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, October 31, 2016

the necessity and the method

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Yours sincerely,
 W. J. Seaton

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Sing a little louder

Please watch this. This is NOT a political endorsement, it is a reminder of the genocide of abortion in America....I do not agree with the suggestion at the end of the movie on three things we can do. My personal opinion is that we cry out to God on behalf of these innocent babies that have been and will be slaughtered in America. This nation is heaping upon itself great wrath for the shedding of all this innocent blood. No politician can stop this slaughter, only the hand of the Almighty can turn the tide - only God can bring about repentance. It is the preaching of the Gospel, the giving of the law and the warning of severe wrath that is coming that must be proclaimed. If America continues in all its wicked ways, God will indeed rise up against this nation and bring it to nothing. We are already headed in that direction.

True Christianity is a fight

(J.C. Ryle, "Holiness")

"Fight the good fight of faith!" 1 Timothy 6:12

True Christianity! Let us mind that word "true." There is a vast quantity of religion current in the world which is not true, genuine Christianity. There are thousands of men and women who go to churches and chapels every Sunday and call themselves Christians. They make a "profession" of faith in Christ. Their names are on the baptismal register. They are reckoned Christians while they live. They are married with a Christian marriage service. They mean to be buried as Christians when they die.
But you never see any fight about their religion!

Of spiritual strife and exertion and conflict and self-denial and watching and warring--they know literally nothing at all. Such Christianity may satisfy man, and those who say anything against it may be thought very hard and uncharitable--but it certainly is not the Christianity of the Bible. It is not the religion which the Lord Jesus founded, and His apostles preached. It is not the religion which produces real holiness. True Christianity is a fight!
The true Christian is called to be a soldier, and must behave as such from the day of his conversion to the day of his death. He is not meant to live a life of pious ease, indolence and security. He must never imagine for a moment, that he can sleep and doze along the way to Heaven, like one traveling in an easy carriage. If he takes his standard of Christianity from the people of this world, he may be content with such vain notions--but he will find no countenance for them in the Word of God. If the Bible is the rule of his faith and practice, he will find his course laid down very plainly in this matter. He must fight!
The principal fight of the Christian is with . . .
  the world,
  the flesh,
  and the devil.
These are his never-dying foes! These are the three chief enemies against whom he must wage war. Unless he gets the victory over these three, all other victories are useless and vain. If he had a nature like an angel, and were not a fallen creature--the warfare would not be so essential. But with a corrupt heart, a busy devil and an ensnaring world, he must either fight--or be lost.
He must fight the WORLD. The subtle influence of that mighty enemy must be daily resisted--and without a daily battle, it can never be overcome.
The love of the world's good things,
the fear of the world's laughter or blame,
the secret desire to keep in with the world,
the secret wish to do as others in the world do--
all these are spiritual foes which beset the Christian continually on his way to Heaven, and must be conquered.
"If any man loves the world--the love of the Father is not in him." 1 John 2:15
"The world is crucified to me--and I unto the world." Galatians 6:14
"Whoever is born of God, overcomes the world." 1 John 5:4
"Do not be conformed to this world." Romans 12:2
"Friendship with the world is enmity with God. Whoever therefore will be a friend of the world, is the enemy of God." James 4:4
He must fight the FLESH. Even after conversion, he carries within him a nature prone to evil and a heart as weak and unstable as water! That heart will never be free from imperfection in this world, and it is a miserable delusion to expect it.
He must fight the DEVIL. That old enemy of mankind is not dead. Ever since the Fall of Adam and Eve, he has been "going to and fro in the earth, and walking up and down in it," and striving to compass one great end--the ruin of man's soul. Never slumbering and never sleeping--he is always going about as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. An unseen enemy, he is always near us, about our path and about our bed, and spying out all our ways! A murderer and a liar from the beginning--he labors night and day to cast us down to Hell. Sometimes by leading into superstition, sometimes by suggesting infidelity, sometimes by one kind of tactics and sometimes by another--he is always carrying on a campaign against our souls. This mighty adversary must be daily resisted if we wish to be saved.
Some may think these statements too strong. You imagine that I am going too far, and laying on the colors too thickly. But the Christian warfare is no light matter! What do the Scriptures say? 
  "Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life."
  "Endure hardship, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ."
  "Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes!"
  "Strive to enter in at the strait gate."
  "Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong!"
Words such as these appear to me as clear, plain and unmistakable. They all teach one and the same great lesson, if we are willing to receive it. That lesson is, that true Christianity is a struggle, a fight and a warfare!
   ~  ~  ~  ~

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

God and country?

This seems quite fitting for the times we are in...

True patriotism!

Dear friend,
Allow me to say, that it excites both my wonder and concern, that a Christian minister such as yourself, should think it worth his while to attempt political reforms. When I look around upon the present state of the nation, such an attempt appears to me, to be no less vain and foolish, than it would be to paint the cabin—while the ship is sinking! Or to decorate the parlor—while the house is on fire!

When our Lord Jesus was upon earth, He refused to get involved in disputes or politics, "Friend, who appointed Me a judge or arbitrator over you?" Luke 12:14. "My kingdom is not of this world! If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight!" John 18:36. God's children belong to a kingdom which is not of this world; they are strangers and pilgrims upon earth, and a part of their Scriptural character is, that they are the "quiet in the land." Psalm 35:19.
Satan has many contrivances to amuse people, and to divert their thoughts from their real danger!
My dear sir, my prayer to God for you is—that He may induce you to employ the talents He has given you, in pointing out sin as the great cause and source of every existing evil; and to engage those who love and fear Him, (instead of wasting time in political speculations, for which very few of them are competent,) to sigh and cry for our abounding abominations, and to stand in the breach, by prayer, that God's wrath may yet be averted, and our national mercies prolonged! This, I think, is true patriotism—the best way in which people in private life may serve their country.

I consider the ungodly as saws and hammers in the hand of the Lord. So far as they are His instruments, they will succeed—but not an inch further! Their wrath shall praise Him, and be subservient to His designs!

If our lot is so cast that we can exercise our ministry free from stripes, fines, imprisonments, and death—it is more than the gospel has promised to us! If Christians were quiet when under the cruel governments of Nero and other wicked persecutors, when they were hunted down like wild beasts—then we ought to be not only quiet but verythankful now! It was then accounted an honor to suffer for Christ and the 'offence of the cross'!

Those are to be greatly pitied, who boast of their 'liberty'—and yet they do not consider that they are in the most deplorable bondage as the slaves of sin and Satan, under the curse of God's law and His eternal wrath! Oh! for a voice to reach their hearts, that they may know their true and dreadful state—and seek deliverance from their horrific thraldom! May you and I labor to direct them to the one thing, which is absolutely needful, and abundantly sufficient.

If I had the wisdom or influence to soothe the angry passions of mankind—I would gladly employ them! But I am a stranger and a pilgrim here in this world. My charter, my rights and my treasures, are all in heaven—and there my heart ought to be. In a very short time, I may be removed (and perhaps suddenly) into the unseen and eternal world—where all that now causes so much bustle upon earth—will be of no more importance to me—than the events which took place among the antediluvians!
In the hour, when death shall open the door into eternity—many things which now assume an 'air of importance', will be found as light and unsubstantial as a child's dream!

How crucial then, is it for me—to be found watching, with my lamp burning, diligently engaged in my proper calling! For the Lord has not called me to set governmentsright—but to preach the gospel, to proclaim the glory of His name, and to endeavor to win souls! "Let the dead bury their own dead—but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God!" Luke 9:60. Happy is that servant, whom his Master finds so doing, when He returns!

As you have forced me to respond—both duty and love have obliged me to be faithful and free in giving you my thoughts.

