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, January 31, 2015

He has not left me alone

(No Subject)

Octavius Winslow 

And he that sent me is with me: the Father has not left me alone. - John 8:29. 

OUR Lord's was a solitary life. He mingled indeed with man, He labored for man, He associated with man, He loved man; but He "trod the twine press alone, and of the people there was none with Him." And yet He was not all alone. Creatures, one by one, had deserted His side, and left Him homeless, friendless, solitary—but there was One, the consciousness of whose ever-clinging, ever-brightening, ever-cheering presence infinitely more than supplied the lack. "Behold, the hour comes, yes, is now come, that you shall be scattered every man to his own, and shall leave me alone; and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me." 

The disciples of Christ, like their Lord and Master, often feel themselves alone. The season of sickness, the hour of bereavement, the period of trial, is often the occasion of increased depression from the painful consciousness of the solitude and loneliness in which it is borne. The heavenly way we travel is more or less a lonely way. We have at most but few companions. It is a "little flock," and only here and there we meet a traveler, who, like ourselves, is journeying towards the Zion of God. As the way is narrow, trying, and humiliating to flesh, but few, under the drawings of the Spirit, find it. If, indeed, true religion consisted in mere profession, then there were many for Christ. But if the true travelers are men of broken heart, poor in spirit, who mourn for sin, who know the music of the Shepherd's voice, who follow the Lamb, who delight in the throne of grace, and who love the place of the cross, then there are but 'few' with whom the true saints journey to heaven in fellowship and communion. 

But not from these causes alone springs the sense of loneliness which the saints often feel. There is the separation of loving hearts, and of kindred minds, and of intimate relationships, by the providential ordering and dealings of God. The changes of this changing world—the alteration of circumstances—the removals to new and distant positions—the wastings of disease, and the ravages of death, often sicken the heart with a sense of friendlessness and loneliness which finds its best expression in the words of the Psalmist, "I watch, and am as a sparrow alone on the housetop."

But should we murmur at the solitary way along which our God is conducting us? Is it not His way, and therefore the best way? In love He gave us friends—in love He has removed them. In goodness He blessed us with health—in goodness He has taken it away. And yet this is the way along which He is conducting us to glory. And shall we rebel? Heaven is the home of the saints; "here we have no continuing city." And shall we repine that we are in the right road to heaven? Christ, our heart's treasure, is there. And shall we murmur that the way that leads us to it and to Himself is sometimes enshrouded with dark and mournful solitude? Oh, the distinguished privilege of treading the path that Jesus walked in! 

But the solitude of the Christian has its sweetness. The Savior tasted it when He said, "the Father has not left me alone;" and all the lonely way that He traveled, He leaned upon God. And you cannot be in reality alone, when you remember that Christ and you are one—that by His Spirit He dwells in the heart, and that therefore He is always near to participate in each circumstance in which you may be placed. Your very solitude He shares; with your sense of loneliness the sympathizes. You cannot be friendless, since Christ is your friend. You cannot be relationless, since Christ is your brother. You cannot be unprotected, since Christ is your shield. Want you an arm to lean upon? His is outstretched. Want you a heart to repose in? His invites you to its affection and its confidence. Want you a companion to converse with? He welcomes you to His fellowship. Oh sweet solitude, sweetened by such a Savior as this! always present to comfort, to counsel, and to protect in times of trial, perplexity, and danger. 

Studies on the word 'all'

