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

Saturday, August 30, 2014

When the church stops caring what the Lord thinks

Mark Driscoll has always been controversial...and that's putting it quite mildly. What's amazing to me are the number of professing Christians, including some 'big names', who defended Driscoll, and still do. It seems being a celebrity Pastor holds more water than the standard laid out in Scripture for elders. Driscoll is an example of how one can verbally profess to hold to {some} right doctrine yet bear no good fruit...and STILL be considered a 'Christian'. When men follow men and exalt them over sacred Scripture, refusing to handle sins biblically, the result is what we presently see. In reality, most of what calls itself 'Christian' in America is anything but; Christianity has been used by many as a way to make lots of money via books, conferences, dvds, etc., to pursue power, to suppress and hurt those who do attempt to expose, and to fulfill all the wicked, sinful desires of men.
I've read tweets by John Piper {another celebrity Pastor who is very questionable at best} praying for Driscoll to repent. This is baffling to me as well; where does the Bible state wolves will/can repent?  These verses come to mind concerning wolves...
2Peter 2:3  'And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.' 
Jude 1:4  'For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.' 

I put this post up because I wanted to share a piece written by Janet Mefferd, who took a LOT of criticism from the publishing company of Driscoll's plagiarized book, and from Justin Taylor at the 'Gospel Coalition' {a blog I no longer visit, and not because of Mefferd} when she interviewed Driscoll over his plagiarism. Here's Janet's well-thought out piece concerning the train wreck called Driscoll...

Something unexpected happened to me today.
This morning, I received copies of a letter penned by nine Mars Hill pastors, outlining the latest revelations about Pastor Mark Driscoll. It started as all Mars Hill documents seem to begin: Expressing deep and abiding Christian love for Mark Driscoll and his willing accomplices. Then, of course, came the charges. Lies. Deceit. Lack of accountability. They even revealed that Paul Tripp — a recently resigned member of the Board of Advisors and Accountability — told them Mars Hill is “the most abusive, coercive ministry culture I’ve ever been involved with.”
Another bombshell. This time, the church will really sit up and take notice!
But for some reason, I didn’t react to the latest Driscoll reveal the way I’ve reacted to others like it in the past. It’s not that I don’t care, that I don’t hurt for all involved or that I don’t feel outrage or disgust. I do, on all counts.
It’s just that I’m finally to the place where I have to say, “I’m done.”

Friday, August 29, 2014

Genuine submission

“Our God is in the heavens: He hath done whatsoever He hath pleased” (Psa. 115:3). 

Being God, He consults no one; yet being omniscient and infinitely holy, He does only that which is good and right. But we are finite creatures; yea, fallen creatures, and sin has darkened our understanding. Therefore we are quite incompetent to gauge or grasp God’s ways; and to criticize or murmur against them is the height of impiety and wickedness: “Shall the thing formed say to Him that formed it, Why hast Thou made me thus?” (Rom. 9:20). True spirituality and practical godliness consist in yielding ourselves to the sovereign and perfect will of God, bowing submissively unto whatever He lays upon us, seeking grace to do whatever He commands us. 

Much that God does is displeasing to the flesh, and sin within rises up and rebels. This is the very nature of sin: to oppose God, to be dissatisfied with His appointments. Daily does the Christian need to ask God to lay His cooling and quietening hand upon him. Daily doe he need to beg Him to increase his faith, so that his confidence in Him may be so entire that he will not call into question any of His dealings with him; but rather will say with Job, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him” (v. 15). That is the great secret of real and lasting peace of heart. But that is something to which all the unregenerate are total strangers, though they will not acknowledge it, and try hard to conceal it. A heart which is truly at rest is one that realizes that God (and not the Devil) is on the throne of the universe, directing all things by His unerring wisdom and making all things “work together for good” unto His own people. 

It is true that even to the Christian many of God’s ways are profoundly mysterious: if they were not, there would be no room for the exercise of faith. If the writer or the reader were on the throne and had all power at his disposal, he would order things in this world very different from what they now are. Yes, and that would only manifest what a fool he is. How so? Because Perfect Wisdom is now directing all the concerns of every life and all the affairs of this world as a whole, and therefore the very desire to altar what is, only exhibits our folly. Faith knows that unerring wisdom is regulating all things; that One too wise to err holds the helm in His hand, and that He “doeth all things well.” Though to sight and sense things seem to be all out of order, though human reason is quite unable to perceive the perfection of God’s governmental ways and providential dealings, faith knows that “of Him, and through Him, and to Him, are all things” (Rom 11:36). 

God could put an end to all sin in the world right now did He so please. So to He could save every sinner on earth this moment did He so choose. As to why He does not do so, we cannot tell; nor is it any of our business! Our business is not to mount the bench and pass judgment on the ways and dealings of the Most High: that is what the Devil once sought to do, and it resulted in his eternal undoing. Our business is to be clay in the hands of the Potter; to unmurmingly submit to His holy and sovereign pleasure, to lie passive, and be molded by Him. Our business is to take our place in the dust before the Almighty, and say, Lord, in Thy mercy subdue my rebellious will, quieten my restless soul, purify my unbelieving heart. Our business is to delight ourselves in the Lord (Psa. 37:4), and to give thanks “always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Eph. 5:20).

 We live in the midst of a rebellious generation who are ever murmuring and complaining at God’s appointments: grumbling at His weather, chaffing at His restrictions, belching forth their discontent every time He crosses their wills. Verily, “the poison of asps is under their lips” (Rom. 3:13). And my reader, unless we are constantly on our guard, we shall be corrupted by them, learn their evil ways, and acquire their wicked speech. Our safeguard is to have as little to do with them as possible, and to cultivate more and more communion with Him who never murmured, but always delighted in the Father’s will—A.W. Pink

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Increasing conformity

 It is communion with the Lord that conforms us to His image. We shall not be more Christlike until we walk more frequently and more closely with Him. "But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord" (2 Cor. 3:18). The second consequence of real communion with God is that we will be less occupied with ourselves. Though Moses’ face shone with "a light not seen on land or sea," he did not know it. This illustrates a vital difference between self-righteous Pharisaism and true godliness; the former produces complacency and pride, the latter leads to self-abnegation and humility. The Pharisee (there are many of his tribe still on earth) boasts of his attainments, advertises his imaginary spirituality, and thanks God he is not as other men. But the one who, by grace, enjoys much fellowship with the Lord learns of Him who was "meek and lowly in heart," and says, "Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory" (Ps. 115:1). Engaged with the beauty of the Lord, he is delivered from self occupation, and is therefore unconscious of the very fruit of the Spirit being brought forth in him. But though he is not aware of his increasing conformity to Christ, others are.
A.W. Pink

