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, December 28, 2016

True and faithful to the Most High

"I came not to send peace on earth, but a sword." — Mat_10:34
The Christian will be sure to make enemies. It will be one of his objects to make none; but if to do the right, and to believe the true, should cause him to lose every earthly friend, he will count it but a small loss, since his great Friend in heaven will be yet more friendly, and reveal himself to him more graciously than ever. O ye who have taken up his cross, know ye not what your Master said? "I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother; and a man's foes shall be they of his own household." Christ is the great Peacemaker; but before peace, he brings war. Where the light cometh, the darkness must retire. Where truth is, the lie must flee; or, if it abideth, there must be a stern conflict, for the truth cannot and will not lower its standard, and the lie must be trodden under foot. If you follow Christ, you shall have all the dogs of the world yelping at your heels. If you would live so as to stand the test of the last tribunal, depend upon it the world will not speak well of you. He who has the friendship of the world is an enemy to God; but if you are true and faithful to the Most High, men will resent your unflinching fidelity, since it is a testimony against their iniquities. Fearless of all consequences, you must do the right. You will need the courage of a lion unhesitatingly to pursue a course which shall turn your best friend into your fiercest foe; but for the love of Jesus you must thus be courageous. For the truth's sake to hazard reputation and affection, is such a deed that to do it constantly you will need a degree of moral principle which only the Spirit of God can work in you; yet turn not your back like a coward, but play the man. Follow right manfully in your Master's steps, for he has traversed this rough way before you. Better a brief warfare and eternal rest, than false peace and everlasting torment.

Spurgeon

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Friday, December 23, 2016

Our days are numbered

"So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom." Number our days how? Reflecting on all of them as the Lord gives them and recognizing that  every day that he gives us it is from his hand and it is for his glory and yet our breath is lent to us just like everything we have is lent. We don't own anything. People talk about owning property, owning oil wells and everything else going on. They don't own a thing. If they owned them, they'd take them with them when they went but it's like a borrowed library book. You're going to give it back one day. It's not yours. It's borrowed. Such is our lives and the Lord teach us to number our days. - http://media.sermonaudio.com/mediapdf/1221101013401.pdf

Judgment At The House Of God

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Hated without cause

Here is an excerpt from a sermon by Ken Wimer.... 

It is a snare to those that are blind and simply read the Scriptures dutifully like many do in so-called Christian circles. They read it and they try to get some moral out of it. They try to find some practical experience, some example and you stop and think about those things, those are natural minded things. I read books regularly. In fact, I'm on a schedule this year and I'm behind but I set a goal to read one book a week. Now, I need to catch up about 3 books so I'm looking for one that's about 10 pages long just to be able to say I read a book. But why do I do that? Well, it stimulates the mind, it's in an area that I want some personal growth in my business professionally or whatever and that's a natural mind. That is what the world does when they take this book, the Bible, and read it but like Paul said of the Jews that the Scriptures were read every Sabbath in the synagogue but there was a veil over their hearts and that veil, it says, is only lifted in the Lord Jesus Christ by his Spirit. 
So the Lord has purposely written this book to be a snare to those that approach it religiously even in a "devotional" way dutifully like you'll hear many people, preachers at the beginning of the year saying, "Our goal this year is to read through the Bible in a year." I don't know if you've ever tried to read through the Scriptures in a year but that's a pretty fast pace and, I will tell you, it makes a bunch of hypocrites out of people because whenever they put it in front of the congregation and they get people signing up and saying they are reading the chapters, people make light of it. They will go through it, speed read, and they'll kind of laugh and say, "Well, I'm glad this time we had chapters that had nothing to do with names. I just skimmed down through there but I got it done." There are people that that's the way they read the Scriptures. They read it from an historic standpoint. How many times have you heard lessons about David and persecution and suffering and opposition and it makes good stories just like this Psalm, a cry to God for help, and certainly it is ascribed to David there in the subheading, "A Psalm of David," but he was the instrument for writing it. He is not the author. The Spirit is the author and always keep in mind what the Lord said, When the Spirit shall come, after his death," he said to his disciples, "he'll not speak of himself but he'll take the things pertaining to me and reveal them unto you."

This is, I know it says, "Hold not thy peace, O God of my praise," but this is not a worship prayer in that sense. It's a prayer, what writers call an imprecatory prayer, one that is prayed against the enemies. So when I read verses 1 through 5, I have to consider that I'm the guilty one. When it says there in verse 2, "For the mouth of the wicked and the mouth of the deceitful are opened against me," how many times when someone reads this they think of somebody else? Because I've told you before the Spirit of God never convicts someone of somebody else's sin so when we read this word and your mind is thinking about somebody else, "Oh, I wish they were here," that's the flesh. The Spirit working in the heart of one of the Lord's own brings us, like Isaiah, to cry, "Woe is me! I am undone!" That's not just a one time thing. This is continually. You see, the work of the Spirit is to do this every time we open this word: it's to strip us of ourselves and to exalt the Lord Jesus Christ. 

read this entire sermon by Ken Wimer at http://media.sermonaudio.com/mediapdf/329152024503.pdf  or listen at http://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=329152024503

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Sunday, December 11, 2016

foolish, weak and lowly

(Octavius Winslow)

"God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise;
 God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.
 He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things . . ." 1 Corinthians 1:27-28

What doctrine is more emptying, humbling, and therefore sanctifying, than predestination? It lays the axe at the root of all human boasting!
In the light of this truth, the most holy believer sees that there is no difference between him and the vilest sinner that crawls the earth--but what the sovereign grace of God has made!

"By the grace of God I am what I am!" 1 Corinthians 15:10

Sunday, December 4, 2016

I have much people in this city

"I have much people in this city." — Act_18:10
This should be a great encouragement to try to do good, since God has among the vilest of the vile, the most reprobate, the most debauched and drunken, an elect people who must be saved. When you take the Word to them, you do so because God has ordained you to be the messenger of life to their souls, and they must receive it, for so the decree of predestination runs. They are as much redeemed by blood as the saints before the eternal throne. They are Christ's property, and yet perhaps they are lovers of the ale-house, and haters of holiness; but if Jesus Christ purchased them he will have them. God is not unfaithful to forget the price which his Son has paid. He will not suffer his substitution to be in any case an ineffectual, dead thing. Tens of thousands of redeemed ones are not regenerated yet, but regenerated they must be; and this is our comfort when we go forth to them with the quickening Word of God.
Nay, more, these ungodly ones are prayed for by Christ before the throne. "Neither pray I for these alone," saith the great Intercessor, "but for them also which shall believe on me through their word." Poor, ignorant souls, they know nothing about prayer for themselves, but Jesus prays for them. Their names are on his breastplate, and ere long they must bow their stubborn knee, breathing the penitential sigh before the throne of grace. "The time of figs is not yet." The predestinated moment has not struck; but, when it comes, they shall obey, for God will have his own; they must, for the Spirit is not to be withstood when he cometh forth with fulness of power-they must become the willing servants of the living God. "My people shall be willing in the day of my power." "He shall justify many." "He shall see of the travail of his soul." "I will divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong."

