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

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Every Day

("Every Day!" Author unknown, 1872)

"I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not be conformed to this world; but be transformed by the renewing of your mind." Romans 12:2

Here is a prohibition and an admonition. O Lord, give me grace to avoid what You forbid--and to do what you enjoin.

Enable me to avoid compliance with those customs and ways of the world which are contrary to Your will.

While in the world--let me not be of it.

Give me grace to come out and to be separate from its ungodly principles and sinful pleasures.

Transform me by the renewal of my mind.

Deliver me from pride, from selfishness, and vain-glory.

Afford me a continual supply of the grace of Christ.

Impress His image on me--and help me to tread in His steps.

Let it plainly appear that I am not of the world--even as He was not of the world. John 17:16

O Lord, work in me to will and to act according to Your good pleasure.

"Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you--and you will be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty." 2 Corinthians 6:17-18


Women praying in the church

(Explanatory Note) In the “Pastor’s Letter” of the Wicket Gate for August 1971, reprinted in edition 76 (January 2009) the issue of women covering their heads while engaged in prayer in the church was considered. In a later edition of the Wicket Gate (October) 1971 the wider question of women being permitted to prayer in the church was briefly dealt with and is now printed below. 

May we say, then, at the outset, that we believe with all our hearts that women should pray in the prayer meetings of the church as the Lord gives them utterance. This He has done so often throughout the church’s history in the past, and we trust again, by His grace, in the future. We say this, in the first place, for this reason; that we refuse to make a fool out of the mighty apostle Paul. 

In the verses referred to, concerning the coverings of the head by women, the apostle Paul is speaking about how the women are to pray, having their heads covered. Surely, we cannot suppose for one minute that Paul is only instructing the women how to pray provided they were allowed to pray! Are we going to make the great apostle say “Now, let me tell you women, if it were permitted for you to pray when the church comes together, let me inform you that you would have to do it with your heads covered”? Surely this is too much. Surely, Paul is assuming that the women will pray in the church and instructing them how they should do it - with your heads covered – just as he is also instructing the men how they should pray – with their heads Uncovered. If we infer from that passage that Paul is instructing the men how to pray, then we must also infer that he is, likewise, instructing the women how to pray, and so, assuming that they do and are able to pray. 

We believe that this is a valid inference, that Paul does, in fact, assume that women pray in the churches; and we substantiate that inference by reminding ourselves that nowhere in the New Testament are women forbidden to pray. Two passages are normally cited by those who would silence the sisters at the prayer meeting: 1st Corinthians chapter 14 verses 34 and 1st Timothy chapter 2 and verse 11. In the Corinthian passage, the words of the apostle Paul are clear: “Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law.” Even a casual glance at that verse will show that it says nothing in the wide world about prayer, and a read through the whole passage, beginning at verse 26 will show that the apostle Paul is dealing with the “orderliness” of church worship, with this overriding concern – “Let all things be done unto edification,” i.e. unto the spiritual benefit of those gathered. He draws a conclusion for us in verse 33: “For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.” 

Obviously, the women at Corinth were guilty of disturbing the “orderliness” of the church’s meeting, and they were apparently guilty of this through their talking during the meeting. And the next verse – verse 35 – explains very clearly to us what form this “talking” assumed – they were obviously asking their husbands questions as the meeting was in progress. “Let your women keep silence in the churches,” says Paul in verse 34, “and if they will learn anything,” he says in verse 35, “let them ask their husbands at home; for” he goes on to say, “it is a shame for women to speak in the church.” Not to pray in the church, mark you, the passage says absolutely nothing about prayer. It has to do with women learning, and the method that the women had apparently adopted in learning at Corinth was to ask their husbands about those things that puzzled them during the meeting together. No, says Paul, let them keep silence, it is not permitted for them to speak – they are disturbing the “orderliness” of the church – and if they will learn anything, let them ask their husbands at home, it is a shame for women to speak in the church. Nothing to do with prayer. 

The second passage is almost identical, in 1st Timothy chapter 2 verse 12. “But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.” Again, there is not a word about the woman being prohibited the right to pray in the church. The injunction in this case has to do with the woman “teaching” and “usurping authority over the man,” and, of course, we would hold very firmly that a woman may do neither of these things. These are the marks of the Elders of the church and no woman may be an Elder. Therefore, she may not teach the church, nor rule the church – she may not assume the office of Elder. But, there is nothing about prayer. 

A glance at the preceding verse – verse 11 – will show that it is the same situation that Paul has dealt with in the Corinthian passage: “Let the women learn in silence with all subjection.” Both passages have to do with how the women are to learn (a) they are to learn in silence and (b) if they would know anything they are to ask their husbands at home, and not disturb the church’s gathering. There is nothing about prayer. 

The passage dealing with women and prayer (1st Cor. 11) deals with how women should pray – with their heads covered. We therefore assume that it is their privilege in Christ to do so. 

W. J. Seaton 

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

How important is right or sound doctrine?

Many in our day will argue stating sound doctrine is not essential for Christians. These same people oftentimes are worldly and filled with unrepentant sin, having a form of godliness but lacking the power. Here's an example; my daughter was flabbergasted by a classmate who is homosexual and yet has a tattoo of a cross with 'Jesus is my Savior' inside the cross. She wondered how this could be, keep in mind, my daughter is not saved. This is an example of adhering to wrong teaching.

Here is an excellent article from A.W. Pink on the importance of right teaching....

