Precious Jesus

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

Monday, December 29, 2014

Tremble ye, and do not sin

`Tremble ye, and do not sin;' Say ye thus in your heart on your bed, And be ye silent. Selah. ~ Psalm 4:4

“Tremble and sin not.” How many reverse this counsel and sin but tremble not. O that men would take the advice of this verse and commune with their own hearts.  Surely a thinking man might have enough sense to discover the vanity of sin and the worthlessness of the world. Stay, rash sinner, stay ere thou take the last leap. Go to thy bed and think-upon thy ways. Ask counsel of thy pillow, and let the quietude of night instruct thee! Throw not away thy soul for nought! Let reason speak! Let the clamorous world be still awhile, and let thy poor soul plead with thee to bethink thyself before thou seal its fate, and ruin it for ever!~ C. H. Spurgeon 

'He warns them against sin, and exhorts them both to frighten and to reason themselves out of it. 

Note, (1.) We must not sin, must not miss our way and so miss our aim. (2.) One good remedy against sin is to stand in awe. Be moved (so some), in opposition to carelessness and carnal security. "Always keep up a holy reverence of the glory and majesty of God, and a holy dread of his wrath and curse, and dare not to provoke him." (3.) One good means of preventing sin, and preserving a holy awe, is to be frequent and serious in communing with our own hearts: "Talk with your hearts; you have a great deal to say to them; they may be spoken with at any time; let it not be unsaid." A thinking man is in a fair way to be a wise and a good man.
"Commune with your hearts; examine them by serious self-reflection, that you may acquaint yourselves with them and amend what is amiss in them; employ them in solemn pious meditations; let your thoughts fasten upon that which is good and keep closely to it. Consider your ways, and observe the directions here given in order to the doing of this work well and to good purpose."
"Choose a solitary time; do it when you lie awake upon your beds. Before you turn yourself to go to sleep at night" (as some of the heathen moralists have directed) "examine your consciences with respect to what you have done that day, particularly what you have done amiss, that you may repent of it. When you awake in the night meditate upon God, and the things that belong to your peace." David himself practised what he here counsels others to do (Psa. 63:6).'  ~ Matthew Henry 

 Stand in awe, and sin not,.... 'That is, stand in awe of God, and his righteous, judgments; be afraid of him, and tremble before him; make him your fear and your dread, and go on no longer and proceed no further in sinning against him'.  ~ John Gill

And be still -
'When you are thus quiet, reflect on your doings. For a most beautiful description of the effect of night and silence in recalling wicked men from their schemes, see Job 33:14-17. Compare the notes at that passage.
Selah -
This, as explained in the notes at
Psalm 3:2, marks a musical pause. The pause here would well accord with the sense, and would most happily occur after the allusion to the quiet communion on the bed, and the exhortation to be still.' ~ Albert Barnes


Salvation belongeth unto the LORD

 Salavation belongeth unto the LORD: thy blessing is upon thy people. Selah.~  Psalm 3:8

This verse contains the sum and substance of Calvinistic doctrine. Search Scripture through, and you must, if you read it with a candid mind, be persuaded that the doctrine of salvation by grace alone is the great doctrine of the word of God: "Salvation belongeth unto the Lord." This is a point concerning which we are daily fighting. Our opponents say, "Salvation belongeth to the free will of man; if not to man's merit, yet at least to man's will;" but we hold and teach that salvation from first to last, in every iota of it, belongs to the Most High God. It is God that chooses his people. He calls them by his grace; he quickens them by his Spirit, and keeps them by his power. It is not of man, neither by man; "not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy." May we all learn this truth experimentally, for our proud flesh and blood will never permit us to learn it in any other way. In the last sentence the peculiarity and speciality of salvation are plainly stated: "Thy blessing is upon thy people." Neither upon Egypt, nor upon Tyre, nor upon Nineveh; thy blessing is upon thy chosen, thy blood-bought, thine everlastingly-beloved people.
"Selah:" lift up your hearts, and pause, and meditate upon this doctrine. "Thy blessing is upon thy people." Divine, discriminating, distinguishing, eternal, infinite, immutable love, is a subject for constant adoration. Pause my soul, at this Selah, and consider thine own interest in the salvation of God; and if by humble faith thou art enabled to see Jesus as thine by his own free gift of himself to thee, if this greatest of all blessings-be upon thee, rise up and sing -
"Rise, my soul! adore and wonder!
Ask, 'O why such love to me?'
Grace hath put me in the number.
Of the Saviour's family:
Thanks, eternal thanks to thee."
Charles H. Spurgeon

What is evangelical preaching?

Evangelical preaching is that preaching which accords with the spirit and substance of the Gospel of with neither legality nor licentiousness: which gives full place to both the grace of God and the righteousness of God. It maintains the claims of Divine holiness, yet without bringing the soul into bondage. It proclaims a free salvation without making light of sin. It presents a Saviour who is suited to and sufficient for the very chief of sinners, yet affirms that only those who have been brought to loathe themselves and are sick of sin will welcome such a holy Physician. It announces the glorious liberty into which the sons of God have been brought and urges them to stand fast in the same, yet it also points out that such liberty is the very reverse of being a license granted us to indulge the lusts of the flesh without fear of consequences. While denying that good works enter at all into the ground of our acceptance with God, care is taken to show that a faith which does not produce good works is worthless and saves no one.

Evangelical preaching will expound the Everlasting Covenant which God has made with His people in Christ and show that the whole of their corruption becomes their greatest burden and grief. At regeneration God puts His laws into their hearts and writes them in their minds (Heb. 10:16) and so places His holy fear within them that they shall never fully or finally depart from Him (Jer. 32:40). After their regeneration the Spirit renews them day by day (2 Cor. 4:16), causing them to walk in the paths of righteousness and recovering them when they stray therefrom.

