Precious Jesus

"Afresh, precious, precious Jesus, I resign this body to You, for doing or suffering, for living or dying. Will You accept it? Will You use me for Your glory more than heretofore, that You may have some little return for all the benefits You have done to me? Oh, do grant this request; my heart longs for it, my spirit pleads for it; and "if You will, You can." You know the hot temptation of which I am the subject. Bring Your glory out of it, and keep me from the evil, and it shall be well." - Ruth Bryan

Sunday, December 24, 2017

God judging by giving over

Below is from Davis Huckabee on Romans 1:24 to the end of the chapter...

Romans 1:24 “Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonor their own bodies between themselves.” 
The direct result of man’s rejection of the knowledge of God and the restraints He imposes on man is further corruption. God did not compel man to sin: He only removed the providential restraints, which is all that is necessary for man to plunge to the depths of sin. Wrong worship always results in wrong living. God gave them up to wrong living (Rom. 1:24), to wrong loving, (Rom. 1:26), and to wrong thinking (Rom 1:28), [Coltman]. One of the tragic consequences of rebellion is that those who desert God are deserted by Him. “The words sound to us like clods on the coffin as God
leaves men to work their own wicked will,” [Robertson]. By nature man is an unholy being. The source of the problem is his heart, (Matthew 15:19), and one of the most horrible judgments that can come upon man is for God to remove His restraints and leave man to his own wicked ways. “To dishonor... themselves” is explained in the verses that follow.
Romans 1:25 “Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.” 
This is another way of stating the truth of verse 23. They changed the truth about the nature of God into the lie of idolatry. Often in the Old Testament the idol is called a lie or falsehood because they are not true representations of God, (Jer. 10:14; Isa. 28:15). Often men begin to worship the true God through, or by means of, the creature, but they always end up worshipping the creature instead of the Creator. This is always the tendency of idols. “‘Whenever religious worship is offered to the creature in any manner whatever, it is forsaking God, whose will it is, not only that His creatures should serve Him; but that they should serve Him alone, on which account He calls Himself a Jealous God,” [Haldane]. This is why God forbade the use of any idols in worshipping Him, [Ex. 20:4-5]. Paul often interjects a doxology or ascription of praise to God in his writings, (Rom. 9:5; 2 Cor. 11:31; Gal. 1:5).
Romans 1:26 “For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature.” 
Again, the cause of this sin is within man, who, being a fallen creature, as naturally desires to sin as water flows downward. He is without excuse because he is not compelled to sin. And there comes a time in the sinner’s life when God ceases to hold him back from his natural bent to sin. “Vile affections” means shameless passion and is explained in verses 26-27. This refers to homosexuality both in men and women, for which the cities of the plain were destroyed, (Gen. 18:20; 19:24-25). Most sin goes through six stages before God responds in judgment: (1) Shock at it. (2) Joking about it. (3) Curiosity about it. (4) Indulgence in it. (5) Excuses made for it. (6) Stoutly defended as right. Classical writers of old tell how this was a very common and accepted sin among the pagans. Modern attitudes toward this sin are already in the fifth or sixth stage. Has America become so idolatrous that God has given it up as He did the nations of old? Only the saved, as the salt of the earth, (Matthew 5:13), now prevent the utter corruption of the earth.
Romans 1:27 “And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet.” 
From the chief city that was destroyed for this sin, it is sometimes called sodomy. Men call this “an alternate lifestyle” but the Bible is clear that it is sin of an especially shameful nature. All sin has a natural recompense or payment in kind, and this sin is no exception. Many have tried to deny that AIDS, the disease peculiar to homosexuals, is a Divine retribution, but they are fooling only themselves. However, not all homosexuals get AIDS, but they all receive the reward of their sins “in themselves.” No one profits by any sin, but here, sin has a direct effect upon the minds of those who practice it. Warped morals make for warped characters and personalities because the mind is affected by their rebellion against God. Homosexuals can be saved, (1 Cor. 6:9-11), but not many are, and those who are, cease to commit this.
Romans 1:28 “And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient.” 
Here is an explanation of what that recompense was. Paul engages in a play on words: “Because they reprobated the knowledge of God, God gave them over to a reprobate mind,” [Alford], or: “As they thought fit to cast out the acknowledgment of God, God gave them over to an outcast mind,” [Conybeare]. A “reprobate mind” is a mind void of right judgment. “It denotes a mind judicially blinded, so as not to discern the difference between things distinguished even by the light of nature,” [Haldane]. They did not like to retain a full knowledge of God, (so the Greek means); they had but a dim memory, and that was a caricature, [Robertson], and so God gave them over to their own desires to have an incorrect knowledge of moral and spiritual truth. “Not convenient” means not fitting or suitable to rational and moral beings. In the following verses, Paul gives examples of what he means. Sin, like cancer, is a progressive evil: it never travels alone, and it never gets better except by grace.

Romans 1:29 “Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers.” 
This and the following verses list twenty-one distinct sins with which men are filled, and continue to be filled, (so the tense implies), so that it is not a mere tendency to do these things. “Every heart by nature has in it the seed and spawn of all these sins,” [Matthew Henry]. It was such a state that led to the Flood, [Gen. 6:5-6]. “Unrighteousness” is a general term for injustice or iniquity as in verse 18. “Fornication” refers to any sexual intercourse with anyone other than one’s legitimate mate. It is a general term of which adultery is a more specific form. “Wickedness” is another general term for evil. “Covetousness” is literally the desire of having more, and is usually exercised without scruple as to how it is obtained, (1 Tim. 6:9-10). “Maliciousness” is inward viciousness or revengefulness of disposition. “Full of envy” is discontent and jealousy at the prosperity and well being of others. “Murder” is any form of manslaughter which is done maliciously or from selfish reasons. “Debate” is strife or argument, often involving anger. Some pastors like to debate, thinking they are thereby defending the faith, but this word is never used in a good sense in Scripture. “Deceit” is fraud or falsehood. “Malignity” is rancor, or putting the worst possible interpretation on words and conduct of others. “Whisperers” refers to gossip or the secret slander of men.
Romans 1:30 “Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents.” 
“Backbiters” is the public slander of others as whisperers had to do with secret slander. “Haters of God” is taken by many in a passive sense: “hated of God,” which is certainly His attitude toward all slanderers, (Ps. 15:1-3; 101:5; Prov. 8:13). But the active “haters” is also true of all unsaved people. “Despiteful” refers to insolence, insulting or abusive conduct. “Proud” refers to egotism, excessive self-esteem and conceit. “Boasters” is the vocal claim to this supposed superiority over others. “Inventors of evil things” is characteristic of fallen man, (Eccl. 7:29). Every good that man invents he turns to an evil use. “Disobedient to parents” is characteristic of all rebels. It is one of the quickest ways to shorten one’s life (Eph. 6:1-3).
Romans 1:31 “Without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful.”
The same Greek word as “foolish” in verse 21. Probably in reference to ignorance in spiritual things as in 1 Corinthians 2:14. Spiritual understanding is to be desired, (Col. 1:9). “Covenant breakers” refers to those who are not true to their contracts and commitments. Today we see this commonly in nations violating their covenants, and in the breaking of marriage covenants, as well as in business. “Without natural affection” is seen most commonly today in the desertion and destruction of children by their parents, and in the neglecting of elderly parents by their children. “Implacable” is the refusal to be reconciled to one when an offence has been committed, or holding an unyielding desire for revenge. “Unmerciful” is destitution of compassion. The last four words have been tersely translated: “senseless, faithless, heartless, pitiless,” [Green].
Romans 1:32 “Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.” 
Paul returns to the fact that these are fully accountable because of the universal witnesses of God’s existence. “Judgment” is literally “ordinance,” and “commit” has to do with the practice of these things. In the last analysis, death refers to spiritual death, but man’s spiritual conceptions often do not come up to this, but the word death always implies something fearful to any unsaved person. One’s guilt is heightened when he not only sins himself, but encourages others to do so as well. Often men encourage others to join them in sin by way of trying to justify their own sins, as if numbers would justify it, or cause God to moderate the punishment of it.
A Chinese once denied that Paul wrote this chapter, but accused a missionary of coming in among them and writing down all their sins, and then reading them before all. So up to date is this chapter. The things here set forth manifest that if a man is ever to be saved, it must be upon a different plan than by human works, for all are proven to be corrupt and rebels against God. Behold the great danger of rebelling against the knowledge of God: it leads inevitably to one being judicially blinded and falling into more and worse sin.

