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

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Kin Davis meets with the Pope

Many 'Christians' have come to the defense of Kim Davis, some even labeling her as a hero and stating she's being 'persecuted'.  Refusing to resign and to do the job you were elected to do is not persecution folks. Davis is willing to issue the license IF her name is removed, so it's all about her keeping her cushy job as long as compromise takes place.
 It appears Ms. Davis has now met with the why is this a big deal? Take note of what took place during this 'meeting'...

Staver said Pope Francis spoke to Davis in English and asked her to pray for him. He said Davis, in return, asked the pope to pray for her. The pope told her to stay strong, according to her lawyer. Staver said the pope also gave Kim and her husband rosaries he had blessed.  {source -}
  I also encourage all to read this piece - All kinds of red flags should be flying if you have discernment. Why would any blood bought follower of Christ meet with the head of a Satanic religion? They wouldn't, for the Bible commands us to ' come out from among them, and be ye separate ' {2 Corinthians 6:17}. As John Gill states, "to mystical Babylon, the church of Rome, as a call to God's people, to leave the superstitions and idolatries of that church, lest they be partakers of her plagues".  Revelation 18:4 reiterates this command.  
The pope told her to 'stay strong', yet, the Bible tells us that without Christ we can do nothing. She asked the pope to pray for her, why?!? Why oh why would any follower of Christ ask this type of anti-Christ to pray for them?  Either she is spiritually immature, or she is not saved. May God have mercy. Now, she accepted a rosary from this snake; let's take a look at the meaning behind this rosary.... 

Kim Davis needs prayer, her lack of discernment is proven by her meeting with this deadly Jesuit pope. May God have mercy and open her spiritual eyes; may she not fall into deception and be turned over to strong delusion.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

A view of God's glory

A Sermon
(No. 3120)
Published on Thursday, November 26th, 1908.
Delivered by
At New Park Street Chapel, Southwark.

"And he said, I beseech thee, show me thy glory."—Exodus 33:18.
HAT WAS A large request to make. He could not have asked for more: "I beseech thee, show me thy glory." Why, it is the greatest petition that man ever asked of God. It seems to me the greatest stretch of faith that I have either heard or read of. It was great faith which made Abraham go into the plain to offer up intercession for a guilty city like Sodom. It was vast faith which enabled Jacob to grasp the angel; it was mighty faith which enabled Elijah to rend the heavens and fetch down rain from skies which had been like brass before; but it appears to me that this prayer contains a greater amount of faith than all the others put together. It is the greatest request that man could make to God: "I beseech thee, show me thy glory." Had he requested a fiery chariot to whirl him up to heaven; had he asked to cleave the water-floods and drown the chivalry of a nation; had he prayed the Almighty to send fire from heaven to consume whole armies, I could have found a parallel to his prayer; but when he offers this petition, "I beseech thee, show me thy glory," he stands alone, a giant among giants; a Colossus even in those days of mighty men. His request surpasses that of any other man: "I beseech thee, show me thy glory." Among the lofty peaks and summits of man's prayers that rise like mountains to the skies, this is the culminating point; this is the highest elevation that faith ever gained: it is the loftiest place to which the great ambition of faith could climb; it is the topmost pillar of all the towering structures that confidence ever piled. I am astonished that Moses himself should have been bold enough to supplicate so wondrous a favor. Surely after he had uttered the desire, his bones must have trembled, his blood curdled in his veins, and his hair must have stood on end. Did he not wonder at himself? Did he not tremble at his own hardihood? We believe that such would have been the case had not the faith which prompted the prayer sustained him in the review of it.
    Whence, then, came faith like this? How did Moses obtain so eminent a degree of this virtue? Ah, beloved, it was by communion with God. Had he not been for forty days in the council-chamber with his God? Had he not tarried in the secret pavilion of burning fire? Had not Jehovah spoken to him as a man speaketh with his friend, he would not have had courage enough to ask so large a boon. Yea, more, I doubt whether all this communion would have been sufficient if he had not also received a fresh testimony to the grace of God, in sparing a nation through his intercession. Moses had argued with God, he had pleaded the covenant, and although God had said, "Let me alone that I may destroy them," he had still maintained his hold; he had even ventured to say, "If not, blot my name out of the book of life," let me die as well as the rest; he had wrestled hard with justice, and had prevailed. The strength gained by this victory, joined with his former communion with the Lord, made him mighty in prayer; but had he not received grace by these means, I think the petition was too large even for Moses to venture to carry to the throne. Would you, my brethren, have like faith, then walk in the same path. Be much in secret prayer. Hold constant fellowship with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ; so shall you soar aloft on wings of confidence, so shall you also open your mouth wide and have it filled with divine favors, and if you do not offer the same request, yet you may have equal faith to that which bade Moses say, "I beseech thee, show me thy glory."
    Allow me to refer you to the 13th verse of this chapter, where Moses speaks unto his God—"Now therefore, I pray thee, if I have found grace in thy sight, show me now thy way." Moses asked a less favor before he requested the greater. He asked to see God's way before he prayed to see his glory. Mark you, my friends, this is the true mode of prayer. Rest not content with past answers, but double your request and go again. Look upon your past petitions as the small end of the wedge opening the way for larger ones. The best way to repay God, and the way he loves best, is to take and ask him ten times as much each time. Nothing pleases God so much as when a sinner comes again very soon with twice as large a petition—"Lord thou didst hear me last time, and now I am come again." Faith is a mighty grace, and always grows upon that which it feeds. When God has heard prayer for one thing, faith comes and asks for two things, and when God has given those two things, faith asks for six. Faith can scale the walls of heaven. She is a giant grace. She takes mountains by their roots, and puts them on other mountains, and so climbs to the throne in confidence with large petitions, knowing that she shall not be refused. We are most of us too slow to go to God. We are not like the beggars who come to the door twenty times if you do not give them anything. But if we have been heard once, we go away, instead of coming time after time, and each time with a larger prayer. Make your petitions longer and longer. Ask for ten, and if God gives them, then for a thousand, and keep going on until at last you will positively get faith enough to ask, if it were proper, as great a favor as Moses did—"I beseech thee, show me thy glory."
    Now, my friends, we have just spoken a word or two on the prayer itself; we shall have to see how it was received at the throne. It was answered, first, by a gracious manifestation; secondly, by a gracious concealment; and, thirdly, by a gracious shielding.
    I. First of all this prayer which Moses offered was heard by God, and he gave him A GRACIOUS MANIFESTATION: "And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee; and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before thee; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy."
    I think that, when Moses put up this prayer to God, he was very much like Peter, when, on the mountain top, he wist not what he said. I do think that Moses himself hardly understood the petition that he offered to God. With all the clearness of his ideas; however pure his conception of the divinity might be, I do think that even Moses himself had not adequate views of the Godhead. He did not then know so much of God as he now has learned where he stands before the throne of the Most High. I believe that Moses knew that God is a Spirit. I think he must have been sensible that the mind of man can never conceive an idea of the incomprehensible Jehovah. He must have learned that the God of Mount Sinai, the King whose feet glowed like a furnace, and made the mountain smoke, could never be grasped by the senses of a mortal. Yet it is likely with all this knowledge, the great lawgiver had a vague and indistinct idea that it might be possible for divinity to be seen. My friends, it is hard for creatures encumbered with flesh and blood to gain a just conception of a spirit. We are so linked with the material, that the spiritual is above our reach. Surely then, if a mere spirit is above our comprehension, much more "the Father of Spirits, the Eternal, Immortal, Invisible."
    The poet sings most truly—
"The more of wonderful
Is heard in him, the more we should assent.
Could we conceive him, God he could not be;
Or he not God, or we could not be men.
A God alone can comprehend a God."

