different. I want to believe what God says, not what men say. Let God be true and every man a liar, and if I don't say what God says, then let me be counted a liar and leave me alone. Don't hear me.
Our Father, we thank you for your goodness to us, that you'll never leave us, that your Spirit indwells us to keep us, to produce whatever fruit might be produced until such a time as we be glorified. We don't know what that will be; we know it will be better than we are. But we thank you. We pray in our Lord's name. Amen.


Tuesday, December 11, 2018

The doctrine of mortification

by A.W. Pink,
from 'studies in the scriptures' from December 1952

For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the
deeds of the body, ye shall live” (Rom 8:13). The whole of this verse pertains and belongs
to believers, who are “debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh” (verse 12),
but,instead, debtors to Christ who redeemed them, and therefore, to live unto His glory.
Debtors to the Holy Spirit who regenerated and indwells them, and therefore,
to live in subjection to His absolute control. In our last, we sought to supply answers to the
 several questions raised by us in the second paragraph on the former part of our text.   We turn now to consider those relating to its latter half.

Traditions of Men

There are so many of these that govern and rule with an iron fist the church of the world today that it would be of little use to list them all, even if anyone could. One, perhaps the most important, is the unwritten rule that one does not dispute, nor oppose in any way what has gained the time honored position of sacred tradition in the minds of wicked men. They are wicked who promote and demand allegiance to their nonsense over and above the teaching of Scripture which is the bedrock of all man's self inaugurated traditions. Christ and His Word must be ignored in order for these sayings and rules to flourish. And so it is now as it has been since Cain.

Having never heard or read anyone address the subject of "can the salvation of another person be readily known" my curiosity was peaked---and still is---as to whether we are to just 'leave it alone' (here comes the unwritten rule mentioned above) or actually investigate the Scriptures for God's answer to us and His intent for us. Over the past few months I have gathered over fifty verses that speak directly to this question, some more 'direct' than others. Many are the verses that instruct us to beware of false prophets and teachers, have nothing to do with them, shun them, reject them, and so on. But if, according to the current mantra, we are not able or allowed to determine who falls into the category of false prophet how will we obey the clear commands to do so? Gal. 1:6-9; 1 Tim. 4:1-3. Rom. 16:17 & 18 is perhaps one of the most clear directives in this matter that we are given. We are to "note those who cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine you have learned and avoid them..." But if, according to the traditions of men, we are not allowed to do so, how then will this command be obeyed? It won't. How will we be able to expose the unfruitful works of darkness (Eph. 5:11) and have no fellowship with those that produce these evil works if our ability to discern and KNOW is hamstrung by an edict of these same evil men? It can't.

Much ado has been made of "discernment" over the past decades, but most of it falls into the witch hunt category regulated by egos and not the Word. Discernment is a gift of the Holy Spirit, not a course in someone's school. Heb. 5:14 tells us of the 'mechanics' of discernment: "...those who by reason of USE have their SENSES exercised to discern both good and evil." But the current, popular, and unopposed position of church leaders is that we are allowed to use our senses (our brain) to detect either good or evil, instead we are subject to the behest of evil men not to engage in any such exercise so as not to find out that these much heralded leaders are actually frauds---lost frauds at that!

Then there is the case of the man described in 1 Cor. 5 as "sexually immoral" by Paul and on the surface one might come to the conclusion that the man was not a true believer, but Paul knew the truth of the matter. Verse five gives the clear answer that the man was indeed saved, albeit caught up in a most heinous sin which he later repented of as evidenced in 2 Cor. 2:1-11 and 2 Cor. 7 where the real fruits of repentance are revealed. Paul knew, but we cannot? Says who? Not the Scriptures. "But this was Paul and we are not Paul." True, we are just sinners saved by grace as was Paul and every other person redeemed by His blood. Don't fall into the "super saint" trap as has been preached for far too long.

1 John speaks volumes to the evidences of salvation in a man. In 3:9 &10 John speaks of 'practicing righteousness' and 'practicing evil' which is the determining factor as to the authenticity of salvation. Funny how this most vaunted of the traditions of men sidesteps this criteria in order to force 'sainthood' on the unregenerate. In actuality it brings shame and disgrace upon the Name of Christ, something that no genuine believer can tolerate.

But what does Christ have to say about all of this? A better question might be "will we listen to His words and discard this lie perpetrated upon the Church?" John 7:24 states "Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment." We are here commanded to judge which in no way contradicts Matt. 7:1 "Judge not lest you be judged" which speaks to the final condemnation of a soul and not the intended discernment of John 7. Yet the wickedness of these evil men would leave a seed of doubt as to the veracity of Christ on this matter which only multiplies over into everything else He said. Such do not serve Christ but their own belly and are lost. John 7:24 has been redacted from their brain, just like Matt. 7:15-23. "Beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. YOU WILL KNOW THEM BY THEIR FRUITS..." Concentrate on the first three words of that last sentence. Do you consider it to be 'judgmental' to be able to discern that reality of saving faith in another person? If so, then how do you know whom to 'beware of'  as Christ commands us here---and yes, it is a COMMAND, not just idle words. Verses 17-19 gives further instruction about fruit ("A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit") and verse twenty sums it up: "Therefore by their fruits YOU SHALL KNOW THEM." There is nothing optional about Christ's words in any of these verses, therefore it would behoove us to exercise our senses in order that we be able to detect (discern) good and evil.

Don't allow the guilt of being "judgmental" which has been shoved down our throats from the get-go to delay the necessity of being able to determine the salvation or lack thereof in another person. It is for your own spiritual health and sanity and likely soon your physical well being. Laying aside this lie is no easy or quick matter, but it is necessary. It will no doubt take time to digest, which is okay. "If any of you lacks wisdom, let hi ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given him." James 1:5.

Remember Lot's wife!