From Davis Huckabee

Friday, December 22, 2017

A sermon for the time present

It is a, sad affliction when in our solemn assemblies the brilliance of the gospel light is dimmed by error. The clearness of the testimony is spoiled when doubtful voices are scattered among the people, and those who ought to preach the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, are telling out for doctrines the imaginations of men, and the inventions of the age. Instead of revelation, we have philosophy, falsely so-called; instead of divine infallibility, we have surmises and larger hopes. The gospel of Jesus Christ, which is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever, is taught as the production of progress, a growth, a thing to be amended and corrected year by year. It is an ill day, both for the church and the world, when the trumpet does not give a certain sound; for who shall prepare himself for the battle?

If added to this we should see creeping over the solemn assembly of the church a lifelessness, an indifference, and a lack of spiritual power, it is painful to a high degree. When the vitality of religion is despised, and gatherings for prayer are neglected, what are we coming to? The present period of church history is well portrayed by the church of Laodicea, which was neither cold nor hot, and therefore to be spewed out of Christ's mouth. That church gloried that she was rich and increased in goods, and had need of nothing, while all the while her Lord was outside, knocking at the door, a door closed against him. That passage is constantly applied to the unconverted, with whom it has nothing to do: it has to do with a lukewarm church, with a church that thought itself to be in an eminently prosperous condition, while her living Lord, in the doctrine of his atoning sacrifice, was denied an entrance. Oh, if he had found admission—and he was eager to find it—she would soon have flung away her imaginary wealth, and he would have given her gold tried in the furnace, and white raiment with which she might be clothed. Alas! she is content without her Lord, for she has education, oratory, science, and a thousand other baubles. Zion's solemn assembly is under a cloud indeed, when the teaching of Jesus and his apostles is of small account with her.

If in addition to this, worldly conformity spreads in the church, so that the vain amusements of the world are shared in by the saints, then is there reason enough for lamentation, even as Jeremiah cried: "How is the gold become dim!" Her Nazarites, who were purer than snow and whiter than milk, have become blacker than a coal. "All our enemies have opened their mouths against us." If no longer there is a clear distinction between the church and the world, but professed followers of Jesus have joined hands with unbelievers, then may we mourn indeed! Woe worth the day! An ill time has happened to the church and to the world also. We may expect great judgments, for the Lord will surely be avenged on such a people as this. Know ye not of old that when the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair, and they were joined unto them, then the flood came and swept them all away? I need not pursue this subject further, lest our burdens take from us the time which is demanded for consolation.

It appears from the text that there were some to whom the reproach was a burden. They could not make sport of sin. True, there were many who said that the evil did not exist at all, and others who declared that it was not present in any great degree. Yes, and more hardened spirits declared that what was considered to be a reproach was really a thing to be boasted of, the very glory of the century. Thus they huffed the matter, and made the mourning of the conscientious to be a theme for jest. But there was a remnant to whom the reproach of it was a burden; these could not bear to see such a calamity. To these the Lord God will have respect, as he said by the prophet:—"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." The many drank wine in bowls and anointed themselves with their chief ointments, but they were not grieved for the affliction of Joseph (Amos 6:6); but these were pressed in spirit and bore the cross, counting the reproach of Christ greater riches than all the treasures of Egypt. God's people cannot bear that Christ's atoning sacrifice should be dishonored; they cannot endure that his truth should be trodden as mire in the streets. To true believers prosperity means the Holy Ghost blessing the word to the conversion of sinners and the building up of saints; and if they do not see this, they hang their harps upon the willows. True lovers of Jesus fast when the Bridegroom is not with his church: their glow is in his glory, and in nothing else. The wife of Phinehas, the son of Eli, cried out in her dying agony, "The glory has departed," and the reason that she gave was once because of the death of her husband and his father, but twice because "the ark of God is taken." For this she named her new-born child Ichabod—. "The glory is departed from Israel, for the ark of God is taken." The bitterest pain of this godly woman was for the church, and for the honor of our God. So it is with God's true people: they lay it much to heart that the truth is rejected.

This burdened spirit, is a token of true love to God: those who love the Lord Jesus are wounded in his woundings, and vexed with the vexings of his Spirit. When Christ is dishonored his disciples are dishonored. Those who have a tender heart towards the church can say with Paul, "Who is offended, and I burn not?" The sins of the church of God are the sorrows of all living members of it. This also marks a healthy sensibility, a vital spirituality. Those who are unspiritual care nothing for truth or grace: they look to finances, and numbers, and respectability. Utterly carnal men care for none of these things; and so long as the political aims of Dissenters are progressing, and there is an advance in social position, it is enough for them. But men whose spirits are of God would sooner see the faithful persecuted than see them desert the truth, sooner see churches in the depths of poverty full of holy zeal than rich churches dead in worldliness. Spiritual men care for the church even when she is in an evil case, and cast down by her adversaries: "thy servants take pleasure in her stones, and favor the dust thereof." The house of the Lord is to many of us our own house, his family is our family. Unless the Lord Jesus be extolled, and his gospel conquer, we feel that our own personal interests are blighted, and we ourselves are in disgrace. It is no small thing to us: it is our life.

Thus have I dwelt upon the fact that it is an ill day for God's people when the solemn assembly is defiled: the reproach thereof is a burden to those who are truly citizens of the New Jerusalem, and because of this they are seen to be sorrowful. The Lord here says, "I will gather them that are sorrowful for the solemn assembly." They may well be sorrowful when such a burden is laid on their hearts. Moreover, they see in a hundred ways the ill effect of the evil which they deplore. Many are lame and halting; this is hinted at in the promise of the nineteenth verse: "I will save her that halteth." Pilgrims on the road to Zion were made to limp on the road because the prophets were "light and treacherous persons." When the pure gospel is not preached, God's people are robbed of the strength which they need in their life-journey. If you take away the bread, the children hunger. If you give the flock poisonous pastures, or fields which are barren as the desert, they pine and they become lame in their daily following of the shepherd. The doctrinal soon affects the practical. I know many of the people of God living in different parts of this country to whom the Sabbath is very little of a day of rest, for they hear no truth in which rest is to be found, but they are worried and wearied with novelties which neither glorify God nor benefit the souls of men. In many a place the sheep look up and are not fed. This causes much disquietude and breeds doubts and questionings, and thus strength is turned to weakness, and the work of faith, the labor of love, and the patience of hope are all kept in a halting state. This is a grievous evil, and it is all around us. Then, alas! many are "driven out," of whom the nineteenth verse says, "I will gather her that was driven out." By false doctrine many are made to wander from the fold. Hopeful ones are made to stray from the path of life, and sinners are left in their natural distance from God. The truth which would convince men of sin is not preached, while other truths which would lead seekers into peace are beclouded, and souls are left in needless sorrow. When the doctrines of grace and the glorious atoning sacrifice are not set clearly before men's minds, so that they may feel their power, all sorts of evils follow. It is terrible to me that this dreadful blight should come upon our churches; for the hesitating are driven to destruction, the weak are staggered, and even the strong are perplexed. The false teachers of these days would, if it were possible, deceive the very elect. This makes our hearts very sorrowful. How can we help it?

C.H. Spurgeon - full sermon available at

Friday, December 15, 2017


Unbelief is much more than a lack of believing or failure to assent unto the Truth; more than an error of the judgment. It is not simply an infirmity of human nature, but a vicious and culpable thing. Unbelief is a virulent and vicious principle of opposition to God. So far from being passive, it is an operative and active principle. It has a rooted aversion of God: “They did not like to retain God in their knowledge” (Rom 1: 28). It is that which causes the wicked to say unto God, “Depart from us; for we desire not the knowledge of thy ways” (Job 21:14). It has an inveterate hatred against a life of holiness (Pro 1:29; 5:12, etc.)."

~ Arthur Pink, "Brethren, Beware!"


