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

Thursday, July 31, 2014

It is well...

The world is falling apart, wickedness is increasing. the love of many is growing cold....and all is well with my soul! Praise God for the blessed hope we have in Christ. May this hymn be uplifting to you...

Holy Holy Holy, Lord God Almighty

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Stunted growth

(Charles Spurgeon, "Flowers from a Puritan's Garden" 1883) 

"Though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God's Word all over again. You need milk, not solid food!" Hebrews 5:12 

"An infant, if he should continue an infant always, would be a monster!"

However pleased the parents had been with the little one when it was a babe, they would soon be deeply distressed if year after year it still remained a tiny thing. Indeed, they would consider it a great calamity to be the parents of a dwarf

What, then, shall we say of those professors who never grow? They are no more holy after fifty years! They are infants at sixty years of age!

I have in my house a picture which is made up of the portraits of my sons, taken on their birthdays for twenty-one years. They begin in the cradle, and end as full-grown young men. This is interesting and according to nature. 

But, alas, I have spiritual children whom I wheeled about in the stroller twenty years ago--and they are babies still, needing as much care as ever, and are not able to walk alone. Ah me, that so many who ought to be warriors, are weaklings; that those who should be men of six feet tall, are so stunted as to be mere 'Tom Thumbs' in grace!

O for grace to grow in grace, and especially in the knowledge of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. God save us from a life which does not grow, and from a growth which is not healthy!

Christ, the example of Ministers

by Jonathan Edwards

       Christ The Example Of Minsters
 Preached at Portsmouth, at the ordination of the Rev. Mr. Job Strong, June 28, 1749.
John 13:15, 16  - For I have given you an example, that he should do as I have done to you. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord, neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him.

