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

Monday, May 30, 2016

Cold heart?

"And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold." Matt.24:12

As we watch our nation disintegrate before our eyes and the world on the verge of it's most  horrendous self-inflicted act to date, is it any wonder that everyone is scared to death? Believers get caught up in this flow of doom and wonder why they can't free themselves from it. We have been told repeatedly that things in the world will get worse as "we see that day approaching" so why do we get so bent out of shape? Could it be that we don't really trust our Lord to do what He said He would do and keep us, no matter what? Sadly, yes. How many times have we been instructed to "watch" for the immanent return of the Lord Jesus and how few have a heart to do this? Have we secretly given up? Doesn't the prospect of being caught up to meet the Lord in the air make our heart leap for joy? Well, it should. Perhaps instead of bemoaning the state of the world as the judgment of our Righteous King is being doled out, we should be rejoicing that He is in the process of vindicating His Name, fulfilling His prophecies, and bringing the wicked to their knees. Doesn't the Scripture say "Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near" Luke 21:28? But what do we do, hang our head, become weak to the point of being limp and apathetic, and cry because our favorite Babylon is being destroyed? Shame on us!

Does the Word of God pierce your heart? It should. Is prayer no longer an integral part of your day? Why? Does fear grip your mind instead of His peace? Did He give you a spirit of fear or "of  power, of love, and of a sound mind" 2 Tim. 1:7? Have you left your "first love" as did the Ephesians? Is He no longer mighty to save to the uttermost? If any of these things be so in us, it is due to our own iniquities. Do not try to pass the blame for a cold heart off on the world around you. They will wallow in their sins and the consequences thereof for all eternity.

No one knows the moment of our Lord's return. What we do know is that alive or physically dead, we shall all meet Him in the air. 1 Thes. 4:17. We are commanded to "watch" for that day, nothing more, nothing less. "So Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation" Heb. 9:28. What are you waiting for, the destruction of this already doomed world or the return of the Lord Jesus Christ? May it please the Lord to refocus our hearts and minds onto Him, refresh us and revive us to be obedient to your Word.

Even so. Come. Lord Jesus.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

the vain wish

"Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his." Numbers 23:10


We must not lose sight of the place where these words were spoken. It was in the land of Moab, and amid the wild desolation of its bare grey hills. It was nearby the land of promise—but not in it; quite within sight of it, yet still with Jordan and the Dead Sea between. It was a land of enemies; a land of false worship; a land whose king hated Israel, and was searching everywhere for curses to launch at him. From this stranger-land, and from these hills, around which the exhalations from the sea of death are gathering, and over which the gloom of the shadow of death is resting, the prayer comes up, "Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his."
Nor must we forget the man who spoke them. He is a Mesopotamian prophet; a man who, though a worshiper of false gods, knows much of the one true God. He is one who wants to serve two masters, and to make the best of both worlds; and, while serving Moab's Baal, would like to be in favor with Israel's Jehovah. He knows enough of Jehovah to stand in awe of his displeasure, and enough of Jehovah's people to desire an inheritance among them. But, like Demas, he loves this present world, and he covets the wages of unrighteousness. He would like to lose nothing of the good either of this world or the next. He would like to pitch his tent among the goodly tabernacles of Israel; but then, he must come out from his own nation, and break with Moab; he must forego all Balak's rewards, and give up honor, wealth, reputation, friends; and he cannot make up his mind to this. He would like religion, if it were not so dear. He would gladly have a home both in Israel and Moab, and be both Baal's and Jehovah's prophet; but, since he cannot thus unite heaven and earth just now, he starts the thought—but might I enjoy them in succession; Moab just now, Israel afterwards? Might I not serve Baal just now, and Jehovah hereafter? Might I not go on living as heretofore—but make a change at death? This is the thought that is working its way through these words, "Let me die the death of the righteous." He sees that the death of the righteous is the best, whatever his life may be, and from the gloomy depths of a "divided heart" he sends up this bitter cry.
But it is with the wish or prayer itself that we have specially to do. (1.) What does it mean? (2.) What state of feeling does it indicate?
1. What does it mean? He knew that he must die, and that, after death, he must live forever. He had seen men die; he had seen the men of Aram, and Midian, and Moab die; but it was without hope; and he had seen the mourners go about the streets for them—but they sorrowed as those who had no hope. He would not die their death. He had seen, or at least heard of, other deaths, for he evidently knew much of Israel and Israel's history. He had heard of the deaths of Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in other days; and, it may be, he had heard of Aaron's death on Mount Hor, just a short time before; and he knew how the righteous die. "Let me, then, die their death." Dimly, and from afar, he had read the joyful truth, afterwards brought nearer and into fuller light—"Blessed are the dead that die in the Lord."
But the words mean more than this; for he speaks not merely of death—but of something beyond death—the last end of the righteous. This is no repetition of the other. There is a parallelism indeed—but it is an ascending one; this second part containing more than the first; and by "last end" the prophet meant resurrection—a truth far more widely known, at least among the nations in any way linked with the patriarchs and patriarchal traditions, than is generally admitted. Balaam's prayer was, "Let me share the death of the righteous; and let me share his resurrection too." How full and comprehensive! There is no vagueness about the object of the wish, whatever there may be about the feelings or actings of him who uttered it. It is a prayer for us to join in; and, though once the prayer of an unbeliever, it may well be the prayer of a believing man.
II. What state of feeling does it indicate? It was not in pretended earnestness nor idle flippancy that these words were uttered. They were sincere. The Syrian prophet felt what he was saying. Compelled by the almighty Spirit to look into Israel's future, and utter glorious things concerning it, he was roused up to desire such a future for himself, to covet such a glory and such an immortality as awaited Israel when the Star of Jacob should arise, bringing morning, and gladness, and an incorruptible inheritance. Sick at heart, and weary of the hollowness of his own heathenism, and all that it could give him, he cries aloud, from the depths of a dissatisfied heart, "Let me die the death of the righteous." Disappointed and sorrowful, he sees the eternal brightness in the distance, with all its attraction, and beauty, and unchangeableness, and in the bitterness of his spirit he cries out, "Would God that I were there!" The feeling soon passes off—but while it lasts it is real. But, with all its reality, it leads to nothing. It leaves him where it found him—amid the mountains of Moab—as earthly, as covetous, as carnal as before. He would gladly have the death of the righteous—but he sees nothing desirable in the life of the righteous. He would gladly have Israel's inheritance—but he has no wish to be a worshiper of Israel's God.
Balaam's wish is a very common one, both in its nature and in its fruitlessness. Sometimes it is a mere passing wish, called up by vexation and weariness; at other times it is a deep-breathed prayer; but, in both cases, it is too often ineffective, leading to nothing. Men, young as well as old, get tired of life—sick of the world and its vanities. They see that it has nothing for them after all; and that, even if it had, none of its pleasures can last. When it has done all it can, it still leaves them with a troubled conscience, an aching head, and an empty heart. It makes promises—but cannot keep them; it gives gifts to its lovers—but they perish with the using; it strews roses in the path of its admirers—but this is only to cover its hideousness; it prepares its revelings and banquetings—but these are to intoxicate and poison; it spreads out its thrones and pomps, its costly gems and pearls, its gold and silver, its purple and scarlet, its gaiety and splendor; but these fill up nothing—they bind up no wounds, they knit no broken ties, they staunch no bleeding hearts, they heal no blighted affection; they leave sorrow still sorrow, and pain still pain, and tears still tears, and death still death, and the grave still the scene of farewells, and the dwelling of corruption. Is it astonishing, then, that the vexed spirit should at times fling all such earthly mockeries aside, and groan out the fervent prayer of the Syrian prophet, "Let me die the death of the righteous?" Have you not often done so? And have you not added, "O that I had wings like a dove; then should I fly away, and be at rest?"
In too many cases, this is a mere transient and sentimental wish. It leads to no action, no result. It vanishes like a bright rainbow from a dark cloud, and there is no change. Is it to be so with you? You hope to enter heaven; you wishfor a happy death at last; but will mere wishes save you? Will wishes pluck out death's sting, or conquer the grave, or make you partaker of the resurrection of the just? You can't wish yourself into heaven, or out of hell. Your wishes will do nothing for you, either here or hereafter. If hungry, a wish won't give you bread; or, if thirsty, a wish won't quench your thirst; or, if suffering, a wish won't soothe your pain; or, if dying, a wish won't bring back health into your pale cheek and faded eye.
Yet, a wish may be a good beginning. All fruit begins with buds and blossoms; and though these often come to nothing, yet sometimes they end in much. And, therefore, I would reason with you; I would plead with you. That wish may be the beginning of your eternal life. It may lead to much; Oh, let it lead you on! Do not trust to it, as if it made you safe and right; yet do not despise it, as if it were nothing. It may be like the angel that came to Lot to lead him out of Sodom! Be not, therefore, forgetful to entertain this stranger; for you may be entertaining an angel unawares. Yield to it, and let it lead you on. Let it lead you out of the world. Let it lead you out of self. Let it lead you to the cross. Let it lead you to the blood of sprinkling, the fountain opened for sin and for uncleanness. Let it lead you straight, and without delay, just as you are—to Christ Jesus himself! Let it lead you up to the mercy-seat, where the blood speaks pardon, and the High Priest waits to bless. Let it do all this now.
Do not allow that wish, however faint, to die away. It is the touch of the Spirit within you. It is the voice of Christ, saying, "Come unto me." It is the call of the Father, yearning over his prodigal, and beseeching him to be reconciled and blessed. But a prayer like this, pointing both at death and resurrection, specially speaks of him who is the resurrection and the life. Go to him with your longings for the death and resurrection of the righteous. Go to him with that weary spirit, he will give it rest; with that empty heart, he will fill it; with that aching head, he will soothe it; with that troubled mind, he will calm it; with that faded eye, he will brighten it. He will give you "beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning." Go to him with your sorrow, he will turn it into joy. Go to him with your death, he will transform it into life. Go to him with your sins, he will forgive them frankly. Go to him with your stony heart, he will take it out of you, and give you the heart of flesh. Go to him with your chains, he will snap them asunder. Go to him with your hunger, he will feed you; with your thirst, he will give you drink. Go to him with every burden, and care, and weakness—he will remove them all.
Oh, do not rest in a wish, a prayer, however good. That will not save you. Balaam went as far as that, Demas went farther, Judas farther still; yet they were lost. Be not like these. Quarrel with sin at once. Break with the world at once. Linger no longer on the mountains of Moab or the plains of Midian. Enter Israel's land. Pitch your tents in the midst of the beloved nation. Say with Ruth, when she left Moab, "Where you go, I will go; and where you lodge I will lodge—your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die, will I die, and there will I be buried—the Lord do so to me, and more also, if anything but death parts you and me."