Tuesday, December 12, 2017

the patience of God

Far less has been written upon this than the other excellencies of the Divine character. Not a few of those who have expatiated at length upon the Divine attributes have passed over the patience of God without any comment. It is not easy to suggest a reason for this, for surely the longsuffering of God is as much one of the Divine perfections as His wisdom, power, or holiness, and as much to be admired and revered by us. True, the actual term will not be found in a concordance so frequently as the others, but the glory of this grace itself shines forth on almost every page of Scripture. Certain it is that we lose much if we do not frequently meditate upon the patience of God and earnestly pray that our hearts and ways may be more completely conformed thereto.
Most probably the principal reason why so many writers have failed to give us anything, separately, upon the patience of God was because of the difficulty of distinguishing this attribute from the Divine goodness and mercy, particularly the latter. God’s longsuffering is mentioned in conjunction with His grace and mercy again and again, as may be seen by consulting Exodus 34:6, Numbers 14:18, Psalm 86:15, etc. That the patience of God is really a display of His mercy, in fact is one way in which it is frequently manifested, cannot be gainsaid; but that they are one and the same excellency, and are not to be separated, we cannot concede. It may not be easy to discriminate between them, nevertheless, Scripture fully warrants us, in predicating some things of the one which we cannot of the other.
Stephen Charnock, the Puritan, defines God’s patience, in part, thus:
It is a part of the Divine goodness and mercy, yet differs from both. God being the greatest goodness, hath the greatest mildness; mildness is always the companion of true goodness, and the greater the goodness, the greater the mildness. Who so holy as Christ, and who so meek? God’s slowness to anger is a branch of His mercy: "the Lord is full of compassion, slow to anger" (Ps. 145:8). It differs from mercy in the formal consideration of the subject: mercy respects the creature as miserable, patience respects the creature as criminal; mercy pities him in his misery, patience bears with the sin which engendered the misery, and giving birth to more.
Personally we would define the Divine patience as that power of control which God exercises over Himself, causing Him to bear with the wicked and forebear so long in punishing them. In Nahum 1:3 we read, "The Lord is slow to anger and great in power," upon which Mr. Charnock said,
Men that are great in the world are quick in passion, and are not so ready to forgive an injury, or bear with an offender, as one of a meaner rank. It is a want of power over that man’s self that makes him do unbecoming things upon a provocation. A prince that can bridle his passions is a king over himself as well as over his subjects. God is slow to anger because great in power. He has no less power over Himself than over His creatures.
It is at the above point, we think, that God’s patience is most clearly distinguished from His mercy. Though the creature is benefited thereby, the patience of God chiefly respects Himself, a restraint placed upon His acts by His will; whereas His mercy terminates wholly upon the creature. The patience of God is that excellency which causes Him to sustain great injuries without immediately avenging Himself. He has a power of patience as well as a power of justice. Thus the Hebrew word for the Divine longsuffering is rendered "slow to anger" in Nehemiah 9:17, Psalm 103:8, etc. Not that there are any passions in the Divine nature, but that God’s wisdom and will is pleased to act with that stateliness and sobriety which becometh His exalted majesty.
In support of our definition above let us point out that it was to this excellency in the Divine character that Moses appealed, when Israel sinned so grievously at Kadesh-Barnea, and there provoked Jehovah so sorely. Unto His servant the Lord said, I will smite them with the pestilence and disinherit them. Then it was that the typical mediator pleaded, "I beseech Thee let the power of my Lord be great according as Thou hast spoken, saying, The Lord is longsuffering," etc. (Num. 14:17). Thus, His longsuffering is His "power" of self-restraint.
Again, in Romans 9:22 we read, "What if God, willing to show His wrath, and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction. . . ?" Were God to immediately break these reprobate vessels into pieces, His power of self-control would not so eminently appear; by bearing with their wickedness and forebearing punishment so long, the power of His patience is gloriously demonstrated. True, the wicked interpret His longsuffering quite differently—"Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil" (Eccl. 8:11)—but the anointed eye adores what they abuse.
"The God of patience" (Rom. 15:5) is one of the Divine titles. Deity is thus denominated, first, because God is both the Author and Object of the grace of patience in the saint. Secondly, because this is what He is in Himself: patience is one of His perfections. Thirdly, as a pattern for us: "Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercy, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering" (Col. 3:12). And again, "Be ye therefore followers (emulators) of god, as dear children" (Eph. 5:2). When tempted to be disgusted at the dullness of another, or to be revenged on one who has wronged you, call to remembrance God’s infinite patience and longsuffering with yourself.
The patience of God is manifested in His dealings with sinners. How strikingly was it displayed toward the antediluvians. When mankind was universally degenerate, and all flesh had corrupted his way, God did not destroy them till He had forewarned them. He "waited" (1 Pet. 3:20), probably no less than one hundred and twenty years (Gen. 6:3), during which time Noah was a "preacher of righteousness" (2 Pet. 2:5). So, later, when the Gentiles not only worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, but also committed the vilest abominations contrary to even the dictates of nature (Rom. 1:19-26), and hereby filled up the measure of their iniquity; yet, instead of drawing His sword for the extermination of such rebels, God "suffered all nations to walk in their own ways," and gave them "rain from heaven and fruitful seasons"(Acts 14:16, 17).
Marvelously was God’s patience exercised and manifested toward Israel. First, He "suffered their manners" for forty years in the wilderness (Acts 13:18). Later, when they had entered Canaan, but followed the evil customs of the nations around them, and turned to idolatry; though God chastened them sorely, He did not utterly destroy them, but in their distress, raised up deliverers for them. When their iniquity was raised to such a height that none but a God of infinite patience, could have borne them, He, notwithstanding, spared them many years before He allowed them to be carried down into Babylon. Finally, when their rebellion against Him reached its climax by crucifying His Son. He waited forty years ere He sent the Romans against them, and that only after they had judged themselves "unworthy of eternal life" (Acts 13:46).
How wondrous is God’s patience with the world today. On every side people are sinning with a high hand. The Divine law is trampled under foot and God Himself openly despised. It is truly amazing that He does not instantly strike dead those who so brazenly defy Him. Why does He not suddenly cut off the haughty, infidel and blatant blasphemer, as He did Ananias and Sapphira? Why does He not cause the earth to open its mouth and devour the persecutors of his people, so that, like Dathan and Abiram, they shall go down alive into the Pit? And what of apostate Christendom, where every possible form of sin is now tolerated and practiced under cover of the holy name of Christ? Why does not the righteous wrath of Heaven make an end of such abominations? Only one answer is possible: because God bears with "much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction."
And what of the writer and the reader? Let us review our own lives. It is not long since we followed a multitude to do evil, had no concern for God’s glory, and lived only to gratify self. How patiently He bore with our vile conduct! And now that grace has snatched us as brands from the burning, giving us a place in God’s family, and begotten us unto an eternal inheritance in glory; how miserably we requite Him. How shallow our gratitude, how tardy our obedience, how frequent our backslidings! One reason why God suffers the flesh to remain in the believer is that He may exhibit His "longsuffering to usward" (2 Pet. 3:9). Since this Divine attribute is manifested only in this world, God takes advantage to display it toward His own.
May our meditation upon this Divine excellency soften our hearts, make our consciences tender, and may we learn in the school of holy experience the "patience of saints," namely, submission to the Divine will and continuance in well doing. Let us earnestly seek grace to emulate this Divine excellency. "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect" (Matt. 5:48): in the immediate context Christ exhorts us to love our enemies, bless them that curse us, do good to them that hate us. God bears long with the wicked notwithstanding the multitude of their sin, and shall we desire to be revenged because of a single injury?

A.W. Pink

Saturday, December 9, 2017

The problem with 'Calvinism'

Taking on a man-made label is problematic, and actually un-Biblical. One Name should be label enough for every true saint of God.

He's Not in the Text

A very well-known Reformed preacher once delivered a powerful sermon on the first chapter of Ephesians and related passages. In this message he set forth what are often referred to as the doctrines of grace.

He began by setting forth the great doctrine that God by His free grace chose a people for Himself in Christ before the foundation of the world. He expounded the fact that these chosen ones of God are predestined to adoption as sons by His sovereign choosing.

He also preached the great fact that redemption is by God's grace alone through faith alone, accomplished in full by the shed blood of Christ alone, apart from any human works or merit, because the totally depraved sinner has no such offering that is acceptable to God as a propitiation for his sins.

He went on to preach about the great work of God the Holy Spirit in applying the redemption accomplished by Christ to the elect of God by convicting them of sin, bringing those who are dead in trespasses and sins to spiritual life, giving them the gift of saving faith, and indwelling them as the down-payment of their ultimate and glorious redemption. He also preached the marvelous fact that this entire plan of God has as its ultimate goal the gathering together of all things in both Heaven and earth under the headship of Christ.

At the end of the service, a man came up to this preacher and said that he thought it was a wonderful message. "But," he said, "in preaching such a message from such a text, why didn't you mention Calvinism?" The pastor replied, "Because I did not find the words "Calvin" or "Calvinism" anywhere in the text."