I recommend you to the care and blessing of the great Shepherd and Savior; and remain for His sake, your affectionate friend and brother,
John Newton

Monday, October 24, 2016

Approaching darkness

“Give glory to the Lord your God, before He cause darkness” —Jeremiah 13:16. 

 These words are part of a weeping prophecy wherein the prophet is attempting to awaken this secure and stubborn people to repentance, from the consideration of the judgments of God that were coming upon them, of which we read in the preceding part of the chapter; and now he comes to give them good and seasonable counsel, (vs 15) “Hear ye, and give ear, be not proud; for the Lord hath spoken.” God has passed His word, and the decree is gone forth: and then he calls them to repent, and give glory to God, before He cause darkness. What hinders people’s hearing when God speaks either by word or rod? What but pride? Be not proud; do not think yourself too good to be taught. Be not scornful, be not willful, be not secure when God threatens; be not impatient when God strikes; for pride is at the bottom of both. It is the duty of a sinful people to give glory to God before He cause darkness: to repent, before He bring judgments upon them. O Sirs, be exhorted then to “Give glory to God, before He cause darkness.” 

For motives to persuade you hereto, consider: 
1. That the glory of God has been much darkened by our sins, and the sins of this generation; darkened to such a degree as may justly provoke Him to cause darkness. How has He been dishonored by our forefathers and us? How is He d i s h o n o red by the gross infidelity, error, ignorance, and irreligion of the day! by the great contempt and neglect of precious Christ and His glorious gospel! the woeful barrenness and unfruitfulness of ordinances! indifference and lukewarmness in the matters of God! lamentable backsliding and defection from His ways and His truth! hypocrisy, carnality, and earthly-mindedness! all seeking NOT the things of Christ Jesus, but their own things! gross immorality, cursing, swearing, whoredom, drunkenness, profanation of God’s name and Sabbath! How is He dishonored by our sinning against so much, and so many mercies, and warnings
2. Consider how the darkness of sin in dishonoring God, is attended with the darkness of judgment, portending yet greater darkness. How many shadows of the evening are stretched over us? The shadow of spiritual judgments and  plagues, as blindness of mind, hardness of heart, stupidity, security, and deadness; and the giving up of men to the lusts of their own hearts, in the righteous judgment of God! The shadow of desertion; the Lord visibly withdrawing His gracious presence from His ordinances, and the assemblies of His servants and people! The shadow of dissensions and divisions among ministers and people: God dividing us in His anger! The visible glory of the church, her doctrine, worship, discipline, and government, sadly corrupted with carnal policy, framing the tabernacle of God otherwise than according to the pattern seen in the mount! The invisible glory is much withdrawn, that few tokens appear of God’s powerful presence in the sanctuary, and a great famine of spiritual influence! What a shadow of darkness is the reduction of the remnant! when the good men perish, and few faithful pastors and sound professors are left! “Help, Lord,” says the psalmist, “for the godly man ceaseth”; few to bear witness for God. 
3. Consider how much it concerns us to give glory to God: glorifying of God is the great end of our creation and being: “The Lord made all things for Himself”; and if all things, then man especially, the master-piece of the visible creation. It is for this end God has given us rational souls and noble faculties, and the means of grace; and all lest this end be not obtained. The glorifying of God is the chief end of all His works, viz. creation, providence, and redemption. All the other cre a t u res, sun, moon, and stars, yea, and brute beasts, they all glorify God according to their nature and capacities; and, what are we doing? We depend upon Him absolutely for life and breath and being, every moment: “In Him we live, move, and have our being”: and is it not highly reasonable that we live to Him? The glory of God is most excellent; His glory is above heaven and earth. His glory surpasses the thoughts of men and angels. It is more worth than heaven; more worth than the salvation of all men. His glory is dear to Him. He has given many excellent gifts to His children, but His glory will He not give to another. And if His glory be so dear to Him, should it not be dear to us? And ought we not to promote it? Our NOT glorifying God will come to a sad account, for the sum of the grand account we are to be called to is this, What revenue of glory have you brought in to Me? And, if God have no glory by us, He will have glory upon us. If you glorify Him not actively, you shall glorify Him passively; and, alas! how sad will their case be, who shall serve for no other end, but to set forth the glory of His vindictive justice to all eternity! In a word, it will be our unspeakable advantage to glorify Him, for we shall be glorified by Him: “They that honor Me, I will honor.” 
4. Consider whom it concerns to glorify God; put it not off from you. Does it not concern magistrates to give glory to Him by enacting good laws and executing them faithfully? Does it not concern ministers and church-officers to give glory to God by asserting and maintaining the true doctrine, worship, discipline, and government of God’s house; to buy truth and not to sell it, though it should cost us our life, as it has done many worthy ministers and martyrs. Does it not concern people in their private stations, to give glory to God, and advance the kingdom of Christ Jesus, and to contribute their mite, though they w e re never so poor and mean, for the building of the tabernacle? As, when it was reared in the wilderness, some that were able gave gold, silver, precious stones, scarlet, and fine linen; some that were poorer and unable to give great things, they gave badgers’ skins and goats’ hair: so according to your ability, you are to give glory to God, and to pray for the coming of His kingdom, when you can do no more. 
5. Consider that darkness is threatened. There are signs of darkness and of judgment a-coming. 
a. Abounding of all manner of sin. “Hear the word of the Lord, ye children of Israel; for the Lord hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the land, because there is no truth, mercy, 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, and everyone that dwelleth therein shall languish, with the beasts of the field, and with the fowls of heaven; yea the fishes of the sea shall also be taken away” (Hosea 4:1-3).
 b. These aggravated so much, being against light, love, and mercy; so that the patience of God is abused, (Rom 2:4,5) “Despisest thou the riches of His forbearance and long-suffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance; but after thy hardness and impenitent heart, treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath?”  
c. When God’s patience is not only abused, but affronted, and ridiculed and laughed at, (2 Peter 3:3) “Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days, scoffers, walking after their own lusts, and saying, Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. The Lord is not slack concerning His p romise, but is long-suffering to usward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night.” 
d. When the gospel is despised, and Christ is rejected by the generality, it bodes darkness, (Matt 21:42,43) “The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord ’s doing and is wonderful in our eyes. Therefore I say unto you, the kingdom of God shall be taken from  you and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.” O then, “Give glory to God before He cause darkness.”Give Him glory by living by faith upon the Son of God; you cannot glorify God, if you do not glorify the Son, “He that honoreth not the Son, honoreth not the Father which hath sent Him” (John 5:23). you and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.” O then, “Give glory to God before He cause darkness.” 
Give Him glory by living by faith upon the Son of God; you cannot glorify God, if you do not glorify the Son, “He that honoreth not the Son, honoreth not the Father which hath sent Him” (John 5:23). O then, Sirs, give Christ the glory of His name and offices. Give Christ the glory of His name, by making His name your strong tower. Give Him the glory of His name Jesus, by looking to Him for salvation. Give Him the glory of His name Christ, the Anointed, by looking to Him for the Spirit, the anointing. Give Him the glory of His name, The Sun of righteous - ness, by praying Him to arise on you with healing in His wings. Give Him the glory of His name, The Resurrection and the Life, by looking to Him for life to your dead soul. Give Him the glory of all His offices. A man in his office reckons it his honor to be employed, much employed.
 O then, Sirs, give Christ the glory of His prophetical office by employing Him to teach you, and to dispel the darkness of your mind. Give Him glory as a Priest, by employing Him to pardon you, and wash you in His blood. Give Him glory as a King, by employing Him to subdue all your iniquities, mortify all your corruptions, and destroy all your spiritual enemies. Give Him glory as a Physician, by employing Him to heal all your diseases. Give Him glory as a Captain, by employing Him to fight all your battles. 
Give Him glory as a Treasurer, by employing Him to supply all your wants out of His fullness. Give Him glory as an Agent, by employing Him to do all your works for you and in you, saying with the Psalmist, “Do Thou for me, for Thy name’s sake”; and again, (Psa 57:2) “I will cry unto God most high, unto God that perf o rmeth all things for me.” If you cannot believe, nor employ Him, O will you give Him glory as the Author of faith, by pleading, that He may come and take employment, and work faith in you. 
Give Him the glory of His drawing grace, saying, “Lord, draw me, and I will run; turn me, and I will be turned.” Remember you are called to give Him glory, before He cause darkness. Darkness will come whether you will or not, the darkness of distress, the darkness of a sick-bed or a death-bed, the darkness of death itself, the darkness of a judgment-day. If you would have darkness to be light before you, O Sirs, give Him glory before He cause darkness. O seek to be regenerated, for you cannot please God while you are in the flesh: “Who can gather grapes of thorns?” Seek acquaintance with Christ and union to Him; you cannot glorify God but in Christ. Seek to have the Word hid in your heart, and particularly to be well acquainted with the gospel covenant: plead the promises thereof; “For the promises are Yea and Amen, in Christ, to the glory of God” (2 Cor 1:20). How sweet will it be in a dying hour, if you could say, “Father, I have glorified Thee on earth; glorify Thou me with Thyself,” and with the glory Thou hast prepared for me from all eternity.

