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

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

The Pope of the SBC

Many of us already know this, but it's telling to hear it straight from the horse's mouth...

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Righteous hate

This is from a meditation a brother in Christ, Frank, shared with me via e-mail. I thought it was wonderful; it's rare to read such sound commentary in this day. This was sent in response concerning a woman I had engaged, who claims to be a Christian, and upholds Franklin Graham and his Christmas shoe box 'ministry'. She was bragging about the thousands of dollars her church gave to this garbage and boasting of all those who would be saved.  I went to the website of the Samaritan's purse/shoe box and found this, "I realized that the family who packed my shoe box had given me the story of Jesus and His plan for my life. The next summer I came, I attended a Vacation Bible School and gave my life to Christ." from box-stories-index/. What's missing? There's no mention of repentance, sin, brokenness over sin, etc. Just a lovey dovey 'Jesus has a WONDERFUL plan for your life!' lie that is never found in scripture concerning the unsaved. Brother Frank's response concerning the 'social gospel' which is NO gospel at all, and giving money to the unregenerate is 'spot on'. . . 

"God said that David was in a sense a perfect man before Him.  1 Kings 9:4 “As for you, if you will walk before Me as your father David walked, in integrity of heart and uprightness, doing according to all that I have commanded you and will keep My statutes and My ordinances,  Now since David was certainly a sinner, most think that when David repented and offered praise and worship to God, he did so in a complete and perfect manner.  With that thought in mind, didn’t David say in Psalm 139:21-22, “Do I not hate those who hate You, O Lord and do I not loathe those who rise up against You?  I hate them with the utmost hatred; they have become my enemies.”  He then went on to actually ask God to search his heart to see if he had any “hurtful ways”.  Psalms 139:23 Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; 24 And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way. 
 Didn’t Jehu, a prophet of God say to the king, in 2 Chronicles 19:2, “Should you help the wicked and love those who hate the Lord and so bring wrath on yourself from the Lord?”  God Himself commands Jeremiah not to pray for certain people, Jeremiah 7:16. "As for you, do not pray for this people, and do not lift up cry or prayer for them, and do not intercede with Me; for I do not hear you.  The Lord goes even further in Ezra 9:12. “So now do not give your daughters to their sons nor take their daughters to your sons, and never seek their peace or their prosperity, that you may be strong and eat the good things of the land and leave it as an inheritance to your sons forever.”  These verses clearly teach that sometimes the Lord does not want us to intercede for or to even help some people.  The need is not the issue, the Christian’s love is not the sole issue unless you are willing to say our love is superior to the Father’s.  Or, unless you are willing to say that we are somehow in some dispensation of “love”, then we should certainly consider what God might think when we decide to help or provide aid and comfort to everyone.
Notice the following scriptures!
Psalms 5:5 The boastful shall not stand before Your eyes; You hate all who do iniquity. 6 You destroy those who speak falsehood; The LORD abhors the man of bloodshed and deceit.  

Psalms 11:5 The LORD tests the righteous and the wicked, And the one who loves violence His soul hates  

Deuteronomy 25:16 "For everyone who does these things, everyone who acts unjustly is an abomination to the LORD your God. 

Proverbs 3:32 For the devious are an abomination to the LORD; But He is intimate with the upright.

Proverbs 11:20 The perverse in heart are an abomination to the LORD, But the blameless in {their} walk are His delight.

Proverbs 12:22 Lying lips are an abomination to the LORD, But those who deal faithfully are His delight. 

Proverbs 16:5 Everyone who is proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD; Assuredly, he will not be unpunished. 

Proverbs 17:15 He who justifies the wicked and he who condemns the righteous, Both of them alike are an abomination to the LORD

Proverbs 21:27 The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination, How much more when he brings it with evil intent!  Proverbs 28:9 He who turns away his ear from listening to the law, Even his prayer is an abomination.

This meditation against loving God’s enemies will certainly sound harsh and uncompassionate at first glance, but it is not.  I am not saying we should not grieve when people are hurting, regardless of who they are.  When we see the unsaved suffering death, persecution, hunger, and sickness we should always grieve with them and pray for them to be delivered from the darkness of this world.  Within that framework the purpose and impetus for our grief and intervention is to always desire that all people come to a saving knowledge of the one true God.  And of course all suffering and sickness should make us thankful for our salvation and for God’s sovereign love and compassion in providing a way for mankind to escape the future consequences of sin for eternity.  If our grief leads us to give to them, then we should just make sure the gospel is presented along with the aid and comfort. We can do this personally or through other Christians who will ensure this is done. But, I truly believe that if we provide aid and comfort to those who will thank their “false” Gods without further contemplation, then we are guilty of drawing them even closer to their “false” gods.  Above all things we should remember, our Lord told us to love our enemies and neighbors and to forgive anyone who has harmed us or sinned against us in any way.  He also told us to let our lights (good works) shine before men in such a way that they give thanks to “our” Father in heaven. Matthew 5:16. "Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.  Now with simple logic it is easy to see that if I give to God’s enemies, who are not also my enemies or neighbors, and I don’t give to them in the name of Jesus Christ, then the only one that will be thanked is their false gods, not our Father in heaven.  Of course if they are my enemies and neighbors, then I can give them the gospel while showing them God’s love and mercy.

God is not pleased with the do-gooder self-righteous attitude of His church that contradicts His word.  All of our theology must be grounded in spirit and in truth. Let the new-age folks and those who are trying to work their way to heaven take care of God’s enemies if they want to.  Instead of care packages and money, give them the most loving message the world has ever heard; the message of salvation through our blessed Savior.  Then give them the care they need, in His Name.  DO NOT FELLOWSHIP WITH THESE PEOPLE WHO ARE BLESSING GOD’S ENEMIES AND CAUSING THEM TO THANK AND PRAISE THEIR FALSE GODS.  COME OUT FROM AMONG THEM.  No one has ever been saved because their needs have been met, unless they also realize who really met the needs!" ~~ Frank 

And I add a hearty 'amen' to Frank's meditation

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Things that accompany salvation

This is from Michael Jeshurun's blog...