You know that you must die. Do not dismiss that subject with a wish or a hurried prayer. Do not treat it sentimentally, and sing, "O for the death of those that die like daylight in the west!" Do not trifle away its solemnity, or say with the French infidel (Mirabeau), "Let me die to the sound of delicious music!" Look death full in the face. Take up Balaam's prayer. It is a good one; only let be carried out. Die in Jesus, and you die well. "Blessed are the dead, who die in the Lord." But the dying in Jesus must be begun by the living in Jesus. Only this will do. Live in him—and it will not be hard to die.

Horatius Bonar

Not what I am, O Lord

Not what I am, O Lord, but what Thou art,
That, that alone can be my soul’s true rest:
Thy love, not mine, bids fear and doubt depart,
And stills the tempest of my throbbing breast.

Thy name is Love, I hear it from yon cross;
Thy name is Love, I hear it from yon tomb:
All meaner love is perishable dross,
But this shall light me through time’s thickest gloom.

Girt with the love of God on every side,
Breathing that love as Heav’ns own healing air,
I work or wait, still following my Guide,
Braving each foe, escaping every snare.

’Tis what I know of Thee, my Lord and God,
That fills my soul with peace, my lips with song:
Thou art my health, my joy, my staff and rod;
Leaning on Thee, in weakness I am strong.

More of Thyself, O show me hour by hour;
More of Thy glory, O my God and Lord:
More of Thyself, in all Thy grace and power;
More of Thy love and truth, incarnate Word!


Horatius Bonar

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Still churchless?

The stories are without number, the pain of separation real, the hurt feelings that just won't go away, and the lingering questions that are unanswered. And the kicker is the boat load of guilt that some carry around daily because they no longer attend "church." It has been implanted in their brain that their place on any Sunday morning is in a "church" building, sitting quietly and obediently as they listen to their "preacher" speak to them what is supposedly the Gospel, but in nearly all cases it is "another gospel." Now, there is no place to go on Sunday morning, no one to listen to, no offering plate passed so that one's 'duty' can be fulfilled. There is no 'fellowship' with the brethren, never mind that what is called 'fellowship' centers around business, sports, politics, family, friends, etc. with little to no talk about the Lord Jesus. And to think that all this could have been avoided by simply keeping quiet, not questioning what is said and done in the "name of the Lord" in "His house." Some may say that it is their 'right' to speak or be silent, the option is open. But the Scriptures debunk this brainwashing that has been successfully implanted into every church goer. How can one "contend earnestly for the faith" in silence? Jude 3. How does one "expose the unfruitful works of darkness" with a closed mouth? Eph.5:11. It may be objected that "my life is a witness against their deeds." True, the life one lives is definitely a witness to something, but in this case it does not witness to the glory of God, but to the capitulation of an unsettled and weak heart to wickedness of other men. It is the duty of every believer to oppose evil.

The formerly slow encroachment of bad doctrine and ecumenical practices is not so slow any more. It has become an ever increasing torrent of lie upon lie and yet how many see what is going on in their own "church" and under their own nose? Do we sweep false teaching under the rug in the name of "unity" and misguided "love?" Yes! Too many do this and demand the same of others, especially "Pulpit Jackals" and their henchmen who demand loyalty to them and their decrees no matter how far gone they are. Is it proper to listen to, give money and time to, give allegiance to anyone (organizations included) that teaches false doctrine and it's ecumenical practices? [Any and all of these 'ecumenical practices' are nothing more than idol worship.] Good luck with trying to justify that on the Last Day standing before the Righteous Judge.

For all the evil that is perpetrated on God's people today, He not only remains faithful, but gracious as well. One of the tenants of false doctrine is that after God saves a person that man is left to "fend for himself" as God steps out of the picture and turns man loose to his own devises. What a big fat lie! These same people deny that the God they supposedly worship is sovereign, but has ceded His former sovereignty to the "free-will" of His creatures. Insanity! Although our Lord is kind to the 'just and the unjust' in supplying the necessities of life, He has a special type of "Kindness" reserved for the elect. It is the Kindness of searching out His elect like a shepherd who finds the hundredth sheep and brings him home. It is seen in the love of a father to a wayward, prodigal son who has come to his senses and returned home. It is seen in the forgiveness of our sins, the cleansing, the removal of guilt and shame. And perhaps most of all it is seen in the adoption as sons, the promise of eternity with Him and seeing His face. All this and more being done for every believer it is then unthinkable that He would neglect His children and leave them in the cesspool of idolatry and abominations that blaspheme His name.

Some may consider being "churchless" a stigma, a curse, a point of rebellion against God, but it is none of these things. On the contrary it is a great blessing on His elect to no longer be a part of a system that does nothing but undermine the truth of Scripture and does not glorify the Lord. 2 Cor. 6:11-18 spells it out clearly that believers are to have nothing whatsoever to do with idolaters and blasphemers and yet how many excuses do we find in today's "church" to do just that? During the trauma of the controversy were you not much in prayer? Did you resort to the Scriptures for answers and direction from the Lord on a more intense basis? Did not the Holy Spirit guide you and comfort you throughout the entire ordeal? Did He not teach you on many levels as you fought through the battle? When it was all over was the weight lifted, the joy of the Lord restored, and peace that passes understanding engulf your heart and mind? This is the Lord's doing, from beginning to end, from the first red flag to the exit out the door and the shaking of the dust off your feet.

There may be lingering affects due to the relentless efforts of the wicked one to cause further pain and emotional distress. The greatest temptation may be to find another "church" to join as the guilt of "neglect" is employed against you. You may question your stance or the way you went about the challenge to the false teaching and practices. But even this will drive you to your knees once again and to the Word for clarification and direction. There is no end to Kindness and the blessings of the Lord for His elect.

"Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you." Matt.5: 11 & 12.

