Precious Jesus

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

Friday, January 31, 2014

Search me O God!

'Search me, O God, and know my heart: Try me, and know my thoughts; And see if there be any wicked way in me, And lead me in the way everlasting.'  Psalm 139: 23-24
 
1. He desires that as far as he was in the wrong God would discover it to him. Those that are upright can take comfort in God's omniscience as a witness of their uprightness, and can with a humble confidence beg of him to search and try them, to discover them to themselves (for a good man desires to know the worst of himself) and to discover them to others. He that means honestly could wish he had a window in his breast that any man may look into his heart: "Lord, I hope I am not in a wicked way, but see if there be any wicked way in me, any corrupt inclination remaining; let me see it; and root it out of me, for I do not allow it." 2. He desires that, as far as he was in the right, he might be forwarded in it, which he that knows the heart knows how to do effectually: Lead me in the way everlasting. Note, (1.) The way of godliness is an everlasting way; it is everlastingly true and good, pleasing to God and profitable to us, and will end in everlasting life. It is the way of antiquity (so some), the good old way. (2.) All the saints desire to be kept and led in this way, that they may not miss it, turn out of it, nor tire in it. ~ Matthew Henry


Search me, O God -

The psalmist had stated the fact that it is a characteristic of God that he "does" search the heart; and he here prays that God "would" exercise that power in relation to himself; that as God could know all that there is within the heart, he would examine him with the closest scrutiny, so that he might be under no delusion or self-deception; that he might not indulge in any false hopes; that he might not cherish any improper feelings or desires. The prayer denotes great "sincerity" on the part of the psalmist. It indicates also self-distrust. It is an expression of what all must feel who have any just views of themselves - that the heart is very corrupt; that we are liable to deceive ourselves; and that the most thorough search "should" be made that we be "not" deceived and lost. And know my heart -
Know or see all that is within it.
Try me -
As metal is tried or proved that is put to a "test" to learn what it is. The trial here is that which would result from the divine inspection of his heart.
And know my thoughts -
See what they are. The word rendered "thoughts" occurs only in one other place,
Psa_94:19. The idea is, Search me thoroughly; examine not merely my outward conduct, but what I think about; what are my purposes; what passes through my mind; what occupies my imagination and my memory; what secures my affections and controls my will. He must be a very sincere man who prays that God will search his thoughts, for there are few who would be willing that their fellow-men, even their best friends, should know all that they are thinking about. ~ Albert Barnes
 
"And see if there be any wicked way in me." See whether there be in my heart, or in my life, any evil habit unknown to myself. If there be such an evil way, take me from it, take it from me. No matter how dear the wrong may have become, nor how deeply prejudiced I may have been in its favour, be pleased to deliver me there from altogether, effectually, and at once, that I may tolerate nothing which is contrary to thy mind. As I hate the wicked in their way, so would I hate every wicked way in myself. "And lead me in the way everlasting." If thou hast introduced me already to the good old way, be pleased to keep me in it, and conduct me further and further along it. It is a way which thou hast set up of old, it is based upon everlasting principles, and it is the way in which immortal spirits will gladly run for ever and ever. There will be no end to it world without end. It lasts for ever, and they who are in it last for ever. Conduct me into it, O Lord, and conduct me throughout the whole length of it. By thy providence, by thy word, by thy grace, and by thy Spirit, lead me evermore. ~ C. H. Spurgeon


May this be the daily prayer of all God's people.


 

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Regarding Inquity in the heart

To hold onto sin in the mind, but not act on it is just as sinful as if one were to act out what is in the thought life. This is a teaching that is shunned, for the most part, today. I recently posted an article from Nick Roen, from Desiring God. In this article, Nick states God did not remove his desire for the same sex from him. This is nothing more than an excuse to continue on in his sinful, lustful ways.

There are a couple of verses that come to mind concerning the thought life, starting with Psalm 66:18, 'If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear'. Charles Spurgeon rightly states this, "If, having seen it to be there, I continue to gaze upon it without aversion; if I cherish it, have a side glance of love towards it, excuse it, and palliate it; “The Lord will not hear me.” How can he? Can I desire him to connive at my sin, and accept me while I willfully, cling to any evil way? Nothing hinders prayer like iniquity harbored in the breast; as with Cain, so with us, sin lieth at the door, and blocks the passage. If thou listen to the devil, God will not listen to thee. If thou refusest to hear God's commands, he will surely refuse to hear thy prayers. An imperfect petition God will hear for Christ's sake, but not one which is willfully mis-written by a traitor's hand. For God to accept our devotions, while we are delighting in sin, would be to make himself the God of hypocrites, which is a fitter name for Satan than for the Holy One of Israel."

  The Hebrew for 'heart' is lêb; Brown-Driver- Briggs Hebrew Definitions defines it as 'inner man, mind, will, heart, understanding'. To 'regard' is 'to consider, look on, enjoy'. This is a willful act of entertaining sin in the inner man; something like pornography would feed sin in the thought life. Having lustful, sinful thoughts and entertaining those thoughts is sin, it also keeps God from hearing the prayers of all who do this.

It's worth looking into commentary from Albert Barnes as well, "literally, “If I have seen iniquity in my heart.” That is, If I have indulged in a purpose of iniquity; if I have had a wicked end in view; if I have not been willing to forsake all sin; if I have cherished a purpose of pollution or wrong. The meaning is not literally, If I have “seen” any iniquity in my heart - for no one can look into his own heart, and not see that it is defiled by sin; but, If I have cherished it in my soul; if I have gloated over past sins; if I am purposing to commit sin again; if I am not willing to abandon all sin, and to be holy."
'The Lord will not hear me' - "That is, He will not regard and answer my prayer. The idea is, that in order that prayer may be heard, there must be a purpose to forsake all forms of sin. This is a great and most important principle in regard to prayer. If there is still the love of evil in his heart; if he has some cherished purpose of iniquity which he is not willing to abandon; if there is any one sin, however small or unimportant it may seem to be, which he is not willing to forsake, he cannot hope that God will hear his prayer; he may be assured that he will not. All prayer, to be acceptable to God, must be connected with a purpose to forsake all sin."   Albert Barnes

To cherish sin in the thought life is to keep yourself from being heard in prayer. The Bible does not command sinners to make excuses for sin, as Isaiah 55:7 states, " let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts." This is a call to repentance, as Matthew Henry points out...
"There are two things involved in repentance: - [1.] It is to turn from sin; it is to forsake it. It is to leave it, and to leave it with loathing and abhorrence, never to return to it again. The wicked must forsake his way, his evil way, as we would forsake a false way that will never bring us to the happiness we aim at, and a dangerous way, that leads to destruction. Let him not take one step more in that way. Nay, there must be not only a change of the way, but a change of the mind; the unrighteous must forsake his thoughts. Repentance, if it be true, strikes at the root, and washes the heart from wickedness. We must alter our judgments concerning persons and things, dislodge the corrupt imaginations and quit the vain pretences under which an unsanctified heart shelters itself. Note, It is not enough to break off from evil practices, but we must enter a caveat against evil thoughts. Yet this is not all: [2.] To repent is to return to the Lord; to return to him as our God, our sovereign Lord, against whom we have rebelled, and to whom we are concerned to reconcile ourselves; it is to return to the Lord as the fountain of life and living waters, which we had forsaken for broken cisterns."

