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

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

His corrections are sent in love

“And all the children of Israel murmured.”
- Numbers 14:2

There are murmurers amongst Christians now, as there were in the camp of Israel of old. There are those who, when the rod falls, cry out against the afflictive dispensation. They ask, “Why am I thus afflicted? What have I done to be chastened in this manner?” A word with thee, O murmurer! Why shouldst thou murmur against the dispensations of thy heavenly Father? Can he treat thee more hardly than thou deservest? Consider what a rebel thou wast once, but he has pardoned thee! Surely, if he in his wisdom sees fit now to chasten thee, thou shouldst not complain. After all, art thou smitten as hardly as thy sins deserve? Consider the corruption which is in thy breast, and then wilt thou wonder that there needs so much of the rod to fetch it out? Weigh thyself, and discern how much dross is mingled with thy gold; and dost thou think the fire too hot to purge away so much dross as thou hast? Does not that proud rebellious spirit of thine prove that thy heart is not thoroughly sanctified? Are not those murmuring words contrary to the holy submissive nature of God’s children? Is not the correction needed? But if thou wilt murmur against the chastening, take heed, for it will go hard with murmurers. God always chastises his children twice, if they do not bear the first stroke patiently. But know one thing-”He doth not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men.” All his corrections are sent in love, to purify thee, and to draw thee nearer to himself. Surely it must help thee to bear the chastening with resignation if thou art able to recognize thy Father’s hand. For “whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons.” “Murmur not as some of them also murmured and were destroyed of the destroyer.”                    C.H. Spurgeon

Sunday, April 27, 2014

the most despised verse

(Frank Hall)
"Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated." Romans 9:13 
This is perhaps the most despised verse in the entire Bible! 
Contrary to popular religious opinion, God does not love all people.
There are only two kinds of people in this world--Jacobs and Esaus.
These two men represent the entire human race.
Jacob represents God's elect--and Esau represents the reprobate.
Jacob is loved by God--and Esau is hated by God. 
God's love is sovereign and free. God's love for Jacob did not depend on Jacob. God loved Jacob, simply because He chose to love Jacob--not because He saw something in Jacob that merited His love. In fact, Jacob proved himself to be completely unworthy of God's love--as do all whom God loves.
God's love depends on God, not Jacob. Jacob can't earn God's love, and Jacob cannot lose God's love--because it does not depend on him. The love of God is completely sovereign and free. God gives and withholds His love as He sees fit.
God's love is discriminating love. Love is always discriminating. By definition, love is never common to all. Jacob was set apart by God's love, and being set apart by God's love--he had God's special favor and the affection of God's heart. God's love is always particular and distinguishing. He does not love allpeople--He only loves Jacob. 
God's love for Jacob and hatred for Esau are according to His eternal purpose, not according to their works. "Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad--in order that God's purpose in election might stand: not by works, but by Him who calls . . . Just as it is written: 'Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.' What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! For He says to Moses, 'I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.' It does not, therefore, depend on man's desire or effort, but on God's mercy!" Romans 9:11-16
Jacob was elected to salvation before he was born, and Esau was rejected by God before he was born--according to God's eternal purpose.
Because Jacob was loved by God--God sent His Son into this world to redeem him from his sins. Christ died for Jacob--not for Esau! "Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated."

Saturday, April 26, 2014

What does the Lord require of you?

What does the Lord require of you?

(Alexander Smellie, "On the Secret Place" 1907)

"What does the Lord require of you? 
 To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God." Micah 6:8 

Simplicity and comprehensiveness mark the requirements of my God. He can abbreviate His demands into the fewest words; but they are words which embrace . . . 
  the inward and outward,
  the present and future,
  the earthly and the heavenly.

I may fall into serious error regarding His will for me:
It is not a religion of ritual observances which He requires. How easily I attach an undue importance to ceremonies and forms, rites and penances and fasts! 

Nor does He solicit primarily a religion of external moralities.God looks on my heart. 

Nor is it a religion of emotions of which He is in quest. I must not put excitement and tears, in the place of saving grace and childlike obedience.

But see, my soul, God asks us to act justly. I cannot be His, unless I do justly. Everything that takes an improper advantage of another, and all that departs from the straightest line of absolute rectitude--I must hate and abjure. It is a demand which pierces deeper than it seems. For the integrity of conduct He desires--is the outcome only of a conscience He has quickened, and a will He has bent into submission to His law. The ethics of the Gospel are preceded and rendered possible, by the redemption and regeneration of the Gospel.

And God asks tenderness. He counsels me to love mercy. The world is full of sorrow, and I am to move through it as a good physician, befriending and uplifting those in need. 

It is what He does Himself. Every glorious quality has its fountain in Him--but pre-eminently the quality of mercy. He is the great Forgiver and the great Helper--no earthly father loves like Him, and no mother is half so mild. So my feeble torch is but kindled at His altar. My charities and philanthropies must be learned in His school, who pardons my ten thousand transgressions!

And God asks humility. He commands me to lay my hand in His, and to walk humbly in His company. Nothing is so essential as poverty of spirit. It is the source and spring from which alone runs the fertilizing river of a holy life. The humble heart is where the flowers of Heaven find their congenial soil, and grow into beauty and fragrance. I only begin to be a disciple, when my proud heart is brought low--and my Savior is lifted high.

Now, my Father, if these are to be the features of my soul--then it is manifest that none but You can create them, and can nurture them, and can lead them to their perfection. Do the work Lord, and have the glory!

