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

Monday, March 20, 2017

contentment

Contentment
Charles Naylor, 1930

Contentment is one of life's greatest blessings. But contentment is not something that can be sent down, nicely wrapped up like a Christmas gift from Heaven. It is a state of mind and heart. It is not dependent upon our situation or our circumstances. Many people are contented and happy in circumstances — where others would be thoroughly discontented. Some people are discontented under the most favorable circumstances. Contentment is a structure we build ourselves. It is a state of mind we develop. It is an attitude toward things which comes to us through careful cultivation. It is something which lives inside us — not something that circumstances and conditions create.
If happiness has not its seat and center in the heart — we may be wise, or rich or great — but never can be blessed.
Contentment is sometimes spoken of as a lazy virtue. Perhaps that is because some people are content with things with which they ought not to be content. We should never be satisfied to permit things to exist, which ought not to exist. We should never be satisfied to be less than our best. There are wrongs which need righting. There are conditions which need improving. There is progress which needs to be made. A sort of contentment that can view these things with indifference, ignore responsibility, evade duty — should be called by an entirely different name. When we have done our duty, met our responsibility, corrected those things that need correction so far as is possible for us — then we may have real contentment. Contentment does not mean surrender to conditions. It does mean being satisfied in the circumstances and conditions which exist, for which we are not responsible.
Contentment is a lesson to be learned. Paul said, "I have learned in whatever state I am therewith to be content." (Philippians 4:11). He goes on to tell some of the things he has learned. "I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want." (verses 12, 13).
Paul had learned a great secret. It was the secret of adapting himself to conditions, and being at rest in those conditions. He could enjoy to the full, the things that afforded him enjoyment. He could suffer patiently, the things that came upon him to suffer. But whether rejoicing or suffering — he had that inner contentment of spirit — the calmness and peace of which enriched his soul and made quite tolerable a life that otherwise would have been intolerable.
We, too, need to learn the lesson of contentment. The command to Christians is, "Be content with such things as you have" (Hebrews 13:5). Speaking further upon this subject Paul says, "Godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into this world and it is certain we can carry nothing out. Having food and clothing, let us be therewith content."
A godly life is productive of contentment — but there are many Christians who at least in some respects are discontented. This discontent produces a constant urge to rebel against things.
It is a singular fact that many of the most contented people are those who live in poverty. In fact, the working people are the most contented of all people. Those who live on the common levels of life, are the truly happy — provided they have the attitude of contentment.
There are many things people desire which can never give them contentment. One man says, "If I had a million dollars — I would be contented." Another thinks if he had political preferment — that would satisfy his ambition and he would be content. Another has another thing to attain to make him content. These things when attained — do not bring contentment.
As already pointed out contentment is a lesson learned, a state of the heart, an attitude toward things.
Riches do not bring contentment. Andrew Carnegie, known to all for his wealth and a man who should have known what he was talking about, said, "Beyond a competence for old age, and that may be very small — wealth lessens rather than increases human happiness. Millionaires who laugh are rare!" Many of us would do well to pause here and carefully study this saying of a wise and prudent Scotchman.
Jesus told his disciples not to be anxious about food and clothing and such things and added, "After all these things, the Gentiles seek" (Matthew 6:32). Possession of worldly things, is a goal set before them by the unsaved. The question asked about a man often is, "How much money does he have?" His supposed happiness is usually rated by the size of his bank account. No greater error in the choice of a standard for measurement of happiness, could be made. The command of the Scriptures is, "Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness." We should put first things first. If we do this — then our needs will be few, and our desires not much greater.