"Remember Lot's wife!" 
Luke 17:32

By J.C. Ryle, from his writings entitled 'holiness'
There are few warnings in Scripture more solemn than that which heads this page. The Lord Jesus Christ says to us, "Remember Lot's wife."
Lot's wife was a professor of religion; her husband was a "righteous man" (2 Peter 2:8). She left Sodom with him on the day when Sodom was destroyed; she looked back toward the city from behind her husband, against God's express command; she was struck dead at once and turned into a pillar of salt! And the Lord Jesus Christ holds her up as a beacon to His church; He says, "Remember Lot's wife!"
It is a solemn warning, when we think of the person that Jesus names. He does not bid us remember Abraham or Isaac or Jacob or Sarah or Hannah or Ruth. No, He singles out one whose soul was lost forever. He cries to us, "Remember Lot's wife!"
It is a solemn warning, when we consider the subject Jesus is upon. He is speaking of His own second coming to judge the world; He is describing the dreadful state of unreadinessin which many will be found. The last days are on His mind when He says, "Remember Lot's wife!"
It is a solemn warning, when we think of the person who gives it. The Lord Jesus is full of love, mercy and compassion; He is one who will not break the bruised reed, nor quench the smoking flax. He could weep over unbelieving Jerusalem, and pray for the men who crucified Him; yet even He thinks it good to remind us of lost souls. Even He says, "Remember Lot's wife!"
It is a solemn warning, when we think of the people to whom it was first given. The Lord Jesus was speaking to His disciples; He was not addressing the scribes and Pharisees, who hated Him—but Peter, James and John and many others who loved Him; yet even to them, He thinks it good to address a caution. Even to them He says, "Remember Lot's wife!"
It is a solemn warning, when we consider the manner in which it was given. He does not merely say, "Beware of following, take heed of imitating, do not be like Lot's wife." He uses a different word: He says, "Remember." He speaks as if we were all in danger of forgetting the subject; He stirs up our lazy memories; He bids us keep the case before our minds. He cries, "Remember Lot's wife!"
I propose to examine the lessons which Lot's wife is meant to teach us. I am sure that her history is full of useful instruction to the church. The last days are upon us; the second coming of the Lord Jesus draws near; the danger of worldliness is yearly increasing in the church. Let us be provided with safeguards and antidotes against the disease that is around us and, not least, let us become familiar with the story of Lot's wife.
Let us consider now . . .
the religious privileges Lot's wife enjoyed,
the particular sin she committed, and
the judgment which God inflicted upon her.
1. The religious privileges which Lot's wife enjoyed
In the days of Abraham and Lot, true saving religion was scarce upon earth: there were no Bibles, no ministers, no churches, no tracts, no missionaries. The knowledge of God was confined to a few favored families; the greater part of the inhabitants of the world were living in darkness, ignorance, superstition and sin. Not one in a hundred perhaps had . . .
such good example,
such spiritual society,
such clear knowledge,
such plain warnings
—as Lot's wife.
Compared with millions of her fellow creatures in her time, Lot's wife was a favored woman.
She had a godly man for her husband; she had Abraham, the father of the faithful, for her uncle by marriage. The faith, the knowledge and the prayers of these two righteous men could have been no secret to her. It is impossible that she could have dwelt in tents with them for any length of time, without knowing whose they were, and whom they served. Religion with them was no mere formal business; it was the ruling principle of their lives and the mainspring of all their actions. All this, Lot's wife must have seen and known. This was no small privilege.
When Abram first received the promises, it is probable that Lot's wife was there. When he built his altar by his tent between Hai and Bethel, it is probable she was there. When her husband was taken captive by Chedorlaomer and delivered by God's intervention, she was there. When Melchizedek, king of Salem, came forth to meet Abraham with bread and wine, she was there. When the angels came to Sodom and warned her husband to flee, she saw them; when they took them by the hand and led them out of the city, she was one of those whom they helped to escape. Once more, I say, these were no small privileges.
Yet what good effect had all these privileges on the heart of Lot's wife? None at all. Notwithstanding all her opportunities and means of grace, notwithstanding all her special warnings and messages from Heaven—she lived and died graceless, godless, impenitent and unbelieving.
The eyes of her understanding were never opened;
her conscience was never really aroused and quickened;
her will was never really brought into a state of obedience to God;
her affections were never really set upon things above.
The form of religion which she had was kept up for fashion's sake and not from feeling; it was a cloak worn for the sake of pleasing her company—but not from any sense of its value. She did as others did around her in Lot's house; she conformed to her husband's ways; she made no opposition to his religion; she allowed herself to be passively towed along in his wake; but all this time her heart was wrong in the sight of God. The world was in her heart—and her heart was in the world. In this state she lived, and in this state she died.
In all this there is much to be learned: I see a lesson here which is of the deepest importance in the present day. You live in times when there are many people just like Lot's wife; come and hear the lesson which her case is meant to teach.
Learn, then, that the mere possession of religious privileges will save no one's soul. You may have spiritual advantages of every description; you may live in the full sunshine of the richest opportunities and means of grace; you may enjoy the best of preaching and the choicest instruction; you may dwell in the midst of light, knowledge, holiness and good company. All this may be—and yet you yourself may remain unconverted, and at last be lost forever.
I dare say this doctrine sounds hard to some readers. I know that many imagine they need nothing but religious privileges in order to become decided Christians. They are not what they ought to be at present, they allow; but their position is so hard, they plead, and their difficulties are so many. Give them a godly husband or a godly wife, give them godly companions, or a godly master, give them the preaching of the gospel, give them privileges—and then they would walk with God.
It is all a mistake. It is an entire delusion. It requires something more than privileges to save souls.
Joab was David's captain;
Gehazi was Elisha's servant;
Demas was Paul's companion;
Judas Iscariot was Christ's disciple, and
Lot had a worldly unbelieving wife. These all died in their sins. They went down to the pit—in spite of knowledge, warnings and opportunities; and they all teach us that it is not privileges alone, that men need. They need the grace of the Holy Spirit.
Let us value religious privileges—but let us not rest entirely upon them. Let us desire to have the benefit of them in all our movements in life—but let us not put them in the place of Christ. Let us use them thankfully if God grants them to us—but let us take care that they produce some fruit in our heart and life. If they do not do good—they often do positive harm:
they sear the conscience,
they increase responsibility,
they aggravate condemnation!
The same fire which melts the wax—hardens the clay; the same sun which makes the living tree grow—dries up the dead tree and prepares it for burning. Nothing so hardens the heart of man—as a barren familiarity with sacred things! Once more I say, it is not privileges alone which make people Christians—but the grace of the Holy Spirit. Without that, no man will ever be saved.
I ask the members of evangelical congregations in the present day to mark well what I am saying. You go to Mr. A's, or Mr. B's church; you think him an excellent preacher; you delight in his sermons; you cannot hear anyone else with the same comfort; you have learned many things since you attended his ministry; you consider it a great privilege to be one of his hearers! All this is very good. It is a privilege. I would be thankful if ministers like yours were multiplied a thousandfold. But after all, what have you got in your heart? Have you yet received the Holy Spirit? If not, you are no better than Lot's wife.
I ask the servants of Christian families to mark well what I am saying. It is a great privilege to live in a house where the fear of God reigns. It is a privilege to hear family prayers morning and evening, to hear the Word of God regularly expounded, to have a quiet Sunday, and to be able always to go to church. These are the things that you ought to seek after when you try to get a situation; these are the things which make a really good place. High wages and light work will never make up for a constant round of worldliness and sin. But take heed that you do not rest content with these things; do not suppose because you have all these spiritual advantages—that you will of course go to Heaven. You must have grace in your own heart, as well as attend family prayers. If not, you are at present no better than Lot's wife.