    These eyes are but organs to convey to me the knowledge of material substances; they can not discern spirits; it is not their duty; it is beyond their province. Purer than celestial ether of the most refined nature; subtler than the secret power of electricity; infinitely above the most rarified forms of matter is the existence we call a spirit. As well might we expect to bind the winds with cords, or smite them with a sword, as to behold spirits with eyes which were only made to see gross solid materialism.
    We find that Moses saw no similitude; no form passed before him. He had an audience; he had a vision; but it was an audience from behind a covering, and a vision, not of a person, but an attribute. Behold then the scene. There stands Moses about to be honored with visions of God. The Lord is about to answer thee. O Moses, God is come. Dost thou not tremble; do not thy knees knock together; are not thy bones loosened; are not thy sinews broken? Canst thou bear the thought of God coming to thee? O, I can picture Moses as he stood in that cleft of the rock with the hand of God before his eyes, and I can see him look as man never looked before, confident in faith, yet more than confounded at himself that he could have asked such a petition.
    Now, what attribute is God about to show to Moses? His petition is, "Show me thy glory." Will he show him his justice? Will he show him his holiness? Will he show his wrath? Will he show him his power? Will he break yon cedar and show him he is almighty? Will he rend yonder mountain and show him that he can be angry? Will he bring his sins to remembrance, and show that he is omniscient? No; hear the still small voice—"I will make all my goodness pass before thee." Ah! the goodness of God is God's glory. God's greatest glory is that he is good. The brightest gem in the crown of God is his goodness. "I will make all my goodness pass before thee." There is a panorama such as time would not be long enough for you to see.
    Consider the goodness of God in creation. Who could ever tell all God's goodness there? Why, every creek that runs up into the shore is full of it where the fry dance in the water. Why, every tree and every forest rings with it; where the feathered songsters sit and make their wings quiver with delight and ecstasy. Why, every atom of this air, which is dense with animalculae, is full of God's goodness. The cattle on a thousand hills he feeds; the ravens come and peck their food from his liberal hands. The fishes leap out of their element, and he supplies them; every insect is nourished by him. The lion roars in the forest for his prey, and he sendeth it to him. Ten thousand thousand creatures are all fed by him. Can you tell, then, what God's goodness is? If you knew all the myriad works of God, would your life be long enough to make all God's creative goodness pass before you?
    Then think of his goodness to the children of men. Think how many of our race have come into this world and died. We are of yesterday, and we know nothing. Man is as a flower; he lives, he dies; he is the infant of a day, and he is gone to-morrow, but yet the Lord doth not forget him. O, my God! if thou shouldst make all thy goodness pass before me—all thy goodness to the children of men—I must sit me down on an adamantine rock forever and look throughout eternity; I should wear these eyes out, and must have eyes of fire, or else I should never be able to see all thy goodness toward the sons of men.
    But then rise higher still, and think of his sovereign goodness toward his chosen people. O, my soul, go thou back into eternity and see thy name in God's book of predestinating, unchanging grace! And then come down to the time of redemption, and see there thy Saviour bleeding and agonizing. O my soul, there were drops of goodness before, but O, rivers of goodness roll before thee now! When thou sawest the Son of God groaning, agonizing, shrieking, dying, buried in his grave, and then rising again, thou sawest the goodness of God. "I will make all my goodness pass before thee." I say again, what a panorama! What a series of dissolving views! What sight upon sight, each one melting into the other! Could I stand here this morning, and borrow the eloquence of an angel; could I speak to you as I might wish—but, alas! I cannot break these bonds that hold my stammering tongue—could I loose these lips and speak as angels speak, then could I tell you something, but not much, of the goodness of God; for it is "past finding out." Since I cannot utter it myself, I would invoke all creation to be vocal in his praise. Ye hills, lift up your voices; let the shaggy woods upon your summits wave with adoration. Ye valleys, fill the air with the bleatings of your sheep and the lowing of your cattle. Ye that have life, if ye have voices, tune his praise; and if ye walk in silence, let your joyful motions show the thanks ye cannot speak. O, ye trees of the field, clap your hands; ye winds, in solemn harmony chant to his glory. Thou ocean, with thy myriad waves, in all thy solemn pomp, thy motion to and fro, forget not him who bids a thousand fleets sweep over thee in vain, and write no furrow on thy ever youthful brow. And you, ye storms, howl out his greatness; let your thunders roll like drums in the march of the God of armies; let your lightnings write his name in fire upon the midnight darkness; let the illimitable void of space become one mouth for song; and let the unnavigated ether, through its shoreless depths, bear through the infinite remote the name of him who is ever good and doeth good.
    I can say no more concerning God's goodness. But this is not all that Moses saw. If you look to the words which follow my text, you will see that God said, "I will make all my goodness pass before thee;" but there was something more. No one attribute of God sets God out to perfection; there must always be another. He said, "I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will snow mercy," there is another attribute of God. There is his sovereignty. God's goodness without his sovereignty does not completely set forth his nature. I think of the man who, when he was dying, called me to see him. He said, "I am going to heaven." "Well," I replied. "what makes you think you are going there, for you never thought of it before?" Said he, "God is good." "Yes." I answered. "but God is just." "No," said he, "God is merciful and good." Now that poor creature was dying, and being lost forever; for he had not a right conception of God. He had only one idea of God, that God is good; but that is not enough. If you only see one attribute you only have half a God. God is good, and he is a sovereign, and doeth what he pleases; and though good to all in the sense of benevolence, he is not obliged to be good to any. "I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and show mercy on whom I will show mercy."
    Do not you be alarmed, my friends, because I am going to preach about sovereignty. I know some people, when they hear about sovereignty, say, "O, we are going to have some terrible high doctrine." Well, if it is in the Bible, that is enough for you. Is not that all you want to know? If God says, "I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy," it is not for you to say it is high doctrine. Who told you it was high doctrine? It is good doctrine. What right have you to call one doctrine high and one low? Would you like me to have a Bible with "H" against high, and "L" against low, so that I could leave the high doctrine out and please you? My Bible has no mark of that kind; it says, "I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious." There is divine sovereignty. I believe some are afraid to say any thing about this great doctrine lest they should offend some of their people; but. my friends, it is true, and you shall hear it. God is a sovereign. He was a sovereign ere he made this world. He lived alone, and this was in his mind: Shall I make any thing or shall I not? I have a right to make creatures or not to make any. He resolved that he would fashion a world. When he made it, he had a right to form the world in what shape and size he pleased; and he had a right, if he chose, to leave the globe untenanted by a single creature. When he had resolved to make man, he had a right to make him whatever kind of creature he liked. If he wished to make him a worm or a serpent, he had a right to do it. When he made him. he had a right to put any command on him that he pleased; and God had a right to say to Adam. Thou shalt not touch that forbidden tree. And when Adam offended, God had a right to punish him and all the race forever in the bottomless pit.
    God is so far sovereign, that he has a right, if he likes, to save any one in this chapel, or to crush all who are here. He has a right to take us all to heaven if he pleases, or to destroy us. He has a right to do just as he pleases with us. We are as much in his hands as prisoners in the hands of her majesty when they are condemned for a capital offense against the law of the land; yea, as much as clay in the hands of the potter. This is what he asserted, when he said, "I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious. and I will show mercy on whom I will show mercy." This stirs up your carnal pride, does it not? Men want to be somebody. They do not like to lie down before God, and have it preached to them that God can do just as he wills with them. Ah! you may hate it, but it is what the Scripture tells us. Surely it is self-evident that God may do as he will with his own. We all like to do what we will with our own property. God has said, that if you go to his throne he will hear you; but he has a right not to do it if he likes. He has a right to do just as he pleases. If he chooses to let you go on in the error of your ways, that is his right; and if he says, as he does, "Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest," it is his right to do so. That is the high and awful doctrine of DIVINE SOVEREIGNTY.*
    Put the two together, goodness and sovereignty, and you see God's glory. If you take sovereignty alone, you will not understand God. Some people only have an idea of God's sovereignty, and not of his goodness; such are usually gloomy, harsh, and ill-humored. You must put the two together; that God is good, and that God is a sovereign. You must speak of sovereign grace. God is not grace alone, he is sovereign grace. He is not sovereign alone, but he is graciously sovereign. That is the best idea of God. When Moses said, "I beseech thee, show me thy glory," God made him see that he was glorious, and that his glory was his sovereign goodness. Surely, beloved, we cannot be wrong in loving the doctrine of free, unmerited, distinguishing grace, when we see it thus mentioned as the brightest jewel in the crown of our covenant God. Do not be afraid of election and sovereignty. The time is come when our ministers must tell us more about them; or, if not, our souls will be so lean and starved that we shall mutiny for the bread of life. O, may God send us more thorough gospel men who will preach sovereign grace as the glory of the gospel.
    II. The second point is—there was A GRACIOUS CONCEALMENT.
    Read the next verse. "He said, thou canst not see my face; for there shall no man see me and live." There was a gracious concealment. There was as much grace in that concealment as there was in the manifestation. Mark you, beloved, when God does not tell us any thing, there is as much grace in his withholding it as there is in any of his revelations. Did you ever hear or read the sentiment, that there is as much to be learned from what is not in the Bible, as from what there is in the Bible? Some people read the Scriptures, and they say, "I wish I knew so-and-so." Now you ought not to wish such a thing; for if it was good for you, it would be there; and there is as much grace in what God has not put in the Bible, as in what he has put there. If he had put more in it, it would have been our destruction. There is just enough and no more. Do you know how Robert of Normandy lost his sight? His brother passed a red-hot copper bowl before his face, and burned the eyes out of their sockets; and there are some doctrines that men want to know, which, if they could understand them, it would be like passing a red-hot bowl before their eyes. They would scorch men's eyes out, and their understandings would be completely crushed. We have seen this in some ministers, who have studied so much that they have gone out of their minds. They have gone further than they ought to have ventured. There is a point to which we may go, and no further; and happy is the man who goes as near to it as possible without overstepping it. God said to Moses—"Thou canst not see my face and live." There are two senses in which this is true. No man can see God's face as a sinner; and no man can see God's face even as a saint.
    First, no man can see God's face as a sinner. There comes a wretch before the throne of God. God has spread his books, and set his seat of judgment. There comes a man before the throne of God. Look at him! He is wearing a robe of his own righteousness. "Wretch, how comest thou in hither?" And the creature tries to look at God; he cries that he may live! But, no! God saith, "hecannot see my face and live." Thus saith the Judge. "Executioners of my vengeance, come forth!" Angels come with crowns on their brows; they grasp their swords and stand ready—"Bind him hand and foot; cast him into the lake that burneth." The wretch is cast away into the fire of hell. He sees written in letters of fire—"No man can see my face and live." Clothed in his own righteousness, he must perish.
    Then, again, it is true that no man, even as a saint, can see God's face and live; not because of moral disability, but because of physical inability. The body is not strong enough to bear the sight or vision of God. I cannot tell whether even the saints in heaven see God. God dwells among them; but I do not know whether they ever behold him. That is a speculation. We can leave that till we get there. We will decide it when we get to heaven. I hardly know whether finite beings when immortalized would be capable of seeing God. This much is certain—that on earth, no man, however holy, can ever see God's face, and yet live. Why, Manoah, when he saw an angel, thought he should die. He said—"I have seen an angel of the Lord; I shall die." If you and I were to meet an angel, or a troop of angels, as Jacob did at Mahanaim, we should say—"We shall die." The blaze of splendor would overwhelm us. We could not endure it. We "cannot see God and live." All that we can ever see of God, is what Moses called his "back parts." The words, I think, signify "regal train." You have seen kings have trains hanging behind them; and all that we can ever see of God is his train that floats behind. Yon sun that burns in the heavens with all his effulgence, you think he is bright; you look upon him, and he dazzles you; but all his splendor is but a single thread in the regal skirts of the robe of Deity. You have seen night wrapped in her sable mantle woven with gems and stars—there they shine as ornaments worked by the needle of God in that brilliant piece of tapestry which is spread over our heads, like a tent for the inhabitants of the earth to dwell in: you have said, "O! how majestic! That star, that comet, that silver moon, How splendid!" They are nothing, but just a tiny portion of the skirts of God that drag in the dust. But what are the shoulders—what the girdle of divinity—what the bracelets of Godhead—what the crown that girdles his lofty brow, man cannot conceive; I could imagine that all the stars and constellations of stars might be put together and threaded into a string—made into a bracelet for the arm, or a ring for the finger of Jehovah—but I cannot conceive what God is himself. All I can ever learn—all that the thunder ever spake—all that the boistrous ocean ever could teach me—all that the heaven above, or the earth beneath can ever open to my mind, is nothing but the "back parts" of God. I can never see; nor can I understand what he is.
    III. Now, beloved, we go to the third point; and that is THE GRACIOUS SHIELDING.
    Moses had to be put in the cleft of a rock before he could see God. There was a rock in the wilderness once; Moses smote it, and water gushed out. The apostle tells us "that Rock was Christ." Very well, Paul, I believe it was. There is another thing I believe—I believe this rock was Christ. I know it was not Christ literally; but Moses stood on a literal rock. Moses stood on the top of a high mountain, hidden in the cleft of a real rock. But, O, my soul, what is the cleft of the rock where thou must stand; if thou wouldst ever see God's face and live. O, it is the "Rock of ages cleft for me," where I must hide my head! O, what a cleaving that was when Jesus died! O, my soul, enter into the hole in Jesus' side. That is the cleft of the rock where thou must abide and see God.

