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

Saturday, August 31, 2013

And forgive us our debts...

At the outset of our consideration of this fifth petition, it is vital that we give due attention to the fact that it begins differently than the first four. For the first time in our Lord’s Prayer we encounter the word and. The fourth petition, "Give us this day our daily bread," is followed by the words, "And forgive us our debts," indicating that there is a very close connection between the two petitions. It is true that the first three petitions are intimately related, yet they are quite distinct. But the fourth and fifth petitions are to be especially linked in our minds for several practical reasons. First, we are taught that without pardon all the good things of this life will benefit us nothing. A man in a cell on death row is fed and clothed, but what is the daintiest diet and the costliest apparel worth to him as long as he remains under sentence of imminent death? "Our daily bread doth but fatten us as lambs for the slaughter if our sins be not pardoned" (Matthew Henry). Second, our Lord would inform us that our sins are so many and so grievous that we deserve not one mouthful of food. Each day the Christian is guilty of offenses that forfeit even the common blessings of life, so that he should ever say with Jacob, "I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies. . . which Thou hast shewed unto Thy servant (Gen. 32:10). Third, Christ would remind us that our sins are the great obstacle to the favors we might receive from God (Isa. 59:2; Jer. 5:25). Our sins constrict the channel of blessing, and therefore as often as we pray, "Give us," we must add, "And forgive us." Fourth, Christ would encourage us to go on in faith from strength to strength. If we trust God’s providence to provide for our bodies, should we not trust Him for the salvation of our souls from the power and dominion of sin and from sin’s dreadful wages?

"Forgive us our debts." Our sins are here viewed, as in Luke 11:4, under the notion of debts, that is, undischarged obligations or failures to render to God His lawful due. We owe to God sincere and perfect worship together with earnest and perpetual obedience. The Apostle Paul says, "Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh" (Rom. 8:12), thus stating the negative side. But positively, we are debtors to God, to live unto Him. By the law of creation, we were made not to gratify the flesh but to glorify God. "When ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do" (Luke 17:10). Failure to discharge our debt of worship and obedience has entailed guilt, bringing us into debt to Divine justice. Now when we pray, "Forgive us our debts," we do not ask to be discharged from the duties we owe to God, but to be acquitted from our guilt, that is, to have the punishment due us remitted.

continue on here...

Black seeds

Black seeds without beauty!

(J.R. Miller, "Help for the Day")

"And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." Romans 8:28

God does not send us two classes of providences--one good, and one evil. All are good.
Affliction is God's goodness in the seed. It takes time for a seed to grow and to develop into fruitfulness. Many of the best things of our lives come to us first as pain, suffering, earthly loss, or disappointment--black seeds without beauty--but afterward they grow into the rich fruits of righteousness!

"No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it!" Hebrews

Thursday, August 29, 2013


There are many movements, some in the name of religion, that stem from pride. These movements may tell you that you must home-school, or that your adolescent child cannot date before marriage. They may tell you that you must bow down to your husband as a supreme type authority {although they fail to tell you the husband is to submit to his wife, to love her and care for her as Christ does His church}. They tell you the father must pick, or assist in the picking of a husband for his daughter. They tell you it is sinful to use any method of birth control.
This type of thinking can be found among some of the Puritans and the English settlement known as the 'Massachusetts Bay Colony'. You can read their views on 'marriage and family life' here.
Those same views are alive and well in our day, and appear to be gaining momentum.
Pride also drives men to exalt themselves, promoting themselves and their ministry 'for the sake of Christ', but is it? This is why you must not be so quick to embrace every man who claims to be a man of God; oftentimes there are underlying and disturbing things you may not see on the surface. When aggression, provoking to anger, name-calling, and being judgmental are involved, is that really of Christ, who is meek and lowly, or is it from man's own pride? I have read some great articles sent to me on this subject of a deadly sin...pride.