I ask the children of Christian parents to mark well what I am saying. It is the highest privilege to be the child of a godly father and mother, and to be brought up in the midst of many prayers. It is a blessed thing indeed to be taught the gospel from our earliest infancy and to hear of sin and Jesus and the Holy Spirit and holiness and Heaven—from the first moment we can remember anything. But, oh, take heed that you do not remain barren and unfruitful in the sunshine of all these privileges; beware lest your heart remains hard, impenitent and worldly, notwithstanding the many advantages you enjoy. You cannot enter the kingdom of God on the credit of your parent's religion. You must eat the bread of life for yourself, and have the witness of the Spirit in your own heart. You must have . . .
of your own, 
of your own and 
of your own.
If not, you are no better than Lot's wife.
I pray God that all professing Christians in these days may lay these things to heart. May we never forget that privileges alone cannot save us. Light and knowledge and faithful preaching and abundant means of grace and the company of holy people—are all great blessings and advantages. Happy are those who have them! But, after all, there is one thing without which privileges are useless—that one thing is the grace of the Holy Spirit. Lot's wife had many privileges; but Lot's wife had no grace!
2. The SIN which Lot's wife committed
The history of the sin which Lot's wife committed, is given by the Holy Spirit in few and simple words: "She looked back from behind her husband, and she became a pillar of salt." We are told no more than this. There is a naked solemnity about the history. The sum and substance of her transgression lies in these three words: "She looked back."
Does that sin seem small in the eyes of any reader of this message? Does the fault of Lot's wife appear a trifling one—to be visited with such a punishment? This is the feeling, I dare say, that rises in some hearts. Give me your attention while I reason with you on the subject. There was far more in that look than strikes you at first sight—it implied far more than it expressed. Listen, and you shall hear.
a. That look was a little thing—but it revealed the true character of Lot's wife. Little things will often show the state of a man's mind, even better than great ones; and little symptoms are often the signs of deadly and incurable diseases. The apple that Eve ate was a little thing—but it proved that she had fallen from innocence and become a sinner. A crack in an arch seems a little thing; but it proves that the foundation is giving way, and the whole fabric is unsafe. A little cough in a morning seems an unimportant ailment; but it is often an evidence of failing in the constitution and leads on to decline, consumption and death. A straw may show which way the wind blows—and one look may show the rotten condition of a sinner's heart (Matthew 5:28).
b. That look was a little thing—but it told of disobedience in Lot's wife. The command of the angel was clear and unmistakable: "Look not behind you" (Genesis 19:17). This command Lot's wife refused to obey. But the Holy Spirit says that "to obey is better than sacrifice," and that "rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft" (1 Sam. 15:22, 23). When God speaks plainly by His Word, or by His messengers, man's duty is clear.
c. That look was a little thing—but it told of proud unbelief in Lot's wife. She seemed to doubt whether God was really going to destroy Sodom: she appeared not to believe there was any danger or any need for such a hasty flight. But without faith, it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). The moment a man begins to think he knows better than God, and that God does not mean anything when He threatens—his soul is in great danger. When we cannot see the reason of God's dealings—our duty is to hold our peace and believe.
d. That look was a little thing—but it told of secret love of the world in Lot's wife. Her heart was in Sodom, though her body was outside. She had left her affections behind when she fled from her home. Her eye turned to the place where her treasure was—as the compass needle turns to the pole. And this was the crowning point of her sin. "The friendship of the world is enmity with God" (James 4:4). "If any man loves the world—the love of the Father is not in him" (1 John 2:15).
This aspect of our subject deserves special attention; let us focus our minds and hearts upon it. I believe it to be the part to which the Lord Jesus particularly intends to direct us. I believe He would have us observe that Lot's wife was lost by looking back to the world. Her profession was at one time fair and specious—but she never really gave up the world. She seemed at one time in the road to safety—but even then the lowest and deepest thoughts of her heart were for the world. The immense danger of worldliness is the grand lesson which the Lord Jesus means us to learn. Oh, that we may all have an eye to see and a heart to understand!
I believe there never was a time when warnings against worldliness were so much needed by the church of Christ as they are at the present day. Every age is said to have its own peculiar epidemic disease; the epidemic disease to which the souls of Christians are liable just now—is the love of the world. It is a pestilence that walks in darkness, and a sickness that destroys at noonday. It "has cast down many wounded; yes, many strong men have been wounded by it!" I would sincerely raise a warning voice and try to arouse the slumbering consciences of all who make a profession of religion. I would sincerely cry aloud, "Remember the sin of Lot's wife!" She was no murderess, no adulteress, no thief; but she was a professor of religion, and she looked back!
There are thousands of baptized people in our churches who are armored against immorality and infidelity—and yet fall victims to the love of the world. There are thousands who run well for a season and seem to bid fair to reach heaven—but by and by give up the race and turn their backs on Christ altogether. And what has stopped them? Have they found the Bible not true? Have they found the Lord Jesus fail to keep His word? No, not at all. But they have caught the epidemic disease—they are infected with the love of this world! I appeal to every true-hearted evangelical minister who reads this message—I ask him to look around his congregation. I appeal to every old-established Christian—I ask him to look around the circle of his acquaintances. I am sure that I am speaking the truth. I am sure that it is high time to remember the sin of Lot's wife.
a. How many children of religious families begin well—and end ill! In the days of their childhood, they seem full of religion. They can repeat texts and hymns in abundance; they have spiritual feelings and convictions of sin; they profess love to the Lord Jesus, and desires after Heaven; they take pleasure in going to church and hearing sermons; they say things which are treasured up by their fond parents as indications of grace; they do things which make relations say, "What manner of child will this be?" But, alas, how often their goodness vanishes like the morning cloud, and like the dew that passes away!
The boy becomes a young man—and cares for nothing but amusements, sports, reveling and excess. The girl becomes a young woman—and cares for nothing but dress, mirthful company, novel reading and excitement. Where is the spirituality which once appeared to promise so fair? It is all gone; it is buried; it is overflowed by the love of the world. They walk in the steps of Lot's wife! They look back!
b. How many married people do well in religion, to all appearance, until their children begin to grow up—and then they fall away! In the early years of their married life, they seem to follow Christ diligently and to witness a good confession. They regularly attend the preaching of the gospel; they are fruitful in good works; they are never seen in vain and dissipated society. Their faith and practice are both sound, and walk hand in hand. But, alas, how often a spiritual blight comes over the household, when a young family begins to grow up, and sons and daughters have to be brought forward in life. A leaven of worldliness begins to appear in their habits, dress, entertainments and employment of time! They are no longer strict about the company they keep, and the places they visit. Where is the decided line of separation which they once observed? Where is the unswerving abstinence from worldly amusements which once marked their course? It is all forgotten! It is all laid aside, like an old almanac. A change has come over them—the spirit of the world has taken possession of their hearts. They walk in the steps of Lot's wife. They look back.
c. How many young women seem to love decided religion until they are twenty or twenty-one—and then lose all! Up to this time of their life, their conduct in religious matters is all that could be desired.
They keep up habits of private prayer;
they read their Bibles diligently;
they visit the poor, when they have opportunity;
they teach in Sunday schools, when there is an opening;
they minister to the temporal and spiritual needs of the poor;