Let us hold fast to Him

“This do in remembrance of me.”
- 1Co_11:24

It seems then, that Christians may forget Christ! There could be no need for this loving exhortation, if there were not a fearful supposition that our memories might prove treacherous. Nor is this a bare supposition: it is, alas! too well confirmed in our experience, not as a possibility, but as a lamentable fact. It appears almost impossible that those who have been redeemed by the blood of the dying Lamb, and loved with an everlasting love by the eternal Son of God, should forget that gracious Saviour; but, if startling to the ear, it is, alas! too apparent to the eye to allow us to deny the crime. Forget him who never forgot us! Forget him who poured his blood forth for our sins! Forget him who loved us even to the death! Can it be possible? Yes, it is not only possible, but conscience confesses that it is too sadly a fault with all of us, that we suffer him to be as a wayfaring man tarrying but for a night. He whom we should make the abiding tenant of our memories is but a visitor therein. The cross where one would think that memory would linger, and unmindfulness would be an unknown intruder, is desecrated by the feet of forgetfulness. Does not your conscience say that this is true? Do you not find yourselves forgetful of Jesus? Some creature steals away your heart, and you are unmindful of him upon whom your affection ought to be set. Some earthly business engrosses your attention when you should fix your eye steadily upon the cross. It is the incessant turmoil of the world, the constant attraction of earthly things which takes away the soul from Christ. While memory too well preserves a poisonous weed, it suffereth the rose of Sharon to wither. Let us charge ourselves to bind a heavenly forget-me-not about our hearts for Jesus our Beloved, and, whatever else we let slip, let us hold fast to him.   C.H. Spurgeon

Friday, April 25, 2014

Our rotting culture

This comes from standupforthetruthYou know America is ripe for judgment when you read stories like this one. This is what legalizing perversion leads to, it will also lead to the Almighty unleashing His severe, horrific wrath.

I know we’re not supposed to judge the world, and normally I’m too busy reporting on the darkening shenanigans of the visible church. But this is how far our culture is sinking:
No state in the union recognizes three-way marriages — but these women insist their unconventional union is very real to them.
“In our eyes, we are married,” said Brynn, 34, a computer programmer.
“We had specialist lawyers draw up paperwork so our assets are equally divided.”
Brynn and Kitten were married 2½ years ago in Massachusetts, before adding Doll to their household mix.

Stand Up For The Truth
News/Media Website · 7,810 Likes
 · April 23 at 12:46pm · 
"You conservative thumpers are paranoid," they said. "Threesomes, foursomes, marrying children and animals, all of that is just your imagination," they said.
Here come the brides! Three Massachusetts lesbians got hitched and are now expecting their first child. The nuptials of Doll, Kitten and Brynn Young were held this past August, with…

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Let the devil and evil men afflict me

Ignatius, a disciple of the apostle John, and a successor of Peter and Evodius, was in the service of the church of Christ at Antioch in Syria. He was a very God fearing man, and faithful and diligent in his ministrations. He was surnamed Theophorus, that is, The Bearer of God, apparently because he often bore the name of God and his Saviour in his mouth, and led a godly life. He was wont to say frequently: "The life of man is a continual death, unless it be that Christ liveth in us." Likewise: "The crucified Christ is my only and entire love." And: "He that allows himself to be called after any other than Christ, is not God." And again: "As the world hates the Christians, so God loves them." A. Mellin., fol. 15, col. 1, from. Iqnat. in EQist. ad Row. et alibe.
Having learned that the Emperor Trajan, after the victories which he had achieved against the Dacians, Armenians, Assyrians, and other eastern nations, gave thanks at Antioch unto the gods, and offered great sacrifices unto them, as though these victories had proceeded from them, Ignatius, as we are informed by Nicephorus, reproved the Emperor for it, and this openly in the temple.
The Emperor, exceedingly enraged on this account, caused Ignatius to be apprehended, yet, for fear of an uproar, because Ignatius was held in great respect in Antioch, he did not have him punished there but committed him into the hands of ten soldiers, and sent him bound to Rome, there to have him punished.
In the meantime his sentence of death was made known to him in what manner and where he was to die; namely, that he should be torn to pieces by wild beasts at Rome.
On his way thither, he wrote several consolatory epistles to his friends, the faithful in Christ Jesus; and also to different churches, as to those of Smyrna, Ephesus, Philadelphia, Trallis, Magnesia, Tarsus, Philippi, and especially to the church of Christ at Rome; which letter he sent before his arrival there.
It appears that the thought of being torn to pieces by the teeth of wild beasts was constantly on his mind during the journey; yet not as a matter of dread, but of earnest desire. This he mentions in his letter to the church at Rome, writing thus "Journeying from Syria to Rome, by water and by land, by day and by night, I fight with wild beasts, bound between ten leopards, who, the more I stroke, and show myself friendly to them, the more cruel and malignant they become. However, through the cruelties and torments which they daily inflict upon me, I am more and more exercised and instructed; nevertheless, I am not justified thereby. O that I were already with the beasts, which are ready to devour me I I hope that, ere long, I shall find them such as I wish them to be, that is, cruel enough to destroy me speedily. But if they will not fall upon and tear me, I shall kindly allure them, so that they will not spare me, as they have already spared several Christians, but will quickly tear me in pieces, and devour me. Forgive me for speaking thus; I know what I need. Now only I begin to be a disciple of Christ. I regard neither things visible nor invisible, at which the world is amazed. It is sufficient for me if I but become a partaker of Christ. Let the devil and evil men afflict me with all manner of pain and torment, with fire, with cross, with fighting against wild beasts, with scattering of the members and bones of my body; all this I esteem very little, if I but enjoy Christ. Only pray for me, that inward and outward strength be given me, not only to speak or write this, but also to perform and endure it, so that I may not only be called a Christian, but also be found one in truth." Ignat. in Epist. ad Rom.
Having arrived at Rome, he was delivered by the soldiers to the governor, together with the letters of the Emperor, which contained his sentence of death. He was kept in prison several days, until a certain feast day of the Romans, when the Governor, according to the order of the Emperor, had him brought forth into the amphitheatre. First of all they sought by many torments, to induce him to blaspheme the name of Christ, and offer sacrifice to the gods. But when Ignatius did not weaken in his faith, but was only, the longer, the more strengthened in refusing to offer heathen sacrifices, he was forthwith condemned by the Roman Senate, immediately to be cast before the lions.
As Ignatius was led away from the presence of the Senate, to the innermost enclosure, or pit of the lions, he frequently repeated the name of Jesus in the conversation which he, while on the way, carried on with the believers, as well as in his secret prayer to God. Being asked why he did so, he replied thus: "My dear Jesus, my Saviour, is so deeply written in my heart, that I feel confident, that if my heart were to be cut open and chopped to pieces, the name of Jesus would be found written on every piece." With this the pious man indicated that not only his mouth, but the innermost parts of his heart were filled with the love of Jesus for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. Thus, also Paul, being filled with the love of Jesus Christ, has used, in his letters, as much as two hundred times (as has been counted) the words, "Our Lord Jesus Christ." The name "Jesus" he employs as much as five hundred times.
When the whole multitude of the people were assembled, to witness the death of Ignatius (for the report had spread throughout the whole city, that a bishop had been brought from Syria, who, according to the sentence of the Emperor, was to fight against the wild beast), Ignatius was brought forth and placed in the middle of the amphitheatre. Thereupon Ignatius, with a bold heart, thus addressed the people which stood around: "O ye Romans, all you who have come to witness with your own eyes this combat; know ye, that this punishment has not been laid upon me on account of any misdeed or crime; for such I have in no wise committed, but that I may come to God, for whom I long, and whom to enjoy is my insatiable desire. For, I am the grain of God. I am ground by the teeth of the beast, that I may be found a pure bread of Christ, who is to me the bread of life." These words spake Ignatius, when he stood in the middle of the amphitheatre, and when he heard the lions roar; which the brethren of the church who also stood among the people heard and testified to.
As soon as he had spoken these words, two dreadful, hungry lions were let out to him from their pits, who instantly tore and devoured him, leaving almost nothing, or, at least, very little, even of his bones. Thus fell asleep, happy in the Lord, this faithful martyr of Jesus Christ, A. D. 111, in the 12th year of Emperor Trajan. Compare Abr. Mell. 1st book of the Hist. der hervolg. en Mart., printed 1619, fol. 25, col. 1-4, and fol. 26, col. 1, with JoR. Gysii Hist. Mart., fol. 15, col. 2, 3. Also, W. Baudart. in Apophth. Christian, printed A. D. 1640. The first book, in the second Apophthegm, on the name Ignatius, pp. 37, 38, from different other authors.