Evangelical preaching places the crown of honor where it rightfully belongs: not upon the creature, but upon the head of the Lord Jesus. It makes nothing of man and everything of Christ. It ever reminds the believer that it is a sovereign God who makes him to differ from the reprobate and that he has nothing good whatever in himself save what has been communicated to him by the blessed Spirit (1 Cor. 4:7). It teaches him that "all his springs" are in the Lord (Ps. 87:7), that he must draw upon and draw from Him all that he needs, receiving out of His exhaustless "fullness, grace for grace" (John 1:16). It teaches him that Christ is his "life" (Col. 3:4), that he has no life apart from Christ, so that he must daily live in Christ, live on Christ, live unto Christ. Said the apostle, "Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God who loved me, and gave Himself for me" (Gal. 2:20); and again, "for me to live is Christ and to die is gain" (Phil. 1:21); and yet again, "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me" (4:13).

At the same time evangelical preaching is careful to insist upon human responsibility and to call for the full discharge of Christian duty. If presents to view the exalted and changeless standard at which we must ever aim: "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect" (Matthew 5:48). It warns us against making any excuse for failure to attain unto that standard, bidding us judge ourselves unsparingly for all failure, and to renew our efforts in pressing forward to the same. It tells us we have no strength of our own but must seek it from above, yet points out that the way to obtain more is to use what we already have (Luke 8:18). It calls the believer to a life of unreserved obedience to his Lord, but insists that the motive for the same must be love and gratitude for all He suffered on his account. It faithfully declares that backsliding will bring severe chastisement upon the Christian (Ps. 89:30-32), and that if he would have the rod removed he must forsake that which occasioned it.

Evangelical preaching avoids the snare of legality by bringing in Christ as the believer’s Object: the One to whom he owes everything, the One to whom he must apply for the supply of every need, the One whom he is to glorify by a walk which is pleasing in His sight. Evangelical preaching lays the axe at the roots of self-righteousness by constantly reminding the believer of his continual indebtedness to Divine grace, that nothing he can do is to be least degree meritorious, and that should he fully perform his duty he is still "an unprofitable servant." On the other hand, evangelical preaching avoids the snare of licentiousness by steadily holding up the Divine standard of "Be ye holy in all manner of conversation" or "behavior" (1 Pet. 1:15), but constantly pressing both the exhortations and warnings of Scripture, and by reminding its hearers "without holiness no man shall see the Lord" (Heb. 12:14). Well may every true servant of God exclaim "Who Is sufficient for these things!" (2 Cor. 2:16); and well it is when he can—humbly, dependently, but truthfully—add, "our sufficiency Is of God" (2 Cor. 3:5).  ~  A. W. Pink

The profound words of Christ - "It is finished"

How terribly have these blessed words of Christ been misunderstood, misappropriated and misapplied! How many seem to think that on the cross the Lord Jesus accomplished a work which rendered it unnecessary for the beneficiaries of it to live holy lives on earth. So many have been deluded into thinking that, so far as reaching heaven is concerned, it matters not how they walk provided they are "resting on the finished work of Christ." They may be unfruitful, untruthful, disobedient, yet (though they may possibly miss some millennial crown) so long as they repudiate all righteousness of their own and have faith in Christ, they imagine they are "eternally secure."
All around us are people who are worldly-minded, money-lovers, pleasure-seekers, Sabbath-breakers, yet who think all is well with them because they have "accepted Christ as their personal Saviour." In their aspiration, conversation, and recreation, there is practically nothing to differentiate them from those who make no profession at all. Neither in their home-life nor social-life is there anything save empty pretensions to distinguish them from others. The fear of God is not upon them, the commands of God have no authority over them, the holiness of God has no attraction for them.

"It is finished." 
How solemn to realize that these words of Christ must have been used to lull thousands into a false peace. Yet such is the case. We have come into close contact with many who have no private prayer-life, who are selfish, covetous, dishonest, but who suppose that a merciful God will overlook all such things provided they once put their trust in the Lord Jesus. What a horrible perversion of the truth! What a turning of God’s grace "into lasciviousness"! (Jude 4). Yes, those who now live the most self-seeking and flesh-pleasing lives, talk about their faith in the blood of the Lamb, and suppose they are safe. How the devil has deceived them!

"It is finished." 
Do those blessed words signify that Christ so satisfied the requirement of God’s holiness that holiness no longer has any real and pressing claims upon us? Perish the thought. Even to the redeemed God says, "Be ye holy, for I am holy" (1 Pet. 1:16). Did Christ "magnify the law and make it honorable" (Isa. 42:21) that we might be lawless? Did He "fulfill all righteousness" (Matthew 3:15) to purchase for us an immunity from loving God with all our hearts and serving Him with all our faculties? Did Christ die in order to secure a divine indulgence that we might live to please self? Many seem to think so. No, the Lord Jesus has left His people an example that they should "follow (not ignore) His steps."

"It is finished." 
What was "finished? The need for sinners to repent? No indeed. The need for turning to God from idols? No indeed. The need for mortifying my members which are upon earth? No indeed. The need for being sanctified wholly, in spirit, and soul, and body? No indeed. Christ died not to make my sorrow for, hatred of, and striving against sin, useless. Christ died not to absolve me from the full discharge of my responsibilities unto God. Christ died not so that I might go on retaining the friendship and fellowship of the world. How passing strange that any should think that He did. Yet the actions of many show that this is their idea.