“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16).
Since they are inspired by God it naturally and necessarily follows that they are “profitable,” for He could not be the Author of what was purposeless and useless to its recipients. For what are the Scriptures “profitable”? FIRST, for doctrine, that is, for sound and wholesome doctrine, “doctrine which is according to godliness” (1 Tim. 6:3).
The word doctrine means “teaching” or instruction, and then the principle or article received. In the Scriptures we have the truth and nothing but the truth on every object and subject of which they treat, such as no mere creature could have arrived at or invented. The unfolding of the doctrine of God is a revelation of his Being and character, such as had never been conceived by philosophers or poets. Their teaching concerning man is such as no physicist or psychologist had ever discovered by his own unaided powers. Such, too, is its doctrine of sin, of salvation, of the world, of Heaven, of Hell.
Now to read and ponder the Scriptures for “doctrine” is to have our beliefs formed by its teachings. So far as we are under the influence of prejudice, or receive our religious ideas on human authority, and go to the Word not so much with the desire to be instructed on what we know not, but rather for the purpose of finding some thing which will confirm us in what we have already imbibed from man, be it right or wrong, so far we exercise a sinful disregard to the Sacred Canon and may justly be given up to our own deceits.
Again; if we set up our own judgment so as to resolve not to accept anything as Divine truth but what we can intellectually comprehend, then we despise God’s Word and cannot be said to read it either for doctrine or correction. It is not enough to “call no man Master”: if I exalt my reason above the infallible dictates of the Holy Spirit, then my reason formulates my creed. We must come to the Word conscious of our ignorance, forsaking our own thoughts (Isa. 55:7), with the earnest prayer “that which I see not, teach thou me” (Job 34:32), and that, so long as we remain on earth.
FIRST AND FOREMOST THEN THE INSPIRED SCRIPTURES ARE PROFITABLE FOR DOCTRINE: that our thoughts, ideas and beliefs concerning all the subjects of Divine revelation may be formed and regulated by their infallible teachings. How that rebukes those who sneer at theological instruction, who are prejudiced against the doctrinal exposition of the gospel, who ignorantly account such “dry” and uninteresting, who are all for what they term “experimental religion.” We say “ignorantly,” for the distinction they seek to draw is an unscriptural and invalid one.
The Word of God nowhere draws a line between the doctrinal and the experimental. How could it? when true experimental piety is nothing but the influence of truth upon the Soul under the agency of the Holy Spirit. What is godly sorrow for sin but the influence of the truth upon the conscience and heart! Is it anything else than a realization or feeling sense of the heinousness of sin, of its contrariety to what ought to be, of its being committed against light and love, dissolving the heart to grief? Until those truths are realized there will be no weeping over your sin. . .
Yes, first and foremost the Scriptures are “profitable for doctrine”: God says so, and those who declare otherwise are liars and deceivers. . .That personal piety or holy living may be neglected through an excessive attachment to favorite theological tenets is readily granted, but that doctrinal instruction is inimical to following the example which Christ has left us, we emphatically deny. The whole teaching of Scripture is “the doctrine which is according to godliness” (1 Tim. 6:3): that is to say, it is the doctrine which inculcates godliness, which supplies motives to godliness, and which therefore promotes it. If Divine truth be received according to the lovely proportions in which it is presented in the Word, so far from such a reception of it enervating practical godliness, it will be found to be the life of it. Doctrinal, experimental and practical religion are so necessarily connected together, they could have no existence apart from each other. The influence of the truth upon our hearts and minds is the source of all our spiritual feelings, and those feelings and affections are the springs of every good word and work.
SECOND, THE INSPIRED SCRIPTURES ARE PROFITABLE “FOR REPROOF” OR CONVICTION. Five times the Greek word is rendered “rebuke” and once “tell him his fault” (Matthew 18:15). Here is the chief reason why the Scriptures are so unpalatable to the unsaved: they set before him a standard concerning which he knows he falls far short: they require that which is thoroughly distasteful to him and prohibit those things which his evil nature loves and craves. Thus, their holy teachings roundly condemn him. It is because the Word of God inculcates holiness and censures every form of evil that the unregenerate have such a disrelish for it. It is because the Word convicts its reader of his sins, upbraids him for his ungodliness, blames him for his inward as well as outward lack of conformity thereto, that the natural man shuns it. Flesh and blood resent interference, chafe against being censured, and is angry when told his or her faults. It is much too humbling for the pride of the natural man to be rebuked for his failures and chided for his errors. Therefore he prefers “prophecy” or something which pricks not his conscience!
“Profitable for reproof.” Are you, am I, willing to be reproved? Are we really, honestly desirous of having made known to us everything in us which is contrary to the law of the Lord and is therefore displeasing to Him? Are we truly agreeable to be searched by the white light of the truth, to bare our hearts to the sword of the Spirit? The true answer to that question reveals whether or not we are regenerate, whether a miracle of grace has been wrought in us or whether we are still in a state of nature. Unless the answer be in the affirmative, there cannot possibly be any spiritual growth for us. Of the wicked it is said “They despised all my reproof” (Prov. 1:30). On the one hand we are told “he that hateth reproof is brutish” and “shall die” (Prov, 12:1; 15:17); on the other, “reproofs of instruction are the way of life,” “he that heareth reproof getteth understanding” (Prov. 6:23; 15:32). If we are to profit from the Scriptures we must always approach them with an honest desire that all amiss in us may be rebuked by their teachings and be humbled into the dust before God in consequence thereof.
THIRD, THE SCRIPTURES ARE PROFITABLE “FOR CORRECTION.” The Greek word occurs nowhere else in the New Testament, but signifies “setting right.” The reproving is but a means to an end: it is a showing us what is wrong that it may be put right. Everything about us, both within and without needs correcting, for the fall has put man all out of joint with God and holiness. Our thoughts on everything are wrong and need readjusting. Our affections are all disorderly and need regulating. Our character is utterly unlike Christ’s and has to be conformed to His image. Our conduct is wayward and demands squaring with the Rule of righteousness. God has given to us His Word that under its guidance we may regulate our beliefs, renovate our hearts and reform our lives. Hence it answers but a poor end to read a chapter once or twice a day for the sake of decency, without any definite intention of complying with the mind of God as revealed therein. Since He has given us the Scriptures “for correction” we should always approach them with a sincere purpose of bringing into harmony with them everything that is disorderly within us and irregular without us.
FOURTH, the Scriptures are profitable “for instruction in righteousness.” That is the end for which the other three things are the means. As Matthew Henry pointed out: the Scriptures are “profitable to us for all the purposes of the Christian life. They answer all the ends of Divine revelation. They instruct us in that which is true, reprove us for all that which is amiss, direct us in all that which is good.” ”Instruction in righteousness” refers not to the imputed righteousness of Christ, for that is included in ”doctrine,” but relates to integrity of character and conduct—it is inherent and practical righteousness, which is the fruit of the imputed. For that we need “instructing” out of the Word, for neither reason nor conscience are adequate for such a task.
If our judgment be formed or our actions regulated by dreams, visions, or supposed immediate revelations from Heaven, rather than by the plain meaning of the Holy Scriptures, then we slight them and God may justly give us up to our own delusions. If we follow the fashion, imitate our fellows, or take public opinion for our standard, we are but heathen. But if the Word of God is the only source of our wisdom and guidance, we shall be found treading ”the paths of righteousness” (Ps. 23:6).{HT - Mike Jeshurun}

Lastly, I think this quote from Martyn Lloyd Jones is spot on - "The Apostle Paul says, 1 Cor 15:33 ‘Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners’. He means that wrong teaching is desperately dangerous. He is there dealing with the great question of the resurrection, he is concerned with that one doctrine, and he says, Make no mistake about this; it is not a matter of indifference as to whether you believe in the literal physical resurrection or not. ‘Ah but,’ you say, ‘I am a practical man of affairs, I am not interested in doctrine, I am not a theologian, I have no time for these things. All I want is something to help me to live my daily life.’ But according to the Apostle you cannot divorce these things, ‘Evil communications’ —wrong teaching, wrong thinking, wrong belief — ‘corrupt good manners’. It will affect the whole of your life. One of the first things you are to learn in this Christian life and warfare is that, if you go wrong in your doctrine, you will go wrong in all aspects of your life. You will probably go wrong in your practice and behaviour; and you will certainly go wrong in your experience."

The gospel of the Anti-Christ

Monday, September 19, 2016

Titles of distinction?

But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren.  - Matthew 23:8

Today, we have men and women who attach titles before their name, as if they should be exalted to a higher status over the brethren. For example, 'Dr. R.C. Sproul', 'Dr. John MacAthur', or the various other titles such as reverend, apostle, etc. The verse I gave is from our Lord; He forbids such nonsense. Let's look at Albert Barnes' commentary on the first part of the text, "Jesus forbade his disciples to seek such titles of distinction. The reason which he gave was that he was himself their Master and Teacher, They were on a level; they were to be equal in authority; they were brethren; and they should neither covet nor receive a title which implied either an elevation of one above another, or which appeared to infringe on the absolute right of the Saviour to be their only Teacher and Master. The direction here is an express command to his disciples not to receive such a title of distinction. They were not to covet it; they were not to seek it; they were not to do anything that implied a wish or a willingness that it should be appended to their names. Everything which would tend to make a distinction among them or destroy their parity - everything which would lead the world to suppose that there were ranks and grades among them as ministers, they were to avoid. It is to be observed that the command is that they were not to receive the title".  'Rabbi' - This title corresponds with the title “Doctor of Divinity” as applied to ministers of the gospel; and, so far as I can see, the spirit of the Saviour’s command is violated by the reception of such a title, as really as it would have been by their being called “Rabbi.” It makes a distinction among ministers. It tends to engender pride and a sense of superiority in those who obtain it, and envy and a sense of inferiority in those who do not; and the whole spirit and tendency of it is contrary to the “simplicity that is in Christ.” A. Barnes

How is it then we have many within the ranks of evangelicalism that sport such titles proudly? This is a direct violation of the text. We are not to give titles to ourselves, regardless of the schooling one boasts of to back the title. 

