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

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

My times are in Your hand

(Matthew Henry)

"My times are in Your hand!" Psalm 31:15 

Firmly believing that my times are in God's hand, I here submit myself and all my affairs for the ensuing year, to the wise and gracious disposal of God's divine providence. Whether God appoints for me . . . .
  health or sickness,
  peace or trouble,
  comforts or crosses,
  life or death--
may His holy will be done!

All my time, strength, and service, I devote to the honor of the Lord Jesus--and even my common actions. It is my earnest expectation, hope, and desire, my constant aim and endeavor--that Jesus Christ may be magnified in me.

In everything I have to do--my entire dependence is upon Jesus Christ for strength. And whatever I do in word or deed, I desire to do all in His name, to make Him my Alpha and Omega. I have all from Him--and I would use all for Him.

If this should prove a year of affliction, a sorrowful year to me--I will fetch all my supports and comforts from the Lord Jesus and stay myself upon Him, His everlasting consolations, and the good hope I have in Him through grace.

And if it should be my dying year--then my times are in the hand of the Lord Jesus. And with a humble reliance upon His mediation, I would venture into the eternal world looking for the blessed hope. Dying as well as living--Jesus Christ will, I trust, be gain and advantage to me.

Oh, that the grace of God may be sufficient for me, to keep me always a humble sense of my own unworthiness, weakness, folly, and infirmity--together with a humble dependence upon the Lord Jesus Christ for both righteousness and strength.

Monday, December 30, 2013

A day in the life - a true street preacher - updated post

Robert Flockhart (1778-1857)

I read about this street preacher from the 1800's, Robert Flockhart. As I read about Robert, I was so moved and blessed by his love for sinners and his servant's heart. Please, take time to read a bit of his biography that I've posted further down.

 I also thought about a certain street preacher in our day who stands in front of abortion clinics and argues with the unregenerate, who makes false accusations against them, and never gives them the Gospel; who toots his own horn, makes much of his itinerary, yet obviously forgets how we must decrease. This modern day street preacher spends much of his time on self-promotion, and the rest on seeking financial support. His latest 'gig' is taking other men's sermons, like Spurgeon and Edwards, recording them and charging for downloads. I find this so appalling; to take another man's work, simply sit in front of a microphone and read that man's laboring words, and seek financial gain from it is beyond belief. Men who act out of their flesh will never be effective for Christ nor will they be used by Him.

With that said, take note of Robert's devotion to the lost, from Twisted Crown of thorns...

A remarkable sinner who became a remarkable convert, was an extraordinarily gifted man and fearless street preacher in the Edinburgh of the mid-1800′s. It is saidRobert Flockhart (1778-1857) had sinned much, but he had been forgiven much, and so he loved much. Where Robert in Satan’s service had often exposed himself to disgrace, danger, and death itself, but after his conversion, “… If there had been need for it, I believe there was no man in Edinburgh who would have gone to the stake or scaffold for Jesus Christ with a firmer step or nobler bearing than this brave old soldier of the cross.”
Flockhart was converted in India, while a soldier, he became a fearless as a street preacher – often in the face of unruly crowds. In a tribute to Robert Flockhart, Charles Spurgeon said:
I must linger a moment over Robert Flockhart, of Edinburgh, who, though a lesser light, was a constant one, and a fit example to the bulk of Christ’s street witnesses. Every evening, in all weathers and amid many persecutions, did this brave man continue to speak in the street for forty-three years. Think of that, and never be discouraged. When he was tottering to the grave the old soldier was still at his post. “Compassion to the souls of men drove me,” said he, “to the streets and lanes of my native city, to plead with sinners and persuade them to come to Jesus. The love of Christ constrained me.”
Neither the hostility of the police, nor the insults of Papists, Unitarians, and the like could move him; he rebuked error in the plainest terms, and preached salvation by grace with all his might. So lately has he passed away that Edinburgh remembers him still. There is room for such in all our cities and towns, and need for hundreds of his noble order in this huge nation of London—can I call it less?

 Robert was arrested numerous times, each time his wife would come and get him out. He never saw it necessary to make known his arrests, nor did he complain about being 'persecuted'. Recently a street preacher was arrested in London for a few hours, and received all kinds of media coverage. Why should anyone be shocked if you are arrested for proclaiming the truth? Why is that newsworthy?
One time while preaching, a woman came up and threw a bucket of water on him. He didn't retaliate, nor did he say, 'why are you judging me?', as I have so often heard a certain street preacher here in America say when confronted by the unregenerate. He did not follow some script, he simply proclaimed the word of God! How did Robert respond to the water-throwing incident? "This did not cool my ardour, nor drown my love for perishing souls! On the contrary, it made the fire of my zeal burn brighter and clearer, and caused the people to pay more attention to what I said". {'The Street Preacher', page 161}  The motive for proclaiming God's truth is birthed out of love and concern for the lost, it should never be to exalt 'self'.

Here is a sample of his biography...

I now come to relate the closing scene in the lives of two men whom I had frequent opportunities of visiting whilst they lay under sentence of death in the Calton jail. They had committed murder. One of them was named Gow — the other Beveridge. The former was a shoemaker — the latter a black smith. On returning home one evening, Gow found his wife (who was given to "strong drink") and some of her drunken associates, tippling in his house. On attempting to turn them out, his wife van to the stair-head, and called for the police, who instantly came, and, at the request of his wife, he was carried off to the police-office, where he lay all night. In the morning he went home, and, in a fit of passion, stabbed his wretched wife with a sharp knife, in consequence of which she died. Beveridge, like Gow, was a hard-working man, and had also a drunken wife. One morning, on coming in to breakfast, he found the fire out, no food prepared for him, the children all running naked about the house, and his wife drunk in bed, and unfit to do anything. He had often before seen his house in this deplorable condition, and at that time was so overcome with rage, that he killed her at once. These two men were apprehended, tried, found guilty, and sentenced to death, and were confined in the same cell. I had frequent opportunities of visiting them, and of conversing with them. Having by my sympathy and kindness gained their confidence, they listened to me with interest and attention. Gow opened his mind more . freely than Beveridge, and seemed to have a tender heart and keen feelings. In proof of this I may inform the reader that Gow, when a boy, had on one occasion harried a bird's nest ; but perceiving that the female bird followed him, apparently lamenting her loss, he repented, and put back the nest in the spot from whence he had taken it. It was always a matter of the greatest wonder and astonishment to him how he ever could have had the heart to murder his wife. How it was, that a man who had felt such pity for a poor little bird, could experience none for the woman who was his wife, was to him a mystery he could not understand. To explain it, I unfolded to him the deceitful and desperately wicked character of the heart of man in its natural state. I tried to show how totally ignorant we were of the awful crimes we were capable of committing when unrestrained by the preventing grace of God, and exposed to temptation. I laboured to convince them of the heinousness of the crime of which they had been guilty. I pointed out the awful danger they were in, and the punishment that awaited them if they continued impenitent. The Holy Spirit seemed to give effect to my humble efforts to bring these two unhappy men to the " Friend of sinners." A great and striking change in their whole deportment and character soon became apparent. They seemed deeply humbled on account of their sins — anxiously sought salvation, through a crucified Redeemer — read the Bible — prayed fervently to God, and seemed to be reconciled to and at peace with God, through the death of his Son. The change on them was so striking, that, to my observation, they seemed like lambs. How mysterious are the ways of God in bringing sinners to their right mind !