The word of God teaches us that we cannot cherish sin in our hearts, it must be forsaken and NOT excused. How horrifying that some would blame God for their own lustful thoughts!! The prophet Jeremiah had a warning for the nation Israel; notice the words of Jeremiah, "O Jerusalem, wash thine heart from wickedness, that thou mayest be saved. How long shall thine evil thoughts lodge within thee?" Jeremiah 4:14
Sin is birthed in the thought life, in the inner man. It should be struck down right where it is birthed from, where it's first formed. No one says it better than John Gill concerning this text in Jeremiah, " These are the words of the prophet, or of God by the prophet, showing the cause of all their ruin and destruction, the wickedness of their hearts; and they are expressed in such form and language, as to be accommodated to the case of any unregenerate sinner: every man's heart is wicked, desperately wicked, even wickedness itself; everything in it is wicked; the thoughts, and the imagination of the thoughts of the heart, the mind, the understanding, the will, the conscience, and the affections; and everything that is wicked is in that: it is the womb in which all sin is conceived; the shop and forge in which it is wrought; it is the habitation of every unclean lust; the seeds and principles of all sin are in it; it is the fountain spring and source of all evil; of all evil thoughts, words, and actions; all come out of it, and have their rise in it: and this wickedness is of a defiling nature, and has left a pollution on it; and what comes out of it defiles the man, that he stands in need of washing; which cannot be done to purpose by ceremonial ablutions and sacrifices, by moral acts of righteousness, by humiliation and tears, nor by submission to Gospel ordinances; nor indeed is this to be done by man at all, any other way than by faith dealing with the blood of Christ, by which only the heart is purified: for this is God's work, as appears from his promises to cleanse his people from all sins; from their prayers to him, to create in them clean hearts, to wash them thoroughly from their iniquity, and cleanse them from their sin; from the sanctifying grace of the Spirit, and the washing of regeneration ascribed to him; and from the end and efficacy of the bloodshed of Christ, to cleanse from sin, and purge the conscience from dead works; and the design of such exhortations as these is to convince men of the wickedness and pollution of their hearts, of the necessity of being washed from it, and of their own inability to do it of themselves; and to lead them to the fountain of Christ's blood, to wash in for sin and for uncleanness."

 Don't think the New Testament doesn't deal with the thought life, for Christ Himself teaches on it in Matthew 5:28; 15:19 and Mark 7:21. There is absolutely NO excuse for harboring sin in the thought life; all sin must be confessed and forsaken. There is no scriptural support for excusing sin in the heart. May God's word be honored, exalted, and obeyed among His people.

Women speaking truth

It has been very disheartening as of late to read and hear of many who claim women are not allowed to speak of Christ to men, either regenerate or unregenerate. It caused me to consider removing my blog and leaving the internet altogether, but that's not what God had in mind. A while back, I did a post on women preachers; God's word is very clear on women not being allowed to preach from the pulpit. Does that mean we cannot teach Christ, correct brothers in error, or proclaim God's truth ever? I went into the word of God and this is what God says...

Timothy's faith

2nd Timothy 1:5 - 'I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well.'

Who taught Timothy about Christ? Who were his examples in the faith? Timothy's dad was not a believer {Acts 16:1}. Some would argue that women are not to speak of or teach Christ to unregenerate men; but here we find a mother and grandmother setting forth the example of Christ to a man from birth. The clearest evidence that Timothy was taught by his mother is found in 2nd Timothy 3:15, "and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus."
  John Gill comments on this text, "The Jews very early learned their children the holy Scripture. Philo the Jew says (w), εκ πρωτης ηλικιας "from their very infancy"; a phrase pretty much the same with this here used. It is a maxim with the Jews (x), that when a child was five years of age, it was proper to teach him the Scriptures. Timothy's mother being a Jewess, trained him up early in the knowledge of these writings."
Albert Barnes' commentary states "That is, the Old Testament; for the New Testament was not then written; see the notes at Joh_5:39. The mother of Timothy was a pious Hebrewess, and regarded it as one of the duties of her religion to train her son in the careful knowledge of the word of God. This was regarded by the Hebrews as an important duty of religion, and there is reason to believe that it was commonly faithfully performed. The Jewish writings abound with lessons on this subject."

Priscilla, Aquila and Apollos

What about Priscilla? Look into Acts 18:26, "and he began to speak boldly in the synagogue. But when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more carefully." Apollos was preaching in the synagogue, but he wasn't quite accurate in what he said. Again, I use commentary from John Gill, " these two doubtless had received a considerable measure of evangelical light and knowledge from the Apostle Paul, during the time of their conversation with him; and as they freely received from him, they freely imparted it to Apollos, with a good design to spread the truth of the Gospel, and to promote it and the interest of Christ in the world: and as on the one hand it was a good office, and a kind part in them, to communicate knowledge to him, so it was an instance of a good spirit, and of condescension in him, to be taught and instructed by them; especially since one of them was a woman, and both mechanics, and made but a mean figure: and from hence it may be observed, that women of grace, knowledge, and experience, though they are not allowed to teach in public, yet they may, and ought to communicate in private, what they know of divine things, for the use of others."
Adame Clarke is identical in his commentary, "This eloquent man, and mighty in the Scriptures, who was even a public teacher, was not ashamed to be indebted to the instructions of a Christian woman, in matters that not only concerned his own salvation, but also the work of the ministry, in which he was engaged. It is disgraceful to a man to be ignorant, when he may acquire wisdom; but it is no disgrace to acquire wisdom from the meanest person or thing. The adage is good: Despise not advice, even of the meanest: the gaggling of geese preserved the Roman state."
And finally, from Jamieson, Fausset and Brown, "opening up those truths, to him as yet unknown, on which the Spirit had shed such glorious light. (In what appears to be the true reading of this verse, Priscilla is put before Aquila, as in Act_18:18 [see on Act_18:18]; she being probably the more intelligent and devoted of the two). One cannot but observe how providential it was that this couple should have been left at Ephesus when Paul sailed thence for Syria; and no doubt it was chiefly to pave the way for the better understanding of this episode that the fact is expressly mentioned by the historian in Act_18:19. We see here also an example of not only lay agency (as it is called), but female agency of the highest kind and with the most admirable fruit. Nor can one help admiring the humility and teachableness of so gifted a teacher in sitting at the feet of a Christian woman and her husband."
There are some in this present day that insist women cannot speak of Christ at all, however, the word of God says otherwise. Those who seek to oppress women need to be shunned, ignored. Most who insist women are to be silent are of the 'Reconstructionist/Dominionism/Patriarchal' persuasion. God forbid women do not proclaim Christ to the unregenerate {family members, neighbors}, or correct brothers and sisters who are in error. The Bible gives us an example of a woman correcting a brother, OUTSIDE the synagogue. Yes, women are NOT to teach/preach within the church, they are NOT to occupy the pulpit. However, let's not go beyond what is written! Search and study for yourselves; God the Spirit will guide you in all truth.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Doctor or Brother?

This is a wonderful short piece from A. W. Pink; oh how many today could learn from this!