"All" is another good Bible word that is seriously misunderstood by many students of Scripture, for most people assume that it is a word that is totally unlimited, but such is not the case at all. Not only is it not unlimited in its meaning in some of its usages, it is not absolutely unlimited in any of its usages, and to think so is to show a tragic ignorance of its grammatical usage.
Sadly many people are ruled more by cute little ditties that appeal to their blind prejudices than they are by infallible truth and the established laws of correct grammar that must always enter into any right understanding of Scripture. Some such people like to say that "All means all, and that is all that all means," as if this were part of the engravings in stone at Sinai. This is an asinine statement for one never defines any term by the term itself. It is meant to make seemingly foolish any departure from that which it is supposed to establish so that no one would dare dispute this statement.
This is not a matter of no consequence, for many people deceive themselves into believing that they are included in the occasional use of "all" in some of the texts that have to do with the atonement of Christ. They do so though they do not conform to the character of those for whom Christ is said to die. As we have said earlier many people play into the eager hands of Universalists —those that believe that everyone without exception, including even Satan, is going to be saved eventually. And they are easily overcome by them because they have imbibed an erroneous application of the words "all" or "world," both of which are generally clearly limited in their meanings.
Many people erroneously assume that "all" is consistently used of every human being without exception. That is, they use it in the absolute sense as allowing no exceptions. But in doing so they show an abysmal ignorance of both Greek and English grammar.
Grammatically "all" is used in only three ways: (1) As a pronoun. (2) As an adjective. Or, (3) As an adverb. But in whichever way it is used it cannot stand alone, but refers to the part of speech that it defines or modifies, and by which it is limited. Hence, in any context, it is limited in its application to that noun, pronoun, verb, adjective or adverb that it modifies. Now it is readily acknowledged that the word that it modifies is not always expressed. Sometimes the word is only implied, and the context must determine what it is. But never does the word alone mean or refer to all mankind without exceptionunless the governing word does. But many make the very serious mistaken assumption that "all" automatically refers to all mankind in many contexts. In most instances in the Bible the context itself will show that this word is limited in its application to a distinct class of beings. We must always allow the context to interpret the application of any given word, for if we do not, we shall be guilty of "going beyond what is written," and therefore teaching falsehood.
This principle is most often violated in these last degenerate times when so many have departed from the faith of Baptists of the past, in regard to the extent of the atonement of Christ. This incorrect view was relatively unknown among Baptists until about two centuries ago when "evangelists" and " soul-winners," both terms of rare usage in Scripture, came on the scene. These men seem to want to glorify themselves as great men of God when most of them are seriously defective on many of the elements of "The Faith that was once delivered to the saints" (Jude 3). This doctrinal compromise is often foretold as coming to past in the last days before the Lord’s return (2 Thess. 2:3; 1 Tim. 4:1; 2 Tim. 3:1-5; 4:3-4; 2 Pet. 2:1-3; 1 John 4:1-6). So much so, in fact, that Jesus Himself questioned whether at His return He would even be able to find "the Faith" (Greek) on earth (Luke 18:8). These men of shallow understanding of doctrinal truth are mainly to blame for making the extent of the atonement more extensively than Scripture does. And their extensive influence over others because of the prominence that the doctrinally unsound religious world gives them has led many to accept their views without studying the Scriptures.
The question as to whom Jesus came to save is not hard to determine if we but let Scripture speak. The very first reference to Jesus’ saving work—and first mentions are often the most defining—is in Matthew 1:21, which tells us why this One was to be called "Jesus." "For He shall save HIS people from their sins." That is clear enough, isn’t it? Nor is this out of harmony with other passages on the subject. When the subject of the propitiation—a sacrifice made to God to appease His wrath and to reinstate people in His favor, a term that no one doubts has to do with the atonement it is shown to be limited solely to believers (Rom. 3:24-26). None but believers have any part in this sacrifice that Jesus made for He is a propitiation only through faith.
And even clearer yet is the declaration that Peter was inspired to make as to the purpose for the Son of God being manifested to be the Redeemer in 1 Peter 1:18-21. ""Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers: but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times FOR YOU WHO BY HIM DO BELIEVE IN GOD..." For whom was He manifested as the Redeemer? For believers.
Not only so, but repeatedly John records that the Father gave to Jesus a distinct people to be redeemed and kept saved by Him. At least seven tunes in John alone reference is made to "those whom the Father hath given me." And though the Son of Man was given authority over all flesh, He was to redeem only those given to Him by the Father to be redeemed (John 17:2-3). And there are yet other texts that limit the redemptive work of the Son of God to the elect only.
Yea, and even that term that denotes substitution—"for"—which is sometimes associated with the word "all" —bears the same witness that it is not all mankind for whom He died, but rather all of the elect. Both the English "for" and the corresponding Greek huper have a two-fold signification. They mean first in the place of another, which might be applicable to all mankind but for the other signification. This word means also for the benefit of another, yet no sinner that dies impenitent gets any benefit from Jesus’ atonement. On the contrary his sorrow and suffering are intensified beyond imagination by his rejection. Let the honest Christian study any context where "all" is used of the Lord’s redemption and he will find that it never refers to all mankind, but rather that the context limits it to the Lord’s chosen people alone. It could not be otherwise, else we would find Jesus’ redemptive work conflicting with His intercessory work, which is an integral part of it, for He Himself said that He does not pray for any but those given Him by the Father to redeem (John 17:9).
Much of the false doctrine concerning a general atonement and a universal salvation stem from the failure to understand the limited nature of the words "all" and "world." In the case of "all" the misunderstanding stems almost entirely from ignorance of the grammatical usage of the word, and the substitution in the place of proper usage of the word, of a preconceived meaning and application of the word. Always and without exception "all" modifies a noun, pronoun, verb, adjective or adverb, and is limited to that word, and it is never used with "men" in a salvation context.
Having said all this, it is also necessary to notice another way in which "all" is used in Scripture. Most people assume without reason that it is always used absolutelyall without exception, but though it is sometimes so used, it is commonly used in a generic senseall without distinction, that is, "all kinds." Many appearances of this word can only be understood in this sense, as in Matthew 3:5 where "all" cannot be understood in the absolute sense. See also John 11:47-53 where the "all" that would believe on Him could not be used in an absolute sense, for the Pharisees themselves were excepted. But the inspired comment on this shows that the "all" were the "children of God scattered abroad" the elect.
That this is generally the sense when redemption is in view is proven by what we read in Revelation 5:9. For there the redeemed are shown to be "all kinds," not all without exception, for the redeemed are from "every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation" —all kinds of people. Conversely, Revelation 20:11-15 shows great multitudes of people that are eternally lost and the reason given is that their names were not written in the Book of Life from the foundation of the world (v. 15. Cf. Rev. 17:8).
This view of the redemption of the Saviour works no hindrance to the work of evangelism of those that correctly understand it, for the command is to "preach the Gospel to every creature" that we have opportunity to (Mark 16:15). It is the Holy Spirit’s work alone to make application of the Gospel and enable one to believe it. But a correct view will hinder presumptuous sinners from thinking that they have a free pass into heaven regardless of how they live and however they may remain in unbelief. It is to be greatly feared that marry people, by making the Lord’s redemptive work broader than Scripture does, encourage sinners to continue in their unbelief on the presumption that Jesus died for them, when they give no evidence of being the ones for whom Jesus died. The universal statement of hope of everlasting life is given only to those that will believe on the Saviour. To all else there is the threat of the wrath of God.
Davis Huckabee

Friday, January 30, 2015

Studies on the word 'world'

For which world did Christ die?" At first appearance, this question may not appear very sensible, for some will immediately ask, "How many worlds are there?" But this is because most people erroneously assume that the word "world" is consistently used but one way throughout the Scriptures. The Greek word of which this is a translation (kosmos), is found 188 times in the New Testament, and only rarely, comparatively speaking, is it ever used with such a latitude of meaning as that which is assumed to be its only meaning. There are five Greek words which are translated "world" in the English version, and these are aiōnaiōniosgēkosmos and oikoumenē, but it is only with the word kosmos that we wish to deal with in this study, for this is the word about which there is the most confusion in men’s minds.
John 3:16-17 will serve as a fitting starting point for this study, for this text is one of the most embattled texts in this present matter, and has been the scene of many theological battles. "For God so loved theworld, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved."
Many people say that Christ died "for all men" without exception, but that the benefits avail only for those who believe. This sounds good at first appearance, but when we begin to examine the terms used, we run into some contradictions that put a question mark over the statement. Romans 5:6 and 8 tells us: "For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly...But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." The word here rendered "for" (Grk. huper), like the English word "for" has a twofold significance; it means: (1) In the place of, which, of course, refers to Christ’s substitution, in the present verse. (2) For the benefit of, which points to the saving benefits of Christ’s redemptive work. If some men do not receive the benefits of Christ’s death, then it is clear that He did not die for them in this sense of the word "for," and if not in this sense of the word, then not in the sense of being a substitute for them either, for this word cannot be divided, so as to take half of the meaning of it. Christ’s death cannot be "for" a man, and yet him not benefit by it, for this is an integral part of the meaning of the word.
Let us examine the word "world" to see what its meaning is, and how it is used, and then we shall learn for whom Christ died, for both of these are necessary in determining the significance of Biblical terms.
Continue reading here...