By C.H. Spurgeon

 “Things that accompany Salvation.” [Hebrews 6:9]
 C.H. Spurgeon
 IN THE MARCHES OF TROOPS AND ARMIES, THERE ARE SOME THAT ARE OUTRIDERS, AND GO FAR AHEAD OF THE OTHER TROOPS. So in the march of Salvation, which have far preceded it to clear the way. I will tell you the names of these stupendous Titans who have gone before. The first is ELECTION, the second is PREDESTINATION, the third is REDEMPTION and the COVENANT is the captain of them all. Before Salvation came into this world, Election marched in the very forefront, and it had for its work the billeting of Salvation. Election went through the world and marked the houses to which Salvation should come and the hearts in which the treasure should be deposited. Election looked through all the race of man, from Adam down to the last, and marked with sacred stamp those for whom Salvation was designed. “He must needs go through Samaria,” said Election; and Salvation must go there.
Then came Predestination. Predestination did not merely mark the house, but it mapped the road in which Salvation should travel to that house, Predestination ordained every step of the great army of Salvation, it ordained the time when the sinner should be brought to Christ, the manner how he should be saved, the means that should be employed; it marked the exact hour and moment, when God the Spirit should quicken the dead in sin, and when peace and pardon should be spoken through the blood of Jesus. Predestination marked the way so completely, that Salvation doth never overstep the bounds, and it is never at a loss for the road. In the everlasting decree of the Sovereign God, the footsteps of Mercy were every one of them ordained. As nothing in this world revolves by chance—as even the foreknown station of a rush by the river is as fixed as the station of a king—it was not meet that Salvation should be left to chance; and therefore God has mapped the place where it should pitch its tent, the manner of its footsteps to that tent, and the time when it should arrive there.
Then came Redemption. The way was rough; and though Election had marked the house, and Predestination had mapped the road, the way was so impeded that Salvation could not travel it until it had been cleared. Forth came Redemption, it had but one weapon; that weapon was the all-victorious cross of Christ. There stood the mountains of our sins; Redemption smote them, and they split in halves and left a valley for the Lord’s redeemed to march through. There was the great gulf of God’s offended wrath; Redemption bridged it with the cross, and so left an everlasting passage by which the armies of the Lord may cross. Redemption has tunnelled every mountain; it has dried up every sea, cut down every forest; it has levelled every high hill, and filled up the valleys, so that the road of Salvation is now plain and simple. God can be just, and yet the justifier of the ungodly.
Now, this sacred advance-guard carry for their banner the Eternal Covenant. Election, Predestination, and Redemption—the things that have gone before, beyond the sight, are all rallied to the battle by this standard—the Covenant, the Everlasting Covenant, ordered in all things and sure. We know and believe that before the morning star startled the shades of darkness, God had covenanted with his Son that he should die and pay a ransom price, and that, on God the Father’s part, he would give to Jesus “a number whom no man could number,” who should be purchased by his blood, and through that blood should be most securely saved. Now, when Election marches forward, it carries the Covenant. These are chosen in the Covenant of grace. When Predestination marcheth, and when it marketh out the way of Salvation, it proclaims the Covenant. “He marked out the places of the people according to the tribes of Israel.” And Redemption also, pointing to the precious blood of Christ, claims Salvation for the blood-bought ones, because the Covenant hath decreed it to be theirs.
Now, my dear hearers, this advance-guard is so far ahead that you and I cannot see them. These are true doctrines, but very mysterious; they are beyond our sight, and if we wish to see Salvation, we must not stop until we see the van-guard, because they are so far off that only the eye of faith can reach them. We must have that sacred glass, that divine telescope of faith, or else we shall never have the evidence of things not seen. Let us rest certain, however, that if we have Salvation we have Election. He that believeth is elected and whoever casts himself on Christ as a guilty sinner, is certainly God’s chosen child. As sure as ever you believe on the Saviour, and go to him, you were predestinated to do so from all eternity, and your faith is the great mark and evidence that you are chosen of God, and precious in his esteem.
Dost thou believe? Then Election is thine. Dost thou believe? Then Predestination is as surely thine as thou art alive. Dost thou trust alone in Jesus? Then fear not, Redemption was meant for thee. So then, we will not be struck with terror at that grand advance-guard that hath already gained the celestial hill, and have prepared the place where the elect shall for ever repose upon the bosom of their God.
But mark, we are about to review THE ARMY THAT IMMEDIATELY PRECEDES SALVATION; and first, in the forefront of these, there marches one whose name we must pronounce with sacred awe. It is God, the Holy Spirit. Before anything can be done in our salvation, there must come that Third Person of the Sacred Trinity. Without him, faith, repentance, humility, love, are things quite impossible. Even the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ cannot save until it has been applied to the heart by God the Holy Spirit. Before we notice the grand army, then, that immediately precedes Salvation, let us be cautious that we do not forget Him who is the leader of them all. The great King, Immortal, invisible, the Divine person, called the Holy Ghost, the Holy Spirit: it is he that quickens the soul, or else it would lie dead for ever; it is he that makes it tender, or else it would never feel, it is he that imparts efficacy to the Word preached, or else it could never reach further than the ear; it is he who breaks the heart, it is he who makes it whole: he, from first to last, is the great worker of Salvation in us just as Jesus Christ was the author of Salvation for us.
O soul, by this mayest thou know whether Salvation has come to thine house—art thou a partaker of the Holy Spirit? Come now, answer thou this question—hath he ever breathed on thee? Hath he ever breathed into thee? Canst thou say that thou hast been the subject of his supernatural influence? For, if not, remember except a man be born of the Spirit from above, he cannot see the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; only that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Thy best exertions will be all unavailing unless the Holy Ghost shall work in thee, to will and to do of God’s good pleasure.
The highest efforts of the flesh can never reach higher than the flesh, just as water of itself will never run higher than its source. You may be moral, you may be strictly upright, you may be much that is commendable, but unless you be partakers of the Holy Spirit, salvation is as impossible to you as it is even to the lost. We must be born again, and born again by that divine influence, or else it is all in vain. Remember, then, that the Spirit of God always accompanies Salvation.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

1 Corinthians 13

The Spirit of God is ever gracious in the manner in which He reveals the Word to us. Of the many times I had read or heard another's thoughts on 1 Corinthians 13 I usually came away with a bad taste in my mouth because they invariably went down the mushy, sentimental "love" road which is of no use to the Christian and does not exalt Christ. While reading through 1 Corinthians, chapter 13 was next in line and my thought was to read it quickly and move on to 14. But the Lord had other ideas. In conjunction with 1 John 4:8 "God is love" and Col. 1:27 "Christ in you, the hope of glory" I began to see 1 Corinthians 13 in a whole new light. The following is the result of that reading, where instead of reading "love", I would read "Christ in me." This is by no means an attempt to change the Word of God, rather something that lends more clarity to my feeble mind. I hope that great encouragement may come from the following:

'Though I speak with tongues of men and of angels, and have not Christ in me, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
'And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith so that I could remove mountains, and have not Christ in me, I am nothing.
'And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor; and though I give my body to be burned, and have not Christ in me, it profiteth me nothing.
'Christ in me suffereth long, and is kind;
'Christ in me envieth not;
'Christ in me vaunteth itself, is not puffed up,
'Christ in me doth not behave itself unseemly, Christ in me seeketh not her own,
'Christ in me is not easily provoked, Christ in me thinketh no evil;
'Christ in me rejoiceth not in iniquity, Christ in me rejoices in the truth,
'Christ in me beareth all things,
'Christ in me believeth all things,
'Christ in me hopeth all things,
'Christ in me endureth all things,
'Christ in me NEVER FAILETH...'

