Precious Jesus

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

Thursday, April 30, 2015

What about our own hearts?

This is from A. W. Pink's book, 'Guarding your heart', which I've previously posted. I think it's necessary to be reminded to spiritually check our own hearts...and often.

“Do you think you came into this world to spend your whole time and strength in your employments, your trades, your pleasures, unto the satisfaction of the will of the flesh and of the mind? Have you time enough to eat, to drink, to sleep, to talk unprofitably—it may be corruptly—in all sorts of unnecessary societies, but have not enough time to live unto God, in the very essentials of that life? Alas, you came into the world under this law: ‘It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment’ (Heb 9:27), and the end (purpose) why your life is here granted unto you, is that you may be prepared for that judgment. If this be neglected, if the principal part of your time be not improved with respect unto this end, you will yet fall under the sentence of it unto eternity” (John Owen, 1670). 

Multitudes seem to be running, but few “pressing toward the mark;” many talk about salvation, but few experience the joy of it. There is much of the form of godliness, but little of the power of it: Oh, how rare it is to find any who know anything experimentally2 of the power that separates from the world, delivers from self, defends from Satan, makes sin to be hated, Christ to be loved, Truth to be prized, and error and evil to be departed from. Where shall we find those who are denying self, taking up their cross daily, and following Christ in the path of obedience (Mat 16:24)? Where are they who hail reproach, welcome shame, and endure persecution? Where are they who are truly getting prayer answered daily, on whose behalf God is showing Himself strong? Something is radically wrong somewhere! Yes, and as surely as the beating of the pulse is an index to the state of our most vital physical organ, so the lives of professing Christians make it unmistakably evident that their hearts are diseased! 

“For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward Him” (2Ch 16:9). Ah, do not the opening words indicate that those with “perfect” hearts are few and far between, that they are hard to locate? Surely it does; and it has ever been the case. David cried, “Help, LORD; for the godly man ceaseth; for the faithful fail from among the children of men” (Psa 12:1). The Lord Jesus had to lament “I have laboured in vain, I have spent my strength for nought” (Isa 49:4). The Apostle Paul declared, “I have no man like-minded, who will naturally care for your state. For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s” (Phi 2:20, 21); “All they which are in Asia be turned away from me” (2Ti 1:15). And things are neither better nor worse today. But, my reader, instead of talking about the “apostasy of Christendom,” instead of being occupied with the empty profession all around us, what about our own hearts? Is your heart “perfect”? If so, even in these socalled “hard times,” God is “showing Himself strong” in thy behalf: that is, He is working miracles for you, and ministering to you in a way that He is not to the empty professors. But if God is not so doing, then your heart is not “perfect” toward Him, and it is high time for you to take stock and get down to serious soul business.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

ceaseless warfare

(Arthur Pink)

"Behold, I am vile!" Job 40:4

"I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out!" Romans 7:18
"For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want." Galatians 5:17 

Though grace had entered Job's heart, his native depravity had not been expelled. Though sin no longer had dominion over him--it often raged and prevailed against him. 

There is ceaseless warfare within between the flesh and the spirit. There is no need for us to enlarge on this, for every Christian, because of the plague of his heart, groans within himself, "Oh what a wretched man I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death!" Romans 7:24

Godly sorrow

The bible explicitly distinguishes between two kinds of sorrow, Godly and worldly. This brief post at Mike Jeshurun's blog is short and to the point concerning these two sorrows....click here to read J.C. Philpot's words on this matter.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The Spirit's work

(Arthur Pink)

O how very few ever are savingly convicted of sin by the Spirit! As the Spirit continues His work in the soul, plowing still deeper, revealing the hideousness and heinousness of sin, producing a horror of and hatred for it--He next presses upon that awakened soul, the claims of Christ's Lordship--set forth in such passages as Luke 14:26-33--and enlightens us to realize that Christ demands our hearts, lives, and all.

Then it is that He grants grace unto the quickened soul to renounce all other "lords," to turn away from all "idols", and to receive Christ as Prophet,Priest and King. And nothing but the sovereign and supernatural work of God the Spirit can bring this to pass. Surely this is self-evident.

preacher may induce a man to believe what Scripture says about his lost and undone condition, persuade him to "bow to" the Divine verdict, and then "accept Christ as his personal Savior." No man wants to go to Hell, and if he is assured that Christ stands ready as a fire-escape, on the sole condition that he jump into His arms ("rests on His finished work"), thousands will do so!