     Pride In The Body Of Christ (Church)
The comments in this section are directed to the Christian believer.  It would seem strange that since Jesus Christ is the Head of the Church and that He was the ultimate example of humility, that pride could exist to such a large degree in the living organism called the church.  Jesus says to all who desire to be His disciples or followers, “Come to Me all who are weary (worked to exhaustion) and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle (meek) and humble (lowly) in heart, and you shall find rest for your souls.  For My yoke is easy (kindly and pleasant) and My load (burden) is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30 Amp Ver).
Since I have brought up the subject of activities or busyness, let me present to you a wide spread manifestation of pride that exists today in the church.  Remember one of the definitions of pride (self-exaltation) was to enhance or intensify one’s activity.”  Many Christians find themselves “worn out” trying to do the works of God, but this is contrary to the will of the Lord and His instruction according to the above Bible passage.  In recent years I have heard this expression in Christian circles: “It is better to wear out than rust out.”  What scripture verse from God’s Word does that come from? Of course, you must be willing to give your lives to be spent for the Gospel, to lose your life, daily denying yourself; but God wants you to be daily renewed, refreshed, and strengthened as His vessel.  It should be apparent to you that activities that feed a misconception of the fact that the busier you are the more spiritual you are is false.  There is the constant pressure from ego (pride) that compels God’s people to feed restless, vain impulses. Another deception in this area exists today.  The deception is that if we take a lowly place daily, a negative reflection on our ability or calling may result.   Many Christian workers are wondering why they are so unfulfilled inside after such a great display of activity.  “A man’s pride will bring him low.” (Proverbs 29:23).  “The Lord will tear down the house of the proud.” (Proverbs 15:25).  Please meditate on these truths.
There was a struggle between the disciples of Jesus even as He walked here on earth during His earthly ministry.  On more than one occasion Jesus’ disciples contested with one another.  “And an argument arose among them as to which of them might be the greatest.” (Luke 9:46).  “And there arose also a dispute among them as to which one of them was regarded to be greatest.” (Luke 22:24).
There is a struggle today of the same sort between God’s servants.  Remember the definition of self-exaltation?  It was to raise or elevate one’sself for a higher position or title?  “Knowledge alone puffeth up (makes arrogant) but love edifies.”(1 Corinthians 8:1 Amp Vers.).  I have noticed many Christians who are proud and boastful as to their association with a certain denomination, Bible school, or ministry.  We are to boast only in Christ Jesus in whom we have been made into His likeness because He has made us wisdom from God.  (See 1 Corinthians 1:30-31).
I will use the word “spiritual pride,” which sounds almost like a paradox, because we know that the Holy Spirit in a believer does not manifestpride, but meekness and humility.  I am, however, referring to one’s own opinion of one’s spirituality in relation to others.  “For through the grace given to me I say to every man among you not to think more highly of himself that he ought to think. (Romans 12:3).  This warning came from a servant of God, we all know, by the name of Paul.  Paul had a wealth of knowledge (Biblical and otherwise) but chose not to use it as his credentials.  “More than that I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus, my Lord…And count them but rubbish (dung-heaps) in order that I may gain Christ” (Philippians 3:8). Emphasis mine. Are you trying to compare your self-image with your fellow believers?  Are you striving to be recognized as a more effective, efficient, or profitable servant? Is this causing you to leap up, exultantly, to be noticed as a great minister?  I must warn you, dearly beloved brethren, “From out of the heart proceeds ……pride….” (Mark 7:21-22).  “He has scattered those who were proud in the thoughts of their hearts.” (Luke 1:51).
I notice also among Christians today a desire to insist that others conform to certain doctrines or legalisms of one particular sect or group.  Do you feel your group has all the answers?  Could this be pride?  “If anyone advocates a different doctrine and does not agree with sound words, those of the Lord Jesus Christ and with the doctrine conforming to godliness, he is conceited and understands nothing (self-deceived)…”  (I Timothy 6:3-4 Amp Vers).  Are you abstaining from someone’s presence, refusing fellowship with someone, being scornful, or even despising someone because of their conviction of the pure Word of God?
I would like to continue with the above passage of scripture, “…But he has a morbid interest in controversial questions and disputes about words, out of which arise envy, strife, abusive language, evil suspicions, and constant friction between men of depraved mind and deprived of the Truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain (self-gain).” (I Timothy 6:4-5 Amp Vers). Remember, “Through presumption (pride) comes nothing but strife.” (Proverbs 28:25).  Are you striving with your brethren?  What do you expect to gain?  “It is better to be of humble spirit with the lowly than to divide the spoil with the proud.” (Proverbs 16:19).  To experience the abundant life of Jesus, our Lord, is to live free of pride.  Glory to God.
If you are a young Christian (not only in physical age) or a young minister trying to answer the call of God on your life, you are a prime target of the devil.  Satan will come against you with all of his tactics.  Some of these tactics are more noticeable than others.  An overt attack on your spiritual life, mental capacities, physical bodies, family affairs, or material needs are very common areas of diabolical aggression.  Thank God, you have the Name of Jesus and the precious promises of the Lord to hold fast to and overcome your adversary, the devil.  If then satan can’t defeat you by tearing you down, he will most assuredly come from a different direction to puff you up with pride.  What is your attitude about the Christian life?  The Lord is no respecter of persons.  He requires all of His followers to obey His Word.  Are you looking for some formula or short cut to “the successful Christian life”?  “Churchanity” has devised many alternate routes for you.  Beware!  There is no substitute for submission to the Word of God, the Holy Spirit, and the authority of the true church.  Many Christians today would choose to ignore the gifts (in the form of godly men) that Jesus has given to the church for its development and maturity so that she can accomplish her mission on the earth.  Many would choose to bypass the lengthy but necessary seasons of preparation and to choose the route of self-promotion, or even worse, promotion by pride-rooted, man-made religious systems.
Don’t place yourself in this position.  Don’t allow pride to push you into a “slot” before your season.  “…not a new convert lest he be conceitedand fall into condemnation incurred by the devil.” (I Timothy 3:6).
Are you receiving flattering words from others about your great “anointing”?  Be on the alert!  “Now I urge you brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances (occasions of stumbling) contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them.  For such are slaves not of our Lord Christ but of their own appetites and by their smooth and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting.” (Romans 16:17-18 Amp Vers).  “…they (their mouth speaks) arrogantly, flattering people for the sake of gaining an advantage.” (Jude 16 Amp Vers). These passages of scripture were written to believers.
You may ask, “Are these the only areas that pride manifests itself or has an effect in the Body of Christ?  I wish I could say yes to that question. The fact is, as I previously expressed, I am not an expert.  These are only a few observations that I want you to consider.  Quite frankly, as grievous as it may be, I also see all of the ugly manifestations of pride mentioned in the section on “Pride in the People of the World”.  You may review these if you wish.
What you think about the seriousness of pride in the church doesn’t matter.  It remains an abomination unto God.  “Seven things the Lord hates and are abominations, haughty eyes…”  (Proverbs 6:16-17).  Note here that the first abomination that God mentions is haughtiness (pride).  “Pride and arrogance and the evil way and the perverted way, I hate, says the Lord.” (Proverbs 8:13).  Many Christians are feeling in their spirit, that the last days are upon us.  Do you feel that you are living in the last days?  Listen to the Word of God spoken again to the Church.  “But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come.  For men (including professing Christians) will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God; holding to a form of godliness (religion), although they have denied its power; andavoid such men as these.” (II Timothy 3:1-5) Emphasis mine.
How effective is your religion and self-righteousness?  Are you acknowledging your continued need for the Lord Jesus?  If not, let me warn you God is removing His hand and withdrawing His presence from a proud and obstinate people.  “And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind…arrogant, boastful…” (Romans 1:28-30).
By now, if you are acknowledge being guilty, I hope you are not falling into one of pride’s most fatal traps.  What is that?  It is self-pity.  Don’t feel sorry for yourself because you have been robbed of some of your glory.  To receive man’s glory is far short of your heavenly reward from your Father.  Read Matthew 6:2-4.  Jesus said, “I do not receive glory from men……How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another, and you do not seek glory that is from the one and only God?” (John 5:41-44).  Jesus also said, “He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory;…” (John 7:18).  “Nor is it glory to seek out one’s own glory.” (Proverbs 25:27).  Self-pity is an open door to discouragement, depression, and despondency (lack of hope).  You have encouragement in you through Christ. “Christ in you the hope of glory.” (Colossians 1:27).  Hallelujah!
Let me deal now with the manifestation of self-justification. The word, justification, as you know it as a Christian, means: (A) to be made righteous before God through Jesus Christ; (B) to be freed from guilt, set free, or vindicated likewise.  Praise God for this precious benefit that the Lord has given us by grace through faith.  This form of justification is not what I am referring to.   The perverted form of self-justification is the manifestation of pride I speak of now.  Remember self-justification was one of pride’s manifestations in the Biblical definitions given in the chapter, “Pride Defined”.  Let me give you a definition of this justification that man offers for himself.  (A) to show a satisfactory reason or excuse of something done (said, thought, etc.).  (B) to be clear of blame or fault.  (C) to defend or uphold or exonerate one’s self.  This is what Webster’s Dictionary states about the word “to justify
I waited until the last of this chapter to discuss this problem with you.  Why?  Because even right now you may be making excuses for yourprideful attitudes or actions that have been revealed to you by the Word of God.
Dear brother or sister in Christ, if you are on the defensive about your daily decisions that are contrary to the life-style of Jesus, it will be necessary for you to repent.  Until you have a meek and lowly spirit, you will be a victim of this form of pride.  What form?  Self-justification; always trying to convince first, God, second, yourself; and last, your fellow man that you are right.  Are you convinced that the Holy Spirit with His convicting and revealing power could be unaware of or be misunderstanding your intentions? Don’t be self-deceived.  Self-justification is pride and God is opposed to it.  “And He (Jesus) said, you are those who justify yourselves in the sight of men, but God knows your hearts; for that which is highly esteemed among men is detestable in the sight of God.” (Luke 16:15) Emphasis mine.
My friends and brethren, I have one final statement in this chapter.  Pride is sin against the Lord God Almighty!  “Haughty eyes and a proud heart, the lamp of the wicked is sin.” (Proverbs 21:4).
You need to always acknowledge God and your need for His liberating power in your life.  Amen!  So be it!  