Sunday, October 22, 2017

blessed are the poor in spirit

"Blessed are the poor in spirit." There is a vast difference between this and being hard up in our circumstances. There is no virtue (and often no disgrace) in financial poverty as such, nor does it, of itself, produce humility of heart, for anyone who has any real acquaintance with both classes soon discovers there is just as much pride in the indigent as there is in the opulent. This poverty of spirit is a fruit that grows on no merely natural tree. It is a spiritual grace wrought by the Holy Spirit in those whom He renews. By nature we are well pleased with ourselves, and mad enough to think that we deserve something good at the hands of God. Let men but conduct themselves decently in a civil way, keeping themselves from grosser sins, and they are rich in spirit, pride filling their hearts, and they are self-righteous. And nothing short of a miracle of grace can change the course of this stream.
Nor is real poverty of spirit to be found among the great majority of the religionists of the day: very much the reverse. How often we see advertised a conference for "promoting the higher life," but who ever heard of one for furthering the lowly life? Many books are telling us how to be "filled with the Spirit," but where can we find one setting forth what it means to be spiritually emptied-emptied of self-confidence, self-importance, and self-righteousness? Alas, if it be true that, "That which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God" (Luke 16:15), it is equally true that what is of great price in His sight is despised by men-by none more so than by modern Pharisees, who now hold nearly all the positions of prominence in Christendom. Almost all of the so-called "ministry" of this generation feeds pride, instead of starving the flesh; puffs up, rather than abases; and anything which is calculated to search and strip is frowned upon by the pulpit and is unpopular with the pew.
"Blessed are the poor in spirit." And what is poverty of spirit? It is the opposite of that haughty, self-assertive and self-sufficient disposition which the world so much admires and praises. It is the very reverse of that independent and defiant attitude which refuses to bow to God, which determines to brave things out, which says with Pharaoh, "Who is the Lord that I should obey His voice?" To be "poor in spirit" is to realize that I have nothing, am nothing, and can do nothing, and have need of all things. Poverty of spirit is a consciousness of my emptiness, the result of the Spirit's work within. It issues from the painful discovery that all my righteousnesses are as filthy rags. It follows the awakening that my best performances are unacceptable, yea, an abomination to the thrice Holy One. Poverty of spirit evidences itself by its bringing the individual into the dust before God, acknowledging his utter helplessness and deservingness of hell. It corresponds to the initial awakening of the prodigal in the far country, when he "began to be in want."
God's great salvation is free, "without money and without price." This is a most merciful provision of Divine grace, for were God to offer salvation for sale no sinner could secure it, seeing that he has nothing with which he could possibly purchase it. But the vast majority are insensible of this, yea, all of us are until the Holy Spirit opens our sin-blinded eyes. It is only those who have passed from death unto life who become conscious of their poverty, take the place of beggars, are glad to receive Divine charity, and begin to seek the true riches. Thus "the poor have the Gospel preached to them" (Matthew 11:5): preached not only to their ears, but to their hearts!
Poverty of spirit may be termed the negative side of faith. It is that realization of my utter worthlessness which precedes the laying hold of Christ, the eating of His flesh and drinking His blood. It is the Spirit emptying the heart of self that Christ may fill it: it is a sense of need and destitution. This first Beatitude, then, is foundational, describing a fundamental trait which is found in every regenerated soul. The one who is poor in spirit is nothing in his own eyes, and feels that his proper place is in the dust before God. He may, through false teaching or worldliness, leave this place, but God knows how to bring him back; and in His faithfulness and love He will do so, for it is the place of blessing for His children. How to cultivate this God-honoring spirit is revealed in Matthew 11:29.
He who is in possession of this poverty of spirit is pronounced "blessed." He is so because he now has a disposition the very opposite of what was his by nature, because he has in himself the first sure evidence that a Divine work of grace has been wrought in his heart, because he is an heir of the "kingdom of heaven"-the kingdom of grace here, the kingdom of glory hereafter. Many are the gracious promises addressed to the poor in spirit. "I am poor and needy: yet the Lord thinketh upon me: Thou art my help and my deliverer" (Ps. 40:17), "The Lord heareth the poor" (Ps. 69:33), "He shall spare the poor and needy, and shall save the souls of the needy" (Ps. 72:13), "Yet setteth He the poor on high from affliction" (Ps. 107:41), "I will satisfy her poor with bread" (Ps. 132:15), "To this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at My word" (Isa. 66:2). Let such favors as these stir us up to pray earnestly for more of this poverty of spirit.
"Blessed are they that mourn; for they shall be comforted" (v. 4). Mourning is hateful and irksome to poor human nature: from suffering and sadness our spirits instinctively shrink. It is natural for us to seek the society of the cheerful and joyous. The verse now before us presents an anomaly to the unregenerate, yet is it sweet music to the ears of God's elect: if "blessed" why do they "mourn"? If they mourn, how can they be blessed? Only the child of God has the key to this paradox, for "happy are they who sorrow" is at complete variance with the world's logic. Men have, in all places and in all ages, deemed the prosperous and the gay to be the happy ones, but Christ pronounces blessed those who are poor in spirit and who mourn.
Now it is obvious that it is not every species of mourning which is here referred to. There are thousands of mourners in the world today who do not come within the scope of our text: those mourning over blighted hopes, over financial reverses, over the loss of loved ones. But alas, so far from many of them coming beneath this Divine benediction, they are under God's condemnation; nor is there any promise that such shall ever be Divinely "comforted." There are three kinds of "mourning" referred to in the Scriptures: a natural, such as we have just referred to above; a sinful, which is a disconsolate and inordinate grief, refusing to be comforted, or a hopeless remorse like that of Judas; and a gracious, a "godly sorrow," of which the Holy Spirit is the Author.
The "mourning" of our text is a spiritual one. The previous verse indicates clearly the line of thought here: "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." Yes, "Blessed are the poor," not the poor in purse, but the poor in heart: those who realize themselves to be spiritual bankrupts in themselves, paupers before God. That felt poverty of spirit is the very opposite of the Laodiceanism which is so rife today, that self-complacency which says, "I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing." In like manner it is spiritual mourning which is in view here. Further proof of this is found in the fact that Christ pronounces these mourners "blessed." They are so because the Spirit of God has wrought a work of grace within them, and hence they have been awakened to see and feel their lost condition. They are "blessed" because God does not leave them at that point: "they shall be comforted."
"Blessed are they that mourn." The first reference is to that initial mourning which ever precedes a genuine conversion, for there must be a real sense of sin before the remedy for it will even be desired. Thousands acknowledge that they are sinners, who have never mourned over the fact. Take the woman of Luke vii, who washed the Saviour's feet with her tears: have you ever shed any over your sins? Take the prodigal in Luke 15: before he left the far country he said, "I will arise and go unto my Father and say unto Him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before Thee, And am no more worthy to be called Thy son"-where shall we find those today with this sense of their sinnership? Take the publican of Luke 18: why did he "smite upon his breast" and say "God be merciful to me a sinner"? Because he felt the plague of his own heart. So of the three thousand converted on the day of Pentecost: they were "pricked in their heart, and cried out."
This "mourning" springs from a sense of sin, from a tender conscience, from a broken heart. It is a godly sorrow over rebellion against God and hostility to His will. In some cases it is grief over the very morality in which the heart has trusted, over the self-righteousness which has caused such complacency. This "mourning" is the agonizing realization that it was my sins which nailed to the Cross the Lord of glory. When Israel shall, by faith, see Christ, "they shall mourn for Him" (Zech. 12:10). It is such tears and groans which prepare the heart to truly welcome and receive the "balm of Gilead," the comfort of the Gospel. It is, then, a mourning over the felt destitution of our spiritual state, and over the iniquities that have separated between us and God. Such mourning always goes side by side with conscious poverty of spirit.
But this "mourning" is by no means to be confined unto the initial experience of conviction and contrition, for observe the tense of the verb: it is not "have mourned," but "mourn"-a present and continuous experience. The Christian himself has much to mourn over. The sins which he now commits-both of omission and commission-are a sense of daily grief to him, or should be, and will be, if his conscience is kept tender. An ever-deepening discovery of the depravity of his nature, the plague of his heart, the sea of corruption within-ever polluting all that he does-deeply exercises him. Consciousness of the surgings of unbelief, the swellings of pride, the coldness of his love, and his paucity of fruit, make him cry, "O wretched man that I am." A humbling recollection of past offences: "Wherefore remember that ye being in time past" (Eph. 2:11).
Yes, "Ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves" (Rom. 8:23). Does not the Christian groan under the disciplining rod of the Father: "No chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous" (Heb. 12:11). And is he not deeply grieved by the awful dishonor which is now done to the Lord Jesus on every hand? The fact is that the closer the Christian lives to God, the more will he mourn over all that dishonors Him: with the Psalmist he will say, "Horror hath taken hold upon me because of the wicked that forsake Thy law" (Ps. 119:53), and with Jeremiah, "My soul shall weep in secret places for your pride; and mine eyes shall weep sore and run down with tears, because the Lord's flock is carried away captive" (13:17). But blessed be God, it is written, "Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof" (Ezek. 9:4). So too there is a sympathetic mourning over the sufferings of others: "Weep with them that weep" (Rom. 12:15).
But let us return to the primary thought of our verse: "Blessed are they that mourn" has immediate reference to the convicted soul sorrowing over his sins. And here it is most important to note that Christ does not pronounce them "blessed" simply because they are mourners, but because they are such. mourners as "shall be comforted." There are not a few in Christendom today who glory in their grief and attempt to find comfort in their own inward wretchedness-as well seek health from our sicknesses. True comfort is not to be found in anything in self-no, not in perceiving our own vileness-but in Christ alone. Distress of soul is by no means always the same thing as evangelical repentance, as is clear from the case of Cain (Gen. 4:13). But where the Spirit produces in the heart a godly sorrow for sin, He does not leave him there, but brings him to look away from sin to the Lamb of God, and then he is "comforted." The Gospel promises no mercy except to those who forsake sin and close with Christ.
"They shall be comforted." This gracious promise receives its fulfillment, first, in that Divine consolation which immediately follows a sound conversion (i.e. one that is preceded by conviction and contrition), namely the removal of that conscious load of guilt which lies as an intolerable burden on the conscience. It finds its accomplishment in the Spirit's application of the Gospel of God's grace to the one whom He has convicted of his dire need of a Saviour. Then it is that Christ speaks the word of power, "Come unto Me all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28)-observe that His language clearly presupposes the feeling of sin to be a "burden" as that which impels to Him for relief; it is to the sin-sick heart that Christ gives rest. This "comfort" issues in a sense of a free and full forgiveness through the merits of the atoning blood of Christ. This Divine comfort is the peace of God which passeth all understanding, filling the heart of one who is now assured that he is "accepted in the Beloved." First God wounds and then heals.
Second, there is a continual "comforting" of the mourning saint by the Holy Spirit, who is the Comforter. The one who sorrows over his departures from Christ is comforted by the assurance that "if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9). The one who mourns under the chastening rod of God is comforted by the promise, "afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby" (Heb. 12:11). The one who grieves over the awful dishonor done to his Lord in the religious world is comforted by the fact that Satan's time is short, and soon Christ will bruise him beneath His feet. Third, the final "comfort" is when we leave this world and are done with sin for ever. Then shall "sorrow and sighing flee away." To the rich man in hell, Abraham said of the one who had begged at his gate, "now he is comforted" (Luke 16:25). The best wine is reserved for the last. The "comfort" of heaven will more than compensate for all the "mourning" of earth.
From all that has been before us learn, first, the folly of looking to the wounds which sin has made in order to find consolation; view rather the purging and healing blood of Christ. Second, see the error of attempting to measure the helpfulness of the books we read or the preaching we hear by the degree of peace and joy they bring to our hearts. Yet how many there are who say, We have quite enough in the world, or in the home, to make us miserable, and we go to church for comfort. But it is to be feared that few of them are in any condition of soul to receive comfort from the Gospel: rather do they need the Law to search and convict them. Ah, the truth is, dear friend, that very often the sermon or the article which is of most benefit is the one which causes us to get alone with God and weep before Him. When we have flirted with the world or indulged the lusts of the flesh the Holy Spirit gives us a rebuke or admonition. Third, mark then the inseparable connection between godly sorrow and godly joy: compare Psalms 30:5; 126:5; Proverbs 14:10; Isaiah 61:3; 2 Corinthians 6:10; 1 Thessalonians 1:6; James 2:13.