Ralph Erskine

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Oh how few!

“The vast majority of professing Christians today are far, far more concerned about their bodies than their souls, about carnal pleasures than spiritual riches, about earthly comforts than heavenly consolations, about the good opinion of their fellows rather than the approbation of God. But a few — and O how few — are made serious, become in deadly earnest to examine well their foundations and test every inch of the ground they stand on. With them religion is not something to be taken up and laid down according to their fitful moods. Where will they spend ETERNITY is their all-absorbing concern. Every other interest in life sinks into utter insignificance before the vital consideration of seeking to make sure that they have “the root of the matter” in them. O my reader, can you be satisfied with the cheap, easy-going religion of the day, which utterly ignores the clamant call of the Son of God “Agonize to enter in at the strait gate” (Luke 13:24)?
Can you rest content with the “smooth things” now being proclaimed from well nigh every pulpit, which assures those who are at emnity with God they can become Christians more easily than a youth can join the army, or a man become a ‘free mason’ or ‘odd fellow’? Can you follow the great crowd who claim to have “received Christ as their personal Savior” when no miracle of grace has been wrought in their hearts, while the Lord Himself declares
“Strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto Life, and few there be that find it” (Matthew 7:14)?
Dare you rest upon some “decision” made when you were deeply stirred by some anecdotes addressed to your emotions? Have you nothing more than some change in your religious views or some reformation in your outward ways to show that you are “a new creature in Christ Jesus”? Slight not, we beseech you, this pressing word, “Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God”.” —A. W. Pink (1886–1952)

Thursday, October 20, 2016

The breakdown and breakup of "Civilization"

"The Destruction of Dagon" 1943)

The "march of progress" from 1920 onwards, was, if measured by the standards of righteousness and decency, steadily downwards. Those with the least sense of decency were determined to drag the whole generation down into the gutter. An orgy of licentiousness was widely entered into. Night-clubs were multiplied, gambling spread like wild fire, and debauchery abounded on every side. The beaches lowered their bathing restrictions--and modesty became a thing of the past. Youth was allowed to have its fling, unrestrained.

The novels and magazines of the last decade have been filled with obscenities and blasphemies. A friend of ours in the publishing business recently wrote to us, "Today we have shops stacked with books which, had they been published when we were boys--the authors and publishers would have been put in jail!" Censorship has long since been reduced to a farce. The great majority of our children have had their ideas formed by the pictures they saw at the "movies" and the debasing productions of a degenerate press. As a recent writer has said, "The best-sellers of today, are often books whose morals are of the barnyard, whose language is of the sewer and whose ethicsare of the pit!"

The breakdown and breakup of "Civilization"appears in such things as the decay of the sanctity of marriage--as evidenced by the multiplication of divorces, and the abandonment of large numbers of babies; juvenile delinquency and immorality among the young; the vandalism which is now so rife; such widespread pilfering--and the flimsy efforts of the authorities to deal with such evils! Thousands of culprits who ought to be sent to prison, are given nominal fines. Law and order is almost reduced to a farce!
No matter in which direction we turn, it is the ugly and the vulgar--which is preferred to the beautiful and refined. What a commentary on our so-called "progress."
Someone has said, "The popular taste is a good index to the health of society." Apply that dictum to our own times, and it will quickly appear how the moral health of society has declined.
We do what we do--because we are what we are. There is always a rigid consistency between character and conduct. The thin coating of "civilized" varnish has worn off--and twentieth-century character stands exposed.

The political fiasco of this presidential race

This presidential campaign has been a circus, both candidates are hideous. I've been told if I don't vote, that is a vote for Clinton. I've been told I must vote for Trump to set America straight again. All this comes from 'Christians'. Frankly, I am sick of it all! God will give America the type of leadership that reflects the culture that leadership governs. 

I found this post and it describes how I feel to a 't'....

Dump Them Both

I have lived almost half a century. Being both a US citizen and a British subject, I can say that I have seen my share of politics. I have seen the games, heard the lies, and watched the vitriol fly. This current election in the USA must be the worse I have ever seen. We are a laughingstock among the nations of the world, many of whom have no fear of us as a nation. More importantly, they have no respect for us because our leaders (and potential wanna-be leaders) have no respect for the laws of this land.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

The harlot in your bosom

(Thomas Watson, "The Godly Man's Picture Drawn with a Scripture Pencil")

"Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us." Hebrews 12:1

There is usually one sin that is the favorite--the sin which the heart is most fond of. A godly man will not indulge his darling sin: "I kept myself from my iniquity." (Psalm 18:23). "I will not indulge the sin to which the bias of my heart more naturally inclines." 

"Fight neither with small nor great--but only with the king." (1 Kings 22:31). A godly man fights this king sin. If we would have peace in our souls, we must maintain a war against our favorite sin, and never leave off until it is subdued.

Question: How shall we know what our beloved sin is?

Answer 1. The sin which a man does not love to have reproved--is the darling sin. Herod could not endure having his incest spoken against. If the prophet meddles with that sin--it shall cost him his head! "Do not touch my Herodias!" Men can be content to have other sins reproved--but if the minister puts his finger on the sore, and touches this sin--their hearts begin to burn in malice against him!

Answer 2. The sin on which the thoughts run most--is the darling sin. Whichever way the thoughts go, the heart goes. He who is in love with a person cannot keep his thoughts off that person. Examine what sin runs most in your mind, what sin is first in your thoughts and greets you in the morning--that is your predominant sin.

Answer 3. The sin which has most power over us, and most easily leads us captive--is the one beloved by the soul. There are some sins which a man can better resist. If they come for entertainment, he can more easily put them off. But the bosom sin comes as a suitor, and he cannot deny it--but is overcome by it. The young man in the Gospel had repulsed many sins--but there was one sin which soiled him, and that was covetousness. 

Mark what sin you are most readily led captive by--that is the harlot in your bosom! It is a sad thing that a man should be so bewitched by lust, that if it asks him to part with the Kingdom of Heaven--he must part with it, to gratify that lust!

Answer 4. The sin which men most defend--is the beloved sin. He who has a jewel in his bosom, will defend it to his death. The sin we advocate and dispute for, is the besetting sin. The sin which we plead for, and perhaps wrest Scripture to justify it--that is the sin which lies nearest the heart.