"I Am of Paul" - "I Am of Apollos"

Now, the pastor who gave this reply was a "Calvinist" in the sense that he taught with fervor God's plan of salvation as stated above. But I believe that his answer to the man's question applies a great truth in a very pointed way. Many people are anxious to wear labels, or to apply labels to others. But in the Word of God we find that Paul took the Corinthians to task for this:

Now I say this, that each of you says, "I am of Paul," or "I am of Apollos," or "I am of Cephas," or "I am of Christ." Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? (1 Corinthians 1:12-13)

For when one says, "I am of Paul," and another, "I am of Apollos," are you not carnal? Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each one? I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase.

Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor. For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, you are God's building. According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it.

But let each one take heed how he builds on it. For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one's work will become clear; for the Day [of judgment] will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one's work, of what sort it is. If anyone's work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone's work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire." (1 Corinthians 3:4-15)

There is just as great a danger in saying, "I am of Calvin" - "I am of Luther" - "I am of Wesley" - "I am of Arminius" - or in saying "I am of (fill in the blank with any name you wish)" as there is in saying "I am of Paul" or "I am of Apollos."

The Problems of Labels

I am often asked the question, "Are you a Calvinist?" This is how I respond. The man who says, "I am a Calvinist" is saying, in effect, "I agree with Calvin's positions all the way up and down the line." Such an outlook is problematic indeed, for at least five reasons.

To begin with, I doubt there have ever been two human beings on earth who totally agreed in every detail of their theology. In the case of Calvin, it would take a literal lifetime of study to fully understand whether or not you agreed with the entire scope of his massive Institutes of the Christian Religion, his commentaries on many books of the Bible, and his other writings.

Secondly, to make the statement "I am a Calvinist" but to mean only "I generally agree with the teachings of Calvin" does a great disservice to those who hear you say, "I am a Calvinist." They are left to speculate as to which parts of Calvin's teachings you agree with fully, agree with partially, or disagree with completely.

Thirdly, to say "I am a Calvinist" effectively makes Calvin the standard. But the question that God asks us is not, "Do you agree with Calvin?" but rather, "Do you submit to My Word?" Scripture is the standard by which both we and Calvin and every other Christian, preacher or layperson, must and will be judged.

Fourthly, some men today are called Calvinists because they often invoke the name of Calvin, but in fact their theology is nothing like Calvin's. Sometimes their theology is actually Roman Catholic at its core. They teach that man is justified before God by faith in Christ plus their own works, a heresy that Calvin opposed with such fervor that he frequently worked himself into ill health.

Finally, labels are often uncritically applied to an individual by others. Many would call me a Calvinist because I believe that the exposition of Ephesians chapter one that the prominent preacher gave above is the truth. Calvin certainly believed it as well. But that does not make me a Calvinist.

While I am on the same page with the great Reformer in vast areas of theology, I strongly disagree with him in a number of important areas. Let me offer two examples. In his Institutes, Calvin vigorously promoted the doctrine of infant baptism. I vigorously believe that Scripture proves Calvin entirely wrong on this. In his Commentary on Romans, Calvin teaches that chapters 9 through 11 tell us that all the promises of God to ethnic Israel have been transferred to the Church. I disagree with Calvin's interpretation of those chapters on exegetical grounds. I believe that Romans teaches us that God is not finished with ethnic Israel. I believe that Romans tells us of a coming day, after "the fullness of Gentiles has come in," when a generation of those who are the physical seed of Abraham will be, in their entirety, the spiritual seed of Abraham as well - believers trusting in the shed blood of Christ for salvation, members of His one true and indivisible body for eternity.

I could say much more, but this is enough to demonstrate that the Biblical warning against man-made labels is of great practical importance.

The Label We Should Wear

This leaves a question that I am also sometimes asked: Is there a label that we should bear? There is only one, and that is the name of Christ.

For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family [of believers] in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:14-19)

And they shall see His face; and His name shall be on their foreheads. And there shall be no night there; and they need no lamp nor light of the sun; for the Lord God gives them light: and they shall reign forever and ever. (Revelation 22:4-5)

Is not that Name, which is above every name, label enough for every true saint of God?