Spurgeon

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Dangerous doctrines of Rome invading the church

In the year 1563 by the order of the Pope, there was a council held at Trent. And Rome then and there defined her theological position on the points that had been made by the Reformers, and one of their decrees read thus [now the decrees of the Council of Trent are their standard today on controverted points], "If anyone shall affirm that since the fall of Adam man's free will is lost, let him be accursed". I want to read that again, what I am reading now is Roman Catholic Doctrine according to their own standards the decrees of the Council of Trent 1563, "If anyone shall affirm that since the fall of Adam man's free will is lost, let him be accursed".  So that those who insist on man's free will place themselves side by side with Rome on that doctrine! That is Romanism, and it only goes to show how terribly Protestantism is honeycombed by Rome. It only goes to show how the leaven of Romanism has been working in the meal of Protestantism.

There is nothing Rome hates so much as the doctrines of Calvinism {my insert here, I prefer to call them the doctrines of grace, for they did not originate with Calvin} that makes nothing of man and everything of God's grace. The sad, sad thing is that today a generation has grown up in Protestantism that is as ignorant as Hottentots are concerning the original controversy between Rome and the Protestants. I make so bold as to say that every Sunday School that is represented here tonight either by a pastor or a superintendent or a teacher ought to make it their business to see that they have a small library in your Sunday School, and in that library you ought to have Foxe's book of Martyrs and other books which give the history of what Rome did in the dark ages and what she would do now if she were in power. The young people of this generation ought to be instructed and not allowed to remain in the ignorance they are in today. 

There is far more Romanism in Protestantism today than most of us are aware of. There is far more Romanistic doctrine being preached from Protestant pulpits than most of us are aware of. God does have an elect people, a people He has chosen to be His own; and chose them before the foundation of the world, and chose them because it pleased Him. As to why God should have singled out the ones that He has and left the others in their sins is something beyond the finite mind of man to fully grasp. That is freely admitted, but the fact of the doctrine of election is mysterious is no reason why it should be rejected. 

There are those who say God has elected certain ones because He foreknew that they would believe. No man can believe until God gives him faith. Well, you say faith and believing are the same thing. No, you need to go back to school again and parse if you say that. Faith is a noun and believing is a verb, which is it that expresses action? Do nouns express action or verbs? Now listen, sight is God's gift,  seeing is the use of the gift. Breath, the noun, is God's gift; breathing, the verb, is the use of the gift. The moment God takes my breath away from me, I cannot breathe. The moment God takes my sight from me I can no longer see. Faith is God's gift, believing is my use of the gift. No man can believe until God has given him faith {Eph. 2:8-9}. 


A.W. Pink, excerpt from 'studies in the Scriptures' April 1926








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Saturday, November 26, 2016

Are you born again?

J. C. Ryle (1816-1900) 

This is one of life’s most important questions. Jesus Christ said, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). It is not enough to reply, “I belong to the church; I suppose I’m a Christian.” Thousands of nominal Christians show none of the signs of being born again which the Scriptures have given us—many listed in the First Epistle of John. 

NO HABITUAL SINNING
 First of all, John wrote: “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin” (1 John 3:9). “Whosoever is born of God sinneth not” (5:18). A person who has been born again, or regenerated, does not habitually commit sin. He no longer sins with his heart and will and whole inclination. There was probably a time when he did not think about whether his actions were sinful or not, and he did not always feel grieved after doing evil. There was no quarrel between him and sin; they were friends. But the true Christian hates sin, flees from it, fights against it, considers it his greatest plague, resents the burden of its presence, mourns when he falls under its influence, and longs to be completely delivered from it. Sin no longer pleases him; it has become a horrible thing which he hates. However, he cannot eliminate its presence within him. If he said that he had no sin, he would be lying (1 John 1:8). But he can say that he hates sin and that the great desire of his soul is not to commit sin at all. He cannot prevent bad thoughts from entering his mind, or shortcomings, omissions, and defects from appearing in both his words and his actions. He knows that “in many things we offend all” (James 3:2). But he can truly say, in the sight of God, that these things cause him grief and sorrow, and that his whole nature does not consent to them. What would the apostle say about you? Are you born again?
 BELIEVING IN CHRIST 
Second, John wrote: “Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God” (1 John 5:1). A man who is born again, or regenerated, believes that Jesus Christ is the only Saviour who can pardon his soul, that He is the divine Person appointed by God the Father for this very purpose, and beside Him there is no Saviour at all. In himself he sees nothing but unworthiness. But he has full confidence in Christ, and trusting in Him, he believes that his sins are all forgiven. He believes that, for the sake of Christ’s finished work and death on the Cross, he is reckoned righteous in God’s sight, and he may look forward to death and judgment without alarm (Romans 4:20-5:1; 8:1). He may have fears and doubts. He may sometimes tell you that he feels as if he had no faith at all. But ask him if he is willing to trust in anything instead of Christ, and see what he will say. Ask him if he will rest his hope of eternal life on his own goodness, his own works, his prayers, his minister, or his church, and listen to his reply. What would the apostle say about you? Are you born again? 
 PRACTICING RIGHTEOUSNESS 
Third, John wrote: “Every one that doeth righteousness is born of him” (1 John 2:29). The man who is born again, or regenerated, is a holy man. He endeavors to live according to God’s will, to do the things that please God and to avoid the things that God hates. He wishes to continually look to Christ as his example as well as his Saviour, and to prove himself to be Christ’s friend by doing whatever He commands. He knows he is not perfect. He is painfully aware of his indwelling corruption. He finds an evil principle within himself that is constantly warring against grace and trying to draw him away from God. But he does not consent to it, though he cannot prevent its presence. Though he may sometimes feel so low that he questions whether or not he is a Christian at all, he will be able to say with John Newton, “I am not what I ought to be; I am not what I want to be; I am not what I hope to be in another world—but still I am not what I once used to be, and by the grace of God I am what I am.” What would the apostle say about you? Are you born again? 
LOVING OTHER CHRISTIANS 
Fourth, John wrote: “We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren” (1 John 3:14). A man who is born again has a special love for all true disciples of Christ. Like his Father in heaven, he loves all men with a great general love, but he has a special love for those who share his faith in Christ. Like his Lord and Saviour, he loves the worst of sinners and could weep over them; but he has a peculiar love for those who are believers. He is never so much at home as when he is in their company. He feels they are all members of the same family. They are his fellow soldiers, fighting against the same enemy. They are his fellow travelers, journeying along the same road. He understands them, and they understand him. They may be very different from himself in many ways—in rank, in station and in wealth. But that does not matter. They are his Father’s sons and daughters and he cannot help loving them. What would the apostle say about you? Are you born again? 
OVERCOMING THE WORLD 
Fifth, John wrote: “Whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world” (1 John 5:4). A man who is born again does not use the world’s opinion as his standard of right and wrong. He does not mind going against the world’s ways, ideas, and customs. What men think or say no longer concerns him. He overcomes the love of the world. He finds no pleasure in things which seem to bring happiness to most people. To him they seem foolish and unworthy of an immortal being. He loves God’s praise more than man’s praise. He fears offending God more than offending man. It is unimportant to him whether he is blamed or praised; his first aim is to please God. What would the apostle say about you? Are you born again? 
KEEPING ONESELF PURE
 Sixth, John wrote: “He that is begotten of God keepeth himself’ (1 John 5:18). A man who is born again is careful of his own soul. He tries not only to avoid sin but also to avoid everything which may lead to it. He is careful about the company he keeps. He knows that evil communications corrupt the heart, and that evil is more catching than good, just as disease is more infectious than health. He is careful about the use of his time; his chief desire is to spend it profitable. He desires to live like a soldier in an enemy country—to wear his armor continually and to be prepared for temptation. He is diligent to be a watchful, humble, prayerful man. What would the apostle say about you? Are you born again? 
THE TEST 
These are the six great marks of a born again Christian. There is a vast difference in the depth and distinctness of these marks in different people. In some they are faint and hardly noticeable. In others they are bold, plain, and unmistakable, so anyone may read them. Some of these marks are more visible than others in each individual. Seldom are all equally evident in any one person. But still, after every allowance, here we find boldly painted six marks of being born of God. How should we react to these things? We can logically come to only one conclusion— only those who are born again have these six characteristics, and those who do not have these marks are not born again. This seems to be the conclusion to which the apostle intended us to come. Do you have these characteristics? Are you born again? 