I may remark that my persecutions and sufferings from the magistrates and policemen of Edinburgh, whilst I preached in the street, would be deemed almost incredible, were I fully to relate them. The latter being mostly Irishmen and Roman Catholics, did not sympathize with me. In all my preachings I considered it an important part of my duty to expose error and heresy, as well as to proclaim the " truth as it is in Jesus." And this procedure on my part raised me up many enemies and opponents. Papists, Unitarians, Morrisonians, and such like, were my bitter gainsayers. The theories of their leading men I attacked and refuted from the Scriptures. I spared none who held opinions that robbed God of his glory, and Christ of the dignity of his person and the efficacy of his work. The adversaries of truth tried every means they could think of to deter me from- performing the work God had given me to do, but in vain. Their opposition only made me bolder in the cause of my blessed Master. I had " counted the cost," and was determined to " follow " him through " evil " as well as through " good report." I was stoned, imprisoned, and otherwise maltreated, but God stood near and protected me. With Paul, who said that he had fought with beasts at Ephesus, I might well say that I had fought with beasts in the streets of Edinburgh. . Compassion to the souls of men drove me to the streets and lanes of my native city, to plead with sinners, and persuade them to come to Jesus. The love of Christ constrained me to face all opposition in the performance of this great and glorious work. I was grieved to see multitudes thronging the " broad road" that leads to destruction, whilst I myself was in the enjoyment of a good hope through grace. In my preaching I dwelt much upon death and its consequences, the everlasting punishment that awaited ungodly and impenitent sinners, and the everlasting weight of glory that was laid up for the righteous. Many a time the magistrates imprisoned me, but my wife always succeeded in getting me out of their hands. At last they determined to keep me in prison unless some respectable person would become bail for me to the amount of £2. In this manner they attempted to close my mouth, and prevent me from preaching the gospel. I determined, however, to allow no man to risk his property for me, whatever might be the consequences, for I was resolved to preach the gospel fully to all who came within the reach of my voice. When prevented from preaching in the streets of Edinburgh, I was like a bottle filled with new wine, ready to " burst," which must get vent in some way or other. So I made up my mind to go to the Links. There I stationed myself on a wall by the wayside. Many of those who resorted thither for amusement, as well as for the purpose of drying and bleaching clothes, assembled to hear me, and the Lord gave me great liberty in declaring His word to perishing sinners. The work was the Lord's, and He strengthened me to perform it. The late Dr. Simpson, of the Tron Church, was the only minister at that time who encouraged me in my labours. He came forward before the multitudes that stood around me, and shook me by the hand, at the same time wishing me "God speed !" He approved of the doctrines which I taught. Shortly afterwards he came to hear me, and brought Mrs. Simpson along with him. At the conclusion of the service, the little girl that accompanied them came up and presented me with some money, which I returned, saying I did not preach for money — I came not to seek theirs, but them. {We certainly do NOT see that in our day do we! Everybody is beggin' for money, for the sake of their 'ministry' of course!}

Under my preaching, at this time, an accomplished lady was awakened to a sense of her danger and sinful condition, both by nature and practice. She called upon me frequently afterwards, that I might pray for her. I requested her to pray likewise, and she complied. Her earnestness, simplicity, and scripturalness of expression, perfectly astonished me. After obtaining peace with God through the blood of the Cross, she collected numbers of other young ladies together, and held prayer-meetings in her own house, and invited me to conduct the devotional exercises. Having become zealous for the promotion of Christ's cause, she obtained admission to the cells of the female prisoners in the jail, and a blessing attended her efforts to do good. Since then she has departed this life, and is now, I trust, through " faith and patience inheriting the promises."

This is what others said about the street preacher, Robert Flockhart, from the closing chapter entitled 'reminiscences'...

Among those qualities which seemed to me to constitute his genuine worth were —
 I. His great delight in the Bible. — While thankful for the sympathy of Christian friends, he uniformly declared that, " Had it not been for the companionship of God's word, its light and consolation," he " would have perished in his affliction." " I have just been sitting," he would say, "under its shadow with great delight, and finding its fruit sweet to my taste. There are grand, sweet apples on that tree. There's the apple of justification — 'justified freely by his grace.' There's the apple of sanctification — we are 'made par takers of his holiness.' There's the apple of adoption — ' Now are we the sons of God.' And, best of all, there's the golden apple of glorification — we '11 get that by and by ; but ' it doth not yet appear what we shall be.' I mind when I've Been in tropical countries, I've seen trees whose fruit just seemed as if it wanted to drop into your mouth, it was so rich and ripe. And doesn't the Lord say to us, when we come to this blessed book, Now, ' open thy mouth wide and I will fill it.'" One day, as he sat looking into the fire, he said to me, " I was thinking about that verse, ' Is not my word as a fire and as a hammer 1 ' saith the Lord. Ay, both a fire and a hammer ; the one would not do without the other. I would not have been here if his word had not been a fire ; my 'will' was such an 'iron sinew' in my unconverted state. But the Lord put my iron will into his fire to make it bend ; it was a fire of fierce convictions. I believe my fire was heated seven times hotter than ordinary. But even that by itself would not answer the purpose of making me into ' a vessel meet for the master's use.' When the iron came out of the fire, He took to the hammer. It was none o' your wee hammers ; it was the Lord's sledge-hammer. You've seen a smith when he was working at the fore-hammer, how he tuckt up his sleeve 1 Well, ' the Lord made bare his holy arm' in order to do his own work on me ; and it was a' needed — a' needed." While noticing his love for the Bible, I may advert to the- sort of instinctive dexterity with which he made the most simple incident subservient to the enforcement of Bible truth.

II. Robert Flockhart was eminently a man of prayer. — On no point, perhaps, did I hear him speak oftener than on the sinfulness of " restraining prayer," — the weight of guilt lying in these days on the churches of Christ, and on individual Christians, for spending in idle visits, frivolous talk, and unprofitable reading, time that might be redeemed for prayer. One evening (and I believe it was one of the last on which he was able to take his accustomed place on the street) I happened to call upon him about an hour before his usual preaching hour. On reaching his door I found the room dark ; but remaining quite still, I could overhear him, in a deep under-tone, " as a man talketh with his friend," telling out to the Lord his griefs and fears, his designs and expectations, in regard to the work he was going to — " Lord, dinna forsake Edinburgh ! dinna forsake Edinburgh ! Why should our preaching here be so powerless ? Consciences are not pricked, hearts are not broken, souls are not saved. The enemy is come in as a flood. Oh, pluck thy right hand out of thy bosom ! Lord, dinna forsake Edinburgh ! " It was real pleading, real wrestling, " crying out of the depths." When he ceased, and I had stepped forward, he rekindled his light, and as soon as he recognised me, exclaimed, "O, I'm glad it's you, for we'll be of one mind on the matter. You know ' we must give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word.' Prayer is the one half of our work, the first half, and the best half too. Oh ! what poor weak things we would be if we were not made ' mighty through God.' " Thus did the good old man string his soul for active service by living near the Throne.

As his end drew near, his thoughts appeared to dwell the more delightedly on " the things that are above." For instance, one afternoon when heaven was the theme of our conversation, he remarked, that " Faith, Hope, and Love will be our good company all the way up to the door o' our Father's house. But there Faith will make her bow, and retire, saying, 'You'll not need me more, for you're now to ' see him as he is, without a veil.' And Hope, too, will say ' Farewell! I've been glad to get you guided this length. And now, when I've served your turn, I must, see after other pilgrims coming the same road.' But Love will smile and say, ' You and I arc not to part that way. No, no ! I'm going in to stay wi' you to all eternity.'" It needs but to be added, that he died as he had lived, to the praise of God's grace. It was striking and most instructive to witness how his long life of active service came in no degree into the account of his final hope. His heart, in the end, found rest alone in the merits of him who had been " the beginning of his confidence." And, with this sure anchor before him, he passed " within the veil."

We could all learn a lesson from this man of God. It is those who don't 'toot their own horn', those known only to Christ, that have the most affect for God and His kingdom. 
May you add this book on Robert to your collection, it is well worth it!

A new theory?

