Precious Jesus

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

Friday, October 31, 2014

He is altogether lovely

"Yes, He is altogether lovely! This is my Beloved,
 and this is my Friend." Song of Songs 5:16

I. Christ is to be loved
At the ninth verse of this chapter, you have a question put forth by the daughters of Jerusalem, "What is your beloved more than another beloved?" The spouse answers, "He is the chief among ten thousand." She then recounts many of the things she finds so excellent in her beloved and then concludes with these words: "Yes, he is altogether lovely." The words set forth the transcendent loveliness of the Lord Jesus Christ, and naturally resolve themselves into three parts:
First, Who he is: the Lord Jesus Christ, after whom she had been seeking, for whom she was overcome by love; concerning whom these daughters of Jerusalem had enquired: whom she had struggled to describe in his particular excellencies. He is the great and excellent subject of whom she here speaks.
Secondly, What he is, or what she claims of him: That he is a lovely one. The Hebrew word, which is often translated "desires," means "to earnestly desire, covet, or long after that which is most pleasant, graceful, delectable and admirable." The original word is both in the abstract, and plural in number, which says that Christ is the very essence of all delights and pleasures, the very soul and substance of them. As all the rivers are gathered into the ocean, which is the meeting-place of all the waters in the world, so Christ is that ocean in which all true delights and pleasures meet.
Thirdly, What he is like: He is altogether lovely, the every part to be desired. He is lovely when taken together, and in every part; as if she had said, "Look on him in what respect or particular you wish; cast your eye upon this lovely object, and view him any way, turn him in your serious thoughts which way you wish; consider his person, his offices, his works, or any other thing belonging to him; you will find him altogether lovely, there is nothing disagreeable in him, there is nothing lovely without him." Hence note,

DOCTRINE: That Jesus Christ is the loveliest person souls can set their eyes upon: "You are the most excellent of men." Psalm 45:2

Monday, October 27, 2014

The word of truth

One of the many titles given to the Holy Scriptures is “the Word of Truth” (2Ti 2:15). They are such because a communication from “the God of Truth” (Isa 65:16), a revelation from Him “that cannot lie” (Tit 1:2). O the privilege of possessing such a boon! Do we definitely and thankfully realize when we take up the Bible to read that it is nothing less than a message from Heaven, reliably translated into our mother tongue? What a priceless treasure! “The Word of Truth”: no errors or fables in it, nothing to mislead or deceive; but inerrant and absolutely trustworthy. How grateful is this writer that from the cradle he was trained to receive the Sacred Scriptures as the Word of Truth, and that his parents in their turn had received the same pious teaching in their infancy. True, that training had been lost upon him unless God had been pleased to sanctify the same and in His appointed time to grant him a personal and saving knowledge of the Truth. Yet it is His way to honour those who honour Him (1Sa 2:30), though He reserves to Himself the sovereign right to do so in whatever manner pleases Him.

The Word of Truth: what a peerless and priceless treasure is this! Not a production of the Church nor even the composition of the holy angels, but the Word of God Himself. It is a “light that shineth in a dark place” (2Pe 1:19). It is a life-giving Stream for parched pilgrims as they journey through this “wilderness of sin.” It is the Word of Truth in pointed contrast from all “science falsely so-called” (1 Tim 6:20) and “philosophy and vain deceit” (Col 2:8). Living as we are in a world of shams and make-beliefs, of exaggeration and prevarication, of fiction and falsity, how inestimably valuable is this “Thus saith the Lord”! Well may we say of the Scriptures “More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold” (Psa 19:10). In the midst of so much conflicting opinion, speculation and uncertainty, where should we be if the Word of Truth had not been vouchsafed to us? We should be mariners upon the sea of life without chart or compass. We should be ignorant alike of our origin, our duty, and our destiny. 

What a blessing it is when all doubt as to their Divine Authorship is removed and we are favoured with a definite assurance that the Holy Scriptures are “the Word of Truth”! One of the chief elements in “the faith of God’s elect” (Tit 1:1) is a deep conviction, an unshakable confidence, that the Bible is a Divine revelation. Neither the arguments of men nor the assaults of Satan can move its possessor from what has been rightly termed this “impregnable rock.” The Christian knows it is the Word of God for it has spoken to his heart in a way nothing else has or can. It would make no difference to him if every one else on earth was a sceptic or infidel, for his faith stands not in the wisdom of men but in the power of God, and neither human sophistry nor Satanic malice can destroy it. How could they, when God has given him to “know the certainty of the words of Truth” (Pro 22:21). Hence it is that he can exclaim with one of old “Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and Thy Word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart” (Jer 15:16). 

What an unspeakable mercy it is when we are given a love of the Truth! By nature both writer and reader are liars. “The wicked are estranged from the womb, they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies” (Psa 58:3). No child has to be taught to lie—it comes naturally to him; nor does he have to be corrupted by contact with others—he is born corrupt at the core of his being. This is the just entail of the Fall. Our first parents preferred the Devil’s lie to God’s Truth, and all of their descendants inherit the poisonous virus which then entered into them. In consequence “the whole world lieth in the wicked one” (1Jo 5:19) and he is “a liar and the father of it” (Joh 8:44). Thus by nature we have no love for the Truth, but instead a strong antipathy and resistance against it. The unregenerate do not want to know the truth about themselves: no, they wish to be flattered and encouraged to entertain a good opinion of themselves. Hence, the Lord Jesus declared “Because I tell you the Truth, ye believe not” (Joh 8:45)—had He told them lies they had welcomed Him. 

Since the whole world lieth in the wicked one and he is the arch-liar, we should not be surprised at the world being so full of pretence and hum-buggery and that the Truth of God is so bitterly hated. A striking illustration of this solemn feature, now spread before us on a lower plane, appears in the outlook of most of our fellows toward the war. The great majority do not want to know the truth but wish to hear fairy tales. The popular speaker or writer is the one who airily announces that victory is just round the corner and who heralds each minor success as proof that the end of the awful conflict is near at hand. Such a statement is likely to be hotly challenged, yet while many say and probably think they want to be told the real facts and know the worst, deep down in their hearts they do not. They pride themselves on being optimists and denounce as pessimists any who differ from them. Since this be the case in connection with temporal things,who is likely to tolerate the truth concerning Eternity! The fact is that “Truth is fallen in the street” (Isa 59:14) and is now being ruthlessly trampled on on every side. 