What strange methods God sometimes employs in teaching His children much needed lessons. This has recently been the writer's experience. He has been approached by a “University” to accept from them a degree of “D.D.” Asking for time to be given so that he might prayerfully seek from God, through His written Word, a knowledge of His will, fuller light came than was expected. He had very serious doubts as to the permissibility of one of God's servants accepting a title of (fleshly) honour. He now perceives that it is wrong for him to receive it even complimentary. Various friends, as a mark of respect, have addressed us as “Dr. Pink.” We now ask them to please cease from doing so. Let it not be understood that we hereby condemn other men for what they allow. No, to their own Master they stand or fall.

The principal passages which have helped us we now mention, praying that it may please God to also bless them to others.
First , to the false comforters of Job, Elihu (God's representative) said, “Let me not, I pray you, accept any man's person, neither let me give flattering titles unto man” (Job 32:21).
Second, “Be not ye called Rabbi” or “Teacher” (Matt. 23:8), which is what “Doctor” signifies.
Third , John 5:44 reproves those who “receive honour one of another,” and bids us seek “the honour that cometh from God only .”
Fourth , none of the Lord's servants in the N.T. ever employed a title: “Paul, an apostle,” but never “the apostle Paul.”
Fifth , the Son of God “made Himself of no reputation” (Phil. 2:7)—Is it then fitting that His servants should now follow an opposite course?
 Sixth , Christ bids us learn of Him who was “meek and lowly “ (Matt. 11:29).
Seventh , one of the marks of the Apostasy is “having men's persons in admiration because of advantage” (Jude 16).
Eighth , we are bidden to go forth unto Christ outside the camp “bearing His reproach” (Heb 13:13). For these reasons it does not seem to us to be fitting that one who is here as a representative and witness for a “despised and rejected” Christ should be honoured and flattered of men. Please address us as “Brother Pink.”


Looking ahead...

"The things which are not seen."—2 Corinthians 4:18.
N our Christian pilgrimage it is well, for the most part, to be looking forward. Forward lies the crown, and onward is the goal. Whether it be for hope, for joy, for consolation, or for the inspiring of our love, the future must, after all, be the grand object of the eye of faith. Looking into the future we see sin cast out, the body of sin and death destroyed, the soul made perfect, and fit to be a partaker of the inheritance of the saints in light. Looking further yet, the believer's enlightened eye can see death's river passed, the gloomy stream forded, and the hills of light attained on which standeth the celestial city; he seeth himself enter within the pearly gates, hailed as more than conqueror, crowned by the hand of Christ, embraced in the arms of Jesus, glorified with Him, and made to sit together with Him on His throne, even as He has overcome and has sat down with the Father on His throne. The thought of this future may well relieve the darkness of the past and the gloom of the present. The joys of heaven will surely compensate for the sorrows of earth. Hush, hush, my doubts! death is but a narrow stream, and thou shalt soon have forded it. Time, how short—eternity, how long! Death, how brief—immortality, how endless! Methinks I even now eat of Eshcol's clusters, and sip of the well which is within the gate. The road is so, so short! I shall soon be there.
"When the world my heart is rending
With its heaviest storm of care,
My glad thoughts to heaven ascending,
Find a refuge from despair.
Faith's bright vision shall sustain me
Till life's pilgrimage is past;
Fears may vex and troubles pain me,
I shall reach my home at last."


C.H. Spurgeon

Monday, January 27, 2014

Corrupt leaders

This is from Joel Taylor at 5ptsalt...



A good shepherd leads his sheep to pasture. He cares for their every need. He does not drive the sheep with the shepherds crook, but rather uses it to correct the wayward.

Leadership, at any level, should know and follow the example of the Good Shepherd. Failure to do so leaves the sheep without guidance and in danger. Whenever leaders lose their concern for the people they are supposed to lead and concern themselves with themselves, then the people are in trouble.


continue here...

Saturday, January 25, 2014

I thirst

 Here we see the intensity of Christ’s sufferings. Let us first consider this cry of the Saviour’s as an expression of his bodily suffering. To realize something of what lay behind these words of his we must recall and review what preceded them. After instituting the Supper in the upper room, followed by the lengthy paschal discourse to his apostles, the Redeemer adjourned to Gethsemane, and there for an hour he passed through the most excruciating agony. His soul was exceeding sorrowful. As he contemplated the awful cup he shed not beads of perspiration but great drops of blood.

His wrestling in the Garden was terminated by the appearing of the traitor accompanied by the band who had come to arrest him. He was brought before Caiaphas, and middle of the night though it was, he was examined and condemned. The Saviour was held until early morning, and after the weary hours of waiting were over, was brought before Pilate. Following a lengthy trial, orders were given for him to be scourged. Next he was led, perhaps right across the city, to Herod’s judgment-hall, and after a brief appearance before this Roman prelate, he was delivered into the hands of the brutal soldiers. Again he was mocked and scourged, and again he was led across the city, back to Pilate. Once more there was the weary delay, the formalities of a trial, if such a farce deserves the name, followed by the passing sentence of death.

  Then, with bleeding back, carrying his cross under the heat of the now almost midday sun, he journeyed up the rugged heights of Golgotha. Reaching the appointed place of execution, his hands and feet were nailed to the tree. For three hours he hung there with the pitiless rays of the sun beating down on his thorn-crowned head. This was followed by the three hours of darkness, now over.

  That night and that day were hours into which an eternity was compressed. Yet during it all not a single word of murmuring passed his lips. There was no complaining, no begging for mercy. All his sufferings had been borne in majestic silence. Like a sheep dumb before her shearers, so he opened not his mouth. But now, at the end, his whole body wracked with pain, his mouth parched, he cries, "I thirst". It was not an appeal for pity, nor a request for the alleviation of his sufferings; it gave expression to the intensity of the agonies he was undergoing.

  "I thirst." This was more than ordinary thirst. There was something deeper than physical sufferings behind it. A careful comparison of our text with Matthew 27:48 shows these words "I thirst" followed on immediately after the fourth of our Saviour’s cross-utterances - "Eli, Eli, lama, sabachthani" - for while the soldier was pressing the sponge of vinegar to the sufferer’s lips, some of the spectators cried out, "Let be, let us see whether Elias will come to save him". We all know the internal trials of the soul react upon the body, rending its nerves and affecting its strength - "A broken spirit drieth the bones" (Pro. 17:22); "When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long. For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer" (Ps. 32:3,4). The body and the soul sympathize with each other. Let us remember that the Saviour had just emerged from the three hours of darkness, during which God’s face had been turned away from him as he endured the fierceness of his out-poured wrath. This cry of bodily suffering tells us, then, of the severity of the spiritual conflict through which he had just passed! Speaking anticipatively by the mouth of Jeremiah of this very hour, he said, "Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by? behold, and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow, which is done upon me, wherewith the Lord bath afflicted me in the day of his fierce anger. From above hath he sent fire into my bones, and it prevaileth against them: he bath spread a net for my feet, he bath turned me back: he hath made me desolate and faint" (Lam. 1:12, 13). His "thirst" was the effect of the agony of his soul in the fierce heat of God’s wrath. It told of the drought of the land where the living God is not. But more: it plainly expressed his yearning for communion with God again, from whom for three hours he had been separated. Was it not Christ himself who said by the spirit of prophecy, said it now, immediately he emerged from the darkness: "As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?" Do not the words which follow identify the speaker and reveal the time that longing and "panting" was expressed? "My tears have been my meat day and night, while they continually say unto me, Where is thy God?" (Ps. 42:1-3 ).