A.W. Pink

Walking in the old paths

this is the first in a series of messages from Jeremiah by Pastor Albert Martin...

Friday, October 20, 2017

Climbing up some other way

In John 10:1-18 we find an apt description of a believer who hears his Shepherd's voice and an equally apt description of unbelievers who pretend to be of His fold. The difference between the two groups is plain and stark with no middle ground of compromise or fence to sit upon. In today's world the contrast is readily seen on the battle field of Truth verses lie; the doctrines of Grace verses man's version of free will. For those who, by virtue of their free will, have declared themselves to be "saved" we find our Lord's words sharp and to the point: they are thieves and robbers (v. 8). In the minds of those who listen to them the glory of the salvation of the Lord has been stolen and replaced with the ego of 'free will salvation.' They have been robbed of the truth that Christ is the only Way of salvation which totally negates the need and the efficacy of a man's will to gain the salvation sought. Further description of the intent and result of this thievery is seen in v. 10: "The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy..." (see Matt. 23:13)

The free will "version" of salvation is a lie. It is taught nowhere in Scripture, and yet it has become the mainstay of "churches" worldwide. It's product is deceived church members who fancy themselves to be in right standing with the Judge of all Creation. These deceived ones, by virtue of their 'free will', continually blaspheme the Lord that they claim to love and serve by usurping His authority to chose His own people; by dethroning Him and assuming His throne with their own evil ego, and by turning the Grace of God into a lie. They have climbed up another way.

The teachers of this heresy will face a stricter condemnation, but those who hold to it will not escape His wrath. When confronted with the truth of Scripture verses the lies that they teach most (nearly all) will get all bowed up and stiff necked, unleashing their torrents of rage as they rend their opponent to pieces (Matt. 7:6). Such a response is not that of one born again. When confronted with his sins by Nathan, David immediately confessed and repented. Shortly after Peter denied the Lord three times he was melted by one simple look from His Lord. But the proud, stiff necked, ego laden lost church member will redouble his efforts to silence the one speaking the truth rather than humble himself before the Lord seeking His mercy and forgiveness; claiming all the while to be 'saved' and the 'enlightened one' in the discussion. Those that are born again will not fight against the truth, but receive it with joy.

Perhaps a more insidious lie taught today is that of both teachings (Grace vs. free will) having credibility and even Scriptural support to exist side by side. Those that sit on this fence are in extreme danger of blaspheming the Holy Spirit by saying that He teaches two opposing doctrines and yet both, in the end, are true. Such a thing He never did!