Matthew Henry is in agreement with Barnes, "1. Christ's ministers must not affect the name of Rabbi or Master, by way of distinction from other people; it is not agreeable to the simplicity of the gospel, for them to covet or accept the honour which they have that are in kings' palaces. 2. They must not assume the authority and dominion implied in those names; they must not be magisterial, nor domineer over their brethren, or over God's heritage, as if they had dominion over the faith of Christians: what they received of the Lord, all must receive from them; but in other things they must not make their opinions and wills a rule and standard to all other people, to be admitted with an implicit obedience. The reasons for this prohibition are,
(1.) One is your Master, even Christ, Mat_23:8, and again, Mat_23:10. Note, [1.] Christ is our Master, our Teacher, our Guide. Mr. George Herbert, when he named the name of Christ, usually added, My Master. [2.] Christ only is our Master, ministers are but ushers in the school. Christ only is the Master, the great Prophet, whom we must hear, and be ruled and overruled by; whose word must be an oracle and a law to us; Verily I say unto you, must be enough to us. And if he only be our Master, then for his ministers to set up for dictators, and to pretend to a supremacy and an infallibility, is a daring usurpation of that honour of Christ which he will not give to another."

So is A.W. Pink, "What strange methods God sometimes employs in teaching His children much needed lessons. This has recently been the writer’s experience. He has been approached by a “University” to accept from them a degree of “D.D.” Asking for time to be given so that he might prayerfully seek from God, through His written Word, a knowledge of His will, fuller light came than was expected. He had very serious doubts as to the permissibility of one of God’s servants accepting a title of (fleshly) honour. He now perceives that it is wrong for him to receive it even complimentary. Various friends, as a mark of respect, have addressed us as “Dr. Pink.” We now ask them to please cease from doing so. Let it not be understood that we hereby condemn other men for what they allow. No, to their own Master they stand or fall. The principal passages which have helped us we now mention, praying that it may please God to also bless them to others. First, to the false comforters of Job, Elihu (God’s representative) said, “Let me not, I pray you, accept any man’s person, neither let me give flattering titles unto man” (Job 32:21). Second, “Be not ye called Rabbi” (Mat 23:8), or “Teacher,” which is what “Doctor” signifies. Third, John 5:44 reproves those who “receive honour one of another,” and bids us seek “the honour that cometh from God only.” Fourth, none of the Lord’s servants in the New Testament ever employed a title: “Paul, an apostle,” but never “the Apostle Paul.” Fifth, the Son of God “made Himself of no reputation” (Phi 2:7). Is it then fitting that His servants should now follow an opposite course? Sixth, Christ bids us learn of Him who was “meek and lowly” (Mat 11:29). Seventh, one of the marks of the Apostasy is “having men’s persons in admiration because of advantage” (Jude 16). Eighth, we are bidden to go forth unto Christ outside the camp “bearing His reproach” (Heb 13:13). For these reasons it does not seem to us to be fitting that one who is here as a representative and witness for a “despised and rejected” Christ should be honoured and flattered of men. Please address us as “Brother Pink.”

Isn't that exactly what our Lord states when He said "all ye are brethren"? Let us not break the command of the text by referring to any mortal man as anything other than a brother or sister. 

Sunday, September 18, 2016

He hath a name suitable

"Nevertheless, he saved them for his name's sake."—Psalm 106:8.

We tender our exhortation to believers, in particular, who have run to this strong tower of salvation, the name of the Lord. O admire his goodness, admire his name. He knows all your sins against him, and against his name; yet for his name's sake, he shows mercy. O! let sin against so good a God be abhorred: let his goodness lead you to repentance more and more: "The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord." O believer, are you called by his name; praise him for his mercy, truth, faithfulness: "According to thy name, O God, so is thy praise unto the ends of the earth; thy right hand is full of righteousness," Psal. 18:10. O sirs, ascribe all the mercy you met with to his name; and study to be meet objects for God's name, to be more and more glorified, upon his engaging his name for your help. Study to become such persons as the scriptures require: for though sinners have a ground of hope, that he MAY do, for his name's sake; yet saints have a ground of hope that he WILL do for his name's sake: the graceless may run to him with hope, that he may begin the good work, for his name's sake; but the gracious may run to him with hope that he will perfect the good work for his name's sake. His name is engaged.
In a word, O improve his name in every case; for he hath a name suiting every want, every need. Do you need wonders to be wrought for you? His name is Wonderful; look to him so to do, for his name's sake. Do you need counsel and direction? His name is the Counsellor: cast yourself on him and his name for this. Have you mighty enemies to debate with? His name is the mighty God; seek that he may exert his power for his name's sake. Do you need his fatherly pity? His name is the everlasting Father; "As a Father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him." Plead his pity, for his name's sake. Do you need peace external, internal, or eternal? His name is the Prince of Peace; seek, for his name's sake, that he may create peace. Do you need healing? O sirs, his name is JEHOVAH-ROPHI, the Lord the healer and physician; seek, for his name's sake, that he may heal all your diseases. Do you need pardon? His name is JEHOVAH-TSIDKENU, the Lord our righteousness; seek, for his name's sake, that he may be merciful to your unrighteousness. Do you need defence and protection? His name is JEHOVAH-NISSI, the Lord your banner. Seek for his name's sake, that his banner of love and grace may be spread over you. Do you need provision in extreme want? His name is JEHOVAH-JIREH, in the mount of the Lord it shall be seen, the Lord will provide. Do you need his presence? His name is JEHOVAH-SHAMMAH, the Lord is there: IMMANUEL, God with us: look to him to be with you, for his name's sake. Do you need audience of prayer? His name is the Hearer of prayer. Do you need strength? His name is the Strength of Israel. Do you need comfort? His name is the Consolation of Israel. Do you need shelter? His name is the city of refuge. Have you nothing and need all? His name is All in All. Sit down and devise names to your wants and needs, and you will find he hath a name suitable thereunto; for your supply, he hath wisdom to guide you; and power to keep you; mercy to pity you; truth to shield you; holiness to sanctify you; righteousness to justify you; grace to adorn you; and glory to crown you. Trust in his name, who saves for his name's sake.

  Ralph Erskine

Saturday, September 17, 2016

The pure word

"Thy Word is very pure; therefore Thy servant loveth it."


The approach of another year stirs up within me new desires for your salvation, and for the growth of those of you who are saved. "God is my record how greatly I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ." What the coming year is to bring forth who can tell? There is plainly a weight lying on the spirits of all good men, and a looking for some strange work of judgment upon this land. There is a need now to ask that solemn question — "If in the land of peace wherein thou trustedst, they wearied thee, then how wilt thou do in the swelling of Jordan?"

Those believers will stand firmest who have no dependence upon self or upon creatures, but upon Jehovah our Righteousness. We must be driven more to our Bibles, and to the mercy-seat, if we are to stand in the evil day. Then we shall be able to say, like David — “The proud have had me greatly in derision, yet have I not declined from Thy law.” “Princes have persecuted me without a cause, but my heart standeth in awe of Thy word.”

It has long been in my mind to prepare a scheme of Scripture reading, in which as many as were made willing by God might agree, so that the whole Bible might be read once by you in the year, and all might be feeding in the same portion of the green pasture at the same time.

I am quite aware that such a plan is accompanied with many DANGERS.