The basis of contentment is simplicity of desire. One of the things that is ruining more happiness than anything else, is the desire to excel others. "We must keep up with the Jones," is an attitude of mind fatal to contentment. It has caused more heartaches, destroyed more happiness, ruined more homes, produced more divorces, perhaps than any other one thing! This strife to excel, often leads people into sin.
The wife would outstrip her neighbors, so she makes large demands upon her husband for money. Thus pressed, he sometimes adopts business methods that are highly improper. In many cases it has led to shame and disgrace. In any event, it leads to unhappiness for both husband and wife and for the whole family. Through envy, jealousy of others, and coveting what they don't have — many people have been brought to bitterness of soul and utterly to hate life. Better contentment in a cottage — than discontent in a mansion!
Very often prosperity in temporal things destroys the happiness which has already existed in a less prosperous condition.
Years ago in one of our northern States, a man engaged in the lumbering business in a small way, built a cozy cottage on the shore of a bay into which he brought his bride. They both worked, he in his sawmill, and she in her cottage — and were both happy. The years passed. He prospered in business and became rich. Then he built a fine mansion in the city and moved into it. After living there for some time and mingling with the society into which his riches gave them entrance — in speaking to a friend one day he said, "We are not as happy as we were in our little cottage on the bay."
A few months ago I heard Charles M. Schwab make an address over the radio. In that address he told of his big house in New York City and of another great house which he owned in the country. He said, "I don't own them. They own me. The only satisfaction I have in them, is that I have enough money in the bank to pay the taxes on them." He has to look to other sources rather than to his possessions, for contentment and happiness.
Contentment is not built of gold or of precious gems. It is not constructed of honors or fame or the applause of the multitude. It does not come from out shining others. These may bring a sort of satisfaction — but not contentment. Contentment belongs to the meek and lowly in spirit. Pride is destructive to it. Arrogance annihilates it. Covetousness curses it. Hatred poisons it. Malice thrusts a sword through it. Contentment can thrive only with the Christian virtues. Faith, hope, and charity abide with it. Peace broods over its domicile. Blessed forevermore is he who has a contented spirit.
So many nourish discontent. They are all the time looking at the things they do not possess — and coveting them. They are always reaching out, stretching themselves to gain something which they cannot attain. They find fault with the things they possess — instead of enjoying them. They minimize the simple good in things. They see all the faults and failures. They often feel that their rights are being trespassed upon. There is a frown in their hearts — and a frown upon their faces.
Who is to blame for all this? The individual himself! He has adopted a wrong attitude of mind and heart. He is facing the wrong way. He has the wrong standard. He cannot be happy. He needs to turn about, face the other way, adopt a different attitude, look at things from a different angle, and set different standards for himself. He needs to learn the secret of the simple life — simple desires, temperate aspirations, bridled ambitions.
In the valley of contentment — is calmness, sweetness of spirit, and rest of soul. Through it flow the peaceable waters of quietness. In this valley, the song-birds joyfully sing. The heart mounts up to God in praise. In it lies the spring of joy which bubbles up in gladsome song.
The valley of contentment is not a place of inactivity. When we have learned to be content with such things as we have, and in our situation in life and in our circumstances — that does not mean that we lose all aspirations or that all effort ceases. By no means. To be content with today, does not mean to be content with the same thing tomorrow. The right sort of contentment demands continual progress in the lines in which progress is possible. In fact, we cannot be contented not to make proper progress. In the valley of contentment, we are not to sit down idly dreaming away our days. On the contrary — there is a path which runs through this valley, and we are to walk in this path, ever forward, ever upward.