they like religious friends;
they love to talk on religious subjects;
they write letters full of religious expressions and religious experience. But, alas, how often they prove unstable as water and are ruined by the love of the world!
Little by little, they fall away and lose their first love. Little by little, the "things seen" push out of their minds the "things unseen" and, like the plague of locusts, eat up every green thing in their souls. Step by step, they go back from the decided position they once took up. They cease to be jealous about sound doctrine; they pretend to find out that it is "uncharitable" to think one person has more religion than another; they discover it is "exclusive" to attempt any separation from the customs of society. By and by they give their affections to some man who makes no pretense to decided religion. At last they end by giving up the last remnant of their own Christianity, and becoming thorough children of the world. They walk in the steps of Lot's wife. They look back.
d. How many members in our churches were at one time zealous and earnest professors—and have now become torpid, formal and cold! Time was, when . . .
none seemed so much alive in religion as they were;
none were so diligent in their attendance on the means of grace;
none were so anxious to promote the cause of the gospel;
none so ready for every good work;
none were so thankful for spiritual instruction;
none were apparently so desirous to grow in grace.
But now, alas, everything seems altered! The "love of other things" has taken possession of their hearts and choked the good seed of the Word. The money of the world, the rewards of the world, the literature of the world, the honors of the world—have now the first place in their affections. Talk to them, and you will find no response about spiritual things. Mark their daily conduct, and you will see no zeal about the kingdom of God. A religion they have indeed—but it is living religion no more. The spring of their former Christianity is dried up and gone; the fire of the spiritual machine is quenched and cold; earth has put out the flame which once burned so brightly. They have walked in the steps of Lot's wife. They have looked back.
e. How many clergymen work hard in their profession for a few years—and then become lazy and indolent, from the love of this present world! At the outset of their ministry, they seem willing to spend and be spent for Christ; they are instant in season and out of season; their preaching is lively and their churches are filled. Their congregations are well looked after; cottage lectures, prayer meetings, house-to-house visitation are their weekly delight. But, alas, how often after "beginning in the Spirit"—they end "in the flesh" and, like Samson, are shorn of their strength in the lap of that Delilah—the world!
They are advanced to some rich situation; they marry a worldly wife; they are puffed up with pride and neglect study and prayer. A nipping frost cuts off the spiritual blossoms which once bade so fair. Their preaching loses its unction and power; their weekday work becomes less and less; the society they mix in becomes less select; the tone of their conversation becomes more earthly. They cease to disregard the opinion of man; they imbibe a morbid fear of "extreme views," and are filled with a cautious dread of giving offense. And at last the man who at one time seemed likely to be a real successor of the apostles and a good soldier of Christ—settles down on his lees as a clerical gardener, farmer, or diner out, by whom nobody is offended and nobody is saved. His church becomes half empty; his influence dwindles away; the world has bound him hand and foot. He has walked in the steps of Lot's wife. He has looked back.
It is sad to write of these things—but it is far more sad to see them. It is sad to observe how professing Christians can blind their consciences by specious arguments on this subject, and can defend positive worldliness by talking of the "duties of their station," the "courtesies of life" and the necessity of having a "cheerful religion."
It is sad to see how many a gallant ship launches forth on the voyage of life with every prospect of success and, springing this leak of worldliness—goes down with all her freight in full view of the harbor of safety! It is saddest of all to observe how many flatter themselves that it is all right with their souls—when it is all wrong, by reason of this love of the world. Gray hairs are here and there upon them—and they know it not. They began with Jacob and David and Peter—and they are likely to end with Esau and Saul and Judas Iscariot. They began with Ruth and Hannah and Mary—and they are likely to end with Lot's wife!
Beware of a half-hearted religion! Beware of following Christ from any secondary motive, to please relations and friends, to keep in with the custom of the place or family in which you reside, to appear respectable and have the reputation of being religious. Follow Christ for His own sake, if you follow Him at all. Be thorough, be real, be honest, be sound, be whole-hearted. If you have any religion at all—let your religion be real. See that you do not sin the sin of Lot's wife!
Beware of ever supposing that you may go too far in religion—and of secretly trying to keep in with the world. I want no reader of this message to become a hermit, a monk or a nun. I wish everyone to do his real duty in that state of life to which he is called. But I do urge on every professing Christian who wishes to be happy—the immense importance of making no compromise between God and the world. Do not try to drive a hard bargain, as if you wanted to give Christ as little of your heart as possible, and to keep as much as possible of the things of this life. Beware lest you overreach yourself—and end by losing all. Love Christ with all your heart and mind and soul and strength. Seek first the kingdom of God, and believe that then all other things shall be added to you. Take heed that you do not prove a copy of the character John Bunyan draws, Mr. Facing-both-ways. For your happiness sake, for your usefulness sake, for your safety's sake, for your soul's sake—beware of the sin of Lot's wife! Oh, it is a solemn saying of our Lord Jesus: "No man having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God" (Luke 9:62).
3. The JUDGMENT which God inflicted upon her
The Scripture describes the end of Lot's wife in few and simple words. It is written that "she looked back and became a pillar of salt." miracle was wrought to execute God's judgment on this guilty woman. The same almighty hand which first gave her life—took that life away in the twinkling of an eye. From living flesh and blood—she was turned into a pillar of salt!
That was a fearful end for a soul to come to! To die at any time is a solemn thing. To die amid kind friends and relations, to die calmly and quietly in one's bed, to die with the prayers of godly men still sounding in your ears, to die with a good hope through grace in the full assurance of salvation, leaning on the Lord Jesus, buoyed up by gospel promises—to die even so, I say, is a serious business. But to die suddenly and in a moment, in the very act of sin, to die in full health and strength, to die by the direct interposition of an angry God—this is fearful indeed. Yet this was the end of Lot's wife. I cannot blame the Prayer Book litany, as some do, for retaining this petition: "From sudden death, good Lord, deliver us."
That was a hopeless end for a soul to come to! There are cases where one hopes, as it were, against hope, about the souls of those we see go down to the grave. We try to persuade ourselves that our poor departed brother or sister may have repented unto salvation at the last moment, and laid hold on the hem of Christ's garment at the eleventh hour. We call to mind God's mercies; we remember the Spirit's power; we think on the case of the penitent thief; we whisper to ourselves that saving work may have gone on even on that dying bed—which the dying person had not strength to tell. But there is an end of all such hopes—when a person is suddenly cut down in the very act of sin! Charity itself can say nothing when the soul has been summoned away in the very midst of wickedness, without even a moment's time for thought or prayer. Such was the end of Lot's wife. It was a hopeless end. She went to Hell.
But it is good for us all to mark these things. It is good to be reminded that God can punish sharply, those who sin willfully; and that great privileges misused, bring down great wrath on the soul.
Pharaoh saw all the miracles which Moses worked;
KorahDathan and Abiram had heard God speaking from Mount Sinai;
Hophni and Phinehas were sons of God's high priest;
Saul lived in the full light of Samuel's ministry;
Ahab was often warned by Elijah the prophet;
Absalom enjoyed the privilege of being one of David's children;
Belshazzar had Daniel the prophet near by his door;
Ananias and Sapphira joined the church in the days when the apostles were working miracles;
Judas Iscariot was a chosen companion of our Lord Jesus Christ Himself.
But they all sinned with a high hand against light and knowledge—and they were all suddenly destroyed without remedy. They had no time or space for repentance. As they lived—so they died; as they were—they hurried away to meet God. They went with all their sins upon them, unpardoned, unrenewed and utterly unfit for Heaven. And being dead, they yet speak. They tell us, like Lot's wife . . .