The extent of the atonement

The correct view of the extent of the atonement is necessarily determined by whether we have a correct view of the meaning of the atonement, for if one believes that the atonement is a sacrifice that has been made for every member of Adam’s fallen race, then on the very meaning of the word reconciliation, he must believe that all will ultimately be saved, or else he will be hard put to escape from the arguments of the universalists.
Let us not be misunderstood at this point; we certainly believe that an adequate sacrifice has been offered by Christ to pay for the redemption of every sinner that has or ever shall repent and trust in Christ. Nor do we believe that any sinner shall ever desire to be saved, but be unable because sufficient blood was not shed for his redemption. But with most sound Baptists of the past, we believe that the atonement was particular; that is, that the blood of Christ was shed with particular individuals in mind who would be the recipients of the redemptive work of Christ. David Benedict, the old Baptist historian, the reliability of whose history has never been questioned by most Baptists, writing in 1813 says:
The doctrine of the Atonement has been differently understood. The old churches pretty uniformly held that it was particular; that is, that Christ died for the elect only, and that in his stupendous suffering, no respect was had to, nor any provisions made for, any others of Adam’s ruined race. This was called the strict Calvinistick (sic) or Gillite plan. Yet there have been some all along, who found this meat too strong for their appetite and digestion. These brethren, notwithstanding, they disclaimed all merit in the creature, and held that salvation was by grace alone, were generally denominated Arminians as it was thought there could be no medium between the systems of John of Geneva, and James of Amsterdam. —General History of The Baptist Denomination, Vol. 2, p. 456. Manning and Loring, Boston, 1813.
He goes on to show that a considerable defection to the modified Calvinism of Andrew Fuller took place about the beginning of the nineteenth century. However, even this modified Calvinism of Andrew Fuller as set forth in his Gospel Worthy of all Acceptation is much too strong on the atonement for most modern Baptists, and would be slandered as Hypercalvinism by many. So far have modern Baptists fallen from the old landmarks.
Our Lord Himself said, "All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out" (John 6:37). And again, "As thou halt given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou has given him" (John 17:2). And there are many other passages which also show that there was a covenant of grace made in which a definite number were given to Christ to be redeemed, all of which He will in time call, justify and glorify, and none of which will be finally lost. These two texts clearly set forth what the old theologians called irresistible grace—for all who are given to Christ "shall come to him" —and particular redemption—for Christ gives life only to those whom the Father has given to Him in the covenant of redemption.
It is at this point, however, that we run headlong into the strongest prejudice, and this writer confesses that he was once foremost in prejudice on this point until God in His grace revealed the truth to him. Many people say, of the extent of the atonement: "Well, I believe in ‘Whosoever will," to which we say a hearty "Amen," yet this does not touch the main question here, for the Scripture represents the natural man as being unable to will that which is good for the following reasons: (1) He is in bondage to Satan (2 Tim. 2:25-26), from which only God in His grace can rescue him. (2) He is totally depraved, and cannot do any good (Rom. 3:9-12). (3) Spiritual things are foolish to him, and so he rejects them in toto until grace changes his attitude (1 Cor. 2:14). (4) He cannot be subject to the law of God, nor can he please God while his fleshly nature controls him (Rom. 8:7-8). Not only so, but (5) The Scripture declares that even the most religious people on earth by nature "Do not will to come to me, that ye might have life" (John 5:40-literal rendering), and so man has no desire to be saved.
But it will be objected that the atonement is for all the world, and so must mean every human being. We readily grant that the Scripture speaks of "reconciling the world," but to hold that the word "world" means "every human creature" in every case is to betray ignorance or prejudicial blindness. This writer once heard another preacher, in attempting to overthrow the doctrine of the limited atonement, say "The word ‘world’ means world," which statement means as near nothing as it can, for one never defines the meaning of a word with the same word. This reconciliation of the world is accomplished by "not imputing their trespasses unto them" (2 Cor. 5:19), so that whatever this world is, it is one that is accepted in God’s sight, for no sins are charged against it. Can this "world" be any other than the "world" of God’s elect?
The word "world" (Grk. kosmos) is used in at least thirteen different significations in the New Testament, and therefore the context must determine in each case what the word refers to. See Appendix II: "Studies On The Word ‘World’". All of these things make it folly of the worst kind to hold that the word "world" where it relates to the atonement, must refer to all mankind; and this becomes even more so when we consider that "atonement" means reconciliation, yet only a Universalist will claim that all mankind will eventually be reconciled to God. Even if there were no other facts to consider but the meaning of "atonement" (which is not the case) yet that alone would restrict the atonement to the saved alone, for how can one be reconciled to God and not be saved; or how can one be saved and not be reconciled to God?
If we go back to the Old Testament, where the doctrine of the atonement has its roots, we find this same truth, for there we never find an atonement that does not actually atone. Frequently, we find the statement "And the priest shall make an atonement for him, and it shall be forgiven him." See Lev. 4:20,26,31,35; 5:10,13,18; 6:7, etc. Indeed, there does not seem to be a single instance where an atonement is made but that there is forgiveness, so that Scripture facts compel us to believe that when atonement is made, it is also applied, and forgiveness ensures, and if there is no forgiveness, then obviously there has been no atonement for that individual. Alexander Carson well says:
But there are many who plead for the atonement of Christ, who, in effect, deny it, as well as its open opposers. They suppose that it is a conditional atonement, of efficacy only to those who comply with certain terms. It is evident, however, that a conditional atonement is no atonement in the proper sense of the word; for an atonement must expiate the sins atoned for, just as a payment cancels a debt. Where, then, there has been an actual atonement made, the sins atoned for never can be punished again, more than a debt once paid can be charged a second time. It would be unjust in God to charge the debt to the account of man that was fully paid by: man’s surety. It may be alleged that one man may pay another man’s debts upon certain conditions; and that if those conditions are not fulfilled, the debt will be still chargeable upon the debtor. But it is evident that, in such a case, the surety either does not actually pay the debt till the conditions are fulfilled, or if he has conditionally paid it, he is refunded before it is chargeable upon the debtor. In every such case, the debt is not really paid. But Jesus has paid the debt. He has already made atonement; and if they for whom he died are not absolved, the debt is charged a second time. He can never be refunded. —The Doctrine of the Atonement, pp. 94-95. Edward H. Fletcher, New York, 1853.
Those who argue for a general atonement, doubtless do so thinking that they are contending for a greater hope and assurance of salvation for all men, but if the atonement is general enough to include any who are not finally saved, then it is a false atonement, for it does not really atone for them. We prefer to believe that Christ died to redeem every one of those whom the Father has given Him in the covenant of redemption, and that, as a consequence of this, everyone of them will certainly be brought to repentance and trust and be saved. We cannot see the sense of Christ’s shedding any unnecessary blood nor of suffering unnecessarily. In a great many instances, men reject the doctrine of the limited atonement because they do not understand what it is; in a lesser number of cases, men reject it because they are unwilling to concede that God has the sovereign right to do with His creatures as He will, and to save whomsoever He will.