If we would be truly happy, if we would sing the songs of the joyous life — then we must learn the lesson of contentment. We must learn what desires to gratify — and what desires to repress. We must learn what things can bring contentment — and what things destroy it. We must avoid the latter, while we seek the former. We must cultivate our hearts. We must trust in God. Then and only then, shall we have that source of contentment and happiness within, which inspires us to sing the song of glad rejoicing!

The vile human heart

(William S. Plumer, "Sinners Saved by Unmerited Kindness")

"The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked. Who can know it?" Jeremiah 17:9

The heart is DECEITFUL. Man is the only creature on earth that seems to practice self-deception. That we should sometimes deceive others, is proof of our depravity; but that we should spend our lives in self-deception, is truly astonishing! Men of the fewest virtues, commonly have the highest thoughts of themselves. How strange and yet how common, that he whose heart has deceived him a thousand times--should yet confide in it as if it had always been honest!

The human heart deceives every being but one. It would deceive Him--if He were not omniscient. None but God knows all the depths of iniquity and duplicity within us.

Though the language of the Bible is strong, it is just. God declares, and every Christian knows by sad experience--that his heart is deceitful above all things. A perfect knowledge of the treachery of our hearts, is possessed by none but God.

The heart is also VILE. It is "desperately wicked."
It loves vanity, and folly and sin.
It hates holiness, and truth and divine restraints.
It is . . .
  a sink of iniquity,
  a pool of pestilential waters,
  a cage of unclean birds, and
  a sepulcher full of dead men's bones!
It is torn by wild, fierce, unhallowed passions.
It rejects good--and chooses evil.
It is wholly corrupt.
It is full of evil.
There is no soundness in it.

"For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander." Matthew 15:19

"He who trusts in his own heart is a fool!" Proverbs 28:26

Deuteronomy 32:15 - Ken Wimer

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Sobering sermon

This sermon was preached by Ken Wimer, at a young man's funeral; he died battling a drug addiction. This is a sobering message and I pray God will use this message for His own glory.
Click below to listen.....


A funeral message

The Narrow Way

"Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction—and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the way that leads to life—and only a few find it." Matthew 7:13-14

The second half of Matthew 7 forms the applicatory part of that most important discourse of our Lord's, known as "the Sermon on the Mount." One leading design of the Sermon was to show the spiritual nature and wide extent of that obedience which characterizes the true subjects of Christ's kingdom, and which obedience is absolutely necessary for the enjoyment of that ultimate state of blessedness which Divine grace has provided for them. As the Prophet of God, Christ made known that the righteousness which obtains in His kingdom greatly exceeds the "righteousness of the scribes and the Pharisees."
Now the Jews imagined that all of them were the subjects of the Messiah's kingdom; that by virtue of their descent from Abraham, they were the rightful heirs of it; that the "righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees" (that system of religious and moral duty taught by them) met all the requirements of God's law. But this was a delusion, and the Lord Jesus here exposed that fleshly descent from Abraham could not give title unto a spiritual kingdom. That which was merely natural—was no qualification for the supernatural realm. Only they were accounted the true children of Abraham—who had his faith (Romans 4:16), who did his works (John 8:39), and who were united to Christ (Galatians 3:29).
In the Sermon on the Mount, the Lord delineated the inward state of those who belonged to His spiritual kingdom (Matthew 5:4-11); described the outward conduct by which they might be identified (Matthew 5:13-16); expounded the personal righteousness which God's justice demanded (Matthew 5:17-28); and defined that utter repudiation of sin which he required from His people (Matthew 5:29-30). So high are the demands of the thrice holy One, so uncompromising are the requirements of His ineffable character, that none can dwell with Him eternally—who do not in this world—loathe, resist, and turn from all that is repulsive to His pure eye. Nothing short of the complete denying of self, the abandoning of the dearest idol, the forsaking of the most cherished sinful course— figuratively represented under the cutting off of a right hand and the plucking out of a right eye—is what He claims from every one who would have communion with Himself.
Such plain and pointed declarations of Christ must have seemed "hard sayings" to the multitudes who listened to Him; such piercing and flesh-withering demands would probably cause many of his Jewish hearers to think within themselves, "Who then can be saved? This is indeed a strait gate and a narrow way."
Anticipating their secret objections, the Lord plainly declared that the GATE unto salvation is "strait" and the WAY which leads unto life is "narrow." Yet, He went on to point out, that it is your wisdom, your interest, your duty to enter that "Gate" and walk that "Way." He acknowledged and faithfully warned them that there was a "Wide gate" soliciting their entrance, and a "Broad road" inviting them to walk therein; but that gate leads to perdition, that road ends in Hell. The "Strait Gate" is the only gate to "life," the "Narrow Way" is the only one which conducts to Heaven.
Few indeed find it, few have the least inclination for it; but that very fact ought only to provide an additional incentive to my giving all diligence to enter therein.
In the verses which are now to be before us, Christ defined and described the Way of salvation, though we sorrowfully admit that 'modern evangelists' rarely expound it. What we shall now endeavor to set forth is very different from what most have been taught—but you reject it at your eternal peril. We repeat, that in that passage we are about to consider, He who was Truth incarnate made known the only way of escaping Perdition and securing Heaven, namely, by entering the "Strait Gate" and treading the "Narrow Way."
 