Atoning Sacrifice of Christ, The

A New Theory
Of late, a new theory has been propounded to the Christian public, a theory which approximates perilously near that of the Universalists.1 Erroneously based upon a few texts whose scope is confined to the people of God, the view which is now rapidly gaining favor in circles which is regarded as orthodox,2 is to the effect that, at the cross, the sin question was fully and finally settled. We are told, and told by men who are looked up to by many as the champions of orthodoxy, that all the sins of all men were laid upon the crucified Christ. It is boldly affirmed that at the cross the Lamb of God did as much for those who would not believe, as He did for those who should believe on Him. It is dogmatically announced that the only grievance which God now has against any man, is his refusal to believe in the Savior. It is said that the single issue between God and the world, is not the sin question, but the Son question. We have said that this theory of the atonement is a new one, and new it surely is. So far as the writer is aware, it was never propounded, at least in orthodox circles, till within the last two or three decades. It appears to be another product of this twentieth century, and like most if not all other of them, it is far inferior to what went before. Yet, strange to say, an appeal is made to the Holy Scriptures in support of it. But in one way we are thankful for this, inasmuch as the Word of God supplies us with an infallible rule by which we may measure it.
We shall, therefore, examine this strange and novel theory in the light of Holy Writ, and doing this, it will not be difficult to show how thoroughly untenable and fallacious it is.

Problems with an Unlimited Atonement
1. If ALL the sins of ALL men were laid upon Christ, then the sin of unbelief was too. That unbelief is a sin is clear from the fact that in 1 John 3:23 we read: “And this is his commandment, that we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ.” Refusal to believe in Christ is, therefore, an act of flagrant disobedience, rebellion against the Most High. But if all the sins of all men were laid upon Christ (as it is now asserted), then He also endured the penalty for the Christ-rejector’s unbelief. If this be so, then Universalism is true. But it is not so.
The very advocates of the view we are now refuting would not affirm it. And therein may be seen the inconsistency and untenableness of their teaching. For if unbelief is a sin and Christ did not suffer the penalty of it, then all sin was not laid upon Christ. Thus there are only two alternatives: a strictly limited atonement, availing only for believers; or an unlimited atonement which effectually secures the salvation of the entire human race.
2. If ALL the sins of ALL men were laid upon Christ, how could He say, “The blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men” (Mat 12:31)? Observe that Christ here used the future tense, “shall not be.” Note, too, He did not merely say to the blaspheming Jews that He was then addressing, “shall not be forgiven unto you,” but in order to take in all others who should be guilty of this sin, He said, “shall not be forgiven unto men.” It is worse than idle to raise the cavil 3 that the sin here spoken of was peculiar and exceptional, i.e., committed only by the Jews there addressed. The fact that this solemn utterance of Christ is found not only in Matthew, but in Mark, and also in Luke, the Gentile 4 Gospel, disposes of it.
Without attempting to define here the precise nature of this sin of blasphemy against the Holy Ghost, it is sufficient now to point out that it is a sin quite distinct from unbelief. In Scripture “blasphemy” is always an act of the lips, not merely of the mind or the will. For our present purpose, it is enough to call attention to the undeniable fact that none other than the Savior Himself here tells us there is a sin (other than unbelief) “which shall not be forgiven unto men.” This being so, then it is obviously a mistake, a serious error, to say that all sin was laid on Christ and atoned for.
1 Universalists – those who believe that all men will be in heaven.
2 orthodox – according with the historic doctrines of Scripture.
3 cavil – a futile objection raised in order to win an argument.
4 Gentile – in the Scriptures, any person not a Jew (signified for males by not receiving Jewish circumcision). Luke was a Gentile, not a Jew

continue reading here...

Friday, December 27, 2013

There are nails in that cross!

Some think of reigning with Christ—but not of suffering 
with Christ. The cross leads to the crown! "If we suffer,
we shall also reign with Him." 2 Timothy 2:12

"If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself
 and take up his cross daily and follow Me." Luke 9:23

Christ shows us His cross. If we will not have Him upon
these terms, the match is not likely to go on. Sufferings
are waiting for us, Acts 20:23. "Everyone who wants to
live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution."
The devil has not grown kinder. "Your enemy the devil
prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone
to devour!" 1 Peter 5:8

The flesh cries out, "That cross is painful! There are
nails in that cross
 which tear me!"

Can wicked men be content to suffer for their
lusts—and shall we not suffer for Christ?

The prophet Isaiah sawn in half.
Jeremiah was killed by stoning.
Amos was killed with an iron bar.
Luke was hanged on an olive tree.

I read that Irenaeus was carried to a place where a
cross was set on one side—and an idol on the other.
He was given a choice either to bow to the idol—or
suffer on the cross. He chose the latter.

Basil speaks of a virgin condemned to the fire. She
was offered her life and estate if she would bow down
to an image. She answered, "Let life and money go;
welcome Christ!

Thomas Watson

Giddily Gliding along the broad road...

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Holiness - J.C. Ryle

The truth of the wickedness of mankind is not popular, nor is it spoken of in our day as it should be; to label sin for what it is will cause sinners to gnash their teeth at the messenger. However, if sin is not rightly proclaimed and understood, how can an unregenerate sinner see the need for a Savior? Today's gospel is watered down and has no power, it is accursed; many feel they need to hammer home about the love of God, but they fail to reveal how wicked the heart of man is or how holy the God of heaven is. 
If there's an incorrect understanding of man's wickedness, there will be no understanding of anything else. How can such wicked, vile, evil sinners ever come to Christ? Surely it isn't based on any 'decision' or 'choice', for the heart of man will always choose sin and evil over Christ and His Gospel. The fact that the whole human race is fallen and sinful prevents any nonsense known as 'free will'. With that said, I present to you J.C. Ryle's excellent writing on holiness. This is part one...enjoy!!!

I have had a deep conviction for many years that practical holiness and entire self-consecration to God are not sufficiently attended to by modern Christians in this country. Politics, or controversy, or party-spirit [factious contention], or worldliness, have eaten out the heart of lively piety in too many of us. The subject of personal godliness has fallen sadly into the background. The standard of living has become painfully low in many quarters. The immense importance of “adorning the doctrine of God our Saviour” (Tit 2:10), and making it lovely and beautiful by our daily habits and tempers, has been far too much overlooked. Worldly people sometimes complain with reason that “religious” persons, so-called, are not so amiable and unselfish and good-natured as others who make no profession of religion. Yet sanctification, in its place and proportion, is quite as important as justification.
Sound protestant and evangelical doctrine is useless if it is not accompanied by a holy life. It is worse than useless: it does positive harm. It is despised by keen-sighted and shrewd men of the world, as an unreal and hollow thing, and brings religion into contempt. It is my firm impression that we want a thorough revival about scriptural holiness, and I am deeply thankful that attention is being directed to the point.

1. Sin
“Sin is the transgression of the law.”—1 John 3:4

Knowledge of Sin Is Fundamental
He that wishes to attain right views about Christian holiness, must begin by examining the vast and solemn subject of sin. He must dig down very low if he would build high. A mistake here is most mischievous. Wrong views about holiness are generally traceable to wrong views about human corruption. I make no apology for beginning this volume about holiness by making some plain statements about sin.
The plain truth is that a right knowledge of sin lies at the root of all saving Christianity. Without it such doctrines as justification, conversion, sanctification, are “words and names” which convey no meaning to the mind. The first thing, therefore, that God does when He makes anyone a new creature in Christ, is to send light into his heart, and show him that he is a guilty sinner. The material creation in Genesis began with “light,” and so also does the spiritual creation. God “shines into our hearts” by the work of the Holy Ghost, and then spiritual life begins (2Co 4:6). Dim or indistinct views of sin are the origin of most of the errors, heresies, and false doctrines of the present day. If a man does not realize the dangerous nature of his soul’s disease, you cannot wonder if he is content with false or imperfect remedies. I believe that one of the chief wants of the church in the nineteenth century has been, and is, clearer, fuller teaching about sin.