1. Formality. We are such weak creatures that any regularly returning duty is apt to degenerate into a lifeless form. The tendency of reading the Word by a fixed rule may, in some minds, be to create this skeleton religion. This is to be the peculiar sin of the last days – “Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof.” Guard against this. Let the calendar perish rather than this rust eat up your souls.

2. Self-righteousness. –Some, when they have devoted their set time to reading of the Word, and accomplished their prescribed portion, may be tempted to look at themselves with self-complacency. Many, I am persuaded, are living without any Divine work on their soul — unpardoned and unsanctified, and ready to perish — who spend their appointed times in secret and family devotion. This is going to hell with a lie in their right hand.

3. Careless reading. Few tremble at the Word of God. Few, in reading it, hear the voice of Jehovah, which is full of majesty. Some, by having so large a portion, may be tempted to weary of it, as Israel did of the daily manna, saying – “Our soul loatheth this light bread;” and to read it in a slight and careless manner. This would be fearfully provoking to God. Take heed lest that word be true of you — “Ye said, also, Behold what a weariness is it! and ye have snuffed at it, saith the Lord of Hosts.”

4. A yoke to heavy to bear. Some may engage in reading with alacrity for a time, and afterwards feel it a burden, grievous to be borne. They may find conscience dragging them through the appointed task without any relish of the heavenly food. If this be the case with any, throw aside the fetter, and feed at liberty in the sweet garden of God. My desire is not to cast a snare upon you, but to be a helper of your joy.

If there be so many dangers, why propose such a scheme at all? To this I answer, that the best things are accompanied with danger, as the fairest flowers are often gathered in the clefts of some dangerous precipice. 

Let us weigh THE ADVANTAGES.

1. The whole Bible will be read through in an orderly manner in the course of a year. The Old Testament once, the New Testament and Psalms twice. I fear many of you never read the whole Bible; and yet it is all equally Divine, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect.” If we pass over some parts of Scripture, we shall be incomplete Christians.

2. Time will not be wasted in choosing what portions to read. Often believers are at a loss to determine towards which part of the mountains of spices they should bend their steps. Here the question will be solved at once in a very simple manner.

3. Parents will have a regular subject upon which to examine their children and servants. It is much to be desired that family worship were made more instructive than it generally is. The mere reading of the chapter is often too like water spilt on the ground. Let it be read by every member of the family before-hand, and then the meaning and application drawn out by simple question and answer. The calendar will be helpful in this. Friends, also, when they meet, will have a subject for profitable conversation in the portions read that day. The meaning of difficult passages may be inquired from the more judicious and ripe Christians, and the fragrance of simpler Scriptures spread abroad.

4. The pastor will know in what part of the pasture the flock are feeding. He will thus be enabled to speak more suitably to them on the Sabbath; and both pastor and elders will be able to drop a word of light and comfort in visiting from house to house, which will be more readily responded to.

5. The sweet bond of Christian love and unity will be strengthened. We shall be often led to think of those dear brothers and sisters in the Lord, here and elsewhere, who agree to join with us in reading those portions. We shall oftener be led to agree on earth, touching something we shall ask of God. We shall pray over the same promises, mourn over the same confessions, praise God in the same songs, and be nourished by the same words of eternal life.

McCheyne's calendar for daily readings

Dismal fall

Advancement which comes not from God must needs be dangerous. How many are raised to high posts in the Church by the instigation of the devil, that their fall may be more dismal. -"Maxims of Piety, and of Christianity" by Thomas Wilson

A just fear

"Men are too apt to flatter themselves that God will not be so severe as He has threatened. This hardens men in sin, and makes them boldly venture upon damnation. This is to represent God as a God not terrible in judgment. Let a just fear of God's vengeance have its proper effect, etc. The Spirit of God makes use of flames, of fire and brimestone, to awaken us, to represent it to us. ... A man has no other security of his virtue, but the fear of offending God.”  -"Maxims of Piety, and of Christianity" by Thomas Wilson  

Friday, September 16, 2016

Our Master and Teacher

“You will likewise find advantage, by attending as much as you can on those preachers whom God has blessed with much power, life, and success in their ministry. And in this you will do well not to confine yourself to any denomination or party for the Spirit of the Lord is not confined. Different men have different gifts and talents. I would not wish you to be a slavish admirer of any man. Christ alone is our Master and Teacher. But study the excellencies of each: and if you observe a fault in any (for no human models are perfect), you will see what you are yourself to avoid." - John Newton

Free grace

“Conversion is a work above man's power. We are 'born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God' (Joh 1:13). Never think you can convert yourself. If ever you would be savingly converted, you must despair of doing it in your own strength. It is a resurrection from the dead (Eph 2:1), a new creation (Gal 6:15; Eph 2:10), a work of absolute omnipotence (Eph 1:19). Are not these out of the reach of human power? ... This is a supernatural work ... 'Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but of mercy he saved us' ... 'Of his own will he begat us' (Jam 1:18). We are chosen and called unto sanctification, not for it (Eph 1:4). God finds nothing in man to turn His heart, but enough to turn His stomach; He finds enough to provoke His loathing, but nothing to excite His love. Look back upon yourself, O Christian! Reflect upon your swinish nature, your filthy swill, your once beloved mire (2 Pet 2). Behold your slime and corruption ... How then should holiness and purity love you? ... Who but must needs cry, Grace! Grace! ... What but free grace could move God to love you.” - Joseph Alleine

Thursday, September 15, 2016

We shall be like Him

by Murdoch Campbell, M.A.

Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be; but we know that when He shall appear we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And every man that hath this hope in him, purifleth himself even as He is pure.” (I John III: v. 2, 3).
Without waiting to give these words an extended introduction we may go on to consider:
I. The Present Privilege of God’s People: “How are we the sons of God...”
Literally there are two ways in which we may enjoy membership in a family. The one is by birth and the other is by adoption. By human law it is, of course, unnecessary to be adopted into the family into which we are born. Our birth into the family entitles us to the privileges which belong to it. But within the family of God both are necessary. God in His Word declares that without a new spiritual birth we can have no place within this family. This is one of the great requirements of Heaven. Nicodemus, for example, was a religious man. He followed the pattern of a formal, traditional religion. He was, by modem standards, a college professor. His outward life was morally correct. In his own eyes he was already within God’s Kingdom. He was by birth an Israelite, and therefore a member of God’s Church. When, however, he stood before Christ, and when he asked Him a question with regard to His power and miracles, our Lord simply said, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, ye must be born again.” This was not an irrelevant answer to his question. Our Lord knew that the natural man, however learned or however religious, can never receive or understand the things of God. They are indeed, foolishness to him. Without, for example, being born into the world of nature we would know nothing of that world. We would, in fact, have no real existence at all. The same, and in a deeper sense, is true spiritually. There can be no apprehension or understanding of the spiritual world — which belongs to another dimension entirely — unless we are born into it. “How can these things be?” was the question which exposed Nicodemus for what he was in a state of spiritual death or blindness. He was ignorant of the very beginnings of the true Christian life, and of the experience which God’s people value because it marks their entrance into God’s kingdom and into communion with, and knowledge of, the only living and true God. Men are by nature dead in their trespass and in their sin, and as such they cannot know or have any fellowship with Him Who is “the God of the living.”
We heard once of two men who met each other in the way. They had never seen one another before. “What,” said the one to the other, “is that which never was, which never is, and which never shall be?” The answer was — “That which never was, which never is, and which never shall be is that a child not reborn should be in my Father’s house.” The question and the answer were spiritual, for they were both spiritually-minded men.
The Church in heaven is known as “the Church of the first born.” The names of God’s elect were in the Lamb’s Book of Life before the world was, but just as our names are registered by law in the books of the nation when we are naturally born, God also has our names written in that heavenly Book in which is recorded our entrance into His Kingdom. The Book of Life is the Book of the Living.
“And it of Zion shall be said
This man and that man there
Was born and he that is Most High
Himself shall stablish her
When God the people writes
He’ll count that this man born was there . . .”
In the realm of grace our rebirth and adoption go together. Both, as we said, are necessary. Although the people of God were chosen and loved in Christ from all eternity they were, in their fallen state, “strangers and foreigners to God”. They were the children of wrath even as others. They were darkness, in a kingdom of darkness and under the sway and dominion of the prince of darkness. In a state of sin they were the children of the wicked one But God translated them and adopted them out of that state into His own Kingdom and family. This was an act of sovereign grace, a wonder beyond all knowledge.
In these acts of grace there is a manifestation both of God’s power and of God’s love In the epistle to the Ephesians Paul ascribes the spiritual resurrection or conversion of believers to “the exceeding greatness” of God’s power. They were held by a power which they could never break or overcome. Satan and Death held them in their grasp. Only God Himself could open their prison door, break the chains which bound them, and give them to know the glorious liberty of the children of God. “Thy people shall be willing in the day of Thy power.” The new birth then is a display of the effectual working of the Holy Spirit in bringing the soul from death to life. But there is also a revelation of God’s love. “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us that we should be called the sons of God.” How wonderful to all the people of God is this love. David in speaking of Jonathan’s love to him placed it in this category. “Thy love to me was wonderful.” But that love was but a small reflection of Christ’s love to His people in making them all, by this act of adoption, His sons and daughters. If Paul prayed that his Ephesian converts might know the exceeding greatness of God’s power in their conversion he also prayed that they might, with all the saints, be able to comprehend that love which passeth knowledge. It was this love which made them fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God.
We knew a man who, after he had tasted that the Lord is gracious, was so filled with amazement that God should love and embrace such a vile creature as he was, and that He would give to such an one a right to all the privileges and blessings of His redeemed people, that he felt that when he entered heaven he would “for a thousand years” bow his head at the wonder that such an one should be there. And this truly is a wonder that shall ever lodge in the breast of all His people.
The evidence of this change, both of our nature and of our relationship to God, is two-fold. The one is inward and the other is outward. “He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself.” In the new born soul there is a love for holiness and an aversion to sin. Sin is what gives grief to the believer. The good that he would do he cannot do because evil is present with him. This conflict between grace and sin, or between the law of God inscribed by the Holy Spirit on the renewed soul, and the law of sin remains while we are in this tabernacle.
There is also a love to Christ and to all His people. They say that when a child is born into the natural world he brings with him into that world a natural, or instinctive, love for his parents and also for those who make up the family. Be that as it may, we know that love to God and to all His people is in every renewed heart. “We know that we have passed from death unto life because we love the brethren.” It begins with Christ, “the Elder Brother” in heaven, and extends to all the mystical body both in heaven and on earth. The true believer embraces in his or in her affections all the people of God. They say with Ruth — “Thy people shall be my people and thy God, my God.”
And as new born babes they desire the sincere milk of the Word. This is another evidence of their being His. Their mouth is open to receive God’s Word. By faith they receive of the fulness which is in Christ. They are a people who hunger and thirst after righteousness and who therefore have the promise that God shall supply all their needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. By the spirit of adoption they cry “Abba, Father” and say, “Give us this day our daily bread”. And in His house there is bread enough and to spare. His table is furnished with good things, which all His children are invited to enjoy.
Do they not also prove themselves to be God’s children by receiving and enduring the Lord’s chastisement when that is needed? “Whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.” “As many as I love I rebuke and chasten.” It is in his chastisements that we often see His love, His faithfulness and wisdom. In these also we often discover our own follies. “Before I was afflicted I went astray.”
But there is the outward evidence of their sonship as well. As the child may bring a natural love for his family into the world, family likeness may also be imprinted on his very face. This is often, as we know, a fact of nature. And the new creature in Christ bears the image of the heavenly. “We all, with open face, beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” They are epistles of Christ that may be known and read of all men. The question was asked of old, “Who is she that looketh forth as the morning, clear as the sun, fair as the moon and terrible as an army with banners?” Who but the children of the day of whom Christ said, “Ye are the light of the world.” Their light is derived or borrowed from the Sun of Righteousness. God’s people answer to the description which the Lord gives of them in His Word. They abstain from all appearance of evil while, at the same time, they are in the footsteps of the flock. The Lord’s people see but little of His likeness in themselves. Mercy and Christiana, in the “Pilgrim’s Progress”, could not discern in themselves what the one could see in the other. We say, “my spot is not the spot of thy children.” Ruth said to Boaz that she was not, either in grace or beauty, like his handmaids, but he saw a loveliness in her which she could not see in herself. It is good to reflect in our life and conversation the unconscious image of Him who hath begotten us unto a lively hope. Moses wist not that his face shone. It was he who prayed: “And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us.”
Now notice, in the second place:
II. Their Future Hope
“We know not what we shall be, but we know that when He shall appear we shall be like Him for we shall see Him as He is.” In the words of Thomas Manton there is a mist on eternity. The future state of the redeemed within the veil, and the kingdom which they are to inherit, they can only see through a glass darkly. It is God’s glory to hide a thing. We know something of what we were, where we were and how we were. We know our present infirmities, our crosses and burdens, our fears and confficts. We mourn over our leanness and the years which the locusts have eaten. Our sins are ever before us. But we know not what we shall be.
Needless to say our relationship with Christ through our regeneration and justification is the same now as it shall be in heaven; but with regard to the glory that shall be revealed in God’s redeemed, we know only in part. Who can envisage a world, or a state of existence, without sin, without sorrow, without temptation or without weakness of mind or body? Heaven is the place where the inhabitant shall not say “I am sick”. Christ shall present His people to Himself without spot or wrinkle or any such thing. When John gazed upon the great multitude which no man could number he knew not who they were. Their glory, happiness and songs made them a great wonder even in Heaven. Surely that great multitude did not belong to this fallen world. But they did. In that multitude there were some whom he knew on earth, and who had passed through great tribulation, but they were now, in the light of God’s face, shining as the brightness of the firmament and as the stars for ever and ever. How inconceivable is the change that shall take place in our translation from grace on earth to glory in Heaven!
Though ye have lien among the pots
Like doves ye shall appear
Whose wings with silver, and with gold
Whose feathers covered are.
And we know not what we shall have. In this life we have but the earnest of good things to come. The Lord, indeed, gives His people here a foretaste of all the blessings which they are to enjoy in Heaven. The supreme joy of Heaven has its source in the full and everlasting enjoyment of God. In this life their fellowship is with the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ. The love of Christ is also shed abroad in their hearts. But here these enjoyments come and go. Their brook often dries. Seasons there are when they mourn over the absence of the Beloved and when their hearts feel empty and cold. Although they are heirs of God and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ, they speak of themselves as poor and needy. But when they shall come of age they shall possess the unsearchable riches of Christ reserved in Heaven for them. This is all their desire, and there is no desire implanted by the Spirit of God in their hearts but God shall satisfy. In that day “they shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more, for the Lamb who is in the midst of the Throne shall feed them, and shall lead them to living fountains of waters, and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.” The sweet “crumbs” which now fall from His hand and which sustain them on their wilderness journey, only increase their longings for the fullness prepared for them above.
We could also say that we know not where we shall be. Heaven is the eternal home of the redeemed. They are born from above and for that reason God has created a longing in their souls for that city which they are seeking. Heaven in the highest sense of the word is God Himself. “Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations.” Not only has He been their home in this world of time, but “from everlasting to everlasting”. They had a place in His heart and in His purpose of grace from all eternity. Their life is now hid with Christ in God. At Bethel, Jacob said “The Lord is in this place . . . this is none other than the house of God and this is the gate of Heaven.”
But Heaven is also a place. It is the city of the Great King. “I go,” said our Lord, “to prepare a place for you.” It is the land wherein dwelleth righteousness. There are moments in the life of God’s people when they get a glimpse not only of the King in His beauty, but also of this land of far distances. Moses saw the good land from the top of Pisgah. We also see it by faith. We look at the things which are unseen and eternal. And what they see by faith detaches them from things seen. They have the heart and walk of pilgrims and strangers on the earth. They are on the way Home. But how little we know of that glorious abode! Not till we cross the river shall we know the glory and the bliss of that Kingdom which is “incorruptible and undefiled, and that fadeth not away.” It is not sweet to think that although we are still in the world of time, each one of His people may enjoy a little heaven here under His wings. Under His wings we have protection, we have nearness to Him, we have warmth and fellowship, we have unspeakable joy.
“In shadow of thy wings I’ll joy
For thou my help hast been.”
Although, dear friends, we know not yet what we shall be, “we know that when He shall appear we shall be like Him for we shall see Him as He is.” This is the great hope of the people of God — that they shall see His face in righteousness. “I shall be satisfied when I awake with Thy likeness.” Before He left this world He gladdened the hearts of His people by giving them all a great promise. “And ye now therefore have sorrow; but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you.” When Job was in great depths of sorrow this was the one bright star in his sky. “Whom I shall see for myself and not another.” And they shall see Him as He is. Not as He was. John and many of his contemporaries saw Him in a state of humiliation and grief. They saw Him in the likeness of sinful flesh. They saw Him bearing a crown of thorns. They saw Him rejected and despised of men, and a homeless Wanderer in this cold world. But there we shall see Him as He is in all His exalted glory. We shall see Him at God’s Right Hand “crowned with many crowns”. In that happy world their sun shall no more go down. No cloud shall ever come between them and Christ, the bright and morning Star.
Let me say this one word. Would you go to a Christless heaven? If you would you will never be in heaven. If the Church, who is Christ’s bride, were to get the mansions and riches of the heavenly world, and Christ absent, do you think she would be happy? No! Her cry would be, “Saw ye Him whom my soul loveth?” This, needless to say, cannot happen. We simply want to stress again the truth that all the well-springs of the people of God are in Christ. Their love rests on Him “Whom having not seen ye love; in whom though now ye see Him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.” We rejoice in the hope o. seeing Him as He is.
Now the fulfilment of this promise is not something remote or far away. “When He shall appear.” He is to appear to each of His people when they leave this scene of time. Then their souls immediately pass into glory. Absent from the body they are present with the Lord. He shall appear on the last day when their bodies shall also be redeemed, and when all His people shall be gathered to Him. Meantime let us watch, pray and wait, till the day break and the shadows flee away. “My soul waiteth for the Lord more than they who watch for the morning.”
Finally notice:
III. The Constant Exercise of God’s People
“And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself even as he is pure.” Heaven is a place of infinite purity. Nothing shall enter there “that loveth and maketh a lie.” God’s people know that without holiness no man shall see the Lord. They are therefore at the Throne of grace asking the Lord to wash them with hyssop and to create in them a clean heart. “Having, therefore, these promises dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” The Church here is like a bride who is preparing herself to enter into Her Lord’s presence in the mansions above. “The marriage of the Lamb is come, and His wife hath made herself ready.” This is their desire — to be like Him. Long ago I sat down in a church and listened to a faithful minister of Christ as he spoke about the longing after true and perfect holiness which is in the heart of God’s people. “This is a people,” he said, “who would make their bed in hell rather than entertain the hope that they could enter heaven with one sin in their soul.” He who has His fire in Zion and His furnace in Jerusalem shall refine His people as gold till His own image is perfectly reflected in each one of them. In the heavenly world they shall be like little mirrors in which Christ may see His own image perfectly reflected. The blood of sprinkling is also ever available. “They washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”
My dear fellow sinners who are still in darkness, “without God and without hope in the world”, there is also an eternity of woe of which you know but little. As there is a wise concealment on the part of God with regard to the glorious destiny awaiting His people, what our Lord says of the terrors of a lost eternity should alarm us and stir us into a state of spiritual concern. Those who are in hell knew but little on earth of what hell is like. May none of us here, who are still in the room of mercy, enter into those dungeons of everlasting despair. Listen to what He says — “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” If you come to Christ, and embrace Him as your own, then you also shall have a good hope through grace and shall know the good of His chosen people. And if you come let me assure you that a welcome awaits you, for “This Man receiveth sinners.”