Thursday, December 7, 2017

The grace of God

by A.W. Pink

Grace is a perfection of the Divine character which is exercised only toward the elect. Neither in the Old Testament nor in the New is the grace of God ever mentioned in connection with mankind generally, still less with the lower orders of His creatures. In this it is distinguished from mercy, for the mercy of God is "over all His works" (Ps. 145-9). Grace is the alone source from which flows the goodwill, love, and salvation of God unto His chosen people. This attribute of the Divine character was defined by Abraham Booth in his helpful book, The Reign of Grace thus, "It is the eternal and absolute free favour of God, manifested in the vouchsafement of spiritual and eternal blessings to the guilty and the unworthy."
Divine grace is the sovereign and saving favour of God exercised in the bestowment of blessings upon those who have no merit in them and for which no compensation is demanded from them. Nay, more; it is the favour of God shown to those who not only have no positive deserts of their own, but who are thoroughly ill-deserving and hell-deserving. It is completely unmerited and unsought, and is altogether unattracted by anything in or from or by the objects upon which it is bestowed. Grace can neither be bought, earned, nor won by the creature. If it could be, it would cease to be grace. When a thing is said to be of grace we mean that the recipient has no claim upon it, that it was in nowise due him. It comes to him as pure charity, and, at first, unasked and undesired.
The fullest exposition of the amazing grace of God is to be found in the Epistles of the apostle Paul. In his writings "grace" stands in direct opposition to works and worthiness, all works and worthiness, of whatever kind or degree. This is abundantly clear from Romans 11:6, "And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. If it be of works, then is it no more grace, otherwise work is no more work." Grace and works will no more unite than an acid and an alkali. "By grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast" (Eph. 2:8,9). The absolute favour of God can no more consist with human merit than oil and water will fuse into one: see also Romans 4:4,5.
There are three principal characteristics of Divine grace. First, it is eternal. Grace was planned before it was exercised, purposed before it was imparted: "Who hath saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began" (2 Tim. 1:9). Second, it is free, for none did ever purchase it: "Being justified freely by His grace" (Rom. 3:24). Third, it is sovereign, because God exercises it toward and bestows it upon whom He pleases: "Even so might grace reign" (Rom. 5:21). If grace "reigns" then is it on the throne, and the occupant of the throne is sovereign. Hence "the throne of grace" (Heb. 4:16).
Just because grace is unmerited favour, it must be exercised in a sovereign manner. Therefore does the Lord declare, "I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious" (Ex 33:19). Were God to show grace to all of Adam’s descendants, men would at once conclude that He was righteously compelled to take them to heaven as a meet compensation for allowing the human race to fall into sin. But the great God is under no obligation to any of His creatures, least of all to those who are rebels against Him.
Eternal life is a gift, therefore it can neither be earned by good works, nor claimed as a right. Seeing that salvation is a "gift," who has any right to tell God on whom He ought to bestow it? It is not that the Giver ever refuses this gift to any who seek it wholeheartedly, and according to the rules which He has prescribed. No! He refuses none who come to Him empty-handed and in the way of His appointing. But if out of a world of impenitent and unbelieving, God is determined to exercise His sovereign right by choosing a limited number to be saved, who is wronged? Is God obliged to force His gift on those who value it not? Is God compelled to save those who are determined to go their own way?
But nothing more riles the natural man and brings to the surface his innate and inveterate enmity against God than to press upon him the eternality, the freeness, and the absolute sovereignty of Divine grace. That God should have formed His purpose from everlasting without in anywise consulting the creature, is too abasing for the unbroken heart. That grace cannot be earned or won by any efforts of man is too self-emptying for self-righteousness. And that grace singles out whom it pleases to be its favored objects, arouses hot protests from haughty rebels. The clay rises up against the Potter and asks, "Why hast Thou made me thus?" A lawless insurrectionist dares to call into question the justice of Divine sovereignty.
The distinguishing grace of God is seen in saving that people whom He has sovereignly singled out to be His high favorites. By "distinguishing" we mean that grace discriminates, makes differences" chooses some and passes by others. It was distinguishing grace which selected Abraham from the midst of his idolatrous neighbors and made him "the friend of God." It was distinguishing grace which saved "publicans and sinners," but said of the religious Pharisees, "Let them alone" (Matt. 15:14). Nowhere does the glory of God’s free and sovereign grace shine more conspicuously than in the unworthiness and unlikeness of its objects. Beautifully was this illustrated by James Hervey, (1751):
Where sin has abounded, says the proclamation from the court of heaven, grace doth much more abound. Manasseh was a monster of barbarity, for he caused his own children to pass through the fire, and filled Jerusalem with innocent blood. Manasseh was an adept in iniquity, for he not only multiplied, and to an extravagant degree, his own sacrilegious impieties, but he poisoned the principles and perverted the manners of his subjects, making them do worse than the most detestable of the heathen idolators: see 2 Chronicles 33. Yet, through this superabundant grace he is humbled, he is reformed, and becomes a child of forgiving love, an heir of immortal glory.
Behold that bitter and bloody persecutor, Saul; when, breathing out threatenings and bent upon slaughter, he worried the lambs and put to death the disciples of Jesus. The havoc he had committed, the inoffensive families he had already ruined, were not sufficient to assuage his vengeful spirit. They were only a taste, which, instead of glutting the bloodhound, made him more closely pursue the track, and more eagerly pant for destruction. He still has a thirst for violence and murder. So eager and insatiable is his thirst, that be even breathes out threatening and slaughter (Acts 9:1). His words are spears and arrows, and his tongue a sharp sword. ‘Tis as natural for him to menace the Christians as to breathe the air. Nay, they bled every hour in the purposes of his rancorous heart. It is only owing to want of power that every syllable he utters, every breath he draws, does not deal out deaths, and cause some of the innocent disciples to fall. Who, upon the principles of human judgment, would not nave pronounced him a vessel of wrath, destined to unavoidable damnation? Nay, would not have been ready to conclude that, if there were heavier chains and a deeper dungeon in the world of woe, they must surely be reserved for such an implacable enemy of true godliness? Yet, admire and adore the inexhaustible treasures of grace—this Saul is admitted into the goodly fellowship of the prophets, is numbered with the noble arm of martyrs and makes a distinguished figure among the glorious company of the apostles.
The Corinthians were flagitious even to a proverb. Some of them wallowing in such abominable vices, and habituated themselves to such outrageous acts of injustice, as were a reproach to human nature. Yet, even these sons of violence and slaves of sensuality were washed, sanctified, justified (1 Cor. 6:9-11). "Washed," in the precious blood of a dying Redeemer; "sanctified," by the powerful operations of the blessed Spirit; "justified," through the infinitely tender mercies of a gracious God. Those who were once the burden of the earth, are now the joy of heaven, the delight of angels.
Now the grace of God is manifested in and by and through the Lord Jesus Christ. "The law was given by Moses, grace and truth came by Jesus Christ" (John 1:17). This does not mean that God never exercised grace toward any before His Son became incarnate—Genesis 6:8, Exodus 33:19, etc., clearly show otherwise. But grace and truth were fully revealed and perfectly exemplified when the Redeemer came to this earth, and died for His people upon the cross. It is through Christ the Mediator alone that the grace of God flows to His elect. "Much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ. . .much more they which receive abundance of grace, and of the gift of righteousness, shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ. . .so might grace reign, through righteousness, unto eternal life, by Jesus Christ our Lord" (Rom. 5:15, 17,21).
The grace of God is proclaimed in the Gospel (Acts 20:24), which is to the self-righteous Jew a "stumbling block," and to the conceited and philosophizing Greek "foolishness." And why so? Because there is nothing whatever in it that is adapted to gratify the pride of man. It announces that unless we are saved by grace, we cannot be saved at all. It declares that apart from Christ, the unspeakable Gift of God’s grace, the state of every man is desperate, irremediable, hopeless. The Gospel addresses men as guilty, condemned, perishing criminals. It declares that the chastest moralist is in the same terrible plight as is the most voluptuous profligate; that the zealous professor, with all his religious performances, is no better off than the most profane infidel.
The Gospel contemplates every descendant of Adam as a fallen, polluted, hell-deserving and helpless sinner. The grace which the Gospel publishes is his only hope. All stand before God convicted as transgressors of His holy law, as guilty and condemned criminals; awaiting not sentence, but the execution of sentence already passed on them (John 3:18; Rom. 3:19). To complain against the partiality of grace is suicidal. If the sinner insists upon bare justice, then the Lake of Fire must be his eternal portion. His only hope lies in bowing to the sentence which Divine justice has passed upon him, owning the absolute righteousness of it, casting himself on the mercy of God, and stretching forth empty hands to avail himself of the grace of God now made known to him in the Gospel.
The third Person in the Godhead is the Communicator of grace, therefore is He denominated "the Spirit of grace" (Zech. 12:10). God the Father is the Fountain of all grace, for He purposed in Himself the everlasting covenant of redemption. God the Son is the only Channel of grace. The Gospel is the Publisher of grace. The Spirit is the Bestower. He is the One who applies the Gospel in saving power to the soul: quickening the elect while spiritually dead, conquering their rebellious wills, melting their hard hearts, opening their blind eyes, cleansing them from the leprosy of sin. Thus we may say with the late G. S. Bishop,
Grace is a provision for men who are so fallen that they cannot lift the axe of justice, so corrupt that they cannot change their own natures, so averse to God that they cannot turn to Him, so blind that they cannot see Him, so deaf that they cannot hear Him, and so dead that He Himself must open their graves and lift them into resurrection.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