Answer 5. The sin which a man finds most difficulty in giving up--is the endeared sin. Of all his sons, Jacob found most difficulty in parting with Benjamin. So the sinner says, "This and that sin I have parted with--but must Benjamin go! Must I part with this delightful sin? That pierces my heart!" A man may allow some of his sins to be demolished--but when it comes to one sin--that is the taking of the castle; he will never agree to part with that! That is the master sin for sure.

The besetting sin is, of all others, most dangerous. As Samson's strength lay in his hair--so the strength of sin lies in this beloved sin. This is like a poison striking the heart, which brings death.
A godly man will lay the axe of repentance to this sin and hew it down! He will sacrifice this Isaac; he will pluck out this right eye--so that he may see better to go to Heaven.

Monday, October 10, 2016

A wicked leader is the Lord's wrath

 "For despite the Lord’s testimony that the magistrate’s office is the highest gift of his beneficence to preserve the safety of men, and despite his appointment of bounds to the magistrates he still declares at the same time that whoever they may be, they have their authority solely from him. Indeed, he says that those who rule for the public benefit are true patterns and evidences of this beneficence of his; that they who rule unjustly and incompetently have been raised up by him to punish the wickedness of the people; that all equally have been endowed with that holy majesty with which he has invested lawful power. I shall proceed no farther until I have added some sure testimonies of this thing. Yet, we need not labor to prove that a wicked king is the Lord’s wrath upon the earth [Job 34:30, Vg.; Hos. 13:11; Isa. 3:4; 10:5; Deut. 28:29], for I believe no man will contradict me; and thus nothing more would be said of a king than of a robber who seizes your possessions, of an adulterer who pollutes your marriage bed, or of a murderer who seeks to kill you. For Scripture reckons all such calamities among God’s curses. But let us, rather, pause here to prove this, which does not so easily settle in men’s minds. In a very wicked man utterly unworthy of all honor, provided he has the public power in his hands, that noble and divine power resides which the Lord has by his Word given to the ministers of his justice and judgment. Accordingly, he should be held in the same reverence and esteem by his subjects, in so far as public obedience is concerned, in which they would hold the best of kings if he were given to them"...
 "For since wicked prince is the Lord’s scourge to punish the sins of the people, let us remember, that it happens through our fault that this excellent blessing of God is turned into a curse".

excerpts from John Calvin's 'institutes of the Christian religion' and commentary on Romans 13 - source -

**This is in no way an endorsement of B. Muehlernberg's blog or his views**

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Useless kinds of religion

J. C. Ryle (1816-1900)

There are two ways by which a man may lose his own soul. What are they? 
1. He may lose his soul by living and dying without any religion at all. He may live and die like a beast, prayerless, godless, graceless, faithless. This is a sure way to hell. Mind that you do not walk in it. 
2. He may lose his soul by taking up some kind of religion. He may live and die contenting himself with a false Christianity and resting on a baseless hope. This is the commonest way to hell there is. 

What do I mean by useless kinds of religion? I will tell you. The first thing I wish to say is this. A religion is entirely useless in which Jesus Christ is not the principal object and does not fill the principal place. 
There are only too many baptized men and women who practically know nothing about Christ. Their religion consists in a few vague notions and empty expressions. “They trust they are no worse than others; they keep to their Church; they try to do their duty; they do nobody any harm; they hope God will be merciful to them! They trust the Almighty will pardon their sins and take them to heaven when they die.” This is about the whole of their religion.
 But what do these people know practically about Christ? Nothing: nothing at all! What experiential acquaintance have they with His offices and work, His blood, His righteousness, His mediation, His priesthood, His intercession? None: none at all! Ask them about a saving faith—ask them about being born again of the Spirit—ask them about being sanctified in Christ Jesus. What answer will you get? You are a barbarian to them. You have asked them simple Bible questions; but they know no more about them experientially than a Buddhist or a Muslim. 
And yet this is the religion of hundreds of thousands of people who are called Christians all over the world.
 lf you are a man of this kind, I warn you plainly that such Christianity will never take you to heaven. It may do very well in the eyes of men; it may pass muster very decently at the [church] meeting, in the place of business, in the House of Commons, or in the streets. But it will never comfort you. It will never satisfy your conscience. It will never save your soul.
 I warn you plainly that all notions and theories about God being merciful without Christ and excepting through Christ are baseless delusions and empty fancies. Such theories are purely an idol of man’s invention. They are all of the earth, earthy: they never came down from heaven. The God of heaven has sealed and appointed Christ as the one and only Savior and way of life; and all who would be saved must be content to T be saved by Him, or they will never be saved at all. I give you fair warning. A religion without Christ will never save your soul (Joh 14:6)! 
But I have another thing yet to say. A religion is entirely useless in which you join anything with Christ in the matter of saving your soul. You must not only depend on Christ for salvation, but you must depend on Christ only and Christ alone (Eph 2:8- 9).
 There are multitudes of baptized men and women who profess to honor Christ, but in reality do Him great dishonor. They give Christ a certain place in their system of religion, but not the place which God intended Him to fill. Christ alone is not “all in all” to their souls (Eph 1:23). No: it is either Christ and the Church, or Christ and the Sacraments, or Christ and His ordained ministers, or Christ and their own goodness, or Christ and their own prayers, or Christ and their own sincerity and charity—on which they practically rest their souls. 
If you are a Christian of this kind I warn you also plainly that your religion is an offence to God. You are changing God’s plan of salvation into a plan of your own devising. You are, in effect, deposing Christ from His throne by giving the glory due to Him to another.
 I care not who it is that teaches you your religion and on whose word you build. Whether he be Pope or Cardinal, Archbishop or Bishop, Dean or Archdeacon, Presbyter or Deacon, Episcopalian or Presbyterian, Baptist or Independent, Methodist or Plymouth Brother—whosoever adds anything to Christ, teaches you wrong (Gal 1:6-8). I care not what it is that you add to Christ. Whether it be the necessity of joining the Church of Rome, or of being an Episcopalian, or of becoming a Free Churchman, or of giving up the liturgy, or of being baptized by immersion, whatever you may practically add to Christ in the matter of salvation, you do Christ an injury. 
Take heed what you are doing. Beware of giving to Christ’s servants the honour due to none but Christ. Beware of giving the Lord’s ordinances the honour due unto the Lord. Beware of resting the burden of your soul on anything but Christ, and Christ alone. Beware of having a religion which is of no use, and cannot save. 
[Christ] left the glory He had from all eternity with the Father and came down into the world to provide salvation. He took our nature upon Him and was born as a man. As a man He did the will of God perfectly (Mat 17:5), which we all had left undone (Rom 3:23). As a man He suffered on the cross the wrath of God which we ought to have suffered (Rom 6:23). He brought in everlasting righteousness for us (Dan 9:24). He redeemed us from the curse of a broken law (Luk 1:68; Rev 5:9). He opened a fountain for all sin and uncleaness. He died for our sins. He rose again for our justification (Rom 4:25)). He ascended to God’s right hand, and there sat down, waiting till His enemies should be made his footstool (Luk 20:42-43). And there He sits now, [calling] to all who will come to Him, interceding for all who believe in Him, and managing by God’s appointment all that concerns the salvation of souls (Joh 3; Eph 1- 2; Rom 3-5). It is an awful thing to have no religion at all. To have an immortal soul committed to your charge and neglect it—this is dreadful. But it’s no less an awful thing to be content with a religion than can do you no good. Do not let this be your case! 

Saturday, October 8, 2016

When God wants to judge a nation....