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Be Ye Separate

“Be ye separate.”
- 2Co_6:17

The Christian, while in the world, is not to be of the world. He should be distinguished from it in the great object of his life. To him, “to live,” should be “Christ.” Whether he eats, or drinks, or whatever he does, he should do all to God’s glory. You may lay up treasure; but lay it up in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, where thieves break not through nor steal. You may strive to be rich; but be it your ambition to be “rich in faith,” and good works. You may have pleasure; but when you are merry, sing psalms and make melody in your hearts to the Lord. In your spirit, as well as in your aim, you should differ from the world. Waiting humbly before God, always conscious of his presence, delighting in communion with him, and seeking to know his will, you will prove that you are of heavenly race. And you should be separate from the world in your actions. If a thing be right, though you lose by it, it must be done; if it be wrong, though you would gain by it, you must scorn the sin for your Master’s sake. You must have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. Walk worthy of your high calling and dignity. Remember, O Christian, that thou art a son of the King of kings. Therefore, keep thyself unspotted from the world. Soil not the fingers which are soon to sweep celestial strings; let not these eyes become the windows of lust which are soon to see the King in his beauty-let not those feet be defiled in miry places, which are soon to walk the golden streets-let not those hearts be filled with pride and bitterness which are ere long to be filled with heaven, and to overflow with ecstatic joy.

Then rise my soul! and soar away,
Above the thoughtless crowd;
Above the pleasures of the gay,
And splendours of the proud;

Up where eternal beauties bloom,
And pleasures all divine;
Where wealth, that never can consume,
And endless glories shine.

C.H. Spurgeon

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Soul, take this counsel

Soul, take this counsel and say, 'Satan, sin, lust, pleasure, profit, pride, friends, companions, and everything else, let me alone, stand off, come not nigh me, for I am running for heaven, for my soul, for God, for Christ, from hell and everlasting damnation: if I win, I win all, and if I lose, I lose all; let me alone, for I will not hear'. SO RUN.

Take heed of being offended at the cross that thou must go by, before thou come to heaven. You must understand, as I have already touched, that there is no man that goeth to heaven but he must go by the cross. The cross is the standing way-mark by which all they that go to glory must pass by. We must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God (Acts 14:22). Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution (2 Tim 3:12). If thou art in the way to the kingdom, my life for thine thou wilt come at the cross shortly, the Lord grant thou dost not shrink at it, so as to turn thee back again. If any man will come after me, saith Christ, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me (Luke 9:23). The cross it stands, and hath stood, from the beginning, as a way-mark to the kingdom of heaven. You know if one ask you the way to such and such a place, you, for the better direction, do not only say, this is the way, but then also say, you must go by such a gate, by such a style, such a bush, tree, bridge, or such like. Why, so it is here; art thou inquiring the way to heaven? Why, I tell thee, Christ is the way; into him thou must get, into his righteousness, to be justified; and if thou art in him, thou wilt presently see the cross, thou must go close by it, thou must touch it, nay, thou must take it up, or else thou wilt quickly go out of the way that leads to heaven, and turn up some of those crooked lanes that lead down to the chambers of death.