"It is finished." 
What was "finished?" The sacrificial types were accomplished, the prophecies, of His sufferings were fulfilled, the work given Him by the Father had been perfectly done, a sure foundation had been laid on which a righteous God could pardon the vilest transgressor of the law who threw down the weapons of his warfare against Him. Christ had now performed all that was necessary in order for the Holy Spirit to come and work in the hearts of His people; convincing them of their rebellion, slaying their enmity against God, and producing in them a loving and obedient heart.

O, dear reader, make no mistake on this point. The "finished work of Christ" avails you nothing if your heart has never been broken through an agonizing consciousness of your sinfulness. The "finished work of Christ" avails you nothing unless you have been saved from the power and pollution of sin (Matthew 1:21). It avails you nothing if you still love the world (I John 2:15). It avails you nothing unless you are a "new creature" in Him (2 Cor .5:17). If you value your soul, search the Scriptures to see for yourself; take no man’s word for it.

True Christianity

Friday, December 26, 2014

the object of faith

The verse which is now to engage our attention continues and completes the important exhortation found in the one which was before us in the last article. The two verses are so closely related that only the requirements of space obliged us to separate them. The latter supplies such a blessed sequel to the former that it will be necessary to present a summary of our comments thereon. We saw that the Christian life, the life of faith and obedience, is presented under the figure of a “race,” which denotes that so far from its being a thing of dreamy contemplation or abstract speculation, it is one of activity, exertion, and progressive motion, for faith without works is dead. But the “race” speaks not only of activity, but of regulated activity, following the course which is “set before us.” Many professing Christians are engaged in multitudinous efforts which God has never bidden them undertake: that is like running round and round in a circle. To follow the appointed track means that our energies be directed by the precepts of Holy Writ.

The order presented in Hebrews 12:1 is the negative before the positive: there must be the “laying aside” of hindering weights, before we “run” the race set before us. This order is fundamental, and is emphasized all through Scripture. There must be a turning from the world, before there can be a real turning unto the Lord (Isa. 55:7); self must be denied before Christ can be followed (Matt. 16:24). There must be a putting off the old man, before there can be any true putting on of the new man (Eph. 4:22-24). There has to be a “denying ungodliness and worldly lusts,” before we can “live soberly, righteously and godly in this present world” (Titus 2:12). There has to be a “cleansing of ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit,” before there can be any “perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2 Cor. 7:1). We must “be not conformed to this world,” before we can be “transformed by the renewing of our mind,” so that we may “prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Rom. 12:2, 3). 

Before the plants and flowers will flourish in the garden weeds must be rooted up, otherwise all the labours of the gardener will come to naught. As the Lord Jesus taught so plainly in the Parable of the Sower, where the “thorns” are permitted to thrive, the good Seed, the Word is “choked” (Matt. 13:22); and it is very searching and solemn to note, by a careful comparison of the three records of it, that Christ interpreted this figure of the “thorns” more fully than any other single detail. He defined those choking “thorns” as “the cares of this life and the deceitfulness of riches,” “the lust of other things and pleasures of this life.” If those things fill and rule our hearts, our relish for spiritual things will be quenched, our strength to perform Christian duties will be sapped, our lives will be fruitless, and we shall be merely cumberers of the ground—the garden of our souls being filled with briars and weeds. Hence it is that the first call in Hebrews 12:1 is “let us lay aside every weight.” “Inordinate care for the present life, and fondness for it, is a dead weight for the soul, that pulls it down when it should ascend upwards and pulls it back when it should press forwards” (Matthew Henry). It is the practical duty of mortification which is here inculcated, the abstaining from those fleshly lusts “which war against the soul” (1 Peter 2:11). The racer must be as lightly clad as possible if he is to run swiftly: all that would cumber and impede him must be relinquished. Undue concern over temporal affairs, inordinate affection for the things of this life, the intemperate use of any material blessings, undue familiarity with the ungodly, are “weights” which prevent progress in godliness. A bag of gold would be as great a handicap to a runner as a bag of lead!

continue reading 'the epistle to the Hebrews, the object of faith' from A. W. Pink here.... it starts on page four.

Silly hearts weaned

“Many are the afflictions of the righteous” (Psa. 34:19): some internal, others external;some from friends, others from foes; some more directly at the hand of God, others more remotely by the instrumentality of the Devil. Nor should this be thought strange. Such has been the lot of all God’s children in greater or less degree. Nor ought we to expect much comfort in a world which so basely crucified the Lord of Glory. The sooner the Christian makes it his daily study to pass through this world as a stranger and pilgrim, anxious to depart and be with Christ, the better for his peace of mind. But it is natural to cling tenaciously to this life and to love the things of time and sense, and therefore most of the Lord’s people have to encounter many buffetings and have many disappointments before they are brought to hold temporal things with a light hand and before their silly hearts are weaned from that which satisfies not.

There is scarcely any affliction which besets the suffering people of God that the subject of these articles did not experience. David, in the different periods of his varied life, was placed in almost every situation in which a believer, be he rich or poor in this world’s goods, can be placed. This is one feature which makes the study of his life of such practical interest unto us today. And this also it was which experimentally fitted him to write so many Psalms, which the saints of all ages have found so perfectly suited to express unto God the varied feelings of their souls. No matter whether the heart be cast down by the bitterest grief, or whether it be exultant with overflowing joy, nowhere can we find language more appropriate to use in our approaches unto the Majesty on High, than in the recorded sobs and songs of him who tasted the bitters of cruel treatment and base betrayals, and the sweetness of human success and spiritual communion with the Lord, as few have done.