Friday, November 25, 2016

Ah! how he stinketh

Come, ye dead, Christless, unconverted sinner, come and see the place where they laid the body of the deceased Lazarus; behold him laid out, bound hand and foot with grave clothes, locked up and stinking in a dark cave, with a great stone placed on top of it. View him again and again; go nearer to him; be not afraid; smell him, Ah! how he stinketh. Stop there now, pause a while; and whilst thou art gazing upon the corpse of Lazarus, give me leave to tell thee with great plainness, but greater love, that this dead, bound, entombed, stinking carcass, is but a faint representation of thy poor soul in it natural state;...thy spirit which thou bearest about with thee, sepulchered in flesh and blood, is literally dead to God, and as truly dead in trespasses and sins, as the body of Lazarus was in the cave. Was he bound hand and foot with grave clothes? So art thou bound hand and foot with thy corruptions; and as a stone was laid on the sepulchre, so there is a stone of unbelief upon thy stupid heart. Perhaps thou has lain in this estate, not only four days, but many years, stinking in God's nostrils. And, what is still more effecting, thou art as unable to raise thyself out of this loathsome, dead state, to a life of righteousness and true holiness, as ever Lazarus was to raise himself from the cave in which he lay so long. Thou mayest try the power of thy boasted free will, and the force and energy of moral persuasion and rational arguments (which, without doubt, have their proper place in religion); but all thy efforts, exerted with never so much vigor, will prove quite fruitless and abortive, till that same Jesus, who said; take away the stone" and cried "Lazarus, come forth," also quicken you. This is grace, graciously offered, and grace graciously applied.

~ George Whitefield 

Thursday, November 24, 2016

"Come, Ye Thankful People, Come"





"Come, ye thankful people, come, raise the song of harvest home;
All is safely gathered in, ere the winter storms begin.
God our Maker doth provide for our wants to be supplied;
Come to God's own temple, come, raise the song of harvest home.

"All the world is God's own field, fruit unto His praise to yield;
Wheat and tares together sown unto joy or sorrow grown.
First the blade and then the ear, then the full corn shall appear;
Lord of harvest, grant that we wholesome grain and pure may be.

"For the Lord our God shall come, and shall take His harvest home;
From His field shall in that day all offenses purge away,
Giving angels charge at last in the fire the tares to cast;
But the fruitful ears to store in His garner evermore.

"Even so, Lord, quickly come, bring Thy final harvest home;
Gather Thou Thy people in, free from sorrow, free from sin,
There, forever purified, in Thy garner to abide;
Come, with all Thine angels come, raise the glorious harvest home."

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Can you sing then?

Many of you sang very prettily just now, didn't you? I wonder whether you would sing very prettily, if there were a stake or two in Smithfield for all of you who dared to do it? If you sang under pain and penalty, that would show your heart to be in your song. We can all sing very nicely indeed when every body else sings. It is the easiest thing in the world to open your mouth, and let the words come out; but when the devil puts his hand over your mouth, can you sing then? Can you say, "Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him?" That is hearty singing; that is real song that springs up in the night. The nightingale singeth most sweetly because she singeth in the night.

~ CH Spurgeon Songs in the Night


we need preachers like J.C. Ryle

“Be very sure of this,-people never reject the Bible because they cannot understand it. They understand it only too well; they understand that it condemns their own behavior; they understand that it witnesses against their own sins, and summons them to judgment.” 
J.C. Ryle 



“Beware of manufacturing a God of your own: a God who is all mercy, but not just; a God who is all love, but not holy; a God who as a heaven for every body, but a hell for none; a God who can allow good and bad to be side by side in time, but will make no distinction between good and broad in eternity. Such a God is an idol of your own, as truly an idol as any snake or crocodile in an Egyptian temple. The hands of your own fancy and sentimentality have made him. He is not the God of the Bible, and beside the God of the Bible there is no God at all.” 
J.C. Ryle

Friday, November 18, 2016

Sufficient is the day

Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.  Matthew 6:34


In the abstinence of the body, and in the humblings of the soul, in dying daily to the world, and crucifying the flesh with its affections and lusts, oh! for grace from CHRIST to be walking daily with CHRIST, casting all our care upon him who careth for us. And while seeking, above all things, the kingdom of GOD and his righteousness, may we be forever on the look-out for the glorious appearing of the great GOD and our SAVIOR Jesus CHRIST. Even so Lord prepare us for thy corning! Amen. 

Robert Hawker


That thoughtfulness for the morrow is needless; Let the morrow take thought for the things of itself. If wants and troubles be renewed with the day, there are aids and provisions renewed likewise; compassions, that are new every morning, Lam_3:22, Lam_3:23. The saints have a Friend that is their arm every morning, and gives out fresh supplies daily (Isa_33:2), according as the business of every day requires (Ezr_3:4), and so he keeps his people in constant dependence upon him. Let us refer it therefore to the morrow's strength, to do the morrow's work, and bear the morrow's burthen. Tomorrow, and the things of it, will be provided for without us; why need we anxiously care for that which is so wisely cared for already? This does not forbid a prudent foresight, and preparation accordingly, but a perplexing solicitude, and a prepossession of difficulties and calamities, which may perhaps never come, or if they do, may be easily borne, and the evil of them guarded against. The meaning is, let us mind present duty, and then leave events to God; do the work of the day in its day, and then let tomorrow bring its work along with it.
(2.) That thoughtfulness for the morrow is one of those foolish and hurtful lusts, which those that will be rich fall into, and one of the many sorrows, wherewith they pierce themselves through. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. This present day has trouble enough attending it, we need not accumulate burthens by anticipating our trouble, nor borrow perplexities from tomorrow's evils to add to those of this day. It is uncertain what tomorrow's evils may be, but whatever they be, it is time enough to take thought about them when they come. What a folly it is to take that trouble upon ourselves this day by care and fear, which belongs to another day, and will be never the lighter when it comes? Let us not pull that upon ourselves all together at once, which Providence has wisely ordered to be borne by parcels. The conclusion of this whole matter then is, that it is the will and command of the Lord Jesus, that his disciples should not be their own tormentors, nor make their passage through this world more dark and unpleasant, by their apprehension of troubles, than God has made it by the troubles themselves. By our daily prayers we may procure strength to bear us up under our daily troubles, and to arm us against the temptations that attend them, and then let none of these things move us.