I. Definition of Sin
I shall begin the subject by supplying some definition of sin. We are all of course familiar with the terms “sin” and “sinners.”
We talk frequently of “sin” being in the world, and of men committing “sins.” But what do we mean by these terms and phrases? Do we really know? I fear there is much mental confusion and haziness on this point. Let me try, as briefly as possible, to supply an answer. I say, then, that “sin,” speaking generally, is, as the Ninth Article of the Church of England declares, “the fault and corruption of the nature of every man that is naturally engendered of the offspring of Adam; whereby man is very far gone (quam longissime is the Latin) from original righteousness, and is of his own nature inclined to evil, so that the flesh lusteth alway against the spirit; and, therefore, in every person born into the world, it deserveth God’s wrath and damnation.” Sin, in short, is that vast moral disease which affects the whole human race, of every rank, and class, and name, and nation, and people, and tongue; a disease from which there never was but one born of woman that was free. Need I say that One was Christ Jesus the Lord?
I say, furthermore, that “a sin,” to speak more particularly, consists in doing, saying, thinking, or imagining, anything that is not in perfect conformity with the mind and law of God. “Sin,” in short, as the Scripture saith, is “the transgression of the law” (1Jo 3:4). The slightest, outward or inward departure from absolute mathematical parallelism with God’s revealed will and character
constitute a sin, and at once makes us guilty in God’s sight.
Of course, I need not tell any one who reads his Bible with attention, that a man may break God’s law in heart and thought, when there is no overt and visible act of wickedness. Our Lord has settled that point beyond dispute in the Sermon on the Mount (Mat 5:21-28). Even a poet of our own has said, “A man may smile and smile, and be a villain.”
Again, I need not tell a careful student of the New Testament, that there are sins of omission as well as commission, and that we sin, as our Prayer-book justly reminds us, by “leaving undone the things we ought to do,” as really as by “doing the things we ought not to do.” The solemn words of our Master in the Gospel of Matthew place this point also beyond dispute. It is there written,
“Depart, ye cursed, into everlasting fire: for I was an hungered, and ye gave me no meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink” (Mat 25:41-42). It was a deep and thoughtful saying of holy Archbishop Usher, just before he died: “Lord, forgive me all my sins, and specially my sins of omission.”
But I do think it necessary in these times to remind my readers that a man may commit sin and yet be ignorant of it, and fancy himself innocent when he is guilty. I fail to see any scriptural warrant for the modern assertion that “Sin is not sin to us until we discern it and are conscious of it.” On the contrary, in the 4th and 5th chapters of that unduly neglected book, Leviticus, and in the 15th of Numbers, I find Israel distinctly taught that there were sins of ignorance which rendered people unclean, and needed atonement (Lev 4:1-35; 5:14-19; Num 15:25-29). And I find our Lord expressly teaching that “the servant who knew not his master’s will and did it not,” was not excused on account of his ignorance, but was “beaten” or punished (Luk 12:48). We shall do well to remember, that when we make the measure of our sinfulness to be our own miserably imperfect knowledge and consciousness, we are on very dangerous ground. A deeper study of Leviticus might do us much good.

Continue reading J.C. Ryle's excellent book, Holiness, here...