 WE have in the context an account of one of the many very remarkable things that passed that night wherein Christ was betrayed (which was on many accounts the most remarkable night that ever was), viz. Christ's washing his disciples' feet; which action, as it was exceeding wonderful in itself, so it manifestly was symbolical, and represented something else far more important and more wonderful, even that greatest and most wonderful of all things that ever came to pass, which was accomplished the next day in his last sufferings. There were three symbolical representations given of that great event this evening; one in the passover, which Christ now partook of with his disciples; another in this remarkable action of his washing his disciples' feet. Washing the feet of guests was the office of servants, and one of their meanest offices. And therefore was fitly chosen by our Savior to represent that great abasement which he was to be the subject of in the form of a servant, in becoming obedient unto death, even that ignominious and accursed death of the cross, that he might cleanse the souls of his disciples from their guilt and spiritual pollution.
      This spiritual washing and cleansing of believers was the end for which Christ so abased himself for them. Tit. 2:14, 'Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people.' Eph. 5:25, 26, 'Christ loved the church, and gave himself for it, that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water.' That Christ's washing his disciples' feet signified this spiritual washing of the soul, is manifest by his own words in the 8th verse of the context, 'Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him. If I wash thee now, thou has no part with me.' Christ, in being obedient unto death, even the death of the cross, not only did the part of a servant unto God, but in some respects also of a servant unto us. And this is not the only place where his so abasing himself for our sakes is compared to the doing of the part of a servant to guests. We have the like representation made in Luke 22:27, 'For whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth? Is not he that sitteth at meat? But I am among you as he that serveth.' And wherein Christ was among the disciples as he that did serve, is explained in Mat. 20:28. Namely, in his giving his life a ransom for them.
      When Christ had finished washing his disciples' feet, he solemnly requires their attention to what he had done, and commands them to follow his example therein. Verses 12-17, 'So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done unto you? Ye call me Master and Lord, and ye say well, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet, ye also ought to wash one another's feet: for I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his Lord, neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.'
      When our Savior calls on his disciples to imitate the example he had given them in what he had done, we are to understand him, not merely by the example he gave in the emblematical action, in washing his disciples' feet, in itself considered, but more especially, of that much greater act of his that was signified by it, in abasing himself so low, and suffering so much, for the spiritual cleansing and salvation of his people.
      This is what is chiefly insisted on as the great example Christ has given us to follow. So it is once and again afterward, in the discourse Christ had with his disciples, this same night, verse 34 of the chapter wherein is the text, 'A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.' John 15:12, 13, 'This is my commandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.' And so in 1 John 3:16, 'Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.
      Christ, in the words of the text, does not only intend to recommend this example of his to the disciples as Christians, or some of his professing people, but especially as his ministers. This is evident by those words he uses to enforce this counsel. 'Neither he that is sent, is greater than he that sent him.' In which words he manifestly has respect to that great errand on which he had sent them, when he bid them go and preach the gospel to the lost sheep of the house of Israel; Mat. 10:5, 6. And on which they were to be sent after his resurrection, when he said to them, 'Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.' The same errand that Christ has respect to John 20:21, 'As my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.'
      And what confirms this is, that Christ elsewhere recommends to officers in his church, that are in that respect chief among his followers, the example which he set in his abasing himself to be as a servant that minister, to guests at a table, in his giving for us; Mat. 20:27, 28, 'Whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.' Compare Luke 22:25-28.
      The work and business of ministers of the gospel is as it were that of servants, to wash and cleanse the souls of men. For this is done by the preaching of the word, which is their main business. Eph. 5:26, 'That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word.'
      The words of the text thus considered, do undoubtedly lead us to this conclusion, and teach us this doctrine, viz.
      That it is the duty of ministers of the gospel, in the work of their ministry, to follow the example of their great Lord and Master.
      And this is what I would by divine assistance make the subject of my present discourse.
      And I propose to handle this subject in the following method:
      I. I would observe wherein ministers of the gospel ought to follow the example of Christ.
      II. Give some reasons why they should follow his example.
      III. I would endeavor to make a proper application of those things to myself, and others that are called to this work of the ministry.
      IV. Show what improvement should be made of them by the people of this church and congregation.
      I. Then, I would show wherein ministers of the gospel ought, in the work of their ministry, to follow the example of their great Lord and Master, Jesus Christ.
      And here,
      First, in general, ministers should follow their Lord and Master in all those excellent virtues, and in that universal and eminent holiness of life, which he set an example of in this human nature.
      The ministers of Christ should be persons of the same spirit that their Lord was of: the same spirit of humility and lowliness of heart; for the servant is not greater than his Lord. They should be of the same spirit of heavenly-mindedness, and contempt of the glory, wealth, and pleasures of this world. They should be of the same spirit of devotion and fervent love to God. They should follow the example of his prayerfulness; of whom we read from time to time of his retiring from the world, away from the noise and applause of the multitudes, into mountains and solitary places, for secret prayer, and holy converse with his Father; and once of his rising up in the morning a great while before day, and going and departing into a solitary place to pray, Mark 1:35. And another time, of his going out into a mountain to pray, and continuing all night in prayer to God, Luke 6:12. Ministers should follow Christ's example, in his strict, constant, and inflexible observance of the commands which God has given him, touching what he should do and what he should say; he spake nothing of himself, but those things which the Father had commanded him, those he spake, and always did those things that pleased him, and continued in thorough obedience in the greatest trials, and through the greatest opposition that ever there was any instance of. Ministers should be persons of the same quiet, lamb-like spirit that Christ was of, the same spirit of submission to God's will, and patience under afflictions, and meekness towards men; of the same calmness and composure of spirit under reproaches and sufferings from the malignity of evil men; of the same spirit of forgiveness of injuries; of the same spirit of charity, of fervent love and extensive benevolence; the same disposition to pity the miserable, to weep with those that weep, to help men under their calamities of both soul and body, to hear and grant the requests of the needy, and relieve afflicted; the same spirit of condescension to the poor and mean, tenderness and gentleness toward the weak, and great and effectual love to enemies. They should also be of the same spirit of zeal, diligence, and self-denial for the glory of God, and advancement for his kingdom, and for the good of mankind; for which things' sake Christ went though the greatest labors, and endured the most extreme sufferings.
      Second, more particularly should ministers of the gospel follow the example of their great Master, in the manner in which they seek the salvation and happiness of the souls of men. They should follow his example of love to souls. Though it be impossible that they should love them to so great a degree, yet they should have the same spirit of love to them, and concern for their salvation, according to their capacity. Love to men's souls in Christ was far above any regard he had to his temporal interest, his ease, his honor, his meat and drink. And so it should be with his ministers. They should have the same spirit of compassion to men under their spiritual calamities and miseries that he had, of whom we read, Mark 6:34, 'That when he came out and saw much people, he was moved with compassion towards them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things.' The word translated moved with compassion, signifies, that he was most sensibly affected, and his inmost bowels moved with pity. And again we read, Luke 19, that when Christ was riding to Jerusalem, that wicked city, but a few days before his crucifixion, and was come to the descent of the mount of Olives, where he had a fair view of the city, when he beheld it, he wept over it, on account of the misery and ruin they brought themselves into danger of by their sin. Although the sin by which especially they had made themselves thus miserable, was their vile treatment of him (for Jerusalem was a city that had been peculiarly injurious to him). And though Christ knew how cruelly he should be treated in that city before that week was past, how he there should be set at nought, and with great malignity bound, falsely accused and condemned, reviled, spit upon, scourged, and crucified; yet all does not prevent his most affectionate tears of compassion towards them. 'When he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it, saying, If thou hadst know, even thou (thou, as wicked as thou art, and as vile as thou hast been in thy treatment of me; even thou), the things which belong unto thy peace! But now they are hid from thine eyes.' (Compare Mat. 23:37, and Luke 13:34). One would have thought he would have been more concerned for himself than Jerusalem, who had such a dreadful cup to drink, and was to suffer such extreme things by the cruelty of Jerusalem that week. But he, as it were, forgets his own sorrow and death, and weeps over the misery of his cruel enemies.
      Ministers should imitate their great Master in his fervent prayers for the good of the souls of men. We find it to be Christ's manner, whenever he undertook anything of special importance in the work of his ministry, first to retire and pour out his soul in extraordinary prayer to this Father. Thus when he was about to enter on a journey, and go a circuit throughout all Galilee, to preach in their synagogues, 'he rose up a great while before day, and went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.' Mark 1:35-39. And when he was about to choose his twelve apostles, and send them out to preach the gospel, he first went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. Luke 6:12, etc. And the night before his crucifixion, wherein he offered up himself a sacrifice for the souls of men, he pours out his soul in extraordinary prayer for those he was about to die for, as we have an account in John 17. That wonderful and most affecting prayer of his, was not so much for himself as for his people. Although he knew what amazing sufferings he was to undergo the next day, yet he seems as it were to be unmindful of himself, and to have his heart all taken up with concern about his disciples; which he manifests in his spending so much time in comforting and counseling them, and praying for them with great affection, compassion, earnest care, and fatherly tenderness. And the prayers that he made in the garden of Gethsemane, under the amazing view of the cup he was to drink the next day, seem to be intercessory; especially the last of the three prayers which he there made, when being in an agony, he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground: when he did not pray that the cup might pass from him, as he had done before, but that God's will might be done. (Compare Luke 22:44. With Mat. 26:42). That prayer, as the apostle teaches us, Heb. 5:6, 7, was a prayer that he put up as our High Priest; and therefore must be a prayer of intercession for us, a prayer offered up with his blood which he sweat in his agony; as prayers were wont to be offered up with the blood of the sacrifices in the temple. His prayer at that time, Thy will be done, was not only an expression of submission, but had the form of a petition, as it is in the Lord's prayer. He prayed that God's will might be done in his being enabled to do the will of God, persevering in obedience unto death; and in the success of his sufferings; which might in an eminent manner be called the will of God, as it is in Psa. 40:7, 8, 'Then said I, Lo, I come, I delight to do thy will, O my God.'