Looked at from the standpoint of its being a propitiation, the atonement must be limited to believers, for if God is propitiated for all men without exception, then, there can be no reason for their going to hell, for His wrath is appeased toward them, which is the meaning of the word "propitiation." See also Chapter Thirteen, Point II, on the extent of salvation. The same thing is true if it is viewed from the aspect of it being reconciliation. If there is any sin yet charged against any man, he has not experienced the atonement, which takes away all sin, and he is yet lost and on his way to hell. If an atonement has been made for him personally, then God is propitiated and he is reconciled to God, or at least shall be at some time in the course of life. There is no alternative to these two facts; to be consistent, one must choose one or the other of the alternatives.

Davis Huckabee

The Dangers, Results, and History of Decisional Regeneration

Jesus a weak beggar?!

Thanks be to God!

This is a wonderful meditation from J.C. Ryle- go here to listen.

worldliness in the church

(Charles Spurgeon)

"Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind!" Romans 12:2 

I believe that one reason why the church has so little influence over the world--is because the world has so much influence over the church!

It is overwhelming to see the growing worldliness of the visible church. Many professed Christians--the Lord alone knows whether they are true believers or not--give us grave cause for apprehension. We see them tolerating practices which would not have been endured by their fathers; my blood chills when I think of how far some fashionable professors go astray!

When the Church descends to the world's level, her spiritual power is gone. Jesus said, "Preach the gospel to every creature!" But men are getting tired of the divine plan; they are going to be saved by the music, or by the theatricals, or by the amusements! Well, they may try these things as long as ever they like; but nothing can ever come of the whole thing, but utter disappointment and confusion:
  God is dishonored,
  the gospel is travestied,
  hypocrites are manufactured by thousands, and 
  the church is dragged down to the level of the world!

"The world has absorbed the Church, and the church was content that it should be so!"
 (Horatius Bonar)

"Conformity to the world, in all ages, has proved the ruin of the church!"(Rowland Hill)

Thursday, January 29, 2015

a biblical response to homosexuality

The modern society has redefined homosexuality as a civil right and a human prerogative. Anyone who protests homosexuality is classified as hate-mongers, bigots, and inhumane.  Intolerant screams for tolerance and intimidation, coupled with vitriol are responses to all who dare suggest that there is a perversion within homosexuality and other forms of sexual immorality. In a moral relativistic society, allusion to absolute morals is met with cries of judgmentalism, infantile profanity, and protest by modern society. 

continue reading here...

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

what is a fool?

Hal Brunson at Spurgeon's Cigar has an excellent post concerning this, click here to read Hal's post.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The cricket

(A.B. Jack, "God's Providence" 1879)

We are all very apt to believe in divine Providence when we get our own way; but when things go awry, we think that God is only in Heaven and not upon the earth.

The cricket, in the spring, builds his house in the meadow, and chirps for joy because all is going so well with him. But when he hears the sound of the plough a few furrows off, and the thunder of the oxen's tread--then his sky begins to darken, and his young heart fails him! By-and-by the ploughcomes crunching along, turns his dwelling bottom-side up, and he goes rolling over and over, without a house and without a home! "Oh," he says, "the foundations of the world are breaking up, and everything is hastening to destruction!" 

But the gardener, as he walks behind the plough--does he think the foundations of the world are breaking up? No. He is thinking only of the harvest that is to follow in the wake of the plough; and the cricket, if it will but wait, will see the gardener's purpose.

We are all like crickets! When we get our own way, we are happy and contented. When we are subjected to disappointment, we despair and murmur against God and His providence.

"We must confide in the judgment of God, and distrust our own. We are short-sighted creatures, and easily imposed upon by appearances, and know not what is good for us in this vain life which we spend as a shadow. But God cannot be mistaken. A wise father will choose far better for his infant, than the infant can choose for himself." (William Jay)

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Let's not forget

Christians, you who are vessels of election – were by nature as wicked as others – but God had compassion on you and plucked you as brands out of the fire! He stopped you in your course of sinning – when you were marching to hell! He turned you back to Him by sincere repentance. Oh, here is the banner of love displayed over you! 

Thomas Watson

Churches of God

The ignorance which prevails in Christendom today concerning the truth about the Churches of God is deeper and more general than error on any other Scriptural subject. Many who are quite sound evangelically and are well taught on what we call the great fundamentals of the faith, are most unsound ecclesiastically. Mark the fearful confusion that abounds respecting the term itself. There are few words in the English language with a greater variety of meanings than "church." The man in the street understands by "church" the building in which people congregate for public worship. Those who know better, apply the term to the members in spiritual fellowship who meet in that building. Others use it in a denominational way and speak of "the Methodist Church" or "Presbyterian Church." Again, it is employed nationally of the state-religious institution as "the Church of England" or "the Church of Scotland." With Papists the word "church" is practically synonymous with "salvation," for they are taught that all outside the vale of "Holy Mother Church" are eternally lost.

Many of the Lord’s own people seem to be strangely indifferent concerning God’s mind on this important subject. One from whose teachings on the church we differ widely has well said, "Sad it is to hear men devoted in the Gospel, clear expounders of the Word of God, telling us that they do not trouble themselves about church doctrine; that salvation is the all-important theme; and the establishing of Christians in the fundamentals is all that is necessary. We see men giving chapter and verse for every statement, and dwelling upon the infallible authority of the Word of God, quietly closing their eyes to its teachings upon the church, probably connected with that for which they can give no Scriptural authority, and apparently contented to bring others into the same relationship."

What constitutes a New Testament church? That multitudes of professing Christians treat this question as one of trifling importance is plain. Their actions show it. They take little or no trouble to find out. Some are content to remain outside of any earthly church. Others join some church out of sentimental considerations, because their parents or partner in marriage belonged to it. Others join a church from lower motives still, such as business or political considerations. But this ought not to be. If the reader is an Anglican, he should be so, because he is fully persuaded that his is the most Scriptural church. If he is a Presbyterian, he should be so, from conviction that his "church" is most in accord with God’s Word. So, if he is a Baptist or Methodist, etc...