that it is a perilous thing to sin against light,
that God hates sin, and
that there is a Hell.
I feel constrained to speak freely to my readers on the subject of Hell. Allow me to use the opportunity which the end of Lot's wife affords. I believe that the time has come, when it is a positive duty to speak plainly about the reality and eternity of Hell. A flood of false doctrine has lately broken in upon us. Men are beginning to tell us that God is too loving and merciful to punish souls forever; and that all mankind, however wicked and ungodly some of them may be—will sooner or later be saved. We are invited to leave the old paths of apostolic Christianity. We are told that the views of our fathers about Hell, and the devil, and punishment—are obsolete and old-fashioned. We are to embrace what is called a "kinder theology"—and treat Hell as a pagan fable or a bugbear to frighten children and fools. Against such false teaching I desire, for one, to protest. Painful, sorrowful, distressing as the controversy may be, we must not blink it or refuse to look the subject in the face. I, for one, am resolved to maintain the old position, and to assert the reality and eternity of Hell.
Believe me, this is no mere speculative question. It is not to be classed with lesser disputes about liturgies and church government. It is not to be ranked with mysterious problems, like the meaning of Ezekiel's temple or the symbols of Revelation. It is a question which lies at the very foundation of the whole gospel. The moral attributes of God, His justice, His holiness, His purity—are all involved in it. The necessity of personal faith in Christ, and the sanctification of the Spirit—are all at stake. Once let the old doctrine about Hell be overthrown, and the whole system of Christianity is unsettled, unscrewed, unpinned and thrown into disorder!
Believe me, the question is not one in which we are obliged to fall back on the theories and inventions of man. The Scripture has spoken plainly and fully on the subject of Hell. I hold it to be impossible to deal honestly with the Bible—and to avoid the conclusions to which it will lead us on this point. If words mean anything, there is such a place as Hell. If texts are to be interpreted fairly—there are those who will be cast into Hell. If language has any sense belonging to it—Hell is forever. I believe that the man who finds arguments for evading the evidence of the Bible on this question, has arrived at a state of mind in which reasoning is useless. For my own part, it seems just as easy to argue that we do not exist—as to argue that the Bible does not teach the reality and eternity of Hell.
a. Settle it firmly in your mind, that the same Bible which teaches that God in mercy and compassion sent Christ to die for sinners, does also teach that God hates sin and must, from His very nature, punish all who cleave to sin, or refuse the salvation He has provided. The very same chapter which declares, "God so loved the world," declares also, that "the wrath of God abides" on the unbeliever (John 3:16, 36). The very same gospel which is launched into the earth with the blessed tidings, "He that believes and is baptized shall be saved," proclaims in the same breath, "He who believes not shall be damned" (Mark 16:16).
b. Settle it firmly in your mind, that God has given us proof upon proof in the Bible that He will punish the hardened and unbelieving, and that He will take vengeance on His enemies—as well as show mercy on the penitent.
The drowning of the old world by the flood,
the burning of Sodom and Gomorrah,
the overthrow of Pharaoh and all his host in the Red Sea,
the judgment on Korah, Dathan and Abiram,
the utter destruction of the seven nations of Canaan
—all teach the same solemn truth. They are all given to us as beacons and signs and warnings—that we may not provoke God. They are all meant to lift up the corner of the curtain which hangs over things to come, and to remind us that there is such a thing as the wrath of God. They all tell us plainly that "the wicked shall be turned into Hell" (Psalm 9:17).
c. Settle it firmly in your mind, that the Lord Jesus Christ Himself has spoken most plainly about the reality and eternity of Hell. The parable of the rich man and Lazarus contains things which should make men tremble. But it does not stand alone. No lips have used so many words to express the awfulness of Hell, as the lips of Him who spoke as never man spoke, and who said, "The word which you hear is not Mine—but the Father's who sent Me" (John 14:24). Hell, Hell fire, the damnation of Hell, eternal damnation, the resurrection of damnation, everlasting fire, the place of torment, destruction, outer darkness, the worm that never dies, the fire that is not quenched, the place of weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth, everlasting punishment—these, these are the words which the Lord Jesus Christ Himself employs. Away with the miserable nonsense which people talk in this day, who tell us that the ministers of the gospel should never speak of Hell! They only show their own ignorance, or their own dishonesty, when they talk in such a manner. No man can honestly read the four Gospels, and fail to see that he who would follow the example of Christ must speak of Hell.
d. Settle it, lastly, in your mind that the comforting ideas which the Scripture gives us of Heaven are at an end—if we once deny the reality or eternity of Hell. Is there no future separate abode for those who die wicked and ungodly? Are all men after death to be mingled together in one confused multitude? Why, then, Heaven will be no Heaven at all! It is utterly impossible for two to dwell happily together, except they be agreed. Is there to be a time when the term of Hell and punishment will be over? Are the wicked after ages of misery, to be admitted into Heaven? Why, then, the need of the sanctification of the Spirit is cast aside and despised! I read that men can be sanctified and made fit for Heaven on earth; I read nothing of any sanctification in Hell. Away with such baseless and unScriptural theories! The eternity of Hell is as clearly affirmed in the Bible—as the eternity of Heaven. Once allow that Hell is not eternal, and you may as well say that God and Heaven are not eternal. The same Greek word which is used in the expression "everlasting punishment" is the word that is used by the Lord Jesus in the expression "life eternal," and by Paul, in the expression "everlasting God" (Matthew 25:46; Romans 16:26).
I know that all this sounds dreadful in many ears. I do not wonder. But the only question we have to settle is this: "Is Hell Scriptural?" Is it true? I maintain firmly that it is so; and I maintain that professing Christians ought to be often reminded that they may be lost and go to Hell.
I know that it is easy to deny all plain teaching about Hell, and to make it odious by invidious names. I have often heard of "narrow-minded views," and "old-fashioned notions," and "fire-and-brimstone theology," and the like. I have often been told that "broad" views are needed in the present day. I wish to be as broad as the Bible—neither less nor more. I say that he is the narrow-minded theologian who pares down such parts of the Bible as the natural heart dislikes, and rejects any portion of the counsel of God.
God knows that I never speak of Hell without pain and sorrow. I would gladly offer the salvation of the gospel to the very chief of sinners. I would willingly say to the vilest and most profligate of mankind on his deathbed, "Repent, and believe on Jesus, and you shall be saved." But God forbid that I should ever keep back from mortal man that Scripture reveals a Hell as well as Heaven, and that the gospel teaches that men may be lost as well as saved. The watchman who keeps silence when he sees a fire, is guilty of gross neglect. The doctor who tells us we are getting well when we are dying, is a false friend. The minister who keeps back Hell from his people—is an unfaithful and cruel man!
Where is the charity of keeping back any portion of God's truth? He is the kindest friend—who tells me the whole extent of my danger! What is the use of hiding eternal punishment from the impenitent and the ungodly? Surely it is helping the devil, if we do not tell them plainly that, "The soul that sins shall surely die!" Who knows but the wretched carelessness of many baptized people arises from this, that they have never been told plainly of Hell? Who can tell but thousands might be converted, if ministers would urge them more faithfully to flee from the wrath to come? Truly, I fear we are many of us guilty in this matter; there is a morbid tenderness among us which is not the tenderness of Christ. We have spoken of mercy—but not of judgment; we have preached many sermons about Heaven—but few about Hell; we have been carried away by the wretched fear of being thought "low, vulgar and fanatical." We have forgotten that He who judges us is the Lord, and that the man who teaches the same doctrine that Christ taught, cannot be wrong.