      Ministers should follow the example of Christ in his diligence and laboriousness in his work. 'He went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil.' Acts 10:38. So abundant was he in labors, that oftentimes he scarcely allowed himself time to eat or drink; insomuch that his friends sometimes went out to lay hold of him, saying, 'He is beside himself.' Mark 3:20, 21. That three years and a half of his public ministry was so filled with action and labor, that one of his disciples that constantly attended him, and was an eyewitness of his activity, tells us that if all that he did should be written, the world would not contain the books.
      Ministers should follow the example of Christ, in his readiness not only to labor, but suffer, for the salvation of souls, to spend and be spent for them. In this respect the apostle Paul imitated his Lord and Master. Phil. 2:17, 'Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy and rejoice with you all.' Col. 1:24, 'Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh, for his body's sake, which is the church.' 2 Cor. 12:15, 'And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you.' Christ, in his prayers, labors, and sufferings for the souls of men, is represented as travailing in birth with them. Isa. 53:11, 'He shall see of the travail of his soul.' In like manner should ministers travail for the conversion and salvation of their hearers. They should imitate the faithfulness of Christ in his ministry, in speaking whatsoever God had commanded him, and declaring the whole counsel of God. They should imitate him the manner of his preaching; who taught not as the scribes, but with authority, boldly, zealously, and fervently; insisting chiefly on the most important things in religion, being much in warning men of the danger of damnation, setting forth the greatness of the future misery of the ungodly; insisting not only on the outward, but also the inward and spiritual, duties of religion. Being much in declaring the great provocation and danger of spiritual pride, and a self-righteous disposition; yet much insisting on the necessity and importance of inherent holiness, and the practice of piety. Behaving himself with admirable wisdom in all that he said and did in his ministry, amidst the many difficulties, enemies, and temptations he was surrounded with, wonderfully adapting his discourses to persons, seasons, and occasions. Isa. 50:4, 'The Lord hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary.
      Ministers should follow their Master in his zeal, so wonderfully mixed and tempered with gentleness and condescension in his dealing with souls, preaching the gospel to the poor, and taking a gracious notice from time to time of little children. And they should imitate their Lord in his following the work of ministry, not from mercenary views, or for the sake of worldly advantages, but for God's glory, and men's salvation. And in having his heart engaged in his work; it being his great delight, and his meat, to do the will of his Father, and finish his work, John 4:34, and having his heart set on the success of his great undertaking in the salvation of souls; this being the joy that was set before him, for which he run his race, endured the cross, and despised the shame. His delight in the prospect of the eternal salvation of souls more than countervailing the dread he had of his extreme sufferings. Many waters could not quench his love, neither could the floods drown it, for his love was stronger than death; yea, than the mighty pains and torments of such a death.
      I now proceed to the
      II. Thing proposed in the handling of this subject, which was to give some reasons why ministers of the gospel should follow the example of their great Lord and Master, Jesus Christ.
      First, they should follow his example, because he is their Lord and Master. Christ, as he is a divine person, is the Lord of heaven and earth, and so one of infinite dignity, to whom our supreme respect is due. And on that account he is infinitely worthy that we should regard, not only his precepts but example. The infinite honorableness of his person recommends his virtues, and a conformity to them as our greatest dignity and honor.
      Christ is more especially the Lord of Christians; who are therefore under special obligations to follow him. He is their shepherd; and surely the flock should follow their shepherd. He is the captain of their salvation; and it becomes soldiers to follow their captain and leader. He is their head, not only their head of rule and authority, but their head of influence and communication, their vital head. And Christians are members of his body; but members, as partakers of the life and spirit of the head, are conformed to the head.
      But Christ is still in a more peculiar manner the Lord and Master of ministers of the gospel, as they are not only members of his church, but the officers of his kingdom, and the dignified servants of his family. It is the manner of a people to imitate their prince, but especially the ministers of his kingdom, and officers of his household. It is the duty of the whole army to follow their general, but especially of those officers that have a commission under him.
      Second, ministers of the gospel are in some respects called and devoted to the same work and business that Christ himself was appointed to. Ministers are not men's mediators; for there is but one Mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus. They are not our priests to make atonement and work out righteousness for us. For Christ by one offering has perfected for ever them that are sanctified. They are not lords over God's heritage; for one is their Master, even Christ. But yet ministers of the gospel, as Christ's servants and officers under him, are appointed to promote the designs of that great work of Christ, the work of salvation. It is the work that ministers are devoted to; and therefore they are represented as coworkers with Christ. 2 Cor. 6:1, 'We then as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain.' Christ is the Savior of the souls of men. Ministers, also, are spoken of in Scripture as saving men's souls. 1 Tim. 4:16, 'In doing this, thou shalt both save thyself and them that hear thee.' Rom. 11:14, ' If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them.' 1 Cor. 9:22, 'That I might by all means save some. And whereas it is said, Oba. 21, 'Saviors shall come upon mount Zion;' ministers of the gospel are supposed to be there intended.
      The work of ministers is in many respects like the work that Christ himself was appointed to, as the Savior of men; and especially the same with the work which Christ does in his prophetical office; only with this difference, that ministers are to speak and act wholly under Christ, as taught of him, as holding forth his word, and by light and strength communicated from him. Christ himself, after his baptism, followed the work of the ministry. He was a minister of the true sanctuary (Heb. 8:2), he spake and acted as his Father's minister; was a minister of the gospel, and as such preached and administered sacraments.
      Pastors of churches are ministers of the same gospel. But in their ministry, they act as the ministers of Christ. Jesus Christ is the great Bishop of souls. Ministers are also bishops under him. Christ came into the world that he might be the light of the world. Ministers are set to be lights unto the churches, and are also set to be the light of the world, Mat. 5:14. Christ is the bright and morning star. Ministers are stars in the Christ's hand. Christ is the messenger of the covenant. Ministers are called messengers of the Lord of hosts. Christ is his people's shepherd, the good shepherd, the great shepherd of his sheep. Ministers are also frequently called shepherds and are directed to feed the flock of Christ, which he purchased with his own blood.
      Seeing therefore it is thus, that the work that ministers are called and devoted to, is no other than the work of Christ, or the work that Christ does, certainly they ought to do his work; which they do not do unless they imitate him, and do as he does, or as he hath set them an example.
      Third, the example of Christ is most worthy of ministers' imitation. His example was perfect, without error, blemish, or defect; and therefore worthy to be made our rule, and to be regarded and followed without exception, limitation, or reserve; unless in those things which he did that were proper to his peculiar office. Christ's virtue was not only perfect, but was exercised in those circumstances, and under those trials, that rendered his virtuous acts vastly the most amiable of any that ever appeared in any creature whether man or angel. If we consider the perfection of the virtue that Christ exercised, his virtue did exceed that of the most eminent saints, more than the purest gold exceeds the meanest and foulest ore. And if we consider the manner of its exercise, and the trials under which it was exercised, and the blessed fruits it has brought forth, so his virtue exceeds that of all other perfectly innocent creatures, and even of the brightest angel, as the sun in its glory exceeds the stars.
      And this example was set us in our own nature, and so is especially fitted for our imitation. There was in the man Christ Jesus, who was one of us, and dwelt among us, such exercises of virtue as became our state and circumstances in the world, as those who dwell in frail flesh and blood, and as members of human society, and dwellers in such a world of sorrow and death.
      And then these amiable exercises of virtue in Christ were exhibited chiefly in the things which he did in that work wherein ministers are called to act as coworkers with him. The bright and glorious example of Christ that is set before us is chiefly in what he did during the three years and a half of his public ministry; and in the devotion, heavenly-mindedness, humility patience, meekness, forgiveness, self-denial, and charity, which he exercised in the labors and sufferings he went through for the good of the souls of men. And therefore is especially set for the imitation of those who are set apart that they may make it the whole business of their lives to seek the same good of souls.
      Fourth, ministers should follow that example of Christ which has been spoken of, because if they are fit for ministers, and are such as have any right to take that work upon themselves, Christ has set them this example in what he has done for their souls. 'I have given you an example (says Christ in the text) that you should do as I have done to you.' Ministers should be animated in this work by a great love to the souls of men, and should be ready to spend and be spent for them; for Christ loved them, and gave himself for them. He loved them with a love stronger than death. They should have compassion to men under their spiritual miseries, as Christ had pity on them. They should be much in prayer for the people of their flock, considering how Christ prayed and agonized for them, in tears of blood. They should travail in birth with the souls that are committed to their care, seeing their own salvation is the fruit of the travail of Christ's soul. They should exercise a meek and condescending spirit to the mean and weak and poor, and should as it were wash the feet of Christ's disciples; considering how Christ condescended to them, when they were wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked, and abased himself to wash their feet.
      The chief trials of Christ's virtue, and so their most bright and eminent exercises, were in the abasement, labor, and suffering that he was the subject of for our salvation. Which certainly may well endear those virtues to us, and greatly engage us to imitate that example. So the things whereof this example consists, were things by which we have infinite benefit, without which we should have been unspeakably miserable for ever and ever, and by virtue of which we have the glorious privilege of the children of God, and have a full title to the crown of exceeding glory, and pleasures for evermore, at God's right hand.
      III. I now proceed, as was proposed, in the third place, to apply what has been said to myself, and others that are employed in this sacred work of the gospel ministry, and to such as are about to undertake it, or are candidates for it; and particularly to him that is now to be solemnly set apart to this work in this place.
      We are those to whom these things especially belong. We may hear Christ saying to us this day, 'I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done.' For the words of Christ in the text were not only spoken to the twelve, but are also spoken unto us. We have now had represented to us, though in a very imperfect manner, the example that Christ has set, and what reasons there are that we, above all others, should imitate it.