Continue reading Pink's article here....

Access to God

The matter of our approach into the presence of God is one of vital importance, yet it is one (like so many others these days) upon which much confusion and misconception exists. We will not now attempt to canvass the principal errors pertaining thereto, for there would be little profit for either writer or reader in prosecuting such a task. Rather do we wish to call attention unto the various aspects of the subject, for it is failure to perceive these and hold their due balance which has resulted in the fostering of false impressions in quarters which some regard as being the most orthodox sections of Christendom. If one essential aspect of this subject be ignored, or if another one be emphasized to the virtual exclusion of everything else, then the most misleading and dangerous ideas must result therefrom. 
Let us begin by asking the question, Is it possible for a depraved and defiled creature to obtain access unto the thrice Holy One? If there is one thing taught more plainly in the Scriptures than another it is that sin separates the sinner and God. This fearful fact is impressively set forth in Genesis 3:24: that flaming sword was the symbol of a sin-hating God, barring approach unto the emblem of His presence. When Jehovah appeared on Sinai, amid the most solemn manifestations of His awful presence, even the favoured Hebrews were commanded under pain of death to keep their distance from Him. An Israelite who became ceremonially unclean was rigidly excluded from the Camp. Even when the tabernacle and the temple were erected, the common people were not allowed to enter the holy places. In how many different ways did God make it evident that sin obstructed any access to Himself! 

But not only does God debar the sinner from access, the sinner himself has no desire to approach unto Him—rather does he wish to flee as far as possible from His presence. A sense of sin and the guilt of it upon the conscience drives the sinner from the Lord. This fact was also solemnly exemplified at the dawn of human history—just as long as our first parents remained in dutiful subjection to their Maker, walking in obedience to His commandments, they enjoyed blissful communion with Him; but as soon as they became self-willed and rebellious, all was radically altered. After they had eaten of the forbidden fruit and they heard the voice of the Lord God in the Garden, they fled in terror, seeking to hide from Him. And thus it has been ever since. 

Is there, then, no access to God for the fallen creature? If there were not we should not be engaged in writing this article. Access to God is possible—possible for the chief of sinners—but only via the appointed Mediator. As the Lord Jesus so emphatically declared, “No man cometh unto the Father but by Me” (John 14:6). It is through the Lord Jesus Christ, and by Him alone—not through priest or pope, Mary or the angels, good works or tears—that we may obtain access to God. “We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: by whom also we have access” (Rom. 5:1, 2). In pointing this out we are covering ground which is thoroughly familiar to all our readers, truth which is still proclaimed in many places. Yet it is by no means the whole of the truth on this subject, though it is all that is presented thereon in certain quarters. It is those neglected aspects which we now desire to particularly stress...

Continue reading Pink's writing here....

Saturday, January 24, 2015

a holy violence

 And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.  Matthew 11:12

What violence is meant here - it is a holy violence. This is twofold. 1. We must be violent for the truth. Here Pilate's question will be cited, "What is truth?" Truth is either the blessed Word of God which is called the Word of truth; or those doctrines which are deduced from the Word, and agree with it as the dial with the sun or the transcript with the original; as the doctrine of the Trinity, the doctrine of the creation, the doctrine of free grace, justification by the blood of Christ, regeneration, resurrection of the dead, and the life of glory. These truths we must be violent for, which is either by being advocates for them or martyrs.
Truth is the most glorious thing; the least filing of this gold is precious: what shall we be violent for, if not for truth? Truth is ancient; its grey hairs may make it venerable; it comes from him who is the ancient of days. Truth is unerring, it is the Star which leads to Christ. Truth is pure, Psalm cxix. 140. It is compared to silver refined seven times, Psalm xii. 6. There is not the least spot on truth's face; it breathes nothing but sanctity. Truth is triumphant; it is like a great conqueror; when all his enemies lie dead, it keeps the field and sets up its trophies of victory. Truth may be opposed but never quite deposed. In the time of Dioclesian things seemed desperate and truth ran low. Soon after was the golden time of Constantine, and then truth did again lift up its head. When the water in the Thames is lowest, a high tide is ready to come in. God is on truth's side and so long as there is no fear it will prevail: The heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, 2 Peter iii. 12. but not that truth which came from Heaven, 1 Peter. i. 25.
Truth has noble effects. Truth is the seed of the new birth. God does not regenerate us by miracles or revelations, but by the word of truth, James i. 18. As truth is the breeder of grace, so it is the feeder of it, 1 Tim. iv. 6. Truth sanctifies: John xvii. 17. Sanctify them through Thy truth. Truth is the seal that leaves the print of its own holiness upon us; it is both speculum and lavacrum, a glass to show us our blemishes and a laver to wash them away. Truth makes us free, John xviii. 32. it bears off the fetters of sin and puts us into a state of Sonship, Rom. viii.11, and Kingship, Rev. i. 6. Truth is comforting; this wine cheers. When David's harp and viol could yield him no comfort, truth did, Psalm cxix. 50. 'This is my comfort in my affliction, for thy word hath quickened me.' Truth is anantidote against error. Error is the adultery of the mind; it stains the soul, as treason stains blood. Error damns as well as does vice. A man may as well die by poison as by pistol; and what can stave off error but truth? The reason so many have been tricked into error is because they either did not know, or did not love, the truth. I can never say enough in the honor of truth. Truth is basis fidei,the ground of our faith; it gives us an exact model of religion; it shows us what we are to believe. Take away truth and our faith is fancy. --Truth is the best flower in the church's crown; we have not a richer jewel to trust God with than our souls, nor He a richer jewel to trust us with than His truths. Truth is insigne honoris, an ensign of honor; it distinguishes us from the false church, as chastity distinguisheth a virtuous woman from an harlot. In short, truth is ecclesiae praesidium, that is, the bulwark a nation: 2 Chron. xi. 17. it is said, the Levites (who were the antesignani, that is, the ensignbeaners of truth) strengthened the kingdom. Truth may be compared to the capitol of Rome, which was a place of the greatest strength; or the Tower of David, on which 'there hang a thousand shields,' Cant. iv. 4. Our forts and navies do not so much strengthen us as truth. Truth is the best militia of a kingdom; if once we part with truth and espouse popery, the lock is cut where our strength lies. What then should we be violent for, if not for truth? We are bid to contend as in an agony 'for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints,' Jude verse 3. If truth once be gone, we may write this epitaph on England's tomb-stone, Thy glory is departed.
2. This holy violence is also when we are violent for our own salvation, 2 Peter i. 10. 'Give diligence to make your calling and election sure' The Greek word signifies anxious carefulness, or a serious bearing of one's thoughts about the business of eternity, such a care as sets head and heart at work. In this channel of religion all a Christian's zeal should run.
3. The third thing is, what is implied in this holy violence? It implies three things:
1. Resolution of will. 
2. Vigor of affection. 
3. Strength of endeavor.