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Coming to Christ

There are some souls greatly distressed and puzzled to know exactly what is signified by “coming to Christ.” They have read and heard the words often, and perhaps many a preacher has bidden them to “come to Him,” yet without giving a scriptural explanation of what that term connotes. Such as have been awakened by the Spirit, shown their woeful condition, convicted of their high-handed and life-long rebellion against God, and brought to realize their dire need of Christ, and who are truly anxious to come savingly to Him, have found it a task altogether beyond their powers. Their cry is, “Oh that I knew where I might find Him! that I might come even to His seat!” (Job 23:3). True, there are not many who pass through such an experience, for God’s “flock” is but a “little” one (Luke 12:32). True, the vast majority of professing Christians claim that they found “coming to Christ” a very simple matter. But in the clear light of John 6:44 we must assure you, dear reader, that if you found “coming to Christ” to be easy, then it is proof you have never come to Him at all in a spiritual and saving way.
What, then, is meant by “coming to Christ”? First, and negatively, let it be pointed out that it is not an act which we perform by any of our bodily members. This is so obvious that there should be no need for us to make the statement. But in these awful days of spiritual ignorance and the carnal perversion of the holy things of God, explanation of the most elementary truths and terms is really required. When so many precious souls have been deluded into thinking that a going forward to a “mourner’s bench” or “penitent form,” or the taking of some preacher’s hand, is the same things as coming to Christ, we dare not pass over the defining of this apparently simple term, nor ignore the need for pointing out what it does not signify.
Second, the word “come,” when used in this connection, is a metaphorical one: that is to say, a word which expresses an act of the body is transferred to the soul, to denote its act. To “come to Christ” signifies the movement of a Spirit-enlightened mind toward the Lord Jesus—as Prophet, to be instructed by Him; as Priest, whose atonement and intercession are to be relied upon; as King, to be ruled by Him. Coming to Christ implies a turning of our back upon the world, and a turning unto Him as our only Hope and Portion.
It is a going out of self so as to rest no longer on anything in self. It is the abandoning of every idol and of all other dependencies, the heart going out to Him in loving submission and trustful confidence. It is the will surrendering to Him as Lord, ready to accept His yoke, take up the Cross, and follow Him without reserve.
To “come to Christ” is the turning of the whole soul unto a whole Christ in the exercise of Divine grace upon him: it is the mind, heart, and will being supernaturally drawn to Him, so as to trust, love, and serve Him. “It is the duty and interest of weary and heavy-laden sinners to ‘come to Jesus Christ’—renouncing all those things which stand in opposition to Him, or in competition with Him; we must accept Him as our Physician and Advocate, and give up ourselves to His conduct and government, freely willing to be saved by Him, in His own way, and on His own terms” (Matthew Henry). Ere proceeding further, we would earnestly beg each reader to prayerfully and carefully test and measure himself or herself by what has been said in this and the preceding paragraph. Take nothing for granted: as you value your soul, seek Divine help to make sure that you have truly “come to Christ.”
Now a popish “christ” is a christ of wood, and a false preacher’s “christ” is a christ of words; but Christ Jesus, our Lord, is “The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace” (Isa. 9:6). The Christ of God fills Heaven and earth: He is the One by whom all things exist and consist. He is seated at the right hand of the Majesty on High, having all power, dominion, and might. He is made higher than the heavens, and unto Him all principalities and powers are subject. At His presence both the earth and the heavens shall yet flee away. Such a Christ is neither to be offered nor proffered, sold nor given by sinful men. He is the unspeakable Gift of the Father to as many as He has ordained to eternal life, and none others. This Christ, this Gift of the Father, is supernaturally revealed and applied to the heirs of salvation by the Holy Spirit, when, where, and as He pleases; and not when, where, and how men please.
In the preceding article  {page 16} we dwelt at length upon those words of Christ in John 6:44, “no man can come unto Me,” seeking to show the nature of the fallen creature’s spiritual impotency, or why it is the unregenerate are unable to come to Christ in a spiritual and saving way. Let us now ponder the remainder of our Lord’s sentence: “except the Father which hath sent Me draw him.” Of what does that “drawing” consist? We answer, first, just as our “coming to Christ” does not refer to any bodily action, so this Divine “drawing” respects not the employment of any external force. Second, it signifies a powerful impulse put forth by the Holy Spirit within the elect, whereby their native impotency for
performing spiritual actions is overcome, and an ability for the same is imparted. It is this secret and effectual operation of the Spirit upon the human soul which enables and causes it to come to Christ. This brings us to our next division,
II. With our Understandings.
1. A knowledge of Christ is essential. There can be no movement towards an unknown object. No one can obey a command until he is acquainted with its terms. A prop must be seen before it will be rested on. We must have some acquaintance with a person before he will either be trusted or loved. This principle is so obvious it needs arguing no further. Apply it unto the case in hand, the subject before us: the knowledge of Christ must of necessity precede our believing on Him or our coming to Him. “How shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard?” (Rom. 10:14). “He that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a Rewarder of them that diligently seek Him” (Heb. 11:6). None can come to Christ while they are ignorant about Him. As it was in the old creation, so it is in the new: God first says, “Let there be light.” 2. This knowledge of Christ comes to the mind from the Holy Scriptures. Nothing can be known of Him save that which God has been pleased to reveal concerning Him in the Word of Truth. It is there alone that the true “doctrine of Christ” (2 John 9) is to be found. Therefore did our Lord give commandment, “Search the Scriptures . . . they are they which testify of Me” (John 5:39). When He berated the two disciples for their slowness of heart to believe, we are told that, “beginning at Moses and all the prophets, He expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself” (Luke 24:27).
The Divine Oracles are designated “the Word of Christ” (Col. 3:16) because He is the substance of them. Where the Scriptures have not gone, Christ is unknown: clear proof is this that an acquaintance with Him cannot be gained apart from their inspired testimony.
3. A theoretical knowledge of Christ is not sufficient. Upon this point we must dilate at greater length, for much ignorance concerning it prevails today. A head-knowledge about Christ is very frequently mistaken for a heart acquaintance with Him. But orthodoxy is not salvation. A carnal judgment about Christ, a mere intellectual knowledge of Him, will never bring a dead sinner to His feet: there must be a living experience—God’s Word and Work meeting together in the soul, renewing the understanding. As 1 Corinthians 13:2 so plainly and solemnly warns us, I may have the gift of prophecy, understand all mysteries, and all knowledge, yet if I have not love, then I am nothing. Just as a blind man may, through labor and diligence, acquire an accurate theoretical or notional conception of many subjects and objects which he never saw, so the natural man may, by religious education and personal effort, obtain a sound doctrinal knowledge of the Person and Work of Christ, without having any spiritual or vital acquaintance with Him.
Not every kind of knowledge, even of God’s Truth and His Christ, is effectual and saving. There is a form of knowledge, as well as of godliness, which is destitute of power—”which hast the form of knowledge and of the truth in the law” (Rom. 2:20). The reference is to the Jews, who were instructed in the Scriptures, and considered themselves well qualified to teach others; yet the Truth had not been written on their hearts by the Holy Spirit. A “form of knowledge” signifies there was a model of it in their brains, so that they were able to discourse freely and fluently upon the things of God, yet were they without the life of God in their souls. O how many have a knowledge of salvation, yet not a knowledge unto salvation, as the Apostle distinguishes it in 2 Timothy 3:15 — such a knowledge as the latter must be imparted to the soul by the miracle-working operation of the Holy Spirit.
“They proceed from evil to evil, and they know not Me, saith the Lord” (Jer. 9:3). Of whom was this spoken—of the heathen who were without any written revelation from Him? No, of Israel, who had His Law in their hands, His temple in their midst, His Prophets speaking to them. They had been favored with many and wondrous manifestations of His majesty, holiness, power and mercy; yet though they had much intellectual knowledge of Him, they were strangers to Him spiritually. So it was when the Son of God became incarnate. How much natural light they had concerning Him: they witnessed His perfect life, saw His wondrous miracles, heard His matchless teaching, were frequently in His immediate presence; yet, though the Light shown in the darkness, “the darkness comprehended it not” (John 1:5). So it is today. Reader you may be a diligent student of the New Testament, be thoroughly acquainted with the Old Testament types and prophecies, believe all that the Scriptures say concerning Christ, and earnestly teach them to others, and yet be yourself a stranger to Him spiritually.
“Except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3), which means that the unregenerate are utterly incapable of discerning the things of God spiritually.
True, they may “see” them in a natural way: they may investigate and even admire them theoretically, but to receive them in an experimental and vital way they cannot. As this distinction is of such great importance, and yet so little known today, let us endeavor to illustrate it. Suppose a man who had never heard any music: others tell him of its beauty and charm, and he decides to make a careful study of it. That man might thoroughly familiarize himself with the art of music, learn all the rules of that art, so that he understood the proportions and harmony of it; but what a different thing is that from listening to a grand oratorio—the ear now taking in what before the mind knew only the
theory of! Still greater is the difference between a natural and spiritual knowledge of Divine things.
The Apostle declared, “We speak the wisdom of God in a mystery” (1 Cor. 2:7). He did not only affirm that it is a mystery in itself, but that it is still spoken “in a mystery.”
And why is this? Because the unregenerate, even where it is spoken in their hearing, yea, when it is clearly apprehended by them in a notional way, yet they neither know nor apprehend the mystery that is still in it. Proverbs 9:10 declares, “the knowledge of the holy is understanding”: there is no true understanding of Divine things except the “knowledge of the holy.” Every real Christian has a knowledge of Divine things, a personal, experimental, vital knowledge of them, which no carnal man possesses, or can obtain, no matter how diligently he study them. If I have seen the picture of a man, I have an image in my mind of that man according to his picture; but if I see the man himself, how different is the image of him which is then formed in my mind! Far greater still is the difference between Christ made known in the Scriptures and Christ “revealed in me” (Gal. 1:16).
4. There must be a spiritual and supernatural knowledge of Christ imparted by the Holy Spirit. That is in view in 1 John 5:20, “we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know Him that is true.” The faculty must be suited to the object or subject known. The natural understanding is capable of taking in Christ and knowing Him in a natural way, but we must be “renewed in the spirit of our mind” (Eph. 4:23) before we can know Christ in a spiritual way. There must be a supernatural work of grace wrought upon the mind by the Holy Spirit before there can be any inward and spiritual apprehension of the supernatural and spiritual person of Christ. That
is the true and saving knowledge of Christ which fires the affections, sanctifies the will, and raises up the mind to a spiritual fixation on the Rock of Ages. It is this knowledge of Him which is “life eternal” (John 17:3). It is this knowledge which produces faith in Christ, love for Him, submission to Him. It is this knowledge which causes the soul to truthfully and joyously exclaim, “whom have I in heaven but Thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside Thee” (Psa. 73:25).
“No man can come to Me, except the Father which hath sent Me draw him” (John 6:44). It is by the secret and effectual operation of the Spirit that the Father brings each of his elect to a saving knowledge of Christ. These operations of the Spirit begin by his enlightening the understanding, renewing the mind. Observe carefully the order in Ezekiel 37:14, “And shall put My Spirit in you, and ye shall live . . . then shall ye know that I am the Lord.” No sinner ever comes to Christ until the Holy Spirit first comes to him!
And no sinner will savingly believe on Christ until the Spirit has communicated faith to him (Eph. 2:8, Col. 2:12); and even then, faith is an eye to discern Christ before it is a foot to approach Him. There can be no act without an object, and there can be no exercising of faith upon Christ till Christ is seen in His excellency, sufficiency, and suitability to poor sinners. “That ye may know and believe Me” (Isa. 43:10) is the order. “They that know Thy name will (not “ought to”) put their trust in Thee” (Psa. 9:10). But again, we say, that knowledge must be a spiritual and miraculous one imparted by the Spirit.
The Spirit Himself, and not merely a preacher must take of the things of Christ and show them unto the heart. It is only in God’s “light” that we truly “see light” (Psa. 36:9). The opening of his eyes precedes the conversion of the sinner from Satan unto God (Acts 26:18).
The light of the sun is seen breaking out at the dawn of day, before its heat is felt. It is those who “see” the Son with a supernaturally enlightened understanding that “believe on Him with a spiritual and saving faith (John 6:40). We behold as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, before we are changed into His very image (2 Cor. 3:18). Note the order in Romans 3:11, “there is none that understandeth” goes before “there is none that seeketh after God.” The Spirit must shed His light upon the understanding, which light conveys the actual image of spiritual things in a spiritual way to the mind, forming them on the
soul; much as a sensitive photographic plate receives from the light the images to which it is exposed. This is the “demonstration of the Spirit and of power” (1 Cor. 2:4).
5. How is this spiritual and vital knowledge to be known from a mere theoretical and notional one? By its effects. Unto the Thessalonians Paul wrote, “For our Gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit, and in much assurance” (1 Thess. 1:5), which is partly explained in the next verse, “having received the Word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit.” The Spirit had given that Word an efficacy which no logic, rhetoric, or persuasive power of men could. It had smitten the conscience, torn open the wounds which sin had made, exposed its festering sores. It had pierced them even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit. It had slain their good opinion of themselves. It had made them feel the wrath of God burning against them. It had caused them to seriously question if such wretches could possibly find mercy at the hands of a holy God. It had communicated faith to look upon the great Physician of souls. It had given a joy such as this poor world knows nothing of.
The light which the Spirit imparts to the understanding is full of efficacy, whereas that which men acquire through their study is not so. Ordinary and strong mineral water are alike in color, but differ much in their taste and virtue. A carnal man may acquire a theoretical knowledge of all that a spiritual man knows vitally, yet is he “barren and unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:8). The light that he has is ineffectual, for it neither purifies his heart, renews his will, nor transforms his life. The
head-knowledge of Divine truth, which is all that multitudes of present-day professing Christians possess, has no more influence upon their walk unto practical godliness, than though it was stored up in some other man’s brains. The light which the Spirit gives, humbles and abases its recipient; the knowledge which is acquired by education and personal efforts, puffs up and fills with conceit.
A spiritual and saving knowledge of Christ always constrains the soul unto loving obedience. No sooner did the light of Christ shine into Paul’s heart, than he at once asked, “Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?” (Acts 9:6). Of the Colossians the Apostle declared, “The Gospel which is come unto you . . . bringeth forth fruit . . . since the day ye heard and knew the grace of God in truth” or “in reality” (1:6). But a mere intellectual knowledge of the truth is “held in unrighteousness” (Rom. 1:18). Its possessors are zealous to argue and cavil about it, and look down with contempt upon all who are not so wise as they; yet the lives of these frequently put them to shame. A saving knowledge of Christ so endears Him to the soul that all else is esteemed as dung in comparison with His excellency: the light of His glory has cast a complete eclipse over all that is in the world. But a mere doctrinal knowledge of Christ produces no such effects: while its possessors may loudly sing His praises, yet their hearts are still coveting and eagerly pursuing the things of time and sense.
The natural man may know the truth of the things of God, but not the things them selves. He may thoroughly understand the Scriptures in the letter of them, but not in their spirit. He may discourse of them in a sound and orthodox manner, but in no other way than one can talk of honey and vinegar, who never tasted the sweetness of the one, nor the sourness of the other. There are hundreds of preachers who have accurate notions of spiritual things, but who see and taste not the things themselves which are wrapt in the words of Truth—”understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm” (1 Tim. 1:7). Just as an astronomer who makes a life-study of the stars, knows their names, positions, and varying magnitudes, yet receives no more personal and special influence from them than do other men; so it is with those who study the Scriptures, but are not supernaturally and savingly enlightened by the Spirit. O my reader, has the Day-Star arisen in your heart (2 Peter 1:19)? A.W.P.