That man is a regenerate man

For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. 2 Cor. 4:6

There is a vast difference between a conviction of the doctrines of grace in the head, and an adoring the grace of those doctrines in the heart.
A speculative knowledge of gospel truth, that goes no further than a mere outward notion of it, may be found in a natural man. This knowledge of truth is a cold, unaffecting, and unattracting knowledge, that leaves the will and affections just where it found them. A natural man, indeed, may have some natural pleasure in getting some new notions of truth, but he experiences no soul-attraction to the things known.
A spiritual discernment of gospel truths is very different from a bare speculative knowledge of them; in that the glory of truth shines into the mind, which produces a sweet and strict adherence thereto, by all the inward powers of the soul. The understanding discerns the truth in its beauty, glory, and excellency; the judgment approves it; and the will and affections embrace and clasp about it. In a word, the whole soul unites with the truth, and is changed into the image of it.
Oh! when the least beam of Gospel truth shines in upon the mind with such a ravishing beauty and majestic glory as draws the heart to love it, and makes the soul bow down before it, this is a saving illumination, set up in the soul of a vessel of mercy, which is the very beginning of its future glory. It is God's shining into our hearts by a new creating efficacy to give the light, not only of the knowledge of God, but of the glory of God, in the face of Jesus Christ; which word imports the ravishing beauty and all-attracting efficacy of gospel grace darting in upon the mind as a supernatural revelation, which unites the soul to the things beheld, to the objects revealed.
From this saving illumination the soul feels a sweet and strong attraction, by which, being drawn with cords of love, it comes unto Christ in its desires after Him, as beheld, altogether lovely.
Wherever the truths of the gospel are known, and so known in their beauty and excellency as to knit and unite the heart to them, or to draw out the soul into desires after and adoration of the glories beheld—that man is a regenerate man.

live, and bathe, and dive, to a blessed eternity!