Further evidence of the fruit of this damnable heresy of salvation by a man's will (see John 1:13) can be seen as it bears others heresies of varying types. Loss of 'salvation'; opting out of 'salvation'; ecumenicalism on a grand scale; all the charismatic nonsense; false 'love' and 'humility'; 'evangelism' by guilt trip; manipulation of those not grounded in the faith, the list is likely endless. I have yet to encounter one teacher/proponent of salvation by man's will that was able to "get it right" when it came to other doctrines found in the Word. They claim to have "free will" but are unable to think for themselves, much less be lead by the Spirit of God. Sometimes it seems that their IQ is equal to that of a parrot, only able to speak that which someone else has already spoken. Sad, blind, let them alone! Matt. 15:13 & 14. Nearly all of Matt. 23 is devoted to warning us about the religious charlatans of our day, may we pay renewed diligence when reading it!

There is no sin that the Lord will allow to have control over one that is born again. The Scriptures emphatically state in many places that we, as believers, have been and will continue to be delivered from sin (this does not mean 'sinless perfection'---see Heb. 12:1 and 1 John 1:8-10). "And such were some or you..." 1 Cor. 6:9-11 clearly includes thieves and idolaters (v.9) which the "free willies" manifestly are, their idol being themselves. If a person has been chosen out of this lie (what sin is not a lie?) they will not continue in it as the Spirit extracts them from it, just like He does from all our former sins. So these purveyors of salvation by the will of man (see John 1:13 again) can protest till they are blue in the face, claim to be "saved" and give a heart pounding "testimony" all they want, but their own mouth betrays their own mouth and will in the end be their own judge---Matt. 12:36 & 37. It is impossible to have salvation by the will of man and by the Grace of God simultaneously, and yet this is the teaching of nearly all "churches", pastors (hirelings) and teachers (false prophets) today.

Thank the Lord for greater clarity in this matter, to AW Pink and to Lyn for posting his words. May we speak the Word boldly as He would have us speak, and continue to open our eyes to His glories.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Unlawful liberality