There is a generation that is not washed from their filthiness

1. There is a generation of atheists, that neither fear God nor regard man; that say in their heart, “There is no God;” and vainly wish there were none. There is a generation of deists, which is but a second edition of atheism, whereby the providence of God is denied, and so the God of providence blasphemed: but beside the gross, contracted, and almost professed atheism of many, what a huge generation is there that was never purged from their natural atheism! And though they would take it ill to be called atheists, are evidently and practically so, while, though they profess to know God, yet in works they deny him. Surely these are not purged from their filthiness.
2. There is a generation of ignorant persons, that know not God, know not religion, know not the principles of Christianity; they are grossly and stupidly ignorant, notwithstanding the means of know­ledge: they are artfully ignorant, neglecting the opportunities of in­struction, diets of examination, and other seasons of learning. They are ignorant of Christ, and the way of salvation through him; ignorant both of law and gospel; the covenant of works, and co­venant of grace. Are these washed from their filthiness? No; “It is a people of no understanding,” saith God; “Therefore he that made them, will not have mercy upon them; and he that formed them, will shew them no favour.” And, beside the grossly ignorant, there is a generation that hath a smattering of knowledge, some notional views of gospel‑mysteries; but they never had the eyes of their understandings opened; the God of this world having blinded their eyes: “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” They are not washed from their filthiness; no, the ignorant person is filthy still.
3. There is a generation of mockers, that despise all things, serious and sacred. If they come to church to attend ordinances, they but slight and despise these ordinances in their hearts. If they hear a preaching, they but despise and contemn the word that they hear, and know not what it is to hear to edification. If public prayers be an offering up, they but despise the same; their eyes are roving, and they know not what it is to join in prayer with their souls. If public psalms be a singing, they despise that piece of worship, and can sit with their mouths close, when the mouths of others are opened, to sing praises to God. I have sometimes ob­served, with regret, how, while the congregation were professing at least, to praise God with open mouth, some will sit with such a close mouth, as if they were openly professing that they despised and contemned that heavenly exercise. They that love not to join with a congregation on earth, to praise God, how unfit are they for join­ing with the heavenly company, whose exercise is to praise him forever? There is, I say, a generation of mockers and despisers: and some that slight and despise ordinances altogether, of whom God saith, “Behold, ye despisers! wonder, and perish!” Surely these are not washed from their filthiness.
4. There is a generation of hypocrites and formalists, that surely are not washed from their filthiness, that make a fashion of reading, and hearing, and praying, and praising, and singing; and rest satisfied, with the external performance of duty, and were never acquainted with the love, the power, the life of religion; that have a name to live, but are dead. Woe to you hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside; but are not washed from your internal filthiness you are as whited sepulchers, having a fair outside; but within are full of rottenness and putrefaction.
5. There is a generation of legalists and moralists: they go about to establish a righteousness of their own, and will not submit to the righteousness of God. They are your pretenders to works, and holiness, and righteousness: but discover their want thereof, by their estrangement from, and ignorance of the righteousness of Christ. They seek heaven in a legal way; they seek to enter in, but they shall not be able, (Luke 13:24). They seek salvation, but they seek it not by faith; but, as it were, by the works of the law. They pretend respect to the law, and yet affront it by refusing the only law‑biding, law fulfilling righteousness of Christ. They profess holiness, and yet are not washed from their filthiness; for they are under the law. For that word “Sin shall not have dominion over you; for you are not under the law, but under grace,” may be read just backward, with respect to them: Sin shall have dominion over them, because they are not under grace, but under the law.
6. There is a generation of superstitious worshippers and ceremony‑mongers, who will worship God in ways not enjoined in his word. A heathen Socrates would say, “God will be worshipped with that kind of worship which himself hath commanded:” and surely, those that profess themselves Christians should fear and learn. Now, I not only here mean, all gross superstition, of whatsoever sort, but all impurity of worship. Surely they are not washed from their filthiness, who have no concern upon their hearts to stand up for the purity of religion, in its worship and ordinances, in opposition to all mixtures and corruptions whatsoever. Nothing exasperates a holy God more than this, that there should be defilements in his worship; for mixture in his worship, not only crosses his command, but impeaches his wisdom, as if we should supply the defects of his word, by our inventions; therefore, God condemns it as ill‑worship, saying, “Their fear toward me [or their worship of me], is taught by the precepts of men,” (Isa. 39:13; Col. 2:22,23). In a word it makes God’s worship a vain worship, “In vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrine the commandments of men,” (Matt. 15:6). As mixing copper with gold, debaseth the metal, it cannot pass: therefore, God giveth that awful certification, “For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book; and if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book,” (Rev. 22:18,19).
7. There is a generation of erroneous persons; that err in heart, and err in practice, and err in principle. Some have no principles at all, but Latitudinarian; they are any thing you please. Other are of abominable and corrupt principles, subversive of the gospel, and destructive to pure religion and undefiled. It was an old principle long ago, which is yet living, “That the doctrine of free grace, and justification by faith, without the works of the law, was an adversary to the law of Moses, and to holiness.” No wonder then, that some have this doctrine to defend against such a charge, when Christ himself had this ado; “I am not come to destroy the law, but to fulfil it.” It is a day of error; and to speak of all the errors that are like to be imbibed and drunk in, were a task not to be managed in a passing word, but would take much time. Pollution in principle is a great pollution; and where the error is fundamentals, surely the person is not washed from his filthiness.
8. There is a generation that makes no manner of bonds of of­fence; to offend the generation of the righteous, is become a common and easy thing with many professors: and yet the Lord says, “Woe to the world, because of offences; better that a millstone were put about his neck, and he thrown into the midst of the sea, than to offend one of those little ones. Offences must come; but woe to them by whom they come.” Surely, these that have no regard whether they offend, and lay stumbling‑blocks in people’s way, or not, they seem not to be washed from their filthiness.
9. There is a generation that are drowned in security and stupidity, having no sense of sin or danger: though sin be imminent and danger imminent; they go on incorrigibly, in their own evil way; and live securely notwithstanding all the means of mercy, and motives of judgment, the Lord gives for their recovery. When the language of providence, and the alarms thereof cry, “Arise, O sleeper, and call upon thy God.” While the stormy tempest threatens the shipwreck of the church and state: and particularly the storm of division and animosity threatens the overthrowing the church visible: yet they sleep on, saying, all is safe: “Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep.” When security is universal, surely it is a sign we are not washed from our filthiness.
10. There is a generation of apostates, who begin in the spirit, and end in the flesh; that begin like Nebuchadnezzar’s image, with a head of gold, but end with the feet of the image, that were feet of clay. Apostasy, and backsliding, and defection are no rarity in our day, wherein the love of many waxeth cold; and the church hath left her first love; and many backslide with a perpetual backsliding; and are, it is to be feared, or will be of these who draw back to perdition. Concerning all such, the scripture speaketh very awfully: “The backslider in heart shall be filled with his own ways. Whoso putteth his hand to God’s plough, and looketh back, is not fit for the kingdom of heaven.” Surely habitual apostates, who return with the dog to the vomit, and the sow that was washed, to the swallowing in the mire, are not washed from their filthiness. A generation that is making defection from God, his work, cause, and interest, are not washed.
11. There is a generation of lukewarm Laodiceans, who are neither cold nor hot, whom God threatens to spew out of his mouth; having no zeal for God, no public spirit, to witness faithfully for the cause and interest of Christ. Instead of this, carnal policy, under the false notion of prudence and moderation, doth carry many off their feet, while they follow the counsels of flesh and blood, and condemn, reproach, and discourage those who take other measures, and desire to be faithful. If any zeal for the declarative glory of God appear with this or the other person, in a day of general lukewarmness, no wonder that the particular person, who would make any appearance against the common defection, be flouted for singularity, as if they set up themselves, and would be reckoned eminent beyond all others: But calumny will never make zeal culpable, nor lukewarmness justifiable. However, the neutralizing temporizer is abominable to God; he who cares not whether the ark or Dagon be set up, whether Christ or antichrist prevail: “He that is not withme, is against me,” saith Christ, upon this head. I have read of Anastatius the emperor, that he was, by the hand of God, shot to death with a hot thunder‑bolt, because he was lukewarm in the catholic cause, and not zealous against the Arian faction, which be­came so universal, that it was said, The whole world was turned Arian.
12. There is a generation of profane persons, like Esau, who, for one morsel of meat, sold his birth‑right. Many, for a little morsel of worldly good, will sell their souls, and sell their heavenly inheritance. Many, for fear of losing any little outward inheritance, or temporal advantage in the world, will make shipwreck of faith and a good conscience. Many think they make a good bargain at a public market, (such as you have in view this week), though they cheat their neighbor with never so many lies and falsehoods, in buying and selling, if they may but gain a little worldly advantage upon them. They will quit with their conscience, before they quit with a sixpence. Surely these are not washed from their filthiness.
But what shall I say? There would be no end of speaking to this purpose. There is a generation that have no care of their own souls, nor the souls of others: they are running fast to hell; and by their ill example, drawing their children to hell with them: their friends and neighbors to hell with them. There is a generation of vile whoremongers, and adulterers, and unclean persons, that go on, without remorse or reformation: and to whom the custom of the sin hath worn out the conscience of the guilt. Most certainly they are not washed from their filthiness. There is a generation of drunkards and tipplers, that cannot mortify the lust of drunkenness unto drunkenness: it is their right hand and right eye; which, because it cannot be cut off, or plucked out, it is like to go to hell with them. They are not washed from their filthiness. There is a generation of horrid swearers, and profaners of the name of God, whether by broad oaths, or minced oaths: not to insist upon the open perjury, by the abominable use and abuse of state‑oaths. O the perfidy and per­jury of the nation! Surely the Lord hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the land, because there is no truth, nor knowledge of God in the land; “By swearing, and lying, and killing, and steal­ing, and committing adultery, they break out, and blood toucheth blood; therefore shall the land mourn,” (Hosea 4:1‑3). There is a generation of liars, who make no conscience of speaking the truth to their neighbor: They are of their father the devil, who is the father of lies. Are they washed from their filthiness? No: There shall in no wise enter into the new Jerusalem anything that defileth, or worketh abomination, or maketh a lie. There is a generation of Sabbath‑breakers, by whom God’s holy day is as little hallowed and sanctified as any other day; though they come to the church for the fashion; yet they do not make conscience to abstain from thinking their own thoughts, speaking their own words, or doing their own works on the Lord’s day: No, if it were not for the custom, they would not make so much as any outward mark of distinction. Are they washed from their filthiness? No, by no means. There is a generation of malicious persons and fire‑brands, living in the fire of contention and discord: not living in love, nor following peace with all men: but living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another: loving to have an ill tale to tell, and an evil report to make of one another; pursuing idle clashes, and entertaining them. Surely they are not washed from their filthiness. There is a generation of unjust and injurious persons, who think nothing to build up their own worldly fortune upon the ruin of their neighbor’s estate; not remembering, that which is won by theft, robbery, injustice, or oppression, is won at the peril of their souls and the curse of God. Of the same nature is injustice in judging and determining of causes, at whatsoever court, whether civil or ecclesiastic, when friendship and courtesy is preferred above justice and equity; and when the decision of judges goes not by justice, but by favor, or fraud, or bribery. Surely all such are not washed from their filthiness. There is a generation of rotten‑hearted professors, that join in intimate society and close familiarity with stated enemies to God and religion, and monstrous swearers, profane, loose, abandoned, and malignant persons; they reckon them perhaps to be good fellows, and honest neighbors, and have not the least reluctance at intimate fellowship with them: and, it may be, prefer their company to that of the godly and serious. They walk in the counsel of the ungodly, they stand in the way of sinners, and sit in the way of the scornful, and yet would be called professors. But it seems plain that they are not washed from their filthiness. There is a generation of prayerless persons; they bow not a knee to God in their families, and perhaps as little in their closets. The prayerless man is an impure man; he is not washed from his filthiness. There is a generation of proud and selfish persons; if they pray, or bring forth any fruit, they are but empty vines that bring forth fruit to themselves. Spiritual pride and self is as great an enemy as God hath: and even pride of duties, pride of prayer, pride of preaching, pride of grace, proud desires of being applauded, and thought better of than others, where it is in its reign, evidences the person is not washed from his filthiness. In a word, there is a generation of un­regenerate persons, which include all the Christless and graceless world, that were never convinced or converted, never drawn to Christ in a day of power. Surely all they who were never born again, of water and of the Spirit, whose operations are like water, who were never saved by the washing of regeneration, and the renewing of the Holy Ghost, they are not washed from their filthi­ness.
 