A holy wonder

“My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?"
This was the startling cry of Golgotha: Eloî Eloî lama sabacthani. The Jews mocked, but the angels adored when Jesus cried this exceeding bitter cry. Nailed to the tree we behold our great Redeemer in extremities, and what see we? Having ears to hear let us hear, and having eyes to see let us see! Let us gaze with holy wonder, and mark the flashes of light amid the awful darkness of that midday-midnight. First, our Lord's faith beams forth and deserves our reverent imitation; he keeps his hold upon his God with both hands and cries twice, “My God, my God!” The spirit of adoption was strong within the suffering Son of Man, and he felt no doubt about his interest in his God. Oh that we could imitate this cleaving to an afflicting God! 
Nor does the sufferer distrust the power of God to sustain him, for the title used - “El” - signifies strength, and is the name of the Mighty God. He knows the Lord to be the all-sufficient support and succour of his spirit, and therefore appeals to him in the agony of grief, but not in the misery of doubt. He would fain know why he is left, he raises that question and repeats it, but neither the power nor the faithfulness of God does he mistrust. What an enquiry is this before us! 
“Why hast thou forsaken me?” We must lay the emphasis on every word of this saddest of all utterances. “Why?” what is the great cause of such a strange fact as for God to leave his own Son at such a time and in such a plight? There was no cause in him, why then was he deserted? “Hast:” it is done, and the Saviour is feeling its dread effect as he asks the question; it is surely true, but how mysterious! It was no threatening of forsaking which made the great Surety cry aloud, he endured that forsaking in very deed. “Thou:” I can understand why traitorous Judas and timid Peter should be gone, but thou, my God, my faithful friend, how canst thou leave me? This is worst of all, yea worse than all put together. Hell itself has for its fiercest flame the separation of the soul from God. 
“Forsaken:” if thou hadst chastened I might bear it, for they face would shine; but to forsake me utterly, ah! why is this? “Me:” thine innocent, obedient, suffering Son, why leavest thou me to perish? A sight of self seen by penitence, and of Jesus on the cross seen by faith will best expound this question. Jesus is forsaken because our sins had separated between us and our God.

C.H. Spurgeon

Tuesday, August 26, 2014


This comes from Michael Jeshurun...


Said the Prince of Preachers (Spurgeon):
“There are some professing Christians who can speak of themselves in terms of admiration; but, from my inmost heart, I loathe such speeches more and more every day that I live. Those who talk in such a boastful fashion must be constituted very differently from ME. While they are congratulating themselves, I have to lie humbly at the foot of Christ’s Cross, and MARVEL THAT I AM SAVED AT ALL, for I know that I am saved. I have to wonder that I do not believe Christ more, and equally wonder that I am privileged to believe in Him at all—to wonder that I do not love Him more, and equally to wonder that I love Him at all—to wonder that I am not holier, and equally to wonder that I have any desire to be holy at all considering what a polluted debased, depraved nature I find still within my soul, notwithstanding all that divine grace has done in me.
If God were ever to allow the fountains of the great deeps of depravity to break up in the best man that lives, HE WOULD MAKE AS BAD A DEVIL AS THE DEVIL HIMSELF IS. I care nothing for what these boasters say concerning their own perfections; I feel sure that THEY DO NOT KNOW THEMSELVES, OR THEY COULD NOT TALK AS THEY OFTEN DO. There is tinder enough in the saint who is nearest to heaven to kindle another hell if God should but permit a spark to fall upon it. In the very best of men there is an infernal and well-nigh infinite depth of depravity. Some Christians never seem to find this out. I almost wish that they might not do so, for IT IS A PAINFUL DISCOVERY FOR ANYONE TO MAKE; but it has the beneficial effect of making us cease from trusting in ourselves, and causing us to glory only in the Lord!”
Incidentally Spurgeon is not alone in his lament concerning his depravity. Here are a few more quotes from eminent divines of the past:
Mr. Bradford, of holy memory, who was martyred in the reign of bloody queen Mary, in a letter to a fellow-prisoner in another penitentiary, subscribed himself thus: “The sinful John Bradford: a very painted hypocrite: the most miserable, hard-hearted, and unthankful sinner, John Bradford.” (1555 A.D.)
Godly Rutherford wrote, “This body of sin and corruption embitters and poisons our enjoyment. Oh that I were where I shall sin no more.” (1650 A.D.)
Bishop Berkeley wrote, “I cannot pray, but I sin; I cannot preach, but I sin; I cannot administer, nor receive the holy sacrament, but I sin. My very repentance needs to be repented of: and the tears I shed need washing in the blood of Christ.” (1670 A.D.)
Jonathan Edwards, himself, than whom few men have been more honored of God, either in their spiritual attainments or in the extent to which God has used them in blessing to others, near the end of his life wrote thus: “When I look into my heart and take a view of its wickedness, it looks like an abyss infinitely deeper than hell. And it appears to me, that, were it not for free grace, exalted and raised up to the infinite height of all the fullness and glory of the great Jehovah, I should appear sunk down in my sins below hell itself; far below the sight of everything, but the eye of sovereign grace, that alone can pierce down to such a depth. And it is affecting to think how ignorant I was, when a young Christian [alas, that so many older Christians are still ignorant of it.—A.W.P.], of the bottomless depths of wickedness, pride, hypocrisy and deceit left in my heart” (1743 A.D.).
Augustus Toplady, author of “Rock of Ages,” wrote thus in his private diary under December 31, 1767—“Upon a review of the past year, I desire to confess that my unfaithfulness has been exceeding great; my sins still greater; God’s mercies greater than both.” And again, “My short-comings and my mis-doings, my unbelief and want of love, would sink me into the lowest hell, was not Jesus my righteousness and my Redeemer.”
John Newton, writer of that blessed hymn, “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me; I once was lost, but now am found, was blind, but now I see;” when referring to the expectations which he cherished at the outset of his Christian life, wrote thus: “But alas! these my golden expectations have been like South Sea dreams. I have lived hitherto a poor sinner, and I believe I shall die one. Have I, then, gained nothing? Yes, I have gained that which I once would rather have been without! Such accumulated proof of the deceitfulness and desperate wickedness of my heart, as I hope by the Lord’s blessing has, in some measure, taught me to know what I mean when I say, Behold, I am vile. . .I was ashamed of myself, when I began to seek it, I am more ashamed now”.
“O WRETCHED MAN THAT I AM.” This then is the language of a regenerate soul. It is the confession of the normal (undeceived and undeluded) Christian. The substance of it may be found not only in the recorded utterances of Old and New Testament saints, but as well, in the writings of the most eminent Christians who have lived during the last five hundred years. Different indeed were the confessions and witnessings borne by eminent saints of the past from the ignorant and arrogant boastings of modern Laodiceans!
The unregenerate man is WRETCHED INDEED, but he is a STRANGER to the “wretchedness” here expressed, for he knows nothing of the experience which evokes this wail. The whole context is devoted to a description of the conflict between the two natures in the child of God. “I delight in the law of God after the inward man” (v. 22), is true of none but born-again persons. But the one thus “delighting” discovers “ANOTHER LAW in his members.” This reference must not be limited to his physical members, but is to be understood as including all the various parts of his carnal personality. This “other law” is also at work in the memory, the imagination, the will, the heart, etc.
It is the consciousness of this warring within him and this being brought into captivity to sin, which causes the believer to exclaim, “O wretched man that I am!” This is a cry brought about by a deep realization of indwelling sin. It is the confession of one who knows that in his natural man there dwelleth no good thing. It is the mournful plaint of one who has discovered something of the horrible sink of iniquity which is in his own heart. It is the groan of a divinely-enlightened man who now hates himself—his natural self—and longs for deliverance.
May God in His mercy so deliver us from the spirit of pride which now defiles the air of modern Christendom, and grant us such an humbling view of our own uncleanness that we shall join the apostle in crying with ever-deepening fervor, “O wretched man that I am!” Yea, may God vouchsafe to both writer and reader such a view of their own depravity and unworthiness that they may indeed grovel in the dust before Him, and there praise Him for His wondrous grace to such hell-deserving sinners.
[Quoted from A.W. Pink’s ‘The Christian in Romans Seven!’]