How thankful we should be if we can honestly say “I have chosen the way of Truth” (Psa 119:30). The religious realm is a veritable “babel” or confusion of tongues, wherein are innumerable controversies and doubtful disputations, all varnished with specious pretence, until many are at their wit’s end and the “unlearned and unstable” are in despair. But not so the one who is resolved to be directed by the Word of God and who brings all he hears and reads to the touchstone of the Truth, proving all things and holding fast that which is good (1Th 5:21). One reason why God permits so much disputing and doctrinal differences is that His own people may be stirred up to the more diligent search for Truth itself. Even though I have chosen the way of Truth I shall still need to pray, “Remove from me the way of lying” (Psa 119:29), to which the flesh is ever prone. “Lead me in Thy Truth” (Psa 25:5), must be my daily cry. Best of all is it when we are found “walking in the Truth” (2Jo 4), for it is then God is most glorified. His Word is given to us for this very purpose: to be a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path—to direct our conduct and regulate our deportment. In proportion as our daily life is ordered by the Word do we evince the sincerity and reality of our profession. The extent to which we actually walk in the Truth will determine the measure of our enjoyment of God’s approbation: “If a man love me, he will keep My words: and My Father will love him, and We will come unto him and make Our abode with him” (Joh 14:23). “His Truth shall be thy shield and buckler” (Psa 91:4): our defence and protection—panoplied in “the whole armour of God” the Christian is safe in the day of battle. By walking in the Truth we find rest unto our souls (Jer 6:16). —AWP

His guidance

"I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you shall go; I will guide you with My eye." — Psalm 32:8

No more precious assurance can I have, than this — that I am under the constant, loving guidance of my heavenly Father — that He appoints the bounds of my habitation, and overrules all events for my good — that my whole life is a plan arranged by Him. Every apparent little contingency, as well as every momentous turn and crisis-hour — forms part of that plan! "God examines every path a man takes." "A man's heart devises his way — but the Lord directs his steps."
"I will instruct you and teach you." How patiently does this almighty Preceptor train, and with what infinite wisdom and tenderness does He adapt His varied teachings to the needs and requirements of His people! It is "line upon line;" — or if need be, cross upon cross — trial upon trial. Or it may be that startling providences are no longer required — the gentle indications of His will are enough, "I will guide you with My eye." The earthquake — the hurricane — the wind — the fire, may now have fulfilled their mission. "The still, small voice" is now sufficient.
And HOW does He promise to teach and to guide? Not in the way that we would like to go — the way of our own choosing — but "the way which you shall go." Often we would decide on pursuing the sunny highway. But God says, 'the rough mountain-track is best for you!' Often we would, like Israel, take the near and smooth road to Canaan by the land of the Philistines. But God's pillar-clouddecides otherwise, and takes us by a circuitous route "by the way of the wilderness." Often we would prefer, like the disciples at sea of Tiberias, the safe path by the seashore, so as to avoid the gathering storm, "for the wind is contrary." But God says, "No!" He constrains us to get into the ship.
"He led them by the right path — to go to a city where they could live!" It is not for us to question His plans. He led His people of old — He leads them still — by the right path. There is a day coming when, in the words of Augustine, "both vessel and cargo safe, and not a hair of our heads hurt — we reach the haven of our desire," we shall own the wisdom of every earthly lesson, the "needs-be" of every wave in the troubled sea!
The gardener has occasionally to subject his plants to apparently rough usage — cutting, lopping, mutilating; reducing them to unsightly shapes — before they burst into flower. Summer, however, before long, vindicates the wisdom of his treatment, in its clusters of varied fragrance and beauty. So also, at times, does our heavenly Gardener see fit to use His pruning-knife. But be assured there is not one superfluous or redundant lopping. We shall understand and acknowledge an infinitely wise necessity for all — when the plant has unfolded itself into the full flower, bathed in the tints and diffusing the fragrance of Heaven.
Believer, go up and on your way — rejoicing in the teaching and guidance of unerring Wisdom! "I will guide you with My eye." The sleepless eye of Israel's un-slumbering Shepherd is upon you by day and by night — in sickness and in health — in joy and in sorrow — in life and in death! "Does not He who weighs the heart, perceive it? Does not He who guards your life, know it?" "But the Lord watches over those who fear Him, those who rely on His unfailing love."

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Choice morsels

We should call our hearts to account every evening, and say, "O my heart! Where have you been today? Where have your thoughts been wandering? O naughty heart! O vain heart! Could you not abide by the fountain of delights? Is there better pleasure with the creature, than with your redeemer God?"

Repentance will cost you more than a few cheap words against sin!

The whole world is not a theater large enough to display the glory of Christ upon--or unfold the one half of the unsearchable riches which lie hidden in Him! What shall I say of Christ? His excelling glory dazzles apprehension, and swallows up all expression!

John Flavel

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Satan, like a skillful fisherman, baits his hook according to the appetite of the fish!

No man more truly loves God, than he who is most fearful to offend Him.

Self-righteousness is the devil's masterpiece to make us think well of ourselves.

He who demands mercy and shows none, burns the bridges over which he himself must later pass!

Death is as near to the young as to the old. Here is all the difference: death stands behind the young man's back, but before the old man's face.

Thomas Adams

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Saturday, October 25, 2014

Rend your heart

C.H. Spurgeon
“Rend your heart, and not your garments.” ( Joel 2:13)
GARMENT RENDING and other outward signs of religious emotion, are easily manifested and are frequently hypocritical; but to feel true repentance is far more difficult, and consequently far less common. Men will attend to the most multiplied and minute ceremonial regulations; for such things are pleasing to the flesh; but true religion is too humbling, too heart-searching, too thorough for the tastes of the carnal men; they prefer something more ostentatious, flimsy, and worldly. Outward observances are temporarily comfortable; eye and ear are pleased; self-conceit is fed, and self-righteousness is puffed up: but they are ultimately delusive, for in the time of death, and at the day of judgment, the soul needs something more substantial than ceremonies and rituals to lean upon. Apart from vital godliness all religion is utterly vain; offered without a sincere heart, every form of worship is a solemn sham and an impudent mockery of the majesty of heaven.
HEART-RENDING is divinely wrought and solemnly felt. It is a secret grief which is personally experienced, not in mere form, but as a deep, soul moving work of the Holy Spirit upon the inmost heart of each believer. It is not a matter to be merely talked of and believed in, but keenly and sensitively felt in every living child of the living God. It is powerfully humiliating, and completely sin purging; but then it is sweetly preparative for those gracious consolations which proud unhumbled spirits are unable to receive; and it is distinctly discriminating, FOR IT BELONGS TO THE ELECT OF GOD, AND TO THEM ALONE.
The text commands us to rend our hearts, but they are naturally hard as marble: how, then, can this be done? We must take them to Calvary: a dying Savior’s voice rent the rocks once, and it is as powerful now. O blessed Spirit, let us hear the death cries of Jesus, and our hearts shall be rent even as men rend  their vestures in the day of lamentation.

Friday, October 24, 2014

strange fire

by Arthur W. Pink
How much “strange fire” there is in the religious world today, far more so than is generally realized. Fire which has not been authorized by God: fire which has not been kindled by a coal from off His altar: fire which is not sustained by the oil of the Spirit. And therefore is it “strange fire.” It is the energy of the flesh turned into a religious channel: the same energy which moves the enthusiastic amateur-politician to seek votes for his party, only directed to another end. It is the expenditure of earnest zeal, yet a zeal which is not according to knowledge. It is the enthusiasm of youth, prompting them to run without being Divinely sent. It is the engaging in “Christian service” to which God has not called them, for they have no “Thus saith the Lord” to warrant them.