 

Friday, May 27, 2016

Brokenness, another neglected doctrine

There is only one thing that causes grief or pain to our God: the sins of men. The penalty for sin is death. Always, forever, no exceptions. We see the promise of this penalty spoken to Adam and Eve in the Garden prior to their rebellion and sin. And we also see that God kept His promise for in the very moment that Adam ate the forbidden fruit he died, not physically, but his spirit died (Eph.2:1). God sent judgment on the entire human race (excluding Noah and the other seven members of his family) in Gen. 6 and yet we find that this very judgment grieved Him (v. 5 & 6). The Lord takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they would turn and repent and live (Ezek.33:11). As the Lord is pronouncing His righteous judgment on Israel in Ezek. 6 we find this statement in verse nine: "...I am broken with their whorish heart." What? God broken? Yes, over the sins of His people. Broken, grieved, hurt, in anguish. For all the pain our sins cause God, He does not just wink at them and let them pass by without consequence. If He did, then He would be just like a man. Gone would be His Holiness; gone would be His Righteousness; gone would be His Mercy and Forgiveness; and gone would be His Love.

But He did not flinch, and wink, and walk away. Instead, He met the sins of His elect head on when He "laid on Him the iniquity of us all" Isa. 53:6. We find other words in Isa. 53 to describe the actions of the Father upon His Son as "He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him"---2 Cor. 5:21---all of which carry the same connotation as 'brokenness.' Verse 4, "...stricken, smitten by God." Verse 5, "wounded, bruised, chastisement, stripes." Verse 7, "oppressed, afflicted" and verse 10, "Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief. When You make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand." Christ was indeed broken for us, hence His words "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" Mark 15:34. He paid the penalty, the death penalty, for the sins of the elect. It was the ultimate example of brokenness, the God-Man humbling Himself in order to suffer death, even the death of the cross---Phil. 2:8---so that He may bring "many sons to glory"---Heb. 2:10.

So where do we stand with this thing of "brokenness?" Those that have been born from above know full well what it means to be broken before the Lord. They have 'fallen on that stone' and happily so (Luke 20:18), and now understand that the real knowledge of the Mercy and Love of the Lord is afforded only to those who have laid their heart bare before Him and repented of their sins. Without brokenness before the Lord the concept of His Attributes of Mercy, Love, and Longsuffering are nothing more than words on a page or noise in the ear. It is impossible for those who are steeped in their rebellious pride, who refuse to fall on that stone (Luke 20:18) and be broken before Him to muster anything but a cheap (exceedingly cheap) imitation of salvation and all it's attending benefits.

God is broken over the "whorish heart." Christ, broken and humiliated provided the remedy for our whorish heart. So what about us, are we broken before Him or are these words just "hot air" in a cold and whorish heart? Believers know that to have their own sins exposed to them is a great blessing in the long run; they will be forgiven, restored, and lifted up. But the fakers run and hide, afraid of the God of Love and Mercy and Justice and are more interested in proclaiming their own brand of "righteousness" which is nothing but filthy rags in the God, their Creator. Being broken before the Lord is an untold blessing.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Honesty, a reminder

Remember the day you were saved how your mind and heart were flooded with so many thoughts on seemingly every level? One major thought line was the parade of your sins that the Holy Spirit brought to your mind and your only thought was to cry for mercy. The things that were once cherished had become a dung heap, repulsive and disgusting. Happy were you to freely confess your many sins to the Gracious Lord who brought mercy, forgiveness, and cleansing. There was no holding back, everything, every sin was on the table, your heart was laid bare, your "fig leaves" were burned up and joy overtook the depression of your sins when they were finally removed. Oh what a day that was. It was a day of real repentance, real faith, real communion with the Triune God. Since that time has not the Holy Spirit been diligent to point out current sins? Don't we mourn the fact that we have found another occasion to rebel against our Lord, even if only for a moment? Does He allow us a rejuvenated fig leaf? Do we really believe that we can hide from His eyes? Has our heart returned to it's old ways of deceit, trying to convince the Lord that we didn't do the thing that we were caught 'red-handed' doing? Sad would be this day. For the genuine believer it will gain him a trip to his Father's wood shed, and deservedly so. But even this He will turn to a blessing in the long run that we may once again bow in awe at His Lovingkindness for His children and know afresh of His Mercy, Love, and Forgiveness.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Slow of heart

"Then He said to Thomas: Reach here with your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand and put it into My side." John 20:27
We see here, how kind and merciful Christ is to dull and slow believers. Nowhere, perhaps, in all the four Gospels, do we find this part of our Lord's character so beautifully illustrated, as in the story before our eyes. It is hard to imagine anything more tiresome and provoking than the conduct of Thomas, when even the testimony of ten faithful brethren had no effect on him, and he doggedly declared, "Unless I see in His hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side--I will not believe."