My work on earth is almost done, glory be to God! A nobler work in heaven will soon come on. Now I would serve the Lord—but then I shall serve Him perfectly, incessantly, and eternally; serve Him without sin, interruption, weakness, and weariness—which attend our present services; serve Him under the full and immediate vision of His glorious face—to His perfect and endless praise—and to my ineffable and eternal bliss.
Oh, what grace is this, that the Lord has formed and shaped our hearts for His service, else for the perfect and eternal service of God in Christ in future bliss we would have no taste; whereas to a soul that loves the Lord fervently, the perfect, endless service of God in Christ is esteemed by him an essential part of heaven's bliss; nor shall any one soul that is thus prepared by grace for divine service here, lack the ineffable bliss of perfect, endless service hereafter. Alas! what would an unholy soul do in heaven? Heaven would be no heaven to him—he has nothing in him suited to heaven's enjoyment and employment. A soul that cannot make a life out of God, or rather that cannot live joyfully in God as His life, and find his unspeakable bliss in an entire dedication to Jehovah's praise, is quite unfit for the glories of the heavenly state; as there is not the least agreeableness between the object and the subject, so there can be no enjoyment. What thanks then shall we give "unto the Father, who has made us (initially, and will make us perfectly) fit for the great inheritance of the saints in light"—in light without darkness; in the light of His immediate Presence, without the least darkness of distance; and in the light of perfect holiness, without the least spot of sin to darken our perfect, endless praises!
Oh, how great and vast is our Jehovah's infinite essence—who with the simple vision of His glorious face can satisfy and solace myriads of glorious angels, and an innumerable multitude of saved men, when most capacious—and excite in all thereby perfect, ceaseless, endless praises to His eternal glory and their eternal joy! Well may it be said, "Eye has not seen, nor has ear heard, O God, besides You, what You have prepared for him who waits for You!" For no line short of an infinite understanding can search the immense glories of an infinite Being. None but the Lord Jehovah has seen, or can see, those immense glories which He has prepared in His infinite self as the boundless ocean of our soul-filling and eternal enjoyment!
We shall be cast, when all-enlarged, into the God of glory for an eternal fill of all felicity, and there live, and bathe, and dive, to a blessed eternity! And though the communications of divine glory will not be infinite, because of our incapacity, as we shall ever be but finite recipients, yet it is an infinite sea of glory we shall live, and swim, and play in—to a blessed eternity just as the God of nature has prepared an immense ocean of water for the fish of the sea to live, and dive, and sport in—although they can never comprehend that which comprehends them.
Thus, I humbly think, as the apostle says, "Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for those who love Him;" and then adds, "but God has revealed them unto us by His Spirit;" and elsewhere says, "we know in part" that we are to understand the revelation of them which is now made unto spiritual men, to be that which is partial and suited to our present condition; and though to the knowledge had in the present state he opposes that knowledge we shall have in the future state, and says, "but then shall I know, even as also I am known;" yet we are to understand the difference to lie only in this—our present imperfect and our future perfect knowledge of God, according to our creature-measure; because, as creatures, we can never have an adequate knowledge of an infinite essence. And as that revelation of God and His things which is here made to spiritual men, is denied by the apostle to natural man, "But the natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God, neither can he know them," and as, in the text which he refers to, it is said, "Eye has not seen, besides You, O God," I think,  we may justly form these distinctions:
First, That no natural man has seen, nor can see, the things which God has prepared for those who love Him, because he lacks a spiritual capacity to discern the spiritual nature and kind of eternal glory.
Secondly, that spiritual men, in the revelation now made of spiritual things unto them, have seen them but partially, and will hereafter see them but finitely.
Thirdly, That none but God Himself has seen, nor can see them, infinitely; as the glories prepared for our enjoyment in His immense Being can be searched by no line short of His own infinite understanding.
Thus, all the texts will harmonize; and how vast, in Jehovah's infinite essence, is our prepared bliss!

That the Spirit of the Lord, in His sevenfold gifts and graces, may rest upon you, unto all assistance and success in divine service, and that you may at last be blessed with a massive crown of righteousness, is my earnest desire.

The deceitful human heart

by David Black

(David Black, 1762-1806, was pastor in Edinburgh, Scotland, from 1794 until his death. With regard to his sermon delivery, it was said that "His manner was solemn and affectionate, earnest and persuasive. When expostulating with sinners, or unfolding to Christians the consolations of the gospel, there was often an animation in his address — a sacred fervor — a divine unction, which powerfully impressed the auditory. He evidently felt the truths he was delivering, and spoke as one standing in the presence of God, animated with a pure zeal for the glory of the Redeemer, and the salvation of immortal souls.")
"The heart is deceitful above all things,
and desperately wicked."
 Jeremiah 17:9

True and faithful is the testimony of God. Men may amuse themselves and their fellow creatures with empty, high sounding descriptions of the dignity of human nature, and the all-sufficient powers of man; but every humble, every truly enlightened mind, will see and acknowledge the justness of the declaration in the text, that the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.

This is a truth which, like many others in the word of God, can only be learned from experience. As long as we assent to it, merely because it is contained in the Scriptures, we are strangers to its nature, and cannot understand what it means. But, as in water face answers to face, so does the heart of man to man. Human nature in different ages and in different circumstances is still the same; and when, by means of the word, the secrets of our own hearts are made manifest, when we come to perceive the exact correspondence between the declarations of Scripture, and what passes within us, we are obliged to confess, that God is in it of a truth, since none but He who searches the hearts, and tries the thoughts of men, could know so perfectly the inward workings of our minds, and those numberless evils which are hidden from the view of all our fellow creatures.

I purpose at present to speak only of the 'deceitfulness' of the heart, a subject sufficiently extensive, not merely for one, but for many discourses, and which, after all that can be said on it, must remain in a great measure unexhausted, for who can know it? The deceit that lodges in the heart is so complicated and so various, that it is impossible to trace it in all its windings. It is but comparatively a small part of it that any created mind can discover, and therefore, in the verse immediately following the text, God ascribes this knowledge to himself as his peculiar prerogative; 'I the Lord search the heart, I try the thoughts, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.'

But, by the blessing of God, it may be useful to turn our attention to this deeply interesting subject, and point out some of the plainest and most decisive evidences of the deceitfulness of the human heart, which scripture, observation, and experience afford. "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked."