The above is taken from an article you may read in its entirety by going here.

I also want to share this excerpt...
The Pharisees did all their good deeds, their spiritual obligations in front of people as much as possible. It was the Pharisees who said their prayers publicly (on the street), they made them long and loud. They gave their money publicly (oftentimes having a horn blown when they gave their tithes). They did their good works publicly; they wanted to be seen because they looked for recognition from men. False religion always wants to boast in its own works. True religion, a person who is spiritual will not boast in what he does and use the podium as a platform for his adventures. We should recognize that the perfect medium for this motivation today is TV. Jesus made it clear: “Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven” (Matthew 6:1). Its obvious the preachers of earthly prosperity are not considering this. When you hear people being honored because of how much they gave in front of the world and the church it is exactly what Jesus told us not to do. Announcing that so and so is giving $200 or $1000 is a sales tactic to prompt others to give the same. When you hear them tell you how successful their ministry is, the building they are doing, the amount of staff they have and the money that is coming in they are doing exactly what Jesus said NOT to do.  - Taken from 'beware of the leaven'.

This is also worth noting...
    Churches are rarely destroyed from outside. One of the Devil's most cunning tricks is to put an uncalled and unskilled man in the ministry who often has little or no spiritual discernment. These "hirelings" (John 10) have no call of God but rather seek the ministry as a profession. - taken from bible truth

So what is my point? To WARN! Do not be so quick to embrace every person who professes Christ! How is it the wolves enter in? Disguised as sheep or a shepherd.
When you see and hear of men who toot their own horns, who boast and brag about ALL that they do 'for Christ', be wary. When you have men tell you what you MUST do, be wary. We must follow Christ and Him alone; there are too many who seek to oppress others with their twisted view of God's word, and it all stems from pride as well as the desire to control. Be very careful who you affiliate yourself with, and what you put into your mind. Remember what the Lord warned of as a sign of His coming and of the end of the age, "Take heed that no man lead you astray." Matthew 24:4

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

But Sanctify in your hearts, Christ as Lord

"But Sanctify in your hearts Christ as Lord" (1 Pet. 3:15, RV). In view of the context it is striking to note that it was Peter whom the Spirit of God first moved to write these words. As he did so, his heart, no doubt, was filled with sorrow and deep contrition. He says, "If ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled" (v. 14). On a never-to-be forgotten occasion, he had been afraid of the "terror" of the wicked. In Pilate’s palace the fear of man brought him a snare. But in our text he announces the divine remedy for deliverance from the fear of man.
"But sanctify in your hearts Christ as Lord." In the light of its setting, this means, first of all, to let the awe of the lordship of Christ possess your hearts. Dwell constantly on the fact that Christ is Lord. Because He is Lord, all power in heaven and earth is His; therefore He is Master of every situation, sufficient for every emergency, able to supply every need. When a Christian trembles in the presence of his enemies, it is because he doubts or has lost sight of the faithfulness and power of Christ.
"But sanctify in your hearts Christ as Lord." The motive for obeying this precept should not be our own peace and comfort, but His honor and glory. To guard against the feat of man, the saint is to cultivate the fear of the Lord, that Christ may be magnified. The Lord Jesus is glorified when His persecuted people preserve a calm demeanor and immovable fortitude in the face of all opposition. But this is possible only as our hearts are occupied with Him, and particularly with His lordship.
"But sanctify in your hearts, Christ as Lord." These words have a wider application. How little professing Christians dwell on the lordship of Christ! How sadly inadequate are the real Christian’s views of that One who has a name which is above every name! "That I may know [obtain a better knowledge of] him" (Phil. 3:10), should be the daily longing of our hearts, and the earnest prayer of our lips. Not only do we need to grow in "grace" but also in "the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (2 Pet. 3:18).
How little we really know the Christ of God. "No man knoweth [perfectly] the Son, but the Father" (Matthew 11:27); yet much has been revealed concerning Him in the Scriptures. How little we study those Scriptures with the definite object of seeking a better, deeper, fuller knowledge of the Lord Jesus! How circumscribed is the scope of our studies! Many form their conceptions of Christ from the first four books of the New Testament and rarely read beyond those books.
The gospels treat of Christ’s life during the days of His humiliation. They view Him in the form of a Servant, who came not to be ministered unto, but to minister. True, Matthew’s Gospel sets forth the kingship of Him who was here as Jehovah’s Servant; yet it is as the rejected King. True also, John’s Gospel portrays the divine glories of the incarnate Son; yet as the One who was unknown in the world which He had made, and as rejected by His own to whom He came (John 1:10-11). It is not until we pass beyond the gospels that we find the lordship of Jesus of Nazareth really made manifest. On the day of Pentecost, Peter said, "Let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ" (Acts 2:36). The humbled One is now victorious. He who was born in lowliness has been exalted "far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come" (Eph. 1:21). He who suffered His face to be covered with the vile spit of men has been given a name more excellent than the angels (Heb. 1:4). He whom man crowned with thorns has been "crowned with glory and honor" (Heb. 2:9). He who hung, in apparent helplessness upon a cross has taken His seat "on the right hand of the Majesty on high" (Heb. 1:3).
The epistles, in contrast to the gospels, were all written from the viewpoint of an ascended Christ. They treat of a glorified Savior. How much we lose by their neglect! Why is it that when Christ comes to our minds our thoughts turn back to the "days of His flesh"? Why are our hearts so little occupied with the heavenly Christ? Why do we meditate so little upon His exaltation, His seat and session at God’s right hand? Is it not because we read the epistles so infrequently?
Many Christians find the epistles so much more difficult than the gospels. Of course they do, because they are so unfamiliar. Enter a strange city and its layout, streets and suburbs are unknown. It is hard to find your way about. So it is with the epistles. The Christian must live in them to become acquainted with their contents.
It is in the epistles alone that the distinctive character of Christianity is set forth; not in the gospels; the Acts is transitionary; and most of the Revelation belongs to the future. The epistles alone treat of the present dispensation. But present-day preaching rarely notices them. Christians, in their private reading of the Word, seldom turn to them. But in the Epistles only is Christianity
expounded—Christianity has to do with a risen, glorified, and enthroned Christ. Thus, if we are to "Sanctify in your hearts Christ Jesus as Lord," we must spend much time in the epistles.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Spurgeon on Genesis 1


 Genesis 1:1. In the beginning God created the Heaven and the earth. When that “beginning” was, we cannot tell. It may have been long ages before God fitted up this world for the abode of man, but it was not self-existent—it was created by God, it sprang from the will and the word of the all-wise Creator!

2. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. When God began to arrange this world in order, it was shrouded in darkness and it had been reduced to what we call, for lack of a better name, “chaos.” This is just the condition of every soul of man when God begins to deal with him in His Grace—it is formless and empty of all good things. “There is none righteous, no, not one: there is none that understands, there is none that seeks after God. They are all gone out of the way.”

2. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. This was the first act of God in preparing this planet to be the abode of man—and the first act of Grace in the soul is for the Spirit of God to move within it! How that Spirit of God comes there, we know not. We cannot tell how He acts, even as we cannot tell how the wind blows where it wishes, but until the Spirit of God moves upon the soul, nothing is done towards its new creation in Christ Jesus!

3, 4. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. “Light be.” “Light was.” God had but to speak the word and the great wonder was accomplished! How there was light before there was any sun—for the sun was not created until the fourth day of the week—it is not for us to say. But God is not dependent upon His own creation. He can make light without a sun! He can spread the Gospel without the aid of ministers, He can convert souls without any human or angelic method, for He does as He wills in the heavens above and on the earth beneath.

5. And God called the light, Day, and the darkness, He called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day. It is a good thing to have the right names for things. An error is often half killed when you know the real name of it—its power lies in its being indescribable! But as soon as you can call it,“darkness,” you know how to act towards it. It is a also good thing to know the names of truths and the names of other things that are right. God is very particular in the Scripture about giving people their right names. The Holy Spirit says, “Judas, not Iscariot,” so that there should be no mistake about the intended person. Let us also always call persons and things by their right names—“God called the light, Day, and the darkness He called Night.” “And the evening and the morning were the first day.” Darkness first and light afterwards. It is so with us spiritually—first darkness, then light. I suppose that until we get to Heaven, there will be both darkness and light in us. And as to God’s Providential dealings, we must expect darkness as well as light. They will make up our first day and our last day, till we get where there are no days but the Ancient of Days.

6-8. And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament and it was so. And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day. “The firmament”—an expanse of air in which floated the waters which afterwards condensed and fell upon the earth in refreshing showers. These waters above were divided from the waters below. Perhaps they were all one steamy
conglomeration before, but now they are separated. Note those four words, “and it was so.” Whatever God ordains always comes. You will find that it is true of all His promises, that whatever He has said shall be fulfilled to you, and you shall one day say of it all, “And it was so.” It is equally certain concerning all His threats that what He has spoken shall certainly be fulfilled—and the ungodly will have to say, “And it was so.” These words are often repeated in this Chapter. They convey to us the great lesson that the Word of God is sure to be followed by the deed of God. He speaks and it is done!

9-13. And God said, let the waters under the heaven be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so. And God called the dry land, Earth, and the gathering together of the waters He called Seas. And God saw that it was good. And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself; upon the earth: and it was so. And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good. And the evening and the morning were the third day. Having attended to the air, God further exercised His power by setting the earth in order. Observe the remarkable fact that no sooner had God made the dry land appear, than it seemed as if He could not bear the sight of it in its nakedness. What a strange place this world must have been with its plains and hills and rooks and vales without one single blade of grass, or a tree, or a shrub! So at once, before that day was over, God threw the mantle of verdure over the earth and clad its mountains and valleys with forests and plants and flowers, as if to show us that the fruitless is uncomely in God’s sight, that the man who bears no fruit unto God is unendurable to Him. There would be no beauty whatever in a Christian without any good works and with no graces. As soon as ever the earth appeared, then came the herbs, the trees and the grass. So, dear Brothers and Sisters, in like manner, let us bring forth fruit unto God and bring it forth abundantly, for herein is our heavenly Father glorified—that we bear much fruit.

14-19. And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years: and let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so. And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: He made the stars also. And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth, and to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good. And the evening and the morning were the fourth day. Whether the sun and moon are here said to be absolutely created, or whether they were only created so far as our planet was concerned by the dense vapors being cleared away so that the sun and moon and stars could be seen, is a matter of no consequence at all to us. Let us rather learn a lesson from them. These lights are to rule, but they are to rule by giving light. And, Brothers and Sisters, this is the true rule in the Church of God. He who gives most light is the truest ruler—and the man who aspires to leadership in the Church of God, if he knows what he is doing, aspires to be the servant of all by laying himself out for the good of all, even as our Savior said to His disciples, “Whoever of you will be the chief, shall be servant of all.” The sun and moon are the servants of all mankind and, therefore, do they rule by day and by night. Stoop, my Brothers, if you wish to lead others! The way up is downward! To be great, you must be little. He is the greatest who is nothing at all unto himself, but all for others.

20-23. And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that has life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven. And God created great whales, and every living creature that moves, which the water brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good. And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth. And the evening and the morning were the fifth day. There was no life in the sea or on the land until all was ready for it. God would not make a creature to be unhappy. There must be suitable food to feed upon and the sun and moon to cheer and comfort before a single bird shall chirp in the thicket or a solitary trout shall leap in the stream. So, after God has given men light, and blessed them in various ways, their spiritual life begins to develop to the glory of God. We have the thoughts that soar like fowl in the open firmament of heaven, and other thoughts that dive into the mysteries of God, as the fish dive in the sea. These are after-development, after-growths of that same power which at the first said, “Let there be light.”

24, 25. And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so. And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and everything that creeps upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good. There is as much wisdom and care displayed in the creation of the tiniest creeping insect as in the creation of leviathan himself. Those who use the microscope are as much amazed at the greatness and the goodness of God as those are who use the telescope. He is as great in the little as He is in the great. After each day’s work, God looks upon it—and it is well for us, every night, to review our day’s work. Some men’s work will not bear looking at and tomorrow becomes all the worse to them because today
was not considered and its sin repented of by them. But if the errors of today are marked by us, a repetition of them may be avoided on the morrow. It is only God who can look upon any one day’s work and say of it, as a whole, and in every part, that it is “good.” As for us, our best things need sprinkling with the blood of Christ which we need not only on the lintels and side posts of our house, but even on the altar and the Mercy Seat at which we worship God!

26-28. And God said, Let us make man in Our image, after Our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth. So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moves upon the earth. God evidently meant the two persons, male and female, to complete the man, and the entireness of the manhood lies in them both. The earth is completed now that man has come upon it, and man is completed when the image of God is upon him, when Christ is formed in him the hope of Glory, but not till then. When we have received the power of God and have dominion over ourselves and over all earthly things in the power of God’s eternal Spirit, then are we where and what God intends us to be.