Our motto

"Do all in the name of the Lord Jesus!" Colossians 3:17

"In the name of the Lord Jesus" — let me write this motto over whatever I do. This is the magic stone that turns all to gold.
Let me pray in the name of Jesus. Just as He would pray, if He were kneeling in my place; just with His desires, His compassions, His importunities, His holy violence which carries the citadel of Heaven by storm.
Let me live my daily life in the name of Jesus. Seeking to reflect Him, my peerless Pattern, my Master without blemish and without spot; walking in His footsteps; carrying about with me His zeal for God and His love for men.
Let me suffer and be still in the name of Jesus. When the dark days come, the desert-place, the sickroom, the weakness and impotence — let me imitate Him who took the cup and said, "Not My will — but Yours be done." Let me walk, my hand in His, through the shadows, and over the crags and torrents.
Let me enter Heaven at last in the name of Jesus. As one . . .
who believes in Him,
who has received His word,
who glories in His love,
who is immeasurably in His debt,
who has been smitten with the hunger and thirst to love Him
 — I shall be welcome there. It is my only title to the mansions in the skies.

"In Jesus' name!" Over life and death and eternity, I shall engrave the ennobling and transfiguring inscription; it will make them all holy and sweet.

Monday, August 25, 2014

The work of the Lord

Our present design is twofold: to censure a misuse, and to explain the meaning of the following verse: "Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord; forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord" (1 Cor. 15:58). In the heedless hurry of this slipshod age not a few have taken those words as though they read, "Work for the Lord," and have used them as a slogan for what is now styled "Christian service," most of which is quite unscriptural—the energy of the flesh finding an outlet in certain forms of religious activities. In this day of pride and presumption it has been quite general to speak of engaging in work for the Lord, and to entertain the idea that He is beholden to such people for the same, that were their labours to cease, His cause would not prosper. To such an extent has this conceit been fostered that it is now a common thing to hear and read of our being "co-workers with God" and "co-operators" with Him. It is but another manifestation of the self-complacent and egotistical spirit of Laodicea (Rev. 3:17) and which has become so rife.
But it is likely to be asked, Does not Scripture itself speak of the saints, or at least ministers of the Gospel, being "co-workers with God"? The emphatic answer is No, certainly not. Two passages have been appealed to in support of this carnal and blatant notion, but neither of them when rightly rendered teach any such thing. The first is 1 Corinthians 3:9, which in the Authorized Version is strangely translated "For we are laborers together with God." Literally the Greek reads, "For God’s we are: fellow-workers; God’s husbandry, God’s building, ye are." The apostle had just rebuked the Corinthians (3:1-3), particularly for exalting some of the servants of God above others (verse 4). He reminded them, first, that the apostles were but ministers or "servants," mere instruments who were nothings unless God blessed their labours and "gave the increase" (verses 6, 7). Then, he pointed out that one instrument ought not to be esteemed above another, for "he that planteth" and "he that watereth are one (verse 8) and shall each "receive his own reward." While in verse 9 he sums up by saying those instruments are "God’s"—of His appointing and equipping; "fellow-workers," partners in the Gospel field.
The second passage appealed to lends still less color to the conceit we are here rebutting: "We then as workers together with Him beseech you" (2 Cor. 6:1), for the words "with Him" are in italics, which means they are not contained in the original, but have been supplied by the translators. This verse simply means that the instruments God employed in the ministry of the Gospel were joint-laborers in beseeching sinners not to receive His grace in vain. There is no thought whatever of "co-operating" with God. Why should there be? What assistance does the Almighty need! Nor does He ever voluntarily receive any (Job 22:2, 3; Luke 17:10). What an absurdity to suppose the finite could be of any help to the Infinite! At most, we can but concur with His appointments, and humbly present ourselves before Him as empty vessels to be filled by Him. It is wondrous condescension on His part if He designs to employ us as His agents; the honour is ours, we confer no favour on Him. The Lord is the sole Operator; His servants the channels through which He often—though by no means always—operates. Ministers are not coordinates with God, but subordinates to Him.
There is something particularly repulsive to a spiritual mind in the concept of worms of the earth "cooperating" with the Most High, for it is a virtual deifying of the creature, a placing of him on a par with the Creator. Surely it is enough simply to point out that fact for all humble and Spirit-taught souls to reject with abhorrence such a grotesque fiction. Different far was the spirit which possessed the chief of the apostles. Said he "I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me" (1 Cor. 15:10). When the Twelve responded to their Master’s commission we are told that "they went forth and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them" (Mark 16:20)—otherwise their labours had yielded naught. Paul placed the honour where it rightfully belonged when he declared "I will not dare to speak of those things which Christ hath not wrought by me" (Rom. 15:18). How different was that from regarding himself as a "co-operator" with Him! It is just such creature boasting which has driven the Lord outside the churches.
In view of what has been pointed out above, it is scarcely surprising that those possessed of more zeal than knowledge should eagerly lay hold of a clause in 1 Corinthians 15:58, and adopt it as their motto. Such activities as holding Gospel services in the streets, engaging in what is called "personal work," taking part in meetings where young people are led to believe they are "giving their testimony for Christ," and other enterprises for which there is no warrant whatever in the Epistles (where church members are more directly instructed and exhorted), are termed "working for the Lord" or "serving Christ." Very different indeed is the task which He has assigned His followers: a task far more difficult to perform, and one which is much less palatable to the flesh. Namely to keep their hearts with all diligence: mortifying their lusts, and developing their graces (Col. 3:5, 12), to cleanse themselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit and perfect holiness in the fear of God (2 Cor. 7:1), to witness for Christ by their lives, "showing forth His praises" (1 Pet. 2:9).
There is therefore a real need for the inquiry, Exactly what is meant by "the work of the Lord" in 1 Corinthians 15:58? It should at once be apparent that we do not have to go outside the verse itself for proof that the popular understanding which now obtains of it is thoroughly unwarrantable. First, it is not one which specially concerns ministers of the Gospel nor "Christian workers," but instead, pertains to all the saints, for it is addressed to the "beloved brethren" at large. Second, the work of the Lord which it enjoins calls for us to be "steadfast and immovable," which are scarcely the qualities to be associated with what the churches term "Christian service"—had that been in view such adjectives as "zealous and untiring" had been far more pertinent. Third, the duty here exhorted unto is one which allows of no intermission, as the "always abounding in" expressly states—even the most enthusiastic "personal workers" would scarcely affirm that! Finally, the "knowing [not praying or hoping] that your labour is not in vain in the Lord" makes it clear that the well-meant but misguided efforts of the religious world today are not in view.