But a hundred preachers are unable to make an unregenerate person realize the unspeakably dreadful nature of sin, make him feel that he has been a lifelong rebel against God, and so change his heart that he now hates his sin, and longs to please God, and serve Christ. Only God the Spirit can bring any man to the place where he is willing to forsake every idol, cut off a hindering right hand, or pluck out an offending right eye! Ah, a miracle of grace has been wrought when we give up ourselves to the Lord (2 Corinthians 8:5) to be ruled by Him.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Wait on Him

from Joseph Franks

Why could you not sleep last night? What troubles you?
Do you have family problems? Is it aging parents, angry parents, a dishonest marriage, or disobedient children that keeps you awake?
Do you struggle financially? Are you swimming in a sea of debt? Has the fountain of income slowed down to drip?
Are health issues first and foremost in your mind? Perhaps you are plagued by disease or disability? Or worse yet, is it a loved one whose physical trials keep you tossing in bed?
Are you longing for better governmental leadership? Has Fox News or CNN got you in a dither? Do you “remember the good old days” and grieve over the modern trajectory of your city, state, nation, and world?
Is it issues with your church that troubles you? Do you find your house of worship to be too liberal, too legalistic, too controlling, too superficial, too cold, or too much lacking the power of the Holy Spirit?
Perhaps it is your own sin and dysfunction? Is there something you know about yourself that no one else knows? Are you more sordid than you appear? Have you a secret lust that has become an uncontrollable addiction?
Or is it something far less important and significant, something like real estate or soccer.
Well, what are you going to do about it today? Where will you go for help? In whom or in what will you put your trust?
Perhaps Psalm 33 will inform your mind and your heart:
The king is not saved by his great army; a warrior is not delivered by his great strength. The war horse is a false hope for salvation, and by its great might it cannot rescue.
Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love, that he may deliver their soul from death and keep them alive in famine. Our soul waits for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. For our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name. Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us, even as we hope in you.  (Psalm 33:16-22)
Friends, do not be like the foolish king. He trusts and hopes in his great army, his great strength, and his great horse. Consequently, because he places his confidence in something or someone other than God, he is not rescued, and is hope is proven to be false. Consider all the possible sources of false hope to which you can turn today:
  • Mood Enhancing Substances
  • Food
  • Sex / Pornography
  • Ending Current Relationships
  • Finding New Relationships
  • Shopping / Purchases
  • Loans / Credit
  • Political Action
  • Vacations
  • Changing Churches
  • Athletics
  • Laughter / Comedy
  • Media
  • Technology
  • Parties / Hedonistic Revelry
  • Pop Psychology
  • False Religion / Unholy Worship
Yes, these are examples of persons, practices, or things which promise to soothe and save, and do provide some sort of temporary relief, but in the end they provide no rescue. In the end, they only offer you a false hope, and you are in poorer shape than yesterday.
So instead, follow the instruction of the wise king. He knows the eye of the Lord is on him, so he keeps his eyes on the Lord. He knows the Lord “delivers from death” and/or “keeps men alive in famine” so he hopes in his God of love. So my troubled friends, place your hope in him:
  • Read his Word.
  • Pray without ceasing.
  • Gather with his people and worship together.
Wait on him, he is your help and your shield. He is the one who can rescue you from your troubles today. He is the one who can assist you if he does not rescue you. He is the one who will ultimately cure all that ails you. And until then, he will make your heart glad, even if he chooses not to make your way easy.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Thorns

(Thomas Brooks)

"The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life's worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature." Luke 8:14
Earthly riches are called thorns, and well they may; for as thorns, they pierce both head and heart. They pierce the head with cares in getting them--and the heart with grief in parting with them.
Earthly riches have cast down many, they have slain many. 
If poverty has slain her thousands; riches has slain her ten thousands.
Oh the souls that riches have pierced through and through with many sorrows!
Oh the minds that riches have blinded!
Oh the hearts that riches have hardened!
Oh the consciences that riches have benumbed!
Oh the wills that riches have perverted!
Oh the affections that riches have disordered and destroyed!
Earthly riches are very vexing and very defiling--and to multitudes prove very ruining

"People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs!" 1 Timothy 6:9-10

   ~  ~  ~  ~

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

What are we not to forsake?