Image result for evil image of Barack Obama

his presence is the Church's power

"Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught." — Luk_5:4

We learn from this narrative, the necessity of human agency. The draught of fishes was miraculous, yet neither the fisherman nor his boat, nor his fishing tackle were ignored; but all were used to take the fishes. So in the saving of souls, God worketh by means; and while the present economy of grace shall stand, God will be pleased by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. When God worketh without instruments, doubtless he is glorified; but he hath himself selected the plan of instrumentality as being that by which he is most magnified in the earth. Means of themselves are utterly unavailing. "Master, we have toiled all the night and have taken nothing." What was the reason of this? Were they not fishermen plying their special calling? Verily, they were no raw hands; they understood the work. Had they gone about the toil unskillfully? No. Had they lacked industry? No, they had toiled. Had they lacked perseverance? No, they had toiled all the night. Was there a deficiency of fish in the sea? Certainly not, for as soon as the Master came, they swam to the net in shoals. What, then, is the reason? Is it because there is no power in the means of themselves apart from the presence of Jesus? "Without him we can do nothing." But with Christ we can do all things. Christ's presence confers success. Jesus sat in Peter's boat, and his will, by a mysterious influence, drew the fish to the net. When Jesus is lifted up in his Church, his presence is the Church's power-the shout of a king is in the midst of her. "I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto me." Let us go out this morning on our work of soul fishing, looking up in faith, and around us in solemn anxiety. Let us toil till night comes, and we shall not labour in vain, for he who bids us let down the net, will fill it with fishes.

C.H. Spurgeon

Thursday, October 6, 2016

The Anvil of God's Word

Last eve I passed beside a blacksmith's door 
And heard the anvil ring the vesper chime: 
Then looking in, I saw upon the floor 
Old hammers, worn with beating years of time.

"How many anvils have you had," said I, 
"To wear and batter all these hammers so?" 
"Just one," said he, and then, with twinkling eye, 
"The anvil wears the hammers out, you know."

And so, thought I, the anvil of God's Word, 
For ages skeptic blows have beat upon; 
Yet though the noise of falling blows was heard, 
The anvil is unharmed . . . the hammers gone.

—Author unknown

Follow the Lamb

(William Dyer, "Follow the Lamb")

"These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes!" Revelation 14:4

A believer follows the Lamb TRULY, without hypocrisy. Many follow the Lamb, as beggars follow a rich man--only for his money. They prize the wages of religion--above the works of religion! "I tell you the truth, you are looking for Me . . . because you ate the loaves and had your fill!" John 6:26. Oh, beloved, God abhors a hypocrite more than a Sodomite! Hell is provided on purpose for hypocrites, "He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites--where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth!" Matthew 24:51

My beloved, following the Lamb fully, is to have the heart fixed and resolved for God. "My soul clings to You," says David in Psalm 63:8. "As a deer longs for streams of water, so I long for You, O God. I thirst for God--for the living God!" Psalm 42:1-2

A believer follows the Lamb CONSTANTLY, without apostasy. A true believer never stops following the Lamb.

He does not follow the Lamb wherever He goes--who follows the Lamb earnestly for a while--but afterwards forsakes Him, when the storm arises! "Since he has no root--he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the Word--he quickly falls away!" Matthew 13:21

He does not follow the Lamb wherever He goes, who follows the Lamb in some things--and the beast in other things! "They worshiped the Lord--but they also served their own gods in accordance with the customs of the nations from which they had been brought." 2 Kings 17:33

He does not follow the Lamb wherever He goes--who follows the Lord in a dull heavy manner, and lukewarm temper. "I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish that you were cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold--I am going to vomit you out of My mouth!" Revelation 3:15-16

Oh! this is not following the Lamb!

Those who follow the Lamb--abide in the Lamb, and cleave to the Lamb, and continue constantly in the Lamb's ways, unto the end of their days. "The righteous person will hold to his way!" Job 17:9. The righteous man follows the Lamb wherever He goes.

This is to follow the Lamb wherever He goes
1. Speedily
2. Sincerely
3. Whole-heartedly
4. Zealously
5. Humbly
6. Cheerfully
7. Diligently
8. Constantly
9. Faithfully
10. Supremely

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

The true church

by J.C. Ryle

“On this rock I will build My church, and the gates of hell will not overcome it.” Matthew 16:18