29, 30. And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat. And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to everything that creeps upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so. Now you see God’s commissariat. He has not made all these creatures in order to starve them, but He has supplied them with great variety and abundance of food, that their needs may be satisfied. Does God care for the cattle and will He not feed His own children? Does He provide for ravens and sparrows and will He allow you to lack anything, O you of little faith? Observe that God did not create man until He had provided for him—neither will He ever put one work of His Providence or of His Grace out of its proper place—but that which goes before shall be preparatory to that which follows after.

31. And God saw everything that He had made, and behold, it was very good. Taken in its completeness, and all put together, God saw that it was very good. We must never judge anything before it is complete.

C. H. Spurgeon

Monday, August 26, 2013

Studies on Women of the Bible - Mary

Studies on the Women of the Bibleby Davis W. Huckabee

Chapter 12

“And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favored, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favor with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God,” (Luke 1:26-35).
First, some disclaimers are needed. Mary was not the MOTHER OF GOD as Catholics like to characterize her. For while Jesus was indeed the Son of God and Deity in the fullest sense of the word, Mary was not the mother of His deity, but was only the mother of His human nature that He assumed for some thirty plus years. It is a form of blasphemy to call Mary the Mother of God, for God has no Mother. This is the natural result of Mariolatry—the worship of Mary—and in the Day of Judgment she will be the first to condemn all that have been deceived into worshipping her.
And another mistaken idea of Catholicism is in giving the phrase “highly favored,” (v. 28), the meaning that she is “the fountain of grace.” This is the same Greek word that Inspiration has used of all saved people in Ephesians 1:6, and differs only in tense in these two places. It means literally to endow with grace, and the Greek word appears nowhere else but these two places. In using this word of Mary it was simply saying, as she will shortly acknowledge herself, that she was saved by grace, as all believers are.
We have already called attention to the monstrous system of Mariology fruiting in Mariolatry. The base of it all is in the angel’s salutation to Mary: “Hail thou that art highly favored—thou that hast favor with God.” It is a matter of translation. Shall we render “highly favored” (Greek,kecharitomene) “mother of grace” or “daughter of grace?” Does it mean “fountain of grace,” or “endued with grace,” i. e., grace conferred or “found?” A Pope has said that Mary is the mother and fountain of all grace and our only hope of salvation. —B. H. Carroll, An Interpretation Of The English Bible, Vol. X, pp. 81-82.
This whole system of Mariolatry is one of blasphemy and much of it was taken from the ancient Babylonian false doctrine that glorified Nimrod and his mother, as has been so ably shown by Alexander Hislop in His “Two Babylons.” In the course of our study of Mary she will, by her own words, refute many of those dogmas that are held by this heretical system.
Mary was a most common name among Jewish women, being the same as the sister of Moses and Aaron, for the Greek text sometimes reads Miriam, especially in Luke’s Gospel and in Acts. There were at least seven women by this name in the New Testament. (1) Mary the mother of Jesus. (2) Mary Magdalene. (3) Mary the wife of Zebedee and mother of James and John. (4) Mary the sister of Martha and Lazarus. (5) Mary the wife of Cleopas, who was also sister to Mary the mother of Jesus. (6) Mary the mother of John Mark. (7) Mary a member of one of the churches in Rome.
The virgin birth—i. e., conception and birth wholly apart from the agency of a human male—was absolutely necessary to prevent Jesus’ human nature from being sinful. In the beginning, God constituted man the head of the race, and made him representative of all his descendents. All mankind was in the first man seminally, and when Adam sinned, they all became sinful, (Rom. 5:12), and so, a sinful nature is passed from father to child forever afterward. In being born of a virgin mother, Jesus received a human nature, yet one that was “holy,” (v. 35), and without sin. In no other way could a perfectly holy human nature have been produced. And this was the subject of prophecy, (Isa. 7:14; Jer. 31:22). Liberal theologians ridicule this as “impossible,” “irrational,” etc., but they display their ignorance, for the prophecy in Isaiah 7:14 clearly shows that this was never intended to be an ordinary birth, but rather it was to be something significant—a “sign.” And the prophecy in Jeremiah 31:22 shows that this would involve a creative act by God Himself for a woman to somehow “compass” or encompass a man child in some mysterious way. Mary herself was mystified over how this could be, seeing that she was a virgin that had never known a man in a sexual sense. But Gabriel explains that this was to be accomplished by the Holy Spirit as He created within her this human nature. In Hebrews 10:5 the Lord Himself explains it. “A body hast thou prepared me.” This was the purpose of the virgin birth to this young teenager.
There are two genealogies listed in Matthew 1:1-16 and Luke 3:23-38 and this has caused liberals to account error to the Scriptures, since they say that these “cannot be reconciled.” Friends do not need to be reconciled, for these are not antagonistic to one another. It is to be granted that these two vary considerably in some places, but there is a reason for this: one is the genealogy of Joseph (the legal father of Jesus) through Solomon, while the other is the genealogy of Mary (the actual mother of Jesus’ human nature) through Nathan. “Son of Heli” in Luke 3:23 is to be taken in the sense of “son-in-law of Heli, and it is instructive to read that some Jewish genealogies list what is believed to be the mother of Jesus as being “the daughter of Eli” (same as Heli). The Jews were very scrupulous in their genealogy records, and so, Jesus’ genealogy has never been questioned by Jews.
That this is thoroughly reliable is manifest, both because these cata­logues would not have been published at a time when, if inaccurate, they could easily have been refuted by reference to well-known family and public registers. And because there is not a particle of evidence that they were ever questioned, much less invalidated. —David Brown, in Jamie­son, Fausset and Brown, A Commentary Critical, Experimental and Practical On The Old And New Testaments, Vol. 5, p. 2.
Without such genealogies few if any of the Jews would have accepted Jesus’ claims to be the Messiah. John Gill quotes Jews that speak to this very issue about the coming of the Shekinah (the Messiah) into a human nature, that it would be proven by genealogies. Hence we read of no challenges of His genealogical fitness to be Messiah.
Mary is thought to have been only in her teens when Gabriel tells her what is ahead of her, and yet she is already a child of God and a faithful servant to God. Her own words testify to this fact, so that both she and Joseph are to be admired for their faith in the Lord. It is phenomenal to find people this young that are this dedicated to the Lord, but then God had been preparing her for her destiny for some time. Mary’s faithfulness to the Lord is first to be seen in that, as soon as the angel explains that her pregnancy is to come about by Divine power, and not by ordinary means, she immediately submits to the will of the Lord, (v. 38). “And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.” Such a submissive attitude can only be found in those that are born again, and who are resting upon the omnipotence of the Lord. And this had come about because “thou hast found favor with God,” (v. 30). To “find favor,” or “to find grace,” which are the same things, is often used in the sense of having been brought into a saving relationship with God, as we see in many places in Scripture, (Gen. 6:8; 19:19; Ex. 33:12; Acts 7:46), et al.
And her faith in God and in the message that the angel brings to her is rewarded by a confirmatory sign, (v. 36). This announcement of the miraculous conception of Elisabeth did not produce this faith in Mary for no miracle can produce faith, but it can confirm an already existing faith and so it did here. Faith is only produced by the Word of God, (Acts 17:11-12; Rom. 10:17). Mary’s faith was in contrast to Zacharias’ unbelief.
This is all confirmed by Mary herself in her testimony to Elisabeth in (vv. 46-47). “And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior.” Immaculately conceived people do not need a Savior—only sinners do—so that here Mary, by the appropriating pronoun “my,” acknowledges that sometime in the past she had received God as her Savior. Elisabeth recognized that her cousin was a believer in God by her words in (v. 45) and pronounces a blessing on her. “And blessed is she which hath believed that there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord, and which stands on record” (literal reading of the inspired Greek text—“told” is perfect passive participle). Mary’s blessedness consisted, not in her being henceforth a saviour, but in being chosen to be the mother of the human nature of Him that was to save all those given to Him to save by the Father.
After three months, and apparently just before Elisabeth was to deliver her child Mary returns home to Nazareth to deal with the problem of telling Joseph of her pregnancy. Can you imagine the shock to this young engaged man when his betrothed returns from a three months visit with a cousin in the Hill Country and she is three months pregnant and he knows that it cannot be his? This is set forth in Matthew 1:18-25 where he first has in mind to privately divorce her for unfaithfulness. No doubt Mary had told him what had been revealed to her by the angel, but who could believe such a wild story as that? He could have called for her public stoning, but he did not want to make her a public example for he loved her and was a pitiful man. O the heartbreak that he must have felt during this time. While he thinks on this an angel appears to him in a dream and explains all that is involved in this—that Mary has not been promiscuous, but is rather the Divinely chosen instrument for the glorious incarnation of the Son of God. It took a lot of faith on his part, just as it took a lot of faith on Mary’s part, to agree to such a radical situation.