Peter Ditzel

Collins English Dictionary defines a "sacred cow" as "a person, institution, custom, etc, unreasonably held to be beyond criticism." Among many Christians, there are sacred cow Bible passages. Hebrews 10:25 is one of them. It states, "Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching."
This verse is taken by virtually every church and every elder to mean that we should not stop attending church; that we should be in church every Sunday. Some even take the latter part of the verse to mean that, the closer we get in each week to Sunday, the more we should be exhorting one another to attend church. Many Bible scholars, who I must presume are afraid of upsetting the "sacred cow," simply will not give an unbiased exposition of this verse.
I know what it is like. I saw the truth of Hebrews 10:25 well over twenty years ago. But I looked the other way. I convinced myself that I must be wrong, and that, since everyone else says so, then this verse—despite what the Greek clearly says—must be saying that we are not to forsake "going to church." And, particularly since there is no other Scripture that says we are to go to church, it is a fearful thing to give up the "sacred cow" of Hebrews 10:25. Nevertheless, all through those years, in the back of my mind, I knew full well that Hebrews 10:25 doesn't address going to church at all. This verse addresses something altogether different. I hope that my confession in this article will encourage others, who also know the truth of this verse, to also come clean.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

What sinners need to hear

Donald Bell
 As we have opportunity to preach or to witness to someone, it is not God honouring to tell them that God loves them and Christ died for them. The word of God and our Lord Jesus Christ gives us what we are to say, “except ye believe I Am He ye shall die in your sins” (John 8:24).
“He that believeth on the Son of God hath life; he that believeth not the wrath of God abideth on him.” (John 3:36)
To be without Christ is to be without God and without hope in this world – again, “God is angry with the wicked everyday” (Psalm 7:11).
“Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature, he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, he that believeth not shall be damned.” (Mark 16:16)
“Except ye repent ye shall all likewise perish.”(Luke 13:3; Luke 13:5)
God “commandeth all men every where to repent, because he hath appointed a day in which he shall judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained.” (Acts 17:30-31)
This is just a few of the things that sinners need to hear, we must be faithful to tell them that Christ Jesus is the only way God can be approached and the only One by whom God deals with the sinner.
As Scott Richardson said; “God will not be spoken too nor will He speak to any man except through Jesus Christ”.

Are we to fritter away our brief hour on life's stage?

(J.R. MacDuff, "Influence!" Preached Before a Young Men's Christian Association

"
For when David had served God's purpose in his own generation, he fell asleep; he was buried with his fathers and his body decayed." Acts 13:36 

In deducing from these words moral and spiritual lessons, I would observe generally, that each individual in this life has some great purpose to fulfill. "David 
served God's purpose in his own generation." He has left his indelible footprints on the sands of time! 

Everything in the wide universe has its special mission. 

The flower fulfills its design by unfolding its colors or scattering its sweet fragrances wherever it blooms. As we see it dropping its decayed and withered leaves one by one, we feel its little destiny in its own little world has been attained. 

The lark as it mounts in the air, and chants its carol ("singing up to Heaven's gate") fulfills its mission by these tuneful melodies. 

If we take a loftier survey, and ascend amid the glories of the firmament, we see the sun fulfilling his great appointment to give light to the system: coming forth "like a bridegroom from his chamber, and rejoicing as a strong man to run his race." Or the moon, that faithful sentinel, lavishing her nightly care on the earth--a majestic beacon-light to land and ocean.

Turn to whatever page we may in the vast volume of creation, we shall find in each, the record of some peculiar office and vocation. Mountains and seas, fire and hail, snow and vapor, stormy wind--all fulfill the word anddecree and design of God. 

And is it different with man? 


Has he alone no momentous work to perform in the economy in which he is placed? 

Is our whole earthly destiny to eat and drink, and sleep and die? 

Are we to fritter away our brief hour on life's stage; to be ushered in with a few rejoicings at our birth, followed by a few tears at our departure? And when our sun has gone down, when the grass of the grave covers our resting places--shall we be as if we never were? 

How many there are who, to all appearance, think so! They have never yet awakened to a sense of their high destiny, as having a part to play, and asphere to occupy. Their inward feeling seems to be that in this great world, with its teeming millions, that . . . 
  it signifies nothing how they live;
  they soon shall be as though they never existed; 
  when they sink into the tomb--it will be like the vessel going down in mid-ocean. There will be a few plungings and heavings as it momentarily wrestles with the storm; but the tempest sweeps, the sea opens its yawning mouth, the waves close over it--and then resume their usual play! Not a trace or vestige remains; the place that once knew it, knows it no more! 

My brethren, that solemn, that momentous reality they call life, is no plaything! It was given as the mightiest of possessions, and loaded with immeasurable responsibilities. The weighty saying, which many a tongue was taught earliest to lisp was this, "Man's chief end is to glorify God!" 