But it is impossible to imagine anything more patient and compassionate, than our Lord's treatment of this weak disciple. He does not reject him, or dismiss him, or excommunicate him. He comes again at the end of a week, and apparently for the special benefit of Thomas. He deals with him according to his weakness, like a gentle mother dealing with a froward child, "Reach here with your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand and put it into My side." If nothing but the grossest, coarsest, most material evidence could satisfy Thomas--even that evidence was supplied. Surely this was a love which surpasses knowledge, and a patience which surpasses understanding.

A passage of Scripture like this, we need not doubt, was written for the special comfort of all true believers. The Holy Spirit knew well that the dull, and the slow, and the stupid, and the doubting, are by far the commonest type of disciples in this evil world. The Holy Spirit has taken care to supply abundant evidence that Jesus is rich in patience as well as compassion, and that He bears with the infirmities of all His people. Let us take care that we drink into our Lord's spirit, and copy His example. Let us never set down men as godless--because their faith is feeble, and their love is cold. Let us remember the case of Thomas, and be very compassionate and of tender mercy.

Our Lord has . . .
many weak children in His family,
many dull pupils in His school,
many raw soldiers in His army,
many lame sheep in His flock.

Yet He bears with them all, and casts none away!

Happy is that Christian who has learned to deal likewise with his brethren. There are many in the Church, who, like Thomas, are dull and slow--but for all that, like Thomas, are real and true believers.
 
J.C. Ryle

The power of God

Gleanings in the Godhead

by A.W. Pink

 

 Part 1: Excellencies Which
Pertain to the Godhead as God

9. The Power of God

WE CANNOT HAVE a right conception of God unless we think of Him as all-powerful, as well as all-wise. He who cannot do what he will and perform all his pleasure cannot be God. As God has a will to resolve what He deems good, so He has power to execute His will.
The power of God is that ability and strength whereby He can bring to pass whatsoever He pleases, whatsoever His infinite wisdom may direct, and whatsoever the infinite purity of His will may resolve . . . As holiness is the beauty of all God’s attributes, so power is that which gives life and action to all the perfections of the Divine nature. How vain would be the eternal counsels, if power did not step in to execute them. Without power His mercy would be but feeble pity, His promises an empty sound, His threatenings a mere scarecrow. God’s power is like Himself: infinite, eternal, incomprehensible; it can neither be checked, restrained, nor frustrated by the creature (S. Charnock).
"God hath spoken once; twice have I heard this, that power belongeth unto God" (Ps. 62:11). "God hath spoken once"; nothing more is necessary! Heaven and earth shall pass away, but His word abides forever. "God hath spoken once"; how befitting His divine majesty! We poor mortals may speak often and yet fail to be heard. He speaks but once and the thunder of His power is heard on a thousand hills.
The LORD also thundered in the heavens, and the Highest gave his voice; hailstones and coals of fire. Yea, he sent out his arrows, and scattered them; and he shot out lightnings, and discomfited them. Then the channels of waters were seen and the foundations of the world were discovered at thy rebuke, O LORD, at the blast of the breath of thy nostrils" (Ps. 18:13-15).
"God hath spoken once." Behold His unchanging authority. "For who in the heaven can be compared unto the LORD? who among the sons of the mighty can be likened unto the LORD?" (Ps. 89:6). "And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?" (Dan. 4:35). This was openly displayed when God became incarnate and tabernacled among men. To the leper He said, "I will, be thou clean, and immediately his leprosy was cleansed" (Matthew 8:3). To one who had lain in the grave four days He cried, "Lazarus, come forth," and the dead came forth. The stormy wind and the angry waves hushed at a single word from Him. A legion of demons could not resist His authoritative command.
"Power belongeth unto God," and to Him alone. Not a creature in the entire universe has an atom of power save what God delegates. But God’s power is not acquired, nor does it depend upon any recognition by any other authority. It belongs to Him inherently.
God’s power is like Himself, self-existent, self-sustained. The mightiest of men cannot add so much as a shadow of increased power to the omnipotent One. He sits on no buttressed throne and leans on no assisting arm. His court is not maintained by His courtiers, nor does it borrow its splendor from His creatures. He is Himself the great central source and Originator of all power (C. H. Spurgeon).
Not only does all creation bear witness to the great power of God, but also to His entire independency of all created things. Listen to His own challenge: "Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding. Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it? Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened or who laid the cornerstone thereof?" (Job 38:4-6). How completely is the pride of man laid in the dust!
Power is also used as a name of God, "the Son of man sitting at the right hand of power" (Mark 14:62), that is, at the right hand of God. God and power are so inseparable that they are reciprocated. As His essence is immense, not to be confined in place; as it is eternal, not to be measured in time; so it is almighty, not to be limited in regard of action (S. Charnock).
"Lo, these are parts of his ways: but how little a portion is heard of him? but the thunder of His power who can understand?" (Job 26:14). Who is able to count all the monuments of His power? Even that which is displayed of His might in the visible creation is utterly beyond our powers of comprehension, still less are we able to conceive of omnipotence itself. There is infinitely more power lodged in the nature of God than is expressed in all His works.
"Parts of his ways" we behold in creation, providence, redemption, but only a "little part" of His might is seen in them. Remarkably this is brought out in Habakkuk 3:4; "and there was the hiding of His power." It is scarcely possible to imagine anything more grandiloquent than the imagery of this whole chapter; yet nothing in it surpasses the nobility of this statement. The prophet (in a vision) beheld the mighty God scattering the hills and overturning the mountains, which one would think afforded an amazing demonstration of His power. Nay, says our verse, that is rather the "hiding" than the displaying of His power. What does it mean? So inconceivable, so immense, so uncontrollable is the power of deity, that the fearful convulsions which He works in nature conceal more than they reveal of His infinite might!
It is very beautiful to link together the following passages: "He walketh upon the waves of the sea" (Job 9:8), which expresses God’s uncontrollable power. "He walketh in the circuit of heaven" (Job 22:14), which tells of the immensity of His presence. "He walketh upon the wings of the wind" (Ps. 104:3), which signifies the amazing swiftness of His operations. This last expression is very remarkable. It is not that "He flieth," or "runneth," but that He "walketh" and that, on the very "wings of the wind"—on the most impetuous of the elements, tossed into utmost rage, and sweeping along with almost inconceivable rapidity, yet they are under His feet, beneath His perfect control!
Let us now consider God’s power in creation. "The heavens are thine, the earth also is thine, as for the world and the fullness thereof, thou hast founded them. The north and the south thou hast created them" (Ps. 89:11-12). Before man can work he must have both tools and materials. But God began with nothing, and by His word alone out of nothing He made all things. The intellect cannot grasp it. God "spake and it was done, He commanded and it stood fast" (Ps. 33:9). Primeval matter heard His voice. "God said, Let there be . . . and it was so" (Gen. 1). Well may we exclaim, "Thou hast a mighty arm: strong is thy hand, high is thy right hand" (Ps. 89:13).
Who, that looks upward to the midnight sky; and, with an eye of reason, beholds its rolling wonders; who can forbear enquiring, Of what were their mighty orbs formed? Amazing to relate, they were produced without materials. They sprung from emptiness itself. The stately fabric of universal nature emerged out of nothing. What instruments were used by the Supreme Architect to fashion the parts with such exquisite niceness, and give so beautiful a polish to the whole? How was it all connected into one finely-proportioned and nobly finished structure? A bare fiat accomplished all. Let them be, said God. He added no more; and at once the marvelous edifice arose, adorned with every beauty, displaying innumerable perfections, and declaring amidst enraptured seraphs its great Creator’s praise. "By the word of the LORD were the heavens made, and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth," Psalm 150:1 (James Hervey, 1789).
Consider God’s power in preservation. No creature has power to preserve itself. "Can the rush grow up without mire? Can the flag grow up without water?" (Job 8:11) Both man and beast would perish if there were not herbs for food, and herbs would wither and die if the earth were not refreshed with fruitful showers. Therefore is God called the Preserver of "man and beast" (Ps. 36:6). He "upholdeth all things by the word of his power" (Heb. 1:3).
The preservation of the earth from the violence of the sea is another plain instance of God’s might. How is that raging element kept confined within those limits where He first lodged it, continuing its channel, without overflowing the earth and dashing in pieces the lower part of the creation? The natural situation of the water is to be above the earth, because it is lighter, and to be immediately under the air, because it is heavier. Who restrains the natural quality of it? Certainly man does not, and cannot. It is the fiat of its Creator which alone bridles it: "And said, Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further: and here shall thy proud waves be stayed" (Job 38:11). What a standing monument of the power of God the preservation of the world is!
Consider God’s power in government. Take His restraint of the malice of Satan. "The devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour" (1 Pet. 5:8). He is filled with hatred against God, and with fiendish enmity against men, particularly the saints. He who envied Adam in paradise, envies us the pleasure of enjoying any of God’s blessings. Could he have his will, he would treat us all the same way he treated Job; he would send fire from heaven on the fruits of the earth, destroy the cattle, cause a wind to overthrow our houses, and cover our bodies with boils. But, little as men may realize it, God bridles him to a large extent, prevents him from carrying out his evil designs, and confines him within His ordinations.
Too, God restrains the natural corruption of men. He suffers sufficient outbreaks of sin to show what fearful havoc has been wrought by man’s apostasy from his Maker. But who can conceive the frightful lengths to which men would go were God to remove His curbing hand? "Their mouth is full of cursing and bitterness, their feet are swift to shed blood" (Rom. 3:15) is the nature of every descendant of Adam. Then what unbridled licentiousness and headstrong folly would triumph in the world, if the power of God did not interpose to lock down the flood-gates of it. See Psalm 93:3-4.
Consider God’s power in judgment. When He smites, none can resist Him (see Ezekiel 22:14). How terribly this was exemplified at the flood! God opened the windows of heaven and broke up the great fountains of the deep, and (excepting those in the ark) the entire human race, helpless before the storm of His wrath, was swept away. A shower of fire and brimstone from heaven, and the cities of the plain were exterminated. Pharaoh and all his hosts were impotent when God blew upon them at the Red Sea. What a terrific word is in Romans 9:22: "What if God, willing to show wrath, and to make His power known, endured with much long-suffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction." God is going to display His mighty power upon the reprobate, not merely by incarcerating them in Gehenna, but by supernaturally preserving their bodies as well as souls amid the eternal burnings of the lake of fire.
Well may all tremble before such a God. To treat with disrespect One who can crush us more easily than we can a moth, is a suicidal policy. To openly defy Him who is clothed with omnipotence, who can rend in pieces or cast into hell any moment He pleases, is the very height of insanity. To put it on its lowest ground, it is but the part of wisdom to heed His command, "Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little" (Ps. 2:12).
Well may the enlightened soul adore such a God! The wondrous, infinite perfections of such a Being call for fervent worship. If men of might and renown claim the admiration of the world, how much more should the power of the Almighty fill us with wonderment and homage. "Who is like unto thee, O LORD, among the gods, who is like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders" (Ex. 15:11).
Well may the saint trust such a God! He is worthy of implicit confidence. Nothing is too hard for Him. If God were stinted in might and had a limit to His strength we might well despair. But seeing that He is clothed with omnipotence, no prayer is too hard for Him to answer, no need too great for Him to supply, no passion too strong for Him to subdue, no temptation too powerful for Him to deliver from, no misery too deep for Him to relieve. "The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?" (Ps. 27:1). "Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen" (Eph. 3:20-21).