1. Resolution of the will. Psalm cxix. 6. 'I have sworn, and I will perform it, that I will keep thy righteous judgments.' Whatever is in the way to heaven, (though there be a lion in the way) I will encounter it like a resolute commander that charges through the whole body of the army. The Christian is resolved, come what will, he will have heaven. Where there is this resolution, danger must be despised, difficulties trampled upon, terrors contemned. This is the first thing in holy violence: resolution of will; I will have heaven whatever it costs me, and this resolution must be in the strength of Christ.
Resolution is like the bias to the bowl, which carries it strongly. Where there is but half a resolution, a will to be saved and a will to follow sin, it is impossible to be violent for Heaven. If a traveller be unresolved, sometimes he will ride this way, sometimes that; he is violent for neither.
2. Vigor of the affections. The will proceeds upon reason; the judgment being informed of the excellency of a state of glory and the will being resolved upon a voyage to that holy land, now the affections follow and they are on fire in passionate longings after heaven. The affections are violent things, Psalm xlii. 2. 'My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God.' The Rabbins note here, that David saith not, My soul hungereth, but thirsteth, because naturally we are more impatient with thirst than hunger. See in what a rapid, violent motion David's affections were carried after God. Affections are like the wings of the bird which make the soul swift in its flight after glory; where the affections are stirred up, there is offering violence to heaven.
3. This violence implies strength of endeavor, when we strive for salvation as though a matter of life and death. 'Tis easy to talk of Heaven, but not to get to Heaven; we must operam navare, put forth all our strength, and call in the help of heaven to this work. - Thomas Watson

Friday, January 23, 2015

A warning to pretenders of Godliness

Here is a sharp rebuke to such as are 'glittering dross' Christians, who only make a show of godliness, like Michal, who put 'an image in the bed', and so deceived Saul's messengers (I Sam. 19:16). These our Saviour calls 'whited sepulchres (Matt 23:27) - their beauty is all paint! In ancient times a third part of the inhabitants of this island were called Picts, which signifies 'painted'. It is to be feared that they still retain their old name. How many are painted only with the vermilion of a profession, whose seeming lustre dazzles the eyes of beholders, but within there is nothing but putrefaction! Hypocrites are like the swan, which has white feathers, but a black skin; or like the lily, which has a fair colour, but a bad scent. 'Thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead' (Rev. 3:1). These the apostle Jude compares to 'clouds without water' (Jude 12). They claim to be full of the Spirit, but they are empty clouds; their goodness is but a religious cheat.
Question: But why do persons content themselves with a show of godliness?
Answer: This helps to keep up their fame: 'honour me now before the people' (I Sam. 15:36). Men are ambitious of credit, and wish to gain repute in the world, therefore they will dress themselves in the garb and mode of religion, so that others may write them down for saints. But alas, what is one the better for having others commend him, and his conscience condemn him? What good will it do a man when he is in hell that others think he has gone to heaven? Oh, beware of this! Counterfeit piety is double iniquity.
1. To have only a show of godliness is a God-enraging sin
The man who is a pretender to saintship, but whose heart tells him he has nothing but the name, carries Christ in his Bible but not in his heart. Some politic design spurs him on in the ways of God; he makes religion a lackey to his carnal interest. What is this but to abuse God to his face, and to serve the devil in Christ's livery? Hypocrisy makes the fury rise up in God's face; therefore he calls such persons 'the generation of his wrath' (Isa. 10: 6). God will send them to hell to do penance for their hypocrisy.
2. To make only a show of godliness is self-delusion
Ajax in his frenzy took sheep for men, but it is a worse mistake to take a show of grace for grace. This is to cheat yourself: 'deceiving your own souls' (Jas. 1:22). He who has counterfeit gold instead of true, wrongs himself most. The hypocrite deceives others while he lives, but deceives himself when he dies.
3. To have only a name, and make a show of godliness, is odious to God and man
The hypocrite is born under a sad planet; he is abhorred by all. Wicked men hate him because he makes a show, and God hates him because he only makes a show. The wicked hate him because he has so much as a mask of godliness, and God hates him because he has no more. 'Thou hast almost persuaded me to be a Christian' (Acts 26.28). The wicked hate the hypocrite because he is almost a Christian, and God hates him because he is only almost one.
4. To be only comets and make a show of piety is a vain thing
Hypocrites lose all they have done. Their dissembling tears drop beside God's bottle; their prayers and fasts prove abortive. 'When ye fasted and mourned, did ye at all fast unto me, even to me?' (Zech. 7:5). As God will not recompense a slothful servant, neither will he recompense a treacherous one. All the hypocrites' reward is in this life: 'They have their reward' (Matt. 6:5). A poor reward, the empty breath of men. The hypocrite may make his receipt and write, 'Received in full payment'. Augustus Caesar had great triumphs granted him, but the senate would not allow him to be consul, or sit in the senate house. Hypocrites may have the praise of men, but though these triumphs are granted them, they shall never have the privilege of sitting in the senate house of heaven. What acceptance can he look for from God, whose heart tells him he is no better than a mountebank in divinity?
5. To have only a pretence of godliness will yield no comfort at death
Will painted gold enrich a man? Will painted wine refresh him who is thirsty? Will the paint of godliness stand you in any stead? How were the foolish virgins better for their 'blazing lamps', when they had no oil? What is the lamp of profession without the oil of grace? He who has only a painted holiness shall have a painted happiness.
6. You who have nothing but a specious pretext and mask of piety expose yourself to Satan's scorn
You shall be brought forth at the last day, as was Samson, to make the devil sport (Judges 16:25). He will say, 'What has become of your vows, tears, confessions? Has all your religion come to this? Did you so often defy the devil, and have you now come to dwell with me? Could you meet with no weapon to kill you, but what was made of gospel metal? Could you not suck poison anywhere but out of ordinances? Could you find no way to hell, but by seeming godly?' What a vexation this will be, to have the devil thus reproach a man! It is sad to be crowed over in this fife. Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt, when she saw she was reserved by the enemy for a triumph, put asps to her breasts, and died, so that she might avoid the infamy. What, then, will it be to have the devil triumph over a man at the last day!
Let us therefore take heed of this kind of pageantry or devout stage play. That which may make us fear our hearts the more is when we see tall cedars in the church worm-eaten with hypocrisy. Balaam a prophet, Jehu a king, Judas an apostle - all of them stand to this day on record as hypocrites.
It is true that there are the seeds of this sin in the best; but as it was with leprosy under the law, all who had swellings or spots in the skin of the flesh were not reputed unclean and put out of the camp (Lev. 13:6); so all who have the swellings of hypocrisy in them are not to be judged hypocrites, for these may be the spots of God's children (Deut. 32:5). But that which distinguishes a hypocrite is when hypocrisy is predominant and is like a spreading fluid in the body.
Question: When is a man under the dominion and power of hypocrisy?
Answer: There are two signs of its predominance: (i) A squint eye, when one serves God for sinister ends. (ii) A good eye, when there is some sin dear to a man, which he cannot part with. These two are as clear signs of a hypocrite as any I know.
Oh, let us take David's candle and lantern, and search for this leaven, and burn it before the Lord.
Christian, if you mourn for hypocrisy, yet find this sin so potent that you cannot get the mastery of it, go to Christ. Beg of him that he would exercise his kingly office in your soul, that he would subdue this sin, and put it under the yoke. Beg of Christ to exercise his spiritual surgery upon you. Desire him to lance your heart and cut out the rotten flesh, and that he would apply the medicine of his blood to heal you of your hypocrisy. Say that prayer of David often: 'Let my heart be sound in thy statutes' (Psa.119:80). 'Lord, let me be anything rather than a hypocrite.' Two hearts will exclude from one heaven.