Taken from 'studies in the Scriptures'  February 1933

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Broken People

This was my 'grace gem' for today, it is a gem indeed. May it bless you as you read...

(Don Fortner)

"The LORD is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit." Psalm 34:18

broken heart, a contrite spirit, and a subdued will are rare things, especially in this age in which men everywhere are taught to demand their rights; and the church has become a place where man is exalted and enshrined as though he were God. Self-esteem, self-worth, and self-promotion is the cry of the day. Every man does that which is right in his own eyes. All men by nature are exceedingly proud, selfish people.

Preachers today, knowing man's natural pride, have capitalized upon it. They have developed a flesh-pleasing theology of pride. Our forefathers exalted the dignity, the majesty, and the supremacy of the eternal God. But the smooth-tongued preachers of deceit in our day have set themselves to exalt the dignity, majesty, and supremacy of puny man! It seems that religion today is dedicated not to the honor of God, but to the honor of man. Its purpose is to make man feel good about himself. Therefore we hear little about . . .
  brokenness of heart, 
  contrition of the soul, and
  the subduing of man's will.

The Lord God declares, "To this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembles at My Word!" (Isaiah 66:2). God will have broken hearts with which to build His kingdom. Sooner or later, the Lord God will bring us to nothingness before His presence. God's people, all of God's people are a broken people.

No man has ever experienced the grace of God in salvation, until his heart is thoroughly broken before the holy Lord God, revealed in the crucified Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. If ever a man finds out:
  who he is,
  who God is,
  who the Lord Jesus Christ is,
  and what He has done for sinners
--he will be a broken man!

When Job saw himself in the presence of his three miserable friends, he vindicated himself. But when he stood in the presence of God, he was a broken man; and he spoke as a broken man. He saw himself in all the hideousness of his sin; and he saw God in all the holiness of His glorious majesty. Then he said, "Behold I am vile! I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear: but now my eye sees You. Therefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes!" There is no pride and egotism here, no haughtiness, no self-vindication. Once Job had seen the Lord--he was broken, he loathed himself and blamed himself. Once Job saw the Lord--he honored God and vindicated Him. The truly broken heart will always vindicate God, no matter the cost.

This brokenness can be produced in proud, stubborn, sinful men and women--only by the saving revelation of Christ in our hearts. Brokenness is found at the cross--only at the cross. Have you been to the cross? Have you had the crucified Christ revealed in your heart? Has your heart been broken by the knowledge of the Lord? O Lord, evermore break our hearts before You!

"The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise." Psalm 51:17 

Homosexuality and bestiality

Sexual sin is spoken out against in the word of God; it is forbidden outside of the institution of marriage between one man and one woman {see Genesis 2:24}. With that said, is it fair to state that homosexuality is as bad as bestiality? Does the Bible differentiate? The Lord Jesus Christ addresses sexual sin in Matthew 15:19, which I have brought to light before. Do to recent events concerning this subject, I feel it necessary to bring it up again.

Let's start with verse 18, 'But the things which proceed out of the mouth come forth out of the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart come forth evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, railings: {19}these are the things which defile the man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not the man. {20}
Verse 19 is where the Lord zeroes in on the list of sins that defile, starting with the thought life, and continuing on from there. He refers to sexual sin, proclaiming adultery and fornication as sexual sins that defile. Adultery is sexual sin committed by an unfaithful husband or wife, including the thought life {Matt. 5:28}, so what is fornication and what does it include? 
 We will look at Strong's definition first; the Greek is - πορνεία - porneia; meaning 'harlotry (including adultery and incest); figuratively idolatry: - fornication.' It stems from 'porneuo', which means 'to act the harlot, that is, (literally) indulge unlawful lust (of either sex)'. It goes all the way back to the root word 'pornos' which means 'a prostitute, a debauchee'- a word that refers to indulging in pleasure to the point of harming oneself, which is an interesting definition. It brings to mind a post I did from the book 'when the wicked seize a city' which is graphic, but it also reveals the animalistic sexual behavior of the homosexual. Of course, they don't want to bring this part of their lifestyle out in the open, it would not help advance their agenda.
Pornos is akin to the base word 'piprasko', Thayer's definition of piprasko is 'sold under sin, entirely under the control of the love of sinning'. I recall speaking with a co-worker, she is a lesbian. I had given her the Gospel and we talked a bit afterwards. In our conversation she admitted she loved her sin. This is a picture of what 'piprasko' is.