When we turn to the Holy Scriptures we are at once struck by the vivid contrast between that which was ordained of God and that which now obtains so widely in Christendom. Those who are familiar with the contents of the Pentateuch must be impressed with the fullness of instruction which was given to Moses for the ordering of Divine worship and service in Israel. Nothing was unprovided for, nothing was left to the choice of the people. The Lord Himself made known His will and gave commandment accordingly. He appointed those who were to serve, He specified their particular duties, He endowed with wisdom for special tasks. Down to the minutest detail everything was to be carried out as God had bidden. None were to obtrude themselves into any sacred office: none were to usurp authority: none were to undertake duties assigned unto others. Nothing less than death awaited those who dared to introduce confusion into the Divine arrangements.

“Thou shalt appoint the Levites over the tabernacle of testimony, and over all the vessels thereof, and over all things that belong to it: they shall bear the tabernacle, and all the vessels thereof; and they shall minister unto it, and shall encamp round about the tabernacle. And when the tabernacle setteth forward, the Levites shall take it down; and when the tabernacle is to be pitched, the Levites shall set it up: and the stranger that cometh nigh shall be put to death” (Num. 1:50, 51). Most definite was this Divine injunction, and all who belonged unto the other Tribes must submit thereto, or suffer God’s unsparing judgment. No matter how spiritual, how zealous, how devoted to the glory of God, none but the Levites were allowed to have any part in conducting the services of the tabernacle.

This Divine prescription and proscription was repeated again and again. “Thou shalt appoint Aaron and his sons, and they shall wait on their priest’s office: and the stranger that cometh nigh shall be put to death” (Num. 3:10 and see v. 38). “That no stranger, which is not of the seed of Aaron, come near to offer incense before the Lord” (Num. 16:40). “Neither must the children of Israel henceforth come nigh the tabernacle of congregation, lest they bear sin, and die. But the Levites shall do the service of the tabernacle of the congregation” (Num. 18:22, 23). Nothing could be plainer: all those pertaining not to the Divinely-ordained tribe of Levi were strictly prohibited and debarred from taking any part in the services of God’s house. Yet express as these orders were, some in Israel dared to defy the Lord, and in consequence, they paid for their rashness with their lives.

“And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the LORD, which He commanded them not. And there went out fire from the LORD, and devoured them, and they died before the LORD” (Lev. 10:1, 2). Mark it well that these men were of the tribe of Levi, yet they took upon themselves that which the Lord had not commanded. They “offered strange fire before the LORD,” that is, fire which He had not appointed (cf. Exo. 31:9), and therefore they were slain before Him. On another occasion we find there was a group in Israel “two hundred and fifty princes of the assembly, famous in the congregation, men of renown” led by Korah, Dathan and Abiram, who strongly resented the Divinely- appointed restriction. “They gathered themselves together against Moses and against Aaron, and said unto them, Ye take too much upon you, seeing all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the Lord is among them: wherefore then lift ye up yourselves above the congregation of the LORD?” (Num. 16:3). The sequel was solemn. (vv. 31, 32).

God is very jealous of His appointments and will not suffer them to be defied with impugnity. He had given express commandment that, “None ought to carry the ark of God but the Levites: for them hath the LORD chosen to carry the ark of God” (1 Chron. 15:2). But this was ignored by David, for “they set the ark of God upon a new cart...and Uzzah and Ahio the sons of Abinadab drave the new cart” (2 Sam. 6:3). “And when they came to Nachon’s threshingfloor, Uzzah put forth his hand to the ark of God, and took hold of it; for the oxen shook it. And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzzah, and God smote him there for his rashness” (vv. 6, 7). Later, David owned his fault, saying to the priests, “The Lord our God made a breach upon us, for that we sought Him not after the due order” (1 Chron. 15:13).

At a still later date it is recorded of Uzziah the king that, “When he was strong, his heart was lifted up to his destruction: for he transgressed against the LORD his God, and went into the temple of the Lord to burn incense upon the altar of incense. And Azariah the priest went in after him, and with him fourscore priests of the LORD, that were valiant men: And they withstood Uzziah the king and said unto him, It appertaineth not unto thee, Uzziah, to burn incense unto the LORD, but to the priests the sons of Aaron, that are consecrated to burn incense: go out of the sanctuary, for thou hast trespassed; neither shall it be for thine honour from the LORD God. Then Uzziah was wroth, and had a censer in his hand to burn incense: and while he was wroth with the priests, the leprosy even rose up in his forehead before the priests in the house of the LORD...And Uzziah the king was a leper unto the day of his death, and dwelt in a several house” (2 Chron 26:16-19, 21). What a solemn lesson was that! How plainly it manifested the sore displeasure of the Lord against those who chafe against the restrictions which He imposes, and who determine to take upon themselves a work to which He has not called them. Yes, king though he was, yet his royal dignity could not afford shelter from Divine judgment, for God is no respecter of persons, and monarch and menial alike must obey His commands or suffer the consequences of insubordination.

Now my reader, have these unspeakably solemn incidents no message for us today? It is true that in this Christian dispensation there is no Divinely appointed class to come between the Lord and His people. It is true that all believers are “a holy priesthood to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:5). But this does not mean that there are no Divinely called and Divinely qualified officers of Christ to administer the affairs of His kingdom, and that every Christian may regard himself as entitled to preach His Gospel and administer His ordinances. No indeed: very far from it. Nothing but the utmost confusion can ensue where every Tom, Dick, and Harry pushes himself forward to perform work for which he is not qualified. The principle of “And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God” (Heb. 5:4) holds good as truly today as it did in Old Testament times.

“My brethren, be not many masters (R.V. “teachers”), knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation” (James 3:1). The word which is here rendered “masters” signifies “teachers” being the plural of the one used in John 3:10, “art thou a master in Israel?” “Many converts to Christianity would be desirous of the distinction of teachers: with a view to the credit and pre-eminence of that office, or from a mistaken idea that they could not glorify God or do good to men in other states; while perhaps they were not aware of the weight and difficulties of the work, and the solemn account which must be given of it. But they ought to know and seriously consider that teachers must stand a greater or more strict judgment than other men...Did men but truly weigh the importance and difficulty of the sacred ministry, the account which must be given of it, the trials and temptations to which it exposes them, they would be less forward than they sometimes are in aspiring to that distinction” (Thomas Scott).

“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears” (2 Tim. 4:3). During recent years much has been written upon the first part of this verse, but in all our reading (now more than two million pages of religious and theological literature) we do not recall having seen a single comment upon the words we have placed in italics. It is a most significant and ominous fact that the fulfillment of these two predictions have synchronized, for the rejection of “sound doctrine” and the multiplying of men who term themselves “Bible teachers” have kept pace steadily with each other. The solemn thing is that the “teachers” referred to in 2 Timothy 4:3 are not Divinely called, but self-appointed ones, and they may easily be identified by their opposition to the Truth. Not one of the “Bible teachers” we have read believes in Unconditional Election, Particular Redemption, or the Christian Sabbath!