      It is not only our great duty, but will be our greatest honor, to imitate Christ, and do the work that he has done, and so act as coworkers with him.
      There are two kinds of persons that are given to Christ, and appointed and devoted of God to be his servants, to be employed with Christ, and under him, in his great work of the salvation of the souls of men; and they are angels and ministers. The angels are all of them, even the most exalted of them, subjected of God the Father to our Redeemer, and given to him as his servants, to be subservient to the great designs of his saving and glorifying his elect. Heb. 1:14, 'Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?' And doubtless they were created for this very end; God made them for his Son, to be subservient to him in this great work; which seems to be the chief design of all God's works. And the employment of ministers of the gospel in this respect, is like that of the glorious angels. The principalities and powers in heavenly places, esteem it not any debasement, but their great honor, to be employed as Christ's ministers in this work. For therein they are employed as the ministers of God, in the greatest and most honorable of all God's works; that work of God wherein his glory is chiefly displayed, and which his heart was chiefly upon from eternity. It is the honor of the Son of God himself, that he is appointed to this work. It was because God the Father infinitely loved his Son, and delighted to put honor upon him, that he appointed him to be the author of that glorious work of the salvation of men. And when we consider the greatness, importance, and excellency of it, we have reason to be astonished at the condescension of God, that he would ever improve mere creatures as coworkers and ministers of Christ in this affair; for who is sufficient for these things? 2 Cor. 2:6, 'Which is fit, or worthy? Who is equal to a work of such dignity, and vast importance?' Especially have we reason to wonder that God will employ, not only holy and glorious angels, but feeble, frail, sinful worms of the dust in this work, who need redemption themselves. And yet the honor that is put upon faithful ministers is, in some respects, greater than that of the angels. They seem to be that kind of servants that are the most dignified of the two. For Christ makes his angels to be ministering spirits unto them, unto the faithful ministers. And the angels are their angels: as faithful ministers of the gospel are not only ministers to the church, but dignified members of the church, that spouse of the King of glory, on whom the most glorious angels, the highest ministers in the court of heaven, are appointed to attend. And then Christ seems especially to delight to carry on his work of the salvation of souls, through the ministrations of men, who have that nature that Christ is united to, and that are of those sons of men with whom he had his delight before the world was made. So it is by the ministration of men, that the Scriptures are given. They were the penmen of the Holy Bible; and by them the gospel is preached to the world. By them ordinances are administered, and, through their ministrations, especially, souls are converted. When Christ himself was employed in the work of the ministry, in the time of his humiliation, but few, comparatively, were brought home to him, immediately by his ministrations. It pleased Christ to reserve this honor for his disciples and ministers, after his ascension, to whom he promised that they should, in this respect, do greater works than he, John 14:12. And accordingly it was by their preaching that the Gentile world was converted, and Satan's kingdom overthrown. Thus God delights 'to perfect praise out of the mouths of babes and suckling, that he may still the enemy and the avenger.'
      It will be our great honor that we are called to this work of Christ, if therein we follow him. For therein we shall be like the Son of God. But if we are unfaithful in this office, and do not imitate our Master, our offense will be heinous in proportion to the dignity of our office, and our final and everlasting disgrace and ignominy proportionably great. And we, who in honor are exalted up to heaven, shall be cast down proportionably low in hell.
      Let us further consider, that our following the example of Christ in the work of the ministry, is the way to enjoy the sensible joyful presence of Christ with us. The disciples had the comfort of Christ's presence and conversation by following him, and going where he went. When we cease to follow him, he will go fro us, and we shall soon lose sight of him.
      Our being conformed to Christ's example, will also be the way for us to be conformed to him, and partake with him in his privileges. It is the way for us to have his joy fulfilled in us. Christ, in doing the work to which the Father appointed him, obtained a glorious victory over his enemies, and having spoiled principalities and powers, triumphed over them. If we imitate his example, it will be the way for us in like manner to conquer the principalities and powers, yea, to be much more than conquerors. It will be the way for us always to triumph in Jesus Christ. It will be the way for us to obtain success in our ministry, and actually to be made the happy instruments of the eternal salvation of souls. Christ has not only told us, but shown us, the way to success in our business, and the way to victory over all that oppose us in it. And our imitating Christ in our ministry, will be the way for us to be partakers with him in his glory; the way for us in like manner to be approved, and openly honored and rewarded by God; the way to be brought to sit with Christ on his throne, as he is set down with the Father on his throne. And as Christ is now exalted to shine as the bright luminary and glory of heaven, so our following his example will be the way for us to be exalted, to shine with him, 'as the stars for ever and ever,' Dan. 12:3. And as Christ in heaven rejoices in his success, and will receive his church, presented to him without spot, as his everlasting crown; so our imitating Christ in our work, will be the way to partake with Christ in this joy, and have the souls whose salvation we are the instruments of, to be our crown of rejoicing for ever. Thus Christ and we shall rejoice together in that world of glory and joy where there is no more labor or sorrow. And we must enter into that joy and glory, in the way of following Christ in our work. There is no other way for ministers to enter there.
      And that we may thus follow Christ's example, and be partakers with him in his glory, we had need to be much in prayer for his Spirit. Christ himself, though the eternal Son of God, obtained the Holy Spirit for himself in a way of prayer. Luke 3:21, 22, 'Jesus being baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Ghost descended like a dove upon him.' If we have the Spirit of Christ dwelling in us, we shall have Christ himself thereby living in us, and then we shall undoubtedly live like him. If that fountain of light dwells richly in us, we shall shine like him, and so shall be burning and shining lights.
      That we may be and behave like Christ, we should earnestly seek much acquaintance with him, and much love to him, and be much in secret converse with him. It is natural, and as it were necessary, for us to imitate those whom we are much acquainted and conversant with, and have a strong affection for.
      And in order to our imitating Christ in the work of the ministry, in any tolerable degree, we had need not to have our hearts overcharged, and time filled up with worldly affections, cares, and pursuits. The duties of a minister that have been recommended, are absolutely inconsistent with a mind much taken up with worldly profit, glory, amusements, and entertainments.
      And another thing that is of very great importance, in order to our doing the work that Christ did, is that we take heed that the religion we promote, be that same religion that Christ taught and promoted, and not any of its counterfeits and delusive appearances, or anything substituted by the subtle devices of Satan, or vain imaginations of men, in lieu of it. If we are zealous and very diligent to promote religion, but do not take good care to distinguish true from false religion, we shall be in danger of doing much more hurt than good with all our zeal and activity.
      I come now to the
      IV. And last thing at first proposed, viz. to show what improvement should be made of what has been said, by the people of this church and congregation, who are now about solemnly to commit their souls to the charge of him whom they have chosen to be their pastor, and who is now about to be set apart to that office.
      And YOU, MY BRETHREN, as all of you have immortal souls to save, if you have considered the things that have been spoken, cannot but be sensible, that it not only greatly concerns your elect pastor to take heed how he behaves himself in his great work, wherein he is to act as a coworker with Christ for your salvation; but that it infinitely concerns you how you receive him, and behave towards him. Seeing that it is for your eternal salvation that he is appointed to watch and labor; and seeing his business is to do the work of Christ for you, it is natural and easy to infer, that your reception and entertainment of him should in some respect imitate the church's reception of Jesus Christ. Gal. 4:14, 'My temptation which was in my flesh, ye despised not, nor rejected; but received me as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus.' Christ, in the text, commands those whom he sends to follow his example, and then in the 20th verse following, he directs those to whom he sends them, how to treat them. 'Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that receiveth whomsoever I send, receiveth me; and he that receiveth me, receiveth him that sent me.' Seeing the work of your minister is in some respects the same with the work of Christ, and he is to be appointed and devoted to do this work for your souls in particular, surely you should esteem him very highly in love for his work's sake and do all that is in your power to help him, and put him under the best advantages to imitate his great Master in this work, to give himself wholly to his work, as Christ did during the time of his ministry, and to be successful in his work. And as it was observed before, that it is impossible that ministers should in any tolerable degree imitate the example of Christ in their work, if their minds are overcharged with worldly cares and concerns, you ought so to provide for him and support him, that he shall have no need to entangle himself with these things; otherwise you will not only bring a great temptation upon him, which will vastly tend to hinder him in the work of Christ among you, but will, for the sake of sparing a little of your worldly substance to yourselves, foolishly and miserably starve your own souls and the souls of your children, and will but cheat yourselves. For you will not be in the way to prosper either in your spiritual or temporal concerns. The way to have your houses filled with plenty, is to 'honor the Lord with your substance, and with the first-fruits of all your increase.' Pro. 3:9.
      And as it is your duty and interest well to support your minister, so it concerns you to pray earnestly for him, and each one to do what in him lies in all respects to encourage and help him, and strengthen his hands, by attending diligently to his ministry, receiving the truth in love, treating him with the honor due to a messenger of Christ, carefully avoiding all contention with him, and one with another. And take heed in particular, that you do not forsake him to follow those, who under pretense of extraordinary purity, are doubtless doing the devil's work, in separating themselves, and endeavoring to draw off others from the ministers and churches in the land in general.
      If you think I have spoken something freely to you, I hope it will be considered, that this is probably the last time you will ever hear me speak from the pulpit, and that I shall never see you again, till we see one another in the invisible and eternal world, where these things will open to us all in their just importance.
      And now nothing is left but to express my sincerest wishes and prayers, that the God of all grace would be with you and your elect pastor, and that he would give you in him a great and long-lasting blessing, that you may enjoy much of the presence of Christ with you in him. That in him may be made up the great loss you sustained by the death of your former faithful and eminent pastor, whose praise was in all the churches. And that you may receive him as you ought to receive a faithful minister of Jesus Christ, and may be a great comfort to him, and may receive great spiritual and eternal benefit by his means And that you may be each other's crown of rejoicing in the day of the Lord Jesus.