We live in a world in which all things are passing away. Kingdoms, empires, cities, institutions, families—all are liable to change and corruption. One universal law seems to prevail everywhere—in all created things there is a tendency to decay. There is something sad and depressing in this. What profit has a man, in the labor of his hands? Is there nothing that shall stand? Is there nothing that shall last? Is there nothing that shall endure? Is there nothing of which we can say—This shall continue forever?
You have the answer to these questions in the words of our text. Our Lord Jesus Christ speaks of something which shall continue, and not pass away. There is one created thing which is an exception to the universal rule to which I have referred. There is one thing which shall never perish and pass away. That thing is the building founded upon the rock—the Church of our Lord Jesus Christ. He declares, in the words you have heard tonight: “On this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell will not overcome it.” There are five things in these words which demand your attention:
  1. A Building: “My Church”
  2. A Builder: Christ says, “I will build My Church”
  3. A Foundation: “On this rock I will build My Church”
  4. Perils Implied: “The gates of hell”
  5. Security Asserted: “The gates of hell will not overcome it”
May God bless the words that shall be spoken. May we all search our own hearts tonight, and know whether or not we belong to this one Church. May we all go home to reflect and to pray!
1. First, you have a “BUILDING” mentioned in the text. The Lord Jesus Christ speaks of “My Church.” Now what is this Church? Few inquiries can be made of more importance than this. For lack of due attention to this subject, the errors that have crept into the Church, and into the world, are neither few nor small. The Church of our text is no material building. It is no temple made with hands, of wood, or brick, or stone, or marble. It is a company of men and women. It is no particular visible Church on earth. It is not the Eastern Church or the Western Church. It is not the Church of England, or the Church of Scotland—much less is it the Church of Rome. The Church of our text is one that makes far less show in the eyes of man, but is of far more importance in the eyes of God.
The Church of our text is made up of all true believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. It comprehends all who have repented of sin, and fled to Christ by faith, and been made new creatures in Him. It comprises all God’s elect, all who have received God’s grace, all who have been washed in Christ’s blood, all who have been clothed in Christ’s righteousness, all who have been born again and sanctified by Christ’s Spirit. All such, of every nation, and people, and tongue, compose the Church of our text. This is the body of Christ. This is the flock of Christ. This is the bride. This is the Lamb’s wife. This is the Church on the rock.
The members of this Church do not all worship God in the same way, or use the same form of government. Our own 34th Article declares, “It is not necessary that ceremonies should be in all places one and alike.” But they all worship with one heart. They are all led by one Spirit. They are all really and truly holy. They can all say “Alleluia,” and they can all reply “Amen.” This is that Church, to which all visible Churches on earth are servants. Whether they are Episcopalian, Independent, or Presbyterian, they all serve the interests of the one true Church. They are the scaffolding, behind which the great building is carried on. They are the husk, under which the living kernel grows.
They have their various degrees of usefulness. The best and worthiest of them, is that which trains up most members for Christ’s true Church. But no visible Church has any right to say, “We are the only true Church. We are the men, and truth shall die with us.” No visible Church should ever dare to say, “We shall stand forever. The gates of hell will not overcome us.” This is that Church to which belong the Lord’s precious promises of preservation, continuance, protection, and final glory. “Whatever,” says Hooker, “we read in Scripture, concerning the endless love and saving mercy which God shows towards His Churches, the only proper subject is this Church, which we properly term the mystical body of Christ.” Small and despised as the true Church may be in this world, it is precious and honorable in the sight of God. The temple of Solomon in all its glory was nothing, in comparison with that Church which is built upon a rock.
Men and brethren, see that you hold sound doctrine on the subject of “the Church.” A mistake here may lead to dangerous and soul-ruining errors. The Church which is made up of true believers, is the Church for which we, who are ministers, are specially ordained to preach. The Church which comprises all who repent and believe the Gospel, is the Church to which we desire you to belong. Our work is not done, and our hearts are not satisfied, until you are made new creatures, and are members of the one true Church. Outside of this Church, there can be no salvation. I pass on to the second point, to which I proposed to call your attention.
2. Our text contains not merely a building, but a “BUILDER”. The Lord Jesus Christ declares, “I will build My Church.” The true Church of Christ is tenderly cared for by all the three persons of the blessed Trinity. In the economy of redemption, beyond all doubt, God the Father chooses, and God the Holy Spirit sanctifies, every member of Christ’s mystical body. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, three Persons in one God, cooperate for the salvation of every saved soul. This is truth, which ought never to be forgotten. Nevertheless, there is a peculiar sense in which the help of the Church is laid on the Lord Jesus Christ. He is peculiarly and preeminently the Redeemer and the Savior. Therefore it is, that we find Him saying in our text, “I will build—the work of building is my special work.” It is Christ who calls the members of the Church in due time. They are “the called of Jesus Christ” (Romans 1:6). It is Christ who gives them life. “The Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it” (John 5:21). It is Christ who washes away their sins. He “who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood” (Revelation 1:5). It is Christ who gives them peace. “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you” (John 14:27). It is Christ who gives them eternal life. “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish” (John 10:28). It is Christ who grants them repentance. “God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior, that he might give repentance” (Acts 5:31). It is Christ who enables them to become God’s children. “To all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12). It is Christ who carries on the work within them, when it is begun. “Because I live, you also will live” (John 14:19).
In short, “God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him [Christ]” (Colossians 1:19). He is the author and finisher of faith. From Him every joint and member of the mystical body of Christians is supplied. Through Him they are strengthened for duty. By Him they are kept from falling. He shall preserve them to the end, and present them faultless before the Father’s throne with exceeding great joy. He is all things, and all in all to believers.
The mighty agent by whom the Lord Jesus Christ carries out this work in the number of His Churches, is, without doubt, the Holy Spirit. He it is who applies Christ and His benefits to the soul. He it is who is ever renewing, awakening, convincing, leading to the cross, transforming, taking out of the world, stone after stone, and adding it to the mystical building. But the great Chief Builder, who has undertaken to execute the work of redemption and bring it to completion, is the Son of God—the Word who was made flesh. It is Jesus Christ who “builds.”
In building the true Church, the Lord Jesus condescends to use many subordinate instruments. The ministry of the Gospel, the circulation of the Scriptures, the friendly rebuke, the word spoken in season, the drawing influence of afflictions—all, all are means and methods by which His work is carried on. But Christ is the great superintending architect, ordering, guiding, directing all that is done. What the sun is to the whole solar system—that Christ is to all the members of the true Church. “Paul may plant, and Apollos water, but God gives the increase.” Ministers may preach, and writers may write, but the Lord Jesus Christ alone can build. And except He builds, the work stands still.
Great is the wisdom with which the Lord Jesus Christ builds His Church. All is done at the right time, and in the right way. Each stone in its turn is put in the right place. Sometimes He chooses great stones, and sometimes He chooses small stones. Sometimes the work moves fast, and sometimes it moves slowly. Man is frequently impatient, and thinks that nothing is happening. But man’s time is not God’s time. A thousand years in His sight are but as a single day. The great Builder makes no mistakes. He knows what He is doing. He sees the end from the beginning. He works by a perfect, unalterable and certain plan. The mightiest conceptions of architects, like Michaelangelo are mere insignificant child’s play, in comparison with Christ’s wise counsels respecting His Church.
Great is the condescension and mercy, which Christ exhibits in building His Church. He often chooses the most unlikely and roughest stones, and fits them into a most excellent work. He despises no one, and rejects none—on account of former sins and past transgressions. He delights to show mercy. He often takes the most thoughtless and ungodly, and transforms them into polished corners of His spiritual temple.
Great is the power which Christ displays in building His Church. He carries on his work in spite of opposition from the world, the flesh, and the devil. In storm, in chaos, through troublesome times—silently, quietly, without noise, without stir, without excitement—the building progresses. “I will work,” He declares, “and none shall hinder it.” Brethren, the children of this world take no interest in the building of this Church, they care nothing for the conversion of souls. What are broken spirits and penitent hearts to them? It is all foolishness in their eyes. But while the children of this world care nothing, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God. For the preserving of that Church, the laws of nature have oftentimes been suspended. For the good of that Church, all the providential dealings of God in this world are ordered and arranged. For the elect’s sake, wars are brought to an end, and peace is given to a nation. Statesmen, rulers, emperors, kings, presidents, heads of governments, have their schemes and plans, and think them of vast importance.