Not only has there been a noticeable multiplication of religious “teachers” during the last 50 years, but the rank and file of professing Christians have, in many instances, been pressed into the doing of “Personal work.” In some circles of considerable prominence young Christians (of both sexes) are taught it is their bounden duty to become “soul winners,” and that only by regularly “leading sinners to Christ” can their own spiritual lives be kept in a healthy estate. Every once in a while we receive letters from those who have been brought into deep distress by such erroneous teachings. They did not feel qualified for the task, but unwilling to be thought “strange” by their friends, they ignored the instincts of modesty and propriety, and spoke to their acquaintances about Christ, only to be repulsed and made miserable through lack of “success.” Then they fear there must be something seriously wrong with themselves, seeing that God withholds His blessing from their efforts.

Of course such “teachers” and leaders make a pretence of appealing to the Scriptures in support of their vagaries. “Pretence” we say, for they cannot find a single sentence in either the Old or the New Testaments where the Lord bade the rank and file of His people to engage in any such activities. What, then, do they do? Why, they “wrest” the Word of God and wrongly “divide” the same. In the past we have called attention to several misapplied and wrongly appropriated promises of the New Testament; we now direct notice to some precepts which are put to an entirely false use. These promises, as we showed, pertained only unto the Apostles and their immediate successors—so, too, the precepts we are to look at are given to God’s official servants and not unto the saints at large.

“And He said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). He said unto whom? The verse immediately preceding tells us: unto “the Eleven.” What right has any man to apply the apostolic commission promiscuously? None whatever—to do so is to play fast and loose with the Holy Word of God. In the parallel passage those whom Christ here ordered to preach the Gospel He authorized to “baptize” and to “teach” (Matt. 28:19, 20) which makes it quite clear to any God-fearing soul that such offices can only be discharged by the duly authorized ministers of God. To “preach the Gospel” is no child’s play: it requires an extensive knowledge of the Scriptures, long training in the school of Christ, an experimental acquaintance with its contents, and a special endowment from on High. “Novices” are debarred from this holy vocation (1 Tim. 3:6), for instead of attempting to expound the Divine mysteries, they themselves need to be thoroughly indoctrinated.

“Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead be ye reconciled to God” (2 Cor. 5:20). Probably quite a number of our readers will be surprised to hear that such a verse as this is given a general meaning and application to all God’s people and that babes in Christ (and empty professors) are told they are Christ’s “ambassadors”; but we ought not to be surprised at anything in this decadent and demented age. One had thought the very term “ambassadors” would be quite enough to prevent such an excuseless mistake. An ambassador is the official representative of a potentate duly authorized to mistake. An ambassador is the official representative of a potentate duly authorized to act on his sovereign’s behalf. King George has his ambassador in Washington: but suppose that every British subject now residing in the U.S.A. should busy themselves in diplomatic affairs and pretend they were ambassadors of the Court of St James: not only would they serve no useful purpose, but they would mislead people and create endless confusion. And this is exactly what these “personal workers” do; uncalled of God, unqualified by the Spirit, possessing the merest smattering of the Truth, they distort the Gospel and delude those whose ears they gain.

It is at this very point that untold damage has been done. Wrongly taught themselves, holding an entirely false conception of God’s purpose and His design in the Gospel, these “personal workers” have gone forth only to deceive and seduce the unwary. Telling all who will listen to them that God loves everybody, that Christ died for the redemption of the whole human race, they assure their hearers they can be saved immediately by “simply accepting Christ as your personal Saviour.” They know not that God “hatest all workers of iniquity” (Psa. 5:5), and that Christ died to “save His People from their sins” (Matt. 1:21). They say little or nothing about the requirements of God, the righteous demands of His Law, the fact that His wrath is revealed from Heaven against all unrighteousness and ungodliness (Rom. 1:18), and that the wicked must sincerely repent of and forsake their sins before they can obtain mercy.

This “personal work” campaign is a cheapening of the Gospel, a lowering of God’s standard, a perverting of His Truth, and has produced a generation of unregenerate professors, who now infest the churches and assemblies. The “making of converts” is their goal, and quantity rather than quality is the great desire. We were personally acquainted with one of these personal workers, who had three years’ training in a large “Bible Institute.” He had vowed to “win a soul to Christ” every day that year. We met him after a rainy spell, and he told us the weather had sadly interfered with his schedule, for while it was so wet there was no one in the public parks whom he could accost. He was then “five souls behind,” and he told us, “I shall have to make up for lost time and win six souls to Christ today.” The tragic thing is that so few now can see anything wrong with this blasphemous burlesque.

It is needless to examine all the passages appealed to by these “teachers” in support of their errors, but we will look at one or two more. “He that winneth souls is wise” (Prov. 11:30). Yes, because he has been specially called, qualified, and owned of God. But let Scripture interpret Scripture: “They that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness, as the stars forever and ever” (Dan. 12:3), and as to what is signified by the “stars” Revelation 1:20 informs us. As to what is meant by the “watchman” in Ezekiel 33:2-6 the very next verse tells us, “O son of man, (the Prophet Ezekiel), I have set thee a watchman unto the house of Israel; therefore thou shalt hear the Word at My mouth, and warn them, for Me.”

When a sinner has been saved the Saviour’s word to him is, “Return to thine house, and show how great things God hath done unto thee” (Luke 8:39). We are to “show forth the praises of Him who hath called us out of darkness into His marvellous light” (1 Peter 2:9). But is a young Christian never to open his mouth in testimony for Christ? We have not said so; but he must be very careful or otherwise he will be guilty of disobeying that Divine injunction, “Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine” (Matt. 7:6). We shall not go far wrong if we are regulated by that exhortation, “Sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear” (1 Peter 3:15). Let us beware of “strange fire”—zeal which is not according to knowledge. Let us be on our guard lest the Lord has occasion to ask us, “Who hath required this at your hand?” (Isa. 1:2). Read diligently through the whole of the Epistles and see where the members of any church were exhorted to do “personal work” or seek to “win souls to Christ,” and you will find there is not one. Then be governed by God’s Word even though all your religious associates deem you “cold,” “self-centered,” or “censorious.”