The NARROW GATE
The Greek word for "strait" signifies restrained or "narrow" and is so rendered in the revised version. Now a "gate" serves two purposes: it lets in and it shuts out. All who enter this Narrow Gate gain admittance to that "Way" which "leads unto life;" but all who enter not by this Narrow Gate, are eternally barred from God's presence. The second use of this Gate, is solemnly illustrated at the close of the parable of the ten virgins. There, our Lord pictures the foolish ones as being without the necessary "oil" (the work of the Spirit in the heart), and while they went to buy it, the Bridegroom came, and "the door was shut" (Matthew 25:10); and though they then besought Him to open it to them, He answered "I know you not."
1. What is denoted by this figure of the "narrow gate?" We believe the reference is to the searching and solemn teaching of Him who is Truth incarnate. It is only as the heart bows to the righteousness of God's claims and demands upon us, as set forth by His Son—that any soul can enter that path which alone leads to Him. While the heart is rebellious against Him—there can be no approach to Him, for, "Can two walk together except they be agreed?"
It is true, blessedly and gloriously true, that Christ Himself is "the Door" (John 10:9), and He is so in a threefold way, according to the three principal functions of His mediatorial office. He is "the Door" into God's presence as the Prophet, the Priest, and the King. Now it is only as Christ is truly received as God's authoritative Prophet, only as His holy teachings are really accepted by a contrite heart, that any one is prepared to savingly welcome Him as Priest. Christ is the "Way" and "the Truth" before he is the "Life" (John 14:6), as he is "first King of righteousness, and after that, also King of peace" (Hebrews 7:2). In other words, His cleansing blood is only available for those who are willing to throw down the weapons of their warfare against God, and surrender themselves to His holy rule. The wicked must forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts, if he is to be pardoned by God (Isaiah 55:7); and this is only another way of saying that Christ must be received as Prophet, before he is embraced as Priest.
2. Why is this gate a "narrow" one? For at least three reasons:
First, because of sin. "The wicked shall be turned into Hell, all the nations that forget God" Psalm 9:17. The gate of heaven is far too narrow to admit such characters. The New Testament plainly affirms the same fact: "For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a man is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God's wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be partners with them!" (Ephesians 5:5-7).
Second, because of the Law. There are two principal errors about the Law, and I know not which is the more dangerous and disastrous: that one can earn heaven by obeying it; that one may enter heaven without that personal and practical godliness which the Law requires. "Follow peace with all, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord" (Hebrews 12:14). Where there is not this personal conformity to the will of God—the strong hand of the Law will close the door of heaven.
Third, because none can take the world along with him: this Gate is far too "narrow" to admit those who love the world.
3. What is meant by "entering" this narrow gate?
FIRST, the acceptance of those teachings of truth, of duty, of happiness, which were unfolded by Christ—the honest and actual receiving into the heart of His holy, searching, flesh-withering instructions. This is like a person, with great difficulty, forcing his way through a very narrow entrance way. I say "with great difficulty," for Christ's precepts and commandments are, to the last degree, unpalatable to an unrenewed heart, and cannot be willingly and gladly received without a rigid denial of self and relinquishment of sinful pleasures, pursuits, and interests. Christ has plainly warned us that it is impossible for a man to serve two mastersSelf must be repudiated, and Christ must be received as "the Lord" (Colossians 2:6), or He will not save us.