If you would ever be a healthy Scriptural Christian, I entreat you to give Hell a place in your theology. Establish it in your mind as a fixed principle, that God is a God of justice—as well as of mercy; and that the same everlasting counsels which laid the foundation of the bliss of Heaven—have also laid the foundation of the misery of Hell. Keep in full view of your mind, that all who die unpardoned and unrenewed are utterly unfit for the presence of God and must be lost forever. They are not capable of enjoying Heaven; they could not be happy there. They must go to their own place—and that place is Hell. Oh, it is a great thing in these days of unbelief, to believe the whole Bible!
If you would ever be a healthy and Scriptural Christian, I entreat you to beware of any ministry which does not plainly teach the reality and eternity of Hell. Such a ministry may be soothing and pleasant—but it is far more likely to lull you to sleep—than to lead you to Christ or build you up in the faith. It is impossible to leave out any portion of God's truth, without spoiling the whole. That preaching is sadly defective, which dwells exclusively on the mercies of God and the joys of Heaven—and never sets forth the terrors of the Lord and the miseries of Hell. It may be popular—but it is not Scriptural; it may amuse and gratify—but it will not save. Give me the preaching which keeps back nothing that God has revealed. You may call it stern and harsh; you may tell us that to frighten people is not the way to do them good. But you are forgetting that the grand object of the gospel is to persuade men to "flee from the wrath to come," and that it is vain to expect men to flee, unless they are afraid. Well would it be for many professing Christians, if they were more afraid about their souls than they now are!
If you desire to be a healthy Christian, consider often what your own end will be. Will it be happiness—or will it be misery? Will it be the death of the righteous—or will it be a death without hope, like that of Lot's wife? You cannot live always; there must be an end one day. The last sermon will one day be heard; the last prayer will one day be prayed; the last chapter in the Bible will one day be read; meaning, wishing, hoping, intending, resolving, doubting, hesitating—all will at length be over. You will have to leave this world and to stand before a holy God. Oh, that you would be wise! Oh, that you would consider your latter end!
You cannot trifle forever—a time will come when you must be serious. You cannot put off your soul's concerns forever—a day will come when you must have a reckoning with God. You cannot be always singing and dancing and eating and drinking and dressing and reading and laughing and jesting and scheming and planning and moneymaking. The summer insects cannot always sport in the sunshine. The cold chilly evening will come at last and stop their sport forever. So will it be with you. You may put off religion now, and refuse the counsel of God's ministers—but the cool of the day is drawing on when God will come down to speak with you. And what will your end be? Will it be a hopeless one, like that of Lot's wife?
I beseech you, by the mercies of God, to look this question fairly in the face. I entreat you not to stifle conscience by vague hopes of God's mercy, while your heart cleaves to the world. I implore you not to drown convictions by childish imaginations about God's love, while your daily ways and habits show plainly that "the love of the Father is not in you." There is mercy in God, like a river—but it is for the penitent believer in Christ Jesus. There is a love in God toward sinners which is unspeakable and unsearchable—but it is for those who hear Christ's voice and follow Him. Seek to have a saving interest in that love. Break off every known sin; come out boldly from the world; cry mightily to God in prayer; cast yourself wholly and unreservedly on the Lord Jesus for time and eternity; lay aside every weight. Cling to nothing, however dear, which interferes with your soul's salvation; give up everything, however precious, which comes between you and Heaven. This old shipwrecked world is fast sinking beneath your feet; the one thing needful is to have a place in the lifeboat and get safe to shore. Give diligence to make your calling and election sure. Whatever happens to your house and property—see that you make sure of Heaven. Oh, better a million times be laughed at and thought extreme in this world—than go down to Hell from the midst of the congregation, and end like Lot's wife!
Let me address the reader particularly here, so I may impress a few salient questions upon your conscience. You have seen the history of Lot's wife—her privileges, her sin and her end. You have been told of the uselessness of privileges without the gift of the Holy Spirit—of the danger of worldliness—and of the reality of Hell. Allow me to wind up all by a few direct appeals to your own heart. In a day of so much light and knowledge and profession, I desire to set up a beacon to preserve souls from shipwreck. I would sincerely moor a buoy in the channel of all spiritual voyagers and paint upon it, "Remember Lot's wife."
a. Are you careless about the second advent of Christ? Alas, many are! They live like the men of Sodom and the men of Noah's day: they eat and drink and plant and build and marry and behave—as if Christ was never going to return. If you are such a one, I say to you this day, "Take care: remember Lot's wife."
b. Are you lukewarm, and cold in your Christianity? Alas, many are! They try to serve two masters—they labor to keep friends both with God and mammon. They strive to be neither one thing nor the other—not quite a thoroughgoing Christian, but not quite men of the world. If you are such a one, I say to you this day, "Take care: remember Lot's wife."
c. Are you halting between two opinions and disposed to go back to the world? Alas, many are! They are afraid of the cross; they secretly dislike the trouble and reproach of decided religion. They are weary of the wilderness and the manna—and would gladly return to Egypt if they could. If you are such a one, I say to you this day, "Take heed! Remember Lot's wife."
d. Are you secretly cherishing some besetting sin? Alas, many are! They go far in a profession of religion; they do many things that are right and are very like the people of God. But there is always some darling evil habit which they cannot tear from their heart. Hidden worldliness or covetousness or lust sticks to them like their skin. They are willing to see all their idols broken—but this one. If you are such a one, I say to you this day, "Take heed! Remember Lot's wife."
e. Are you trifling with little sins? Alas many are! They hold the great essential doctrines of the gospel. They keep clear of all gross profligacy or open breach of God's law—but they are painfully careless about little inconsistencies, and painfully ready to make excuses for them. "It is only a little temper, or a little levity, or a little thoughtlessness, or a little forgetfulness," they tell us. "God does not take account of such little matters. None of us are perfect; God will never require it." If you are such a one, I say to you this day, "Take heed! Remember Lot's wife."
f. Are you resting on religious privileges? Alas, many do! They enjoy the opportunity of hearing the gospel regularly preached, and of attending many ordinances and means of grace, and they settle down on their lees. They seem to be "rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing" (Revelation 3:17), while they have neither faith, nor grace, nor spiritual-mindedness, nor fitness for Heaven. If you are such a one, I say to you this day, "Take heed! Remember Lot's wife."
g. Are you trusting to your religious knowledge? Alas, many do! They are not ignorant, as other men—they know the difference between true doctrine and false. They can dispute, they can reason, they can argue, they can quote texts; but all this time they are not converted, and they are yet dead in trespasses and sins. If you are such a one, I say to you this day, "Take heed! Remember Lot's wife."
h. Are you making some profession of religion—and yet clinging to the world? Alas, many do! They aim at being thought Christians. They like the credit of being serious, steady, proper, regular church-going people; yet all the while their dress, their tastes, their companions, their entertainments—tell plainly they are of the world. If you are such a one, I say to you this day, "Take heed! Remember Lot's wife."
i. Are you trusting that you will have a deathbed repentance? Alas, many do so! They know they are not what they ought to be—they are not yet born again and fit to die. But they flatter themselves that, when their last illness comes—they shall have time to repent and lay hold on Christ and go out of the world pardoned, sanctified and fit for Heaven. They forget that people often die very suddenly; and that, as they live—they generally die. If you are such a one, I say to you this day, "Take heed! Remember Lot's wife."
j. Do you belong to an evangelical congregation? Many do and, alas, go no further! They hear the truth Sunday after Sunday—and remain as hard as the nether millstone. Sermon after sermon sounds in their ears. Month after month they are invited to repent, to believe, to come to Christ and to be saved. Year after year passes away—and they are not changed. They keep their seat under the teaching of a favorite minister, and they also keep their favorite sins. If you are such a one, I say to you this day, "Take heed! Remember Lot's wife."