sitting, clothed and in his right mind

this is from Hal Brunson at Spurgeon's Cigar....

Of all the stories of the NT, that of “the wild man of Gadara” is perhaps the greatest blessing to me. On a personal level, it reminds me where I was, and would be, without the Lord Jesus Christ; on levels metaphorical, ethical, and spiritual, what a portrait the story paints of the helpless, lost sinner dwelling in the cemetery of spiritual death, tormented by Satan, wild with unchained passions and unfettered licentiousness. All men are not as wicked as they could be, but all men without Christ are wicked, all dwelling in the catacombs of depravity, all with their own demonic tormentors, all rattling the broken chains and fetters of fallen conscience and moral unrestraint, and all running, crying, and cutting themselves with unconscious but, nonetheless, inevitably suicidal behavior.

But then came Jesus.

De-boarding the ship, Jesus beheld the Gadarene demoniac, the wild man who ran to Him and worshiped Him. By His omnipotent command, the Lord Jesus Christ tamed a hellish heart, so that the tortured sinner, dwelling in tombs, mutilating himself and destroying his life, a man no other man could bind, was now under the sovereign sway of the Son of God “sitting, clothed, and in his right mind.”

“Sitting” denotes a radical change of posture, from raucous aimlessness to to placid composure, from pandemonium to Peace.

“Clothed” denotes the civilization of the passions, unashamed nakedness supplanted by sanctified conscience manifested by ethical demeanor and decorum.

“In his right mind” infers mental metamorphosis, the intellect and will now being respectively enlightened and liberated unto Truth and Righteousness.

Thanks be to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, whose power to save is such that even a wild man, bent on destroying himself, now sits at the Master’s feet, “sitting, clothed, and in his right mind.”

“Jesus, what a Friend for sinners! Jesus, Lover of my soul!
Friends may fail me, foes assail me, He, my Savior, makes me whole!”

The deceitfulness of sin

Sin is a mere cheat. While it pretends to please us, it beguiles us! Sin does as Jael did. First she brought the milk and butter to Sisera, then she struck the nail through his temples so that he died (Judg. 5:26). Sin first courts, and then kills. It is first a fox and then a lion. Whoever sin kills it betrays. . . Sin is like the usurer who feeds a man with money and then makes him mortgage his land. Sin feeds the sinner with delightful objects and then makes him mortgage his soul. Judas please himself with thirty pieces of silver, but they proved deceitful riches. Ask him now how he likes his bargain. - Thomas Watson quotes

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Alas! and did my Savior bleed?

This got buried in the string of posts I put up; I feel it's too good to go unnoticed - so I am re-posting it....

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Run that ye may obtain

"So run, that ye may obtain." - 1 Corinthians 9:24.

Heaven and happiness is that which every one desireth, insomuch that wicked Balaam could say, Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his (Num 23:10). Yet for all this, there are but very few that do obtain that ever-to-be-desired glory, insomuch that many eminent professors drop short of a welcome from God into his pleasant place.

The apostle, therefore, because he did desire the salvation of the souls of the Corinthians, to whom he writes this epistle, layeth them down in these words, such counsel, which if taken, would be for their help and advantage. First, Not to be wicked, and sit still, and wish for heaven; but TO RUN for it. 
Second, Not to content themselves with every kind of running; but, saith he, So RUN, that ye may obtain. As if he should say, Some, because they would not lose their souls, they begin to run betimes (Eccl 12:1), they run apace, they run with patience (Heb 12:1), they run the right way (Matt 14:26). Do you so run? Some run from both father and mother, friends and companions, and thus, that they may have the crown. Do you so run? Some run through temptations, afflictions, good report, evil report, that they may win the pearl (1 Cor 4:13; 2 Cor 6). Do you so run? So run that ye may obtain.

These words, they are taken from men's running for a wager: a very apt similitude to set before the eyes of the saints of the Lord. Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. That is, do not only run, but be sure you win as well as run. So run, that ye may obtain.

I shall not need to make any great ado in opening the words at this time, but shall rather lay down one doctrine that I do find in them; and in prosecuting that, I shall show you, in some measure, the scope of the words.


The doctrine is this: THEY THAT WILL HAVE HEAVEN, MUST RUN FOR IT; I say, they that will have heaven, they must run for it. I beseech you to heed it well. Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run ye. The prize is heaven, and if you will have it, you must run for it. You have another scripture for this in the 12th of the Hebrews, the 1st, 2d, and 3rd verses: Wherefore seeing we also, saith the apostle, are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us. And LET US RUN, saith he. Again, saith Paul, I therefore so run, not as uncertainly, so fight I, &c.