"Till God in human flesh I see,
My thoughts no comfort find;
The holy, just, and sacred Three,
Are terrors to my mind."

But when I get into the cleft of that rock, O, my soul, when I get into that cleft whose massive roof is the well ordered everlasting covenant, whose solid golden floor is made of the solemn decrees of the predestination of the Most High; and whose sides are called Jachin and Boaz, that is establishment and strength, a cleft in a rock which is so enduring that time can never dissolve it. Precious Christ! may I be found in thee amid the concussion of the elements when the world shall melt away, and the heavens shall be dissolved! O, may I stand in thee, thou precious cleft of the Rock; thou art all-in-all to my soul.
    Some of you, I know, are in that cleft of the Rock. But let me ask others, where are you? Let it be a personal question. I have preached a long while about God; I have tried to mount the height of this great argument and speak of the wondrous things of God. I may have failed, but let me say to each of you—Are you in that cleft of the rock? Can you sing this—

"Jesus, thy blood and righteousness
My beauty are, my glorious dress;
'Midst flaming worlds, in these arrayed,
With joy shall I lift up my head."

    In closing, I want one practical inference, and what shall it be? Draw it yourselves. Let it be this—there is an hour coming, when we must all, in a certain sense, see God. We must see him as a Judge. It becomes us, then, to think seriously whether we shall stand in the cleft of the Rock when he comes. There is a passage we would mention before closing—"I saw death on a pale horse, and hell followed him." There was death on the pale horse; and the original says—"hades followed him." You know the word hades comprises both heaven and hell. It means the state of spirits. Yes, death is after me and thee. Ah, run! run! run! but run as thou wilt, the rider on the white horse shall overtake thee. If thou canst escape him seventy years, he will overtake thee at last. Death is riding! Here his horse comes—I hear his snortings, I feel his hot breath; he comes! he comes! and thou must die! BUT, WICKED MAN, WHAT COMES AFTERWARDS? Will it be heaven or hell? O, if it be hell that is after thee, where art thou when thou art cast away from God? Ah, I pray God deliver you from hell; he is coming after you, sure enough; and if you have no hiding-place. woe unto you. See you that cleft in the rock, see that cross, see that blood. There is security, and only there. Thy works are but a useless incumbrance; cast them away, and with all thy might flee to the mountain with

"Nothing in my hands I bring,
Simply to thy cross I cling."