I. The deceitfulness of the heart is evident from men's general ignorance of their own character.
There is not anything in the history of mankind more surprising, or at first view more unaccountable, than the self-partiality which prevails in the world. One would be apt to imagine, that it should not be so difficult to arrive at the knowledge of our real character, possessing, as we do, every possible advantage for attaining it. We have constant access to our own bosoms, and are more deeply interested in the discovery, than in the acquisition of any other knowledge. But we see, in fact, that of all knowledge this is the rarest and most uncommon. Nor is it difficult to account for this fact, since the heart is deceitful above all things. Self-love casts a veil over the understanding, the judgment is warped by various circumstances, and hence it is, that many seem to be almost entire strangers to their own character. They think, and reason, and judge quite differently in any thing relating to themselves, from what they do in those cases in which they have no personal interest. Accordingly, we often hear people exposing follies in others, for which they themselves are remarkable; and talking with great severity against particular vices in others, of which, if all the world is not mistaken, they themselves are notoriously guilty. It is astounding to what a pitch this self-ignorance and self-partiality may be carried! How frequently do we see men, not only altogether blind to their own character, but insensible to everything that can be said to convince them of their mistake. In vain do you tender to them instruction or reproof, for they turn away everything from themselves, and never once imagine that they are the people for whose benefit these counsels and admonitions are chiefly intended.
Of this we are every day furnished with frequent instances in common life. The sacred history affords us a remarkable example in the case of David on one particular occasion: I say on one particular occasion, for the description that we have been giving by no means applies to David's general character. Few were, in general, more accustomed to self-inquiry. But when Nathan the prophet was sent to him, in consequence of his grievous fall in the matter of Uriah, such was the insensibility, and self-ignorance which sin had produced, that he perceived not the application of the parable to himself, until the prophet declared, 'You are the man!'
From this and similar instances, we are led to observe that, if we trace this self-ignorance to its source, we shall find that it is in general owing, not only to that partiality and fondness which we all have for ourselves, but to the prevalence of some particular passion or interest, which perverts the judgment in every case where that particular passion or interest is concerned. And hence it happens that some men can reason and judge fairly enough, even in cases in which they themselves are interested, provided it does not strike against their favorite passion or pursuit. Thus the covetous man will easily enough perceive the evil of intemperance, and perhaps condemn himself if he has been guilty of this sin in a particular instance. But he is altogether insensible to the dominion of his predominant passion, the love of money. It has become habitual to him. His mind is accustomed to it, so that in every case, where his interest is concerned, his judgment is warped, and in these instances he plainly discovers that he is totally unacquainted with his own character. The same observation applies to other particular vices.
Here then, is one striking evidence of the deceitfulness of the heart. It produces ignorance of ourselves; it keeps men strangers to their own character; and makes them fatally presume that they are in friendship with God, while they are enemies to him in their minds and by wicked works.

II. The deceitfulness of the heart appears from men's general disposition on all occasions to justify their own conduct.

This disposition our first parents discovered immediately upon their eating the fruit of the forbidden tree. When the Lord appeared to Adam and charged him with his guilt, he attempted to justify himself by saying, "The woman You gave to be with me, "she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate." And in like manner the woman replied, "It was the serpent! He deceived me, and I ate." Something also of this disposition is common to all their sinful posterity. We are all extremely partial to ourselves, and apt to view our own conduct in a different light from that in which we are accustomed to regard the conduct of our fellow creatures. When we observe improper conduct in others, the impropriety strikes us at once. Sin appears to us in its true and genuine colors, and we are ready to judge and condemn, perhaps with too much severity. But in our own case, the action is seen through a deceitful medium. The judgment is perverted by self-love, and a thousand expedients are employed, if not to vindicate, at least to apologize for our conduct. If we cannot justify the action itself, we attempt to extenuate its guilt from the peculiar circumstances of the case. We were placed in such and such a particular situation, which we could not avoid; our temptations were strong: we did not go the lengths that many others would have gone in similar circumstances; and the general propriety of our conduct is more than sufficient to overbalance any little irregularities with which we may sometimes be chargeable. Thus, on all occasions, people endeavor to justify their own conduct.
They even learn to call their favorite vices by softer names. With them, intemperance is only the desire of good fellowship; lewdness is gallantry, or the love of pleasure; pride, a just sense of our own dignity; and covetousness, or the love of money, a prudent regard to our worldly interest. Strange infatuation! to think that by changing the names of vices, it is possible to change their nature; and that what is base and detestable in others, should be excusable only in ourselves!
But it may be farther observed on this part of the subject, that besides these single determinate acts of wickedness, of which we have now been speaking, there are numberless cases in which the wickedness cannot be exactly defined, but consists in a certain general temper and course of action, or in the habitual neglect of some duty, whose bounds are not precisely fixed. This is the peculiar province of self-deceit, and here, most of all, men are apt to justify their conduct, however plainly and palpably wrong. Whoever considers human life will see, that a great part, perhaps the greatest part of the fellowship among mankind cannot be reduced to fixed, determined rules: yet in these cases there is a right and a wrong, and conduct that is sinful and immoral, and a conduct, on the other hand, that is virtuous and praise-worthy, though it may be difficulty, nay, perhaps impossible to ascertain the precise limits of each.
To give an example: There is not a word in our language that expresses more detestable wickedness than 'oppression'. Yet the nature of this vice cannot be so exactly stated, nor the bounds of it so determinately marked, as that we shall be able to say, in all instances, where rigid right and justice ends, and oppression begins. In like manner, it is impossible to determine how much of every man's income ought to be devoted to pious and charitable purposes: the boundaries cannot be exactly marked; yet we are at no loss in the case of others to perceive the difference between a liberal and generous man, and one of a hard-hearted and stingy disposition. In these cases, there is great latitude left for every man to determine in his own favor, and consequently to deceive himself; and it is chiefly in such instances as these, that men are ready to justify their conduct, however criminal. Because they are not chargeable with single determinate acts of gross wickedness, because you cannot precisely point out to them, in so many words, wherein they have done amiss, they falsely conclude, that their conduct is unexceptionable; though, perhaps, their general temper and behavior may be uniformly wrong, inconsistent with the spirit of the gospel, and contrary to the plainest dictates of morality. I proceed to observe,

III. That the deceitfulness of the heart appears from the difficulty with which men are brought to acknowledge their faults, even when conscious that they have done wrong.