Monday, May 23, 2016

Time to unlearn

Today's 'church' scene is overflowing with men and women of great intellectual prowess, with many held in high regard by their fellows. Many have multiple educational degrees from well respected institutions and do not hesitate to make known their worth to the 'church.' They conclave with each other on various venues, always finding something good to say about each other. We have been treated to their books, recordings, and pulpit teaching for years. They claim that the Holy Spirit is their guide and teacher, revealing to them the secrets of the Gospel and the Word of God so that they may pass this new found revelation along to their own disciples. They tell us the virtues of God, limited mainly to His love, and encourage their followers to strive for "unity" in the 'church.' And on the list could go.

The New Testament is filled with warnings about false prophets, savage wolves, false brethren, and so on, but it seems that few really avail themselves of these warnings. They have their favorite preacher, the one who can speak no wrong, and they will defend such people to their own detriment. Matt. 23:15, Jesus warns us what happens to a man who is taught by his fellow apostates, he becomes two-fold more a child of hell than was his teacher. Acts 20:28-30 Paul warns of men who rise up from within the ranks of the "brethren" who speak perverse things. Somehow, these warnings have been deemed unimportant, not to be heeded, for 'first century Christians only' and certainly not applicable to today's highly enlightened 'church.' Yet the wickedness of these men and women is on display for those who have eyes to see. And there's the rub, no one wants to even consider the possibility that their favorite preacher could fall into the category of "false teacher."

Worse yet, this unwillingness to investigate is a sign of a much greater problem that generates from a deceived heart that needs help. One of the infinite benefits of regeneration (being born again) is a new found love for the Word of God. At first, it may seem strange that you are now so intensely drawn to His Word, strange that is to the old nature that still lingers within, but a most welcomed desire as the hunger and thirst for His Righteousness (Matt. 5:6) fills a newly recreated heart (2 Cor. 5:17) . What a blessing it is to be filled and still hunger for more. The more the Word is ingested, the more the Lord is revealed to us and as His light shines within our heart and mind it also exposes the errors taught by wicked men. Now it's time to unlearn, to discard the errors we have believed for too long. Sometimes it's easy and instantaneous (how could I have ever believed that?) and sometimes it takes a while, even a long 'while.' But it's the heart that is open to the constant inspection of the Holy Spirit that will lay down the error and the affinity to it's teacher. Expect this to be a life-long process and one that should provoke great encouragement, for it is the work of the Holy Spirit in you that does this---John 15:26 & 16:13-15. Aren't you glad that He resides within you?

Friday, May 20, 2016

The world is passing away!