Lord, smite our rocky hearts!

“And when he thought thereon, he wept.”
- Mar_14:72

It has been thought by some that as long as Peter lived, the fountain of his tears began to flow whenever he remembered his denying his Lord. It is not unlikely that it was so, (for his sin was very great, and grace in him had afterwards a perfect work. This same experience is common to all the redeemed family according to the degree in which the Spirit of God has removed the natural heart of stone. We, like Peter, remember our boastful promise: “Though all men shall forsake thee, yet will not I.” We eat our own words with the bitter herbs of repentance. When we think of what we vowed we would be, and of what we have been, we may weep whole showers of grief. He thought on his denying his Lord. The place in which he did it, the little cause which led him into such heinous sin, the oaths and blasphemies with which he sought to confirm his falsehood, and the dreadful hardness of heart which drove him to do so again and yet again. Can we, when we are reminded of our sins, and their exceeding sinfulness, remain stolid and stubborn? Will we not make our house a Bochim, and cry unto the Lord for renewed assurances of pardoning love? May we never take a dry-eyed look at sin, lest ere long we have a tongue parched in the flames of hell. Peter also thought upon his Master’s look of love. The Lord followed up the cock’s warning voice with an admonitory look of sorrow, pity, and love. That glance was never out of Peter’s mind so long as he lived. It was far more effectual than ten thousand sermons would have been without the Spirit. The penitent apostle would be sure to weep when he recollected the Saviour’s full forgiveness, which restored him to his former place. To think that we have offended so kind and good a Lord is more than sufficient reason for being constant weepers. Lord, smite our rocky hearts, and make the waters flow.

C.H. Spurgeon

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The beauty of holiness

“Worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness” (Psa. 29:2). Holiness is the antithesis of sin, and the beauty of holiness is in direct contrast from the ugliness of sin. Sin is a deformity, a monstrosity. Sin is repulsive, repellent to the infinitely pure God: that is why He selected leprosy, the most loathsome and horrible of all diseases, to be its emblem. When the Prophet was Divinely inspired to depict the condition of degenerate Israel it was in these words, “From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores” (Isa. 1:6). O that sin were sickening and hateful to us: not merely its grosser forms, but sin itself. At the opposite extreme from the hideousness of sin is “the beauty of holiness.” Holiness is lovely in the sight of God: necessarily so. It is the reflection of His own nature, for He is “glorious in holiness” (Exo. 15:11). O that it may be increasingly attractive to and earnestly sought after by us. Perhaps the simplest way of bringing out the beauty of holiness will be to contrast it from the beauties of time and sense.