Now we will examine Thayer's definition of porneia...
1) illicit sexual intercourse
1a) adultery, fornication, homosexuality, lesbianism, intercourse with animals etc.
 Here we get a clear understanding that fornication encompasses all sexual sin outside the marriage of one man and one woman. There aren't any distinguishing words that separate homosexuality from bestiality; they are both vile, sinful and will condemn those who practice such sins to eternal punishment.

It's interesting that, in Leviticus 18:22, we see this direct command, ' You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.' This is in reference to 'men with men' in a sexual way. Notice what follows, ' And you shall not lie with any animal and so make yourself unclean with it, neither shall any woman give herself to an animal to lie with it: it is perversion.' One is an abomination, the other, a perversion. One is 'a disgusting thing', the other, 'confusion (violation of nature or divine order) 1a) perversion (in sexual sin) - {Brown/Driver/Briggs Hebrew Definitions}. We have two commands, back to back, concerning what we shall not 'lie with'. The Bible does NOT distinguish, in either Testament, between these defiling sins as one being better/worse than the other; they are equally abominable and perverse.

To think that Christ died for sin, including the aforementioned, is quite amazing. There is reconciliation back to God, who is holy and exalted high above His creation. The shed blood of Christ cleanses from all sin; may sinners flee to Christ for cleansing, forgiveness, mercy, and salvation. May His death, burial, and resurrection be made known to them. May grace be poured out; may the sinner bend the knee before the throne and plead for this grace. The sinless Lamb of God suffered for the ungodly, the Just for the unjust. What a picture of mercy and grace! The great Jehovah Rapha!!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Blessed is the man...

 Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.
But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. Psalm 1:1-2

“Blessed” - see how this Book of Psalms opens with a benediction, even as did the famous Sermon of our Lord upon the Mount! The word translated “blessed” is a very expressive one. The original word is plural, and it is a controverted matter whether it is an adjective or a substantive. Hence we may learn the multiplicity of the blessings which shall rest upon the man whom God hath justified, and the perfection and greatness of the blessedness he shall enjoy. We might read it, “Oh, the blessedness!” and we may well regard it (as Ainsworth does)as a joyful acclamation of the gracious man's felicity. May the like benediction rest on us!
Here the gracious man is described both negatively (Psa_1:1) and positively (Psa_1:2); He is a man who does not walk in the counsel of the ungodly. He takes wiser counsel, and walks in the commandments of the Lord his God. To him the ways of piety are paths of peace and pleasantness. His footsteps are ordered by the Word of God, and not by the cunning and wicked devices of carnal men. It is a rich sign of inward grace when the outward walk is changed, and when ungodliness is put far from our actions. Note next, he standeth not in the way of sinners. His company is of a choicer sort than it was. Although a sinner himself, he is now a blood-washed sinner, quickened by the Holy Spirit, and renewed in heart. Standing by the rich grace of God in the congregation of the righteous, he dares not herd with the multitude that do evil. Again it is said, “nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.” He finds no rest in the atheist's scoffings. Let others make a mock of sin, of eternity, of hell and heaven, and of the Eternal God; this man has learned better philosophy than that of the infidel, and has too much sense of God's presence to endure to hear his name blasphemed, The seat of the scorner may be very lofty, but it is very near to the gate of hell; let us flee from it, for it shall soon be empty, and destruction shall swallow up the man who sits therein. Mark the gradation in the first verse:

He walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly,  
Nor standeth in the way of sinners.  
Nor sitteth in the seat of scornful.
When men are living in sin they go from bad to worse. At first they merely walk in the counsel of the careless and ungodly, who forget God - the evil is rather practical than habitual - but after that, they become habituated to evil, and they stand in the way of open sinners who wilfully violate God's commandments; and if let alone, they go one step further, and become themselves pestilent teachers and tempters of others, and thus they sit in the seat of the scornful. They have taken their degree in vice, and as true Doctors of Damnation they are installed, and are looked up to by others as Masters in Belial. But the blessed man, the man to whom all the blessings of God belong, can hold no communion with such characters as these. He keeps himself pure from these lepers; he puts away evil things from him as garments spotted by the flesh; he comes out from among the wicked, and goes without the camp, bearing the reproach of Christ. O for grace to be thus separate from sinners.
And now mark his positive character. “His delight is in the law of the Lord.” He is not under the law as a curse and condemnation, but he is in it, and he delights to be in it as his rule of life; he delights, moreover, to meditate in it, to read it by day, and think upon it by night. He takes a text and carries it with him all day long; and in the night-watches, when sleep forsakes his eyelids, he museth upon the Word of God. In the day of his prosperity he sings psalms out of the Word of God, and in the night of his affliction he comforts himself with promises out of the same book. “The law of the Lord” is the daily bread of the true believer. And yet, in David's day, how small was the volume of inspiration, for they had scarcely anything save the first five books of Moses! How much more, then, should we prize the whole written Word which it is our privilege to have in all our houses! But, alas, what ill-treatment is given to this angel from heaven! We are not all Berean searchers of the Scriptures. How few among us can lay claim to the benediction of the text! Perhaps some of you can claim a sort of negative purity, because you do not walk in the way of the ungodly; but let me ask you - Is your delight in the law of God? Do you study God's Word? Do you make it the man of your right hand - your best companion and hourly guide? If not, this blessing belongeth not to you.

 And he shall be like a tree planted by the streams of water, that bringeth forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also doth not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. vs. 3

“And he shall be like a tree planted;” not a wild tree, but “a tree planted,” chosen, considered as property, cultivated and secured from the last terrible uprooting, for “every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up:” Mat_15:13. “By the rivers of water;” so that even if one river should fail, he hath another. The rivers of pardon and the rivers of grace, the rivers of the promise and the rivers of the communion with Christ, are never-failing sources of supply. He is “like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season;” not unseasonable graces, like untimely figs, which are never full-flavoured. But the man who delights in God's Word, being taught by it, bringeth forth patience in the time of suffering, faith in the day of trial, and holy joy in the hour of prosperity. Fruitfulness is an essential quality of: a gracious man, and that fruitfulness should be seasonable. “His leaf also shall not wither;” his faintest word shall be everlasting; his little deeds of love shall be had in remembrance. Not simply shall his fruit be preserved, but his leaf also. He shall neither lose his beauty nor his fruitfulness. “And whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.” Blessed is the man who hath such a promise as this. But we must not always estimate the fulfilment of a promise by our own eye-sight. How often, my brethren, if we judge by feeble sense, may we come to the mournful conclusion of Jacob, “All these things are against me!” For though we know our interest in the promise, yet are we so tried and troubled, that sight sees the very reverse of what that promise foretells. But to the eye of faith this word is sure, and by it we perceive that our works are prospered, even when everything seems to go against us. It is not outward prosperity which the Christian most desires and values; it is soul prosperity which he longs for. We often, like Jehoshaphat, make ships to go to Tarshish for gold, but they are broken at Ezion-geber; but even here there is a true prospering, for it is often for the soul's health that we should be poor, bereaved, and persecuted. Our worst things are often our best things. As there is a curse wrapped up in the wicked man's mercies, so there is a blessing concealed in the righteous man's crosses, losses, and sorrows. The trials of the saint are a divine husbandry, by which he grows and brings forth abundant fruit.