This necessarily follows from that disposition in human nature, to which I have already adverted, namely, the disposition on all occasions to justify our own conduct. Hence men in general are so backward to acknowledge their faults, and so displeased with those who are so faithful and friendly as to point them out. How few can bear to be told their faults! This is the sure and ready way to make most men your enemies, even though you administer the reproof in the gentlest, and most prudent manner. Instead of reflecting on their own conduct, which might convince them of the justice of what is laid to their charge, many, in these cases, set themselves immediately to discover the faults in their faithful reprovers, or in those, who, they suspect, may have informed them; and turning away their attention entirely from themselves, are only concerned to find equal, if not greater blemishes in others. Thus deceitful is the heart of man. We wish always to entertain a favorable opinion of ourselves and of our own conduct, and are displeased with those who endeavor in any instance to change this opinion, though it be done with the best, and most friendly intention.
But how unreasonable and preposterous is this degree of self-love! Were we alive to our true interests, we would wish to become better acquainted with our follies and our faults, and would esteem our faithful reprovers our best friends. Instead of feeling any resentment against them, we would turn all our resentment against ourselves; and endeavor, in the strength of divine grace, to correct those evils which, were we not so blinded by self-love, we might easily discover. But through the deceitfulness of the heart, men are generally disposed to justify their own conduct, and ready to throw the blame of what is amiss on anything else, "sooner than on themselves.

IV. The deceitfulness of the heart appears from the disposition which men discover to rest in mere notions and forms of religion, while they are destitute of its power.

In the purest ages of the church, there have been people of this character, men who, from selfish or worldly motives have assumed a profession of religion, without understanding its nature, or feeling its power; having a name to live, but being spiritually dead. It is not easy for people whose minds are in any degree informed, to divest themselves entirely of religious impressions. The fears that naturally accompany guilt, will at times obtrude themselves on the most giddy and thoughtless. But the pure, the spiritual, the humbling doctrines and precepts of the gospel are by no means agreeable to the natural mind; and therefore it is not surprising that people who have some apprehension of the truth of religion, but no acquaintance with its power, should eagerly grasp at something which may give them hope beyond the grave, "while at the same time it leaves them in the quiet possession of their beloved lusts!
Hence it is that so many are hearers of the word only, and not doers also, deceiving their own selves. Hence it is that so many show great zeal about small and unimportant matters in religion, who are shamefully deficient in some of its plainest and most essential duties; that so many are punctual in their observance of religious institutions, who are unjust and uncharitable in their conduct towards their fellow creatures; that so many can talk fluently and correctly on religious subjects, who are visibly under the dominion of evil tempers or evil habits; that so many are scrupulously exact in what regards the externals of religion, who are at no pains to cultivate its genuine spirit, or to perform its most substantial duties. Like the Pharisees of old, who paid tithes of anise, mint, and cummin, they neglect the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith.
Hypocrisy in all its forms and appearances flows from the deceitfulness of the heart; for in general men deceive themselves, before they attempt to deceive others. Few are so bold as to lay down a plan of imposing on the world, without endeavoring, in the first instance at least, to impose on their own minds. Nor is it difficult, when the mind is strongly biased by the love of any particular sin, or the pursuit of any particular interest, to persuade ourselves that our conduct is, at least, excusable, if not innocent. A dishonest mind is satisfied with the basest shifts and evasions! And people who wish to be deceived into a good opinion of their conduct, are seldom at a loss to accomplish their purpose.
Balaam was a remarkable instance of this. He was a man of extensive knowledge and superior gifts. He was not a stranger to the impressions of religion, for in his calm reflecting moments, he desired to die the death of the righteous, nor could any consideration prevail with him to oppose the divine commandment, by cursing those whom God had blessed. But he loved the wages of unrighteousness. Covetousness was his ruling passion, and led him, by the advice which he gave to Balak, to contradict the whole spirit and design of the very prohibition, for the letter of which he professed so sacred a regard. It would be easy to multiply particulars on this subject, But I only add, in the last place,
5. That the deceitfulness of the heart appears in the highest degree, when men overlook the real motives of their conduct, and mistake the workings of their own corruptions, "for the fruits of the Spirit of God.
That there is such deceitfulness in the world, none can doubt, who consider the dreadful enormities that have been committed under the sacred name of religion. In many cases, it must be acknowledged, these enormities have been committed by people who were conscious of the motives from which they acted, and who employed religion merely as an engine to attain the objects of their avarice or ambition. But in other cases it is no less certain, that men have concealed from themselves the motive of their conduct, and even mistaken the workings of their corruptions for the fruits of the Spirit of God.
Of this we have several examples in scripture. A striking instance of it occurs in the conduct of Jehu, who, when shedding the blood of Jezreel to serve the purposes of his own ambition, said exultingly to Jehonadab, 'Come, see my zeal for the Lord!' It is not improbable, that at the time he imagined himself to be influenced by zeal for God, though there cannot be a doubt, that in what he did he was actuated chiefly by the 'love of power'. Our blessed Lord forewarns his disciples, that the time would come, when whoever killed them, would think that he did God service. In like manner as the prophet Isaiah had declared concerning the persecuted people of God in his time, "Listen to what the Lord says, you that fear him and obey him: "Because you are faithful to me, some of your own people hate you and will have nothing to do with you. They mock you and say, 'Let the Lord show his greatness and save you, so that we may see you rejoice.' But they themselves will be disgraced!" (Isaiah 66:5)
We are greatly shocked when we read of the dreadful persecutions which in different ages have been carried on against the faithful servants of Christ, by the blood-thirsty votaries of Rome; yet these men pretended zeal for the glory of God! Nor is it improbable, but that many of them might so far deceive themselves, as to imagine, that they were doing God service, while shedding the blood of his saints. This is indeed the highest instance of the extreme deceitfulness and desperate wickedness of the human heart, and the most awful proof of being given up of God to a reprobate mind. But, in a lesser degree, men frequently practice this kind of deceit upon themselves, ascribing to the word and to the Spirit of God, "what is evidently the effect of their own ignorance, wickedness and depravity.
On the whole, since the ways in which men deceive themselves are so various, can we be too jealous over our own hearts? 'He who trusts to his own heart', says the wise man, 'is a fool!' And the reason is obvious, because the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked. Let us therefore, brethren, accustom ourselves to self-examination. Instead of indulging a censorious disposition, and looking abroad to discover the faults of our neighbors, let us descend into our own bosoms, and observe the plagues of our own hearts. Let us attend, not merely to our outward actions, but to the principles and motives from which these actions proceed. Let us consider our conduct, not in the light in which self-love and self-partiality would present it to our minds, but in the light in which any impartial spectator would view it, in the light in which God's word teaches us to consider it, and in the light in which it will be judged of at last, when God shall bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and make manifest the counsels of all hearts.
We are all more or less liable to self-deceit; and those who think they have the least of it, are in general most of all under its dominion. Let us therefore distrust our own judgment, and, sensible of our own ignorance and liableness to mistake, let us pray to God for his divine teaching; saying, with Elihu in the book of job, 'That which I see not, teach me'; and with the Psalmist, '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."