Yea, more than this, you will need divine aid, even in coming to Christ—

"O, for this no strength have I,
My strength is at thy feet to lie."

But, poor helpless one, if thou art but hidden in Christ. all is secure. Storms may arise, but you cannot be overwhelmed; old Boreas may blow until his cheeks do burst, but not a breath of wind can injure you; for in the cleft of the Rock you shall be hidden until the vengeance is overpast.

Monday, September 28, 2015

The Gospel demands our all

(Jared Waterbury, "Advice to a Young Christian on the Importance of Aiming at an Elevated Standard of Piety")

"So then, any of you who does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple!" Luke 14:33 

The gospel of Christ admits of no compromise. It demands our ALL. If it required less, it would be unworthy of its great author and finisher. I rejoice that it requires ALL--this is its glory. When we are brought to yield to its claims, and give up ALL--then, and not until then, will it throw around us its arms of mercy. 

And do we talk about self-denial? Do we say, "It is hard to give up ALL!" I am ashamed to use such language--and ashamed to hear it used. 

What did Christ give up for us? Let that question blot out "self-denial" from the Christian's vocabulary. When you think the Gospel makes severe requisitions by requiring ALL--go up to Mount Calvary and weep over such suggestions. See the blood of your Immanuel so freely gushing from a heart that never exercised towards you any emotion but love--love unspeakable--love unsought--and love for the guilty vile! Go hide your head in shame and penitence at such a thought. 

It is a glorious privilege, my friend, to give up ALL to Christ. The soul that feels the constraining influence of His love, asks not how little may be given consistently with obtaining the heavenly reward--asks not for the loweststandard of discipleship. It burns with an ardent desire to devote ALL, and to aim at perfect "conformity to His death."

Determine, by the grace of God, that you will forsake all, and follow Christ. Do not, like Peter, follow Him afar off--but, like Mary, sit at His nail-pierced feet--like the beloved disciple John, rest upon His sweet bosom.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

A Psalm of Asaph

Truly God is good to Israel, even to such as are of a clean heart. But as for me, my feet were almost gone; my steps had well nigh slipped.  For I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. For there are no bands in their death: but their strength is firm. They are not in trouble as other men; neither are they plagued like other men. Therefore pride compasseth them about as a chain; violence covereth them as a garment. Their eyes stand out with fatness: they have more than heart could wish. They are corrupt, and speak wickedly concerning oppression: they speak loftily. They set their mouth against the heavens, and their tongue walketh through the earth. Therefore his people return hither: and waters of a full cup are wrung out to them. And they say, How doth God know? and is there knowledge in the most High?  Behold, these are the ungodly, who prosper in the world; they increase in riches. Verily I have cleansed my heart in vain, and washed my hands in innocency.  For all the day long have I been plagued, and chastened every morning.   If I say, I will speak thus; behold, I should offend against the generation of thy children.  When I thought to know this, it was too painful for me; Until I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I their end.  Surely thou didst set them in slippery places: thou castedst them down into destruction. How are they brought into desolation, as in a moment! they are utterly consumed with terrors.  As a dream when one awaketh; so, O Lord, when thou awakest, thou shalt despise their image.  Thus my heart was grieved, and I was pricked in my reins.  So foolish was I, and ignorant: I was as a beast before thee.   Nevertheless I am continually with thee: thou hast holden me by my right hand.  Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory.  Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee.  My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.  For, lo, they that are far from thee shall perish: thou hast -destroyed all them that go a whoring from thee. But it is good for me to draw near to God: I have put my trust in the Lord GOD, that I may declare all thy works.   Psalm 73:1-28

 73: 1 - “Truly,” or, more correctly, only, “God is good to Israel.” He is only good, nothing else but good to his own covenanted ones. He cannot act unjustly or unkindly to them; his goodness to them is beyond dispute, and without mixture. “Even to such as are of a clean heart.” These are the true Israel, not the ceremonially clean but the really so; those who are clean in the inward parts, pure in the vital mainspring of action. To such he is, and must be, goodness itself. The writer does not doubt this, but lays it down as his firm conviction. It is well to make sure of what we do know, for this will be good anchor-hold for us when we are molested by those mysterious storms which arise from things which we do not understand. Whatever may or may not be the truth about mysterious and inscrutable things, there are certainties somewhere; experience has placed some tangible facts within our grasp; let us, then, cling to these, and they will prevent our being carried away by those hurricanes of infidelity which still come from the wilderness, and, like whirlwinds, smite the four corners of our house and threaten to overthrow it. O my God, however perplexed I may be, let me never think ill of thee. If I cannot understand thee, let me never cease to believe in thee. It must be so, it cannot be otherwise, thou art good to those whom thou hast made good; and where thou hast renewed the heart thou wilt not leave it to its enemies.

 73: 2 - Here begins the narrative of a great soul-battle, a spiritual Marathon, a hard and well-fought field, in which the half-defeated became in the end wholly victorious. “But as for me.” He contrasts himself with his God who is ever good; he owns his personal want of good, and then also compares himself with the clean in heart, and goes on to confess his defilement. The Lord is good to his saints, “but as for me,” am I one of them? Can I expect to share his grace? Yes, I do share it; but I have acted an unworthy part, very unlike one who is truly pure in heart. “My feet were almost gone.” Errors of heart and head soon affect the conduct. There is an intimate connection between the heart and the feet. Asaph could barely stand, his uprightness was going, his knees were bowing like a falling wall. When men doubt the righteousness of God, their own integrity begins to waver. “My steps had well nigh slipped.” Asaph could make no progress in the good road, his feet ran away from under him like those of a man on a sheet of ice. He was weakened for all practical action, and in great danger of actual sin, and so of a disgraceful fall. How ought we to watch the inner man, since it has so forcible an effect upon the outward character. The confession in this case is, as it should be, very plain and explicit.

 73:3 - “For I was envious at the foolish.” “The foolish” is the generic title of all the wicked: they are beyond all other fools, and he must be a fool who envies fools. Some read it, “the proud;” and, indeed, these, by their ostentation, invite envy, and many a mind which is out of gear spiritually, becomes infected with that wasting disease. It is a pitiful thing that an heir of heaven should have to confess “I was envious,” but worse still that he should have to put it, “I was envious at the foolish.” Yet this acknowledgment is, we fear, due from most of us. “When I saw the prosperity of the wicked.” His eye was fixed too much on one thing; he saw their present, and forgot their future, saw their outward display, and overlooked their soul's discomfort. Who envies the bullock his fat when he recollects the shambles? Yet some poor afflicted saint has been sorely tempted to grudge the ungodly sinner his temporary plenty. All things considered, Dives had more cause to envy Lazarus than Lazarus to be envious of Dives.

 73:4 -“For there are no bands in their death.” This is mentioned as the chief wonder, for we usually expect that in the solemn article of death, a difference will appear, and the wicked will become evidently in trouble. The notion is still prevalent that a quiet death means a happy hereafter. The Psalmist had observed that the very reverse is true. Careless persons become case-hardened, and continue presumptuously secure, even to the last. Some are startled at the approach of judgment, but many more have received a strong delusion to believe a lie. What with the surgeon's drugs and their oven infidelity, or false peace, they glide into eternity without a struggle. We have seen godly men bound with doubts, and fettered with anxieties, which have arisen from their holy jealousy; but the godless know nothing of such bands: they care neither for God nor devil. “Their strength is firm.” What care they for death? Frequently they are brazen and insolent, and can vent defiant blasphemies even on their last couch. This may occasion sorrow and surprise among saints, but certainly should not suggest envy, for, in this case, the most terrible inward conflict is infinitely to be preferred to the profoundest calm which insolent presumption can create. Let the righteous die as they may, let my last end be like theirs.