Therefore the wicked shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.  vs. 5

They shall stand there to be judged, but not to be acquitted. Fear shall lay hold upon-them there; they shall not stand their ground; they shall flee away; they shall not stand in their own defence; for they shall blush and be covered with eternal contempt.
Well may the saints long for heaven, for no evil men shall dwell there, “nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.” All our congregations upon earth are mixed. Every Church has one devil in it. The tares grow in the same furrows as the wheat. There is no floor which is as yet thoroughly purged from chaff. Sinners mix with saints, as dross mingles with gold. God's precious diamonds still lie in the same field with pebbles. Righteous Lots are this side heaven continually vexed by the men of Sodom. Let us rejoice then, that in “the general assembly and church of the firstborn” above, there shall by no means be admitted a single unrenewed soul. Sinners cannot live in heaven. They would be out of their element. Sooner could a fish live upon a tree than the wicked in Paradise. Heaven would be an intolerable hell to an impenitent man, even if he could be allowed to enter; but such a privilege shall never be granted to the man who perseveres in his iniquities. May God grant that we may have a name and a place in his courts above! 

C. H. Spurgeon

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Is lusting after the same sex sinful? Nick Roen of 'Desiring God' blog seems to think it isn't...

There is a post up at  John Piper's Desiring God blog, written by Nick Roen; the post is entitled 'Is it sin to experience same sex attraction'?  As I read the post, I shook my head in disbelief. Why is sexual sin, in this case, sexual perversion, so hard for Christians to comprehend? God's word does not complicate, nor is it silent on this matter. 

From the start, I saw much error in this post, beginning with the title. Look how worldly terminology is used to make sin appear less offensive, words such as 'experience same sex attraction'. Now, look into the word of God and how He defines it in Romans 1:27, 'and likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another'. Do you see the difference? According to God's own word, it isn't 'experiencing same sex attraction' is it? It's 'burning in their lust one toward another'. This is NOT a normal 'crush' on someone, or a 'love interest' in someone; this is disgusting, forbidden, raw lust. The text describes 'a burning', 'ekkaiō', which means 'to inflame deeply'. It's formed from two root words, 'ek ex', which speaks of 'origin, from, the point which motion or action proceeds' {definitions are according to Strong's}. The other root word is  'kaiō', meaning 'set on fire, to consume'. This is NOT a normal attraction that occurs between a man and woman, this is a driving force that is motivated by lust; self-centered passion that only seeks to fulfill it's pleasure as it consumes the sinner. It is deep-seeded, lust-driven, maddening passion for immoral abominations with the person whom one lusts after. The one who lusts in this way MUST have what they so wickedly desire. This lust, 'orexis', is a longing for that which God forbids. Such a passionate, deeply inflamed lust will drive the sinner to conquer and satisfy, regardless of the consequences; such is the depraved heart. This immoral perversity is equal to that of animals; it stems from a darkened mind that is in bondage to sin. 

The author of the post insists that "The Bible explicitly says that impenitent homosexual acts, not homosexual desires, keep a person from inheriting the kingdom of God. " Obviously, he hasn't read Matthew 5:28, "but I say unto you, that every one that looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. " Here, the Lord Jesus not only exposes the sin of acting out with our bodies, He also exposes the sins of the mind; lusting in our 'hearts' - 'kardia'; I like how Thayer's defines kardia, 'the soul or mind, as it is the fountain and seat of the thoughts, passions, desires, appetites, affections, purposes, endeavours, of the understanding, the faculty and seat of the intelligence, of the will and character'. We must guard our hearts; our thoughts, will, motives, etc should all be in line with the word and will of God. 2 Corinthians 10:5 is an excellent verse concerning our thoughts, 'We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ'. I challenge Mr. Roen to prove the thought life is exempt from the penetrating gaze of our thrice-holy God. 
Doesn't the word of God tell us God searches the heart? 1 Samuel 16:7, 1 Chronicles 28:9, Psalm 7:9, Psalm 44:21, Jeremiah 17:10, Acts 1:24 and Romans 8:27 are just a few verses that speak of God searching the heart of man. And why does God search the heart? The heart reveals what's in a man. Matthew 15:19-20 reveal what comes out of the human heart; Christ also states that all that comes from the heart is what defiles a man, making him unclean. Nothing unclean will enter God's kingdom as stated in Rev. 21:27. 

I also point out this from the Apostle Paul, found in Colossians 3:5, " Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, the which is idolatry". Here we are called to mortify, or put to death, the sins Paul points to; which are sexual and committed with our bodies. The question in the title of this post, 'is lusting after the same sex sinful?', will now be addressed by the Apostle. 

Notice within the list the Apostle gives is 'evil desire'. This is translated from the Greek 'epithumia', meaning 'a longing for what is forbidden'. Early on in Colossians 3:5, the Apostle commands believers to put to death sexual sin, which included engaging the body in immoral behavior. Now, he commands believers to kill their desires for immoral behavior, the mere thought of such evil, wicked desires should NEVER even enter the mind of the regenerated child of God!! God searches the heart, we must NOT  allow sinful thoughts to enter into and tarry in our hearts. The Apostle follows that up with a very stern warning, 'for which things' sake cometh the wrath of God upon the sons of disobedience". The wrath of God will be poured out on those who disobey, who willfully engage their bodies and minds in sinful pleasures. 

We simply cannot use worldly terminology when addressing sin, whether it be in our members or our minds! Enough of this candy-coated Christianity that embraces sin and seeks to re-define it! Nick Roen, John Piper, and a host of others who are men-pleasers need to repent. If they do not, they need to be shunned and treated as such. 

There absolutely is hope for homosexuals; the Gospel of Jesus Christ is for those who are ungodly, those who by grace see their wickedness. Christ died to reconcile sinners to a holy God, Christ died to free us from sin's grasp. Far be it for us to lie to sinners and keep them comfortable in their sins! Jesus Christ did not die so we could keep on sinning in our members and our minds; we are called to battle against sin daily. Repentance must be proclaimed when speaking of the death, burial and resurrection of Christ.  

As believers,we must have a right understanding of what sin is, of our own wickedness, our depraved hearts, our need to seek our God with the whole heart. Holiness must be strived for, and that includes both outer and inner behavior. How sad is it that in our day, we have so many who have NO understanding of what sin is, and seek only to tickle ears when they should be piercing hearts.
A heart that has been regenerated by God will NOT lust for what is forbidden, nor will it make excuses for sin. A changed heart will loathe sin, love the Lord, and seek to obey Him and His word. May God raise up men who WILL proclaim His truth, men who rightly understand the depravity of mankind, men who profess the atoning work of Christ for those who forsake their sins and flee to Christ for salvation; men who aren't afraid of losing all earthly comforts, men who will risk it ALL for the sake of the GOSPEL! 

With that said, I commend Pastor Don Green for standing against Nick Roen's erroneous blog post.

It's also worth noting this from a previous post of Mr. Roen's, "I disagree, but I must confess that there is a part of me that finds this script appealing. As long as I can remember, I have experienced exclusive same-sex attraction (SSA). Despite counseling and countless prayers, God has not seen fit to change my orientation."  - taken from this post.  Obviously, Nick Roen knows nothing of the regenerating power of God, his heart has never been changed by God, nor has he repented of his sexual perversion he calls 'orientation'. How tragic is it that unregenerate men like this pass through the ministries of men like Piper and write posts such as these and never get called into question! What's even worse are those who continue to support, defend and follow these ministries, regardless  of the obvious sinfulness within. Big names within the Evangelical community who speak at conferences that  are hosted by and include Piper, men who do NOT call into question nor demand accountability of blog posts like those written by Roen at Desiring God. This is why I refuse to read a book or listen to a sermon by 99.9% of what labels itself as 'Christian' in our day. It is sickening how so many profess Christ, yet overlook the wickedness in their own 'back yard'. May God have mercy on this godless nation and its 'ministries'.