Oh, truly it is a solemn thought that each one of you is exercising someinfluence--either for good or for evil. If you are not serving your day and generation for the better--then you must be serving it for the worse. There can be no such thing as mere neutral influence. You must either, like the aromatic plant, be diffusing a grateful fragrance--or, like the fabled lethal Upas tree, be casting a deadly shadow all around. And if so, it well befits us individually to address to ourselves the personal question: "Am I fulfilling the great end and design of my being?"

Yonder fig-tree on the way to Bethany is a parable designed to warn and instruct in every age. See it--stinted, shriveled, withered. It had borne no fruit. It had not fulfilled the design of its creation; and a tender, gracious Savior pronounces upon it the cumberer's sentence and the cumberer's awful doom! 

Happy are those who have been led to regard life as a golden talent--who have realized its momentous requirements and stern responsibilities! 

Even the lowliest and humblest, can help directly or indirectly to untie the bandages from a sin-stricken, woe-worn world, and send it forth from its fevered couch, walking and leaping, and praising God. If from peculiarity of disposition or situation, some may feel as if they were unequal to theoutward activities of Christian work and service--theirs may be the silent but equally potent example of a holy, meek, loving, peaceful life.

We are all able to influence others, by the quiet unostentatious influence of a pure, consistent, godly life.

Be it yours not only to serve your God, but so to live that the world may be the better because of you; and that when you die and your hand lies withering in the grave--the seed dropped by that hand, years on years before, may spring up bearing fruit to the glory of God!

Our danger

Blessed is he that watcheth."-Revelation 16:15

"We die daily," said the apostle. This was the life of the early Christians; they went everywhere with their lives in their hands. We are not in this day called to pass through the same fearful persecutions: if we were, the Lord would give us grace to bear the test; but the tests of Christian life, at the present moment, though outwardly not so terrible, are yet more likely to overcome us than even those of the fiery age. We have to bear the sneer of the world-that is little; its blandishments, its soft words, its oily speeches, its fawning, its hypocrisy, are far worse. Our danger is lest we grow rich and become proud, lest we give ourselves up to the fashions of this present evil world, and lose our faith. Or if wealth be not the trial, worldly care is quite as mischievous. If we cannot be torn in pieces by the roaring lion, if we may be hugged to death by the bear, the devil little cares which it is, so long as he destroys our love to Christ, and our confidence in Him. I fear me that the Christian church is far more likely to lose her integrity in these soft and silken days than in those rougher times. We must be awake now, for we traverse the enchanted ground, and are most likely to fall asleep to our own undoing, unless our faith in Jesus be a reality, and our love to Jesus a vehement flame. Many in these days of easy profession are likely to prove tares, and not wheat; hypocrites with fair masks on their faces, but not the true-born children of the living God. Christian, do not think that these are times in which you can dispense with watchfulness or with holy ardour; you need these things more than ever, and may God the eternal Spirit display His omnipotence in you, that you may be able to say, in all these softer things, as well as in the rougher, "We are more than conquerors through Him that loved us."

Spurgeon

An indulgent old man


(Arthur Pink)

"You hate all workers of iniquity!" Psalm 5:5 

The god which the vast majority of professing Christians 'love' is looked upon very much like an indulgent old man, who Himself has no relish for folly, but leniently winks at sin. Yet for one sin . . .
   the fallen angels were thrown out of Heaven,
   our first parents were banished from Eden, 
   Moses was excluded from the promised land, 
   Elisha's servant smitten with leprosy, and
   Ananias and Sapphira were cut off from the land of the living.

But men refuse to believe in this God, and gnash their teeth when His hatred of sin is faithfully pressed upon their attention. 

Sinful man was no more likely to devise a holy God, than to create the Lake of Fire in which he will be tormented forever and ever!

"God is angry with the wicked every day!" Psalm 7:11
"Our God is a consuming fire!" Hebrews 12:29

Sunday, April 19, 2015

It's the same hand

"But He said to them: It is I; don't be afraid!" John 6:20 

Are you a distressed believer? Is your heart . . .
  pressed down with sickness,
  tried with disappointments,
  overburdened with cares? 

To you I say, "Behold the cross of Christ!" Think whose hand it is that chastens you; think whose hand is measuring to you the 'cup of bitterness' which you are now drinking. It is the hand of Him who was crucified! It is the same hand which, in love to your soul, was nailed to the accursed tree! Surely that thought should comfort and hearten you. Surely you should say to yourself, "My crucified Savior will never lay upon me anything that is not for my good. There is a needs be. It must be well."