A.W. Pink

What is the Christian Reconstruction Movement?

This article is written by Bob DeWaay; this movement is dangerous and spreading rapidly...


A recent theological movement known as Christian Reconstruction has made a significant impact on American Christianity in the past several decades. It is based on a Reformed, Calvinistic view of theology with some significant, unique twists. The most prominent one is the conviction that the Scripture gives the church a mandate to take dominion over this world socially and culturally before the bodily return of Jesus Christ.1 This teaching is known as the “dominion mandate.” Genesis 1:26-28; Genesis 9:1-5 and Matthew 28:18-20 are the principal Biblical passages used to prove the validity of this mandate. The key question to be answered is whether these passages teach the dominion mandate as understood by Christian Reconstructionism. The thesis of this article is that these Biblical passages do not teach a social or cultural domination of the world by Christians before the bodily return of Christ. This issue is important because one's understanding of the Great Commission is at stake. This paper will exegetically examine these passages to prove this thesis.

Continue reading here...

Thursday, January 23, 2014

the origin and source of Sin



Concerning the origin and source of this vast moral disease called “sin,” I must say something. I fear the views of many professing Christians on this point are sadly defective and unsound. I dare not pass it by. Let us, then, have it fixed down in our minds that the sinfulness of man does not begin from without, but from within. It is not the result of bad training in early years. It is not picked up from bad companions and bad examples, as some weak Christians are too fond of saying. No! It is a family disease, which we all inherit from our first parents, Adam and Eve, and with which we are born. Created “in the image of God,” innocent and righteous at first, our parents fell from original righteousness and became sinful and corrupt. And from that day to this all men and women are born in the image of fallen Adam and Eve, and inherit a heart and nature inclined to evil. “By one man sin entered into the world.” “That which is born of the flesh is flesh.” “We are by nature children of wrath.” “The carnal mind is enmity against God.” “Out of the heart [naturally, as out of a fountain] proceed evil thoughts, adulteries,” and the like (Joh 3:6; Eph 2:3; Rom 5:12; 8:7; Mar 7:21). The fairest babe that has entered life this year, and become the sunbeam of a family, is not, as its mother perhaps fondly calls it, a little “angel,” or a little “innocent,” but a little “sinner.” Alas! as it lies smiling and crowing in its cradle, that little creature carries in its heart the seeds of every kind of wickedness! Only watch it carefully, as it grows in stature and its mind develops, and you will soon detect in it an incessant tendency to that which is selfish and bad, and a backwardness to that which is good. You will see in it the buds and germs of deceit, evil temper, selfishness, self-will, obstinacy, greediness, envy, jealousy, passion—which, if indulged and let alone, will shoot up with painful rapidity. Who taught the child these things? Where did he learn them? The Bible alone can answer these questions! Of all the foolish things that parents say about their children, there is none worse than the common saying, “My son has a good heart at the bottom. He is not what he ought to be; but he has fallen into bad hands. Public schools are bad places. The tutors neglect the boys. Yet he has a good heart at the bottom.” The truth, unhappily, is diametrically the other way. The first cause of all sin lies in the natural corruption of the boy’s own heart, and not in the school.

Concerning the extent of this vast moral disease of man called sin, let us beware that we make no mistake. The only safe ground is that which is laid for us in Scripture. “Every imagination of the thoughts of his heart” is by nature evil, and that continually (Gen 6:5). “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked” (Jer 17:9). Sin is a disease which pervades and runs through every part of our moral constitution and every faculty of our minds. The understanding, the affections, the reasoning powers, the will, are all more or less infected. Even the conscience is so blinded that it cannot be depended on as a sure guide, and is as likely to lead men wrong as right, unless it is enlightened by the Holy Ghost. In short, “from the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness” about us (Isa 1:6). The disease may be veiled under a thin covering of courtesy, politeness, good manners, and outward decorum; but it lies deep down in the constitution.

J.C. Ryle - Holiness

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

A Miracle of Grace

Salvation by grace - sovereign, irresistible, free grace - is illustrated in the New Testament by example as well as precept. Perhaps the two most striking cases of all are those of Saul of Tarsus and the Dying Robber. And the case of the latter is even more noteworthy than the former. In the case of Saul, who afterwards became Paul the apostle to the Gentiles, there was an exemplary moral character to begin with. Writing years afterwards of his condition before his conversion, the apostle declared that as touching the righteousness of the law he was "blameless" (Phil. 3:6). He was a "Pharisee of the Pharisees": punctilious in his habits, correct in his deportment. Morally, his character was flawless. After his conversion his life was one of gospel-righteousness. Constrained by the love of Christ he spent himself in preaching the gospel to sinners and in labouring to buildup the saints. Doubtless our readers will agree with us when we say that probably Paul came nearest to attaining the ideals of the Christian life, and that he followed after his Master more closely than any other saint has since.
But with the saved thief it was far otherwise. He had no moral life before his conversion and no life of active service after it. Before his conversion he respected neither the law of God nor the law of man. After his conversion he died without having opportunity to engage in the service of Christ. I would emphasize this, because these are the two things which are regarded by so many as contributing factors to our salvation. It is supposed that we must first fit ourselves by developing a noble character before God will receive us as his sons; and that after he has received us, tentatively, we are merely placed on probation, and that unless we now bring forth a certain quality and quantity of good works we shall "fall from grace and be lost". But the dying thief had no good works either before or after conversion. Hence we are shut up to the conclusion that if saved at all he was certainly saved by sovereign grace.
The salvation of the dying thief also disposes of another prop which the legality of the carnal mind interposes to rob God of the glory due unto his grace. Instead of attributing the salvation of lost sinners to the matchless grace of God, many professing Christians seek to account for them by human influences, instrumentalities and circumstances. Either the preacher or providential and propitious circumstances or the prayers of believers, are looked to as the main cause. Let us not be misunderstood here. It is true that often God is pleased to use means in the conversion of sinners; that frequently he condescends to bless our prayers and efforts to point sinners to Christ; that many times he causes his providences to awaken and arouse the ungodly to a realization of their state. But God is not shut up to these things. He is not limited to human instrumentalities. His grace is all powerful, and when he pleases, that grace is able to save in spite of the lack of human instrumentalities, and in the face of unfavorable circumstances. So it was in the case of the saved thief.
Consider:
His conversion occurred at a time when to outward appearance Christ had lost all power to save either himself or others. This thief had marched along with the Saviour through the streets of Jerusalem and had seen him sink beneath the weight of the cross! It is highly probable that as one who followed the occupation of a thief and robber this was the first day he had ever set eyes on the Lord Jesus, and now that he did see him it was under every circumstance of weakness and disgrace. His enemies were triumphing over him. His friends had mostly forsaken him. Public opinion was unanimously against him. His very crucifixion was regarded as utterly inconsistent with his Messiah-ship. His lowly condition was a stumblingblock to the Jews from the very first, and the circumstances of his death must have intensified it, especially to one who had never seen him except in this condition. Even those who had believed on him were made to doubt by his crucifixion. There was not one in the crowd who stood there with out-stretched finger and cried, "Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world!" And yet, notwithstanding these obstacles and difficulties in the way of his faith, the thief apprehended the Saviour-hood and Lordship of Christ. How can we possibly account for such faith and such spiritual understanding in one circumstanced as he was? How can we explain the fact that this dying thief took a suffering, bleeding, crucified man for his God! It cannot be accounted for apart from divine intervention and supernatural operation. His faith in Christ was a miracle of grace!
 