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Slay utterly

Eze 9:1  He cried also in mine ears with a loud voice, saying, Cause them that have charge over the city to draw near, even every man with his destroying weapon in his hand.
Eze 9:2  And, behold, six men came from the way of the higher gate, which lieth toward the north, and every man a slaughter weapon in his hand; and one man among them was clothed with linen, with a writer's inkhorn by his side: and they went in, and stood beside the brasen altar.
Eze 9:3  And the glory of the God of Israel was gone up from the cherub, whereupon he was, to the threshold of the house. And he called to the man clothed with linen, which had the writer's inkhorn by his side;
Eze 9:4  And the LORD said unto him, Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof.
Eze 9:5  And to the others he said in mine hearing, Go ye after him through the city, and smite: let not your eye spare, neither have ye pity:
Eze 9:6  Slay utterly old and young, both maids, and little children, and women: but come not near any man upon whom is the mark; and begin at my sanctuary. Then they began at the ancient men which were before the house.
Eze 9:7  And he said unto them, Defile the house, and fill the courts with the slain: go ye forth. And they went forth, and slew in the city.
Eze 9:8  And it came to pass, while they were slaying them, and I was left, that I fell upon my face, and cried, and said, Ah Lord GOD! wilt thou destroy all the residue of Israel in thy pouring out of thy fury upon Jerusalem?
Eze 9:9  Then said he unto me, The iniquity of the house of Israel and Judah is exceeding great, and the land is full of blood, and the city full of perverseness: for they say, The LORD hath forsaken the earth, and the LORD seeth not.
Eze 9:10  And as for me also, mine eye shall not spare, neither will I have pity, but I will recompense their way upon their head.
Eze 9:11  And, behold, the man clothed with linen, which had the inkhorn by his side, reported the matter, saying, I have done as thou hast commanded me.