SECOND, a deliberate abandoning of the Broad Road, or the flesh-pleasing mode of life. Until this has been done, there is no salvation possible for any sinner. Christ Himself taught this plainly in Luke 15—the "prodigal" must leave the "far country" before he could journey to the Father's House! The same pointed truth is taught again in James 4:8-10, "Draw near to God—and He will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord—and He will lift you up."
Ah, my friend, to really and actually enter this "Narrow Gate" is no easy matter! For that reason the Lord bade the people "Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life!" (John 6:27).
Those words do not picture salvation as a thing of simple and easy attainment. Ponder also Christ's emphatic exhortation in Luke 13:24 "Make every effort to enter through the narrow gate, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to." That He should utter such a statement, clearly implies that there are formidable difficulties and obstacles to be overcome, and that slothful nominal professors will surely not enter in. Let it be carefully noted that the Greek word for "strive" (namely, "agonizomai") in Luke 13:24 is the same one that is used in 1 Corinthians 9:25, "And everyone that strives for the mastery is temperate in all things;" and is also rendered "laboring fervently" in Colossians 4:12, and "fight" in 1 Timothy 6:12!
And how are we to "strive" so as to "enter" the Narrow Gate? The general answer is, "lawfully" (2 Timothy 2:5). But to particularize: We are to strive by prayer and supplication, diligently seeking deliverance from those things which would bar our entrance. We are to earnestly cry to Christ for help from those foes which are seeking to overcome us. We are to come constantly to the Throne of Grace, that we may there find grace to help us to repudiate and turn away with loathing from everything which is abhorred by God, even though it involves our cutting off of a right hand and plucking out of a right eye; and grace to help us do those things which He has commanded. We must be "temperate in all things," especially those things which the flesh craves and the world loves.
Why is such striving necessary to "enter" the narrow gate?
First, because SATAN is striving to destroy your soul. "Be careful! Watch out for attacks from the Devil, your great enemy. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for some victim to devour!" (1 Peter 5:8). Therefore must he be resisted "steadfast in the faith."
Second, because natural appetites of the FLESH are striving to destroy you: "Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul" (1 Peter 2:11).
Third, because the whole WORLD is arrayed against you, and if it cannot burn, it will seek to turn you by its alluring promises, Delilah-like deceits, and fatal enticements. Unless you overcome the world, the world will overcome you to the eternal destruction of your soul.
From what has been before us, we may plainly discover why it is that the vast majority of our fellow-men and women, yes, and of professing Christians also, will fail to reach Heaven: it is because they prefer sin to holiness, indulging the lusts of the flesh to walking according to the scriptures, self to Christ, the world to God. It is as the Lord Jesus declared, "Men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil" (John 3:19). Men refuse to deny self, abandon their idols, and submit to Christ as Lord—and without this, none can take the first step toward Heaven and enter through the 'narrow gate'!