Pinpointing Sin

Sexual sin is damning to the soul; the word of God repeatedly warns against all sexual sin. We cannot point the sinner to Christ without first pointing them to sin, however, should we purposely go against a law of man as we proclaim God's truth? There may come a day when we cannot proclaim Christ crucified or speak of any sin, but that day is not yet here. Can we proclaim the whole counsel without specifically stating the sin of homosexuality? Yes we can, and we should. We are commanded to be wise as serpents and innocent as doves, especially in a day where laws are being enforced against speaking out on homosexuality. It seems homosexuality has been elevated to a higher status than other sexual sins, as if it were in a class all by itself. It is no longer seen as sin by the unbelieving world; it's a 'right'. As Christians, we cannot re-define sin or let society determine how we handle it. Again, it bears repeating, 'wise as serpents, innocent as doves'.

Much too much attention has been given this sin; what about the married woman or man who fantasize about someone in their thought-life? This is just as sinful as the homosexual who lusts after the same sex; both of these sexual sins are damning to the soul {Matthew 5:28; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10}. One of the most poignant verses in the Bible concerning sexual sin can be found in Hebrews 13:4, "Let marriage be had in honour among all, and let the bed be undefiled: for fornicators and adulterers God will judge." Surely proclaiming this truth would suffice in covering all the 'bases' concerning sexual sin, and no law of man is broken by the proclamation of this text. As the unbelieving world tightens the noose, we must pray for wisdom and certainly not back down. Meekness and lowliness are essential in the heart of God's people, as well as compassion for lost souls. The motive and desire MUST be for the glory of God and NEVER to draw attention to 'self'! ; if you do not desire to exalt Christ and bring Him glory, may He cause you to tremble. There are some in our day who would do more good for Christ if they would remain silent.

I close this post with commentary on Hebrews 13:4 from Matthew Henry... "Here you have, 1. A recommendation of God's ordinance of marriage, that it is honourable in all, and ought to be so esteemed by all, and not denied to those to whom God has not denied it. It is honourable, for God instituted it for man in paradise, knowing it was not good for him to be alone. He married and blessed the first couple, the first parents of mankind, to direct all to look unto God in that great concern, and to marry in the Lord. Christ honoured marriage with his presence and first miracle. It is honourable as a means to prevent impurity and a defiled bed. It is honourable and happy, when persons come together pure and chaste, and preserve the marriage bed undefiled, not only from unlawful but inordinate affections. 2. A dreadful but just censure of impurity and lewdness: Whoremongers and adulterers God will judge. (1.) God knows who are guilty of such sins, no darkness can hide them from him. (2.) He will call such sins by their proper names, not by the names of love and gallantry, but of whoredom and adultery, whoredom in the single state and adultery in the married state. (3.) He will bring them into judgment, he will judge them, either by their own consciences here, and set their sins in order before them for their deep humiliation (and conscience, when awakened, will be very severe upon such sinners), or he will set them at his tribunal at death, and in the last day; he will convict them, condemn them, and cast them out for ever, if they die under the guilt of this sin."