The angel cites Isaih 7:14 as fulfilled in this matter, showing that this One was to be “Emmanuel”—God with us—and was also to be named Jesus, which is the Greek form of the Hebrew Joshua or more fully Jehoshua, which means God is my Savior. Thus, Emmanuel describes His Person, while Jesus describes His work.
The Jews had God with them, in types and shadows, dwelling between the cherubim; but never so as when the Word was made flesh—that was the blessed Shechinah. By the light of nature,we see God as a God above us; by the light of the law, we see Him as a God against us; but by the light of the gospel, we see Him as Immanuel, God with us, in our own nature, and in our interest. —Matthew Henry, Commentary On The Bible, on Matthew 1:23.
This settles the matter for Joseph and he immediately takes Mary into his home and under his protection although the marriage was not consummated until after the birth of Jesus. Though they were espoused before, and that constituted marriage in the eyes of the Law, Joseph and Mary had not yet been living in cohabitation up to this point, which is what constitutes actual marriage, (Gen. 24:67; 1 Cor. 6:15-16). But now she has the protection of Joseph’s name as well as his care and provision.
Catholics hold to the heresy of “the perpetual virginity of Mary” in their endeavor to justify their worship of Mary, and they try to explain away the “brethren and sisters of Jesus,” (Matt. 12:46-47; 13:55-56) as either Jesus’ cousins, or the older children of Joseph by a previous marriage. None of this is true, and that Joseph and Marry had a normal marital relation after Jesus’ birth is proven by several things. (1) By the statement “before they came together,” (v. 18), which is a Biblical term for intercourse between husbands and wives, (1 Cor. 7:5). (2) By the fact that Jesus is referred to as Mary’s “firstborn” (which often implies others). (3) By the fact that Joseph is said to not have “known” Mary “till she had brought forth her firstborn son.” (4) By the fact that these are specifically named, which cousins or step-siblings would not likely have been. (5) And prophecy proves beyond any doubt that Mary had other children, for Psalm 69:9 is quoted in John 2:17 as being fulfilled in Jesus, yet in the immediately preceding verse Jesus says prophetically, “I am become a stranger unto my brethren, and an alien unto my mother’s children.” This is biblical parallelism, a common usage where two parallel statements explain one another. Thus, “my brethren,” the very word used in Matthew 12:46-47 and 13:55, is explained to be “my mother’s children,” not my cousins or my step-brothers or any other relationship. Alas, how false doctrine and especially idolatry will try to pervert clear Scripture.
When the time came for the Son of God to be born into a human nature, God used the whim of a mighty king to fulfill the details. “Decree” in Luke 2:1 means literally “an opinion,” so that it was a mere whim of Caesar Augustus that brought Joseph and Mary from Nazareth to the place where prophecy had foretold the birth was to be of Him “whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting,” (Micah 5:2). On a map it looks to be between eighty and one hundred miles from Nazareth to Bethlehem-Judah, so that this was a rather arduous journey for a woman in her last stages of pregnancy, especially if they had to walk all the way. O Yes! Though artists generally picture Mary sitting on an ass as they travel, Scripture is silent as to whether she had this option as they traveled from Nazareth to Bethlehem.
Upon their arrival and finding no room in the inn they are put up in a cave that served as a stable as caves often did, which was probably quieter and more private than a crowded and noisy inn would have been, and here Mary brings forth her firstborn. From the silence of Scripture about any midwife or other helper, some have concluded that Mary delivered her Son with no assistance except that of her husband, and Scripture does say that it was she that wrapped the baby in swaddling clothes, (v. 7).
Following this there was the visit of the shepherds, then later the visit of the Magi from the East which gave expensive gifts that would enable the holy family to flee into Egypt as commanded. However, there was almost six weeks that elapsed before this flight, for it was on the eighth day after birth that Jesus was circumcised, and then the Law had commanded that forty days after birth a son was to be presented to the Lord in the temple, (Lev. 12:1-7). It was after this that Joseph had the dream in which he was commanded to take the family and flee into Egypt, (Matt. 2:13-23).
From this time mark Scripture is silent for the next twelve years about Joseph and Mary and their family At this time we have the visit of Joseph’s family to Jerusalem for the feast of the Passover, which was their annual practice, (Luke 2:40-52). After this we have another eighteen years of silence until both John the Baptist and his Lord make their official entry into public life, (Matt. 3:1ff; Mark 1: lff; Luke 3:1ff; John 1:6ff), for thirty years of age was the tradition time for Jewish men to enter public life.
Mary is with Jesus and His disciples at a wedding in Cana of Galilee, but no mention is made of Joseph, which makes us wonder if he was now dead, (John 2:1ff). And verse 12 reveals that Mary sometimes accompanied Jesus and His disciples in their travels. Here we see a most interesting fact. Catholics make much of Mary’s supposed intercessions with Jesus, but here was the only time she ever interceded with Him, and He rebuked her for it, (John 2:3-4). What she did say to all of the servants should be heeded by every Catholic, yet none do so. She told them to obey whatever Jesus said to them, not to slip around and try to get His mother to influence His decision. This attitude is a slander of Jesus, as if He were harder hearted than Mary.
The next to the last mention of the mother of Jesus is found in John 19:25-27 as she stood at the foot of the cross and saw her beloved Son suffer for the sins of His chosen people. “Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Cleopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus there saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home.” The great heartbreak that Mary here felt at seeing the intense suffering of her Son, and in knowing that He was shortly to die, fulfilled the prophecy of ancient Simeon that had been spoken some thirty-three years before, (Luke 2:34-35). “And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against; (Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also), that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”
As the ultimately righteous Man who must be a dutiful son in order to be in the will of God, Jesus here in His most intense agony honors His human mother as He had as a child, (Luke 2:51-52). It has been wondered why Jesus did this instead of leaving Mary to the care of her other children. Catholics have tried to use this as a proof that she had no other children, in order to help establish The perpetual virginity of Mary, but they hold this contrary to the clear teachings of Scripture that we have already noted. Several reasons enter into this commitment of Mary to John’s care. (1) Her other sons were not saved at this time, and had no sympathy with Jesus’ work, (Ps. 69:8; John 7:5). (2) They were all younger than Jesus, most being under thirty years of age, and so, according to Jewish reckoning, not yet mature. (3) They were very poor as Jesus had always been, (Matt. 8:20). (4) John was the wealthiest of all the disciples, being part owner with his brother James and their father, Zebedee, in a fishing business that employed several others, and so he would have been well able to care for her. (5) John’s own mother was a relative, and so, there was already a close relation­ship between them. (6) John was the closest in affection both to Jesus and to Mary.
Subsequently Mary is not seen except in Acts 1:13-14 where she and her other sons meet with the church in its first business meeting after Jesus’ return to glory. But nowhere in all of this does she exercise anyinfluence whatsoever on policy or on practice and it is presumptuous to think so. Catholics, in their endeavor to justify their idolatrous worship of Mary, pretend that all the apostles were in a state of total confusion until Mary took charge and directed them. There is not a word of truth in that. It only shows the lengths to which false doctrine will go to establish itself.
Ere concluding this study on this woman that was blessed above all other women in being privileged to obtain the “desire of [Jewish] women,”—to be the mother of the Messiah’s human nature, (Dan. 11:37), it might be well to note her deep spirituality. This is seen in her first appearance in Scripture in Luke 1 as just a teenager. In her own words, and in those of her cousin, Elizabeth, there is testified: (1) Her morality, (v. 34). (2) Her native sinfulness, (vv. 47-48). (3) Her salvation, (v. 47). (4) Her submission to God’s will, (v. 38). (5) Her fear of God, (v. 50). (6) Her giving of all glory to God, (v. 46). (7) Her knowledge of God’s holiness, (v. 49). (8) Her recognition of God’s mercy (the counterpart of grace), (v. 50). (9) Her faith in God as testified by Elisabeth, (v. 45). (10) Her recognition of her blessedness in being chosen to bear the Messiah’s human nature was testified of and she realized this, (vv. 42, 48). (11) God’s sovereign rule over men, (vv. 51-52). (12) God’s revelation to Israel, (vv. 54-55). What a phenomenal woman, yet none of it was of herself, but was all as a direct result of God’s grace extended to her.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Our Redeemer's Return