Grammatically "the work of the Lord" may import either that work which He performs, or that which He requires from His people. The fact that it is one unto which He calls them, obliges us to understand it in the second sense. When Christ was asked "What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?" John 6:28) it should be obvious that they meant, What are those works which God requires of us? Our Lord answered: "This is the work of God: that ye believe on Him whom He hath sent": that is what He has commanded (1 John 3:23) and that is what will be acceptable unto Him. The same inquiry should proceed from the Christian: What is the all-inclusive work which God has assigned us? The summarized answer is given in 1 Corinthians 15:58: the "work of the Lord," in which the saints are to be always abounding, is a general designation of the whole of Christian duty. As "the way of the Lord" (Genesis 18:19) signifies the path of conduct which He has marked out for us, so "the work of the Lord" connotes that task He has prescribed us.
As is generally the case with erroneous interpretations, our moderns have taken this verse Out of its setting and ignored its controlling context, paying no attention to its opening "Therefore." 1 Corinthians 15 is the great resurrection chapter, and may be outlined thus. First, the resurrection of Christ Himself (verses 1-1 1). Second, His rising from the dead secures the "resurrection of life" to all His people (verses 20-28). Third, the nature of their resurrection bodies (verses 42-54). In between those divisions, denials of the resurrection are refuted and objections thereto answered. Further indication is this, that to terminate the chapter with an injunction to engage in what is termed "Christian service would be totally foreign to what precedes. Instead, the apostle closes his teaching on resurrection with a triumphant thanksgiving (verses 55-57) and an ethical inference drawn from the same. Therein is illustrated a fundamental characteristic of the Scriptures: that doctrinal declaration and moral exhortation are never to be severed, the former being the ground upon which the latter is based: first a statement of the Christian’s privileges, and then pointing out the corresponding obligation.
In the context the Holy Spirit has set before us something of the glorious future awaiting the redeemed of Christ: in verses 55-58 He makes practical application of the whole to the immediate present. Doctrine and duty are never to be divorced. Neither in the promise nor the precept is "the life that now is" separated from "that which is to come." All truth is designed to have a sanctifying effect upon our daily walk. Something more than a mere head belief of the contents of Scripture is required of us, namely an incorporating of them in the character and conduct. Truth so blessed as that set forth in verses 42-54 should fill the hearts of believers with joy (verses 55-57), and move them to the utmost diligence and endeavour to please and glorify the Lord (verse 58). The "But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ" (verse 57) is the language of faith, for faith gives a present subsistence to things which are yet future. The final verse announces the transforming effect which such a revelation and a hope so elevating should have upon us; or, stating it in other words, this injunction makes known the corresponding obligation which such a prospect entails. What that transforming effect should be, what that obligation consists of, we shall now seek to state.
"Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord." An analysis of this verse shows that it consists of two things: an exhortation and motives to enforce the same. The exhortation includes a threefold task: to be "steadfast" in the faith, in our convictions of the Truth; to be "unmovable" in our affections, in our expectations of the things promised; to be "always abounding in the work of the Lord," in doing His will, in performing those good works which He has foreordained we should walk in. The "work of the Lord" may be regarded first as a general expression, comprehending all that He requires from us in the way of duty: in the exercise of every grace and the practice of every virtue. "Always abounding in the work of the Lord" signifies ever engaged in obeying His Word, seeking His glory, aiming at the advance of His kingdom. More specifically, it imports that lifelong task which He has set before us, and which may be summed up in two words—mortification and sanctification: the denying of self and putting to death of our lusts; the developing of our graces and bringing forth the fruits of holiness.
Strictly speaking, it is "the work of the Lord" to which we are here called, and the steadfastness and immovability are prerequisites to our "always abounding" therein. But we shall consider them as separate duties. First, "be ye steadfast" in the faith and profession of the Gospel, and not "tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine" (Eph. 4:14). Be firmly fixed in your convictions: having bought the Truth, sell it not. "Prove all things, hold fast that which is good." That by no means precludes further progress of attainment, for we are to press forward unto those things which are still before; yet in order thereto there must be stability and resolution, a "holding fast the faithful Word" (Titus 1:9), an eschewing of all false doctrine.
Second, "unmovable," which is a word implying testing and opposition. Suffer not the allurements of the world nor the baits of Satan to unsettle you. Be not shaken by the trials of this life. Be patient and persevering whatever your lot. Seek grace to say of all troubles and afflictions, what Paul said of bonds and imprisonments—"none of these things move me." And why should they? None of them impugn God’s faithfulness. Moreover, they work for us "a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory while we look not at the things which are seen." Then be unwavering in your expectations and "be not moved away from the hope of the Gospel," no matter what opposition you encounter. Notwithstanding your discouraging failures, the backslidings of fellow Christians, the hypocrisy of graceless professors, "hold fast the confidence and rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end" (Heb. 3:6).
Third, "always abounding in the work of the Lord": constantly occupied in doing those good works which honour God. More specifically: "Whether therefore ye eat or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God" (1 Cor. 10:31). "Giving all diligence, add to your faith, virtue, and to virtue, knowledge; and to knowledge, temperance; and to temperance, patience; and to patience, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love; for if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ . . . for if ye do these things ye shall never fall: for so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ" (2 Pet. 1:5-11). That is "the work of the Lord," that the task assigned us. Then let not the difficulty of such duties nor the imperfections of your performances dishearten you; suffer not the hatred of your enemies nor the severity of their opposition to deter you. "Let us not be weary in well doing, for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not" (Gal. 6:9).
"Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord" (1 Cor. 15:58). In the first portion of this discourse we did little more than give a topical treatment of this verse: let us now furnish a contextual exposition of it. In verses 55 and 56 the apostle asked, "O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?" to which he replied, "The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law." Then he exultantly cried: "But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ" (verse 57). The tense of the verb should be closely observed: it is not "hath given" nor "will give," but "giveth us the victory." It is also to be carefully noted that the "victory" here referred to is one over death and the grave viewed in connection with sin and the Law, and that it is shared by all saints and is not some peculiar experience which only a few fully consecrated souls enter into. Obviously, that victory will only be fully and historically realized on the resurrection morning; yet even now it is apprehended by faith and enjoyed by hope, and, in proportion as it really is so, will the believer know practically something of "the power of Christ’s resurrection."
"Thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ" is the language of joyful faith, in response to the revelation given in the previous fifty-six verses. Christ’s triumph over death as the wages of sin and the penalty of the Law ensures the resurrection of all His sleeping saints, for it was as their federal Head (verses 20-22) that He suffered for their sins and bore the Law’s curse, as it was that as "the last Adam" (verse 45) He was victorious over the tomb. As faith lays hold of that blessed truth and its possessor appropriates a personal interest therein, he realizes that he himself has (judicially) passed from death to life, that sin cannot slay nor the Law curse him, that he is justified by God "from all things" (Acts 13:39). Such a realization cannot but move him to exclaim "Thanks be to God." By virtue of his union with Christ, for him death’s sting has been extracted, and therefore it has been robbed of all terror. It is sin which gives power and horror to death, but since Christ has made full atonement for the believer’s sin and obtained remission for him, death can no more harm him than could a wasp whose venomous sting had been removed—though it might still buzz and hiss and attempt to disturb him.
"The strength of sin is the Law": its power to condemn was supplied by the transgressing of it. But since Christ was made a curse for us we are released therefrom. The entire threatening and penalty of the Law was executed upon the Surety, and therefore those in whose stead He bore it are exempted from the same. But more: because in Eden sin violated the holy commandment of the Lawgiver, the Law received a commanding power over the sinner, making sin to rage and reign in him, compelling him to serve it as a slave. That was but just. Since man preferred the exercise of self-will to submission to the authority of his Maker, the Law was given both a condemning and commanding power over him. In other words, the enthralling power or strength which sin exerts over its subjects is an intrinsic part of the Law’s curse. The Law commands holiness, but by reason of man’s depravity its very precepts exasperate his corruptions—as the sun shining on a dung-heap stirs up its filthy vapors. God punishes sin with sin: since the commission of sin was man’s choice, the strength of sin shall be his doom. But Christ has not only delivered His people from the penalty of sin, but from its reigning power too, so that His promise is "Sin shall not have dominion over you" (Rom. 6:14).
"Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord": let that be your response to mercies so great. Manifestly, the apostle is here drawing a conclusion from all that precedes, particularly from what is said in verses 56 and 57. Divine grace, through the death and resurrection of Christ, has judicially delivered the believer from both the guilt and dominion of sin, and from the whole curse of the Law. How then shall he answer to such blessings? Why, by seeing to it that those mercies are now made good by him in a practical way. And how is he to set about the same? First, by complying with Romans 6:11: "Likewise, reckon ye also yourselves to have died indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord"; which in the light of the previous verse signifies: By the exercise of faith in what the Word declares, regard yourselves as having legally passed from death to life in the person of your Surety. Second, by heeding Romans 6:12: "Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof"; which means: Suffer not indwelling sin to lord it over you. Since you be absolved from all you did in the past, yield obedience to God and not to your corruptions.
We cannot rightly interpret 1 Corinthians 15:58, unless its connection with verses 56 and 57 be duly noted. Its opening "Therefore" is as logical and necessary as the one in Romans 6:12, and what follows that passage enables us to understand our present one. "Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin; but yield yourselves unto God as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God": that is, conduct yourselves practically in harmony with what is true of you (in Christ) legally. Another parallel passage is, "Forasmuch as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind" (1 Pet. 4:1), where the doctrinal fact is first stated, and then the practical duty enjoined. Legally, "victory" is ours now, as our justification by God demonstrates. Experientially, we have been freed from the dominion of sin, and are delivered, in measure, from its enticing power, for there is now that in us which hates and opposes it. At death, sin is completely eradicated from the soul; and at resurrection its last trace will have disappeared from the body. From his exposition of the grand truth of resurrection the apostle made practical application, exhorting the saints to walk in newness of life.
In view of our participation in Christ’s victory, we are here informed of the particular duty which is incumbent upon us, namely to strive against sin, resist temptation, overcome Satan by the blood of the Lamb, and bring forth the fruits of holiness to Him. But, in order thereto, we must be "steadfast" in the conviction of our oneness with Christ in His death and resurrection, and "unmovable" in our love and gratitude to Him. The Greek for "always abounding in the work of the Lord" conveys the idea of quality more than quantity, progressive improvement rather than multiplicity of works—"continually making advance in true piety" (Matt. Henry). Excel in it is the thought: rest not satisfied with present progress and attainments, but each fresh day endeavour to perform your duty better than on the previous one. This lifelong task of mortification and sanctification is called "the work of the Lord" because it is the one which He has assigned us, because it can be performed only in His strength, and because it is that which is peculiarly well pleasing in His sight.
That duty can only be discharged in a right spirit as faith apprehends the Christian’s union with Christ, and then thankfully acts accordingly. There cannot be any Gospel holiness without such a realization. There can be no evangelical obedience until the heart is really assured that Christ has removed death’s "sting" for us and has taken away from the Law the "strength of sin. Only then can the believer serve God in "newness of spirit": that is, in loving gratitude, and not from dread or to earn something. Only then will he truly realize that as in the Lord he has "righteousness" for his justification, so in Him he has "strength" (Isaiah 45:22) for his walk and warfare. Thus the opening "Therefore" of our verse not only draws a conclusion which states the obligation entailed by the inestimable blessings enumerated in the context, but also supplies a power motive for the performance of that obligation—a performance which is to be regarded as a great privilege. Since "Christ died for our sins (verse 3), since He be "risen from the dead, and become the first fruits of them that slept" (verse 20), since we shall be "raised in glory" and "bear the image of the heavenly," let our gratitude be expressed in a life of practical holiness.
A second motive to inspire the performance of this duty is contained in the closing clause of our verse: "forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord." He will be no man’s Debtor: every sincere effort of gratitude—however faulty its execution—is valued by Him and shall be recompensed. "God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love which ye have showed toward His name" (Heb. 6:10). The Christian should be fully assured that a genuine endeavour to do God’s will and promote His glory will receive His smile, produce peace of conscience and joy of heart here, and His "well done" hereafter. "In the keeping of His commandments there is great reward." This was the motive which animated Moses in his great renunciation (Heb. 11:24-26): "he had respect unto the recompense of the reward."
"Forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord." "Labour" is a stronger word than "work," signifying effort to the point of fatigue. "In the Lord" means in union with and dependence upon Him. Such labour shall not be strength spent for naught. Yet that is exactly what it appears to be to the Christian. To him it seems his efforts to mortify his lusts and develop his graces are utterly futile. He feels that his best endeavors to resist sin and bring forth the fruits of holiness are a total failure. That is because he judges by sight and sense! God, who looks at the heart and accepts the sincere will for the deed, reckons otherwise. "Ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord": such an assurance is ours in exact proportion to the measure of faith. The more confident our hope of reward, the more determined will be our efforts to mortify sin and practice holiness—the only "labour" God has assured us "is not in vain"! 