Monday, April 21, 2014

Cultivating holy fear

Blessed is everyone that feareth the Lord; that walketh in his ways. - Psalm 128:1

“Blessed is every one that feareth the Lord.” The last Psalm ended with a blessing, - for the word there translated “happy” is the same as that which is here rendered “blessed”' thus the two songs are joined by a catch-word. There is also in them a close community of subject. The fear of God is the corner-stone of all blessedness. We must reverence the ever-blessed God before we can be blessed ourselves.
Let us cultivate that holy filial fear of Jehovah which is the essence of all true religion; - the fear of reverence, of dread to offend, of anxiety to please, and of entire submission and obedience. This fear of the Lord is the fit fountain of holy living, we look in vain for holiness apart from it: none but those who fear the Lord will ever walk in his ways. - Spurgeon

Sunday, April 20, 2014

living near the edge of sin

Your own relatives think you're insane

The word of victory

The Word Of Victory

"When Jesus therefore had received
the vinegar, he said, It is finished"
John 19:30
OUR LAST TWO STUDIES have been occupied with the tragedy of the cross; we turn now to its triumph. In his words, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" we beard the Saviour’s cry of desolation; in his words "I thirst" we listened to his cry of lamentation; now there falls upon our ears his cry of jubilation - "It is finished". From the words of the victim we turn now to the words of the victor, It is proverbial that every cloud has its silver lining: so had the darkest cloud of all. The cross of Christ has two great sides to it: it showed the profound depths of his humiliation, but it also marked the goal of the Incarnation, and further, it told the consummation of his mission, and it forms the basis of our salvation.

"It is finished." The ancient Greeks boasted of being able to say much in little - "to give a sea of matter in a drop of language" was regarded as the perfection of oratory. What they sought is here found. "It is finished" is but one word in the original, yet in that word is wrapped up the gospel of God; in that word is contained the ground of the believer’s assurance; in that word is discovered the sum of all joy, and the very spirit of all divine consolation.

"It is finished." This was not the despairing cry of a helpless martyr; it was not an expression of satisfaction that the termination of his sufferings was now reached; it was not the last gasp of a worn-out life. No, rather was it the declaration on the part of the divine Redeemer that all for which he came from heaven to earth to do, was now done; that all that was needed to reveal the full character of God had now been accomplished; that all that was required by law before sinners could be saved had now been performed: that the flail price of our redemption was now paid.

"It is finished." The great purpose of God in the history of man was now accomplished - accomplished de jure as it will yet be de facto. From the beginning, God’s purpose has always been one and indivisible. It has been declared to men in various ways: in symbol and type, by mysterious hints and by plain intimations, through Messianic prediction and through didactic declaration. That purpose of God may be summarized thus: to display his grace and to magnify his Son in the creating of children in his own image and glory. And at the cross the foundation was laid which was to make this possible and actual.

"It is finished." What was finished? The answer to this question is a very full one, though a number of excellent expositors have sought to limit the scope of these words and to confine them strictly to a single application. We are told it was the prophecies concerning the sufferings of the Saviour which were finished, and that he referred only to this. It is readily granted that the immediate reference was to the Messianic predictions, yet we think there are good and sufficient reasons for not confining our Lord’s words here to them. Yea, to us it seems certain that Christ referred specially to his sacrificial work, for all scripture concerning his suffering and shame was not fulfilled. There still remained the dismissal of his spirit into the hands of the Father (Ps. 3 1:5); there still remained the "piercing" with the spear (Zech. 12:10: and note that the word used for the piercing of his hands and feet - the act of crucifixion - in Ps. 22:16 is a different one); there still remained the preserving of his bones unbroken (Ps. 34:20), and the burial in the rich man’s grave (Isaiah 53:9).

"It is finished." What was finished? We answer, his sacrificial work. It is true there yet remained the act of death itself, which was necessary for the making of atonement. But, as is so often the case here in John’s Gospel - wherein our text is found - (cf.: John 12:23,31; 13:31; 16:5; 17:4),the Lord here speaks anticipatively of the completion of his work, Moreover, it must be remembered that the three hours darkness was already past, the awful cup had already been drained, his precious blood had already been shed, the outpoured wrath of God had already been endured; and these are the primary elements in the making of propitiation. The sacrificial work of the Saviour, then, was completed, excepting only the act of death which followed immediately. But, as we shall see, the completing of the sacrificial work made an end of a number of things, and to them we shall now turn our attention.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Examine yourselves!

"Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith." Oh! says one, "You may examine me whether I am in the faith; I am an orthodox Christian, fully up to the standard, good genuine weight; there is no fear whatever of my coming up to the mark, and going a little beyond it too." Ah! but, my friend, that is not the question; I would have you orthodox, for a man who is heterodox in his opinions, will most likely be heterodox in his actions; but the question now is not whether you believe the truth—but whether you are in the truth? Just to give you an illustration of what I mean. There is the ark; and a number of men around it. "Ah!" says one, I believe that ark will swim." "Oh!" says another, "I believe that ark is made of gopher-wood, and is strong from stem to stern; I am quite sure that ark will float, come what may; I am a firm believer in that ark." Ay, but when the rain descended, and the flood came, it was not believing the ark as a matter of fact—it was being in the ark that saved men, and only those that were in it escaped in that dread day of deluge. So there may be some of you that say of the gospel of Christ, "I believe it to be of a particular character," and you may be quite correct in your judgment; you may say, "I think it to be that which honours God, and casts down the pride of man;" herein too you may think quite right; but mark, it is not having an orthodox faith, but it is being in the faith, being in Christ, taking refuge in Him as in the ark; for he that only has the faith as a thingab extra, and without being in the faith, shall perish in the day of God's anger; but he that lives by faith, he who feels that faith operates upon him, and is to him a living principle; he who realises that faith is his dwelling place, that there he can abide, that it is the very atmosphere he breathes and the very girdle of his loins to strengthen him,—such a man is in the faith. But, we repeat again, all the orthodoxy in the world, apart from its effect upon the heart as a vital principle, will not save a man. "Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves."
    "Know ye not your own selves?" If you do not, you have neglected your proper study. What avails all else that you do know, if you know not yourself? You have been roaming abroad, while the richest treasure was lying at home; you have been busying yourself with irrelevant affairs, while the main business has been neglected and ruined. "Know ye not your own selves?" And especially know ye not this fact, that Jesus Christ must be in your heart, formed and living there, or else ye are reprobates? That is, ye are worthless persons, vain pretenders, spurious professors; your religion is but a vanity and a show. "Reprobate silver shall men call you, because the Lord hath rejected you."
    Now, what is it to have Jesus Christ in you? The Roman Catholic hangs the cross on his bosom; the true Christian carries the cross in his heart; and a cross inside the heart, my friends, is one of the sweetest cares for a cross on the back. If you have a cross in your heart—Christ crucified in you, the hope of glory—all the cross of this world's troubles will seem to you light enough, and you will easily he able to sustain it. Christ in the heart means Christ believed in, Christ beloved, Christ trusted, Christ espoused, Christ communed with, Christ as our daily food, and ourselves as the temple and palace wherein Jesus Christ daily walks. Ah! there are many here that are total strangers to the meaning of this phrase. They do not know what it is to have Jesus Christ in them. Though ye know a little about Christ on Calvary, ye know nothing about Christ in the heart. Now, remember, that Christ on Calvary will save no man, unless Christ be in the heart. The Son of Mary, born in the manger, will not save a soul, unless he be also born in your hearts, and live there—your joy, your strength, and your consolation. "Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?"

C.H. Spurgeon,  from his sermon entitled - 'self-examination' . I highly recommend reading the entire sermon.

an all-sufficient Savior

(Frank Hall)

"Cast your burden on the LORD, and He will sustain you; He will never permit the righteous to be moved!" Psalm 55:22

Why are we so determined to carry our own burdens, when we have proved countless times that we are utterly insufficient for the task? Is it not due to our sinful flesh, carnal pride, and foolish self-sufficiency? We often mope about in sadness and depression with heavy hearts--because we foolishly, ignorantly, and obstinately refuse to cast our burden on the LORD. 

The Lord Jesus has proven Himself fully capable and willingto carry our heaviest burdens. The heaviest load that has ever been carried was carried by Him, for "the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all!" Isaiah 53:6. It was the tremendous weight of our sins made His--which laid Him low in the garden of Gethsemane, and pressed His blood through the pores of His skin. In infinite mercy and grace, He bore our sins, our guilt, and our shame in His own body on the cruel tree, and was made a curse for us--that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him. He not only carried our sins to Calvary's cross, He took them away forever by the sacrifice of Himself. "As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us!" Psalm 103:12  

Children of God, let us forever cease from fleshly self-dependence--and cast every burden on our mighty Savior. It doesn't matter what the burden is, or how heavy the load is--the Lord Jesus is ready, able, and willing to bear it for us. We need not bear it even for a moment. It is our glorious right and God-given privilege as the beloved children of God, to cast every care and every burden on our Savior. 

Are your struggling to carry a burden of guilt and sin? Struggle no longer and stumble no more. Cast your sin and guilt on Him! He will . . .
  sustain you,
  forgive you,
  receive you, and
  embrace you! 

Are your responsibilities stressful and overwhelming your soul? Do not neglect them, but do not presume that you are sufficient to do anything on your own.
Cast them on Him, 
seek His grace, 
depend on His mighty arm
--and He will sustain you! 

Is your heart laid low with heavy cares and secret troubles? Cast them all on Christ! 

In love, grace, and wisdom, your Savior gave you these cares and troubles--not to see how far you could carry them on your own--but to bring you to the end of yourself. He gave you these cares to show you your inability, your weakness, and your need of Him--that you would cease from your carnal self-confidence and find your all in Him--full salvation, infinite strength, unceasing aid, everlasting sufficiency, and perfect help.  

His power and grace are sufficient for us in all things . . .
  in every trial,
  in every circumstance,
  and in every temptation
He will sustain us to the end. He will never allow His righteous ones to be moved. He loves them with an everlasting immutable love! They will never be utterly forsaken or cast down. He . . .
  keeps them,
  protects them,
  helps them,
  preserves them,
  provides for their souls, and
  sustains them freely forever by His almighty grace!

No two things fit more perfectly together, than an all-sufficient Savior--and a needy sinner! 

"Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, so that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your care on Him, because He cares about you!" 1 Peter 5:6-7