Matthew Henry


"Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof" (v. 34). By "tomorrow" is here meant the future. In the second half of this verse Christ answers a question which might be evoked by His prohibition in the first: if we must not look forward anxiously, how will it fare with us in the time to come? First, you may be wasting your last hours on earth in fretting over a morrow you may never see! But second, if you are preserved unto the morrow it will bring with it tomorrow’s God, and He has promised (1 Cor. 10:13)! Third, what good can your worrying do? It does not empty tomorrow of its trials, but it empties today of its strength and comfort; it does not enable you to escape future trouble, but it unfits you to cope with it when it does come. Fourth, instead of anticipating future evil, discharge present duty—in the spirit of Philippians 4:6, 7. Cross not your bridges before you come to them, but cheerfully shoulder the burden of today and trustfully leave the future to God.

A.W. Pink

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Man's treatment of God's people

James Smith, 1859
 
"If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated Me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you!" John 15:18-19
Such is the testimony of the Lord Jesus.
Real Christians have never been favorites of the world—and while it continues what it is, they never can be. "Do not be surprised, my brothers, if the world hates you." 1 John 3:13
Nor can the pure and simple gospel be pleasant to the world, because it lays the sinner in the dust, and exalts God as supreme and sovereign. Let us not be surprised then, if we hear worldlings speak against the gospel, and traduce the Lord's people; for what the Romans told Paul is in a good measure true in the present day, "For concerning this sect, we are aware that it is spoken against everywhere." Acts 28:22
This sect originated with Jesus, the hated Nazarene, who came into the world for its good, and to save his people from their sins. He gathered around him many—but they were principally the poor and unlearned. There was nothing in them, or about them, to recommend them to the proud and sensual world. They were begotten of God, born again, and made new creatures in Christ. They . . .
  embraced the truth he taught,
  observed the precepts that he gave,
  and copied the example that he set.
They loved his person, were concerned for his glory, and identified themselves with his interests.
Their creed consisted pretty much in these facts: that man is a lost sinner, that salvation by works is impossible, and therefore it must be all of grace—or not at all. That the Lord Jesus came into the world to take the sinner's place, fulfill the law in the sinner's stead, and die as the sinner's substitute. That on account of what Jesus has done and suffered—pardon, peace, and reconciliation are preached to sinners, and whoever believes is promised everlasting life. That believers should profess faith in Christ, observe his ordinances, and make his will the rule of their lives. That they should love one another, serve one another, and if need be, die for each other. That believing in Jesus, doing his will, and seeking to glorify his name, they secure to themselves an inheritance which is incorruptible, undefiled, and that fades not away, reserved in heaven for them. That as Christians, they should show their conformity to Christ, by loving sinners, doing good even to their enemies, and seeking by all means their salvation. By such hopes they were animated, by such rules they walked, and at such objects they aimed—and yet they were everywhere spoken against.
They themselves were spoken against, because they were generally poor and unlearned; and because they poured contempt on the luxuries, pride, and honors of this world. They were treated as the offscouring of all things, unfit for society, unfit to live. Everyone felt that he might reproach, revile, and speak against a 'Nazarene'. For them, often, there was no protection, no law but to condemn them; and they suffered the loss of all things, and multitudes of them of life itself.
And yet, like Israel in Egypt, the more they were persecuted, the more they multiplied and grew; until at length they spread not only over the Roman empire—but nearly over the world. And, had they retained the simplicity of their lives, the spirituality of their minds, and the correctness of their creed—they would no doubt have encircled the globe. But at length they were courted by royalty, loaded with wealth, and became intoxicated with worldly honors, and then their glory departed. They drank into the spirit of the world, conformed to its maxims and customs, sought its approbation and applause—and so fell from their exalted station, and lost their real dignity.
Their doctrines were spoken against. They insisted upon the fact, that there is but one God, that in the Divine nature there are three persons, and that each person is truly, naturally, and eternally God. That man has sinned, and God is bound to punish, in order to manifest his justice, and maintain the honor of his law. That there is no escaping the punishment of sin—but by an atonement, for "without shedding of blood—there is no remission of sin." That no atonement could be acceptable to God, except it were infinitely meritorious; and consequently that no sinner could atone for his own sins, or redeem his brother, giving unto God a ransom for him. That in order to meet the case, God sent his own Son into the world, who taking human nature into union with his divine nature—undertook to answer for man's conduct, atone for man's sin, and suffer all the penal consequences of man's guilt.
Consequently, that there is salvation in none other—but Jesus; by nothing—beside the perfect work of Jesus. MAN, therefore, must be pardoned as a criminal, for another's sake; must be justified as ungodly, through another's righteousness; must be sanctified as a sinner, through another's agency; must, in a word, be saved as a pauper, wholly and altogether of grace!
Such doctrines, laying as they do, man in the dust, and exalting the Lord alone, were highly offensive to the proud and haughty heart of man, and greatly excited his animosity and disdain. It became necessary, therefore, to suffer for them—OR to dilute and accommodate them to the prejudices of the carnal mind. For a time, the former course was pursued, and the preachers and professors were driven out from human society, wandering about in sheep skins and goat skins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented; or were cruelly put to death.
But while the Nazarenes suffered, their doctrines spread and prospered; and multitudes became obedient unto the faith. But at length professors began to compromise with the world, to mix the water of human ceremonies—with the wine of gospel ordinances; to mingle the doctrines of the heathen—with the doctrines of Christ; and the result was, the sword of the Spirit lost its edge, and the world gave up its opposition to what was now become another gospel; and the sect that had been spoken against everywhere, with the exception of a few, was swallowed up in a worldly church. The crown was lost, the honor was forfeited, and punishment and rejection followed.
But there were always some who had not defiled their garments, who would not mingle among the heathen, or conform to their ways. Some who cleaved to Jesus, held fast his doctrine, and sought to do him honor. These were the objects of hatred, not to the heathen only—but to the worldly church, and these have been called to suffer for the truth, more or less.
There are still some, who, like the ancient sect of the Nazarenes, are spoken against everywhere. They will not swim with the stream. They will not compromise their Master's honor, give up their Master's truth, or change their Master's ordinances. According to the light they have—they walk; and they rejoice to exalt the Savior, humble the sinner, and proclaim salvation, all of grace. Spoken against they are—they will be; but while they maintain an honest conscience, enjoy the peace of God, and experience the comforts of the Holy Spirit; they can rejoice that they are counted worthy to suffer shame for His dear name.
Reader, do you belong to this sect? Is there anything in your religion that is distasteful to the world, anything that draws forth its opposition, or excites its contempt? The carnal mind is still enmity against God, and if we are godlike, that enmity will manifest itself against us! If we believe Christ's gospel as it is to be found in his word; if we copy Christ's example, as set before us in the gospel; if we testify against the world, that the works of it are evil, and call upon it to repent, as Christ did, we shall soon be hated by the world! We shall be ranked with those who would turn the world upside down. We shall be called enthusiasts, or hypocrites, or saints, or by some name intended to express contempt.
But if we be reproached for the sake of Christ, happy are we; for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon us; on their part he is evil spoken of—but on our part he is glorified. "In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted!" 2 Timothy 3:12If, therefore, our religion is palatable to the world, if it awakens no unpleasant remarks, if it calls forth no opposition, if it occasions us no loss in our reputation, or property, or social standing—there is some reason to suspect whether it be genuine and apostolic! One thing is clear, account for it how we may, we do not belong to that sect that is spoken against everywhere.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Excellent thoughts

This well written article comes from Ingrid Schlueter...