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Unlawful judgment

Matthew 7:1

The verses at which we have now arrived begin a new section of our Lord's Sermon, and that it is by no means one of the simplest appears from the diverse treatment which it has received at the hands of the commentators. They are almost unanimous in allowing that our Lord's prohibition "Judge not" cannot be understood in its widest possible latitude, yet as to how far and wherein it is to be modified there is little agreement. That Christ's forbidding us to exercise and pass judgment upon others cannot be taken absolutely, few if any who are acquainted with the general tenor of God's Word would deny, yet as soon as they attempted to define its limitations a considerable variety of opinions would be expressed. This should at once warn us against coming to any hasty conclusion as to the meaning of Matthew 7:1, and guard us against being misled by the mere sound of its words. Yea, it should drive us to our knees, begging God graciously to subdue the prejudices of our hearts and enlighten our minds, and then diligently search the Scriptures for other passages which throw light upon the one now before us.
Not only is it very necessary for our own personal good that we spare no pains in endeavoring to arrive at a right understanding of these verses, for it is to our own loss that we misapprehend any portion of Holy Writ, as it will be to our own condemnation if we transgress this Divine commandment, but unless its meaning be opened unto us we shall be at a loss to repel those who would bring us into bondage by the corrupt use they make of it. There are few verses quoted more frequently than the opening one of Matthew 7, and few less understood by those who are so ready to cite it and hurl it at the heads of those whom they ignorantly or maliciously suppose are contravening it. Let the servant of God denounce a man who is promulgating serious error, and there are those-boasting of their broadmindedness-who will say to him, "Judge not, that ye be not judged." Let the saint faithfully rebuke an offender for some sin, and he is likely to have the same text quoted against him.
"Judge not, that ye be not judged." The word which is here rendered "judge" is one that occurs frequently in the New Testament, and it is used in quite a variety of senses. It is the one found in "I speak as to wise men; judge ye what I say" (1 Cor. 10:15), and in "judge in yourselves: is it comely that a woman pray unto God uncovered?" (1 Cor. 11:13), where "judge" means weigh carefully and form an opinion or consideration. It occurs in "thou [Simon, whom Christ asked, "Which of them will love Him most?"] hast rightly judged" (Luke 7:43), where it signifies inferred or drawn a conclusion. It occurs in "If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord" (Acts 16:15), that is, "if you regard or account me so." "Take ye Him and judge Him according to your law" (John 18:31) means, "put Him on trial before your court." In Romans 14:3, "judge" has the force of despise, as is clear from the first member of the antithesis. "Doth our law judge any man before it hear him?" (John 7:51), where "judge" signifies condemn-its commonest signification. Which or how many of these meanings the word "judge" has in our text must be carefully ascertained and not hastily or arbitrarily assumed.
Now the first thing to do when prayerfully studying a passage on which opinions vary is to examine its context, first the remote and then the immediate. In this instance the "remote" would be the particular portion of the Word in which it occurs, namely the Sermon on the Mount. As we pass from one section to another in this Sermon, it is very important that we bear in mind our Lord's dominant object and design therein, which was to show that He requires in the character and conduct of His disciples something radically different from and far superior to that religion which obtained among the Jews, the highest form of which they regarded the scribes and Pharisees as possessing. The keynote was struck by Christ when He told His hearers, "except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven" (v. 20). That which precedes and all that follows to the end of His discourse is to be pondered and interpreted in the light of that statement.
In the earlier chapters we called attention frequently to what has last been pointed out, and it must not be lost sight of as we enter upon the present division of our Lord's address. That which pre-eminently characterized the Pharisees was the very high regard which they had for themselves and the utter contempt in which they held all who belonged not to their sect. This is evident from the words of Christ in Luke 18:9, where we are told, "He spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others"; in what immediately follows we have contrasted the Pharisee and the publican. The Pharisees took it upon them to go up and down passing censorious and unjust judgment upon others, while blind to their own glaring faults. The disciple of Christ is to conduct himself in a manner exactly the reverse: unsparingly judging himself and refusing to invade the office of God where others are concerned.
The "more immediate context" of Matthew 7:1, is the verses which follow it. In order to obtain a right understanding of verse 1, it is important to recognize that the next four verses are inseparably connected with it, that the five together form one complete section treating of the same subject. The contents of verse 2 show plainly that we have a continuation of the theme of verse 1, while the "and" at the beginning of verse 3 and the "or" at the beginning of verse 4 denote the same thing, while verse 5 contains our Lord's application of the whole. The value of preserving the link between the later verses and the opening one lies in noting the threefold mention of "thy brother" in verses 3, 4 and 5, and in observing what is there said of his state and the state of the one who takes him to task. If these details be kept in mind we shall be preserved from making an erroneous interpretation and application of verse I. As we must not too much anticipate what is to come we will leave these suggestions with the reader for him to ponder.
After carefully weighing both the remote and immediate contexts of our verse our next task is to search the Scriptures for all other passages treating of or bearing upon the subject of judging others. It is most essential that we do so if we are to be preserved from many erroneous ideas. Some statements of Holy Writ are presented in a very terse and contracted form, but elsewhere they are amplified and filled out: others are expressed in seemingly absolute terms, but elsewhere are modified and qualified. As an illustration of the latter, take the fourth commandment. The Sabbath day is to be kept holy: "in it thou shalt not do any work"; yet from the teachings of Christ we know that works of piety, of mercy, and of necessity are lawful on that day. So it is with our present text: unless we are very careful in our interpretation of it we shall prohibit what is elsewhere required, and be found censuring that which other passages commend.
"The capacity of judging, of forming an estimate and opinion, is one of our most valuable faculties and the right use of it one of our most important duties. 'Why even of yourselves judge ye not what is right?' (Luke 12:57) says our Lord; 'judge righteous judgment' (John 7:24). If we do not form judgments as to what is true and false, how can we embrace the one and avoid the other?" (John Brown). It is very necessary that we have our "senses exercised to discern [Greek "thoroughly judge"] both good and evil" (Heb. 5:14) if we are not to be deceived by appearances and taken in by every oily-mouthed impostor we encounter. It must not be thought that our Lord here forbade us to act according to the dictates of common prudence and to form an estimate of everything we meet with in the path of duty, nor even that He prohibited us from judging men's characters and actions according to their avowed principles and visible conduct, for in this very chapter He bids us measure men by this rule, saying, "by their fruits ye shall know them" (verse 20), and many duties to others absolutely require us to form a judgment of men, with respect both to their state and their conduct.
Unless we form estimates and come to a decision of what is good and evil in those we meet with we shall be found rejecting the one and condoning the other. "Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves" (Matthew 7:15): how shall we heed this injunction unless we carefully measure every preacher we hear by the Word of God? "Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them" (Eph. 5:11): in order to obey this we are obliged to exercise a judgment as to what are "works of darkness." "We command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly" (2 Thess. 3:6): this compels us to decide who is "walking disorderly." "Mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them" (Rom. 16:17): this requires us to determine who are guilty of such things. Thus it is abundantly clear that our Lord's prohibition in Matthew 7:1, is by no means to be taken absolutely.
There are four kinds of judging which are lawful and required by the Word: two public and two private. First, ecclesiastical judgment. This belongs chiefly to the minister, who in preaching God's Word judges men by admonishing their sins, and in his private dealings he must be faithful to their souls and rebuke where necessary. The judgment of the Church is exercised when it decides upon the credibility of the profession of one applying for membership: so too in the maintenance of discipline and exclusion of those who refuse to heed its reproofs. Second, civil government. This pertains to the magistrate, whose office it is to examine those charged with criminal offences, giving judgment according to the laws of the land, acquitting the innocent, sentencing those proved guilty. Legitimate private judgment is first where one man in a Christian manner reprehends another for his sins, which is required by the Lord (Lev. 19:17) and second where the grosser faults of notorious offenders are condemned and others informed thereof that they may be warned against them.
"Judge not:" that which is here forbidden is unlawful judging of our fellows, of which we will instance a variety of cases. First, officiously or magisterially, which lies outside the prerogative of the private individual: this is assuming such an authority over others as we would not allow them to exercise over us, since our rule is to be "subject one to another and be clothed with humility" (1 Pet. 5:5). We are required both by the law of nature (which includes rationality and prudence) and the Scriptures to judge of things, and persons too, as we meet them in the sphere of duty, but to judge whatever lies outside of our path and province is forbidden. "Study to be quiet and to do your own business" (1 Thess. 4:11): if we give full and proper heed to this Divine precept we shall have little or no leisure left to pry into the affairs of others. That which our text prohibits is the passing beyond our legitimate sphere, that taking upon us to judge that which is not set before us for judgment, intruding into the circle of others: "let none of you suffer. . . as a busybody in other men's matters" (1 Pet. 4:15).
Second, "judge not" presumptuously, which is done when we treat mere suspicions or unconfirmed rumors as though they were authenticated facts, and when we ascribe actions to springs which lie outside the range of our cognizance. To pass judgment on the motives of another, which are open to none save the eye of Omniscience, is highly reprehensible, for it is an intrusion upon the Divine prerogative, an invading of the very office of God. "Who art thou that judgest another man's servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth" (Rom. 14:4) places the Divine ban upon such conduct. A notable example of what is here interdicted is recorded in Job 1. When the Lord commended His servant unto Satan, saying "Hast thou considered My servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God and escheweth evil?" the evil one answered, "Doth Job fear God for nought? Hast not Thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? Thou hast blessed the work of his hands and his substance is increased in the land: but put forth Thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse Thee to Thy face" (vv. 8-11), suggesting that Job only served God for the gain thereof. Thus to judge presumptuously the motives of another is devilish!
Third, "judge not" hypocritically. This form of unlawful judgment was particularly before our Lord on this occasion, as appears from the verses which immediately follow. The one who is quick to detect the minor faults of others while blind to or unconcerned about his own graver sins is dishonest, pretending to be very precise while giving free rein to his own lusts. Such two-facedness is most reprehensible in the sight of God, and to all right-minded people too. "Therefore thou art inexcusable O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyseIf; for thou that judgest doest the same things" (Rom. 2:1). No matter what may be his social standing, his educational advantages, his religious profession, the one who is guilty of partiality, who censures in others that which he allows in himself, is inexcusable and self-condemned. That even true, yea, eminent, saints are liable to this grievous sin appears from the case of David, for when Nathan propounded the instance of the rich man sparing his own flock and seizing the one lamb of his poor neighbor's, David's anger was greatly kindled and he adjudged the transgressor as worthy of death, while lying himself under guilt equally heinous (2 Sam. 12:1-11).
Fourth, "judge not" hastily or rashly. Before thinking the worst of any person we must make full investigation and obtain clear proof that our suspicions are well grounded or the report we heard is a reliable one. Before the Most High brought upon the world the confusion of languages it is said that He "came down to see the city and the tower which the children of men builded" (Gen. 11:5), as though He would personally investigate their conduct before He passed sentence upon them. So again, before He destroyed the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, He said, "I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto Me" (Gen. 18:21). Thus God would teach us that before we pass sentence in our minds upon any offender we must take the trouble of obtaining decisive proof of his guilt. We are expressly commanded "judge not according to the appearance (John 7:24), for appearances are proverbially deceptive. Always go to the transgressor and give him an opportunity to clear himself: "he that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him" (Prov. 18:13).
Fifth, "judge not unwarrantably, which is to go beyond the rule which is set before us. In God's Word certain things are commended, certain things condemned, yet there is another class of things on which the Scriptures pronounce no verdict, which we term "things indifferent," and to condemn anyone for using such things is to be "righteous over much" (Eccl. 7:16). It was for just such offences that the apostle reproved some of the saints at Rome, who were sitting in judgment upon their brethren over different things as "meat and drink." So too he admonished the Colossians who were being brought into bondage by the "Touch not, taste not, handle not of the "commandments and doctrines of men" (2:20-23). The Holy Spirit points out that in such cases to judge a brother is to "speak evil of the law" (Jas. 4:11), which means that he who condemns a brother for anything which God has not proscribed regards the Law as being faulty because it has not prohibited such things. "He who quarrels with his brother and condemns him for the sake of anything not determined in the Word of God, does there by reflect on His Word, as if it were not a perfect rule" (Matthew Henry).
Sixth, "judge not" unjustly or unfairly, ignoring everything that is favorable in another and fixing only on that which is unfavorable. It is often far from being an easy matter to secure all the materials and facts which in any case are necessary to form a judgment, yet to pronounce judgment without them is to run a serious hazard of doing another a cruel injustice. Many a one has rashly condemned another who, had he known all, might have approved or at least pitied him. Again, it is very unjust to censure one who has sincerely done his best simply because his effort falls short of what satisfies us. Much unjust judgment proceeds from a spirit of revenge and a desire to do mischief. When David sent his servants to comfort Hanun, the king of Ammon, upon the death of his father, that king suffered his nobles to persuade him that the servants of David were spies on an evil mission (2 Sam. 10): a horrible war was the outcome-behold how great a fire a little matter kindleth!
Seventh, "judge not" unmercifully. While on the one hand we are certainly not, as far too many today appear to think, obliged to regard one who holds fundamental error or one who is thoroughly worldly as a good Christian, yet on the other hand the law of charity requires us to put the best construction we can on doubtful actions, and never without proof ascribe good ones to evil principles or motives. God does not require us to call darkness light or evil good, nevertheless since we are so full of sin ourselves and so prone to err, we must ever be on our guard lest we call light darkness and good evil. We are not to go about with our eyes closed nor wink at sin when we see it, yet it is equally wrong for us to hunt for something to condemn and seize upon every trifle and magnify molehills into mountains. We are not to make a man an offender for a word, nor harbor suspicions where there is no evidence. Many a one has condemned another, where no ground for judgment existed, out of personal jealousy and ill will, which is doing Satan's work. May the Lord graciously deliver both writer and reader from all these forms of unlawfully judging others.
 