 73:5- “They are not in trouble as other men.” The prosperous wicked escape the killing toils which afflict the mass of mankind; their bread comes to them without care, their wine without stint. They have no need to enquire, “Whence shall we get bread for our children, or raiment for our little ones?” Ordinary domestic and personal troubles do not appear to molest them. “Neither are they plagued like other men.” Fierce trials do not arise to assail them: they smart not under the divine rod. While many saints are both poor and afflicted, the prosperous sinner is neither. He is worse than other men, and yet he is better off; he ploughs least, and yet has the most fodder. He deserves the hottest hell, and yet has the warmest nest. All this is clear to the eye of faith, which unriddles the riddle; but to the bleared eye of sense it seems an enigma indeed. They are to have nothing hereafter, let them have what they can here; they, after all, only possess what is of secondary value, and their possessing it is meant to teach us to set little store by transient things. If earthly good were of much value, the Lord would not give so large a measure of it to those who have least of his love.

73:6 -“Therefore pride compasseth them about as a chain.” They are as great in their own esteem as if they were aldermen of the New Jerusalem; they want no other ornament than their own pomposity. No jeweller could sufficiently adorn them; they wear their own pride as a better ornament than a gold chain. “Violence covereth them as a garment.” In their boastful arrogance they array themselves; they wear the livery of the devil, and are fond of it. As soon as you see them, you perceive that room must be made for them, for, regardless of the feelings and rights of others, they intend to have their way, and achieve their own ends. They brag and bully, bluster and browbeat, as if they had taken out a license to ride roughshod over all mankind.

73:7 - Their eyes stand out with fatness.” 'In cases Of obesity the eyes usually appear to be enclosed in fat, but sometimes they protrude; - either case the countenance is changed, loses its human form, and is assimilated to that of fatted swine. The face is here the index of the man: the man has more than suffices him; he is glutted and surfeited with wealth, and yet is one of the wicked whom God abhorreth. “They have more than heart could wish.” Their wishes are gratified, and more; their very greediness is exceeded; they call for water, and the world gives them milk; they ask for hundreds, and thousands are lavished at their feet. The heart is beyond measure gluttonous, and yet in the case of certain ungodly millionaires, who have rivalled Sardanapalus both in lust and luxury, it has seemed as if their wishes were exceeded, and their meat surpassed their appetite.

73:8 - “They are corrupt.” They rot above ground; their heart and life are depraved. “And speak wickedly concerning oppression.” The reek of the sepulchre rises through their mouths; the nature of the soul is revealed in the speech. They choose oppression as their subject, and they not only defend it, but advocate it, glory in it, and would fain make it the general rule among all nations. “Who are the poor? What are they made for? What, indeed, but to toil and slave that men of education and good family may enjoy themselves? Out on the knaves for prating about their rights! A set of wily demagogues are stirring them up because they get a living by agitation. Work them like horses, and feed them like dogs; and if they dare complain, send them to the prison or let them die in the workhouse.” There is still too much of this wicked talk abroad, and, although the working classes have their faults, and many of them very grave and serious ones too, yet there is a race of men who habitually speak of them as if they were an inferior order of animals. God forgive the wretches who thus talk. “They speak loftily.” Their high heads, like tall chimneys, vomit black smoke. Big talk streams from them, their language is colossal, their magniloquence ridiculous. They are Sir Oracle in every case, they speak as from the judge's bench, and expect all the world to stand in awe of them.

73:9 - “They set their mouth against the heavens.” Against God himself they aim their blasphemies. One would think, to hear them, that they were demi-gods themselves, and held their heads above the clouds, for they speak down upon other men as from a sublime elevation peculiar to themselves. Yet they might let God alone, for their pride will make them enemies enough without their defying him. “And their tongue walketh through the earth.” Leisurely and habitually they traverse the whole world to find victims for their slander and abuse. Their tongue prowls in every corner far and near, and spares none. They affect to be universal censors, and are in truth perpetual vagrants. Like the serpent, they go nowhere without leaving their slime behind them; if there were another Eden to be found, its innocence and beauty would not preserve it from their filthy trail. They themselves are, beyond measure, worthy of all honour, and all the rest of mankind, except a few of their parasites, are knaves, fools, hypocrites, or worse. When these men's tongues are out for a walk, they are unhappy who meet them, for they push all travellers into the kennel: it is impossible altogether to avoid them, for in both hemispheres they take their perambulations, both on land and sea they make their voyages. The city is not free from them, and the village swarms with them. They waylay men in the king's highway, but they are able to hunt across country, too. Their whip has a long lash, and reaches both high and low.

73:10 - “Therefore his people return hither.” God's people are driven to fly to his throne for shelter; the doggish tongues fetch home 'the sheep to the Shepherd. The saints come again, and again, to their Lord, laden with complaints on account of the persecutions which they endure from these proud and graceless men. “And waters of a full cup are wrung out to them.” Though beloved of God, they have to drain the bitter cup; their sorrows are as full as the wicked man's prosperity. It grieves them greatly to see the enemies of God so high, and themselves so low, yet the Lord does not alter his dispensations, but continues still to chasten his children, and indulge his foes. The medicine cup is not for rebels, but for those whom Jehovah Rophi loves.

73:11 -“And they say, How doth God know?” Thus dare the ungodly speak. They flatter themselves that their oppressions and persecutions are unobserved of heaven. If there be a God, is he not too much occupied with other matters to know what is going on upon this world? So they console themselves if judgments be threatened. Boasting of their own knowledge, they yet dare to ask, “Is there knowledge in the most High?” Well were they called foolish. A God, and not know! This is a solecism in language, a madness of thought. Such, however, is the acted insanity of the graceless theists of this age; theists in name, because avowed infidelity is disreputable, but atheists in practice beyond all question.
I could not bring my mind to accept the rendering of many expositors by which this verse is referred to tried and perplexed saints. I am unable to conceive that such language could flow from their lips, even under the most depressing perplexities.

73:12 - “Behold, these are the ungodly, who prosper in the world.” Look! See! Consider! Here is the standing enigma! The crux of Providence! The stumbling-block of faith! Here are the unjust rewarded and indulged, and that not for a day or an hour, but in perpetuity. From their youth up these men, who deserve perdition, revel in prosperity. They deserve to be hung in chains, and chains are hung about their necks; they are worthy to be chased from the world, and yet the world becomes all their own. Poor purblind sense cries, Behold this! Wonder, and be amazed, and make this square with providential justice, if you can. “They increase in riches;” or, strength. Both wealth and health are their dowry. No bad debts and bankruptcies weigh them down, but robbery and usury pile up their substance. Money runs to money, gold pieces fly in flocks; the rich grow richer, the proud grow prouder. Lord, how is this? Thy poor servants, who become yet poorer, and groan under their burdens, are made to wonder at thy mysterious ways.

73:13-Verily I have cleansed my heart in vain.” Poor Asaph! he questions the value of holiness when its wages are paid in the coin of affliction. With no effect has he been sincere; no advantage has come to him through his purity, for the filthy-hearted are exalted and fed on the fat of the land. Thus foolishly will the wisest of men argue, when faith is napping. Asaph was a seer, but he could not see when reason left him in the dark; even seers must have the sunlight of revealed truth to see by, or they grope like the blind. In the presence of temporal circumstances the pure in heart may seem to have cleansed themselves altogether in vain, but we must not judge after the sight of the eyes. “And washed my hands in innocency.” Asaph had been as careful of his hands as of his heart; he had guarded his outer as well as his inner life, and it was a bitter thought that all this was useless, and left him in even a worse condition than foul-handed, black-hearted worldlings. Surely the horrible character of the conclusion must have helped to render it untenable; it could not be so while God was God. It smelt too strong of a lie to be tolerated long in the good man's soul; hence, in a verse or two, we see his mind turning in another direction.