I was shocked and extremely disturbed by the news coming out of Syria concerning the use of nerve gas to kill over 1000 people, including women and children. I will provide the link, but I must warn you, it is so very graphic. If you want to read about what's happened, go here. 

I was also shocked at the recent shooting of a young man by three teens, because they were bored and did it 'for fun'. They shot this young man in the back; this is what a godless society looks like. You may read about this tragedy by going here.

As I see the world decaying and everything getting worse; wickedness increasing, the love of many growing cold, etc., I find great comfort in knowing my Redeemer's return draws nigh. Here is an excellent piece on the subject of the return of Jesus Christ, written by A. W. Pink...

The Signs of the Redeemer’s Return

Chapter 6

"And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and
lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh." Luke 21:28

As we have shown in the last chapter, the apostles and their converts looked for Christ to return in their own lifetime. They did not affirm that He would but they believed that He might. But eighteen centuries have passed since then and yet He has not come. The question therefore arises, What evidence is there that the second advent of our Lord is now nigh at hand—that is, nigh as judged even by human measurement of time? May there not be another eighteen centuries which must yet run their weary course before the Sun of righteousness arises with healing in His wings? Have we any means for ascertaining the approximate period when our Lord may be expected to appear? Have we any good ground for believing that another long interval will not yet elapse before the Savior comes back again?
In connection with other great events which God has brought about in human affairs, fair warning has been given to announce their approach. The Flood-judgment, the length of sojourn and the deliverance of the children of Israel from Egypt, and the time of our Lord’s first advent, may be cited as illustrations. Thus, before each of the marked interpositions of God in the past, plain intimation of their approach was given. Has then the time—the approximate time—of the great consummating event of all events been left shrouded in such secrecy that it is impossible for us to know anything about it until it arrives? Nay verily. The inspired language of Holy Writ declares—"But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. For yourselves know perfectly that the Day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety, then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others, but let us watch and be sober" (1 Thess. 5:1-6). Words could scarcely be plainer.
God does not desire His people to remain in ignorance concerning the period when His Son shall return. Just as of old, He said concerning the impending destruction of Sodom "Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do?" so has God graciously taken the Church into His counsels and revealed to us a "part of His ways" at least. We do not know the day or the hour, we are unable to determine the precise year when the Redeemer shall return, but we do know that His coming is now near at hand. We know it from the testimony of God’s living oracles. He has not left us in darkness, but has placed in our hands the more sure Word of Prophecy "whereunto we do well that we take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn and the day star arise in our hearts." The prophets of Old Testament times are commended because that they "searched what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glory that should follow" (1 Pet. 1:11); surely, then, a similar "searching" is commendable in us.

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Monday, August 19, 2013

Solitude, Silence, Submission

A Sermon
(No. 2468)
Intended for Reading on Lord's-Day, June 7th, 1896,
Delivered by
At the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.
On Lord's-day Evening, June 13th, 1886.