"For the Lord disciplines the one He loves, and chastises every son whom he receives." Hebrews 12:6 


J. C. Ryle

A strategically closed book

from Jon Gleason...

Sometimes, when the Old Testament is quoted in the New, what is NOT quoted can be as instructive as what IS quoted.
Luke 4:16-21
16 And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read.

continue reading here... 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

'self' dies!

Winslow "The Nature and Source of Spiritual Life" 

Self is the first citadel of the soul against
which Grace directs its battery.

Self righteousness, Self trust, Self glorifying,
must yield to the humbling, emptying power
of the Spirit.

Self must be mortally wounded before Christ
lives in us. The two sovereigns cannot reign at
the same time and upon the same throne.

Self righteousness, Self glorifying, Self seeking,
must fall when Christ enters triumphantly to
set up His kingdom, to erect His throne, and to
subjugate all the powers and faculties of the
soul to His own holy and gracious supremacy.

Oh what vigilance it demands, lest this wretched
Self in us obtain a partial, or even a momentary,
ascendancy!

The two principles; Self and Grace, are in deadly
antagonism the one to the other in the regenerate.

In proportion as Christ lives in us, Self dies!

only acknowledge your guilt

(Octavius Winslow, "The Lord's Prayer" 1866)

"Only acknowledge your guilt. Admit that you
rebelled against the Lord your God and committed
adultery against Him by worshiping idols under
every green tree. Confess that you refused to
follow Me. I, the Lord, have spoken!" Jer. 3:13

God has laid great stress in His word upon the
confession of sin. How touching His language
addressed to His backsliding people, whose
backslidings were of a most aggravated character;
than which none could have been of deeper guilt,
seeing that they had committed the sin of idolatry!

"Only acknowledge your guilt." This was all that
He required at their hands. "Only acknowledge."

Poor penitent soul, bending in tears and self
reproaches over this page, read these words again
and again, and yet again, until they have scattered
all your dark, repelling thoughts of this sin forgiving
God, winning you to His feet as His restored and
comforted child, "only acknowledge your guilt."

"What! Lord! after all that I have done, after . . .
  my base returns,
  my repeated wanderings,
  my aggravated transgressions,
  my complicated iniquity,
  my sins against conviction, light, and love;
do You still stretch out your hand to me, a poor,
wretched wanderer as I am? Do You go forth to
meet, to welcome, to pardon me? Do You watch
the first kindling of penitence, the first tear of
contrition, the first word of confession, 'Father,
I have sinned!' Lord, I fall at Your feet, the
greatest of sinners . . .
  Your power has drawn me,
  Your love has subdued me,
  Your grace has conquered me!"

Behold God's strange choice!

Who chose whom?

 by Don Fortner

"The decision is yours... Now it is all up to you... God has
done all He can to save, the rest is up to you... You must
choose Christ for yourself...You must make the final decision."
How often we have all heard statements like those from the
pulpit. I want to raise a question regarding this matter of
eternal salvation: WHOSE CHOICE IS IT? Our Lord
Jesus Christ has answered the question very plainly:
"You have not chosen me, but I have chosen you"
(John 15:16).

Divine election is a very humbling, and at the same time it
is a very encouraging and blessed doctrine of Scripture.

It is humbling to know that we would never have chosen Christ.
Our needs were so many, our hearts were so hard, that we
would never have sought the lord.

Yet, it is exceedingly comforting to hear our Savior say,
"I have chosen you."

Our Lord Jesus Christ loved us long before we ever loved him.
He loved us even when we were dead in sin.
Had He not loved us, we would never have loved Him.
Had He not chosen us, we would never have chosen Him.

Language could not be clearer. Our Savior tells us that man,
by nature, will never choose Christ. It is true, in one sense,
that every believer chooses Christ. This is the result, however,
not the cause, of Christ's choosing him.

The natural ear is so deaf that it cannot hear.
The natural eye is so blind that it cannot see.
The natural heart is so hard that it cannot feel.
Man sees no beauty in Christ.
He feels no need of Christ.
He has no desire for Christ.

Only after God by almighty grace opens the blind eye,
unstops the deaf ear, quickens the dead heart, and gives
strength to the withered hand is the sinner made willing to
seek Christ and given the strength of faith to embrace Him.

ALL WHO BELIEVE ON THE LORD JESUS CHRIST
IN TIME, WERE CHOSEN BY GOD IN ETERNAL
LOVE; AND THAT CHOICE OF THEM SECURES
THEIR FAITH AND HOLINESS IN CHRIST.