A Hope Blog reader sent me the following message today: “May we get a Hope Blog post with your thoughts about the upcoming election? I’m really curious where you stand.”
I hesitated to address this topic on a blog that has been primarily about hope.  But having already seen about everything there is to see on social media about this 2016 election season, I thought I would share a few, brief thoughts. It won’t take long, I promise.



Saturday, November 12, 2016

The Master of the world

by Milburn Cockrell
 

"So David blessed the LORD in the sight of all the assembly; and David said: Blessed are You, O LORD God of Israel our father, forever and ever. Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory 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; and it lies in Your hand to make great and to strengthen everyone!" 1 Chronicles 29:10-12
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. Most preachers today hold to the theory that man is a free agent and the determiner of his own destiny. 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 churchgoer thinks Satan has gained the upper hand, and that God is to be pitied rather than worshiped. Modern preaching is so lopsided that when we mention God, people immediately think of a babe in a manger, or a dead man on a cross. Much Christian service is rendered to get God out of an embarrassing situation. The God of popular Christianity has a weak smile and a halo.
One will search in vain in the Scripture for the God of modern day preaching. 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).
Too often we try to confine God to the limits of human logic. We are prone to modify our remarks about God to such things as the carnal mind of men can comprehend, or the wisdom of this world will approve. In this message I am going to speak of the eternal, immutable, sovereign God of all creation. The God of the Holy Writ is the Master of the World!
 
Just Who Is God? 
The God of the Bible is the Supreme Being in the universe. He is "the Highest" (Psalm 18:13; Luke 1:35; 6:35). He is over all; He is the most High, higher than the highest. He has no superiors and no equals. He speaks through the pen of Isaiah: "To whom will you liken me, and make me equal, and compare me, that we may be alike? . . . Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me" (Isaiah 46:5, 9). It is absurd to compare God with any creature, for God is infinitely above the noblest creature.
Notice the magnificent description of God by David in our text. David spoke with awe and reverence of the perfections of God.
First, he calls attention to "the greatness" of God. The greatness of God is immense and incomprehensible, and all angels and men are nothing in comparison to Him. "All nations before him are as nothing; and they are counted to him less than nothing, and vanity" (Isaiah 40:17).
Second, King David magnifies God's "power." Psalm 62:11 says: "Power belongs unto God." "Great is our LORD, and of great power" (Psalm 147:5). Job said: "Touching the Almighty, we cannot find him out: he is excellent in power" (Job 37:23). The power of God is almighty and irresistible. All the power of the host of creatures is derived from Him and depends on Him (John 19:11).
God does whatever He pleases or wills. His counsel always stands, and He ever does His good pleasure; otherwise He would not be Almighty. "Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who has created these things, that brings out their host by number: he calls them all by names by the greatness of his might, for that he is strong in power; not one fails" (Isaiah 40:26). "But how little a portion is heard of him? but the thunder of his power, who can understand" (Job 26:14)?
Third, he mentions "the glory" of God. The Bible declares that "His glory is great" (Psalm 21:5). "The Lord is high above all nations, and his glory above the heavens" (Psalm 113:4). His glory extends "above all the earth" (Psalm 108:5) and "the heavens" (Psalm 57:11). His glory never changes: "The glory of the LORD shall endure forever" (Psalm 104:31). All the glory we can give Him with our hearts, lips, and lives comes infinitely short of what is due Him.
Fourth, to God is ascribed "the victory." Jehovah transcends and surpasses all. He is able to conquer and subdue all things unto Himself. His victories are incontestable and uncontrollable. When human history has run its course, God will have the victory. Eternity will demonstrate Him as the mighty Conqueror and the Master of the World.
Fifth, there is reference to "the majesty" of God. This speaks of His sovereign power, authority, and dignity as Master of the World. The majesty of the most High is inexpressible and inconceivable. All created things are at His disposal: "All that is in Heaven and in the earth, is yours." "The LORD has prepared his throne in the heavens; and his kingdom rules over all" (Psalm 103:19).
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? and 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) All popes and potentates, men and minerals, rocks and rivers, trees and treasures are His servants: "For all are your servants" (Psalm 119:91).
 
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-called accidents are not even incidents with the Master of the World. God did not stretch out the north, and balance the earth upon nothing, without a design or purpose. It is not by chance that the "heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows his handiwork" (Psalm 19:1). 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 to us as the days of an hireling who cannot pass his bounds (Job 14:5).
The Master of the World restricts the wickedness and ungodliness of men. He has so foreordained human actions that "the wrath of man shall praise you, the remainder of wrath shall you restrain" (Psalm 76:10). "The LORD has made all things for himself: yes, even the wicked for the day of evil" (Proverbs 16:4). In Proverbs 20:24 it is written: "Men's goings are of the LORD." When the ten kings of the revived Roman Empire destroy the Great Whore, it is said: "For God has put in their hearts to fulfill his will, and to agree, and give their kingdom unto the beast, until the words of God shall be fulfilled" (Revelation 17:17). This is not fatalism; it is the doctrine of Divine providence.
There is one thing for certain.
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. To charge God with creating and sustaining all things without a purpose, is to charge Him with being a fool.
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).
How can prophecy come to pass, if God is not in absolute control of the government of all His creation?
God is holding the helm of the universe and regulating all events. All events are of Him as to their cause through Him as their course; and to Him as to their climax. The Apostle Paul said: "But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him" (1 Corinthians 8:6). The Master of the World "works all things after the counsel of His own will" (Ephesians 1:11).
What a blessing it is to know all things are of God and are under His control. Nothing exists, unless God created it. Nothing can continue to exist, unless God wills it for His glory. All events, whether good or evil, are according to God's will of pleasure, or God's will of permission. Colossians 1:16-17 declares: "For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities--all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together!"
 
Omnipotence Reigns over the Nations 
Behind of the rise and fall of nations is a just, all-wise God Who reigns in righteousness. In Revelation 15:3 God is referred to as the sovereign "King of the nations." Psalm 22:28 says: "For the kingdom is the LORD's: and he is the governor among the nations." It is the Lord who "increases the nations and destroys them: he enlarges the nations, and straitens them again" (Job 12:23). Let us rejoice that the Supreme Being rules the nations "and has determined the times before appointed and the bounds of their habitation" (Acts 17:26). The godless nations of the world will go no further than God wants them to go. "Alleluia, for the Lord God omnipotent reigns!" (Revelation 19:6).
The Master of the World says: "I have made the earth, the man and the beast that are upon the ground, by my great power and by my outstretched arm, and have given it unto whom it seemed fit unto me" (Jeremiah 27:5). The Prophet Daniel said it was God Who "removes kings, and sets up kings" (Daniel 2:21). Four times it is said in the book of Daniel "the most High rules in the kingdom of men and gives it to whoever he will."
 