Oftentimes the providences of God seem profoundly mysterious to our dull perceptions, and strange unto us do appear the schoolings through which He passes His servants; nevertheless faith is assured that Omniscience makes no mistakes, and He who is Love causes none of His children a needless tear. Beautifully did C.H. Spurgeon introduce his exposition of Psalm 59 by saying, “Strange that the painful events in David’s life should end in enriching the repertoire of the national minstrelsy. Out of a sour, ungenerous soil spring up the honey-bearing flowers of psalmody. Had he never been cruelly hunted by Saul, Israel and the church of God in after ages would have missed this song. The music of the sanctuary is in no small degree indebted to the trials of the saints. Affliction is the tuner of the harps of sanctified songsters.” Let every troubled reader seek to lay this truth to heart and take courage.

A.W. Pink from 'the life of David'

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Seeing God and the sense of sin

"Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips."  - Isaiah 6:5
To Isaiah a work of unusual solemnity had been entrusted, one that needed to be done in a most serious and reverent spirit. He was at once the prophet of the Lord's terror and of the Lord's mercy. He was to denounce sin with the solemnity of one who knew what God's thought of sin was. He was to produce the conviction of sin before God in the corrupt minds and hearts of the people, and he was to announce the coming, presently, of the great Messenger of Divine mercy. Therefore it was necessary for him to have his own soul filled with the infinite glory and holiness of God, and filled with a very humbling sense of sin. These effects were wrought by the vision granted to him. It took its form from its design. All about it is holy. It is the holy place. The seraphim bow before the infinitely Holy. They cry, "Holy, holy." The threshold and the posts tremble before the Holy. And the soul of the prophet is abased. He is humbled in the sight of his own uncleanness, and the uncleanness of his people; for how can a man seem pure before his Maker?
I. A MAN NEEDS VISIONS OF GOD WHO HAS THE WORK OF DENOUNCING SIN. No man should dare to touch that work whose own soul is not oppressed with the evil of sin. Denunciation of sin is no flippant, easy work; it involves a tremendous expense of feeling. We talk about sin so freely, that for many of us it has lost its exceeding sinfulness. We confess it so often in familiar general terms, that it has lost almost all its terror. It may have been thus with Isaiah. He may have been so constantly talking about sin, that he had exhausted his feeling of its evil, and could even speak lightly about abomination that it is said "God hateth." Certainly we need such visions of God to fill our minds and hearts with seriousness; we well may pray, "Lord, show me thyself."
II. WHEN A MAN HAS VISIONS OF GODHE AT FIRST FEELS HELPLESSAND DARES NOTUNDERTAKE GOD'S WORK. Compare the feelings of Moses and Jeremiah, after their visions. The first feeling will be, "I dare not." "Who is sufficient for these things?" But this will soon pass into humble dependence on Divine strength, and patient readiness to go where God sends, and do what God bids. When a man before God says, "Woe is me!" etc; he will soon respond to God's call, saying, "Here am I send me."—R.Tuck

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The vision of the Divine Majesty