73:14 - “For all the day long have I been plagued.” He was smitten from the moment he woke to the time he went to bed. His griefs were not only continued, but renewed with every opening day, “And chastened every morning.” This was a vivid contrast to the lot of the ungodly. There were crowns for the reprobates and crosses for the elect. Strange that the saints should sigh and the sinners sing. Rest was given to the disturbers, and yet peace was denied to the peace-makers. The downcast seer was in a muse and a maze. The affairs of mankind appeared to him to be in a fearful tangle; how could it be permitted by a just ruler that things should be so turned upside down, and the whole course of justice dislocated.
Here is the case stated in the plainest manner, and many a Christian will herein recognise his own experience. Such knots have we also sought to untie, and have sadly worn our fingers and broken our teeth. Dear-bought has our wisdom been, but we have bought it; and, henceforth, we cease to fret because of evil-doers, for the Lord hath showed us what their end Will be.

73:15- “If I say, I will speak thus.” It is not always wise to speak one's thoughts; if they remain within, they will only injure ourselves; but, once uttered, their mischief may be great. From such a man as the Psalmist, the utterance which his discontent suggested would have been a heavy blow and deep discouragement to the whole brotherhood. He dared not, therefore, come to such a resolution, but paused, and would not decide to declare his feelings. It was well, for in his case second thoughts were by far the best. “I should offend against the generation of thy children.” I should scandalise them, grieve them, and perhaps cause them to offend also. We ought to look at the consequences of our speech to all others, and especially to the church of God. Woe unto the man by whom offence cometh! Rash, undigested, ill-considered speech, is responsible for much of the heart-burning and trouble in the churches. Would to God that, like Asaph, men would bridle their tongues. Where we have any suspicion of being wrong, it is better to be silent; it can do no harm to be quiet, and it may do serious damage to spread abroad our hastily formed opinions. To grieve the children of God by appearing to act perfidiously and betray the truth, is a sin so heinous, that if the consciences of heresy-mongers were not seared as with a hot iron, they would not be so glib as they are to publish abroad their novelties. Expressions which convey the impression that the Lord acts unjustly or unkindly, especially if they fall from the lips of men of known character and experience, are as dangerous as firebrands among stubble; they are used for blasphemous purposes by the ill-disposed; and the timid and trembling are sure to be cast down thereby, and to find reason for yet deeper distress of soul.

73:16 - “When I thought to know this, it was too painful for me.” The thought of scandalising the family of God he could not bear, and yet his inward thoughts seethed and fermented, and caused an intolerable anguish within. To speak might have relieved one sorrow, but, as it would have created another, he forbore so dangerous a remedy; yet this did not remove the first pangs, which grew even worse and worse, and threatened utterly to overwhelm him. A smothered grief is hard to endure. The triumph of conscience which compels us to keep the wolf hidden beneath our own garments, does not forbid its gnawing at our vitals. Suppressed fire in the bones rages more fiercely than if it could gain a vent at the mouth. Those who know Asaph's dilemma will pity him as none others can.

73:17- “Until I went into the sanctuary of. God.” His mind entered the eternity where God dwells as in a holy place, he left the things of sense for the things invisible, his heart gazed within the veil, he stood where the thrice holy God stands. Thus he shifted his point of view, and apparent disorder resolved itself into harmony, The motions of the planets appear most discordant from this world which is itself a planet; they appear as “progressive, retrograde, and standing still;” but could we fix our observatory in the sun, which is the centre of the system, we should perceive all the planets moving in perfect circle around the head of the great solar family. “Then understood I their end.” He had seen too little to be able to judge; a wider view changed his judgment; he saw with his mind's enlightened eye the future of the wicked, and his soul was in debate no longer as to the happiness of their condition. No envy gnaws now at his heart, but a holy horror both of their impending doom, and of their present guilt, fills his soul. He recoils from being dealt with in the same manner as the proud sinners, whom just now he regarded with admiration.

73:18 -The Psalmist's sorrow had culminated, not in the fact that the ungodly prospered, but that God had arranged it so: had it happened by mere chance, he would have wondered, but could not have complained; but how the arranger of all things could so dispense his temporal favours, was the vexatious question. Here, to meet the case, he sees that the divine hand purposely placed these men in prosperous and eminent circumstances, not with the intent to bless them but the very reverse. “Surely thou didst set them in slippery places.” Their position was dangerous, and, therefore, God did not set his friends there but his foes alone. He chose, in infinite love, a rougher but safer standing for his own beloved. “Thou castedst them down into destruction.” The same hand which led them up to their Tarpeian rock, hurled them down from it. They were but elevated by judicial arrangement for the fuller execution of their doom. Eternal punishment will be all the more terrible in contrast with the former prosperity of those who are ripening for it. Taken as a whole, the case of the ungodly is horrible throughout; and their worldly joy instead of diminishing the horror, actually renders the effect the more awful, even as the vivid lightning amid the storm does not brighten but intensify the thick darkness which lowers around. The ascent to the fatal gallows of Haman was an essential ingredient in the terror of the sentence - “hang him thereon.” If the wicked had not been raised so high they could not have fallen so low.

73:19 -“How are they brought into desolation, as in a moment!” This is an exclamation of godly wonder at the suddenness and completeness of the sinners' overthrow. Headlong is their fall; without warning, without escape, without hope of future restoration! Despite their golden chains, and goodly apparel, death stays not for manners but hurries them away; and stern justice unbribed by their wealth hurls them into destruction. “They are utterly consumed with terrors.” They have neither root nor branch left. They cease to exist among the sons of men, and, in the other world, there is nothing left of their former glory. Like blasted trees, consumed by the lightning, they are monuments of vengeance; like the ruins of Babylon they reveal, in the greatness of their desolation, the judgments of the Lord against all those that unduly exalt themselves. The momentary glory of the graceless is in a moment effaced, their loftiness is in an instant consumed.

73:20-“As a dream when one awaketh; so, O Lord, when thou awakest, thou shalt despise their image.” They owe their existence and prosperity to the forbearance of God, which the Psalmist compares to a sleep; but, as a dream vanishes so soon as a man awakes, so the instant the Lord begins to exercise his justice and call men before him, the pomp and prosperity of proud transgressors shall melt away. When God awakes to judgment, they who despise him shall be despised; they are already “such stuff as dreams are made of,” but then the baseless fabric shall not leave a wreck behind. Let them flaunt their little hour, poor unsubstantial sons of dreams; they will soon be gone; when the day breaketh, and the Lord awakes as a mighty man out of his sleep, they will vanish away. Who cares for the wealth of dreamland? Who indeed but fools? Lord, leave us not to the madness which covets unsubstantial wealth, and ever teach us thine own wisdom.

73:21 -The holy poet here reviews his inward struggle and awards himself censure for his folly. His pain had been intense; he says, “Thus my heart was grieved.” It was a depp-seated sorrow, and one which penetrated his inmost being. Alexander reads it, “My heart is soured.” His spirit had become embittered; he had judged in a harsh, crabbed, surly manner. He had become atrabilious, full of black bile, melancholy, and choleric; he had poisoned his own life at the fountain-head, and made all its streams to be bitter as gall. “And I was pricked in my reins.” He was as full of pain as a man afflicted with renal disease; he had pierced himself through with many sorrows; his hard thoughts were like so many calculi in his kidneys; he was utterly wretched and woebegone, and all through his own reflections. O miserable philosophy, which stretches the mind on the rack, and breaks it on the wheel! O blessed faith, which drives away the inquisitors, and sets the captives free!