The Fall of Man 
The entrance of sin into the world was no unprovided-for event with God, because to His eyes sin, death, and Hell have no covering. The Bible says that "times are not hidden from the Almighty" (Job 24:1). Before the deep foundation of the earth was laid, God understood what He was about to do and the result of His actions.
The sun would remain in the heavens;
the earth revolve on its own axis; 
nations 
rise and fall in quick succession; 
man 
would become a rebel to His government and authority;
Christ would die on Calvary;
some would believe, and others reject Him; and
that Heaven would be peopled with the saints--and Hell with the damned.
All of this passed before the mind of the Master of the World.
The great God foreordained and foreknew the fall of Adam as He did all events. Acts 15:18 informs us: "Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world." This must be so. Otherwise God could not have declared "the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done" (Isaiah 46:10). The Master of the World declares in a voice that has the sound of many waters: "Behold, the former things are come to pass, and new things do I declare: before they spring forth, I tell you of them" (Isaiah 42:9). The God with whom we have to do "calls those things which are not, as though they were" (Romans 4:17).
If it had been God's pleasure to have prevented sin from entering this world, can we doubt His power or wisdom or ability to do so? If sin entered this world in opposition to His will, what assurance have we that it will not enter the world to come?
The truth is, God predetermined the fall of man. He permitted it for a purpose known only to Himself. The eternal purpose which God purposed in Himself before the morning of time was sufficiently perfect and comprehensive enough to include all that could possibly transpire in time and eternity. The Father did not just decide to send Christ into the world, just before the crucifixion. The death of Christ was no accident or incident; it was predetermined. Jesus Christ "was foreordained before the foundation of the world" as the Savior of His people.
The Father foreordained Christ to be a atoning sacrifice for His people (Romans 3:25). Peter said that when Christ was crucified at Calvary those men did whatever God's hand and "counsel determined before to be done" (Acts 4:28).
 
God Ordained Our Salvation
We are told in Ephesians 1:4-5 that the Father chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world and "predestined us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will." We learn from 2 Timothy 1:9 that we were saved and called, "not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began." In Titus 1:2 we are informed that God promised us eternal life "before the world began."
Man's salvation is owing to God's appointment and Christ's atonement: "For God has not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Thessalonians 5:9). The elect are "vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory" (Romans 9:23). God will call, justify, and glorify all whom He foreknow and predestine (Romans 8:30).
It is lawful for God to do what He will with His own. Romans 9:18 says: "Therefore has he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardens." God saves some, to the praise of His glorious grace; while He leaves others to their just condemnation, to the praise of His glorious justice. Dare any poor, finite worm of the earth to dispute the sovereign right of God to do all His pleasure among the inhabitants of earth! "Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, why have you made me thus" (Romans 9:20)?
Someone may say, "You are making God the author of sin!" No, I am not. But let me ask a few questions. Against whom is it possible for God to sin? Is He amendable to any law above Himself? If so, by what law can He be indicted, and in what court can He be tried and convicted? 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." In Romans 11:33 the Bible says God's ways are "past finding out!"
 
Is God Trying to Save the World? 
If God is trying to save the world, He is losing the battle to Satan. To hear the average sermon, one would get the impression that God is standing on the sideline, weeping, because men will not permit Him to save them from Hell. You would think that God has a will to do good, yet how to perform that which is good, He finds not. The religious world needs to get God off the charity list!
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. During the present dispensation God is taking out a people for His name (Acts 15:14). His eternal purpose is being worked out. Everything is going according to His plan, and all things are under His control. Satan has not defeated God, nor has the Devil taken Him by surprise.
The Lord is not conducting broken-hearted appeals. He is not struggling desperately to plead, argue, or beg people to repent. He does not need to bargain or beg men. The Master of the World does not even need man, but man needs God. He does not need to plead with you--you need to plead with Him. Each sinner is completely in the hands of God to save or to damn to Hell-fire. It is you, dear unsaved person, who needs to sue for God's mercy, lest He let you go to Hell, then "a great ransom cannot deliver you."
 
The Practical Effect of this Doctrine
First
, this doctrine puts God in His place. He is the Master of the World. It teaches that all whom the Father gave to Christ in the Covenant of Grace in eternity past, shall come to faith in Christ (John 6:37). All whom God has ordained to eternal life shall believe (Acts 13:48), and Jesus Christ shall "give eternal life to as many as" the Father gave Him (John 17:2).
Second, such a doctrine causes a person not to worship at the shrine of free will. The grace of God causes the unwilling sinner to receive the Christ of the gospel. Of the Lord's covenant people it is written: "Your people shall be willing in the day of your power" (Psalm 110:3). One is brought to see that the Master of the World works in man "both to will and to do of His good pleasure" (Philippians 2:13). Man has spiritual life, because God wills that he be begotten with the Word of truth (James 1:18). We seek Him, because He first sought us. "We love him, because he first loved us" (1 John 4:19). We have nothing to boast about. It is only of "the LORD's mercies that we are not consumed" (Lam. 3:22).
Sinner, you are in the hands of a sovereign God! If He does not perform a work of grace upon your heart, you are doomed and damned without remedy. All you can do is throw yourself upon His mercy and grace!

Nickels and noses

The average pastor is no longer a powerful, plain preacher--but a polite, polished politician! 

We live in a time of big meetings, big churches, big church buildings, big preachers, and big church budgets. The failure or success of a church and its pastor--is judged by the number of nickels and noses that they have. In all too many cases, there is seen in this more Satanic pride, than spiritual piety. 

In the craze for nickels and noses churches have replaced preachers and pastors, with puppeteers and pranksters. The gospel of Christ has been superseded by gimmicks, gadgets, and games. Psychology has taken the place of Holy Spirit conviction. The faith has been displaced for finance, fun, and foolishness. Church discipline has been relegated to the background, in order to swell the size of the church with religious hypocrites who might give a little money to the church now and then. 

The nickels and noses racket has filled our churches with unconverted persons. We have far more churchianity than Christianity. Many church members are white-washed--but they are not blood-washed. Their names are upon the church roll--but they are not found in the Lamb's book of life. Many have been reformed--but they have not been re-born. Many have been confirmed--but they have not been converted to Christ. There are so many lost people in our churches, that you cannot tell the difference between a church member and the unconverted. The reason is, because there is no difference. Both are headed to Hell as fast as time can carry them!

It has produced icy services--and cold, callous, complacent church members. Look at the average church! They have their robed choir, their cut and dried program, and their intellectual preaching. They have a beautiful edifice. They have all the organization and rituals one could ask for--but in most cases it is Spiritless! We have form without reality; we have organization without power; we have profession without possession. We have a form of godliness--without the power of it. We have religion without life. 

It has caused pastors to spend more time worrying with goats, than feeding the sheep. The pastor nowadays must provide a spiritual diet for people who have no spiritual appetite. Like Ezekiel of old (Ezekiel 37:1-10), he must preach to dead, dry bones--but without the blessings which Ezekiel experienced. These dry, dead bones can't hear--yet the pastor must keep preaching and pretend that someone is listening. These dry, dead bones do not grow in grace--for the dead do not grow. These baptized bones are in no way sensitive to the appeals made to them from the Scriptures by the pastor. They watch the clock on Sunday morning, hoping the pastor will preach a short sermon so they can soon go home and do what they really enjoy.