Licentious Preaching

by Arthur W. Pink
In the preceding articles we have treated of a legal and licentious spirit as they exist in and are exercised by the individual: on the present occasion we shall show how they are manifested in preaching, but before doing so we will seek to dispose of a difficulty. It may be thought strange that two elements so diverse as legality and lawlessness should meet in the same person, for while it is true that the one predominates much more than the other in different men, yet the roots of both are found in everyone and the Christian needs to watch against each alike. The explanation of this anomaly we believe is this: Truth is twofold and as the heart of man is radically opposed by nature to the Truth his antagonism thereto breaks forth in two distinct directions. This was exemplified by our Lord when He said, “Whereunto then shall I liken the men of this generation? and to what are they like? They are like unto children sitting in the marketplace, and calling to one another, and saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned unto you, and ye have not wept” (Luke 7:31, 32): neither the one nor the other suited them; they despised both alike.
The twofoldness of Divine Truth is broadly illustrated by the dividing of God’s Word into its two Testaments, wherein, characteristically speaking we have set forth the Divine Law and the Divine Gospel, and where distinctively (though not exclusively) God is revealed respectively as “Light” and “Love.” This same twofoldness of Truth appears in each of those grand objects and subjects, though this is far from being as clearly apprehended as it should be. The Law which God gave unto Israel was a dual one, consisting of the Moral and the Ceremonial: the Moral Law specially exemplifying God’s righteousness and the Ceremonial Law His grace—the merciful provision which He made and which was available for those who came under the condemnation of the former. In like manner, the Gospel contains a dual manifestation of the Divine character and perfections: while it is “the Gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24) proclaiming the free favour of God to the undeserving, it is also denominated “the ministration of righteousness” (2 Cor. 3:9) and “the Word of righteousness” (Heb. 5:13). Paul declared, “I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ...for therein is the righteousness of God revealed” (Rom. 1:16, 17). In view of this twofoldness of Truth and the opposition of the carnal mind thereto, it should no more surprise us that such diverse elements as legality and lawlessness are found in the same persons than we should be to read that Pilate and Herod, who “were at enmity between themselves,” on the day of our Saviour’s mock trial before them “were made friends together” (Luke 23:12), and that they made common cause in opposing and condemning Him. Legality is the perverting of God’s Law. Lawlessness or licentiousness is the corrupting of the Gospel: or if we speak of these evils as they apply to the distinctive features of each, legality is the wresting of the righteous element in both the Law and the Gospel, while licentiousness is the abuse of the grace element in them. While it is true that grace is the outstanding and predominant characteristic of the Gospel, yet it must ever be insisted upon that it is not a grace which is exercised at the expense of righteousness, rather does it reign “through righteousness” (Rom. 5:21).
Now since it is true that the roots of both legality and licentiousness are found in every man by nature, it behooves the servant of God to be on his most prayerful and careful guard against giving place to either of these evils, for in proportion as he does so the Truth is falsified and the souls of his hearers are poisoned. If he is guilty of preaching in a legalistic way, the person and work of Christ is dishonoured and the spirit of self-righteousness is fed those who sit under him. Unless he makes it crystal clear that none but Christ can avail the sinner and that there is in Him a sufficiency to meet his every need—unless he expresses himself beyond a doubt of being misunderstood that the merits of Christ’s righteousness and blood are the sole means for delivering a believing sinner from the curse of the broken Law and his singular title to everlasting bliss—he has failed at the most vital point of his mission and duty. The trumpet he is called upon to blow must give forth no uncertain sound at this point: nothing but faith in the finished work of Christ, and nothing added thereto, can supply any sinner with a standing before the thrice holy God.
On the other hand, it is equally important and essential that the minister steer clear of the opposite extreme. If he is guilty of preaching in a licentious way then the person and work of Christ is equally dishonoured and the spirit of religious bolshevism is fostered in his hearers. Unless he makes it as plain as an object bathed in the light of the midday sun that God hates sin, all sin, and will not compromise with or condone it in anyone—unless he declares and insists that Christ came to save His people from their sins—from the love of them, from the dominion of them—he has failed at the most essential part of his task. The great work of the pulpit is to press the authoritative claims of the Creator and Judge of all the earth—to show how short we have come of meeting God’s just requirements, to announce His imperative demand of repentance. The sinner must throw down the weapons of his rebellion and forsake his evil way before he can trust in Christ to the saving of his soul. Christ is to be received as King to rule over him as well as Priest to atone for him, to surrender to Him as his rightful Lord ere he can embrace Him as his gracious Saviour.
Such a task as we have briefly outlined above is no easy one, and only those who are called and qualified by God are fitted to discharge it. To preserve the balance of Truth so that the requirements of righteousness and the riches of grace are equally poised, to avoid Arminianism on the one side and Antinomianism on the other is an undertaking far beyond the capacity of any “novice” (1 Tim. 3:6). It requires a “workman” and not a lazy man—a student and not a slothful one—who studies to “show himself approved unto God” (2 Tim. 9:15) and not one who seeks the applause and the shekels of men. Nor can any human education or self-development of the intellectual faculty impart this capacity. No indeed: only in the school of Christ can this accomplishment be acquired. Only as the Holy Spirit is his Teacher can any man be furnished unto such an undertaking. The preacher must first be taught himself, taught experimentally and effectually, taught in his soul to love what God loves and hate what God hates, and then be given wisdom from Above to express the same according to the Scriptural pattern before he is ready to show unto others the way of Life.
It is because so many untaught men, unregenerate men, now occupy the pulpits that “another gospel” (Gal. 1:6) is being so widely and generally disseminated. Multitudes who have neither “tasted that the Lord is gracious” nor have “the fear of the Lord” in them, have from various motives and considerations invaded the sacred calling of the ministry and out of the abundance of their corrupt hearts they speak. Being blind themselves, they lead the blind into the ditch. Having no love for the Shepherd they have none for the sheep, being but “hirelings.” They are themselves “of the world” and therefore “the world heareth them” (1 John 4:5), for they preach that which is acceptable unto fallen human nature and as like attracts like, they gather around themselves a company of admirers who flatter and support them. They will bring in just enough of God’s Truth to deceive the unwary and give an appearance of orthodoxy to their message, but not sufficient of the Truth, especially the searching portions thereof, to render their hearers uncomfortable by destroying their false peace. They will name Christ but not preach Him, mention the Gospel but not expound it.
Some of these men will preach legality under the pretense of furthering morality and honouring the Divine Law. They will preach up good works, but lay no foundation upon which they may be built. They confound justification and sanctification, making personal holiness to be the ground of the sinner’s acceptance before God. They sow their vineyard with “divers seeds” (Deut. 22:9) so that Law and Gospel, Divine grace and creature performances are so mingled together that their distinctive characters are obliterated. Others preach licentiousness under the guise of magnifying the grace of God. They omit the Divine call to repentance, say nothing about the necessity of forsaking our sins if we are to obtain mercy (Prov. 28:13), lay no stress upon regeneration as a being made “a new creature in Christ” (2 Cor. 5:17), but declare that the sinner has simply to accept Christ as his personal Saviour—though his heart be still proud, without contrition and thoroughly in love with the world—and eternal life is now his. The result of this preaching is well calculated to bolster up the deluded for instead of insisting that saving faith is evidenced by its spiritual fruits, instead of teaching that the Christian life is a warfare against the world, the flesh and the devil, and that none but the overcomer will reach Heaven, they are assured —no matter how carnal their walk—that “once saved, always saved,” and thus they are soothed in their sins and comforted with a false peace until they awake in Hell. Shun all such preaching, my reader, as you would a deadly plague. “Cease, my son, to hear the instruction that causeth thee to err from the words of knowledge” (Prov. 19:27).

Entirely 'Other'

This post is from Michael Gantt....