exposition of First John

by A.W. Pink

When we completed our 1,500-page exposition of John's Gospel more than twenty years ago, we were urged to take up the First Epistle of John, but felt quite incompetent to engage in it. The closing books of the New Testament, as their position indicates, require their expositor to possess a fuller knowledge of God's Word and a more mature spiritual experience than do the earlier ones. The style of John's Epistle is quite different from that of the other apostles, being more abstract, and for that reason more difficult of apprehension and elucidation. We still feel very unfit for the task upon which we are now entering, but if we wait until we deem ourselves spiritually qualified it will never be essayed. During the past quarter of a century we have given no little prayerful thought to its contents, and have studied carefully all the writings of others on it which the divine providence has brought our way. The benefits of, and gleanings from this we shall now share with our Christian friends.
Not only is John's Epistle much more difficult than his Gospel (which is manifestly designed for babes in Christ, though even the 'fathers' never outgrow it) and the other apostolic writings, but it does not lend itself so readily to expositions of equal length. Some of its contents afford much more scope to a sermonizer than do others; and thus, while a whole article may be profitably devoted to certain single verses, others require to be grouped together, and because of this the reader is likely to be disappointed at the varying lengths of their treatment. It is perhaps for these reasons that comparatively little has been written upon this epistle—scarcely anything during the past fifty years. So far as we know, none of the Puritans attempted a systematic exposition of the same, for N. Hardy's (1665) scarcely comes under that category. Yet this portion of God's Word is equally necessary, important, and valuable for His children as are all the others, though what they are likely to get out of it will largely depend upon their acquaintance with all preceding books and with the constancy and intimacy of their communion with the Triune God.
A brief word concerning its writer. So far as we are aware, no evangelical of any weight has ever denied that this epistle was written by the same person of blessed memory as the one to whom the fourth Gospel is unanimously attributed. There is clear and conclusive evidence, both external and internal, of this. As Barnes stated of the epistle: "It is referred to by Polycarp at the beginning of the second century, it is quoted by Papias and also by Ireneus." It is found in the old Syriac version, which was probably made very early in the second century. Internally the evidence is strong that the same hand wrote this epistle as penned the fourth Gospel. The resemblances are many and striking, the modes of expression sufficient to identify the one employing them. The similarity of the opening verse of each is too close, yet the variations too marked, to have been made by an imposter. The reference to the "new commandment" (never mentioned by the other apostles) in 2:8 (and see 3:11) finds its source in 13:34 of John's Gospel. The reader may also compare 3:1 with John 1:12; 3:2 with John 17:24; 3:8 with John 8:44; 3:13 with John 15:20; 4:9 with John 3:16, etc.
To whom it was written
It is correctly designated one of the "General Epistles," for it is not addressed to any particular individual or local assembly. Obviously it is designed for the whole family of God. Yet, as one reads it through, one gets a clear impression that John was intimately acquainted with those who first read his letter, that the majority of them were the seals of his own ministry, as his repeated "my little children" seems to indicate. As we shall yet have occasion to show it was Jewish Christians who were immediately concerned; 5:13 makes it evident that John wrote to believers, and by linking that verse with 2:3-5, we perceive that it was his design to aid them in the important task of self-examination, that they might be more fully assured of their interest in Christ. From 2:18-26, we learn that the original recipients of this epistle were being assailed by false teachers, and it was John's object to counteract (not refute seriatim!) their error, and confirm the same in their most holy faith.
Though there is nothing in the epistle to tell us the date when it was written, yet we may approximate it pretty closely. That it was penned much later than Paul's epistles appears from the fact that with John "the world" and "the whole world" (5:19) comprise all that is outside Christianity. Not so with Paul: in his time there were two distinct camps hostile to Christianity—Judaism and heathendom. But the ancient kingdom of God had now passed away. The temple of Jerusalem was destroyed. After A.D. 70 the Jews had no power to persecute Christians. It was manifestly written after his Gospel, for such statements as 2:17 and 5:6 are unintelligible unless the reader has a knowledge of his Gospel—not only in general, but in its detailed expressions. The entire absence of such terms as affliction, suffering, tribulation, intimates that this letter was composed when external opposition to Christianity had largely subsided, when outward hostility was giving place to the corruption of the truth from within. Thus it must have first seen the light very near the close of the first century.
In this epistle the enemies of the saints are neither Jews nor Gentiles as such, but "Antichrists," counterfeit Christians. Just as Satan himself is presented to us in the Scriptures under two outstanding characters—as the lion and as the serpent, as adversary and as seducer—so are his emissaries and his children. There are two distinct classes by which the truth of God is dishonored: by those who oppose and corrupt it in doctrine, and by those who misrepresent and malign it in practice—cf. the Sadducees (Act 23:8) and the Pharisees (Mat 23:3). Heretics, who pervert the Scriptures or openly contradict the fundamentals of the Faith, are the more easily recognized: against them the apostle warns in 2:18, 26; 3:7; 4:1-3. But numerous formalists and hypocrites shelter behind an empty profession, and are not so readily identified, for they hold the letter of the truth, acknowledging it with their lips, though they walk not in it nor are their lives transformed by it. Concerning these John has much to say. Right from the beginning he distinguishes sharply between the real Christian and the nominal one (1:6-7) and continues doing so (2:3-5, etc.).
The several aims of the apostle are easily perceived: in general it was to make a practical application of his Gospel, as appears from a comparison of 5:13, with John 20:31, and as 2:7, confirms. John sought that his beloved children should have just views of their divine Savior, an intelligent faith in Him, and that they might adorn their profession by a holy and consistent walk—2:1. It is evident from his "I have not written unto you because you know not the truth, but because you know it" (2:21) that he was not addressing himself to those who were uninstructed, but rather to those who were well indoctrinated—compare also 2:20, 27. Thus his purpose was not so much to inform as to edify, not to tell them something new, but to confirm them in what they had already heard. This was the more necessary because some of their original number had apostatized (2:19) and false teachers were seeking to corrupt them. Let not their faith be shaken by the former, and let them heed his warnings and then they would not be drawn away by the wiles of the latter.
A careful reading of the epistle makes it plain that another important end which the apostle had before him was to confute those who taught that because salvation is by grace God's people are not "under the Law" or required to keep the divine commandments. Antinomianism had raised its hideous head even in his day, and it devolved upon John to counteract the same. This it is which explains his frequent reference to "the commandments" (2:4, etc.) which, in its singular or plural form, occurs no less than thirteen times in this epistle. As students of ecclesiastical history are aware, those known as "The Libertines" had attained unto considerable prominence by the end of the first century. Their very name is sufficient to indicate their character. Peter, in his second epistle, described their forerunners as "false prophets" who, "while they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption" (2:1, 19), and Jude had spoken of them as "ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness," in this way, "denying the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ" (verse 4). John denounces them as "Antichrists."
There is little indication that John wrote according to a preconceived and definite plan, yet his thoughts are orderly. While the epistle is far from being a systematic doctrinal treatise, nevertheless, for its understanding, a close acquaintance with the distinctively doctrinal epistles preceding it is requisite. One expositor thereon said, "I am deeply convinced, after years of thought about it, that it can be studied aright exegetically only when it is studied one is competent to deal in detail with this wonderful book who is not familiar with the evangelical system as a whole, and able therefore to appreciate the bearing of John's line of thought in connection with it" (R. Candlish, 1866). That remark is, in our judgment, borne out by the position his epistle occupies in the Sacred Canon. Yet another and higher qualification is needed, namely that spiritual-mindedness which is the fruit of mature Christian experience. But the most difficult part of the expositor's task here is to trace the connection of the apostle's successive lines of thought. Our main endeavor will be to bring out the general scope and tenor of his teaching as simply as we can.
"The true knowledge of Christ is the one only key by which all the treasures contained in this epistle can be opened, for it contains a spiritual treatise on communion with Christ, and with the Father in Him, through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in us. We can have no communion with the Three in Jehovah but as we have a distinct scriptural knowledge of the revelation given concerning Them in the sacred record. No man can call Jesus Lord, but by the Holy Spirit. This epistle...sets forth the real fellowship which the apostles and saints in that age had with the Holy Trinity, and what all the saints in all succeeding ages are to expect and enjoy, in their measure and degree, until the same is consummated with the Eternal Three in the state of everlasting glory. As this epistle begins with this most sublime subject, so it is pursued throughout the whole of it: in showing the fruits and effects which the true knowledge of and communion with the Lord produce in the minds, lives and conversations of such as know Him, and have free and frequent access to Him" (S. E. Pierce, 1817).
What has just been quoted gives much the best summary and coincides most closely with our own concept of anything we have seen on the subject. It intimates that its grand theme is fellowship with God in and through Christ. Where that is enjoyed by individual saints, it necessarily leads to fellowship one with another. As usual, the key is hung upon the door, for in 1:3 the apostle states that the design before him is "that you also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ." This fellowship is the quintessence of blessedness, but only the regenerate enter into it. It is "in the light," with the Holy One, and therefore impossible for those who are dead in trespasses and sins (1:5, 7). Yet the Christian's infirmities, be they what they may, are not to be considered as hindrances to his communion with the Lord, since full provision has been made for him in the all-sufficient antidote of Christ's blood (1:7) and advocacy (2:1). Later, John goes on to show that this fellowship is in righteousness and in love; but we will not further anticipate.
Among the many peculiarities of style which mark John in this epistle, we may mention that, negatively, there is almost an entire absence of that logical reasoning that is so prominent in Paul's epistles—which is just what might be expected from a simple fisherman in contradistinction from a scholar. There is no "according as" or "for this cause." "Wherefore" occurs but once (3:12), and there it is a question "why?" "Therefore" is found in 2:24; 3:1, and 4:5; yet in neither instance as a conclusion drawn from a preceding train of thought. Instead of the argumentative method, John is all for direct and positive assertions. Paul lays down a premise as a foundation on which he builds what follows; John simply affirms the truth in simple form. And so it is in connection with the ministry of the Word. Some of God's servants deal with their subjects principally in a doctrinal way, others in a solemn method of pointed averment, yet both are used by the Spirit of God, and are best suited to different types of Christians. The Lord is pleased to bestow a variety of gifts on His servants for the good of His people at large.
John indeed has a style all his own, differing noticeably from all other New Testament writers. This epistle contains no salutation, yet it breathes a spirit of warmth unto those addressed. No reference is made to either of the ordinances. No prayer is recorded in it, though definite encouragement and instruction are given to praying souls. There are no predictions in it, no delineation of the future as in the epistles of all his fellow apostles. Instead of describing the conditions which should characterize "the last days," he declares "it is the last time" (2:18). Instead of foretelling the appearing of a future Antichrist, John refers to the Antichrists who were then upon the stage (2:18, and 4:3).
Turning to the positive side, one who attentively reads through the epistle at a sitting will at once be struck by the fact that it possesses and combines certain definite qualities which at first sight seem quite opposed to each other. Its style of expression is simple and unadorned. It abounds in words of one syllable and contains few that a child would have difficulty in pronouncing. Its sense is clear and patent. Nevertheless, there is no lack of dignity in its language, and its matter is elevated and sublime. Its tone warms our hearts, yet the truth it expresses causes us to stand in awe. In it profoundest mysteries are touched upon and depths are sounded which no finite mind can fathom; still, its speech is plain, and the terms used are non-technical. "He writes at once with the most commanding authority and most loving tenderness; with the profoundest wisdom and the most touching simplicity; the most searching knowledge of the heart, its difficulties and frailties, and the most elevating and bracing courage and confidence; the gentlest affection, and the most pitiless and sternest condemnation of willful departure from the truth in practice or opinion" (Ellicott).
Much is said about love, and nowhere is a spirit of charity more admirably and forcibly inculcated. But there are also a bold outspokenness and sternness which make us shrink. The love enjoined is far from being a sickly sentiment or effeminate weakness, being a holy grace, which instead of preventing faithful rebuke and severe denunciation promotes them. In such verses as 1:5; 2:22; 3:8, 10, 15; 4:20; 5:10, we hear the voice of "the son of thunder" (Mar 3:17), vehement against every insult to the majesty of the Lord. It is ostensibly written to promote assurance in the saints (5:13), yet nowhere else in the Word are we so often called upon to close self-examination and unsparing testing of ourselves. This epistle might well be termed a touchstone by which we may discern between the genuine gold and the counterfeit. It frequently utters the language of confidence, yet as often uses that which is discriminating. As Spurgeon well said, "The apostle mingles caution with caress, and qualifies the most soothing consolations with such stern warning that in well-near every sentence he constrains us to deep searching of heart."
In our opening paragraph we mentioned the abstract (and absolute) character of many of John's statements. It is most important that the reader should understand this and bear it in mind. Failure to do so will lead to a serious misapprehension of many verses. In 1:3, he says "truly our fellowship is with the Father"—not "ought to be"; he speaks characteristically, taking no notice of the things which hinder it. To the "young men" he says, "You have overcome the wicked one" (2:13), making no mention of their failures. "He who loves his brother abides in the light" (2:10)—nothing is said about the degree of love, it is simply contrasted with "hatred" (verse 11). "For whoever is born of God overcomes the world" (5:4)—no account is there taken of the presence of the flesh with its unbelief and self-will. John abounds in brief factual statements. "We know all need not that any man teach you" (2:20, 27) is left unqualified. To John there are only two postures of heart: for or against—the points of transition from the one to the other are ignored. Contrasts are put in their sharpest form: light and darkness—no intermediate twilight; life and death—nothing which answers to mere existence.
Throughout the epistle there rings loudly the note of certainty. The two Greek words used for "know" occur no less than thirty-six times in its five chapters, examples of which are: "We know that we have passed from death unto life...hereby we know that we are of the truth" (3:14, 19). "Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us...And we have known and believed the love that God has to us" (4:13, 16). The epistle closes with another threefold "we know" (5:18-20). Again and again the apostle describes simple but definite marks by which the child of God may be identified, and distinguish himself from self-deceivers and hypocrites. Thus, it was not addressed to those who resided in "Doubting Castle," and any who dwell in its dismal dungeons should find here that which, by the divine blessing, will deliver him from there. Nor was it only a small and particularly favored class which shared the apostle's own assurance, or only mature Christians, as his "I write unto you, little children, because you have known the Father" (2:13) shows.
That his epistle is an intensely practical one is evinced in many ways. For example, not once is the word "knowledge" found in the form of a noun, but always as a verb. The same is true of "faith"; he almost invariably uses the verbal form. With John doctrine is not mere dogma, but faith in action. Truth is not merely a theory, but an energy, which lives and moves in the new life. There is scarcely any strictly "doctrinal" teaching, and very few direct exhortations. It is mainly the vital and experimental side of things, and thus it is that the line of demarcation and separation is so sharply and often drawn between genuine and graceless professors—not to discourage believers, but to inform and safeguard them against being deceived and imposed upon. John did far more than deal with forms of error which were local and ephemeral, refuting those of his day in a manner by which he enunciated principles of universal importance and of almost illimitable application—equally suited to the exposure of error in every age.
It is remarkable how many different topics are introduced into this brief letter, so that we are almost justified in saying with J. Morgan, "The whole realm of evangelical truth is traversed by the apostle." Blessed it is to see how the balance of truth is preserved there. No one would regard it as a theological treatise, yet most of the fundamentals of our faith are briefly set forth in it. The divine incarnation (1:1-3), the nature of God (1:5; 4:8), the atonement and advocacy of Christ (2:1-2), the person and work of the Holy Spirit (3:24), regeneration (2:29), the Trinity (5:7), etc. The epistle is far from being an appeal to emotionalism, yet it bids believers, "Behold, what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us" (3:1), and while affording no encouragement to rest upon feelings (as its repeated dogmatic "we know" shows), yet it is written that "our joy may be full." While it is not a discourse on humanitarianism, it stresses practical altruism (3:17-18). Though not a discussion of eschatology, yet the return of Christ (2:28) and, "the day of judgment" (4:17) are mentioned. Thus this epistle supplies an admirable corrective to one-sided views of the Christian life.