Isaiah 6:1-13

1. Its date is fixed in memory. "The year that King Uzziah died." Dates are the resting-places of memory and fancy, around which accumulates the lore of our years. The accessions and the deaths of kings, battles, peaces, revolutions, acts of parliament that wrought weal for the people,—such are the dates of nations. And every soul has its epochs—birth, youthful events of pleasure, love, struggle, defeat, success; and for each there must be more to him than the events recorded in the calendar. The most "uneventful" year, as we speak, is eventful for the hidden sphere of many a spirit. How hint and poor are our public memorials of history compared with those private recollections which are written in the invisible ink of memory! Let us own that history means, first and foremost to every one of us, the history of our own spirit. By a Divine providence the fragment of an Isaiah's, a Jeremiah's, an Ezekiel's autobiography is preserved through the ages, to remind us that the inner life, the contact of God with the soul, is our real concern, our deepest interest. Between the two dates on the tombstone that will mark our entrance into the world, our passage from it, what a record must lie, stored in the archives of eternity—of visions beheld, of voices heard, whether obeyed or disregarded! "In the year that King Uzziah died."
2. It is a vision of the sublimity of God. Seated on a high, exalted throne, God in this image is conceived under the analogy of the Ruler. Father and Ruler—such is the Bible view of God; his rule based upon his fatherhood, his fatherhood imparting benignancy and tenderness to the sterner character of the Lawgiver of the universe. But here the Father seems for the moment absorbed in the awful Sovereign, whose throne is in the heights of heaven, his footstool earth. It is only his skirts that are visible to the awe-struck gaze of the prophet. Amidst the most magnificent scenes of external nature, the Alps or the Andes, we may gain a passing soul-expanding vision of the Highest—still only part revealed, but much more hidden. The verdure bejeweled with flowers, the forests glancing with the luster of dazzling birds of plumage,—these may represent the vesture of the great King, hinting an unutterable beauty on which none can look and live. And so in the inward or moral world. In the history of a people or of a man there are moments when God, in the still more impressive might of his holiness, sweeps by, an awakening and a purifying Spirit. Or in higher moments of devotion we may gain a momentary glimpse of that pure love, so full of terror yet so full of blessing, which burns at the core of things, and whose light is reflected in the light of every human conscience. Yet these are partial revelations, like that to the prophet; glimpses of the skirts of Jehovah's majesty, tastes of a "burning bliss" which in its fullness could not be endured. It is this sense that there is a beauty all around us, ready at any moment to break into glowing manifestation, were not our mortal eyes too dim to look upon it; an eternal music from which this "muddy vesture of decay grossly closing us in" protects us, which otherwise might paralyze by its thunderous tones;—it is this sense which does, or which should, impress an habitual reverence upon the mind. We should all be able to look back upon moments of our history when we have seen in the inner chamber of the mind something of what Isaiah saw, and to cherish the recollection as a lore never to be forgotten. For if we have never known a time when we were reduced into insignificance in the presence of God, and felt that he was all and we were naught, and that the best tradition about God must be hushed into silence before what we personally know of God, we have missed an elementary lesson which, when once obtained, adds weight and worth to all our after-experience.
3. The seraphs and their song. "Seraphs stood high around [or, 'above'] him." It is impossible to gain a true notion of the seraphic figures without consulting works of art. Like the cherubim and the griffins and the sphinxes, their origin is in the remotest fore-time. All these were, in fact, among man's earliest efforts to represent to himself in visible art the Divine power which he felt to be working in and through nature; in the flash of the lightning, the thunder's roar, the might of the blast, and all those mysterious sounds and sights which usher in the changes of the year. As this is the only place where the seraphim are named, their character must remain for the most part speculative. Similar winged figures are, however, found in Oriental sculpture (such as those in the British Museum) as attributes of a sovereign. And we can hardly be wrong in considering them as appropriate signs of Jehovah's sovereignty over nature in the vision of Isaiah. Wings in art-figures generally denote the wind. If, then, we compare the passages in the Old Testament whence Jehovah's power is described as revealed in storm and wind, e.g. Psalms 18:10 ("He rode upon a cherub, and did fly: yea, he did fly upon the wings of the wind") or Psalms 104:3Psalms 104:4 ("Who walketh upon the wings of the wind; who maketh his messengers spirits, his ministers a flaming fire"), we may gain a fair understanding of what is meant. The stormy winds at the turning-points of the year reveal force—the force of the omnipotent Creator. And at the same time, the Creator is concealed behind, as well as revealed in, these expressions of his might. And so the seraphic figures are seen by the prophet doubly veiled by their own wings—in face and feet. For we can neither look upon the face of God nor follow the viewless track of his footsteps. As the noble verse of Cowper aptly expresses it—
"God moves in a mysterious way,
His wonders to perform;
He plants his footsteps in the sea,
And rides upon the storm."
We shall not be far wrong if we find this truth symbolically set forth by the six-winged seraphic figures of the prophet's vision. But the wind is full of music as well as of might, and the seraphs give utterance to a solemn song, which falls into two members, sung antiphonally by these celestial choristers. "One called to the other," just as the priests in the temple-music below. Profound and weighty is the burden of this alternate chant—
"Holy, holy, holy, is Jehovah of hosts!
The fullness of the whole earth is his glory!"
How shall we think of the holiness of Jehovah? As height, like that in which the seraphs sing—a nature and a life so "far above" our base and groveling ways? Alas for us, if we do not ever recollect in our worship that, high as yonder empyrean above this "dim spot that men call earth," distinct as the clouds in fleeciest white from the stagnant and foul spots below, are the thoughts of Jehovah above our thoughts, and his ways above our ways! Shall we think of holiness as separation? Woe to us if we know not that purity, which, like the flame, retirees to wed with ought that is alien to itself; which, like the light, divides and discriminates the evil from the good wheresoever it comes! The thrice-holy God is none other than the supremely pure Intelligence, the perfect chastity of Love. But the infinite glory as well as the holiness of Jehovah is celebrated. It is the "fullness of the earth," teeming with life, throbbing with mysterious forces, covered with a rich robe of rare embroidery, holding rich treasures in her keeping; which embodies to our thought the nature of God in its vast extent, just as the pure sky represents the intensity of that nature as a principle of holiness. Silent and inaccessible as sun and stars, he is yet near to us in the throbbing of great nature's heart—nay, of our own.
"Speak to him, then! for he hears,
and spirit with spirit may meet;
Closer is he than thy breathing,
nearer than hands and feet."
"God in all"—this was the thought of Paul the apostle, as of Isaiah the prophet. Incarnate in the flower and in the stem, vocal in the "sound of many waters," or in the tinkling of brook or murmur of zephyr; there is nothing in the world in which he is not revealed.
"Thou art, O God, the Life and Light
Of all this wondrous world we see!
Its glow by day, its smile by night,
Are but reflections caught from thee:
Where'er we turn, thy glories shine,
And all things fair and bright are thine."
4. The yoke of God. A loud cry is heard even above the hymn of the seraphim, and it causes the thresholds to tremble. The thunder was among all ancient nations listened to as the voice of God. It is the natural expression of supreme and irresistible power, before which man, in the last height of his own intelligence and power, must bow. Instantly the smoke soars from the altar, and the temple is filled with smoke. Worship is man's answer to God's voice—the answerer his conscience, the answer of his heart. Nor can we truly worship without the sense of being face to face with unutterable mystery. For behind the most glorious visions remains he "whom no man hath at any time seen, nor can see;" at the heart of the thunder is that Divine emotion which must slay us were it fully discharged into our souls. The rising smoke may fitly typify that sacred silence, the "offspring of the deeper heart," in which our worship should begin and end.

God's lovingkindness in His judgments

  And I say, `Till when, O Lord?' And He saith, `Surely till cities have been wasted without inhabitant, And houses without man, And the ground be wasted--a desolation, And Jehovah hath put man far off, And great is the forsaken part in the heart of the land. And yet in it a tenth, and it hath turned, And hath been for a burning, As a teil-tree, and as an oak, that in falling, Have substance in them, The holy seed is its substance!' - Isaiah 6:11-13 {YLT}