The power of God

"Twice have I heard this; that power belongeth unto God" (Ps. 62:11). In When first writing upon this subject, we practically confined our attention to the omnipotence of God as it is seen in and through the old creation. Here we propose to contemplate the exercise of His might in and on the new creation. That God’s people are much slower to perceive the latter than the former is plain from Ephesians 1:19, where the apostle prayed that the saints might know "what is the exceeding greatness of His power to usward who believe, according to the working of His mighty power." Very striking indeed is this. When Paul speaks of the Divine power in creation he mentions "His power and Godhead" (Romans 1:20); but when he treats of the work of grace and salvation, he calls it "the exceeding greatness of His power."
God proportions His power to the nature of His work. The casting out of demons is ascribed to His "finger" (Luke 11:20); His delivering of Israel from Egypt to His "hand" (Ex. 13:9); but when the Lord saves a sinner it is His "holy arm" which gets Him the victory (Ps. 98:1). It is to be duly noted that the language of Ephesians 1:19, is so couched as to take in the whole work of Divine grace in and upon the elect. It is not restrained to the past—"who have believed according to"; nor to the time to come—"the power that shall work in you"; but, instead, it is "the exceeding greatness of His power to us-ward who believe." It is the "effectual working" of God’s might from the first moment of illumination and conviction till their sanctification and glorification.
So dense is the darkness which has now fallen upon the people (Isa. 60:2), that the vast majority of those even in the "churches" deem it by no means a hard thing to become a Christian. They seem to think it is almost as easy to purify a man’s heart (James 4:8) as it is to wash his hands; that it is as simple a matter to admit the light of Divine Truth into the soul as it is the morning sun into our chambers by opening the shutters; that it is no more difficult to turn the heart from evil to good, from the world to God, from sin to Christ, than to turn a ship round by the help of the helm. And this in the face of Christ’s emphatic statement, "With men this is impossible" (Matt. 19:26).
To mortify the lusts of the flesh (Col. 3:5), to be crucified daily to sin (Luke 9:23), to be meek and gentle, patient and kind—in a word, to be Christ-like—is a task altogether beyond our powers; it is one on which we would never venture, or, having ventured on, would soon abandon, but that God is pleased to perfect His strength in our weakness, and is "mighty to save" (Isa. 63:1). That this may be the more clearly evident to us, we shall now consider some of the features of God’s powerful operations in the saving of His people.
1. In Regeneration
Little as real Christians may realize it, a far greater power is put forth by God in the new creation than in the old, in refashioning the soul and conforming it to the image of Christ than in the original making it. There is a greater distance between sin and righteousness, corruption and grace, depravity and holiness, than there is between nothing and something, or nonentity and being; and the greater the distance there is, the greater the power in producing something. The miracle is greater according as the change is greater. As it is a more signal display of power to change a dead man to life than a sick man to health, so it is a far more wonderful performance to change unbelief to faith and enmity to love than simply to create out of nothing. There we are told, "the gospel of Christ . . . is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth" (Romans 1:16).
The Gospel is the instrument which the Almighty uses when accomplishing the most wondrous and blessed of all His works, i.e. the picking up of wretched worms of the earth and making them "meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light" (Col. 1:12). When God formed man Out of the dust of the ground, though the dust contributed nothing to the act whereby God made him, it had in it no principle contrary to His design. But in turning the heart of a sinner toward Himself, there is not only the lack of any principle of assistance from him in this work, but the whole strength of his nature unites to combat the power of Divine grace. When the Gospel is presented to the sinner, not only is his understanding completely ignorant of its glorious contents, but the will is utterly perverse against it. Not only is there no desire for Christ, but there is inveterate hostility against Him. Nothing but the almighty power of God can overcome the enmity of the carnal mind. To turn back the ocean from its course would not be such an act of power as to change the turbulent bent of man s wicked heart.
2. In convicting us of sin
The "light of reason" of which men boast so much, and the "light of conscience" which others value so highly, were utterly worthless as far as giving any intelligence in the things of God was concerned. It was to this awful fact that Christ referred when He said, "If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!" (Matt. 6:23). Yes, so "great" is that darkness that men "call evil good, and good evil; . . . put darkness for light, and light for darkness; . . . put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!" (Isa. 5:20). So "great" is that darkness that spiritual things are ‘‘foolishness" unto them (1 Cor. 2:14). So "great" is that darkness that they are completely ignorant of it (Eph. 4:18), and utterly blind to their actual state. Not only is the natural man unable to deliver himself from this darkness, but he has no desire whatever for such deliverance, for being spiritually dead he has no consciousness of any need for deliverance.
It is because of their fearful state that, until the Holy Spirit actually regenerates, all who hear the Gospel are totally incapacitated for any spiritual understanding of it. The majority who hear it imagine that they are already saved, that they are real Christians, and no arguments from the preacher, no power on earth, can ever convince them to the contrary. Tell them, "There is a generation that are pure in their own eyes, and yet is not washed from their filthiness" (Prov. 30:12), and it makes no more impression than does water on a duck’s back. Warn them that, "Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish" (Luke 13:3), and they are no more moved than are the rocks by the oceans spray. No, they suppose that they have nothing to repent of, and know not that their repentance needs "to be repented of" (2 Cor. 7:10). They have far too high an opinion of their religious profession to allow that they are in any danger of hell. Thus, unless a mighty miracle of grace is wrought within them, unless Divine power shatters their complacency, there is no hope at all for them.
For, a soul to be savingly convicted of sin is a greater wonder than for a putrid fountain to send forth sweet waters. For a soul to be brought to realize that "every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually" (Gen. 6:5) requires the power of omnipotence to produce. By nature man is independent, self-sufficient, self-confident: what a miracle of grace has been wrought when he now feels and owns his helplessness! By nature a man thinks well of himself; what a miracle of grace has been wrought when he acknowledges, "in me... dwelleth no good thing" (Rom. 7:18)! By nature men are "lovers of themselves" (2 Tim. 3:2); what a miracle of grace has been wrought when men abhor themselves (Job 42:6)! By nature man thinks he is doing Christ a favour to espouse His Gospel and patronize His cause; what a miracle of grace has been wrought when he discovers that he is utterly unfit for His holy presence, and cries, "Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord" (Luke 5:8). By nature man is proud of his own abilities, accomplishments, attainments; what a miracle of grace has been wrought when he can truthfully declare, "I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus. . . and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ" (Phil. 3:8).
3. In casting out the Devil
"The whole world lieth in wickedness" (1 John 5:19), bewitched, fettered, helpless. As we go over the Gospel narratives and read of different ones who were possessed of demons, thoughts of pity for the unhappy victims stir our minds, and when we behold the Saviour delivering these wretched creatures we are full of wonderment and gladness. But does the Christian reader realize that we too were once in that same awful plight? Before conversion we were the slaves of Satan, the Devil wrought in us his will (Eph. 2:2), and so we walked according to the prince of the power of the air." What ability had we to deliver ourselves? Less than we have to stop the rain from falling or the wind from blowing. A picture of man’s helplessness to deliver himself from Satan’s power is drawn by Christ in Luke 11:21: "When a strong man armed keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace." The "strong man" is Satan; his "goods" are the helpless captives.
But blessed be His name, "the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil" (1 John 3:8). This too was pictured by Christ in the same parable: "But when a stronger than he shall come upon him, and overcome him, he taketh from him all his armour wherein he trusted, and divideth the spoils" (Luke 11:22). Christ is mightier than Satan, He overcomes him in the day of His power (Ps. 110:3), and emancipates "His own" who are bound (Isa. 61:1). He still comes by His Spirit to "set at liberty them that are bruised" (Luke 4:18), therefore is it said of God, "who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and bath translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son" plucking or snatching out of a power that otherwise would not yield its prey.
4. In producing repentance
Man without Christ cannot repent: "Him hath God exalted with His right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance" (Acts 5:31). Christ gave it as a "prince," and therefore to none but His subjects, those who are in His kingdom, in whom He rules. Nothing can draw men to repentance but the regenerating power of Christ, which He exercises at God’s right hand; for the acts of repentance are hatred of sin, sorrow for it, determination to forsake it, and earnest and constant endeavour after its deaths But sin is so transcendently dear and delightful to a man out of Christ that nothing but an infinite power can draw him to these acts mentioned. Sin is more precious to an unregenerate soul than anything else in heaven or earth. It is dearer to him than liberty, for he gives himself up to it entirely, and becomes its servant and slave. It is dearer to him than health, strength, time, or riches, for he spends all these upon sin. It is dearer to him than his own soul. Shall a man lose his sins or his soul? Ninety-nine out of a hundred vote for the latter, and lose their souls on that account.
Sin is a man’s self. Just as "I" is the central letter of "sin," so sin is the center, the moving-power, the very life of self. Therefore did Christ say, "If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself’ (Matt. 16:24). Men are "lovers of their own selves" (2 Tim. 3:2), which is the same as saying that their hearts are wedded to sin. Man "drinketh iniquity like water" (Job 15:16); he cannot exist without it, he is ever thirsting for it, he must have his fill of it. Now since man so dotes on sin, what is going to turn his delight into sorrow, his love for it into loathing of it? Nothing but almighty power.