This idea has given us the gimmick gospel. Most church members want to be entertained--instead of instructed in the Word of God. They have far more delight in the gospel of amusement--than the gospel of the atonement. Gospel celebrities must be brought in to entertain these worldly church members. These members love to hear these clerical comedians who mix a few verses of Scripture with a large amount of humor. Special singing groups must be brought in too. These have the same dress, music, hair style, and manners of any rock and roll group. Our church services nowadays have become a carefully produced theatrical production for the delight of carnal Christians and religious rascals. The only difference between this entertainment and that in the local nightclub, is that it has a religious flavor! But they say it must be done to get nickels and noses! 

While there are some exceptions, most big churches are worldly churches. They have high carnality--and low spirituality. Truth is very scarce in such fashionable churches, because the Word of God has been compromised to keep nickels and noses.


Milburn Cockrell

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

a solemn sound

Upon an instrument of ten strings, and upon the psaltery; upon the harp with a solemn sound.  Psalm 92:3


Upon the harp with a solemn sound,” or upon meditation with a harp; as much as to say, my meditative soul is, after all, the best instrument, and the harp's dulcet tones come in to aid my thoughts. It is blessed work when hand and tongue work together in the heavenly occupation of praise.
“Strings and voices, hands and hearts,
In the concert bear your parts:
All that breathe, your God adore,
Praise him, praise him, evermore.”
It is, however, much to be feared that attention to the mere mechanism of music, noting keys and strings, bars and crochets, has carried many away from the spiritual harmony which is the soul and essence of praise. Fine music without devotion is but a splendid garment upon a corpse.

C.H. Spurgeon

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Prophetic?

"My heart bleeds for America! There is a deep laid plot against your civil and religious liberties--and they will be lost. Your golden days are at an end. You have nothing but trouble before you. Your liberties will be lost!" 

(George Whitefield, 1764)

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Vital Godliness

If men dead in sin are ever to be restored to spiritual life, they must be the subjects of a mighty work of grace; they must be taught of God; they must be born from above; they must be called out of darkness into God's marvelous light; they must be renewed in the inner man. The advantages of experience are felt in all the affairs of life. The truths we know by experience are worth more to a wise man than all he can learn from the demonstrative sciences or the reasonings of others. In all the departments of life, he who has experience has qualifications denied to the mere theorist or scholar. Religious experience puts us on our guard against the snares of the world, the flesh, and the devil. It teaches us sincerity, self-distrust, and humility. It causes us to abound in all prudence. It gives us a delightful confirmation in the truth. It fits us for doing good to an extent far beyond what we could ever attain by instruction in the letter of God's word.
All the friends of true religion ought carefully to guard against the abuses of religious experience. They should be very careful to avoid all vain boasting, a sin into which men easily fall. They should learn wisely to discriminate between the genuine and the spurious, between effects produced by divine truth on the one hand and by nervous temperament on the other. They should be especially careful not to rely on any past attainments which do not produce present good fruit. Any exercise of the mind which leads us to dullness in devotion, to carelessness about holy living, to lack of zeal for the salvation of men, is not gracious.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Do not!

Pastoral Counsel from James Meikle


Do not contract many worldly acquaintances.

Learn to be abused without becoming angry.

Do not meddle much with the affairs of this life.

Argue coolly, and from conscience—not for victory.    

Do not pretend a 'show of sanctimony' before men.

Do not be ashamed of piety in any company.

Whatever else you read, read a double portion in the scriptures of truth.

Shun familiarity with the men of the world—else celestial truths, as uttered by you, will be despised.

Do not be much concerned about your own reputation—as long as the truth and the gospel do not suffer.

Learn daily more of Christ and more of yourself—else your other studies will profit little.

Seek not great things for yourself. Seek not great fame, great applause, great comforts, or a great income. But seek great things for Christ. Seek for him great glory, many converts, and much fruits of righteousness.

Consider the preciousness of souls, the value of salvation, the weight of the sacred charge, the terrors of the Almighty, the solemn day of judgment, and your own utter inability. Then shall you have no vain confidence, but depend on God alone.

Please all men so long as you are consistent with the truth—but do not wound the truth to please any.

Set your affections on things above—so shall spiritual things be your delight, and not your burden.

In company, always study to say something for edification. In this way, you preach every day—as well as on Sundays.

Be much with God in secret—so shall God be with you in public.

See that the behavior of every person in your family is a pattern to all observers; and not matter of reproach—to the joy of God's enemies.

Let your flock be continually on your mind. And not only pray with them in public, and from house to house—but carry them to your closet, and pray for them in private.

Do not neglect to visit them at all proper times, but especially embrace those golden opportunities—sickness and affliction.

Have sympathetic feelings with the sufferings of all your flock.

Let your life be consistent with your message. What you preach on Sunday—practice through the week.

Do not only press charity on the wealthy; but let your example, according to your ability, show the way.

Lend your ear to reproaches--rather than applauses. Reproaches may let us see some of our foibles or failings. But commendation is very apt to kindle self-conceit—of which everyone has enough.

Be temperate in eating and drinking. Do not, when at a feast, though temperate at other times—be a glutton or a wine-bibber.

With respect to your flock, consider that you are made the steward of a family, and therefore must, seeing the great Master allows it—provide food for all—meat for the strong, and milk for the weak.

Keep an exact list or catalogue of your flock—who is pious or profligate; who is in affluence or poverty; who is in health or sick—and read it often.

Give a pleasant ear when others are commended. But always frown away the friend that would commend you to your face.

Be scant in exhibiting 'specimens of your learning', or comments on the Scriptures in their original languages. For a fine grammarian may be but a novice in piety and the gospel.

In preaching, aim at God's glory and the good of souls. And then, without deviating from that rule—please all men as much as possible.

Let your sermons be always the fruit of much study and application. And never dare to serve God or his people with that which cost you nothing. 

Monday, October 31, 2016

the necessity and the method

Following on from the good reception of an earlier article on the Nature of the rebirth, we thought that we would now look at two other aspects of regeneration, namely, the necessity and the method of being born again. One of the clearest passages with regards to these truths is that one in John chapter three, dealing with the interview between our Lord Jesus Christ and that man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus. In the third verse of that chapter, the necessity of the rebirth is clearly announced by the Lord, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God;” and then, in the seventh verse, that truth is once again stated, this time preceded by an exhortation not to marvel at such a thing being the case - “Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.”

 Now, one of the most essential things to grasp with regards to those words of our Lord to Nicodemus is this – our Lord was not telling Nicodemus what he must do, but what must happen to him in order for him to enter into the kingdom of God. How little this seems to be realised; and there are many preachers and ministers in our day who claim to be preachers of the rebirth, but who continually make and perpetuate this mistaken notion. So, you can hear John chapter three being preached from and the preacher asking men and women to be “born again” as though they were to fulfil a condition of their soul's salvation that is within their own power and ability to fulfil. This is not the truth of John three, and therefore, is not the preaching of the necessity of the rebirth as our Lord Jesus uses and states that truth before this leader of the Jewish nation.