The loving-kindness of God shown in his judgments.
"I know, O Lord, that thy judgments are right, and flat thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me," says the psalmist (Psalms 119:75). No doubt, at last God must simply punish the obdurate and impenitent; but for the most part he sends his judgment upon men in mercy, either to turn them from their sins, or to refine and improve their characters.
I. EVEN WHEN GOD SIMPLY PUNISHESIT IS IN LOVING-KINDNESS TO MANKIND AT LARGE. When a nation, like Israel, as distinct from Judah, has persisted in evil-doing for centuries, in spite of warnings, teaching, remonstrance, knowledge of the truth, its case is hopeless—"there is no remedy" (2 Chronicles 36:16). The blow that then falls upon the nation is penal and final—the requital of its ill desert. But if the blow is dealt to the nation itself in mere justice, it is also struck for the benefit of all neighboring nations, in mercy. It warns them from their evil ways; it says to them, in a voice which they can scarcely fail to hear, "Take heed, lest ye too perish."
II. MOST OF GOD'S JUDGMENTS ARE CHASTISEMENTSSENT TO TURN MEN FROM THEIRSINS. "We have had fathers of our flesh who corrected us" (Hebrews 12:9) when we had done wrong, and strove thereby to deter us from evil. So God acts with his children. So he chastened Judah, bringing calamity after calamity upon her, until at last there was a "remnant" which truly turned to him, and became the germ of the Christian Church. So be has chastened many a nation besides. So, too, he chastens individuals, sending on them sickness, and poverty, and loss of friends, and other misfortunes, to check them in a career of sin, and cause them to pause, and reflect, and tremble at his mighty hand, and humble themselves under it, and change their course of life. In this way he chastened David by the loss of Bathsheba's first child, and by the revolt of Absalom and Adonijah; Hezekiah by war and sickness; Solomon by "adversaries" at home and abroad. Of this kind again are the natural punishments which he has attached to sins, the natural tendency of which is to deter men from them.
III. ONE CLASS OF HIS JUDGMENTS ARE TRIALSSENT TO PROVE MENAND THEREBY TOPURIFY THEM AND RAISE THEM TO GREATER SAINTLINESS. "Every branch in me that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit" (John 15:2); "The trying of your faith worketh patience" (James 1:3). Christ himself, we are told, was in his human nature "made perfect through suffering." The discipline of affliction is needed for forming in us many of the highest Christian graces, as patience, resignation, forgivingness, mildness, long-suffering. The sons of God are taught to expect a chastening which shall be "for their profit, that they may be partakers of his holiness" (Hebrews 12:10).

The luxury and worldliness of the present age

Luke 21:34-35 - And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life…

I. First, THE WARNING. To whom is that warning addressed? "Take heed to yourselves;... for as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth." You see there is a contrast drawn between yourselves and the whole earth. "Yourselves" shows us to whom the warning is spoken — it is to the Church. To His own washed, saved, sanctified ones, He says, "Take heed to yourselves." He says to them, "Take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and the cares of this life." Mark that expression, at any time. It would seem as though the prophecy has a continuous bearing, from the time that it was delivered up to the end of the world — that this warning is spoken to the Church of God in all ages. Take notice here that the heart is spoken of as meaning the inner life of a Christian. Take heed lest the springs of spiritual life be weakened by the cares, or the frivolities, or the ease, or the luxury, or the gains, or the occupations of this present life. The word "overcharged" literally means "weighed down." You see that not only surfeiting and drunkenness are spoken of, but "the cares of this life." On the one hand the Lord speaks of all the glare of earth, on the other hand He speaks of the toil of earth.
II. Now, see THE REASON OF THE WARNING — "For as a snare shall it come upon all them that dwell upon the face of the whole earth." The meaning of this is, that the day of the Lord will take the world by surprise.
III. Thirdly, we come to speak of THE PRECEPT GROUNDED UPON THE WARNING, and the reason of the warning — "Watch ye, therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and stand before the Son of Man." You may have marked in history, that before empires fell, or great capitals were destroyed, luxury in the empire or in the capital had reached a climax. It was so at Herculaneum and Pompeii; it was the case at Rome. Every species of indulgence, luxury, and comfort seemed to be gathered together by the inhabitants around, when the burning mountain poured forth its flames, while streams of lava buried the cities, and hurried the people into eternity. And so, when Rome was taken by the Goths, or northern nations, it had reached the highest point of luxury, pomp, and pride. So Babylon is described in the Revelation — whatever that Babylon means — it is described as saying, just before it is destroyed — "I sit as a queen, and am no widow." In the very heigh of her pomp — in the very zenith of her pride — in the midst of her magnificence, God casts her down, and she sinks like lead in the mighty waters. It will be so, doubtless, with the nations of the world — with the kingdoms of professing Christendom — with the great capitals of Europe; there will be pride, and luxury, and magnificence, and men will be passing their time in ease and affluence, and self-indulgence, "when sudden destruction shall come upon them, as travail upon a woman with child, and they shall not escape." Watch ye, therefore; watch against the prevailing taste for show — watch against the prevailing love of ease — watch against the selfishness of the age, the luxury that creeps even into the Church; watch and take heed, brethren, lest you tread in the world's footsteps.
(W. Pennefather, M. A.)

forgiving iniquity, transgression and sin

Exodus 34:7.