First, the beauty of holiness is imperceptible to the natural man, and therein it differs radically from the beauties of mere nature. He can behold and admire a lovely glen, the softly flowing river, the mountain pines, the rushing waterfall; but for the excellence of spiritual graces he has no eyes. He regards one who (by grace) meekly submits to sore trials as a milksop. He looks upon one who denies self for Christ's sake as a fool. He considers the man who adheres strictly to the narrow way as one who misses the best of this life. The natural man is totally incapable of discerning the excellence of that which is of great price in the sight of God. Do some think we are stating this too strongly? Then let them be reminded of the solemn fact that when the Holy One tabernacled here upon earth the unregenerate saw in Him "no beauty" that they should desire Him (Isa. 53:2); and it is the same today. God must remove the scales from the eyes of our heart before we can perceive that holiness is beautiful.

 Second, the beauty of holiness is real and genuine, and therein it differs radically from much of the beauty which is seen in this world. How much that appeals to the gaze of the natural man is artificial and fictitious. How much human beauty is made up, the product of the artifices of the salon. Even when physical beauty is natural, how rarely it is accompanied by moral virtues. No wonder our forefathers were accustomed to say, "Beauty is but skin deep." Not so the beauty of holiness: it is rooted in the inner man, and sheds its purifying influence over the entire being. "Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain" (Prov. 31:30). But holiness disappoints not its possessor, for its beauty is spiritual and Divine. True, it has many counterfeits in the religious world, yet the genuine article has a ring to it which the godly cannot mistake.

Third, the beauty of holiness is abiding, and therein it differs radically from all the beauty of earth. The wooded glen, whose varied tints are so pleasing in the summer sunlight, is leafless and drab when winter comes. The glorious sunset which human skill can neither produce nor adequately reproduce disappears within a few minutes. The fairest human countenance quickly withers: "all her beauty is departed" (Lam. 1:6). Even when it is preserved to the end of a short life, "their beauty shall consume in the grave" (Psa. 49:14). Yes, change and decay in all we see. The only beauty which is unfading and everlasting is the beauty of holiness. The fruit of the Spirit will never lose its bloom: spiritual graces shall endure after this poor world has all gone up in smoke. How fervently, then, should we pray, "Let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us" (Psa. 90:17).

Fourth, the beauty of holiness is satisfying, and herein it differs radically from the beauty of the things of time and sense. Sooner or later they either pall on one or else leave an aching void. Take the globe-trotter who journeys east and west, north and south, seeking fresh scenes. How soon he tires, discovering that the loveliest landscape cannot supply contentment of mind and peace of heart. Man is more than a material creature, and therefore it requires something else than material things--no matter how beautiful--to meet his needs. It is the things of the Spirit which alone afford satisfaction. "Godliness with contentment is great gain" (1 Tim. 6:6). True, the Christian is never satisfied with his own holiness: rather does he continue to hunger and thirst after righteousness to the end of his wilderness journey. Nevertheless, the holier we are--the closer we walk with God--the more real rest of soul shall we enjoy. And the blessed sequel will demonstrate the contrast still more plainly: instead of discovering that we have only chased the shadows, the Christian has the assurance: "I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with Thy likeness" (Psa. 17:15).

Fifth, the beauty of holiness is glorifying to God, and therein it differs radically from much of human beauty. To glorify his Maker is the bounden duty of man, and nothing honours Him so much as our walking in separation from all that is displeasing to Him. But alas, physical charms and spiritual graces are rarely found in the same persons. A notable example of this is seen in the case of Absalom, of whom it is recorded, "In all Israel there was none to be so much praised as Absalom for his beauty: from the sole of his foot even to the crown of his head there was no blemish in him" (2 Sam. 14:25); yet he feared not God and perished in his sins. How many a woman has used her personal attractions to entice men rather than magnify God. How many a well-proportioned and handsome man has employed his gifts for self-glorification rather than the praise of God. But the beauty of holiness ever redounds to the honour of its Author.

 "O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness." This is the only kind of beauty which the Lord cares for in our devotions. "Godliness is to the soul as the light is to the world, to illustrate and adorn it. It is not greatness which sets us off before God, but goodness" (Thomas Watson). Ornate architecture and expensive apparel God delights not in. It is the loveliness of inward purity and outward sanctity that pleases the thrice Holy One. Sincerity of heart, fervour of spirit, reverence of demeanour, the exercise of faith, the outgoings of love, are some of the elements which comprise the "beauty of holiness" in our worship.--A.W.Pink

Monday, July 28, 2014

Headed home

(Charles Spurgeon, "Flowers from a Puritan's Garden" 1883) 

A poor beast that is going homeward, goes cheerfully! See how the horse pricks up his ears and quickens his pace when you turn his head to his stable. Even the dull donkey does the same. 

Much more then should Christians feel the attractions of their heavenly home! 

Courage, brothers and sisters; we, too, are homeward bound! Every hour brings us nearer to the many mansions! Our way is toward the Father's house on high, therefore let us rejoice at every step we take!

"Do not let your hearts be troubled. In my Father's house are many mansions. I am going there to prepare a place for you!" John 14:1-2

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The first, foremost, chief and principal things in Christianity

1. The Absolute Supremacy of Holy Scripture
Show us anything, plainly written in that Book--and we will receive it, believe it, and submit to it! Show us anything contrary to that Book, and however sophisticated, plausible, beautiful and apparently desirable--and we will not have it at any price!
2. The Doctrine of Human Sinfulness and Corruption
Man is radically diseased and dead in sin. I believe that ignorance of the extent of the Fall, and of the whole doctrine of original sin, is one grand reason why many can neither understand, appreciate, nor receive Evangelical Religion.
3. The Work and Office of our Lord Jesus Christ
The eternal Son of God is our Representative and Substitute. We hold that nothing whatever is needed between the sinner, and Christ the Savior, but simple child-like faith.
4. The Inward Work of the Holy Spirit
We maintain that the things which need most to be pressed on men's attention are those mighty works of the Holy Spirit--inward repentance, faith, hope, hatred of sin, and love to God's Word. We say that to tell men to take comfort in their baptism or church membership, when these all-important graces are unknown--is not merely a grave mistake, but positive cruelty!
5. The Outward and Visible Work of the Holy Spirit in the Life of Man
We maintain that to tell a man he is "born of God" or regenerated, while living in carelessness or sin, is a dangerous delusion!
We say boldly that the above five points are the first, foremost, chief and principal things in Christianity.