by A.W. Pink

"Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you." Matthew 7:6
Our present verse brings before us the seventh and shortest division of our Lord's Sermon, for it manifestly treats of a different branch of the Truth from any which has been dealt with in the previous sections. Though Christ's language here be figurative (as so often in this address), it is far from being ambiguous, yet its force and purport were probably more easily perceived by His immediate audience than by us. With few exceptions it is the state of our hearts rather than the obscurity of its language which prevents our understanding the meaning of some portion in Holy Writ. Such is certainly the case here. It is greatly to be feared that there are many in Christendom today who are much averse from heeding this Divine precept, and therefore they pretend it is hard to be understood. None so blind as those who refuse to see. How many smug professors in the churches today would be highly offended if the minister dealt with them in the same way as the Saviour did with the Canaanitish women, telling them, "It is not meet to take the children's bread and to cast it to dogs" (Matthew 15:26). Such discrimination does not at all suit this latitudinarian age.
"Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you" (Matthew 7:6). It must be admitted that most of the commentators appear to have experienced difficulty with this verse, not because they found its terms obscure, but in the fixing of their precise reference. It was not its interpretation which troubled them so much as its application. The method we propose to follow in our exposition of it is the following. First, to ascertain its precise relation to the context. Second, to ponder it in the light of our Lord's own example, for most assuredly He ever practiced what He preached, and as we are called upon to "follow His steps" it is most necessary for us to examine the path He trod—here as everywhere. Third, to point Out its application to the ministers of Christ, for it enunciates an important rule to regulate them in their dispensation of the Word. And fourth, to show how this rule applies to the private Christian. May the Spirit of Truth deign to guide our pen.
In examining the relation of our text to the context, we must take into account both its more remote and nearer context. As we have so often pointed out in this series of expositions, the principal key which unlocks to us the contents of this Sermon is found in our Lord's words, "Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil" (v. 17). It therefore behooves us to inquire, What was the teaching of the Law and the prophets concerning the subject treated of in our text? The first thing we learn there is that under the Law "dogs" and "swine" were unclean and unholy animals, the Israelites being prohibited from using them either for food or as sacrifices unto God, yea, they were not permitted to bring "the price of a dog [the money from selling one] into the house of the Lord" (Deut. 23:18). Second, we should observe that the term "dog" was applied to persons of worthless character (1 Sam. 17:43; 2 Sam. 16:9; 2 Kings 8:13; etc.).
The sons of Aaron were required to "put difference between holy and unholy, and between clean and unclean" (Lev. 10:10), to maintain the line of demarcation which God had drawn between the sacred and the profane. They were commanded to exclude the heathen from participating in any of the religious privileges of God's covenant people (Deut. 23:3). In the days of Israel's degeneracy God complained that "her priests have violated My Law and have profaned Mine holy things: they have put no difference between the holy and profane, neither have they shewed difference between the unclean and the clean" (Ezek. 22:26): they had dealt with a latitude or "liberality" such as God had expressly forbidden. He had ordered that His priests should "teach My people the difference between the holy and profane, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean" (Ezek. 44:23). A most discriminating ministry was appointed unto Jeremiah, for the Lord required him to "take forth the precious from the vile" (15:19): that is, draw the line between the godly and ungodly, addressing to each their distinctive and needed message. To Malachi it was promised, "Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth Him not" (3:18).
Now, says Christ, "Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets." I have received no commission from My Father to break down the barriers He has erected, to obliterate the lines He has drawn. Rather am I come "to fulfil" (Matthew 5:17): to magnify the Law and render it honorable, to vindicate the prophets and make good their declarations. I am come to bring in the substance for the shadow, the reality for the typical, the vital for the ceremonial. I too shall discriminate between the clean and the unclean and p lace a fence between the holy and the unholy. Did Moses prohibit the people of God from intermarrying with idolators? Did he exclude the heathen from the sacred temple? Did he declare that the food of the priestly family was "most holy" (Lev. 10:12-15) and their exclusive portion or property? Then I likewise command you, "Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine."
Coming now to the closer context. Is there not clearly a link between our present text and what immediately precedes it? Did not Christ here intimate that something more than clear vision and a kind and steady hand was required if we are to succeed in removing a "mote" from another's eye? As we pointed out at the close of the previous chapter, the one with an injured eye must be agreeable to submit if you are to help him; the one at fault be willing to receive an admonition. But many are not so: so far from it; they will resent your well-meant overtures and revile you for them—treading your admonitions under their feet and venting their fury upon you. "Speak not in the ears of a fool, for he will despise the wisdom of thy words" (Prov. 23:9). Thus, having shown how to admonish, the Saviour now makes known who are to be admonished, or rather who are not to be. To reprove a son of Belial is wasted breath (1 Sam. 25:17).
In verse 5 the Lord had shown how an erring "brother" is to be dealt with—meekly and gently: the rebuke is to be given in a loving and humble spirit. But here in verse 6 Christ intimates that love must discriminate: all are not "brethren" and will not suffer a rebuke, no matter how graciously given. It is not sufficient then that we take care to be spiritually qualified for reproving another, but we must seek to make sure that there is some probability at least that our efforts will not be worse than lost upon the one we desire to help. Thus, after prohibiting evil-minded censures, Christ here warns against imprudent ones. "Reprove not a scorner lest he hate thee" (Prov. 9:8). Here, then, is a necessary caution: zeal must be directed by knowledge and holy prudence. Not every person is a fit subject for reproof. Unreasonable men will scoff at the mildest criticism of their evil ways, and to quote Scripture to them only incites them to blasphemy and is casting pearls before swine.
But we may discover a further connection between our text and the verses preceding. In seeking to guard against hasty and harsh judgments we must also beware of abusing grace. If on the one hand we should watch against unjust and unmerciful censuring, on the other we must not be guilty of judging laxly and loosely. There are not only the "sheep" of Christ, but the "dogs" and "swine" of the world, and they are to be treated as such. When an open worldling or obviously carnal person applies for church membership, it would be quite wrong to silence God-fearing objectors with "Judge not, lest ye be judged." Grace must not be allowed to override the requirements of holiness so that the unclean are permitted to enjoy those privileges reserved for those who are washed in the blood of the Lamb. It is through failure at this very point, through a false "charity," by refusing to heed this command of Christ, that the grossest of evils have been tolerated in the House of God, until the mystical Babylon is "now a cage of every unclean and hateful bird."
Yet it must not be supposed that our text is to be restricted unto a prohibition against imprudent reproving: rather does it enunciate a general principle which is of wide application, for the better perception of which we now turn to ponder it in the light of our Lord's own personal example. A very wide field is here open for investigation, yet we can only now call attention to a few of its most distinctive features. If the reader will examine the four Gospels afresh from this particular angle, he is likely to meet with some surprises and find there the reverse of what the teaching he has imbibed would lead him to expect. For example, would not the ordinary churchgoer of today suppose that the Lord Jesus spent most of His time in preaching the Gospel to the unsaved; that lie sought out the unchurched masses, endeavoring to arouse them from their unconcern; that He made it His business to go after the giddy worldling and convince him of the folly of his ways; that He proclaimed the love of God to every soul He could possibly make contact with? Then turn to the first four books of the New Testament and see whether or not this was so.
We do indeed read frequently that Christ taught both in the synagogue and in the temple, yet even there He never so much as once mentioned the love of God to sinners—though He had much to say about the Father's love when He was alone with "His own." He frequently spoke of His approaching death unto His disciples, but where did He ever preach the atonement in the hearing of the multitude? lit is true that He spoke often in the open air (though never on the streets!), yet it was to those who sought unto Him (Mark 2:13; Luke 6:17)—He never pressed His company on them (Mark 7:17). He spoke many things unto the multitudes in parables, yet the interpretation of them was reserved for God's elect (Matthew 13:8, 9, 11, 36). Our Lord was not transfigured before the gaze of the vulgar crowd, but only in the sight of a favored few. Nor was He seen by the unbelieving world after His resurrection. The grand prophecy of Matthew 24 and 25 was delivered in the hearing of none but believers. He never cast pearls before swine: even when Pilate asked Him, "What is truth?" (John 18:37), He did not say, "I am the Truth," nor did He explain to him the way of salvation.
But let us not be mistaken at this point. God forbid that we should be found writing anything which would deter exercised souls from seeking Christ, and giving them the impression that they would be unwelcome did they come to Him in their deep distress. Nothing is made plainer in the four Gospels than the glorious fact that the Lord Jesus is accessible to every poor sinner who feels his need of Him and that He is willing and ready to heal his soul. "All that the Father giveth Me shall come to Me; and him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out" (John 6:37) is His own blessed declaration. He declined not an invitation to eat with publicans and sinners, nor did He turn His back upon the leper who sought Him. But what we have directed attention to above is His attitude towards those who sought him not, to those who evidenced no interest in Him, to those who opposed Him. Read again the many recorded cases where the Pharisees antagonized Him: is there a single instance where He preached the Gospel to them? So with the Sadducees and lawyers who endeavoured to ensnare Him: He closed their mouths, but He never opened His heart to them or gave that which was holy unto dogs!
Third, our text enunciates an important principle for the minister of Christ to be regulated by—it is to be borne in mind that the first application of this Sermon is to ministers (Matthew 5:1, 2). That rule may be stated thus: discrimination is to be exercised when dispensing the Word of God. Nothing is more urgently needed and seldom found today than a discriminating ministry, by which we mean a "taking forth the precious from the vile" (Jer. 15:19). In our congregations both of those classes are represented: those who are dear to God and those abhorred by Him. Now though you cannot distinguish by name yet you can by character. When addressing yourself to the people of God you should make it quite plain that the unregenerate have "no part or lot in the matter." When preaching from the Divine promises it is necessary to describe the spiritual marks of those to whom such Divine dainties really belong—to those who are not conformed to this world, who deny themselves, take up their cross and follow Christ. The line of demarcation must be drawn so plainly that each hearer knows to which side of the line he belongs.
The Word of God has to be "rightly divided" (2 Tim. 2:15) if each hearer is to obtain his legitimate portion. When the pulpit seeks to expose the hypocrite care needs to be taken lest Christ's little ones are stumbled, and when the minister seeks to comfort the distressed saints, the cordial must be expressly labeled so that the ungodly are not bolstered up in a false peace. Unless the minister exercises the most prayerful caution, he will be unable to escape that solemn charge, "with lies ye have made the heart of the righteous sad, whom I have not made sad; and strengthened the hands of the wicked, that he should not return from his wicked way, by promising him life" (Ezek. 13:22). Again, Matthew vii, 6, is woefully contravened when those with the most barren profession are received into a church fellowship: the "judgment of charity" does not require of us to call darkness light. Laxity is as much an evil as censoriousness. Admitting to the Lord's table open worldlings is a flagrant violation of our text. And how often is it disregarded in "funeral services and sermons"!
It is very necessary that this precept, "Give not that which is holy unto the dogs" should be pressed upon the rank and file of God's people. In certain circles it has been taught that as soon as a person has experienced the saving grace of God in his heart it is his bounden duty to preach Christ to all his acquaintances, to endeavour to become a "soul winner," and that if he declines such "personal work" and evangelistic endeavour, it is because he is cold and selfish, indifferent to the eternal welfare of those around him. But where did Christ or any of His apostles bestow such a commission on any young convert? "Come and hear, all ye that fear God, and I will declare what He hath done for my soul" (Ps. 66:16). That qualification warns us against publishing the most sacred experiences of our hearts to all and sundry, for the unregenerate have no more capacity to appreciate the sovereign operations of the Spirit than swine have to rate pearls at their true value. But is not the young convert to "witness for Christ"? Assuredly, but how? "Ye should shew forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvelous light" (1 Pet. 2:9): a changed life, an unworldly walk, is the most effective "witness" of all! (see Matthew 5:16).
Zeal needs to be tempered with knowledge. The holy things of the Gospel are not to be bandied about indiscriminately: the precious secrets of His love which the Lord has revealed to us are not to be communicated to His enemies. If believers defy this Divinely imposed restriction, they must not be surprised at meeting with insults and incurring the ire of those upon whom they attempt to force the holy mysteries of the faith. Of the Pharisees Christ said, "Let them alone" (Matthew 15:14), not attempt to convert them from the error of their ways. "Of some have compassion, making a difference" (Jude 22): what a discriminating word is that! We are bidden to "Go from the presence of a fool" (Prov. 14:7), and not lower our Christian dignity by arguing with him. But are we not bidden to "Be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh a reason of the hope that is in us"? Yes, when "asked" (cf. Prov. 22:21), and then "with meekness and fear" (1 Pet. 3:15) and not with bombast and impudence. The epistles of the New Testament are to be read to "holy brethren" (1 Thess. 5:27), but we know of no warrant to read them to worldlings.
It has long impressed the writer that that which takes place in the secular sphere is but a shadowing forth of what has first happened in the spiritual realm. For many years past the majority of the preachers jettisoned the Divine Law, and in the utter lawlessness which fills the world today we have the inevitable repercussion. They concentrated on the promises but ignored the precepts, and in their failure to urge upon God's children an obedient walk we have reaped the disobedience and uncontrollableness of the modern child. Women were given the place in the churches which Scripture prohibits (1 Cor. 14:34), and in consequence a generation of self-assertive "he women" has arisen who ape men in almost everything. Today we have a plague of dogs—over three million in Great Britain—making the night hideous with their howls, befouling the pavements and consuming vast quantities of food, while human beings are strictly rationed. In the cities they have become a curse, and we believe that this is a Divine judgment upon the general disregard of Matthew 7:6. It is a common sight to behold a child leading about a huge mastiff and silly women accompanied by two or three poodles. "Beware of dogs" (Phil. 3:2). "For without are dogs" (Rev. 22:15)—excluded from the Holy City.
In conclusion let us note the practical instruction hinted by the figure of the "pearls." First, it intimates what we should regard as our true riches, namely the contents of God's Word, for they constitute the Christian's precious treasure. "Happy is the man that findeth wisdom and the man that getteth understanding. For the merchandise of it is better than the merchandise of silver and the gain thereof than fine gold. She is more precious than rubies, and all the things thou canst desire are not to be compared unto her" (Prov. 3:13-15). Second, it intimates wherein we should content ourselves in the calamities and casualties of this life. We may lose our health and wealth, our friends and fame, yet this treasure remains. Here is a lamp for the darkest night (Ps. 119:105): here is to be found comfort in the sorest affliction (Ps. 119:50): here are to be obtained songs for our pilgrimage (Ps. 119:54). Third, it intimates how we are to use the Word. A person possessed of valuable pearls is at great pains to secure them; how much more so should we be with this Pearl of pearls—storing it in our memories, locking it in our hearts: "Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience" (1 Tim. 3:9). This was David's practice (Ps. 119:11), and Mary's (Luke 2:51): may it be ours too.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