Observe the threefold form of expression-iniquity and transgression and sin.
It seems natural that in the divine proclamation of His own holy character, the sinful nature of men should be characterised with all the fervid energy of such words; for the accumulation even of synonyms would serve a moralpurpose, expressive at once of the divine displeasure against sin, and of the free full pardon for it in all its possible forms. But the words are very far from all meaning the same thing. They all designate the same actions, but from different points of view, and with reference to different phases and qualities of sin.
Now these three expressions are inadequately represented by the English translation.
‘Iniquity’ literally means ‘twisting,’ or ‘something twisted,’ and is thus the opposite of ‘righteousness,’ or rather of what is ‘straight.’ It is thus like our own ‘right’ and ‘wrong,’ or like the Latin ‘in-iquity’ {by which it is happily enough rendered in our version}. So looking at this word and the thoughts which connect themselves with it, we come to this:-
{1} All sin of every sort is deviation from a standard to which we ought to be conformed.
Note the graphic force of the word as giving the straight line to which our conduct ought to run parallel, and the contrast between it and the wavering curves into which our lives meander, like the lines in a child’s copy-book, or a rude attempt at drawing a circle at one sweep of the pencil. Herbert speaks of
‘The crooked wandering ways in which we live.’
There is a path which is ‘right’ and one which is ‘wrong,’ whether we believe so or not.
There are hedges and limitations for us all. This law extends to the ordering of all things, whether great or small. If a line be absolutely straight, and we are running another parallel to it, the smallest possible wavering is fatal to our copy. And the smallest deflection, if produced, will run out into an ever-widening distance from the straight line.
There is nothing which it is more difficult to get into men’s belief than the sinfulness of little sins; nothing more difficult to cure ourselves of than the habit of considering quantity rather than quality in moral questions. What a solemn thought it is, that of a great absolute law of right rising serene above us, embracing everything! And this is the first idea that is here in our text-a grave and deep one.
But the second of these expressions for sin literally means ‘apostasy,’ ‘rebellion,’ not ‘transgression,’ and this word brings in a more solemn thought yet, viz.:-
{2} Every sin is apostasy from or rebellion against God.
The former word dealt only with abstract thought of a ‘law,’ this with a ‘Lawgiver.’
Our obligations are not merely to a law, but to Him who enacted it. So it becomes plain that the very centre of all sin is the shaking off of obedience to God. Living to ‘self’ is the inmost essence of every act of evil, and may be as virulently active in the smallest trifle as in the most awful crime.
How infinitely deeper and darker this makes sin to be!
When one thinks of our obligations and of our dependence, of God’s love and care, what an ‘evil and a bitter thing’ every sin becomes!
Urge this terrible contrast of a loving Father and a disobedient child.
This idea brings out the ingratitude of all sin.
But the third word here used literally means ‘missing an aim,’ and so we come to
{3} Every sin misses the goal at which we should aim. There may be a double idea here-that of failing in the great purpose of our being, which is already partially included in the first of these three expressions, or that of missing the aim which we proposed to ourselves in the act. All sin is a failure.
By it we fall short of the loftiest purpose. Whatever we gain we lose more.
Every life which has sin in it is a ‘failure.’ You may be prosperous, brilliant, successful, but you are ‘a failure.’
For consider what human life might be: full of God and full of joy. Consider what the ‘fruits’ of sin are. ‘Apples of Sodom.’ How sin leads to sorrow. This is an inevitable law. Sin fails to secure what it sought for. All ‘wrong’ is a mistake, a blunder. ‘Thou fool!’
So this word suggests the futility of sin considered in its consequences. ‘These be thy gods, O Israel!’ ‘The end of these things is death.’
II. The divine treatment of sins.
‘Forgiving,’ and yet not suffering them to go unpunished.
{1} God forgives, and yet He does not leave sin unpunished, for He will ‘by no means clear the guilty.’
The one word refers to His love, His heart; the other to the retributions which are inseparable from the very course of nature.
Forgiveness is the flow of God’s love to all, and the welcoming back to His favour of all who come. Forgiveness likewise includes the escape from the extreme and uttermost consequences of sin in this life and in the next, the sense of God’s displeasure here, and the final separation from Him, which is eternal death. Forgiveness is not inconsistent with retribution. There must needs be retribution, from-
{a} The very constitution of our nature.
Conscience, our spiritual nature, our habits all demand it.
{b} The constitution of the world.
In it all things work under God, but only for ‘good’ to them who love God. To all others, sooner or later, the Nemesis comes. ‘Ye shall eat of the fruit of your doings.’
{2} God forgives, and therefore He does not leave sin unpunished. It is divine mercy that strikes. The end of His chastisement is to separate us from our sins.
{3} Divine forgiveness and retributive justice both centre in the revelation of the Cross.
To us this message comes. It was the hidden heart of the Mosaic system. It was the revelation of Sinai. To Israel it was ‘proclaimed’ in thunder and darkness, and the way of forgiveness and the harmony of righteousness and mercy were veiled. To us it is proclaimed from Calvary. There in full light the Lord passes before us and proclaims, ‘I am the Lord, the Lord God merciful and gracious.’ ‘Ye are come . . .unto Jesus.’ ‘See that ye refuse not Him that speaketh.’ ‘This is my Beloved Son, hear Him !’ - 
Alexander McClaren

"forgiving iniquity, and transgression, and sin; the word used signifies a lifting it up, and taking it away: thus Jehovah has taken it from the sinner, and put it on his Son, who has borne it, and made satisfaction for it; and in so doing has taken it quite away, so as to be seen no more; and, through the application of his blood to the conscience of a sinner, it is taken away from thence, and removed as far as the east is from the west; from whence it appears, that it is in Christ, and for his sake, that God forgives sin, even through his blood, righteousness, sacrifice, and satisfaction; and this forgiveness is of all sin, of all sorts of sin, original or actual, greater or lesser, public or private, open or secret, of omission or commission, of heart, lip, and life. The Jews sometimes distinguish these three words; "iniquity", they say, signifies sins through pride and presumption; "transgression" intends rebellions against God; and "sin", what is committed through error and mistake (i); and much to this sense is Jarchi's interpretation of these words; they no doubt include all manner of sin, which God for Christ's sake forgives". - John Gill

May we come to an understanding of how blessed we truly are that God forgives iniquity, transgression and sin. 