Here, then, we may mark the folly of those who cherish the delusion that they can repent whenever they get ready to do so. But evangelical repentance is not at the beck and call of the creature. It is the gift of God: "If God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth" (2 Tim. 2:25). Then what insanity is it that persuades multitudes to defer the effort to repent till their death-beds? Do they imagine that when they are so weak that they can no longer turn their bodies they will have strength to turn their souls from sin? Far sooner could they turn themselves back to perfect physical health. What praise, then, is due to God if He has wrought a saving repentance in us.
5. In working faith in His people
Saving faith in Christ is not the simple matter that so many vainly imagine. Countless thousands suppose it is as easy to believe in the Lord Jesus as in Caesar or Napoleon, and the tragic thing is that hundreds of preachers are helping forward this lie. It is as easy to believe on Him as on them in a natural, historical, intellectual way; but not so in a spiritual and saving way. I may believe in all the heroes of the past, but such belief effects no change in my life! I may have unshaken confidence in the historicity of George Washington, but does my belief in him abate my love for the world and cause me to hate even the garment spotted by the flesh? A supernatural and saving faith in Christ purifies the life. Is such a faith easily attained? No, indeed! Listen to Christ Himself: "How can ye believe, which receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only?" (John 5:44). And again, we read, "They could not believe" (John 12:39).
Faith in Christ is receiving Him as He is offered or presented to us by God (John 1:12). Now God presents Christ to us not only as Priest, but as King; not only as Saviour, but as "Prince" (Acts 5:21)—note that "Prince" precedes "Saviour," as taking His "yoke" upon us goes before finding "rest" to our souls (Matt. 11:29)! Are men as willing for Christ to rule as to save them? Do they pray as earnestly for purity as for pardon? Are they as anxious to be delivered from the power of sin as they are from the fires of hell? Do they desire holiness as much as they do heaven? Is the dominion of sin as dreadful to them as its wages? Does the filthiness of sin grieve them as much as the guilt and damnation of it? The man who divides what God has joined together when He offers Christ to us has not "received" Him at all.
Faith is the gift of God (Eph. 2:8, 9). It is wrought in the elect by "the operation of God" (Col. 2:12). To bring a sinner from unbelief to saving faith in Christ is a miracle as great and as wondrous as was God’s raising Christ from the dead (Eph. 1:19, 20). Unbelief is far, far more than entertaining an erroneous conception of God’s way of salvation: it is a species of hatred against Him. So faith in Christ is far more than the mind assenting to all that is said of Him in the Scriptures. The demons do that (James 2:19), but it does not save them. Saving faith is not only the heart being weaned from every other object of confidence as the ground of my acceptance before God, but it is also the heart being weaned from every other object that competes with Him for my affections. Saving faith is that "which worketh by love" (Gal. 5:6), a love which is evidenced by keeping His commandments (John 14:23); but by their very nature all men hate his commandments. Therefore where there is a believing heart which is devoted to Christ, esteeming Him above self and the world, a mighty miracle of grace has been wrought in the soul.
6. In communicating a sense of pardon
When a soul has been sorely wounded by the "arrows of the Almighty" (Job 6:4), when the ineffable light of the thrice holy God has shone into our dark hearts, revealing their unspeakable filthiness and corruption; when our innumerable iniquities have been made to stare us in the face, until the convicted sinner has been made to realize he is fit only for hell, and sees himself even now on the very brink of it; when he is brought to feel that he has provoked God so sorely that he greatly fears he has sinned beyond all possibility of forgiveness (and unless your soul has passed through such experiences, my readers, you have never been born again), then nothing but Divine power can raise that soul out of abject despair and create in it a hope of mercy. To lift the stricken sinner above those dark waters that have so terrified him, to bestow the light of comfort as well as the light of conviction into a heart filled with worse than Egyptian darkness, is an act of Omnipotence. God only can heal the heart which He has wounded and speak peace to the raging tempest within.
Men may count up the promises of God and the arguments of peace till they are as old as Methuselah, but it will avail them nothing until a Divine hand shall pour in "the balm of Gilead." The sinner is no more able to apply to himself the Word of Divine comfort when he is under the terrors of God’s law, and writhing beneath the strokes of God’s convicting Spirit, than he is able to resurrect the moldering bodies in our cemeteries. To "restore the joy of salvation" was in David’s judgment an act of sovereign power equal to that of creating a clean heart (Ps. 51:10). All the Doctors of Divinity put together are as incapable of healing a wounded spirit as are the physicians of medicine of animating a corpse. To silence a tempestuous conscience is a mightier performance than the Saviour’s stilling the stormy winds and raging waves, though it is not to be expected that any will grant the truth of this who are in themselves strangers to such an experience. As nothing but infinite power can remove the guilt of sin, so nothing but infinite power can remove the despairing sense of it.
7. In actually converting a soul
"Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots?" (Jer. 13:23). No, indeed; though he may paint or cover them over. So one out of Christ may restrain the outward acts of sin, but he cannot mortify the inward principle of it. To turn water into wine was indeed a miracle, but to turn fire into water would be a greater one. To create a man out of the dust of the ground was a work of Divine power, but to re-create a man so that a sinner becomes a saint, a lion is changed into a lamb, an enemy transformed into a friend, hatred is melted into love, is a far greater wonder of Omnipotence. The miracle of conversion, which is effected by the Spirit through the Gospel, is described thus: "For the weapons of our warfare [i.e. the preachers] are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds; casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ" (2 Cor. 10:4, 5).
Well has it been said, "To dispossess a man, then, of his self-esteem and self-sufficiency, to make room for God in the heart where there was none but for sin, as dear to him as himself, to hurl down pride of nature, to make stout imaginations stoop to the cross, to make designs of self-advancement sink under a zeal for the glory of God and an overruling design for His honour, is not to be ascribed to any but to an outstretched arm wielding the sword of the Spirit. To have a heart full of the fear of God that was just before filled with contempt of Him, to have a sense of His power, an eye to His glory, admiring thoughts of His wisdom; to have a hatred of his habitual lustings that had brought him in much sensitive pleasure; to loathe them; to live by faith in and obedience to the Redeemer, who before was so heartily under the dominion of Satan and self, is a triumphant act of infinite power that can ‘subdue all things’ to itself" (S. Charnock).
8. In preserving His people
"Who are kept by the power of God through faith.. . ready to be revealed in the last time" (1 Pet. 1:5). "Kept from what? Ah, what mortal is capable of returning a full answer? A whole section might profitably be devoted to this one aspect of our subject. Kept from the dominion of sin which still dwells within us. Kept from being drawn Out of the narrow way by the enticements of the world. Kept from the horrible heresies which ensnare thousands on every side. Kept from being overcome by Satan, who ever seeks our destruction. Kept from departing from the living God so that we do not make shipwreck of the faith. Kept from turning His grace into lasciviousness. Weak as water in ourselves, yet enabled to endure as seeing Him who is invisible. This "is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes."
Sin is a mighty monarch which none of his subjects can withstand. There was more in Adam while innocent to resist sin than in any other since, for sin has an ally within the fallen creature that is ever ready to betray him into temptation from without. But sin had no such advantage over Adam, nevertheless it overwhelmed him. The non-elect angels were yet better able to withstand sin than Adam was, having a more excellent nature and being nearer to God, yet sin prevailed against them, and threw them out of heaven into hell. Then what a mighty power is required to subdue it! Only He who "led captivity captive" can make His people more than conquerors.
"As the providence of God is a manifestation of His power in a continued creation, so the preservation of grace is a manifestation of His power in a continued regeneration. God’s strength abates and modifies the violence of temptations, His staff supports His people under them, His might defeats the power of Satan. The counterworkings of indwelling corruptions, the reluctancies of the flesh against the breathings of the spirit, the fallacies of the senses and the rovings of the mind would quickly stifle and quench grace if it were not maintained by the same all-powerful blast that first inbreathed it. No less power is seen in perfecting it, than implanting it (2 Peter 1:3); no less in fulfilling the work of faith, than in engrafting the word of faith (2 Thess. 1:11)."—S. Charnock.
The preservation of God’s people in this world greatly glories the power of God. To preserve those with so many corruptions within and so many temptations without magnifies His ineffable might more than if He were to translate them to heaven the moment they believed. In a world of suffering and sorrow, to preserve the faith of His people amid so many and sore testings, trials, buffetings, disappointments, betrayals by friends and professed brethren in Christ, is infinitely more wonderful than if a man should succeed in carrying an unsheltered candle alight across an open moor when a hurricane was blowing. To the glory of God the writer bears witness that but for omnipotent grace he had become an infidel years ago as the result of the treatment he had received from those who posed as preachers of the Gospel. Yes, for God to supply strength to His fainting people, and enable them to "hold the beginning of their confidence stedfast unto the end" (Heb. 3:14), is more marvelous than though He were to keep a fire burning in the midst of the ocean.
How the contemplation of the power of God should deepen our confidence and trust in Him: "Trust ye in the Lord for ever: for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength" (Isa. 26:4). The power of God was the ground of Abraham’s assurance (Heb. 11:19), of the three Hebrews’ in Babylon (Dan. 3:17), of Christ’s (Heb. 5:7). Oh, to bear constantly in mind that "God is able to make all grace abound toward us" (2 Cor. 19:8). Nothing is so calculated to calm the mind, still our fears, and fill us with peace as faith’s appropriation of God’s sufficiency. "If God be for us, who can be against us?" (Rom. 8:3 1). His infallible promise is, "Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of My righteousness" (Isa. 41:10). He who brought a nation through the Red Sea without any ships, and led them across the desert for forty years where was neither bread nor water, still lives and reigns!