I praise His holy name!!!

IT behoved this Immanuel in all things to be made like unto his brethren; therefore he went down into Egypt. All he did upon earth had some use and meaning. By some facts he testified what he was doing, and by others, what he would continually do, for his people.
"Out of Egypt have I called my Son," saith the Lord. His redeemed were spiritually in Egypt, the house of bondage. They were there under the service of a cruel king, a prince. who rules in the world by usurpation till the time appointed. Grievous are the tasks, and sad are the wages, of this tyrant of souls. Jesus went down, and came up again for a sign. As the head of his people, he did this, preaching their redemption from bondage in himself. In their order and times, they come up out of Egypt too, by the strong hand of this Captain of salvation. He is great in might, and therefore not one of them faileth. The prince of the air loses his dominion over them; and though he follow them like Pharoah’s mob, and chase them all the way, he cannot hinder their course of faith, nor rob them of their Canaan in glory.
Oh marvellous love of my Savior! Was it not enough for you to take up my nature in its best estate, without submitting to a manger, to contempt, to persecution, to banishment, and all the wrongs of men? Oh how low must I be fallen, that it should be needful for you, (for, if it had not been needful, this act had been spared,) to endure poverty, wretchedness, and shame, that I might be delivered from all! I was in Egypt, and you tamest to me. Your grace preached liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that were bound. Your power performed what your love proclaimed; and you brought the prisoners from the prison, and those that sat in darkness out of the prisonhouse! Oh wonderful to tell! I, among your ransomed, have followed you in the regeneration out of this dismal Egypt, and have tasted a little of the glorious liberty of your children. Not unto me, my dear Savior, not unto me, but unto your name be all the praise. I was wallowing in the mire of Egypt, and in the mud of the Nile; I was entirely given up to the filth and pollutions of this world, and should have remained therein, till I had been sunk for ever in its woe; unless your mighty arm had worked my deliverance, and set me free. Glory to you, Jehovah-Jesus, you Savior all-divine, for mercy unmeasurable like this, for grace and glory yet before me, to which there is no end! Oh how shall I shew forth your praise for all which you have done for my soul?

Ambrose Serle

The souls difficulty in embracing mercy

I know not how it is with others, but I find myself very unable, nay, most unable when I have the greatest occasion, to lay hold upon this mighty mercy of God; to rest upon it, and make it my own; and to use it for my consolation and support. I long for this with the full purpose of my heart; and my groans and tears in secret are well known unto God. But I have also an evil heart of unbelief, which suggests a thousand doubts and fears, sometimes of God's willingness to save me particularly, who am so very vile and faithless; and sometimes of my own reality of desire towards him, which is often dreadfully mixed with the desire of other things, and overwhelmed with cares and sorrows, difficulties and temptations. 0 what great troubles and adversities has God shown me! How shall I be delivered from the body of this death? How shall I lay hold on eternal life? How shall I know that I have fast hold; or be assured, that none shall be able to pluck me from it? 0 Lord, to be assured of this your favor, is, both in life and death, of more worth to me than a thousand times ten thousand worlds. For I might have these, and be wretched; but, with you, I can have nothing but life and peace for evermore.

Ambrose Serle

Friday, October 13, 2017

A true believer is like Rebecca...