Chapter 1
The Humanity of Christ....continue reading here

In word only, or in power?

**WARNING** - Albert Martin quotes John Stott, the contributors of this blog do NOT ENDORSE Stott in any way. It is sad that Martin would quote this man, I pray he has since come to a right understanding of Stott and would not endorse him now.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

There must be agreement

Can two walk together except they be agreed?" Amos 3:3). They cannot, I could not walk half a dozen yards in agreement with any free-will walker. This may be owing to what a lady in Mallow, Ireland, styles my " hot temper." Well, let it be so. Compromise with error I hate, coquetting with free-will traitors I disdain. With me, it is either God's free-grace, or man's free-will. Which of the two has the preeminence with us? God's free-grace and no admixture will do for me. Now, if two are walking together, there must be agreement. Blessed be the name of our God, the agreement wrought between Himself and us is all His own work, according to His good pleasure in Christ Jesus by the power of the Holy Ghost in us. Reconciliation is God's work in elect man, not man's work with God. See Colossians 1:21, "And you that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath He reconciled." That blessed word reconcile in every portion of God's Word, has reference to His people, and not to Himself. We know nothing of a reconciled God, but we do know something of a reconciled people to an ever-loving and compassionate God.
By Thomas Bradbury

Friday, December 1, 2017

Longing to see God's glory

This is one of the BEST sermons I've ever read on Exodus 33:18, read this and be blessed!!

 Sermon preached by Mr. J. Delves at Ebenezer Chapel, Richmond, on July 18th, 1951

 ———— Text:  “He said, I beseech Thee, shew me Thy glory” (Ex. 33. 18).

Moses was one of many instruments God raised up to fulfil His purposes among men, and particularly among His ancient people here, and his leadership was attended with unparalleled difficulties and with obstacles and mountains which appeared impassable, and difficulties which in the nature of them were well nigh overwhelming.  But no difficulty is too hard for God, no mountain too high.  Hence He endued Moses with grace and strength to bring His people forth out of Egypt into the wilderness, the wilderness of discipline and of many sharp trials and deliverances, to the borders of the promised land.
Here, and in the chapter before, we have a record of the base idolatry of the children of Israel when Moses was away from them, in the making of a golden calf and worshipping it, and thus in their impatience and rebellion provoking the wrath of God against them, whereby they were visited with judgments resulting in the death of many people.  One of the most solemn things attending this was the indication that God would not go up with them, that He would send an angel before them to drive out their enemies, but that He would not go up in the midst of them because they were a stiffnecked people, lest He should consume them in the way. That evidently solemnly affected the people more than anything else did, because when they heard these evil tidings, they mourned and no man did put on him his ornaments.  God had said unto them, “Put off thy ornaments from thee, that I may know what to do unto thee.  And the children of Israel stripped themselves of their ornaments by the mount Horeb.”  They had taken off their golden earrings before in their rebellion to indulge in their idolatrous practices, but now they took off their ornaments to mourn and repent in dust and ashes.

Who can visualise the issues of sin when people depart from God and serve other gods? Moses was enabled to plead with the Lord concerning them, wherein in some particulars he may stand as a type of the Lord Jesus in His intercession.  He pleads not because of any redeeming features in the people but upon the ground of the Lord’s own promises.  Particularly he pleads for guidance: “If I have found grace in Thy sight, shew me now Thy way”; that is, direct me in the way that I have to go and make that way known to me, “that I may know Thee,” that I may know Thee to be my covenant God in vouchsafing that guidance and in directing me in the way that I should go.  “If Thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence,” and what a confirming promise the Lord gave him!  He said, “My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest.”  This may be very confirming to some conditions of God’s people, under particular burdens or some weighty exercise where they may feel to have special need of a word from the Lord thus to guide and direct them.  Moreover, Moses says that the Lord’s presence with the people was that confirming witness that they were a people separated from all other people upon the face of the earth.  “Wherein shall it be known here that I and Thy people have found grace in Thy sight?  Is it not in that Thou goest with us? so shall we be separated, I and Thy people, from all the people that are upon the face of the earth.”

Here are two points for some consideration.  First, if the Lord departed from the people, that is, if His presence was not with them, no more solemn judgment could befall them.  This brought a great mourning among the godly, who stripped themselves of their ornaments and humbled themselves before the Lord.  There can be no clearer witness with respect to a people that they are the people of God than if the Lord be with them in confirming tokens of His grace and presence.  What an amazing thing it is that the infinite God should condescend to presence Himself with a people, a community, an assembly, a congregation, a church!  And is not this according to His promise concerning His people? For He has said, “In all places where I record My name I will come unto thee, and I will bless thee.”