Horatius Bonar
"This world in its present form is passing away!" 1 Corinthians 7:31
"The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever!" 1 John 2:17
The things that are seen are temporal. Ours is a dying world, and here we have no continuing city. But a few years — it may be less — and all things here are changed. But a few years — it may be less — and the Lord shall have come, and the last trumpet shall have sounded, and the great sentence shall have been pronounced upon each of the sons of men.
There is a world that which does not pass away. It is fair and glorious. It is called "the inheritance in light." It is bright with the love of God, and with the joy of Heaven. "The Lamb is the light thereof." Its gates are of pearl — they are always open. And as we tell men of this wondrous city, we invite them to enter in.
The Book of Revelation tells us the story of earth's vanity: "Then a mighty angel picked up a boulder the size of a large millstone and threw it into the sea, and said: "With such violence the great city of Babylon will be thrown down, never to be found again. The music of harpists and musicians, flute players and trumpeters, will never be heard in you again. No workman of any trade will ever be found in you again. The sound of a millstone will never be heard in you again." (18:21-22).
Such is the day that is coming on the world, and such is the doom overhanging earth — a doom dimly foreshadowed by the sad commercial disasters that have often sent sorrow into so many hearts, and desolation into so many homes.
An old minister — now two hundred years ago — lay dying. His fourscore years were well-near completed. He had been tossed on many a wave, from England to America, from America to England, again from England to America. At Boston he lay dying, full of faith and love. The evening before his death, as he lay all but speechless, his daughter asked him how it was with him. He lifted up his dying hands, and with his dying lips simply said, "Vanishing things, vanishing things!" We repeat his solemn words, and, pointing to the world, with all the vanities on which vain man sets his heart, say, "Vanishing things!"
"The world is passing away!" This is our message.
The world is passing away — like a dream of the night. We lie down to rest; we fall asleep; we dream; we awake at morn — and lo, all is fled, which in our dream seemed so stable and so pleasant! So hastens the world away. O child of mortality, have you no brighter world beyond?
The world is passing away — like the mist of the morning. The night brings down the mists upon the hills — the vapor covers the valleys; the sun rises, all has passed away — hill and valley are clear. So the world passes away, and is seen no more. O man, will you embrace a world like this? Will you lie down upon a mist, and say: This is my home?
The world is passing away — like a shadow. There is nothing more unreal than a shadow. It has no substance, no being. It is dark, it is a figure, it has motion, that is all! Such is the world. O man will you chase a shadow? What will a shadow do for you?
The world is passing away — like a wave of the sea. It rises, falls, and is seen no more. Such is the history of a wave. Such is the story of the world. O man will you make a wave your portion? Have you no better pillow on which to lay your wearied head than this? A poor world this for human heart to love, for an immortal soul to be filled with!
The world is passing away — like a rainbow. The sun throws its colors on a cloud, and for a few minutes all is brilliant. But the cloud shifts, and the brilliance is all gone. Such is the world.
With all its beauty and brightness;
with all its honors and pleasures;
with all its mirth and madness;
with all its pomp and luxury;
with all its revelry and riot;
with all its hopes and flatteries;
with all its love and laughter;
with all its songs and splendor;
with all its gems and gold — it vanishes away!
And the cloud that knew the rainbow knows it no more. O man, is a passing world like this, all that you have for an inheritance?
The world is passing away — like a flower. Beautiful, very beautiful; fragrant, very fragrant, are the summer flowers. But they wither away. So fades the world from before our eyes. While we are looking at it, and admiring it — behold, it is gone! No trace is left of all its loveliness but a little dust! O man, can you feed on flowers? Can you dote on that which is but for an hour? You were made for eternity — and only that which is eternal can be your portion or your resting place. The things that perish with the using only mock your longings. They cannot fill you — and even if they filled, they cannot abide. Mortality is written on all things here — immortality belongs only to the world to come — to that new heavens and new earth wherein dwells righteousness.
The world is passing away — like a ship at sea. With all its sails set, and a fresh breeze blowing, the vessel comes into sight, passes before our eye in the distance, and then disappears. So comes, so goes, so vanishes away this present world, with all that it contains. A few hours within sight, then gone! The wide sea o'er which it sailed, is as calm or as stormy as before; no trace anywhere of all the life or motion or beauty which was passing over it! O man, is that vanishing world your only dwelling-place? Are all your treasures, your hopes, your joys laid up there? Where will all these be when you go down to the tomb? Or where will you be when these things leave you, and you are stripped of all the inheritance which you are ever to have for eternity? It is a poor heritage at the best, and its short duration makes it poorer still. Oh, choose the better part, which shall not be taken from you!
The world is passing away — like a tent in the desert. Those who have traveled over the Arabian sands know what this means. At sunset a little speck of white seems to rise out of the barren waste. It is a traveler's tent. At sunrise it disappears. Both it and its inhabitant are gone. The wilderness is as lonely as before. Such is the world. Today it shows itself — tomorrow it disappears. O man, is that your stay and your home? Will you say of it, "This is my rest!" There is an everlasting rest, remaining for the people of God.
The world is passing away — this is the message from Heaven. "All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field. The grass withers and the flowers fall, because the breath of the LORD blows on them. Surely the people are grass!" Isaiah 40:6-7
The world is passing away — but God ever lives. He is from everlasting to everlasting; the King eternal and immortal.
The world is passing away — but man is immortal. Eternity lies before each son of Adam as the duration of his lifetime. In light — or in darkness, forever! In joy — or in sorrow, forever!
The world is passing away — what then? This is the question that so deeply concerns man. If the world is to vanish away, and man is to live forever — then of what importance is it to know where and what we are to be forever! A celebrated physician, trying to cheer a desponding patient, said to him, "Treat life as a plaything." It was wretched counsel. For life is no plaything, and time is no child's toy, to be flung away. Life here is the beginning of the life which has no end; and time is but the gateway of eternity.
What then? You must, O man, make sure of a home in that world into which you are so soon to pass. You must not pass out of this earthly tent without making sure of the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God. When you have done this, you can lie down upon your deathbed in peace.
One who had lived a worldly life at last lay down to die; and when about to pass away he uttered these terrible words, "I am dying, and I don't know where I am going!"
Another in similar circumstances cried out, "I am within an hour of eternity, and all is dark!"
O man of earth, it is time to awake!
"How can I make sure?" you ask. God has long since answered that question, and His answer is recorded for all ages: "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved." "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ! I have never done anything else," you say. If that is really true, then, as the Lord lives, you are a saved man. But is it really so? Has your life been the life of a saved man? No, truly. It has been a life wholly given to vanity. Then as the Lord God of Israel lives, and as your soul lives — you have not truly believed, and you are not yet saved.
"Have I then no work to work in this great matter of my pardon?" None! What work can you work? What work of your can buy forgiveness, or make you fit for the Divine favor? What work has God bidden you work in order to obtain salvation? None! His Word is very plain, and easy to be understood: "To him who does not work, but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness" (Rom 4:5) There is but one work by which a man can be saved. That work is not yours, but the work of the Son of God. That work is finished — neither to be taken from nor added to — perfect through all ages — and presented by Himself to you, that you may avail yourself of it and be saved.
"And is that work available for me just as I am?" It is! God has brought it to your door; and your only way of honoring it is by accepting it for yourself, and taking it as the one basis of your eternal hope. We honor the Father when we consent to be saved entirely by the finished work of His Son. We honor the Son when we consent to take His one finished work in the room of all our works. We honor the Holy Spirit, whose office is to glorify Christ, when we hear what He says to us concerning that work finished "once for all" upon the cross. Forgiveness is through Christ Jesus, who is Son of God as well as Son of man! This is our message.
Forgiveness through the one work of sin-bearing which He accomplished for sinners upon earth. Forgiveness to the worst and wickedest, to the farthest off from God whom this earth contains. Forgiveness of the largest, fullest, completest kind; without stint, or exception, or condition, or the possibility of revocation! Forgiveness free and undeserved — as free as the love of God, as free as the gift of His beloved Son. Forgiveness ungrudged and unrestrained — whole-hearted and joyful — as the forgiveness of the father falling on the neck of the prodigal! Forgiveness simply in believing; for, "by Him, all who believe are justified from all things."
Could salvation be made more free? Could forgiveness be brought nearer? Could God in any way more fully show His earnest desire that you should not be lost, but saved — that you should not die, but live? In the cross there is salvation — nowhere else. No failure of this world's hopes can quench the hope which it reveals. It shines brightest in the evil day. In the day of darkening prospects, of thickening sorrows, of heavy burdens, of pressing cares — when friends depart, when riches fly away, when disease oppresses us, when poverty knocks at our door — then the cross shines out, and tells us of a light beyond this world's darkness, the Light of Him who is the light of the world. 

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Is God really all that sovereign?

Many have taken in hand to write on this subject with 'one liners,' or articles and books. Pink's "The Sovereignty of God" being perhaps the best known and most widely read. There is another Author whose work on this matter is impeccable, that being the Holy Spirit who inspired and wrote the canon of Scripture we now have and enjoy. There is not one of the sixty six books of Scripture that does not delve into this, some more deeply than others. There is no work of man that could be considered "complete" or "all-inclusive" as we shall no doubt continue to learn about our Lord for all eternity. Knowing that our God is sovereign over all is a source of great comfort. Such knowledge places Him (in our own mind and heart) on His throne, never to be evicted. From this knowledge comes true worship of the Worthy One. A person cannot worship Him "in spirit and truth" with a half-hearted concept of His sovereignty. Either He IS totally sovereign or He is not. And it is on this battle field that believers find themselves.

Many others have taken in hand to cast doubt, to debunk a portion of the Lord's rule while attempting to portray themselves as the "true and faithful" to God. These are fools, who have said in their heart "there is no God," for if God be not sovereign, then He is not really God. So who is? His arch enemy, Satan? Man? Who? It has always been the long term strategy of the wicked one to dethrone God in actuality, not simply in the minds of men. This was the reason for his expulsion from heaven. This fight has continued on various, multiple, and simultaneous fronts. Today is no exception. The sufficiency and reliability of the Word of God is constantly attacked, as is the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus, His resurrection, ascension, return, etc. Creation is under constant assault. Doctrines have been ranked as to their "importance" in the eyes of man with absolutely no regard for Scripture. This man does in a back door attempt to discredit the Word and the One who wrote it. Fantasy doctrines have been instituted as some sort of 'new truth' that supersedes the written Word. The list of heretical doctrines is no doubt endless, but there is one of man's fantasies that has been around from the beginning. It is the fantasy that God has abandoned His own complete sovereignty and placed the will of man as the final arbiter in man's fate---specifically when it comes to who is 'saved'. Today we call it "Arminianism" but it began with Adam's refusal to believe and obey God and further seen in his first born, Cain. In order for this fantasy doctrine to be valid in the eyes of men they deny the truth (and sometimes their very existence) of hundreds of Scriptures. But it goes much further than denying several hundred verses all the way to the entire Canon of Scripture and beyond. In reality, Arminians deny that the God described in the Scriptures even exists and have tried to replace Him with themselves (sound familiar?) by the preaching of their "other gospel" which places the "free-will" of man above the sovereign choice of God Almighty. The god of this "other gospel" has been aptly described as weak, anemic, a 'hand-wringing worry-wart' who sits back totally helpless to save anyone and waiting to see if any man will avail himself of the "salvation" the he supposedly "offered" to all mankind. This is a god that has failed. Is this the god that you serve? Or is your GOD mighty to save all that He has chosen from before the foundation of the world? Did you choose Him, or did He choose you? To leave this question unattended will result in an eventual downfall into further apostasy and unbelief. It is unthinkable that a believer in Christ Jesus obtained salvation by an act of his will, no one ever has and there are no exceptions.