But there is another work going on of infinitely greater significance, for which they are all but as the axes and saws in God’s hands. That work is the gathering in of living stones into the one true Church. How little are we told in God’s Word about unconverted men, compared with what we are told about believers! The history of Nimrod, the mighty hunter, is dismissed in a few words. The history of Abraham, the father of the faithful, occupies several chapters. Nothing in Scripture is so important as the concerns of the true Church. The world makes up little of God’s Word. The Church and its story make up much.
Forever let us thank God, my beloved brethren, that the building of the one true Church is laid on the shoulders of One who is mighty. Let us bless God that it does not rest upon man. Let us bless God that it does not depend on missionaries, ministers, or committees. Christ is the almighty Builder. He will carry on His work, though nations and visible Churches do not know their duty. Christ will never fail. That which He has undertaken He will certainly accomplish! I pass on to the third point, which I proposed to consider—
3. The FOUNDATION upon which this Church is built. The Lord Jesus Christ tells us, “On this rock I will build my church.” What did the Lord Jesus Christ mean, when He spoke of this foundation? Did He mean the Apostle Peter, to whom He was speaking? I think assuredly not. I can see no reason, if he meant Peter, why did He not say, “On you” will I build My church. If He had meant Peter, He would have said, I will build My Church on you, as plainly as He said, “I will give you the keys.” No! it was not the person of the Apostle Peter, but the good confession which the Apostle had just made. It was not Peter, the erring, unstable man; but the mighty truth which the Father had revealed to Peter. It was the truth concerning Jesus Christ himself, which was the Rock. It was Christ’s Mediatorship, and Christ’s Messiahship. It was the blessed truth, that Jesus was the promised Savior, the real Intercessor between God and man. This was the rock, and this was the foundation on which the Church of Christ was to be built.
My brethren, this foundation was laid at a mighty cost. It was necessary that the Son of God should take our nature upon Him, and in that nature live, suffer, and die, not for His own sins, but for ours. It was necessary that in that nature Christ should go to the grave, and rise again. It was necessary that in that nature Christ should go up to heaven, to sit at the right hand of God, having obtained eternal redemption for all His people. No other foundation but this could have borne the weight of that Church of which our text speaks. No other foundation could have met the necessities of a world of sinners.
That foundation once obtained, is very strong. It can bear the weight of the sin of all the world. It has borne the weight of all the sins of all the believers who have built on it. Sins of thought, sins of the imagination, sins of the heart, sins of the head, sins which everyone has seen, and sins which no man knows, sins against God, and sins against man, sins of all kinds and descriptions—that mighty rock can bear the weight of all these sins, and not give way. The mediatorial office of Christ is a sufficient remedy for all the sins of all the world.
To this one foundation every member of Christ’s true Church is joined. In many things believers are disunited and disagreed. In the matter of their soul’s foundation they are all of one mind. They are all built on the rock. Ask where they get their peace, and hope, and joyful expectation of good things to come. You would find that it all flows from that one mighty truth—Christ the Mediator between God and man, and the office that Christ holds, as the High priest and Promise of sinners.
Here is the point which demands our personal attention. Are we on the rock? Are we really joined to the one foundation? What does that godly man, Leighton say? “God has laid this precious stone for this very purpose—that weary sinners may rest upon it. The multitude of imaginary believers lie all around it, but they are not any better for that, any more than stones that lie loose in heaps, near a foundation, but not joined to it. There is no benefit to us by Christ, without union with Him.”
Look to your foundation, my beloved brethren, if you would know whether or not you are members of the one true Church. It is a point that may be known to yourselves. Your public worship we can see—but we cannot see whether you are personally built upon the rock. Your attendance at the Lord’s table we can see—but we cannot see whether you are joined to Christ, and one with Christ, and Christ in you. But all shall come to light one day. The secrets of all hearts shall be exposed. Perhaps you go to church regularly and you pray faithfully. All this is right and good, so far as it goes. But see that you make no mistake about your own personal salvation. See that your own soul is on the rock. Without this, all else is nothing. Without this, you will never stand in the day of judgment. Better a thousand times in that day to be found in a poor cottage on the rock, than in a stately palace on the sand! I proceed, in the fourth place, to speak of—
4. The implied TRIALS of the Church, to which our text refers. There is mention made of “the gates of hell.” By that expression we are to understand the power of the devil! The history of Christ’s true Church has always been one of conflict and war. It has been constantly assailed by a deadly enemy, Satan, the prince of this world. The devil hates the true Church of Christ with an undying hatred. He is ever stirring up opposition against all its members. He is ever urging the children of this world to do his will, and injure and harass the people of God. If he cannot bruise the head, he will bruise the heel. If he cannot rob believers of heaven, he will aggravate them as they travel the road to heaven.
For six thousand years this hostility has gone on. Millions of the ungodly have been the devil’s agents, and done the devil’s work, though they did not know it. The Pharaohs, the Herods, the Neros, the Julians, the Diocletians, the bloody Marys—were Satan’s tools, when they persecuted the disciples of Jesus Christ. Warfare with the powers of hell has been the experience of the whole body of Christ. It has always been a bush burning, though not consumed—a woman fleeing into the wilderness, but not swallowed up. The visible Churches have their times of prosperity and seasons of peace, but never has there been a time of peace for the true Church. Its conflict is perpetual. Its battle never ends.
Warfare with the powers of hell is the experience of every individual member of the true Church. Each has to fight. What are the lives of all the saints, but records of battles? What were such men as Paul, and James, and Peter, and John, and Polycarp, and Ignatius, and Augustine, and Luther, and Calvin, and Latimer, and Baxter—but soldiers engaged in a constant warfare? Sometimes their persons have been assailed, and sometimes their property. Sometimes they have been harassed by slander, and sometimes by open persecution. But in one way or another the devil has been continually warring against the Church. The “gates of hell” have been continually assaulting the people of Christ.
Men and brethren, we who preach the Gospel can hold out to all who come to Christ, exceeding great and precious promises. We can offer boldly to you in our Master’s name, the peace of God which passes all understanding. Mercy, free grace, and full salvation, are offered to everyone who will come to Christ, and believe on Him. But we promise you no peace with the world, or with the devil. We warn you, on the contrary, that there must be warfare, so long as you are in the body. We would not keep you back, or deter you from Christ’s service. But we would have you count the cost, and fully understand what Christ’s service entails. Hell is behind you. Heaven is before you. Home lies on the other side of a troubled sea.
Thousands, tens of thousands have crossed these stormy waters, and in spite of all opposition, have reached the haven where they would be. Hell has assailed them, but has not prevailed. Go forward, beloved brethren, and fear not the adversary. Only abide in Christ, and the victory is sure. Marvel not at the hatred of the gates of hell. “If you were of the world, the world would love as its own.” So long as the world is the world, and the devil the devil—there must be warfare, and believers in Christ must be soldiers! The world hated Christ, and the world will hate true Christians, as long as the earth stands. As the great reformer, Luther, said, “Cain will go on murdering Abel so long as the Church is on earth.”
Be prepared for the hostility of the gates of hell. Put on the whole armor of God. The tower of David contains a thousand shields, all ready for the use of God’s people. The weapons of our warfare have been tried by millions of poor sinners like ourselves, and have never been found to fail. Be patient under the bitterness of the gates of hell. It is all working together for your good. It tends to sanctify. It keeps you awake. It makes you humble. It drives you nearer to the Lord Jesus Christ. It weans you from the world. It helps to make you pray more. Above all, it makes you long for heaven, and say with heart as well as lips, “Come, Lord Jesus.”
Do not be cast down by the hatred of hell. The warfare of the true child of God is as much a mark of grace as the inward peace which he enjoys. No cross, no crown! No conflict, no saving Christianity! “Blessed are you,” said our Lord Jesus Christ, “when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.” There remains one thing more to be considered—
5. The SECURITY of the true Church of Christ. There is a glorious promise given by the mighty Builder, “The gates of Hades will not overcome it.” He who cannot lie, has pledged His royal word, that all the powers of hell shall never overthrow His Church. It shall continue, and stand, in spite of every assault. It shall never be overcome.
All other created things perish and pass away, but not the Church of Christ. The hand of outward violence, or the moth of inward decay, prevail over everything else, but not over the church that Christ builds. Empires have risen and fallen in rapid succession. Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Tyre, Carthage, Rome, Greece, Venice—where are all these now? They were all the creations of man’s hand, and have passed away. But the Church of Christ lives on. The mightiest cities have become heaps of ruins.
The broad walls of Babylon are sunk to the ground. The palaces of Nineveh are mounds of dust. The hundred gates of Thebes are only matters of history. Tyre is a place where fishermen hang their nets. Carthage is a desolation. Yet all this time the true Church stands. The gates of hell do not prevail against it.