WHAT DOES THE TERM ELECTION MEAN?
Accurate statements on this doctrine are essential. No doctrine
in the Bible has suffered so much damage from the erroneous
views of its foes and the inaccurate statements of its friends.

Election may be defined this way: God has been pleased from
all eternity to choose certain men and women, whom He has
determined to save by the righteousness and shed blood of Christ.
None are finally saved except those whom He has chosen.
Therefore, the Word of God calls His people "the elect."
And the choice, or the appointment of them to eternal life,
is called "the election of God."

All those whom God was pleased to choose in eternity were
redeemed by Christ at Calvary. All who were chosen and
redeemed are (in due season) called to salvation and eternal
life by the Holy Spirit.

He convinces them of sin.
He leads them to Christ.
He works repentance and faith in them.
He keeps them by His grace from falling entirely away.
He brings them all safely to eternal glory.

In short, election is the first link in the chain of salvation, of which
eternal glory is the end. All who are redeemed, justified, called,
born again, and brought to faith in Christ are elect. The primary and
original cause of the saint's being what he is, is God's eternal election.

What does the Word of God Teach about Election?
God's election of men to salvation is gracious and free, absolute and
sovereign. It is an unconditional act of sovereign mercy. He did not
choose us because he foresaw that we would repent and believe on
Christ. Our repentance and faith is the result of God's election, not
the cause of it (John 10:16, 26; 15:16; Acts 13:48). God's election
is personal: He chose not a mass of nameless faces, but individual
sinners, calling them his sons and daughters. This election of grace
is also eternal and immutable (Eph. 1:4). When the triune Godhead
existed alone in glorious self-sufficiency, we were chosen in
covenant mercy. God chose us because of His eternal love and
sovereign pleasure, simply because he would be gracious.
We were chosen in Christ Jesus.

Behold God's strange choice! He chose not the noble, but the
common. He chose not the wise, but the foolish. He chose
not the righteous, but the wicked. He chose us, "that no flesh
should glory in His presence...that according as it is written,
He that glories, let him glory in the Lord: (I Cor. 1:29,31).
Let all who are born again confess, "By the grace of God,
I am what I am" (I Cor. 15:10).

Let us sing of electing love:
"Tis not that I did choose Thee,
For, Lord, that could not be;
This heart would still refuse Thee,
But Thou hast chosen me.

My heart owns none before Thee;
For thy rich grace I thirst;
This knowing, if I love Thee,
Thou must have loved me first."
(Josiah Conder)

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Face to face


"Brief life is here our portion,
Brief sorrow, short-lived care:
The life that knows no ending,
The tearless life, is there.
There, glory yet unheard of
Shall shed abroad its ray,
Resolving all enigmas—
An endless Sabbath-day."—Bernard

"Now we see through a glass, darkly, but then face to face." —1 Cor. 13:12.