Reading this chapter brings many thoughts to mind. God first protects His faithful ones before He metes out judgment. That is something we need to ponder, the elect are spared His judgments and kept from them. That should cause us to fall before Him with great praise.

From verse 4, "set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof". When we see the horrific sins of America, does it break your heart? Bring you to tears? I agree with Matthew Henry in saying "Note, It is not enough that we do not delight in the sins of others, and that we have not fellowship with them, but we must mourn for them, and lay them to heart; we must grieve for that which we cannot help, as those that hate sin for its own sake, and have a tender concern for the souls of others."
Where are the men of God in our day? Where are the cries against the multitude of sin? Where is the call from the pulpits to repent and believe? Most seem to busy themselves in their 'safe zones', attending conferences and raking in big $$ from such conferences. They dare not rock the boat and stand against those who have made into law grievous sins such as homosexual marriage and the slaughter of the unborn.  America is an idolatrous nation, their 'god' is money and materialism. That branches off into every other sin there is and keeps on increasing.

The command was given...smite/slaughter - do not spare, do not have pity. The slaying started with the priests, the ones leading the people into idolatry and away from God {see Ezekiel 8:5-16}. So it is even in our day, many preachers/pastors leading the masses away from the God of the bible and into all kinds of sin. The idol of self is served and the God of the Bible and His commands are tossed out.
Here is thoughts from Adam Clarke, "Begin at my sanctuary - Let those who have sinned against most mercy, and most privileges, be the first victims of justice. Those who know their Lord’s will, and do it not, shall be beaten with many stripes. The unfaithful members of Christ’s church will be first visited and most punished. But let not those who belong to the synagogue of Satan exult in this, for if judgment begin at the house of God what will the end be of them who obey not the Gospel! However, the truly penitent of all descriptions in such cases shall be safe. The command of God is, “Set a mark on all them that sigh and cry;” and his command to the destroyers is, “Come not near any man on whom is the mark.”
There are many who will face most severe wrath because they have prostituted the word of God for fleshly desires.  'But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.'  2 Peter 2:1

I know there are some who think children are innocent until they reach the 'age of accountability'. Verse six proves that thinking to be false, 'slay utterly old and young, both maids and little children and women'. None were to be spared, except the faithful elect of God. All are guilty before God, regardless of age.

This is from Robert Hawker, "I beseech the Reader to remark with me, the order which the Lord hath here observed, in his visitations. He first secures his people, before he executes judgment on the ungodly. He first marks, and gathers his sheep into his fold; and then the wicked, as goats, are driven from his presence, with everlasting destruction. So the Lord Jesus hath himself pointed out, the order of his judicial proceedings, at the last day. See Mat_25:31-46. There is another observation to be made in these verses, and it is a very solemn one, namely, the universal destruction of the ungodly: neither age, sex, nor condition, admits of exception. None can be saved, but those on whom is the mark. Reader! think how important it must be, to be found in Jesus! Think how tremendously awful to be found not in him! And observe yet further, the destroying angels, are to execute their high commission, in all the severity of it, without feeling pity or compassion. Yes! most certain it is, that to their intelligent minds, there can be no object to excite regard, but such as love the Lord. Those who admire the souls which bear the mark and image of Jesus, will abhor those who bear the image of the beast."

Verse 7 says 'defile the house and fill the courts with the slain'. Again, let's look at some commentary:
From Adam Clarke, 'defile the house'- a dreadful sentence, let it be polluted, I will no more dwell in it, I know utterly forsake it'.  What a terrifying truth this is!
John Gill states ' The temple; do not be afraid of slaying any person in it, for fear of defiling it; they have defiled it with their abominations, and now do you defile it with their blood'. Sinners have NO IDEA who the God of the Bible is, or what it means to say He is holy. They are ignorant on the wickedness of all of mankind and judge according to human wisdom. This is foolish.

God's answer reveals His hatred of blatant, rebellious sin, "the iniquity of the house of Israel and Judah is exceeding great, the land is full of blood, and the city full of perverseness". The sin of idolatry leads to more sin, from the pulpit commentary, "Not idolatry only, but its natural fruits, bloodshed and oppression, had eaten into the life of the nation. The unpitying aspect of God’s judgments is, for the present, dominant, and the work must be thorough."
Matthew Henry says "God was willing to show mercy as the prophet could desire; he always is so. But here the case will not admit of it; it is such that mercy cannot be granted without wrong to justice; and it is not fit that one attribute of God should be glorified at the expense of another. Is it any pleasure to the Almighty that he should destroy, especially that he should destroy Israel? By no means. But the truth is their crimes are so flagrant that the reprieve of the sinners would be a connivance at the sin: "The iniquity of the house of Judah and Israel is exceedingly great; there is no suffering them to go on at this rate. The land is filled with the innocent blood, and, when the city courts are appealed to for the defence of injured innocency, the remedy is as bad as the disease, for the city is full of perverseness, or wrestling of judgement; and that which they support themselves with in this iniquity is the same atheistical profane principle with which they flattered themselves in their idolatry, ch. 8:12."

Almighty God is omniscient, He sees ALL, He knows ALL. Sinners cannot hide their sins from His omniscient eye. He will not overlook any unrepentant sin, not one. He will not spare the guilty, He will not trifle with sin. In our day the mindset is that God loves all so much He will spare. How much longer will the righteous, holy God of heaven and earth let this world go on? Organized religion doesn't even ponder that question.
"A horrible and shocking thing has happened in the land. The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests rule by their own authority. My people love it so, but what will you do in the end?” Jeremiah 5:30,31
Terrible judgment will soon fall, we see judgment now in extreme weather, earthquakes, diseases, etc. Just a couple of weeks ago Illinois was hit with over 25 tornadoes. I watched a tornado from my patio that day, I saw God take it back up into the clouds. It danced over my rooftop as debris swirled above. I was amazed at this minute display of God's power, I stood there frozen in awe of it all. God kept me safe that day, but there was much damage just an hour north of where I live. No loss of life was reported, praise His holy name. However, damage to homes and property was fairly heavy. The power of God is not even comprehended, for most attribute weather disasters to 'mother nature'. What a wicked, vile, godless world we live in!! How I pray to the LORD to have mercy, to save sinners.