 There is a view of God that many seem to have lost: the high, exalted, lofty, exclusive, unparalleled, unprecedented character of God. Preferring the comfort of His nearness, we have often diminished the truth of His transcendent holiness.  We want to snuggle and wallow in cheap grace and shallow sanctification because we have abandoned the Biblical picture of God’s holy and exalted nature.  He is not “the Man upstairs” and He is not “Big Daddy;” He is not “Papa” or any thing else my conscience or imagination would like Him to be. Those images of God are safe, and we don’t fear offending the God we “snuggle” with.
     This is the “emergent” God – the God we always wished was; and so we have formed Him in that image.  We have made God safe, and we have made a God that fits in to our own sense of goodness, graciousness, and approachability. It was only a matter of time until we completely coerced scriptural interpretaton into a system of universiality that has neutered God and rendered Him harmless. It will be interesting if He actually fits into our mould when we stand before Him in the final day.  I think He may not, because the God revealed in the Holy Writ is not accustomed to behaving in a way that makes men feel all warm and fuzzy.  
     God is ineffable, indescribable glory, and He dwells in unapproachable light. No man can see God and live (Exodus 33:20). God is a consuming fire (Hebrews 12:29). In a single word: Holy!  God is infinite holiness. When we understand this we understand the wonder of Isaiah in chapter 6 of his prophecy when he cried out at the vision of God, “O Woe is me, for I am a man of unclean lips and I live in the midst of a people of unclean lips.”
     The mystery of God is even more wonderful when we comprehend that somehow the Second Person of the Trinity – the very Son of God Himself has bridged the gap between the finite and the infinite, the holy and the profane, He has broken down the barrier between us and the Father.  However, He did not do so in order that God would become like man, but that through the power of the Holy Spirit we could be like God –conformed to the image of His Son. This is the nearness of God that we all long for and so desperately need. Yet, even as we celebrate the truth that God has come near we must take care that we do not also make Him small. The God of the New Testament is the same God that thundered from Sinai and caused Israel to tremble. He has not morphed Himself into something else.  I am not comforted by serving a God with whom I could meander into the sanctuary, throw my feet up on the altar rail and sip a cup of coffee while we “chat.”  I am more greatly comforted in serving a God that makes me tremble in awe and wonder; who is not like me but entirely “other” than me: Holy.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

follow the Lamb


(William Dyer, "Follow the Lamb")

"These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes!" Revelation 14:4

What it is to follow the Lamb?

To follow the Lamb wherever He goes--is to follow Him in four things:

1st, We follow the Lamb in His COMMANDMENTS. "If you love Me--you will keep My commandments!" John 14:15. "You are My friends--if you do what I command you." John 15:14. Oh, beloved, we cannot follow the Lamb wherever He goes, unless we follow Him in His commandments! True Christians take as much delight in those precepts that enjoin holiness--as in those promises that assure happiness.

2ndly, We follow the Lamb in His TEACHING. "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me! But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger's voice." John 10:5, 27

3rdly, We follow the Lamb in His PROVIDENCE. Through all afflictions, all straits, all discouragements and sorrows whatever, though it is the way of death! We must forsake all to follow a crucified Christ, a condemned Christ, in bloody paths of sufferings--if He calls us to it! "For," says Paul, "I am ready not to be bound only--but also to die at Jerusalem, for the name of the Lord Jesus Christ!" We must be willing to venture the loss of all for Him: our liberty, our estates, our relations, and our life itself! "We have forsaken all--and followed You!" Matthew 19:27

4thly, We follow the Lamb in His EXAMPLE. "I have given you an example that you also should do just as I have done for you." John 13:15. "Christ has suffered for us, leaving us an example that we should follow in His steps." 1 Peter 2:21. To follow in Christ's steps--is to take Him for our example. We must not follow wicked men's example, who walk in the broad way that leads to death, for "They are the children of their father the Devil, and they love to do the evil things he does!" John 8:44. But we must follow our head Christ, who went about doing good, Acts 10:38. 

Now this is to follow the Lamb, wherever He goes:
  in His commands,
  in His teaching,
  in His providences,
  in His examples.

Oh the depth!

(John MacDuff, "The Night Watches")

"Before the mountains were born or You brought forth the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God!" Psalm 90:2

O my soul! Seek to fill yourself with thoughts of the Almighty. Lose yourself in the impenetrable tracts of His Glory! 

"Can you by searching find out God?" Can the insect fathom the ocean?
Can the worm scale the skies? 
Can the finite comprehend the Infinite? 
Can the mortal grasp Immortality? 
We can do no more than stand on the brink of the shoreless sea, and cry, "Oh the depth!" 

"From 
everlasting to everlasting, You are God!"
S
hrouded in the great and amazing mystery of eternity,
before one star revolved in its sphere,
before one angel moved his wing--God was! 
His own infinite presence filling all space. All time, to Him, is but as the heaving of a breath--the beat of a pulse--the twinkling of an eye! He was as infinitely glorious when He inhabited the solitudes of immensity alone--as He is now with the songs of angel and archangel sounding in His ear! 

This is the Being to whom I can look up with sweetest confidence, and call "My Father!"This is the Infinite One, whom "the Heaven of Heavens cannot contain," whom I call "My God!"
"This God is our God forever and ever; He will be our guide even until death!" Psalm 48:14 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

God with us

“God with us.” God—there lies the Majesty! “God with us”—there lies the Mercy. God—there is Glory!“God with us”—there is Grace! God alone might well strike us with terror, but “God with us,” inspires us with hope and confidence! Take my text as a whole, and carry it in your bosoms as a bundle of sweet spices to perfume your hearts with peace and joy. 