What the church needs

The Church of Christ does not need a new Bible, nor 
new apostles, nor new faith-healers, nor new 
charismatic movements, nor self-styled miracle 
workers. What the Church needs is to return to the 
Word of God and proclaim the whole counsel of God 
in the power and love of the Holy Spirit.

Lehman Strauss

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

What is the Gospel?

1 - It is good news - not good advice, and falls on the ears of the children of God as such. This is saying that regeneration precedes response. It is not the flesh which can receive, but the born again man, who becomes spiritual by the indwelling Spirit. The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God for they are foolishness unto, neither can he know them for they are spiritual discerned. (1 Cor 2:14)

2 - It is the basis for God's judgment when one is said to either accuse or excuse one another, In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my Gospel (Rom 2:16)

3 - It is a proclaimed message to be obeyed: (Rom 10:15:16) (1 Pet 4:17) (2 Thess 1:8). The Gospel is not an option for man, but a command.

4 - It is hid to the lost by Satan's blinding: 2 Cor 4:3-4
If our Gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost, in whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them who believe not (2 Cor 4:3-4)

5 - It is a message which is not well received by religion: (John 16:2)
If what we preach is NOT offense to the religionist and to the worldling, then it is NOT THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST. I repeat, it is not the Gospel! (Pastor Henry Mahan)
When those blind sought healing - what was the good news? Receive thy sight! When the lame was healed - what was the good news? Take up thy bed and walk! When the dumb could not speak - what was the good news? Thou dumb spirit come out of him! When the leper sought to be healed - what was the good news? Be thou clean! When the publican prayed, God be merciful to me a sinner - what was the good news? This man went down to his house justified. When the woman taken in adultery was brought to Jesus, and her accusers sought to condemn her by stoning - what was the good news? Neither do I condemn thee. When the woman who was diseased with an issue of blood and touched His garment only - what was the good news? Be of good comfort, thy faith hath made thee whole. When the woman with a vexed daughter sought the Lord - what was the good news? Her daughter was made whole from that very hour. When the thief on the cross ask the dying Lord to remember him when He came into His kingdom - what was the good news? Today shalt thou be with in paradise. When one comes to the Lord who labors and is heavy laden - what is the good news? I will give you rest. When one given to Christ believes - what is the good news? Thou shalt be saved.

A Tender Heart

“Because thine heart was tender” (2 Kings 22:19). We have already considered the circumstances and significance of these words last month. Let us now proffer a few remarks upon how a tender heart may be preserved. This is a matter of great importance, for though such a most desirable possession be obtained as a sovereign gift from God, yet it can only be retained by much diligence on our part. This should scarcely need any arguing, yet hyper-Calvinists are likely to demur, supposing that an insistence upon Christian responsibility is the same thing as crying up creature ability. But does not the natural shadow forth the spiritual here, too? Is it not a fact with which we are all familiar that the more “tender” any object or creature be, the more care and cultivation it requires? 
“Keep thy heart with all diligence” (Prov. 4:23). This must put an end to all quibbling on the part of objectors: where God speaks there must be an end of all strife. And diligence, great and constant diligence, is required on our part if a tender heart is to be preserved. How? In what directions? First, by guarding against everything which is hostile to it. To be more specific: it is sin which hardens the heart. In exact proportion as sin obtains dominion over us, do we steal ourselves against God. And it is just here that our accountability comes in: “Awake to righteousness, and sin not” (1 Cor. 15:34). Thought we cannot impart a tender heart, we can certainly impair one. “Harden not your hearts” was the Lord’s call to His people of old, and to us also today; and if we are to comply therewith we must fear, hate, and resist sin. 

Sin is insidious. Scripture speaks of “the deceitfulness of sin”(Heb. 3:13). If we are not on our guard, it will steal upon us unawares; unless we are wide awake and alert to the danger, sin will overcome us like the fumes of a deadly gas. That is why the Lord bids us “Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation” (Matt. 26:41). Yes, watch as well as pray, and pray as well as watch. We all know what happened to Peter because he failed so to do, and his case is recorded as a solemn warning for us. “Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil men. Avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it, and pass away” (Prov. 4:14, 15). Notice carefully how the same prohibition is iterated and re-iterated again and again in these verses. It is the first approach of sin we most need to resist. It is by making conscience of its earliest stirrings within that a tender heart is preserved. 

Every Christian will readily allow that sin is insidious, but it is one thing to recognize this in theory and quite another to be regulated by it in practice. All will agree that one of the most effective means of victory over sin is to steadfastly refuse its first advances; yet the fact remains that few do so. It is at this very point we must take our stand if a tender heart is to be retained. But how? By guarding against carnality. Things indifferent become a snare if they are not kept within due bounds. That which is lawful is not always expedient. An immoderate use of the creature will bind chains upon us which are not easily snapped. Inordinate affection for those nearest to us will sap true spirituality. Beware, then, of setting your love too much upon mere things or creatures. 

Nothing will keep the heart tender so much as cultivating the spirit of filial awe. Alas that this is now so rarely insisted upon. “The fear of the LORD is to hate evil” (Prov. 8:13). Necessarily so, for God is ineffably holy, and where He is revered sin is loathed. “By the fear of the LORD men depart from evil” (Prov. 16:6), for two cannot walk together except they be agreed. The more concerned I am not to displease my Master, the more shall I eschew that which He forbids. “Be thou in the fear of the LORD all the day long” (Prov. 23:17), for “Happy is the man that feareth always” (Prov. 28:14). We must strive to be in the fear of God not only in the first hour of devotion, but throughout the day. The more we live in the conscious realization that the eyes of the Holy One are upon us, the more will our hearts be kept truly tender. 

“Because thine heart was tender” (2 Kings 22:19). What a desirable thing is a tender heart. How earnestly we should aspire after one. And when such has been graciously bestowed upon us, what diligence we should exercise in seeking to preserve the same. The tenderness of Josiah’s heart was precious in the sight of the Lord, and in consequence thereof his prayers were answered, as the remainder of our opening text declares. There is nothing like a tender heart, my reader, for obtaining the ear of the Lord. A tender heart is one which is responsive to the voice of God, and unless we possess this how can we expect Him to hear our calls? A tender heart is the only one which truly honours God, as it is the only one which ensures our growth in grace. How deeply important, then, is the question, Have you, have I, really a tender heart? May we be enabled to answer truthfully. 