How thou mayest know the cross by these six things. 1. It is known in the doctrine of justification. 2. In the doctrine of mortification. 3. In the doctrine of perseverance. 4. In self-denial. 5. Patience. 6. Communion with poor saints.

1. In the doctrine of justification; there is a great deal of the cross in that: a man is forced to suffer the destruction of his own righteousness for the righteousness of another. This is no easy matter for a man to do; I assure to you it stretcheth every vein in his heart before he will be brought to yield to it. What, for a man to deny, reject, abhor, and throw away all his prayers, tears, alms, keeping of sabbaths, hearing, reading, with the rest, in the point of justification, and to count them accursed;[15] and to be willing, in the very midst of the sense of his sins, to throw himself wholly upon the righteousness and obedience of another man, abhorring his own, counting it as deadly sin, as the open breach of the law; I say, to do this in deed and in truth, is the biggest piece of the cross; and therefore Paul calleth this very thing a suffering; where he saith, And I have SUFFERED the loss of all things, which principally was his righteousness, that I might win Christ, and be found in him, not having, but rejecting, mine own righteousness (Phil 3:8,9). That is the first.

2. In the doctrine of mortification is also much of the cross. Is it nothing for a man to lay hands on his vile opinions, on his vile sins, of his bosom sins, of his beloved, pleasant, darling sins, that stick as close to him, as the flesh sticketh to the bones? What, to lose all these brave things that my eyes behold, for that which I never saw with my eyes? What, to lose my pride, my covetousness, my vain company, sports, and pleasures, and the rest? I tell you this is no easy matter; if it were, what need all those prayers, sighs, watchings? What need we be so backward to it? Nay, do you not see, that some men, before they will set about this work, they will even venture the loss of their souls, heaven, God, Christ, and all? What means else all those delays and put-offs, saying, Stay a little longer, I am loth to leave my sins while I am so young, and in health? Again, what is the reason else, that others do it so by the halves, coldly and seldom, notwithstanding they are convinced over and over; nay, and also promise to amend, and yet alls in vain? I will assure you, to cut off right hands, and to pluck out right eyes, is no pleasure to the flesh.

3. The doctrine of perseverance is also cross to the flesh; which is not only to begin, but for to hold out, not only to bid fair, and to say, Would I had heaven, but so to know Christ, to put on Christ, and walk with Christ as to come to heaven. Indeed, it is no great matter to begin to look for heaven, to begin to seek the Lord, to begin to shun sin. O but it is a very great matter to continue with God's approbation! My servant Caleb, saith God, is a man of another spirit, he hath followed me, followed me always, he hath continually followed me, fully, he shall possess the land (Num 14:24). Almost all the many thousands of the children of Israel in their generation, fell short of perseverance when they walked from Egypt towards the land of Canaan. Indeed they went to the work at first pretty willingly, but they were very short-winded, they were quickly out of breath, and in their hearts they turned back again into Egypt.

3-6.  And so likewise of the other three, to wit, patience, self-denial, communion and communication with and to the poor saints. How hard are these things? It is an easy matter to deny another man, but it is not so easy a matter to deny one’s self—to deny myself out of love to God, to His gospel, to His saints; [to deny myself] this advantage and that gain; nay, that which otherwise I might lawfully do, were it not for offending them. That scripture is but seldom read, and seldomer put in practice, which saith, “I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend” (1Co 8:13). Again, “We that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves” (Rom 15:1). But how froward, how hasty, how peevish and self-resolved are the generality of professors at this day! Also, how little considering the poor, unless it be to say, “Be ye warmed and filled” (Jam 2:16)! But to give is a seldom work, especially to give to any poor (Gal 6:10). I tell you, all things are cross to flesh and blood; and that man that hath but a watchful eye over the flesh, and also some considerable measure of strength against it, he shall find his heart in these things like unto a starting horse that is rid without a curbing bridle, ready to start at everything that is offensive to him—yea, and ready to run away too, do what the rider can.

Well then, sinner, what sayest thou? Where is thy heart? Wilt thou run? Art thou resolved to strip or art thou not? Think quickly, man; it is no dallying in this matter. Confer not with flesh and blood; look up to heaven and see how thou likest it; also to hell— of which thou mayst understand something by my book called A Few Sighs from Hell; or the Groans of a Damned Soul 63 —which I wish thee to read seriously over and accordingly devote thyself. If thou dost not know the way, inquire at the Word of God. If thou wantest company, cry for God’s Spirit. If thou wantest encouragement, entertain the promises. But be sure thou begin betimes, get into the way, run apace, and hold out to the end—and the Lord give thee a prosperous journey. Farewell.

excerpts from John Bunyan's 'heavenly footman'- a must read

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

We cannot hide our sin

Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.   Psalm 139: 23, 24

As I read this text, I ask myself, do I pray this with heartfelt intent? Do I truly desire God to dig down into the inner chambers of my heart and reveal what lies lurking in those chambers? If I am of Christ, I must ask sincerely for this to be done. Let's look at some commentary on this text, starting with C.H. Spurgeon...

David is no accomplice with traitors. He has disowned them in set form, and now he appeals to God that he does not harbour a trace of fellowship with them. He will have God himself search him, and search him thoroughly, till every point of his being is known, and read, and understood; for he is sure that even by such an investigation there will be found in him no complicity with wicked men. He challenges the fullest investigation, the innermost search: he had need be a true man who can put himself deliberately into such a crucible. Yet we may each one desire such searching; for it would be a terrible calamity to us for sin to remain in our hearts unknown and undiscovered. 
“Try me, and know my thoughts.” Exercise any and every test upon me. By fire and by water let me be examined. Read not alone the desires of my heart, but the fugitive thoughts of my head. Know with all-penetrating knowledge all that is or has been in the chambers of my mind. What a mercy that there is one being who can know us to perfection! He is intimately at home with us. He is graciously inclined towards us, and is willing to bend his omniscience to serve the end of our sanctification. Let us pray as David did, and let us be as honest as he. We cannot hide our sin: salvation lies the other way, in a plain discovery of evil, and an effectual severance from it.
“And see if there be any wicked way in me.” See whether there be in my heart, or in my life, any evil habit unknown to myself. If there be such an evil way, take me from it, take it from me. No matter how dear the wrong may have become, nor how deeply prejudiced I may have been in its favour, be pleased to deliver me there from altogether, effectually, and at once, that I may tolerate nothing which is contrary to thy mind. As I hate the wicked in their way, so would I hate every wicked way in myself. “And lead me in the way everlasting.” If thou hast introduced me already to the good old way, be pleased to keep me in it, and conduct me further and further along it. It is a way which thou hast set up of old, it is based upon everlasting principles, and it is the way in which immortal spirits will gladly run for ever and ever. There will be no end to it world without end. It lasts for ever, and they who are in it last for ever. Conduct me into it, O Lord, and conduct me throughout the whole length of it. By thy providence, by thy word, by thy grace, and by thy Spirit, lead me evermore.  C.H. Spurgeon

“Lord, I hope I am not in a wicked way, but see if there be any wicked way in me, any corrupt inclination remaining; let me see it; and root it out of me, for I do not allow it.” M Henry