The idol worship of celebrity pastors

Men following men is an age old problem; elevating Pastors to celebrity status is all too common...and sinful. I found this excerpt from William Gurnall concerning this age-old problem...


"Enslave not thy judgment to any person or party. There is a spiritual suretiship which hath undone many in their judgments and principles. Be not bound to, or for the judgment of any. Weigh truth, and tell gold thou mayest, after thy father; but thou must live by thy own faith, not another's. Labour to see truth with thine own eyes. That building stands weak which is held up by a shore, or some neighbour house it leans on, rather than on a foundation of its own. When these go, that will fall to the ground also. Let not authority from man, but evidence from the word, conclude thy judgment; that is but a shore, this is a foundation. Quote the Scripture rather than men for thy judgment. Not, so saith a learned man; but thus saith the holy Scripture. Yet, take heed of bending this direction too far the other way; which is done when we contemn the judgment of such whose piety and learning might command reverence. There is sure a mean to be found betwixt defying men, and deifying them. It is the admiring of persons that forms the traitor to truth, and makes many cry 'Hosanna' to error, and 'Crucify' to truth. Eusebius, out of Josephus, tells us of Herod's--that Herod whom we read of, Acts 12:23, as being eaten up of worms--coming upon the theatre gorgeously clad, and that while he was making an eloquent oration to the people, his silver robe, which he then wore, did, by the reflex of the sunbeams shining on it, so glister, as dazzled the eyes of the spectators; and this, saith he, occasioned some flatterers to cry out, 'The voice of God, and not of man.' And truly the glistering varnish which some men's parts and rhetoric put upon their discourses, does oft so blind the judgments of their admirers, that they are too prone to think all divine they speak, especially if they be such as God hath formerly used as instruments for any good to their souls. O it is hard then, as he said, amare hominem humaniter--to love and esteem man as a man, to reverence him such so, as not to be in danger of loving their errors also. Augustine had been a means to convert Alypius from one error, and he confesseth this was an occasion why he was so easily by him led into another error--no less than Manicheism. Alypius thought he could not pervert him here that had converted him. Call therefore none father on earth; despise none, adore none."  William Gurnall

Monday, January 20, 2014

The call to join in the sufferings of Christ


Judging others

"Judge not, that ye be not judged" (v. 1). In the previous chapter we were obliged, so as not to exceed the usual length, to confine ourselves unto the first part of this brief verse. In it we sought to show what is here not forbidden, that there is a lawful judging which God requires us to exercise, both in public and in private. Then we pointed out no less than seven forms of unlawful judging, indicating that this prohibition of Christ's is a very comprehensive one. Our apology, if such be needed, for entering into so much detail is, first, because these words "judge not" are so frequently misunderstood and misapplied; and second, because the sin which is here forbidden is a very grievous one and has become exceedingly common. Some Christians are more prone to it than others, one in one way and one in another. It is a sin which may be committed in the house of prayer. When the minister is rebuking some evil or failure in some particular duty, there are often those present who will conclude he is addressing himself to some others in the congregation, which is one reason why so many reap so little from hearing the Word preached.
Now since it be wrong for us to judge one of our brethren or even our fellows presumptuously, hypocritically, hastily, unwarrantably, unjustly or unmercifully, how much more heinous must it be for us to give audible expression to the same and transmit it to others! Equally so is it for those who listen to us to repeat the same. "Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people" (Lev. 19:16): yet who among us can plead innocence therein? Alas, how many there are, now that the pulse of love beats so feebly, who take a devilish pleasure in spreading evil reports of fellow members and enlarging on the same. "A talebearer revealeth secrets: but he that is of a faithful spirit concealeth the matter" (Prov. 11:13). Equally reprehensible is it for us to censure and hold up to scorn those of another denomination, unless the Scriptures plainly condemn them. "Speak evil of no man's (Titus 3:2) forbids us expressing anything to the discredit or disadvantage of another to anyone but to oneself, except where duty demands it-the putting others on their guard against an evil-doer or a doctrinal corrupter.
It should be pointed out that veracity is not the only virtue which needs to be exercised whenever we make report of the character and conduct of another. To say of such and such a person, "He possesses this or that virtue, but-well, least said, soonest mended," is far worse than saying nothing at all, for such an utterance insinuates to our hearers that there is some grave evil in the party to whom we have alluded. We may say nothing but what is the truth, yet by the very manner in which we express ourselves suggest that a certain person is not to be trusted. Thus when David came to Ahimelech begging bread for his men and requesting some weapon, and the priest granted him the sword of Goliath (1 Sam. 21), Doeg, who witnessed the transaction, put his knowledge to a wicked use by reporting the same unto Saul, implying that Ahimelech had entered into a conspiracy with David against the king's life; and the telling of the truth from such an evil motive and in such a manner cost the lives of eighty-five priests (1 Sam. 22:18): again we say, Behold how great a fire a little matter kindleth!
 