What an extension in the domain of knowledge on that blessed morning when "the day shall break," and earth's twilight shadows shall "flee away forever." The mysteries in Providence, the "deep things" in Scripture, the apparent discrepancies in God's moral government, all unfolded, vindicated, explained. "In your light," O God, we shall "see light," (Ps. 36:9.)
How this new illumination will be effected we cannot say. We can only venture a few dim conjectures on a great problem which the future itself alone can solve.
Much of our curtailed and partial knowledge here, is owing to the limited range of our present faculties. It is quite possible to conceive in a future world a vast and indefinite extension and amplification of our present mental and bodily powers; such an amplification asthe man born blind experiences when his eyes are opened for the first time, on a world of whole glories he has only been previously cognizant by hearing about them. We can quite well imagine some faculty which either we do not now possess, or which hitherto, like the sight of the blind man we have supposed, has been lying sealed and dormant, all at once imparted—"eyes of our understanding" opened, which are now closed—new powers, shall we say, of thought and reasoning, taking in knowledge by intuition, which now requires years of laborious thought.
Even in the case of the lower animals, we see powers and instincts which we do not possess, but which, if we did possess them, would add incalculably to our capacities. Instance, as familiar examples, the flight of the migratory birds, or that of the bee winging its way to a vast distance from its hive; yet, notwithstanding its tortuous aerial journey, finding, with unerring precision, its way back to the hidden nook where it started.
The present limited range alike of our physical and moral powers of observation may have been, as an able writer surmises, the reason why Paul, when he was caught up into the third heavens, tells us he saw things which it is not "possible for a man to utter." Why not possible? Simply because he was not gifted with earthly powers or faculties or language capable of giving expression to what he saw. The phenomena of heavenly glory (if I might so call them) were alike, in kind and degree, so diverse from all he had been conversant with here, that he would have needed another dialect and vocabulary to unfold his meaning.
"But THEN shall I know!" All enigma and difficulty will then vanish—all will be made plain to ennobled, refined, and purified powers. Here on earth, a passing breath from a carnal world dims my glass, and obscures my spiritual vision. There in heaven, there will be no taint of sin to mar or blight my lofty contemplations. Here, amid the twilight shadows of an imperfect state there is much to cause doubt, and, alas! disagreement among God's children. There, all shall see "eye to eye;" they will only wonder that trifles should have been allowed so sadly to divide and estrange. Here, we are in the gloomy crypt, walking amid the humiliating wrecks of sin and death, reading the mysterious records of mortality. There, it will be in the "cathedral aisles" of light and love, harmony and peace—the noon-day splendor of eternity. Glorious prospect! all made bright before that Sapphire Throne.
That mysterious PROVIDENCE, that desolating bereavement which, like a sweeping avalanche, tore up by the roots the fibers of affection, then I shall know, and see, and acknowledge it to have been all for good. Then I shall understand, (what my aching heart cannot now,) that the child I wept over—the parent I laid prematurely in the grave—the friend, early severed from my side—were all thereby taken from much evil to come, and invested with an earlier bliss. I shall wonder how I could ever have sorrowed on their behalf.
Meanwhile let me bow submissive to my Righteous Father's will, however dark and startling sometimes it may be. In infancy, the child takes much on trust; in after life, he gets his difficulties explained. Let this be my position regarding the "deep things" of providence and grace. Wait patiently the explanation of my Father in heaven. I shall see in the completed plan that all events had their end and mission—the Lord bringing glory to Himself from all. At present I behold only one or a few links, while He has the whole chain in His hands. Then, in retracing that long line of unbroken kindness, I shall feel satisfied that not only all was for the best, but really the best. The whole bypast wilderness, as seen from the hills of glory, will appear carpeted with love. Like a traveler after a dark night, I shall look back along the region I have traversed; and noting the perils which by His gracious guidance I had escaped, wonder at the way by which God has led me.
Above all, I shall grow in the knowledge of HIMSELF; and have amazing views—such as I have never had here—of His glory as the great end of life and being. Our present knowledge of God, even revealed knowledge, is but like the prattling of infancy, a mere attempt at a spoken language, most of which is still unintelligible. But then I shall be "filled with all the fullness of God." Not by any means that my knowledge of Him can be perfect. There will always be depths in that ocean-fullness, beyond the fathoming of any finite mind. No, further, the more I know, the more I shall feel that I have to know. When I know most, my befitting exclamation will be, "Oh the depth!" "It PASSES knowledge!" (Eph. 3:19.)
"This is eternal life—to know You." God, by His varied discipline, is meanwhile training me in this knowledge. And, as a sainted writer has well said, "we must wait until we get entirely home to have lesson-books put by forever. But what ever are the gradations in our books, or in whatever shape the lesson comes to us, this is the one grand blessed object aimed at by our wondrous Teacher in all, Acquaint yourself now with HIM, and be at peace." (Miss Plumptre.)

"No disappointments shroud
The angel-bowers of joy;
Our knowledge has no cloud,
Our pleasures no alloy.
"The fearful word, to part, Is never breathed above;
Heaven has no broken heart
Throughout her realms of love."

John MacDuff 

Earth's broken people

"A bruised reed he will not break" Matthew 12:20 

Christ is building His kingdom with earth's broken people. Men want only the strong, the successful, the victorious, the whole — in building their kingdoms. But God is the God of the unsuccessful, of those who have failed. Heaven is filled with earth's broken lives, and there is no bruised reed whom Christ cannot take and restore to glorious blessedness and beauty. He can take a life crushed by pain and sorrow — and make it into a harp whose music shall be all praise. He can lift earth's saddest failure up to Heaven's glory!

"Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28 


J. R. Miller

nail after nail

"Those who are Christ's have crucified the flesh, with the affections and lusts." Galatians 5:24

True mortification has its foundation in the life of God in the soul. A spiritual, yes, a most spiritual work, it can only spring from a most spiritual principle. It is not a plant indigenous to our fallen nature. It cannot be in the principle of sin to mortify itself. Human nature possesses neither the inclination nor the power by which so holy an achievement can be accomplished. A dead faith, a blind zeal, a superstitious devotion, may prompt severe austerities; but to lay the axe close to the root of indwelling evil, to marshal the forces against the principle of sin in the heart- thus besieging and carrying the very citadel itself- to keep the body under, and bring it into subjection, by a daily and a deadly conflict with its innate and desperately depraved propensities, is a work transcending the utmost reach of the most severe external austerities. It consists, too, in an annulling of the covenant with sin: "Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness"- enter into no truce, make no agreement, form no union; "but rather reprove them." "Ephraim shall say, What have I to do any more with idols?" The resources of sin must be cut off: "Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof." Whatever tends to, and terminates in, the sinful gratification of the flesh is to be relinquished, as frustrating the great aim of the Christian in the mortification of the deeds of the body. Mortification is aptly set forth as a crucifixion: "Those who are Christ's have crucified the flesh." Death by the cross is certain, yet lingering. Our blessed Lord was suspended upon the tree from nine in the morning until three in the afternoon. It was a slow lingering torture, yet terminating in His giving up the spirit. Similar to this is the death of sin in the believer. It is progressive and protracted, yet certain in the issue. Nail after nail must pierce our corruptions, until the entire body of sin, each member thus transfixed, is crucified and slain.  

Octavius Winslow

Saturday, April 11, 2015

the 'god' of popular Christianity


(Milburn Cockrell, "The Master of the World!")

"Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and thevictory and the majesty, indeed everything that is in the heavens and the earth! Yours is the dominion, O LORD, and You exalt Yourself as head over all. Both riches and honor come from You, and You rule over all, and in Your hand is power and might!" 1 Chronicles 29:11-12 
 
In these days of man-centered religion, verses like these have been ignored. The pulpits of our land preach . . .
  a defeated God, 
  a disappointed Christ and 
  a defenseless Holy Spirit. 
Man has been deified--and God dethroned. 
God has been relegated to the background. 

The God most people believe in has benevolent intentions, yet He is unable to carry them out. He wants to bless men, but they will not let Him. The average church-goer thinks Satan has gained the upper hand, and that God is to be pitied rather than worshiped. The god of popular Christianity has a weak smile and a halo! 

To suppose in the slightest that God has failed, or that He has been defeated, is the height of foolishness and the depth of impiety! The religious world needs to get God off the charity list! 

The Bible knows nothing of a defeated, disappointed, and defenseless God. The God of the Bible is the "Almighty God" (Genesis 17:1) Who has all power in Heaven and on earth (Matthew 28:18). With Him nothing is impossible (Luke 1:37) or too hard (Jeremiah 32:17). His eternal purpose is being worked out. Everything is going according to His plan, and all things are under His control. 

The God of the Bible is the Supreme Being in the universe! He is the most High, higher than the highest. He has no superiors and no equals.  
God is God.
 He does . . .
  as 
He pleases,
  only as He pleases,
  always as He pleases. 

"He is in one mind, and who can turn Him? What His soul desires, even that He does" (Job 23:13). Agreeing with this is Psalm 115:3: "But our God is in the heavens: He has done whatever He has pleased." As the Master of the World He declares: "My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure!" (Isaiah 46:10) 

God is the Supreme Being and the Sovereign of the universe. He exercises His power . . .
  as He wills,
  when He wills,
  where He wills. 
"All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing. But He does according to His will in the host of Heaven, and among the inhabitants of earth. No one can ward off His hand or say to Him: What have You done?" (Daniel 4:35) 

God governs all His creatures and their actions. The events that take place on earth do not take place by chance, or fate, or luck. The so-calledaccidents are not even incidents with the Master of the World. He numbered the hairs of our head and noted the sparrow's fall in eternity past by His "determinate counsel and foreknowledge" (Acts 2:23). 

The Master of the World set the bounds of our habitation on earth. The number of our months is with Him, and our days are appointed! 

God is holding the helm of the universe, and regulating all events. The Master of the World "works all things after the counsel of His own will" (Ephesians 1:11). It is God's eternal right to do all His pleasure. He is not accountable to any of His creatures. Job 33:13 declares: "He gives no account of any of His matters." 

God controls all things--or nothing. 
He must either rule--or be ruled. 
He must either sway--or be swayed. 
He must either accomplish His will--or be thwarted by His creatures. 
He is not obligated to leave the affairs of this world to be governed by accident, chance, or the will of sinful men. 

If we admit that God absolutely governs all things according to the counsel of His own will, then we admit that He has determined what shall and what shall not transpire in time and eternity. To deny His universal control of all things, is to deny His eternal power and Godhead. If He has the power and wisdom to determine all events--then He can cause all things to work together for good to those who love Him (Romans 8:28).