73:22 -“So foolish was I.” He, though a saint of God, had acted as if he had been one of the fools whom God abhorreth. Had he not even envied them? - and what is that but to aspire to be like them? The wisest of men have enough folly in them to ruin them unless grace prevents. “And ignorant.” He had acted as if he knew nothing, had babbled like an idiot, had uttered the very drivel of a witless loon. He did not know how sufficiently to express his sense of his own fatuity. “I was as a beast before thee.” Even in God's presence he had been brutish, and worse than a beast. As the grass-eating ox has but this present life, and can only estimate things thereby, and by the sensual pleasure which they afford, even so had the Psalmist judged happiness by this mortal life, by outward appearances, and by fleshly enjoyments. Thus he had, for the time, renounced the dignity of an immortal spirit, and, like a mere animal, judged after the sight of the eyes. We should be very loth to call an inspired man a beast, and yet, penitence made him call himself so; nay, he uses the plural, by way of emphasis, and as if he were worse than any one beast. It was but an evidence of his true wisdom that he was so deeply conscious of his own folly. We see how bitterly good men bewail mental wanderings; they make no excuses for themselves, but set their sins in the pillory, and cast the vilest reproaches upon them. O for grace to detest the very appearance of evil!

73:23 -“Nevertheless I am continually with thee.” He does not give up his faith, though he confesses his folly. Sin may distress us, and yet we may be in communion with God. It is sin beloved and delighted in which separates us from the Lord, but when we bewail it heartily, the Lord will not withdraw from us. What a contrast is here in this and the former verse! He is as a beast, and yet continually with God. Our double nature, as it always causes conflict, so is it a continuous paradox: the flesh allies us with the brutes, and the spirit affiliates us to God. “Thou hast holden me by my right hand.” With love dost thou embrace me, with honour ennoble me, with power uphold me. He had almost fallen, and yet was always upheld. He was a riddle to himself, as he had been a wonder unto many. This verse contains the two precious mercies of communion and upholding, and as they were both given to one who confessed himself a fool, we also may hope to enjoy them.

73:24 -“Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel.” I have done with choosing my own way, and trying to pick a path amid the jungle of reason. He yielded not only the point in debate, but all intention of debating, and he puts his hand into that of the great Father, asking to be led, and agreeing to follow. Our former mistakes are a blessing, when they drive us to this. The end of our own wisdom is the beginning of our being wise. With Him is counsel, and when we come to him, we are sure to be led aright. “And afterward.” “Afterward!” Blessed word. We can cheerfully put up with the present, when we foresee the future. What is around us just now is of small consequence, compared with afterward. “Receive me to glory.” Take me up into thy splendour of joy. Thy guidance shall conduct me to this matchless terminus. Glory shall I have, and thou thyself wilt admit me into it. As Enoch was not, for God took him, so all the saints are taken up - received up into glory.

73:25 -“Whom have I in heaven but thee?” Thus, then, he turns away from the glitter which fascinated him to the true gold which was his real treasure. He felt that his God was better to him than all the wealth, health, honour, and peace, which he had so much envied in the worldling; yea, He was not only better than all on earth, but more excellent than all in heaven. He bade all things else go, that he might be filled with his God. “And there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee,” No longer should his wishes ramble, no other object should tempt them to stray; henceforth, the Everliving One should be his all in all.

73:26-“My flesh and my heart faileth.” They had failed him already, and he had almost fallen; they would fail him in the hour of death, and, if he relied upon them, they would fail him at once. “But God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.” His God would not fail him, either as a protection or a joy. His heart would be kept up by divine love, and filled eternally with divine glory. After having been driven far out to sea, Asaph casts anchor in the old port. We shall do well to follow his example. There is nothing desirable save God; let us, then, desire only him. All other things must pass away; let our hearts abide in him, who alone abideth for ever.

73:27 - “For, lo, they that are far from thee shall perish.” We must be near God to live; to be far off by wicked works is death. “Thou hast destroyed all them that go a whoring from thee.” If we pretend to be the Lord's servants, we must remember that he is a jealous God, and requires spiritual chastity from all his people. Offences against conjugal vows are very offensive, and all sins against God have the same element in them, and they are visited with the direst punishments. Mere heathens, who are far from God, perish in due season; but those who, being his professed people, act unfaithfully to their profession, shall come under active condemnation, and be crushed beneath his wrath. We read examples of this in Israel's history; may we never create fresh instances in our own persons.

73:28- “But it is good for me to draw near to God.” Had he done so at first he would not have been immersed in such affliction; when he did so he escaped from his dilemma, and if he continued to do so he would not fall into the same evil again. The greater our nearness to God, the less we are affected by the attractions and distractions of earth. Access into the most holy place is a great privilege, and a cure for a multitude of ills. It is good for all saints, it is good for me in particular; it is always good, and always will be good for me to approach the greatest good, the source of all good, even God himself. “I have put my trust in the Lord God.” He dwells upon the glorious name of the Lord Jehovah, and avows it as the basis of his faith. Faith is wisdom; it is the key of enigmas, the clue of mazes, and the pole star of pathless seas. Trust and you will know. “That I may declare all thy works,” He who believes shall understand, and so be able to teach. Asaph hesitated to utter his evil surmisings, but he has no diffidence in publishing abroad a good matter. God's ways are the more admired the more they are known. He who is ready to believe the goodness of God shall always see fresh goodness to believe in, and he who is willing to declare the works of God shall never be silent for lack of wonders to declare.