  LET US ADMIRE THIS TRUTH OF GOD.
“God with us.” Let us stand at a reverent distance from it as Moses when he saw God in the bush stood a little back, and took his shoes off, feeling that the place where he stood was holy ground. This is a wonderful fact, God the Infinite once dwelt in the frail body of a Child, and tabernacled in the suffering form of a lowly Man. “God was in Christ.” “He made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a Servant, and was made in the likeness of men.” 
Observe first, the wonder of condescension contained in this fact, that God, who made all things should assume the nature of one of His own creatures; that the Self-Existent should be united with the dependent and deprived, and the Almighty linked with the feeble and mortal! In the case before us the Lord descended to the very depth of humiliation, and entered into alliance with a nature which did not occupy the chief place in the scale of existence!It would have been great condescension for the Infinite and Incomprehensible Jehovah to have taken upon Himself the nature of some noble spiritual being, such as a seraph or a cherub; the union of the Divine with a created spirit would have been an immeasurable stoop—but for God to be one with man is far more. Remember that in the Person of Christ, Manhood was not merely a quickening spirit, but also suffering, hungering, dying flesh and blood; there was taken to Himself by our Lord all that materialism which makes up a body, and a body is after all but the dust of the earth, a structure fashioned from the materials around us. There is nothing in our bodily frame but what is to be found in the substance of the earth on which we live; we feed upon that which grows out of the earth, and when we die, we go back to the dust from which we were taken. Is not this a strange thing that this grosser part of Creation, this meaner part, this dust of it, should nevertheless be taken into union with that pure, marvelous, incomprehensible, Divine Being of whom we know so little, and can comprehend nothing at all? Oh, the condescension of it! I leave it to the meditations of your quiet moments. Dwell on it with care. I am persuaded that no man has any idea how wonderful a stoop it was for God thus to dwell in human flesh and to be “God with us.” 
Yet, to make it appear still more remarkable, remember that the creature whore nature Christ took was a being that had sinned. I can more readily conceive the Lord’s taking upon Himself the nature of a race which had never fallen, but, lo, the race of man stood in rebellion against God, and yet Christ became a Man, that He might deliver us from the consequences of our rebellion, and lift us up to something higher than our pristine purity. “God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh has condemned sin in the flesh.” “Oh, the depths,” is all that we can say as we look on and marvel at this stoop of Divine Love!
 Note, next, as you view this marvel at a distance, what a miracle of Power is before us! Have you ever thought of the Power displayed in the Lord’s fashioning a body capable of union with Godhead? Our Lord was Incarnate in a body which was truly a human body, but yet in some wondrous way was prepared to sustain the indwelling of Deity! Contact with God is terrible—“He looks on the earth, and it trembles, He touches the hills, and they smoke.” He puts His feet on Paran, and it melts, and Sinai dissolves in flames of fire. So strongly was this Truth inwrought into the minds of the early saints that they said, “No man can see God’s face and live!” And yet here was a Manhood which did not merely see the face of God, but which was inhabited by Deity! What human frame was this which could abide the Presence of Jehovah? “A body have You prepared Me.” This was indeed a body curiously worked, a holy thing, a special product of the Holy Spirit’s Power; it was a body like our own, with nerves as sensitive, and muscles as readily strained; it was a body with every organization as delicately fashioned as our own, and yet God was in it! It was a frail boat to bear such Freight! Oh, Man Christ, how could You bear the Deity within You! We know not how it was, but God knows; let us adore this hiding of the Almighty in human weakness, this comprehending of the Incomprehensible, this revealing of the Invisible, this localization of the Omnipresent! Alas, I do but babble! What are words when we deal with such an unutterable Truth of God? Suffice it to say that the Divine Power was wonderfully seen in the continued existence of the materialism of Christ’s body—which otherwise had been consumed for such a wondrous contact with Divinity! Admire the Power which dwelt in, “God with us.”
 Again, as you gaze upon the mystery, consider what an ensign of good will this must be to the sons of men. When the Lord takes Manhood into union with Himself in this matchless way, it must mean good to man; God cannot mean to destroy that race which He thus weds onto Himself! Such a marriage as this, between man and God, must mean peace; war and destruction are never thus predicted. God Incarnate in Bethlehem, to be adored by shepherds, foretells nothing but “peace on earth and mercy mild.” O you sinners who tremble at the thought of the Divine Wrath, as well you may, lift up your heads with joyful hope of His Mercy and Favor, for God must be full of Grace and Mercy to that race which He so distinguishes above all others by taking it into union with Himself! Be of good cheer, O men born of women, and expect untold blessings, for “unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given.” If you look at rivers you can often tell from where they come, and the soil over which they have flowed by their color; those which flood from melting glaciers are known at once. There is a Text concerning a heavenly river which you will understand if you look at it in this light—“He showed me a pure river of the Water of Life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the Throne of God, and of the Lamb.” Where the Throne is occupied by Godhead, and the appointed Mediator, the Incarnate God, the once bleeding Lamb, then the river most be pure as crystal, and be a river, not of molten lava of devouring Wrath, but a river of the Water of Life! Look to “God with us” and you will see that the consequences of Incarnation must be pleasant, profitable, saving, and ennobling to the sons of men.

 I pray you to continue your admiring glance, and look upon God with us once more as a pledge of our deliverance. We are a fallen race; we are sunk in the mire; we are sold under sin, in bondage, and in slavery to Satan. But if God comes to our race, and espouses its Nature, why then we must retrieve our fall—it cannot be possible for the gates of Hell to keep those down who have God with them! Slaves under sin, and bondsmen beneath the Law, hearken to the trumpet of jubilee, for One has come among you, born of a woman, made under the Law, who is also Mighty God, pledged to set you free! He is a Savior, and a great one; He is able to save, for He is Almighty, and pledged to do it, for He has entered the fight, and put on the harness for the battle. The champion of his people is one who will not fail nor be discouraged till the battle is fully fought and won. Jesus, coming down from Heaven, is the Pledge that He will take His people up to Heaven! His taking our Nature is the seal of our being lifted up to His Throne! If an angel had interposed, we might have some fears; were it a mere man, we might go beyond fear, and sit down in despair; but if it is “God with us,” and God has actually taken Manhood into union with Himself, then let us “ring the bells of Heaven” and be glad; there must be brighter and happier days, there must be Salvation for man, there must be Glory to God. Let us bask in the beams of the Sun of Righteousness who now has risen upon us—a Light to lighten the Gentiles, and to be the Glory of His people Israel! 

Thus we have admired at a distance. 

 And, now, in the second place, let us come nearer and CONSIDER THE SUBJECT MORE CLOSELY. What is this? What does this mean, “God with us”? I do not expect this morning to be able to set forth all the meaning of this short Text, “God with us,” for indeed, it seems to me to contain the whole history of Redemption! It hints at man’s being without God, and God’s having removed from man on account of sin; it seems to tell me of man’s spiritual life, by Christ’s coming to him, and being formed in him the hope of Glory. God communes with man, and man returns to God, and receives again the Divine Image as at the first. Yes, Heaven itself is, “God with us”! This Text might serve for a hundred sermons without any more drawing; yes, one might continue to expatiate upon its manifold meanings forever! I can only at this time give mere hints of lines of thought which you can pursue at your leisure, the Holy Spirit enabling you.

Continue reading C.H. Spurgeon's entire sermon 'God with us' by going here.

Cleansing, judicial or experimental?

“And the blood of Jesus Christ his Son [namely, the Son of Him with whom we have fellowship] cleanseth us from all sin.” {1 John 1:7}

 Cleansing from sin is a sacrificial term, which can best be understood in the light of the Old Testament types, particularly that of Leviticus 16:30, “For on this day shall atonement be made for you to cleanse you. You shall be clean before the LORD from all your sins.” That cleansing was effected by the shedding of blood. It was in nowise subjective, or something wrought within them, but instead a work done for them. It was not a matter of purifying their hearts, but of annulling their guilt and putting away their sins judicially from “before the Lord.” The blood of atonement not only propitiated God, it purged the people—freed them from God’s wrath, rendered them meet to worship Him. Again, in Numbers 35:31-33, we read of Israel’s land being “cleansed” by the penalty of the Law being enforced and guilt thereby expiated. The “land” signifies the people who resided there; when the claims of divine justice and holiness had been met, sin was not imputed or charged to them. 

Though the blessings of justification and sanctification ever accompany each other, yet they must not be confounded, but considered distinctly. Justification has to do wholly with the legal side of our salvation. It consists of absolution from our sins, and being declared righteous by God on account of the perfect obedience of Christ being reckoned to the believer. Sanctification has to do more with the experiential and practical side, the fitting or rendering us meet for God’s presence, and where that is in view, the operations of the Spirit and the water of the Word are mentioned. That, too, is equally a fruit of the redemptive work of Christ, which procured for His people the gift of the Spirit. But what we have here in our text is judicial only. First, because as a fact no believer is cleansed from all sin in this life in any other way. Second, because the cleansing is by blood, and that always respects the objective side of things: see Romans 5:9; Ephesians 1:7; Revelation 1:5.