Monday, December 22, 2014

Preparing the way for the Gospel

 It is the deepening conviction of the writer that what is most needed today is a wide proclamation of those truths which are the least acceptable to the flesh. What is needed today is a scriptural setting forth of the character of God—His absolute sovereignty, His ineffable holiness, His inflexible justice, His unchanging veracity. What is needed today is a scriptural setting forth of the condition of the natural man—his total depravity, his spiritual insensibility, his inveterate hostility to God, the fact that he is "condemned already" and that the wrath of a sin-hating God is even now abiding upon him. What is needed today is a scriptural setting forth of the alarming danger in which sinners are—the indescribably awful doom which awaits them, the fact that if they follow only a little further their present course they shall most certainly suffer the due reward of their iniquities. What is needed today is a scriptural setting forth of the nature of that punishment which awaits the lost—the awfulness of it, the hopelessness of it, the unendurableness of it, the endlessness of it. It is because of these convictions that by pen as well as by voice we are seeking to raise the alarm.

It may be thought that what we have said in the above paragraph stands in need of qualification. We can imagine some of our readers saying, Such truths as these may be needed by the lost, but surely you do not wish to be understood as saying that these subjects ought to be pressed upon the Lord’s people! But that is exactly what we do mean and do say. Re-read the Epistles, dear friends, and note what place each of these subjects has in them! It is just because these truths have been withheld so much from public ministrations to the saints that we now find so many backboneless, sentimental, lop-sided Christians in our assemblies. A clearer vision of the awe-inspiring attributes of God would banish much of our levity and irreverence. A better understanding of our depravity by nature would humble us, and make us see our deep need of using the appointed means of grace. A facing of the alarming danger of the sinner would cause us to "consider our ways" and make us more diligent to make our "calling and election sure." A realization of the unspeakable misery which awaits the lost (and which each of us fully merited) would immeasurably deepen our gratitude, and bring us to thank God more fervently that we have been snatched as brands from the burning and delivered from the wrath to come; and too, it will make us far more earnest in our prayers as we supplicate God on behalf of the unsaved. Moreover, scriptural and searching addresses along these lines would, in some cases at least, lay hold of those who have a form of godliness but who deny the power thereof. They would have some effect on that vast company of professors who are "at ease in Zion." They would, if God were depended upon, arouse the indifferent, and cause some who are now careless and unconcerned to cry, "What must 1 do to be saved?" Remember that the ground must be plowed before it is ready to be sowed: and the truths mentioned above are needed to prepare the way for the Gospel.

Concerning the eternal punishment of the wicked there are few, it seems, who realize the vital importance of a ringing testimony to this truth, and fewer still who apprehend the deep seriousness of what is involved in a denial of it. The importance of a clear witness to this doctrine may be seen by noting what a prominent place it holds in the Word; and contrariwise, the seriousness of denying it is evidenced by the fact that such denial is a rejection of God’s truth. The need of giving this solemn subject a prominent place in our witness is apparent, for it is our bounden duty to warn sinners of their fearful peril and bid them flee from the wrath to come. To remain silent is criminal; to substitute anything for it is to set before the wicked a false hope.
A.W. Pink

Sunday, December 21, 2014

and Moses made haste...

'And Moses made haste, and bowed his head toward the earth, and worshipped.' 
Exodus 34:8

Isn't it amazing that after God spoke to Moses in verses 6 and 7, revealing who He is and proclaiming His mercy, yet not compromising one bit when stating He will by no means clear the guilty - isn't the response of Moses amazing? Do we respond the same way when God reveals His truth and Himself to us?

Here is commentary on the aforementioned text, from Matthew Henry...

 "What impression it made upon him: Moses made haste, and bowed his head, Exo_34:8. Thus he expressed, (1.) His humble reverence and adoration of God's glory, giving him the honour due to that name he had thus proclaimed. Even the goodness of God must be looked upon by us with a profound veneration and holy awe. (2.) His joy in this discovery which God had made of himself, and his thankfulness for it. We have reason gratefully to acknowledge God's goodness to us, not only in the real instances of it, but in the declarations he has made of it by his word; not only that he is, and will be, gracious to us, but that he is pleased to let us know it. (3.) His holy submission to the will of God, made known in this declaration, subscribing to his justice as well as mercy, and putting himself and his people Israel under the government and direction of such a God as Jehovah had now proclaimed himself to be. Let this God be our God for ever and ever." 

This is from A. W. Pink's 'Gleanings in Exodus'...
"And Moses made haste, and bowed his head toward the earth, and worshipped" (v. 8). It is blessed to note the effect upon Moses of the wondrous and glorious communication which he had just received from the mouth of Jehovah: filled with adoration and awe he takes his place in the dust before Him. No formal or perfunctory homage was it that Moses now rendered. The words "made haste" seem to point to the spontaneity of his worship; the bowing of his head toward the earth shows how deeply his spirit was stirred. And if our hearts really lay hold of the perfections of God’s administration, we too will be bowed before Him as worshippers.
"And Moses made haste, and bowed his head toward the earth, and worshipped." This is ever the result when the Lord condescends to reveal Himself to one of His own. When He appeared before Abram and said, "I am the Almighty God; walk before Me, and be thou upright,’ we are told that "Abram fell on his face" (Gen. 17:3). When He appeared before Joshua as "Captain of the host of the Lord," we are told that "Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship" (Josh. 5:14). When His glory filled the temple which Solomon had built, all the children of Israel "bowed themselves with their faces to the ground upon the pavement and worshipped and praised the Lord" (2 Chron. 7:3).
"And Moses made haste, and bowed his head toward the earth, and worshipped." Let us not lose sight of the immediate link between this and the close of the preceding verse. The last things mentioned there are that God will by no means clear the guilty, and that He visits the sins of the fathers upon the children. In- stead of showing resentment, Moses acquiesced; instead of challenging the righteousness of these things, he worshipped. Well for us if we follow his example."

May God and His holy word make such an impression on us!