THE NARROW WAY
Just as entering the "Narrow Gate" signifies the heart's acceptance of Christ's holy teaching, so to walk along the "Narrow Way" means for the heart and life to be constantly regulated thereby. Walking along the Narrow Way denotes a steady perseverance in faith and obedience to the Lord Jesus; overcoming all opposition, rejecting every temptation to forsake the path of fidelity to Him. It is called the "Narrow Way" because all self-pleasing and self-seeking is shut out!
In Genesis 18:19 it is called "the Way of the Lord;" in Exodus 13:21, 32:8 "the Way;" in 1 Samuel 12:23 "the good and right Way;" in Psalm 25:9 "His Way;" in Proverbs 4:11 "the Way of wisdom;" in Proverbs 8:20 "the Way of righteousness;" in Proverbs 10:17 "the Way of life;" in Isaiah 35:8 "the Way of holiness;" in Jeremiah 6:16 "the good Way;" in 2 Peter 2:2 "the Way of truth;" in 2 Peter 2:15 "the right Way."
The Narrow Way must be followed—no matter how much it may militate against my worldly interests. It is right here that the testing point is reached. Unto the natural man, it is much easier and far more pleasant—to indulge the flesh and follow our worldly propensities. The Broad Road, where the flesh is allowed "liberty" —under the pretense of the Christian's not "being under the law" —is easy, smooth, and attractive; but it ends in "destruction!" Though the "Narrow Way" leads to life, only FEW tread it.
Multitudes make a profession and claim to be saved—but their lives give no evidence that they are "strangers and pilgrims" here on earth, or that their "treasure" is in heaven. They are afraid of being thought narrow and peculiar, strict and puritanical. Satan has deceived them—they imagine that they can get to heaven by an easier route than by denying self, taking up their cross daily, and following Christ!
There are multitudes of religionists who are attempting to combine the two "ways," making the best of both worlds and serving two masters. They wish to gratify self in time—and enjoy the happiness of Heaven in eternity. Crowds of nominal Christians are deluding themselves into believing that they can do so—but they are terribly deceived! A profession which is not verified by mortifying the deeds of the body in the power of the Spirit (Romans 8:13), is vain. A faith which is not evidenced by complete submission to Christ, is only the faith of demons. A love which does not keep Christ's commandments, is an imposition (John 14:23). A claim to being a Christian, where there is no real yieldedness to the will of God, is daring presumption. The reason why so few will enter Eternal Life—is because the multitudes are not seeking it in the way of God's appointing! None seek it aright—but those who pass through the Narrow Gate, and who, despite many discouragements and falls, continue to press forward along the Narrow Way.
Now notice, carefully, the very next thing which immediately followed our Lord's reference to the two ways in Matthew 7: "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing—but inwardly they are ravening wolves" (Matthew 7:15). Why does this come in next? Who are the "false prophets" against which a serious soul needs to be on his guard?
They are those who teach that Heaven may be reached without treading the Narrow Way! They are those who loudly insist that eternal life may be obtained on much easier terms. They come in "sheep's clothing"—they appear (to undiscerning souls) to exalt Christ, to emphasize His precious blood, to magnify God's grace. BUT they do not insist upon repentance; they fail to tell their hearers that nothing but a broken heart which hates sin, can truly believe in Christ. They do not teach that a saving faith is a living one which purifies the heart (Acts 15:9) and overcomes the world (1 John 5:4).
These "false prophets" are known by their "fruits," the primary reference being to their "converts"—the fruits of their fleshly labors. Their "converts" are on the Broad Road, which is not the path of open wickedness and vice—but of a religion which pleases the flesh! It is that "way which seems right unto a man—but the end thereof are the ways of death" (Proverbs 14:12). Those who are on this Broad Road (this way which "seems right" to so many), have a head-knowledge of the Truth—but they walk not in it. The "Narrow Way" is bounded by the commandments and precepts of Scripture; the Broad Road is that path which has broken out beyond the bounds of Scripture. Titus 2:11-12 supplies the test as to which "way" we are in: "For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world."
Before closing, let us anticipate and seek to remove an objection. Probably many of you are saying, "I thought Christ was the Way to the Father" (John 14:6). So He is! But how?
First, in that He has removed every legal obstacle, and thereby opened a way to heaven for His people.
Second, in that He has "left us an example that we should follow HIS steps." The mere opening of a door does not give me entrance into a house—I must tread the path leading to it, and mount the steps. Christ has, by His life of unreserved obedience to God, shown us the Way which leads to Heaven: "When He puts forth His own sheep, HE goes before them—and the sheep follow Him" ( John 10:4).