 “When he had by himself purged [or “made a cleansing of ”] our sins” (Heb 1:3, and cf. 9:26). It is the blood which gives us title to enter into the holiest (Heb 10:19)—“sanctified” by blood occurs only in Hebrews 10:10; 13:12, in its sacrificial sense, of setting us apart before God in all the acceptableness of Christ’s perfect oblation. 
If the cleansing be a judicial one, relating to our justification, why is it spoken of in the present tense? First, to set forth the eternal efficacy of Christ’s blood, which may be considered distinctly as shed, as pleaded, and as applied or sprinkled (1Pe 1:2). As Charnock so well put it, “The blood of Christ cleanseth, not hath cleansed or shall cleanse. This denotes a continued act. There is a perpetual pleading of it for us, a continual flowing of it to us. It is a fountain set open for sin (Zec 13:1). There is a perpetual stream of virtue from this blood, as there is of corruption from our nature. It was shed but once, but it is applied often, and the virtue of it is as durable as the Person whose blood it is.” We do not immediately enter into the whole good of Christ’s redemption at the hour of conversion (Rom 8:23). As there are blessings procured for us by Christ that await us in the future, so there are others which are received by us gradually in this life. Our cleansing is one of them. Sin ever defiles, no matter who commits it. Some say, Though God sees sin in His children, He no longer sees sin on them. But He does, and deals with them accordingly. He no longer imputes it to their eternal condemnation, but He notices it to their temporal chastisement (Psa 89:30- 33). 

Second, our cleansing, even judicially, is in fact continual. This is denied by some on the ground that it is dishonouring to the sacrifice of Christ, bringing it down to those offered under the Law, which produced only a temporary remission. But such an objection is pointless. It is true that at conversion all our previous iniquities are blotted out, but to speak of God’s forgiving us our future sins before they are committed is senseless; “having forgiven you all trespasses” (Col 2:13) is quoted by these Antinomians, but that refers to all pre-conversion ones, or, as 2 Peter 1:9 styles them, “purged from his old sins.” Until fresh sins are committed, further guilt accrues not, and therefore cannot be removed until it is there. We will say nothing further upon this point now, as it will come before us again  when considering the ninth verse. Rather let us thank God that the cleansing blood is ever available for sinful creatures, and plead it in all our approaches unto Him. Christ’s blood is called “a new way” in Hebrews 10:20, and the word signifies “newly slain”—as suited to us today as when shed on the cross.

“And the blood…cleanseth us from all sin.”

When taking up the second half of our verse, honest Spurgeon said, “I have been driven to this text, and yet I have been afraid of it.” After pointing out that it had very often been handled out of its connection, he added the following. “I do feel that it is essential to the Christian ministry not to pick passages out of God’s Word and rend them away from the context, but to take them as they stand. God’s Word must be taken as God speaks it:
we have no right to divide the living child of divine truth and detach the second half of our verse from the first half, or wrest it to make it mean other than it does. According to the text, special pardon of sin is the peculiar privilege of those who walk in the light as God is in the light; but it is not the privilege of anyone else. Only those who have been brought by divine grace from a state of nature into a state of grace, and walk in the light, may claim the possession of perfect cleansing through the blood of Christ.”


Manton, too, wavered in determining whether our walk in the light is an evidence of a saving interest in Christ’s blood or necessary thereunto, and declared, “It is best to say, It is both a sign and a condition without which we cannot have benefit by Christ’s death; but the first condition is faith; next, love and holiness, to continue our interest in this privilege.” 

In the first three verses John testified that the apostles had fellowship with the Father and His Son, and declared this in order that “ye also may have fellowship with us.” But who are the “ye?” The children of God, those redeemed by Christ. But how are such to be identified? In verses 6 and 7 he tells us: not every one who professes to participate in this privilege, but those whose practice accords with their profession. Thus, in the clear light of the whole context, the first design of John in here linking together walking in the light and cleansing by the blood is to assure the hearts of believers: they may know their interest in the latter by their sincere endeavours after a more constant subjection to the truth and a closer fellowship with God. As Charnock said, mutual fellowship between God and us “is a certain proof that we are interested in the expiatory virtue of the blood of Christ.”

 Second, it is intended to humble us. Our walking in separation from the world and enjoying fellowship with God is no ground for boasting, for they are impossible apart from Christ’s sacrifice—we owe them to His blood, and are here reminded of our complete dependence upon it. 

But, third, the second half of the verse is brought in for our instruction. “Nothing is said about Christian experience as a means of cleansing. What, says one, do not the first sentences of the verse imply that? Assuredly not. If I walk in the light as God is in the light, what then? Does my walking in the light take away my sins? Not at all. I am as much a sinner in the light as in the darkness, if it were possible for me to be in the light without first being washed in the blood. Well, but we have fellowship with God, and does not that take away sin? Beloved, do not misunderstand me. No man can have fellowship with God unless sin be taken away; but his fellowship with God does not take away his sin—not at all. The whole process of the removal of sin is here: the blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, cleanseth us from all sin. I beg to repeat: neither our walking in the light, nor having fellowship with God, cleanses us from sin: these go with the cleansing, but they have no connection as cause and results.” (Spurgeon). 

Fourth, the closing words of our text are designed for the comfort of the Christian. The more he walks in the light, the more are the hidden things of darkness (the corruption of his heart) revealed and exposed. The greater the sinner he comes to perceive himself, the more highly he prizes the atoning and cleansing blood of Christ, and the more completely does he rest his soul on its sufficiency and plead its virtues before God. Likewise, the closer he be admitted into fellowship with God, the more conscious does he become of those things in his heart and life which are out of harmony therewith, and beg Him for Christ’s sake to enable him to mortify and put them away. And when painfully aware that sinful conduct has broken his fellowship, he mourns over the same, acknowledges it to God, and betakes himself again to that fountain which has been opened for sin and for uncleanness, that the hindering cause may be removed and communion restored. The farther a Christian proceeds on the path of holiness, the viler he becomes in his own eyes, and the deeper his appreciation of Christ’s sacrifice. 

Our present verse emphasizes the enormity of sin: so exceedingly sinful is it that the blood of God’s Son must be shed in order for its removal. It teaches us the defiling effects of sin: it pollutes and renders us filthy. Then let us never think lightly of it, for naught but the blood of Christ can remove its horrible stains. Here too we behold the sufficiency of Christ’s atonement: it has made satisfaction unto God both for our original and personal sins. No sin a Christian ever commits is too black or crimson for it to be blotted out. The precious blood of Christ is of enduring virtue and perpetual efficacy—ever available for the befouled believer. But faith must lay hold of it, and there must be a return to walking in the light, in order to be sprinkled from an evil conscience. “Walk in the light because we are cleansed from our sin; but we are also cleansed from our sin because we walk in the light” (Levi Palmer). Our title for a sermon on verse 7 would be: Walking in the light, washed by the blood. 1. A definite contrast (with verse 6)—pointed by the “But.” 2. A spiritual performance: walking in the light. 3. A blessed privilege: mutual fellowship between God and us. 4. A gracious provision for failures: the cleansing blood.

A.W. Pink, Studies in the Scriptures, October - 1950