Faith is the gift and the operation of God. It comes by the Holy Spirit’s power, moving and strengthening the sublimest faculties of the soul, and is really a regeneration, a rebegetting, a revival of life from the dead. Thus the believer is said to be born of the Spirit, because it is the Spirit’s office in the covenant of grace to regenerate, and because it is the promise concerning the Spirit to all, even as many as God shall call. And thus also the Christian is said to be born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. When this principle of divine life and light is given to the soul, it enables the soul to feel its own loss and misery, and to see its own sin and darkness. A man can have no true sight of the nature of sin but by this grace. He is, therefore, in some sense, a believer before he knows himself to be one. Faith acts in him, before he can be sensible of the reflex act of faith. He first lives; and then he feels his misery; and then he cries for mercy. He cries for mercy, and then is enlightened to see the way of mercy in the word of mercy. He is next enlightened to behold the free welcome and rich bounty of this mercy to all returning sinners. He is enabled to contemplate upon himself, and to view the fitness of God’s mercy for him, and his fitness, as a convinced sinner, for it. He is then strengthened to embrace it, like a poor creature who must perish without it, but who shall never perish with it. And at length God’s grace seals itself upon the soul, by giving a true taste of joy and peace in believing, insomuch that the broken drooping heart revives, and is able to say, “I do humbly venture to believe that Christ died for me, and will save me for evermore.” 
Now, through all the course of this gracious work, which, according to the will of God, is slower in some than in others, there is often much doubting and disputing in the man’s own conscience. It is a sore struggle, at times, to quell the clamours of unbelief, and the suggestions of Satan; and at last, perhaps, the soul embraces the reality of God’s love in Christ, with a trembling kind of hopeless hope, and doubting believing. These things often puzzle the understanding, and perplex the whole will and affections. A true believer is like Rebecca labouring with twins, a faithless Esau and a trusting Jacob; and so, like her, he cries out, If it be so, why am I thus? Whereas, if it were not so, if he were not of God, it would not be thus. Nature alone could not struggle; nor can what is dead strive against the stream. The bent of nature is against grace. So again, if he were all grace and no sin, he would feel no trouble; for the opposition of grace is to nature and to the sin which is in it. And it is a good sign, though not a pleasant feeling, that there is this conflict; it demonstrates the life of God to be within. In this way, the Christian embraces the gospel. He is enabled in hope against hope to believe it, as the grand charter of his salvation. And this very act of believing is the evidence within, concurring with the evidence of the written word without, that his name is enrolled in the charter, and that he is consequently entitled to all its blessings. 
Take heart, therefore, thou child of God, and fear not. Thou hast the promise, the power, the mercy, and the truth of Jehovah on thy side; and who can prevail against him? If thou dost not wholly believe, or art not perfectly cleared from all doubts, be not, however, dismayed. The faithfulness of thy Lord is not grounded upon the perfect exercise of thy faith, but upon his own sovereign grace and love. Thou desirest to trust him with thy whole heart; but thou never couldest have desired this, if he had not wrought that disposition within thee. He was the Author, and he will be the Finisher, of all in thee, as well as of all for thee. If God did not spare his own Son for thy sake, what will he spare beside? Who shall, or who can, lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God himself, with whom there is neither evil nor folly, that justifieth thee from both. Who can condemn thee! It is Christ who blotteth out thy sins by his precious blood, or rather is risen again to present thee faultless in his righteousness before the throne, and to plead for thee as that Advocate who never lost a cause. Who shall separate thee from the love of Christ? Shall the evils of life, all the distresses of time, and all the rage of the devil? Nay, in all these things thine Almighty Saviour will render thee a conqueror, and more than a conqueror, because he hath loved thee. O divine words that follow! From thine inmost affections, from the very ardour and spirit of faith, mayest thou breathe them forth! “I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate me from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus my Lord.”

Ambrose Serle

The Christian Remembrancer

The Word and Work of God in Man’s Redemption by Jesus Christ 

 On Entrance into Spiritual Life 

Wherewith shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the high God? How shall I, a sinner, approach the eyes of that Majesty, which cannot look upon sin without abhorrence? My iniquities are more in number than the hairs of my head, and my heart sinketh within me on their remembrance. My affections are naturally all inclined to the world and worldly things. My judgment is depraved; my will is perverse; my understanding is darkened; my knowledge vain; and I see nothing in me or about me but what by guilt is altogether defiled. I have sore proof of that scripture, that every imagination of the thoughts of man’s heart is only evil continually, and that from the sole of the foot, even to the head, there is no soundness in my nature; but only the wounds, and bruises, and putrefying sores of sin. How then can I please God? How shall such a worm, such a lump of perverse ungodliness, obtain his favour? Shall I seek to deserve it by my own good thoughts? Alas! I am not sufficient of myself to think even one. Shall I by excellency of words approach my offended Maker? He regardeth not words, but the spirit and the heart; and my spirit and heart are wholly defiled. Shall I then by good works attempt to render him propitious? O my God, where shall I find them! How can I begin to act, before I have begun to think, what is right? How can the exercises of the body be pure and free, when the soul is unholy and enslaved by sin? And if, from this day, I could cease from evil, and do perfectly what is just and right, which the experience of all men tells me is impossible, yet, what will become of the long black catalogue of iniquities, both in heart and life, which are already written against me? How shall I wipe off the sins of my nature and my life, respecting the times that are past? O Lord, thou hast revealed thyself as a holy God, and a just. Thou hast declared that thou wilt not spare the guilty. And I have offended thy righteous law in every hour and every action of my life. How then can I be saved? How is it possible for me to escape the wrath to come? My anxieties, like my sins, might justly overwhelm me; and I ought to tremble at the righteous judgment which I know I deserve. There are but a few days at the most for me to live upon the earth; and I am not sure of one. O how shall I flee from the wrath to come? How shall I avoid eternal burnings, in which no man can dwell but with misery, and of which no man can think strictly but with horror? Lord, can such a sinner as I escape? Canst thou have mercy upon me? Such are the breathings of the heart when it first begins to awake, and live, and feel that there is an evil and a curse in sin, and that sin, with all its evil, lieth at the door. 

The Method of Mercy 

Such a flowing from the heart, as that just mentioned, gladdens all heaven. It is the motion of the divine Spirit upon the troubled deep, and will ere long produce both life and peace. Soul, dost thou feel the power of thy own corruption? Are these thy meek, yet bitter cries? O hear, and may thy God enable thee to believe, the glad tidings of his own salvation! Thou art a sinner, it is true; and thy mercy it is to see, in due measure, how great a sinner thou art. It is the first line in the large book of humiliation, which thou must be reading all thy life long. But Christ died for sinners such as thee; for all sinners that come unto God by him; for the vilest of sinners that see the vileness of sin, and bemoan it, as thou dost. He saved Mary Magdalene the harlot, Matthew the publican, Paul the persecutor, Peter, the swearer, liar, and denier of his Master, the malefactor on the cross, who had been a thief and a murderer, and ten thousand more like these; and he hath just the same power, means, and mercy to save thy soul, even thine. He saves graciously, that is, freely; because no wisdom nor worth of man have contrived, or could have obtained his greatness of salvation. It was planned in grace, and performed by grace. It is all of grace, and bounty, and love, from beginning to end. For this purpose he came into the world and took our nature upon him. He took it in its meanest and humblest form; and was content to be born in a stable, to be brought up by a labouring man, to labour with him too, to suffer the worst evils of human life, and the sorest pains of human death, that so he might be an oblation or sacrifice in the stead of his people, and render an atonement to the justice of God for them. These sufferings and this atonement are the debt due to the law and holiness of God, without which, consistent with his attributes, he could not spare the sinner, but by which he can be both just, and yet the justifier of him who taketh refuge in Jesus. Yea, this dear Saviour having paid the penalty due to his transgressions, God is now faithful and just to forgive him his sins, or rather more faithful and just to forgive them than he could be in laying on the punishment again, which Christ endured in that behalf. Christ also lived upon earth to fulfil all righteousness; and he fulfilled it completely for his redeemed. He makes himself over to them; and all he hath is theirs, through faith in him. Thus they have a right to call him, what he is, the Lord our righteousness. God is well pleased for his righteousness’ sake, and beholds every poor sinner who trusts in Christ, and lives in him, as unblameable and unreprovable in his own most piercing sight, yea, without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing. This righteousness is that garment of salvation, which covers them wholly, and fits them perfectly for the kingdom of heaven. Contrite soul, believest thou this? Is this good news, the very gospel or good news, of God? Search and see. Read and pray over thy bible, and thou wilt find, that it is the very voice and will of thy Lord. O that the fallow, the hard, and barren ground of thy heart may be so broken up by his power, as to welcome this joyful news, like the thirsty soil receiving the showers from the skies! 

Ambrose Serle, from 'the Christian Remembrancer'