But before I go any further, observe,

First, FLYING That this running is not an ordinary, or any sort of running, but it is to be understood of the swiftest sort of running; and therefore in the 6th of the Hebrews it is called a fleeing; that we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge, to lay hold upon the hope set before us. Mark, who have fled. It is taken from that 20th of Joshua, concerning the man that was to flee to the city of refuge, when the avenger of blood was hard at his heels, to take vengeance on him for the offence he had committed; therefore it is a RUNNING or FLYING for ones life. A running with all might and main, as we use to say. So run!

Second, PRESSING this running in another place is called a pressing. I press toward the mark (Phil 3:14); which signifieth, that they that will have heaven, they must not stick at any difficulties they meet with; but press, crowd, and thrust through all that may stand between heaven and their souls. So run!

Third, CONTINUING this running is called in another place, a continuing in the way of life. If ye continue in the faith grounded, and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel of Christ (Col 1:23). Not to run a little now and then, by fits and starts, or half-way, or almost thither; but to run for my life, to run through all difficulties, and to continue therein to the end of the race, which must be to the end of my life. So run, that ye may obtain.


And the reasons for this point are these,

First. Because all or every one that runneth doth not obtain the prize; there be many that do run, yea, and run far too, who yet miss of the crown that standeth at the end of the race. You know that all that run in a race do not obtain the victory; they all run, but one wins. And so it is here; it is not every one that runneth, nor every one that seeketh, nor every one that striveth for the mastery, that hath it (Luke 13). Though a man do strive for the mastery, saith Paul, yet he is not crowned, except he strive lawfully; that is, unless he so run, and so strive, as to have God's approbation (2 Tim 2:5). What, do you think that every heavy-heeled professor will have heaven? What, every lazy one; every wanton and foolish professor, that will be stopped by anything, kept back by anything, that scarce runneth so fast heaven-ward as a snail creepeth on the ground? Nay, there are some professors do not go on so fast in the way of God as a snail doth go on the wall; and yet these think, that heaven and happiness is for them. But stay, there are many more that run than there be that obtain; therefore he that will have heaven must RUN for it.

Second, Because you know that though a man do run, yet if he do not overcome, or win, as well as run, what will he be the better for his running? He will get nothing. You know the man that runneth, he doth do it that he may win the prize; but if he doth not obtain, he doth lose his labour, spend his pains and time, and that to no purpose; I say, he getteth nothing. And ah! how many such runners will there be found at the day of judgment! Even multitudes, multitudes that have run, yea, run so far as to come to heaven gates, and not able to get any further, but there stand knocking, when it is too late, crying, Lord, Lord, when they have nothing but rebukes for their pains. Depart from me, you come not here, you come too late, you run too lazily; the door is shut.[3] When once the master of the house is risen up, saith Christ, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us, I will say, I know ye not, Depart, &c. (Luke 13:25). O sad will the estate of those be that run and miss; therefore, if you will have heaven, you must run for it; and so run that ye may obtain.

Third, Because the way is long (I speak metaphorically), and there is many a dirty step, many a high hill, much work to do, a wicked heart, world, and devil, to overcome; I say, there are many steps to be taken by those that intend to be saved, by running or walking, in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham. Out of Egypt thou must go through the Red Sea; thou must run a long and tedious journey, through the vast howling wilderness, before thou come to the land of promise.

Fourth, They that will go to heaven they must run for it; because, as the way is long, so the time in which they are to get to the end of it is very uncertain; the time present is the only time; thou hast no more time allotted thee than that thou now enjoyest. Boast not thyself of tomorrow, for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth (Prov 27:1). Do not say, I have time enough to get to heaven seven years hence; for I tell thee, the bell may toll for thee before seven days more be ended;[4] and when death comes, away thou must go, whether thou art provided or not; and therefore look to it; make no delays; it is not good dallying with things of so great concernment as the salvation or damnation of thy soul. You know he that hath a great way to go in a little time, and less by half than he thinks of, he had need RUN for it.

Fifth, They that will have heaven they must run for it; because the devil, the law, sin, death, and hell, follow them. There is never a poor soul that is going to heaven, but the devil, the law, sin, death, and hell, make after that soul. Your adversary, the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8). And I will assure you, the devil is nimble, he can run apace, he is light of foot, he hath overtaken many, he hath turned up their heels, and hath given them an everlasting fall. Also the law, that can shoot a great way, have a care thou keep out of the reach of those great guns, the ten commandments. Hell also hath a wide mouth; it can stretch itself further than you are aware of. And as the angel said to Lot, Take heed, look not behind thee, neither tarry thou in all the plain, that is, any where between this and heaven, lest thou be consumed (Gen 19:17).[5] So say I to thee, Take heed, tarry not, lest either the devil, hell, death, or the fearful curses of the law of God, do overtake thee, and throw thee down in the midst of thy sins, so as never to rise and recover again. If this were well considered, then thou, as well as I, wouldst say, They that will have heaven must run for it.

Sixth, They that will go to heaven must run for it; because perchance the gates of heaven may be shut shortly. Sometimes sinners have not heaven-gates open to them so long as they suppose; and if they be once shut against a man, they are so heavy, that all the men in the world, nor all the angels in heaven, are not able to open them. I shut, and no man openeth, saith Christ. And how if thou shouldst come but one quarter of an hour too late? I tell thee, it will cost thee an eternity to bewail thy misery in. Francis Spira can tell thee what it is to stay till the gate of mercy be quite shut; or to run so lazily, that they be shut before thou get within them.[6] What, to be shut out! what, out of heaven! Sinner, rather than lose it, run for it; yea, and so run that thou mayst obtain.

Seventh, Lastly, Because if thou lose, thou losest all, thou losest soul, God, Christ, heaven, ease, peace, &c. Besides, thou layest thyself open to all the shame, contempt, and reproach, that either God, Christ, saints, the world, sin, the devil, and all, can lay upon thee. As Christ saith of the foolish builder, so will I say of thee, if thou be such a one who runs and missest; I say, even all that go by will begin to mock at thee, saying, This man began to run well, but was not able to finish (Luke 14:28-30). But more of this anon.

Quest. But how should a poor soul do to run? For this very thing is that which afflicteth me sore, as you say, to think that I may run, and yet fall short. Methinks to fall short at last, O, it fears me greatly. Pray tell me, therefore, how I should run.

Answ. That thou mightest indeed be satisfied in this particular, consider these following things.