C. H. Spurgeon, 'Treasury of David'

Friday, September 25, 2015

Christ despised

Arthur Pink, 1937
"He is despised and rejected by men" (Isaiah 53:3). For the special benefit of young preachers, we propose to sermonize this text, though in as simple and homely a manner as possible, trusting that it may please the Lord to speak through it to some unsaved readers, for we dare not assume that all who take this magazine have really been born again.
Our text forms part of one of the Messianic predictions, in which God made know long beforehand the treatment which his Son would receive when He became incarnate.
The prophecy of Isaiah was in the hands of the Jews seven hundred years before the Lord Jesus was born at Bethlehem—yet so exactly did it describe what befell Him, that it might well have been written by one of the Apostles. Therein is supplied one of the incontrovertible proofs of the Divine inspiration of the Scriptures, for only One who knew the end from the beginning, could have thus written history beforehand.
It might well have been supposed that the advent to earth of such a One as the Lord of Glory, would meet with a warm welcome and reverent reception, the more so in view of His appearing in human form, going about doing good. Since He came not to judge—but to save; since His mission was one of grace and mercy, since He ministered to the needy and healed the sick—will not men gladly receive Him? Many would naturally think so—but in so thinking they overlook the fact that the Lord Jesus is "the Holy One," and none but those who have the principle of holiness in their hearts, can appreciate ineffable Purity. Such an assumption as the one we have just mentioned, ignores the solemn fact of human depravity—the heart of fallen man is "desperately wicked" (Jer. 17:9). How can the Holy One appear attractive to those who are full of sin!? Nothing so clearly evidences the condition of the human heart, and so solemnly demonstrates its corruption, as its attitude toward the precious Savior.
There is much recorded against man in the Old Testament Scriptures, as for example in Psalm 14:1-4; yet dark as is the picture there drawn of fallen human nature, it fades into insignificance before what the New Testament sets before us. "The carnal mind is enmity against God" (Romans 8:7), and never was this so frightfully patent, as when Jesus was manifested in flesh. "If I had not come," declared Christ, "and spoken unto them, they had not had sin—but now they have no cloak for their sin" (John 15:22). The appearing of Christ has fully exposed man, bringing to light as nothing else ever has—the desperate wickedness of his heart!
Now let us ask and supply answer to three questions—Who was (and still is) "despised and rejected by men?" Why is He so grievously slighted? In what way is He scorned? Who was so unwelcome here?
We answer, first, the One who pressed upon men the absolute sovereignty of God. Few things are so distasteful to the proud human heart, as the truth that God does as He pleases, without in any ways consulting with the creature; that He dispenses His favors entirely according to His imperial will. Fallen man has no claims upon Him, is destitute of any merit, and can do nothing whatever to win God's esteem. Fallen man is a spiritual pauper, entirely dependent upon Divine charity, and in the bestowal of His mercies God is regulated by nothing but His own "good pleasure." "Is it not lawful for Me to do what I will with My own?" (Matthew 20:15) is His own unanswerable challenge—yet, as the context there shows, man wickedly murmurs against this.
Now the Lord Jesus came here to glorify His Father, and therefore we find Him maintaining His crown-rights and emphasizing His sovereignty. In His first message, in the Capernaum synagogue, He pointed out that though there were many widows in Israel during the days of Elijah, when there was a great famine throughout all the land, unto none of them was the Prophet sent, except unto one at Zarephath. And that though there were many lepers in Israel in the time of Elisha, none of them were healed—yet distinguishing mercy was shown unto Naaman the Syrian. The sequel was, "When they heard this, everyone in the synagogue was enraged. They got up, drove Him out of town, and brought Him to the edge of the hill their town was built on, intending to hurl Him over the cliff!" (Luke 4:28, 29). For pressing the truth of God's absolute sovereignty, Christ was "despised and rejected by men." Who was so unwelcome here?
Secondthe One who upheld God's Law. Therein is the Divine authority expressed, and complete subjection thereto is required from the creature; and therefore did Christ press the demands of God's Law upon man. Said He, "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them" (Matt. 5:17); "So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets" (Matt. 7:12). But fallen men resent restraints, and want to be a law unto themselves, and their language concerning God and His Christ is "Let us tear off their chains and free ourselves from their restraints" (Psalm 2:3). Because the Lord Jesus enforced the requirements of the Decalogue He was "despised and rejected by men."
A solemn illustration of this occurs in John 7. To the Jews He said, "Did not Moses give you the law? Yet none of you keeps the law! Why do you want to kill Me?" (v. 19). And what was their response? This, "The people answered and said, You have a devil!" (v. 20). Who was so unwelcome here?
Third, the One who denounced human tradition in the religious sphere. Despite the Fall, man is essentially a religious creature—the image of God in which he was originally created, has not been completely destroyed. The world over, blacks and whites, reds and yellows—pay homage to gods of their own devising, and there are few things on which they are more sensitive—than their religious superstitions—he who condemns or even criticizes the devotees of any religious belief or practice, will be greatly disliked. Now Christ drew upon Himself the hatred of Israel's leaders, by His denunciation of their religious inventions. He reproached them, "You nullify the Word of God by your tradition!" (Mark 7:13). When He cleansed the temple, the chief priests and scribes, "were indignant" (Matt. 21:15). Who was so unwelcome here?
Fourth, the One who repudiated an empty profession. Nothing so infuriated the Jews, as Christ's exposure and denunciation of their vain pretensions.
Being omniscient, it was impossible to impose upon Him; being inflexibly righteous, He could not accept deceptions; being absolutely holy, He must insist upon sincerity and reality. When they declared "Abraham is our father!" He answered, "If you were Abraham's children, you would do the works of Abraham!" When they added "we have one Father, even God," He replied, "If God were your Father, you would love Me . . . you are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father you will do!" This so riled them, that they exclaimed, "Aren't we right in saying that You are a Samaritan and demon-possessed!" (John 8:39-48).
On another occasion the Jews asked Him, "How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly" (John 10:24). He at once exposed their hypocrisy by saying, "I did tell you, but you do not believe. You do not believe because you are not my sheep. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me" (John 10:25-27). So angered were they at this that they "took stones again to stone Him." Men will not tolerate One who pierces their religious disguise, exposes their shams, and repudiates their fair but empty profession. It is just the same today. Who was so unwelcome here?
Fifth, the One who exposed and denounced sin. Ah, this explains why Christ was not wanted here. He was a constant thorn in their sides! His holiness condemned their unholiness. Men wish to go their own way, to please themselves, to gratify their lusts. They want to be comfortable in their wickedness—therefore they resent one who searches the heart, pierces the conscience, rebukes their evil. Christ was absolutely uncompromising. He would not wink at wrong-doing, but unsparingly denounced it, in whoever it was found. He boldly affirmed, "For judgment I have come into this world" (John 9:41), that is, to unveil men's secret characters, to prove they are blind in spiritual things, to demonstrate they loved darkness rather than light. His Person and preaching tried everything and everyone He came into contact with.
Why was (and is) Christ "despised and rejected by men"?
First, because He required inward purity. Herein is the great difference between all human religions and the Divine religion. All human religions concern themselves with external performances—but the Christian religion is only concerned with the source of all conduct. "Man looks on the outward appearance—but the Lord looks on the heart" (1 Sam. 16:7). It was Christ's exposition and enforcement of this truth, which made Him so unpopular with the leaders. "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean. Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men's bones and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness!" (Matthew 23:25-28).
Why was Christ "despised and rejected by men"? Second, because He demanded repentance. "Repent—and believe the Gospel" (Mark 1:15) was His claimant call—that order is unchanging, for it is impossible to savingly believe the Gospel until the heart is contrite. Repentance is taking sides with God against ourselves—it is the unsparing judgment of ourselves because of our high-handed rebellion. It is a ceasing to love and tolerate sin, and excusing ourselves for the commission of it. It is a mourning before God because of our transgressions of His holy Law. And therefore did Christ teach, "Unless you repent—you shall all likewise perish!" (Luke 13:3), for He would not condone evil. He came to save His people from their sins—and not in them.
Why was Christ "despised and rejected by men"? Third, because He insisted on the denial of self, and this at two principal points, namely, the indulging and the exalting of self. All fleshly lusts are to be unsparingly mortified, and self-righteousness is allowed no place under the Gospel scheme. This was made unmistakably plain by our Lord's teaching, "If any man will come after Me—let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me" (Matt. 16:24). Yet nothing is more contrary to the desires of the natural man, and Christ's insistence upon these terms of discipleship causes Him to be "despised and rejected by men."
How is Christ "despised and rejected by men? In different ways and in varying degrees—professedly and practically, in words and in works. It is most important that this should be clearly recognized, for Satan deceives a great many souls at this point. He deludes them into supposing that because they are not guilty of what pertains to the avowed infidel and blatant atheist, therefore they are innocent of the fearful sin of slighting and defying the Lord Jesus. Ah, my reader, the solemn fact remains, that there are millions of people in Christendom who though not atheists and infidels—yet despise and reject the Christ of Scripture! "They profess to know God, but they deny Him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, and disqualified for any good work!" (Titus 1:16). That verse clearly enunciates this principle.
Because of the limited space at our disposal, we are obliged to condense this last division so that the preacher will have to develop it for himself. Christ's authority is "despised" by those who disregard His precepts and commandments. Christ's yoke is "rejected" by those who are determined to be Lord over themselves. Christ's glory is "despised" by those who bear His name yet have no concern whether their walk honors Him or no. Christ's Gospel is "rejected" by those who on the one hand affirm that sinners may be saved without repenting of and turning away from their sins, and on the other hand by those who teach that Heaven may be won by our own good works.
There are some who intellectually reject Christ, by repudiating His claims, denying that He is God the Son, assumed a holy and impeccable humanity, and died a vicarious death to save His people from their sins. There are others who virtually and practically reject Christ. Just as there are those who profess to believe in the existence of God, own His power, and talk about His wondrous handiwork—yet who have not His fear upon them and are not in subjection to Him. So there are many who claim to trust in the finished work of Christ—yet their daily walk is no different from that of thousands of respectable worldlings. They profess to be Christian—yet are covetous, unscrupulous, untruthful, proud, self-willed, uncharitable; in a word, utterly unChristlike!