"He sitteth alone and keepeth silence, because he hath borne it upon him. He putteth his mouth in the dust; if so be there may be hope."—Lamentations 3:28, 29.
HUS the prophet describes the conduct of a person in deep anguish of heart. When he does not know what to do, his soul, as if by instinct, humbles itself. He gets into some secret place, he utters no speech, he gives himself over to moaning and to tears, and then he bows himself lower and yet lower before the Divine Majesty, as if he felt that the only hope for him in the extremity of his sorrow was to make complete submission to God, and to lie in the very dust before him.
    It seems to me that such conduct as this, which is characteristic of every truly gracious man in his hour of trouble, should also be the mark of all who are seeking God's grace, those who are not yet saved, but who are conscious of their need of salvation. I must, surely, be speaking right into the heart of some who are feeling the crushing weight and heavy burden of their guilt. If you cannot do anything else, dear friends, do what these two verses say, in order that, afterwards, you may be able to take that grand gospel step of faith in Jesus Christ which will certainly bring you into peace and joy.
    Those of you who have the Revised Version will notice a correction which has been made long ago by all competent scholars:—"Let him sit alone and keep silence, because he hath laid it upon him. Let him put his mouth in the dust; if so be there may be hope." It does not matter which way you read the passage, because the conduct of one gracious man is virtually a precept to another; yet it is satisfactory to find that, if we are under the burden of sin, we are here commanded to do as the prophet did in his time of need.

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" Men, nowadays, usually go in flocks; someone leads the way, and the rest follow him like sheep that rush through a gap in the hedge. It would be better for us if we deliberated more, if we used our own judgment, if we drew near to God in our own personality, and were resolved that, whatever others might do, we would seek to be personally guided by the Lord himself." Spurgeon

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Christ's forerunner

John 1:19-34

Even a hurried reading of these verses will make it evident that the personage which stands out most conspicuously in them is John the Baptist. Moreover, we do not have to study this passage very closely to discover that, the person and the witness of the Lord’s forerunner are brought before us here in a manner entirely different from what we find in the first three Gospels. No hint is given that his raiment was "of camel’s hair," that he had "a leathern girdle about his loins," or that "his meat was locusts and wild honey." Nothing is recorded of his stem Call to Repentance, nor is anything said of his announcement that "the kingdom of heaven is at hand." These things were foreign to the design of the Holy Spirit in this fourth Gospel. Again; instead of referring to the Lord Jesus as the One "whose fan is in his hand," and of the One who "will thoroughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into his garner, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire" (Matthew 3:12), he points to Him as "the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world." And this is most significant and blessed to those who have been divinely taught to rightly divide the Word of Truth.

Without doubt John the Baptist is, in several respects, one of the most remarkable characters that is brought before us in the Bible. He was the subject of Old Testament prophecy (Isa. 40); his birth was due to the direct and miraculous intervention of God (Luke 1:7, 13); he was "filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother’s womb" (Luke 1:15); he was a man sent from God" (John 1:6); he was sent to prepare the way of the Lord (Matthew 3:3). Of him the Lord said, "Among them that are born of women there has not risen a greater than John the Baptist" (Matthew 11:11); the reference being to his positional "greatness," as the forerunner of the Messiah: to him was accorded the high honor of baptizing the Lord Jesus. That Christ was referring to the positional "greatness" of John is clear from His next words, "notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he." To have a place in the kingdom of heaven will be a more exalted position than to be heralding the King outside of it, as John was. This, we take it is the key to that word in John 14:28, where we find the Lord Jesus saying, "My Father is greater than I"—greater not in His person, but in His position; for, at the time the Savior uttered those words He was in the place of subjection, as God’s "Servant."

Our passage opens by telling of a deputation of priests and Levites being sent from Jerusalem to enquire of John as to who he was: "And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who art thou?" (John 1:19). Nothing like this is found in the other Gospels, but it is in striking accord with the character and scope of the fourth Gospel, which deals with spiritual rather than dispensational relationships. The incident before us brings out the spiritual ignoranceof the religious leaders among the Jews. In fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy, the Lord’s forerunner had appeared in the wilderness, but, lacking in spiritual discernment, the leaders in Jerusalem knew not who he was. Accordingly, their messengers came and enquired of John, "Who art thou?" Multitudes of people were flocking to this strange preacher in the wilderness, and many had been baptized by him. A great stir had been made, so much so that "men mused in their hearts of John, whether he were Christ, or not" (Luke 3:15), and the religious leaders in Jerusalem were compelled to take note of it; therefore, did they send a deputation to wait upon John, to find out who he really was, and to enquire into his credentials.

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If you love me...

(J.R. Miller, "Young People's Problems" 1898)

You must receive Christ as your Master and Lord. A Christian is one who follows Christ. This means thesurrender of the whole life to Him. The heart must be given up. There can be no Christian life, without love to Jesus. Jesus demands the first place in the affections of His followers. If anyone loves father or mother, brother or sister, wife or child, more than Him--he is not worthy of Jesus, and cannot be His disciple.

But the most perfect obedience, if the heart is not in it, would not make one a Christian. We might devote our life and strength to Christian work, toiling unweariedly in the service of the church, giving our money lavishly for the advancement of Christianity or for the relief of suffering--and yet not be Christians. Love for Christ must be the motive at the heart of all our work for Christ. "Do you love Me?"is the test.

But the heart draws the whole life after it. If we truly love Jesus--we will obey Jesus. "If you love Me--keep My commandments." "You are My friends--if you do whatever I command you." 

We cannot accept Christ as our Savior--and not at the same time accept Him as our Lord and Master. We must begin at once to obey Him. Our obedience must be without reserve, without condition, without question. It must also be cheerful and glad-hearted--not compulsory, reluctant, or constrained. 

Christians are soldiers of Christ--and the soldier's first duty is to obey. Whether the will of Christ is made known to us in His Word, through our own conscience, or in providence--we should always promptly and cheerfully accept and obey. It may not be always easy--it may be very hard and costly; but when the will of our Master is made known, if we are His followers--we can only obey, and our obedience should be sweet with love.

We love Him--because He first loved us. We know Him--because He first calls us. Christ is ours--and we are Christ's. Being a Christian is living out His same life of love, obedience, surrender, and service, through all the days.

As Christians, we are to live out the thirteenth chapter of First Corinthians: "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails."

True faith will make us more gentle, more patient, more unselfish. A Christian life is a new Christ-life lived out in this world--we are to be Christ to others!

The heart of the Christian should be a well of living water, a fount of holy and blessed influences, whose streams flow in all directions--carrying comfort, cheer, encouragement, help, and gladness to every other life they reach. Mere orthodoxy of belief does not make one a Christian, nor does attention to church rituals and rules. A Christian is one in whom the life of Christ pulses, and the love of Christ glows and burns!

from Grace Gems