Christ is all, or nothing

There are multitudes of professing Christians among us, who want only as much religion as will save them from Hell--not an atom more! The world is their real god. Gold is their idol. They worship in mammon's temple!

Love God with all their heart!--they do not so much as understand the meaning of such a thing.

Sacrifice riches, place, honor, and friends to Christ!--they scoff at the thing as madness.

Oh, be out and out for God!
Do not trifle with religion.
Do not mock God and Christ.
Do not love the world.
Be pious in your inmost soul.

Do not mistake mere sentimentalism for saving religion--or a good character for the new birth. You may go very far--and yet not be a Christian. You may follow Christ in some things--but if not in all, what is your following worth?

This world, or the world to come--that is the alternative. Not this world, and the world to come.

Christ is all--or nothing. There is no middle ground; no half-discipleship; no compromise. No! The friendship of the world is enmity with God. Come out and be separate.

Horatius Bonar

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Who Shall Dwell with the Devouring Fire?


 

Horatius Bonar

"The sinners in Zion are afraid, fearfulness has surprised the hypocrites! Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? Who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?" Isaiah 33:14
There is a day coming when sinners shall be afraid, and when terrors shall overtake them as a flood. They are not afraid just now; they eat and drink and make merry, as if they had no eternity to prepare for, no danger to alarm them. But it shall soon be different. What is now far off, shall then be near — and sinners shall realize too late the horrors of that wrath from which they refused to flee. In the agonies of despair, when the flames are kindling round them, they will burst forth in such bitter outcries as these, "Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? Who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?"
Oh, that shriek of agony! Oh, that awful outcry of surprise and despair! Careless sinner! That cry shall soon be yours. These words shall soon be the very language in which your wretched soul shall give vent to its hopeless anguish when it sees itself shut in within the flaming walls, and feels damnation sure!
Oh, then, flee from the wrath to come! Make haste to escape from the devouring fire!
1. There is such a thing as devouring fire.
It may appear a shadow now, but it shall soon be reality — and oh, what a reality! It is FIRE, the most torturing and excruciating of elements. It is devouring fire — not merely fire that can pain or scorch, but devour, swallow up the wretched sinner in its undying flame. His abode is a prison house of fire — a lake that burns with fire and brimstone (Rev. 19:20).
Hear how God Himself speaks of this, and learn that it is no mere dark imagination of cruel men to torment you before the time. "A fire is kindled in My anger, and shall burn unto the lowest Hell!" (Deuteronomy 32:22). "Upon the wicked He shall rain burning coals, fire and brimstone, and a burning tempest!" (Psalm 11:6). "You shall make them as a fiery oven in the time of Your anger, the Lord shall swallow them up in His anger wrath, and the fire shall devour them!" (Psalm 21:9). "Behold the name of the Lord comes from far, burning with His anger, and the grievousness of flame; His lips are full of indignation, and His tongue as a devouring fire!" (Isaiah 30:27).
Ah! Sinner, these are awful words, and they shall soon be realized in you — unless you turn and flee!
2. It is everlasting fire
— burnings that shall never grow less intense or die away. They are kindled by God's own breath (Isaiah 30:33); and He who kindled them, alone can quench them. But this He will never do. They must burn on forever and forever. It is called "unquenchable fire," "everlasting fire," whose smoke goes up forever and ever! It shall be kept alive, fanned, increased, watched over — but it shall never go out nor abate! Nor shall there be anything to make it tolerable — not a drop of cold water to cool the sinner's scorching tongue. Long endurance shall never make it less tormenting or more easy to be borne. A vain dreamer of earth might say, "This horror will grow mild, this darkness light" — but it shall not be. There shall be nothing to mitigate it, or render it less intolerable throughout eternity.
That horror shall never grow mild;
that darkness shall never grow light;
that fire shall never abate!
Oh, what a dungeon, what a furnace! It is not called eternal solitude — though that would be awful. Neither is it called eternal darkness — though that would be insupportable. It is called everlasting fire!
3. It is prepared for the ungodly.
It is said to have been at first prepared for the devil and his angels (Matthew 25:41), but it is also to be the abode of all who neglect the great salvation. It is for those who forget God (Psalm 9:17). It is for those who have refused to turn to the Lord, and slighted the blood of sprinkling. Shut out of Heaven — and shut into Hell — this is their doom! They turned away from God — and now He turns away from them! They rejected His love — and now His wrath comes on them to the uttermost. They obeyed the devil on earth — and now they are handed over to his company and his abode in Hell forever. They would not believe that God was holy, and did not care whether He was gracious; but now they are compelled to feel how holy He is, and at the same time to feel how He has forgotten to be gracious! For them, grace is past. They might have had it once, but they despised it — and now it is gone. It is all wrath and indignation now (Rev. 14:10).
4. They must dwell in it.
They cannot flee. Escape is hopeless, for it is the Judge of all who pronounces the sentence, "Depart, you who are cursed, into everlasting fire!" The sinner may shrink — but he cannot flee. He may struggle — but it is all in vain. The command is given; angels hasten to see it executed, and devils seize him for their prey, and drag him along to his eternal abode!
As the sentence falls on his ear, "Depart, you who are cursed," his spirit sinks within him, and he exclaims, "Who shall dwell with the devouring fire?" As he is hurried away from the judgment seat, with the sentence ringing in his ears, he cries out, "Who shall dwell with the devouring fire?" As he nears the gate and sees the flaming walls, he cries out with a yet more bitter cry, "Oh, who shall dwell with these everlasting burnings?" As the gate is opened, as he is thrust in, as it closes behind him, as he looks round upon the whole flaming circle, as he hears the weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth on every side, as he takes his place among the damned, those "spirits in prison" who shall never leave — he shrieks out the piercing exclamation, "Oh! Who shall dwell with this devouring fire? Who shall dwell with these everlasting burnings?"
Yet dwell he must, and that forever.
No opening of the gates,
no scaling of its walls,
no loosing of the chain,
no ray of hope,
no respite,
no Savior,
no mercy now!
His eternity is sealed. He has reached his everlasting dwelling place, where all is "lamentation, and mourning, and woe." Sinners of every class, especially sinners in Zion, to whom these words are spoken, listen to these warning words! You are sinners in Zion — not sinners among the heathen. Yet this only makes your case more awful, and your doom more inevitable. You profess to be Christians — but have never been born again. You do many things like God's people — you pray, read, hear, speak, observe ordinances, yet still one thing is lacking. You are not born again! Surely, then, it is time to search yourselves. It is time to be alarmed.
The Judge is at the door! Your hypocrisy will not serve you then. You will be detected and unveiled, and all your hollow pretensions to religion will be laid bare. The day of His coming will be a terrible one to you. He comes with His winnowing fan in His hand, thoroughly to purge His floor — gathering the wheat into His barn, and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire! He comes with His sieve to sift you — and can you stand His sifting? He comes with His touchstone to try and to detect you. He comes with His balances to weigh you, to see what is the real value of all your professions — whether after all you may be found lacking. He comes with His lighted candles to search you in every part. He comes with His flaming eye to penetrate at one glance, your inmost soul, and to discover all its hidden abominations.
With such a prospect before you, would it not be wise to take immediate alarm, and inquire whether all be well with your souls, lest you perish at the rebuke of Him who is a consuming fire. Why should wrath be your portion? It was the portion of Jesus once — that it might never be yours. The pains of Hell took hold on Him (Psalm 116:3) — that they might never take hold of you. He was forsaken of the Father — that you might not be forsaken. In enduring the fire of that wrath for sinners, He was constrained to cry, "I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My heart has turned to wax; it has melted away within me. My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; you lay me in the dust of death." (Psalm 22:14-15).
Seeing that He has passed through all this, that you might not pass through it — why should you reject such a substitute as this? The burnt offerings and sin offerings under the law, in all of which consuming fire was employed, tell us what the great sacrifice had to undergo when iniquity was laid on Him. When these offerings had been duly presented, then Israel was forgiven. In our case no question can arise as to the due offering of the sacrifice. We know that it has been duly offered once for all, and has been accepted of the Father. The one sacrifice has been offered, and now the worshipers, once purged thereby, have no more conscience of sins (Hebrews 10:2).
Do we consent to take that sacrifice for sins? We do not need to offer it anew. It has been already offered. But are we willing that it be reckoned to us as our substitute? If not, then we must bear that wrath in our own persons — the fire which otherwise would have passed over us, will descend with devouring fierceness on our heads! We must either take refuge under the wing of the Substitute — or bear the wrath eternally ourselves. Which is the wiser, safer way for a helpless sinner?