Continue reading A. W. Pink's teaching here...

Mistakes about conversion

This is from Kevin at uncommon faith...

This is a very sobering and humbling article to write, as I think about my own life and the lives of so many that are dear to me. I think of those that I believe have truly been converted. I marvel at God’s work and how He is the author of salvation. He does the work … according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace… (Ephesians 1:5-6).

I also consider those, just like I once was that are deceived in their conversion and have a false hope. They don’t know they have a false hope; they are comfortable in their “christianity” and you can’t convince them otherwise because they are blinded with pride. They’ve been “good”, they’ve been moral, they’ve gone to church, they know the right people, and they have been properly set up to believe in their hope. Yet if you were able to really dig deep and really examine the claims closely you would get a troubling picture that may actually challenge their lives, yet they won’t allow it.

You can finish reading Kevin's article here...

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Today's 'Ministry'

The ministry has been very often degraded into a ‘trade’.
They are ‘selected by man’, they are crammed with literature;
they are educated up to a certain point; they are turned out
ready dressed; and persons call them ‘ministers’.
I wish them all God-speed, every one of them; for as
good Joseph Irons used to say, “God be with many of them,
if it be only to make them hold their tongues.”
Man-made ministers are of no use in this world,
and the sooner we get rid of them the better.
C. H. Spurgeon , a  re-post

His People

"You shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins!" Matthew 1:21
The angel's message to Joseph was a message of grace, redemption, and salvation to sinners. By God's command, He was named, "JESUS," Savior, because He was sent by God to save His people from their sins. What He is called, that He is--Jesus, our Savior.
The Lord Jesus came into the world to save "His people" from their sins. Those He came to save were His people before He came to save them, His by eternal election. There are some people in this world, an elect multitude, chosen in Him before the world began, who are peculiarly and distinctively His people, the objects of His everlasting love, chosen in Him unto salvation (Ephesians 1:2-6; 2 Thessalonians 2:13).
The Lord Jesus Christ is an almighty, effectual Savior! He saves His people from . . .
   the penalty of their sins--by His blood atonement,
   the dominion of their sins--by His regenerating Spirit,
   the being of their sins--when He takes them out of this world,
   all the evil consequences of their sins--in resurrection glory!
Universal love, universal grace, and universal redemption--is meaningless love, meaningless grace, and meaningless redemption. To preach such, is to preach a meaningless gospel, a meaningless god, and a meaningless savior!
"You shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins!"

Don Fortner, from Grace Gems

Have you lost Christ?

"I sought him, but I found him not."

-
Son_3:1

Tell me where you lost the company of a Christ, and I will tell you the most likely place to find him. Have you lost Christ in the closet by restraining prayer? Then it is there you must seek and find him. Did you lose Christ by sin? You will find Christ in no other way but by the giving up of the sin, and seeking by the Holy Spirit to mortify the member in which the lust doth dwell. Did you lose Christ by neglecting the Scriptures? You must find Christ in the Scriptures. It is a true proverb, "Look for a thing where you dropped it, it is there." So look for Christ where you lost him, for he has not gone away. But it is hard work to go back for Christ. Bunyan tells us, the pilgrim found the piece of the road back to the Arbour of Ease, where he lost his roll, the hardest he had ever travelled. Twenty miles onward is easier than to go one mile back for the lost evidence.

Take care, then, when you find your Master, to cling close to him. But how is it you have lost him? One would have thought you would never have parted with such a precious friend, whose presence is so sweet, whose words are so comforting, and whose company is so dear to you! How is it that you did not watch him every moment for fear of losing sight of him? Yet, since you have let him go, what a mercy that you are seeking him, even though you mournfully groan, "O that I knew where I might find him!" Go on seeking, for it is dangerous to be without thy Lord. Without Christ you are like a sheep without its shepherd; like a tree without water at its roots; like a sere leaf in the tempest-not bound to the tree of life. With thine whole heart seek him, and he will be found of thee: only give thyself thoroughly up to the search, and verily, thou shalt yet discover him to thy joy and gladness.

Spurgeon

It is better


"It is better to take refuge in the LORD Than to trust in man. " ~ Psalm 118:8


When you consider all the celebrity preachers we have, it's good to be reminded of this text and to meditate upon it. I share with you some commentary on this text....

"It is better in all ways, for first of all it is wiser: God is infinitely more able to help, and more likely to help, than man, and therefore prudence suggests that we put our confidence in him above all others. It is also morally better to do so, for it is the duty of the creature to trust in the Creator. God has a claim upon his creatures: faith, he deserves to be trusted; and to place our reliance upon another rather than upon himself, is a direct insult to his faithfulness. It is better in the sense of safer, since we can never be sure of our ground if we rely upon mortal man, but we are always secure in the hands of our God. It is better in its effect upon ourselves: to trust in man tends to make us mean, crouching, dependent; but confidence in God elevates, produces a sacred quiet of spirit, and sanctifies the soul. It is, moreover, much better to trust in God, as far as the result is concerned; for in many cases the human object of our trust fails from want of ability, from want of generosity, from want of affection, or from want of memory; but the Lord, so far from failing, does for us exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or even think. This verse is written out of the experience of many who have first of all found the broken reeds of the creature break under them, and have afterwards joyfully found the Lord to be a solid pillar sustaining all their weight."   C. H. Spurgeon

"Literally, "Good is it to trust in Yahweh more than to confide in man." This is the Hebrew form of comparison, and is equivalent to what is stated in our version, "It is better," etc. It is better,

(1) because man is weak - but God is Almighty;

(2) because man is selfish - but God is benevolent;

(3) because man is often faithless and deceitful - God never;

(4) because there are emergencies, as death, in which man cannot aid us, however faithful, kind, and friendly he may be - but there are no circumstances in this life, and none in death, where God cannot assist us; and

(5) because the ability of man to help us pertains at best only to this present life - the power of God will be commensurate with eternity." Albert Barnes


Who are you trusting in for all things?


Friday, January 17, 2014

True holiness



 
http://www.gracegems.org/Ryle/holiness1.htm
 
 
True holiness, we surely ought to remember, does not consist merely of inward sensations and impressions. It is much more than tears, and sighs, and bodily excitement, and a quickened pulse, and a passionate feeling of attachment to our own favourite preachers and our own religious party, and a readiness to quarrel with everyone who does not agree with us. It is something of “the image of Christ,” which can be seen and observed by others in our private life, habits, character, and doings (Rom 8:29).
 
 Let us never forget that truth, distorted and exaggerated, can become the mother of the most dangerous heresies.