And see if there be any wicked way in me - Margin, “way of pain,” or “grief.” The Hebrew word properly means an image, an idol Isa_48:5, but it also means pain, 1Ch_4:9; Isa_14:3. The word in the form used here does not occur elsewhere. Gesenius (Lexicon) renders it here idol-worship. DeWette, “way of idols.” Prof. Alexander, “way of pain.” The Septuagint and Vulgate, “way of iniquity.” So Luther. The Syriac, “way of falsehood.” Rosenmuller, “way of an idol.” According to this, the prayer is that God would search him and see if there was anything in him that partook of the nature of idolatry, or of defection from the true religion; any tendency to go back from God, to worship other gods, to leave the worship of the true God. As idolatry comprehends the sum of all that is evil, as being alienation from the true God, the prayer is that there might be nothing found in his heart which tended to alienate him from God - would indicate unfaithfulness or want of attachment to him.  A. Barnes

And see if there be any wicked way in me,.... Not that David thought himself free from wickedness, or that there was none to be found in his heart and life; and therefore said this in a boasting way, he knew otherwise; see Psa_19:12; but he is desirous it might be thoroughly looked into and seen whether there was any such wicked way in him he was charged with; as that he had a design upon the life of Saul, and to seize his throne and kingdom, which never entered into his mind, 1Sa_24:9. Or, "any way of grief" (d); what tended to wound and grieve his own soul, or to grieve the hearts of God's people; or to grieve the Holy Spirit of God; and which he ought to grieve for and repent of: suggesting, that upon the first conviction he was ready to relinquish any such wicked way, and express his abhorrence of it, and testify true repentance for it. Some render it, "the way of an idol" (e); because a word from the same root signifies an idol: every carnal lust in a man's heart is an idol; and whatsoever engrosses the affections, or has more of them than God himself has, or is preferred to him, is, preferred to him, Eze_14:4.   J. Gill

 We ought to be much concerned to know whether we do not live in a state of sin. All unregenerate men live in sin. We are born under the power and dominion of sin, are sold under sin. Every unconverted sinner is a devoted servant to sin and Satan. We should look upon it as of the greatest importance to us, to know in what state we are, whether we ever had any change made in our hearts from sin to holiness, or whether we be not still in the gall of bitterness and bond of iniquity; whether ever sin were truly mortified in us; whether we do not live in the sin of unbelief, and in the rejection of the Savior. This is what the apostle insists upon with the Corinthians. 2 Cor. 13:5, “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves; know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?” Those who entertain the opinion and hope of themselves, that they are godly, should take great care to see that their foundation be right. Those that are in doubt should not give themselves rest till the matter be resolved.  Jonathan Edwards

I pray to be fervent and, as J. Edwards states, 'not give themselves rest till the matter be resolved'. We are commanded to mortify sin {Col. 3}, this should be a continual process as long as we are on this earth. May God mercifully remind us of this great need for the remainder of our time here. 

Satan does not oppose a general profession of religion

This is a day of much lip-profession without real heart work, and the "kingdom of God is not in word, but in power." "The kingdom of God is within you." This is what Satan seems in this day to be most fighting against. He does not oppose a general profession of religion, which is now deemed respectable. Nor does he mind great strictness in outward religious forms--as that is often a means of lulling the conscience into false peace. He will not even disturb a sound creed, and much zeal in contending for the truth of the Bible--so long as the truths rest only in the natural mind, whereby they induce vain confidence and terrible self-deceiving. The great enemy of souls will endeavor to keep all in peace who have 'a name to live, but are dead.' And if one of his subjects passes over either from gross sins or from the more refined pleasures of this perishing world to an outward profession, he will not be alarmed. For he cares not whether souls perish under the title of 'worldling' or of 'Christian'--so long as he gets them into his own fearful damnation. Nay, I believe if he sees one become restless under some sense of sin, and that he cannot urge that poor soul on further in the old sinful way--he will transform himself into an angel of light, and recommend reformation and external religious duties, such as reading and hearing the Word--taking care to substitute 'form' for 'power'.
Oh! the dreadful danger of such souls, soothed into carnal security! They are only blinded to their danger--not delivered from it. Better were it to endure years of anguish in weeping, and seeking for mercy by Jesus Christ--than to be turned to such "a refuge of lies," and to walk in such "sparks of their own kindling." Better to walk in sorrow all one's life--than to lie down in sorrow at death to end in eternal woe! May the Lord deliver souls thus deceived from this snare of the great fowler, so that they may thankfully say, "The snare is broken, and we are escaped" by Divine power into that kingdom of God which is not outward things, such food and drink--but righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.
Ah! my beloved friend, it is this stronghold which Satan fights against--and fallen flesh is in league with him! He may tolerate outward forms and external religious exercises--but inward power is represented as contemptible, unreasonable, and is called fanaticism and enthusiasm! Yet the eternal world of glory is full of this, swelling broader and deeper the anthem of praise to the holy Lord God and the Lamb. Without this divine life within, no soul of man can be saved, as the great day shall declare. It is, indeed, fearful to think what that dreadful day will reveal; and of all characters, I think those are in the most fearful condition--who have had Christ on the lip--but not in the heart, as in Matt. 7:21-23. My heart often says: "Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my thoughts; and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." (Psalm 139:23, 24.)
True it is, that our vigilant foe does not mind a new creed--but he hates a new heart! He does not object to outward reformation--but hates inward regeneration, and also those who are regenerated. He does not fear good words of prayer on the lip--but he well knows he shall suffer loss when it is said of a soul, "Behold, he prays!" for—
"Satan trembles when he sees
 The weakest saint upon his knees."
O you trembling souls, let not the subtle serpent drive you from this stronghold! Your God will hear and help you. He has taught you to pray; He will answer your prayers. If He long delays--He is worth waiting for. If He shuts His door against you--it is only to make you knock the louder. It is better to wait on God for His salvation in sackcloth and ashes--than to wait on the world and the flesh clothed in scarlet; "for the end of these things is death!"
It matters not who may deride or scoff, or how your own evil heart may shrink from the contempt of the cross. "How long will you halt between two opinions? If the Lord be God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him." You cannot serve them both! Oh, be wise.
If the world and Satan and the flesh seem too strong for you, as they surely are--go into your closet, and pour out your heart before the Lord; He will be a refuge for you. "He gives power to the faint; and to those who have no might He increases strength."
The sighs and groans of a broken heart are heard in the high court above, and the tears of a contrite spirit are audible there! For before the throne is Jesus, the Brother of the broken-hearted, the atoning sacrifice for sin--the Advocate for sinners who loathe themselves for their iniquity. (1 Kings 8:38, 39.) That blessed Savior understands all the broken utterances; He knows what each of His children would say if he could, and "He ever lives to make intercession for them." (Heb. 7:25.) It may be the law condemns you, O trembling one--conscience condemns you--thoughts, words, actions, all condemn you. Be it so--may it be your mercy, and the beginning of your salvation, for this is like the power with which the Holy Spirit begins in the soul, thereby translating it out of the kingdom of darkness "into the kingdom of God's dear Son." (Col. 1:13.)
The religion of Jesus is a religion of power; (1 Cor. 1:18, 23, 24.) and if, through the power of the Holy Spirit, there is a discovery of sin and condemnation--may Jesus say, "Your sins," (oh, the sweetness!) "your sins, which are many, are all forgiven you;" then the burden is lawfully lost, and the soul has solid peace. Thus shall it be with everyone quickened by the Spirit. Satan may strive to drown and stifle the conviction, but it will return with double misery, and the burden grow heavier and heavier, until the poor soul finds there is no way of escape but through the blood of the cross. May the Spirit enable you to come just as you are! I know you are seeking for Jesus, may He soon be found by you.