Third, in that He is willing and ready to bestow grace and strength to walk therein. Christ did not come here and die—in order to make it unnecessary for me to please and obey God. No indeed! "He died for all, that those who live should not henceforth live unto themselves—but unto Him who died for them!" (2 Corinthians 5:15). "He gave Himself for our sins—that He might deliver us from this present evil world" (Galatians 1:4). "He gave Himself for us—that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works" (Titus 2:14). Christ came here to "save His people from their sins" (Matthew 1:21); and if you are not now delivered from the power of sin, from the deceptions of Satan, from the love of the world, and from the pleasing of self—then you are NOT saved. May it please the God of all grace to add His blessing.    ~ A.W. Pink


Added commentary from Matthew Poole and Albert Barnes.....

Ver. 23,24. Our Saviour hath told us, Matthew 7:14, that strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, that leadeth to eternal life, and few there be that find it. Upon this this exhortation is founded. ’ Agwnizesye, Contend, or strive, to enter in at this strait gate, a word which signifies a labouring against opposition, and the utmost endeavour of the mind and body: not that our own labouring will bring us thither, the eternal life is the gift of God, and without the influence of his grace we can do nothing effectually; but to let us know, that the Lord will give heaven to none but such as labour and strive for it, yea, and also strive lawfully: he tells us that many 
will seek to enter, and shall not be able; either seeking in a wrong way, or in an undue time. By this speech of our Saviour’s he diverts them from that curious question, about the number of those that shall be saved. That was not so much their concern to know, as that they should be some of that number.  - Matthew Poole




Strive - Literally, "agonize." The word is taken from the Grecian games. In their races, and wrestlings, and various athletic exercises, they "strove or agonized," or put forth all their powers to gain the victory. Thousands witnessed them. They were long trained for the conflict, and the honor of victory was one of the highest honors among the people. So Jesus says that we should strive to enter in; and he means by it that we should be diligent, be active, be earnest; that we should make it our first and chief business to overcome our sinful propensities, and to endeavor to enter into heaven. This same figure or allusion to the Grecian games is often used in the New Testament, 1 Corinthians 9:24-26Philippians 2:16Hebrews 12:1.  - A. Barnes

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

"Fight the Lord's battles."—1 Samuel 18:17.

It is the preacher's business Sabbath after Sabbath, and week-day after week-day, to preach the whole gospel of God and to vindicate the truth as it is in Jesus from the opposition of man. Thousands are the heresies which now beset the church. O children of God! fight the Lord's battles for truth. I am astonished, and yet more astonished when I come to turn it over, at the want of earnestness that there is in the Protestantism of the present age. How do you imagine that Cardinal Wiseman pays for all his splendours, and that the Romish church is supported? Fools and slow of heart, ye find them much of their wealth. If he is to preach in any place, who is it that crowds the chapel full, and pays for admission? The Protestants; and the Protestantism of England is the pay-master of the Pope. I am ashamed that sons of the Reformers who have Smithfield still in their midst unbuilt upon, should bow themselves before the beast, and give so much as a single farthing to the shrine of the devil's firstborn son Take heed to yourselves, ye Protestants, lest ye be partakers of her plagues; touch her not, lest ye be defiled. Give a drachm to her, or a grain of incense to her censors, ye shall be partakers of her adulteries and partakers of her plagues. Every time you pass the house of Popery let a curse light upon her head: Thus saith the Lord:—"Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins and that ye receive not of her plagues. For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities. Reward her even as she rewarded you, and double unto her double according to her works: in the cup which she hath filled fill to her double. How much she hath glorified herself, and lived deliciously, so much torment and sorrow give her; for she saith in her heart, I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow. Therefore shall her plagues come in one day, death, and mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire: for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her."—Revelation 18:4-8.
 How soft some men's minds are growing, how effeminate in the battle. It is all very well with that Church when it is separated from her heretical sons, and a great gulf fixed, but all that helps to bridge that gulf must mar her glory and destroy her power. We must have no truce, no treaty with Rome. War! war to the knife with her! Peace there cannot be. She cannot have peace with us—we cannot have peace with her. She hates the true Church, and we can only say that the hatred is reciprocated. We would not lay a hand upon her priests; we would not touch a hair of their heads. Let them be free; but their doctrine we would destroy from the face of the earth as the doctrine of devils. So let it perish, O God, and let that evil thing become as the fat of lambs. Into smoke let it consume: yea into smoke let it consume away.

We must fight the Lord's battles against this giant error, whichever shape it takes; and so must we do with every error that pollutes the church. Slay it utterly; let none escape. "Fight the Lord's battles." Even though it be an error that is in an Evangelical Church, yet must we smite it. I love all those who love the Lord Jesus Christ, but, nevertheless, I cannot have any truce any treaty with divers errors that have crept into the church, nor would I have you regard them with complacency. We are one in Christ; let us be friends with one another; but let us never be friends with one another's error. If I be wrong, rebuke me sternly; I can bear it, and bear it cheerfully and if ye be wrong, expect the like measure from me, and neither peace nor parley with your mistakes. Let us all be true to one another, and true to Christ; and as soon as we perceive an error, though it be but as the shadow of one, let us root it out and drive it from us, lest it plague the whole body, and put leprosy into the entire fabric of the church. No peace with sin. no peace with falsehood. War, war, war without deliberation: war for ever with error and deceit!

excerpt from C.H. Spurgeon's sermon 'War! war! war!'