Remember verse seven? As we said, that is the second usage of the phrase, Ye must be born again; and as we said, it is preceded by an exhortation not to marvel at this truth of the necessity of having to be born again of the Holy Spirit of God. And the main reason that we are not to “marvel” at this truth is contained in the previous verse, in verse six, where our Lord says, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit;” therefore , verse seven, “Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.” In other words, we understand the truth of the necessity of our “second” birth on the back of another truth – the truth of our “first” birth and where that leaves us in relation to our God and the things of our God. “That which is born of the flesh is flesh,” says our Lord”, and that which is born of the Spirit it is spirit.” And when our Lord uttered those words He was pointing Nicodemus to the two great dividing families of mankind – that of the flesh and that of the Spirit. They are continuously feuding families; “The flesh warreth against the spirit and the spirit against the flesh.” And into that family of the flesh we are all, each and every one of us, born by our first birth in our first parents Adam and Eve. As far as spiritual things pertaining to our God are concerned, we all, each and every one of us, by nature, manifest the same family characteristics – blindness, deafness, lameness, deadness – and a dozen-and-one other traits that mark us out and which are all summed up under “the flesh.” Therefore, if that which is born of the flesh is flesh, then, indeed, our Lord says aright, “Marvel not that I said unto you – you must be born again.” This is what must happen to you – you must have a new birth, because there is nothing whatsoever belonging to that old first birth that can do anything other then “war” against the ways and will of your God who is in heaven above.

Now, as I say if we would grasp that, first of all. We make a great mistake in setting the work of salvation forth as a “rescue operation” on fallen man. As one has pictured it – it is not as though the sinner is splashing about in the waves of the sea waiting for some one to throw him a life-belt and rescue him; he is not splashing about on the waves, he is lying on the floor of the ocean – for he is a dead man in the things of salvation! That lovely text out of the Revelation is so often taken as a summary of all gospel preaching - “Behold I stand at the door and knock,” and so forth. “There you are,” people say, “the sinner must open the door and let the Saviour come in; the sinner must be able to do that, for Jesus wouldn't knock if that wasn't the case; and as that saying goes, 'The handle's on the inside of the  door – the man inside must open the door.'” Well, we might reply by saying, What's a sinner doing reading a Christian's mail; for those words are pronounced to a church of the living God who, by the grace of God has the life of God still remaining within her, and, therefore, able to bestir herself in life to the voice of her beloved. But that picture never belongs to the sinner, for whether the “handle” is on the inside of the door or not is completely irrelevant, because the “occupant” of the house, the sinner, is lying and dead stiff on the floor of the room! He is “born of the flesh;” marvel not that he “must be born again.” He cannot walk, for he is lame, he cannot see, for he is blind, he cannot hear, for he is deaf, he cannot stir, for he is dead. He is “born of the flesh”, he must be born again, of the Spirit; that is absolutely necessary, that is final, that is what must happen to him.

You remember that word of the Lord about not “marvelling” at this truth? “Marvel not that I said unto thee ...” Surely our Lord foresaw the great potential in human nature to fail to see what man is naturally like and therefore what he must be spiritually made. Long ago in the eastern countries it was the custom to set a corpse at the head of a table during a great feast. The purpose of this eerie presence was to remind the participants in the feast of the brevity of life. How much we need constantly reminded of the deadness of the human nature that we are called to work and witness among with the things of the gospel. A due consideration of this fact would keep us from running after those “embalming spirits” of our modern methods of evangelism and so forth. Man by nature is only flesh, and he must be “born again.” No matter how much you dress up a corpse, it is a corpse still. It is time we paid heed to what the Saviour said to that man of the Pharisees so long ago, regeneration is absolutely necessary; as surely as we are born into the family of the flesh through the operations of the flesh, so we are and must be born of the spirit by the Holy Spirit of God. Many would look on this as a hard doctrine and one that doesn't hold out any hope whatsoever for the sinner outside of Christ. Let it be stated quite clearly, it is the doctrine that our Lord was preaching to this man, and that man – still in his flesh – openly railed against it, “How can a man be born when he is old” etc.? And yet, was that not the man that did that daring deed in openly confessing the Lord when together with Joseph of Arimathea he took His body and buried it in that new sepulchre? It is our duty to state the truth before the hearts and minds of men, and there is no greater truth than this, that a man or woman must be born again before they can enter the kingdom of God. And when, by the grace of God, a person is born anew, then, that person will more than likely rather thank than blame any Christian who told it truly as it is. If you are an unconverted reader of this, then, my friend, you ponder well these words of the Saviour “Ye must – ye must – be born again.” No words are more calculated to lay the sinner low before his God, and surely, that is one of the first processes of regeneration taking place in a sinner's life.

Could we just take a few lines now to consider the method of the rebirth? How is a man born again? And of course, we have made reference to this already, and our Saviour makes it absolutely clear before Nicodemus: he is “born of the Spirit”; “Of water and of the Spirit,” says our Lord. Let it be said that the “water” there mentioned has nothing whatsoever to do with baptism; it is what is called in another place, “the washing of regeneration by the Word.” When the Holy Spirit works in a soul He works in a cleansing way, like water – just as He also acts in a burning way like fire. Our Lord makes this clear; and He also makes it abundantly clear that when the Spirit works in regenerating a soul He works in a completely “sovereign” fashion – verse eight, “The wind bloweth where it pleases … so is every one that is born of the Spirit.” And God's method in regenerating a soul excludes anything belonging to that old first fleshly nature, and it is something wrought spiritually and by the Spirit of God alone.

One of the great statements regarding the Spirit's work is found later on in the gospel of John where our Lord sets Him forth as convincing of sin righteousness, and judgment. That is a good statement: in the work of regeneration, the Holy Spirit stands like an advocate before the sinner and lays all the charges of sin before him. This is done “objectively” in the reading and the preaching of the Word of God, for that is God's truth regarding the sinner and his sin. 

 But, it is also done “subjectively”, when that objective truth of the Word of God makes the sinner realise his sinnership before his God. When that occurs, the sinner then enters a plea of mercy before the Judge whom he now knows he has wronged and sinned against. John Bunyan, in his Holy War has a classical illustration of this process. Mansoul is the city under siege by the thundering legions – the Law of God etc. The city begins to shake under this siege, but the walls are not breached – for no man was ever saved through the Law – the law only makes the sinner appear sinful. Then comes Immanuel, and with persuasive words he makes an entrance into the city and sets himself in the castle of Mansoul. On seeing this, the inhabitants of the city send out a deputation to sue for mercy; the deputation consists of Mr Desires-awake, and Mr Wet-eyes. Their plea for mercy is accepted by the prince Immanuel, peace is declared for Mansoul, and a new governor, Mr God's-peace, is appointed for that city.

That is, in fact, the ways of our God in new-creating a soul. The law comes with its battering rams and slings; Christ is brought to us in the gospel, and the Holy Spirit of God arouses the spiritual man of His creating to see the Christ whom we had despised and rejected. Remember the names of Bunyan's deputation? Mr Desires-awake and Mr Wet-eyes. How true to the Word was the old Bedford Tinker, for there is “repentance and faith” beginning to come forth to petition the King - “Lord, be merciful to me, a sinner.” Such pleas and declarations sincerely made are never refused; for it is the Spirit's work to create them in bringing a soul from death to life in the operations of regeneration which are absolutely necessary if a man or a woman will ever see God as their God and Saviour. 

“For Thou hast made the blind to see, 
 The deaf to hear, the dumb to speak,
 The dead to live; and lo, I break
 The chains of my captivity.” 

 Yours sincerely,
 W. J. Seaton