In the last two issues we pointed out some of the principal characteristics of a tender heart, and also sought to indicate those duties which must be performed if we are to retain this valuable possession. But it is probable that not a few of our readers would prefer for us to tell them how a tender heart may be recovered. They are already persuaded of the great excellence of this spiritual treasure, and they also perceive clearly what is necessary in order to retain it. What grieves them is that they are conscious of guilty failure in safeguarding this Divine gift. They are sensible that the fine gold has become dim, that little foxes have spoiled their vines, that their conscience is no longer so sensitive as it once was, that they do not respond so readily to the motions of God’s Spirit; that much hardness now resides in their hearts. 

It is sadly true that a tender heart may be lost: not absolutely so, but relatively; not permanently, but temporarily. But sadder still is the fact that many who have suffered this deprivation are unconscious of it. It is with them as it was with Ephraim of old: “Strangers have devoured his strength, and he knoweth it not; yea, gray hairs are here and there upon him, yet he knoweth not” (Hosea 7:9). They may still attend the means of grace and perform their outward devotions, but their hearts are not in them. They may still be respected by their fellow-Christians and regarded as in a healthy spiritual state, while in reality they are backsliders. Sights from which they once shrank appall them no longer. Things which used to exercise their conscience do so no more. The standard at which they formerly aimed is now regarded as too strict and severe. 

Said the Apostle to the Galatians, “Ye did run well, who (or “what”) hath hindered you?” (5:7). What are the things which destroy tenderness of heart? Ungodly companions is one. Satan will tell the young Christian that he or she may keep old friends and suffer no loss, but God says, “Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners” (1 Cor. 15:33). Friendship with worldlings will soon have a paralyzing influence upon true spirituality. Prayerlessness is another thing which speedily affects the heart. Unless a close fellowship with God be maintained—and that is impossible if the Throne of Grace is neglected—coldness and hardness will soon steal upon us. Equally so will a neglect of the Word. This will not necessarily mean the omission of reading so many chapters each day, but the absence of actually communing with God therein. The spirit of hypocrisy, pretending to be what we are not, hardens—for guile and tenderness are incompatible. 

Yes, a tender heart may be lost, as truly as first love may be left (Rev. 2:4). Can it be regained? Yes, though not as easily as it may be hardened. How? First, by warming afresh at the fire of God’s love. This is ever the most effectual means of removing hardness of heart. What was it that melted and broke you down at your first conversion? Was it not a sense of the Divine grace and a sight of Christ’s dying love? And nothing is so calculated to soften the backslider: it is “the goodness of God” which leads to repentance (Rom. 2:4). What was before David when he commenced his contrite confession? This: the Lord’s “lovingkindness” and the “multitude of His tender mercies” (Psa. 51:1). When was it that Peter went out and wept bitterly? Was it not when the Saviour “turned and looked upon him” (Luke 22:61)? 

Was it not the sorrow which Peter saw in that look—a sorrow which issued from love for him—which broke his heart?! The Lord had given him every proof that he was dear unto Him, and how had Peter requited that love? And has not the Lord given you, my brother, my sister, abundant evidence that you are precious in His sight? Did He deem any sacrifice too great to make atonement for your sins? Has He not favoured you above millions of your fellows in bringing you to a saving knowledge of the Truth? Has He not bestowed the Holy Spirit upon you? Has He not borne with your dullness with infinite patience? Can you dwell upon these things with unmoved heart? Surely not. Seek unto Him, then, and your coldness and hardness will indeed be thawed. 

Second, by genuine contrition. As it is the allowance of sin which hardens the heart, so it is sorrow for sin which softens it. Hence, when the Lord admonishes the one who has left his first love, His word is, “Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works” (Rev. 2:5). First, “Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen,” which looks back to the previous verse. Call to mind the happy fellowship you once enjoyed with the eternal Lover of your soul, when He found delight in you, and your own heart was satisfied. Consider “from whence thou art fallen”—no longer leaning on His bosom, but having entered a course which both displeases and dishonours Him. Unless this produces godly sorrow in you, nothing else will, and it is godly sorrow which “worketh repentance” (2 Cor. 7:10). Take a leaf out of the copybook of the prodigal son: arise, forsake the far country, return to your Father, and pour out your griefs into His welcoming ear. 

Third, by the exercise of faith. “And do the first works” (Rev. 2:5). What was the first work you did when you originally came to God in Christ as an empty-handed and contrite sinner? Was it not to cast yourself upon His mercy, to lay hold of His promises, to trust in the sufficiency of Christ’s atoning blood? Well, the same remedy is available now. Did not David cry, “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me” (Psa. 51:10)?—deal with me now as Thou did at the first! And was he not able to say, “He restorest my soul” (Psa. 23:3)? Precious promises are recorded in the Word which exactly suit your case: “Return, ye backsliding children, and I will heal your backslidings” (Jer. 3:22). “I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely” (Hosea 14:4). Make these promises your own, plead them before God, and count upon Him making them good in your own case. 

In conclusion, a word or two on some of the evidences of a tender heart. We mention one or two of these so that writer and reader may test himself by them. Is your heart affected by the present state of Christendom? Are you made to sigh and cry, “for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof” (Ezek. 9:4)? Is your experience, in some measure at least, that “Horror hath taken hold upon me because of the wicked that forsake Thy Law” (Psa. 119:53)? “Mine eye shall weep sore and run down with tears, because the Lord’s flock is carried away captive” (Jer. 13:17)—is that how you feel? Again—“I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision” (Acts 26:19): do you respond to the motions of God’s Spirit? Finally, do you mourn over your own hardness and grieve over your callousness? These are some of the manifestations of a tender heart.

A.W. Pink

Monday, July 21, 2014

The illegal immigrant crisis

I came across this video concerning what's presently taking place in America; this video gives a chilling perspective as to why our Government may be letting illegals in. If he is right, we are headed for some terrifying times...

Sunday, July 20, 2014

the record of conscience

(Charles Spurgeon, "Flowers from a Puritan's Garden" 1883) 

"If conscience speaks not, it writes. For it is not only a witness, but a register, and a book of record:'The sin of Judah is written with a pen of iron, and the point of a diamond!' Jeremiah 17:1. We know not what conscience writes, being occupied and taken up with carnal vanities--but we shall know hereafter, when the books are opened, Revelation 20:12. Conscience keeps a diary, and marks down everything! This book, though it is in the sinner's keeping--cannot be erased and blotted out. Well, then, a sleepy conscience will not always sleep; if we do not allow it to awaken here--it will awaken in Hell!"

Let those who forget their sins take note of this! There is a recorder within you taking notes, and he will publish all, where all will hear it. Never say, "Nobody will see me!" for you will see yourself, and your conscience will give infallible evidence against you.

What a volume Mr. Recorder Conscience has written already! How many 'blotted pages' he has in store, to be produced upon my final trial. 

O You who alone can erase this dreadful handwriting, look on me in mercy, as I now look on You by faith.

"They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them." Romans 2:15