The earliest visible Churches have in many cases decayed and perished. Where is the Church of Ephesus and the Church of Antioch? Where is the Church of Alexandria and the Church of Constantinople? Where are the Corinthian, and Philippian, and Thessalonian Churches? Where, indeed, are they all? They departed from the Word of God. They were proud of their bishops, and synods, and ceremonies, and learning, and antiquity. They did not glory in the true cross of Christ. They did not hold fast the Gospel. They did not give Jesus His rightful office, or faith its rightful place. They are now among the things that have been. Their candlestick has been taken away. But all this time the true Church has lived on.
Has the true Church been oppressed in one country? It has fled to another. Has it been trampled on and oppressed in one soil? It has taken root and flourished in some other climate. Fire, sword, prisons, fines, punishments—have never been able to destroy its vitality. Its persecutors have died and gone to their own place, but the Word of God has lived, and grown and multiplied.
Weak as this true Church may appear to the eye of man, it is an anvil which has broken many a hammer in times past, and perhaps will break many more before the end. He who lays hands on it, is touching the apple of God’s eye!
The promise of our text is true of the whole body of the true Church. Christ will never be without a witness in the world. He has had a people in the worst of times. He had seven thousand in Israel even in the days of Ahab. The devil may rage horribly. The Church may in some countries be brought exceedingly low. But the gates of hell shall never entirely prevail. The promise of our text is true of every individual member of the Church.
Some of God’s people have been brought very low, so that they despaired of their safety. Some have fallen sadly, as David and Peter did. Some have departed from the faith for a time. Many have been tried by cruel doubts and fears. But all have gotten safely home at last, the youngest as well as the oldest, the weakest as well as the strongest. And so it will be to the end. Can you prevent tomorrow’s sun from rising? Can you prevent the tide in the channel from ebbing and flowing? Can you prevent the planets moving in their respective orbits? Then, and then alone, can you prevent the salvation of any believer, however feeble—of any living stone in that Church which is built on the rock, however small or insignificant that stone may appear.
The true Church is Christ’s body. Not one bone in that mystical body shall ever be broken. The true Church is Christ’s bride. They whom God has joined in everlasting covenant, shall never be put asunder. The true Church is Christ’s flock. When the lion came and took a lamb out of David’s flock, David arose and delivered the lamb from his mouth. Christ will do the same. He is David’s greater son. Not a single sick lamb in Christ’s flock shall perish! He will say to His Father in the last day, “I have not lost one of those you gave me!” The true Church is the wheat of the earth. It may be sifted, winnowed, buffeted, tossed to and fro. But not one grain shall be lost. The tares and chaff shall be burned. The wheat shall be gathered into the barn.
The true Church is Christ’s army. The Captain of our salvation loses none of his soldiers. His plans are never defeated. His supplies never fail. His roll call is the same at the end—as it was at the beginning! Of the men that marched gallantly out of England a few years ago in the Crimean war, how many never came back! Regiments that went forth, strong and cheerful, with bands playing and banners flying, laid their bones in a foreign land, and never returned to their native country. But it is not so with Christ’s army. Not one of His soldiers shall be missing at last. He Himself declares “They shall never perish.”
The devil may cast some of the members of the true Church into prison. He may kill, and burn, and torture, and hang. But after he has killed the body, there is nothing more that he can do. He cannot hurt the soul. When the French troops took Rome a few years ago, they found on the walls of a prison cell, under the Inquisition, the words of a prisoner. Who he was, we do not know. But his words are worthy of remembrance. Though dead, he still speaks. He had written on the walls, very likely after an unjust trial, and a still more unjust excommunication, the following striking words, “Blessed Jesus, they cannot cast me out of Your true Church!” That record is true. Not all the power of Satan can cast out of Christ’s true Church one single believer! The children of this world may wage fierce warfare against the Church, but they cannot stop the work of conversion.
What did the sneering Emperor Julian say, in the early ages of the Church, “What is the carpenter’s son doing now?” An aged Christian made answer, “He is making a coffin for Julian himself.” But a few months passed away, when Julian, with all his pomp and power, died in battle. Where was Christ when the fires of Smithfield were lighted, and when Latimer and Ridley were burnt at the stake? What was Christ doing then? He was still carrying on His work of building. That work will ever go on, even in troublesome times.
Fear not, beloved brethren, to begin serving Christ. He to whom you commit your souls has all power in heaven and earth, and He will keep you. He will never let you be cast away. Relatives may oppose. Neighbors may mock. The world may slander and sneer. Fear not! Fear not! The powers of hell shall never prevail against your soul. Greater is He who is for you—than all those who are against you.
Fear not for the Church of Christ, my brethren, when ministers die, and saints are taken away. Christ can ever maintain His own cause, He will raise up better and brighter stars. The stars are all in His right hand. Leave off all anxious thought about the future. Cease to be cast down by the measures of statesmen, or the plots of wolves in sheep’s clothing. Christ will ever provide for His Own Church! Christ will take care that the gates of hell shall not prevail against it! All is going on well—though our eyes may not see it. The kingdoms of this world shall yet become the kingdoms of our God and of His Christ.
Allow me now to say a few words of PRACTICAL APPLICATION of this sermon. I speak to many, whom I speak to for the first time. I speak, perhaps, to many whom I speak to for the last time. Let not this service conclude without an effort to press home the sermon on each heart.
1. My first word of application shall be a QUESTION. What shall that question be? How shall I approach you? What shall I ask? I ask you, whether you are a member of the one true Church of Christ? Are you a member of the Church built upon the rock. I ask you, with all solemnity—Are you a member of that one Church of Christ? Are you joined to the great Foundation? Have you received the Holy Spirit? Does the Spirit witness with your spirit, that you are one with Christ, and Christ with you? I beseech you, in the name of God, to lay to heart this question, and to ponder it well. Take heed to yourselves, dear brethren, if you cannot give a satisfactory answer to my inquiry. Take heed, take heed, that you do not make shipwreck of faith. Take heed, lest at last the gates of hell prevail against you, the devil claim you as his own, and you be cast away forever. Take heed, lest you go down to the pit from the land of Bibles, and in the full light of Christ’s Gospel.
2. My second word of application shall be an INVITATION. I address it to all who are not yet true believers. I say to you—Come and join the one true Church without delay. Come and join yourselves to the Lord Jesus Christ in an everlasting covenant not to be forgotten. Come to Christ and be saved. The day of decision must come some time. Why not this very evening? Why not today, while it is called today? Why not this very night, before the sun rises tomorrow morning? Come to my Master, Jesus Christ. Come, I say, for all things are now ready. Mercy is ready for you, heaven is ready for you, angels are ready to rejoice over you, Christ is ready to receive you. Christ will receive you gladly, and welcome you among His children. Come into the ark, the flood of God’s wrath will soon break upon the earth, come into the ark and be safe. Come into the life-boat. The old world will soon break into pieces! Do you not hear the tremblings of it? The world is but a wreck stuck on the sandbar. The night is far spent—the waves are beginning to rise—the winds are rising—the storm will soon shatter the old wreck! But the life-boat is launched, and we, the ministers of the Gospel, beseech you to come into the life-boat and be saved.
Do you ask—How can I come, my sins are so many? Do you ask how you shall come? Hear the words of that beautiful hymn: “Just as I am: without one plea, But that Your blood was shed for me, And that You bid me come to Thee, O Lamb of God I come.” That is the way to come to Christ. You should come, waiting for nothing, and tarrying for nothing. You should come, as a hungry sinner, to be filled; as a poor sinner to be enriched; as a vile, undeserving sinner to be clothed with righteousness. So coming, Christ would receive you. “Him that comes” to Christ, He “will not cast out.” Oh! come, come to Jesus Christ!!
3. Last of all, let me given a word of EXHORTATION to my believing hearers. Live a holy life, my brethren. Walk worthy of the Church to which you belong. Live like citizens of heaven. Let your light shine before men, so that the world may profit by your conduct. Let them know whose you are, and whom you serve. Be epistles of Christ, known and read by all men; written in such clear letters, that none can say—we do not know whether he is a member of Christ or not. Live a courageous life, my brethren. Confess Christ before men. Whatever station you occupy, in that station confess Christ. Why should you be ashamed of Him? He was not ashamed of you on the cross. He is ready to confess you now before His Father in heaven. Why should you be ashamed of Him? Be bold. Be very bold. The good soldier is not ashamed of his uniform. The true believer ought never to be ashamed of Christ.
Live a joyful life, my brethren. Live like men who look for that blessed hope—the second coming of Jesus Christ. This is the prospect to which we should all look forward. It is not so much the thought of going to heaven, as of heaven coming to us, which should fill our minds. There is a good time coming for all the people of God—a good time for all the Church of Christ—a good time for all believers. But there is a bad time coming for the impenitent and unbelieving—a bad time for those who serve their own lusts, and turn their backs on the Lord—but a good time for true Christians. For that good time, let us wait, and watch, and pray. The scaffolding will soon be taken down—the last stone will soon be brought out—the top-stone will be placed upon the edifice. In a little while, and the full beauty of the building shall be clearly seen. The great master Builder will soon come himself. A building shall be shown to assembled worlds, in which there shall be no imperfection. The Savior and the saved shall rejoice together. The whole universe shall acknowledge, that in the building of Christ’s Church all was well done!