From A.W. Pink's 'Practical Christianity'

The terrible thing...

“The terrible thing is that so many preachers today, under the pretence of magnifying the grace of God, have represented Christ as the Minister of sin; as One who has, through His atoning sacrifice, procured an indulgence for men to continue gratifying their fleshly and worldly lusts. Provided a man professes to believe in the virgin birth and vicarious death of Christ, and claims to be resting upon Him alone for salvation, he may pass for a real Christian almost anywhere today, even though his daily life may be no different from that of the moral worldling who makes no profession at all. The Devil is chloroforming thousands into hell by this very delusion.” —A. W. Pink (1886–1952)

from  'Practical Christianity' 

There are multitudes who wish to escape the lake of fire

(Arthur Pink, "Present Day Evangelism")
The nature of Christ's salvation, is woefully misrepresented by the present-day "evangelist." He announces a Savior from hell—rather than a Savior from sin! And that is why so many are fatally deceived, for there are multitudes who wish to escape the Lake of fire—who have no desire to be delivered from their carnality and worldliness!

The very first thing said of Him in the New Testament is—"You shall call His name Jesus—for He shall save His people...[not "from the wrath to come," but] from their sins" (Matthew 1:21). Christ is a Savior for those realizing something of the exceeding sinfulness of sin, who feel the awful burden of it on their conscience, who loathe themselves for it, and who long to be freed from its terrible dominion. He is a Savior for no others. Were He to "save from hell" those still in love with sin, He would be a minister of sin, condoning their wickedness and siding with them against God. What an unspeakably horrible and blasphemous thing, with which to charge the Holy One!

True, as the Christian grows in grace, he has a clearer realization of what sin is—rebellion against God; and a deeper hatred of and sorrow for it. But to think that one may be saved by Christ, whose conscience has never been smitten by the Spirit, and whose heart has not been made contrite before God—is to imagine something which has no existence in the realm of fact. "It is not the healthy who need a doctor—but the sick" (Matthew 9:12). The only ones who really seek relief from the great Physician, are those who are sick of sin—who long to be delivered from its God-dishonoring works, and its soul-defiling pollutions.

As  Christ's salvation is a salvation from sin—from the love of it, from its dominion, from its guilt and penalty—then it necessarily follows, that the first great task and the chief work of the evangelist, is to preach upon SIN: to define what sin (as distinct from crime) really is, to show wherein its infinite enormity consists, to trace out its manifold workings in the heart, to indicate that nothing less than eternal punishment is its desert!

Ah, preaching upon sin will not make him popular nor draw the crowds, will it? No, it will not; and knowing this, those who love the praise of men more than the approbation of God, and who value their salary above immortal souls, trim their sales accordingly!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

And what does He provide?

"Then Abraham lifted his eyes and looked, and there behind him was a ram caught in a thicket by its horns. So Abraham went and took the ram, and offered it up for a burnt offering instead of his son. And Abraham called the name of the place: Jehovah-Jireh — the Lord will provide!" - Genesis 22:13-14

And what does He provide?

BREAD when I am hungry. It seems natural to begin there. He has a care for my body as well as for my soul. He is certainly not desirous that I should have wealth or distinction or the means of indulgence and display. But, if I trust Him, I shall get enough for comfort — if not enough for luxury; enough to rid me from unworthy worry — if not enough to free me from wholesome dependence and continuous faith. Every modest and present need, He is sure to satisfy.

HELP when I am helpless — that, too, the Lord will provide. Is it the discipline of my own inner life? Is it to escape this entrancing world? I am sufficient for none of these things.
Sometimes my road is rough,
sometimes it is steep,
sometimes it is dark,
sometimes it is slippery.
My heart whispers discouragement, and says, "This is too hard for me!" But, when I come to the place, I find that God Himself has solved my difficulties, and puts to flight my fears!

And SALVATION when I am burdened with sin — this also, this best of all, my Lord will provide. It was a lamb for sacrifice which Jehovah-Jireh prepared on the bare summit of Moriah. And in the end of the days, on the green hill of Calvary, close beside mount Moriah — a better Lamb died by divine appointment and made reconciliation for my iniquity! In the presence of such a sacrifice, how full my joy should be! Jesus, the precious Lamb of God . . .
breaks every fetter,
unbars every door,
forgives every debt!

Friday, August 22, 2014

The briefest season

"Yes, I am coming soon!" Revelation 22:20

Because Jesus comes, how unworldly I should be! It cannot be of much importance whether I am rich or poor here, whether I am strong or weak, whether my days on this side of the Advent are shorter or longer. I am in the world for the briefest season. It is but a place where I sojourn on the way to the City of God. It is not my goal. It is not my portion. It is not my heart's metropolis.

Because Jesus is on His way — how holy I should be! His eyes will search and prove me. He will make inquiry into my unspoken thoughts. He will put my intentions into His scales. He will bring into the light of day the qualities and the principles of my soul. Let me remember that I have to deal with One who is like a refiner's fire and like fuller's soap.

Because soon I shall look Jesus in the face — how busy I should be! I should be laboring for Him earnestly. I should redeem every opportunity. "Take my life, and let it be consecrated Lord, to Thee!" That should be my prayer: my life, in all its possibilities, in all its powers, in all that it is and has and can accomplish. I must beware of the ungirt loin and the unlit lamp.

Because I must meet Him so soon and so solemnly, what manner of person ought I to be in all holy living and godliness! It weakens my spiritual life immeasurably, that I think seldom and superficially of the Second Advent of my King. It is high time that I awoke out of sleep. When the sun rises and my Lord comes, I must not be ashamed before Him.

These things I must seek with intensity

"Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus!" Philippians 3:13-14

1. Mine be the Pauline oblivion of the past. It is well to forget the things which are behind. If I remember too vividly former failures — the recollection will depress my soul and hamper my movements. If I remember too often former attainments — I shall grow contented and make no further progress. There is a tyranny of success — as hurtful as the tyranny of defeat. And if I remember too constantly the modes of my religion hitherto, I shall look simply for a repetition of old experiences, instead of desiring fresh gifts. Yes, let me forget.

2. And mine be the Pauline aspiration towards the future. Like the runner in the chariot race, I should stretch forward to the things which are before me. In front of me lie . . .
a fuller holiness,
a larger likeness to Christ,
a deeper humility,
a more wide-reaching usefulness,
the victory over death,
the abundant entrance into Heaven,
the eternal glory yet to be revealed.
These things I must seek with the intensity which . . .
the man of the world carries into his business,
the scholar into his studies,
the explorer into his journeys and toils.

3. And mine be the Pauline endeavor in the present. Always let me be pressing toward the mark for the prize. Some sin I ought to put off every day; some Christian grace or virtue I ought daily to put on. I must open my soul more absolutely to the Holy Spirit. Each hour must bring . . .
its work and its battle,
its duty to be done,
its prize to be gained.
Ah, life is too solemn, too momentous, too earnest!
By forgetfulness, by expectation, by effort . . .
I grow in Christlikeness,
I make progress in the pilgrim march,
I climb nearer and nearer the summits of God's snow-white Alps of purity and holiness.

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