I believe it is Dr. Owen who said that the life of a church consists in the presence of the Lord in it.  I feel I can believe that, for nothing can take its place, nothing can take its place.  There is in it a power, an unction, an influence, a sacredness, a beauty, a majesty that can never be defined in words but is only known as it is felt in the gracious experience of it.  And is it not a great thing when there is such an inward witness, even in a sanctuary, so as to cause one and another to feel that the Lord is in this place?

“He said, My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest.” Nothing would give such rest as that.  We may be careful and troubled about many things, burdened, under weighty temptations, anxious; but when the Lord comes in a particular experience, His presence in the heart brings such rest with it.  I should like to be able to describe it, but I know what it is.  He brings His own rest and when He fills your heart nothing can disturb you.  “My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest.”  “And the Lord said unto Moses, I will do this thing also that thou hast spoken: for thou hast found grace in My sight, and I know thee by name.”

Then Moses, having obtained favour of the Lord in that degree, proceeds to ask for even greater things.  “And he said, I beseech Thee, shew me Thy glory.”  There is something very striking about the way this is put before the Lord, “I beseech Thee,” in the form of an earnest entreaty, as though it is of more importance to him than all beside. Whatever I may possess, if I possess not Thee I am undone.  It seems to express the yearning of the soul for God.  “I beseech Thee, shew me Thy glory.”  Have you ever come in here in your soul’s feelings?  It is like a venture of faith, to ask another favour of the Lord, under a consciousness of His approbation. 

“I beseech Thee.”  You may have been favoured with some tokens of His mercy and yet feel you lack something in your soul that you cannot describe, and yet for which you yearn.  Thus getting some hold of the Lord in prayer, you entreat Him as though your very soul moves in earnest longing for that sweet blessing. “I beseech Thee, shew me Thy glory.”  There is a glory that cannot be seen, as we read in this particular chapter: “There shall no man see Me, and live.”  There is a glory that cannot be seen by any creature in this mortal state, as pertaining to God.  Yet there is a glory that can be seen, not with a mortal eye (though there is a glory that can be seen even with a mortal eye); but there is a glory to be seen by faith that is altogether peculiar to those to whom the particular revelation is made.  It must be said here, I believe that we see in this aspect more of the glory of His mercy than of His majesty for we could not bear very much of that.  So it appears to have been here, it was a felt glory that Moses saw.

“I will make all My goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy.”  It is a remarkable manifestation of God’s sovereignty that was made to Moses here, and which is referred to by Paul in the Epistle to the Romans where he says, “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion....  It is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.”  How free and yet how sovereign is that mercy, and we shall never see the glory of God in an acceptable way, in a gracious way, unless we see mercy mingled with that glory.  If we were to see that glory without the mingling of mercy with it, we should be utterly consumed.  God is a glorious Being, who dwelleth in the light, to whom no man can approach.

The Lord said to Moses, “Behold, there is a place by Me, and thou shalt stand upon a rock: and it shall come to pass, while My glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a clift of the rock, and will cover thee with My hand while I pass by: and I will take away Mine hand, and thou shalt see My back parts: but My face shall not be seen.”  The majesty of God could not be borne by a creature and yet, you see, He blessed Moses, even to see the glory of His back parts.  He put him where he had a firm standing. So it must be with a child of God, to see this glory.  The Lord Jesus Christ is the Rock of Ages, and this is the foundation of the church, and the only standing ground where they can firmly stand to witness the veiled glory of God.  The cleft of the rock may indicate the wounded, bruised, dying Substitute, who by His substitution afforded a shelter, a cleft in the rock, a hiding place where the glory of God may be bearable.

“Rock of Ages, cleft for me; 
Let me hide myself in Thee.”

There is a glory to be seen in God that is effective according to the measure of it upon the subject who is favoured with it.  “I beseech Thee, shew me Thy glory.”  For instance, is there not a glory in the presence of the glorious Godhead?  I cannot bring it before you but I believe I have had a moment or two in my life when I have felt melted in my soul under a view of the blessed Trinity, the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost, spoken of by John in his Epistle, where he says, “For there are Three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word and the Holy Ghost: and these Three are One.”  Have we ever seen this glory?  Have you had a few moments in your spiritual life when the veil has, as it were, been a little lifted from your heart and you have seen the beauty and majesty of the blessed Trinity, three glorious, co-eternal Persons, possessing the fulness of Deity inherent in this one God and yet distinct in Their personality; each essential to the salvation of the church and her ultimate glory in Him?  Sometimes in prayer there is just a little opening of the wonder and majesty and glory of the Trinity.  You may understand me; it has a wonderful liberating power in your heart when you get it.  You can pray then.  That is to say, your heart seems drawn to the mercy seat to plead for Christ’s sake and to venture into the presence of the Father through the merit of His precious blood; by the Holy Spirit as Paul has it: “For through Him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.”  O but it is just a faint glimpse but wonderful to see and most confirming to believe.

Not only so, is there not a glory in the perfections of the Godhead in the attributes that essentially pertain to Him and which constitute Him so, so that we can plead what He is?  I have no need to name them particularly but all those attributes pertain to His power, His omnipotence and His immutability, His justice, His grace and His mercy, all blend one with the other in a glorious harmony so that no attribute clashes with another in the Godhead.  Is there not a glory here?  Perhaps you say, “But all that is a long way away from me; I do not know anything about it.” But you may know something about it and you will know something about it, because in the dealings of the Godhead with your soul at times there will be what I might term a solemn awe upon your heart and a little opening perhaps of His immutability, His faithfulness, His holiness, His justice, His mercy, His grace.

“I beseech Thee, shew me Thy glory.”  There is a peculiar glory in the Person of Emmanuel that is at times just seen, though but slightly, by the eye of a believer.  There is a glory there.  His Person is essentially glorious in its complex constitution as very God and very Man.  None can compare with Him.  He is fairer than the children of men; grace is poured into His lips.  Is there any difference between you and me and the world? In the prophecy of Isaiah we read that to some He is a root out of a dry ground, having no form nor comeliness, and no beauty that we should desire Him.  Is that what He is to you?  Is there nothing more than that? Or is there in Him something which draws the affections of your soul towards Him at times in holy worship?  As we read in the Song of Solomon, “As the apple tree among the trees of the wood, so is my Beloved among the sons.  I sat down under His shadow with great delight, and His fruit was sweet to my taste.”  Has He ever been made precious to you in this aspect as being so eminently suited to your case?

“Shew me Thy glory.”  O does not this describe the longing of a living soul?  You would not want to see the glory of Christ unless you were one of His.  He is not a root out of a dry ground, is He?  No, say you.  O but perhaps you say, “I would love Him if I could, but I am such a poor, dry, withered stick.”  He can soon turn your wilderness into a standing water. The Holy Ghost alone can reveal Him.  “He shall glorify Me: for He shall receive of Mine, and shall shew it unto you.”  That religion will take you to heaven.  I do not believe that you will ever really feel the Lord to be precious in your soul and eventually drop into the bottomless pit.  No, not if that preciousness is real; it binds you to Him.

“I beseech Thee, shew me Thy glory.”  O say you, “But I have never seen it.”  Well, if you feel you have never seen it, can you come in with the prayer of Moses, “I beseech Thee, shew me Thy glory”?  Is there a vacancy in your heart that only the Lord can fill?  Do you really long for Him to come and form Himself in your heart, the hope of glory? 

“Shew me Thy glory.”  There is something to be seen and perhaps you say, but I do not see it; no, and yet is there not in your very soul the secret longing to see Jesus? “Shew me Thy glory.”  Is there not a glory in His incarnation? There must be a glory in that because that glory was seen by His disciples.  “The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.”  We beheld His glory; and this is the point with the Lord’s children, what was the glory that John saw?  It was the glory of His divine Sonship, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

“Shew me Thy glory.”  Is there not a glory too in His substitution? The view of that and the knowledge of it filled the apostle to the exclusion of everything else.  “God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.”  How absorbing and confirming it is when it is given to you to see Him!  You lose sight of everything else.  And the glory of the cross is that glory that poor sinners long to see because that is the remedy for all their guilt.  This is the Lord’s provision, the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.  Has the Spirit of God ever discovered the glory of Christ? Have you felt at times a ray of hope in your soul as you have got just a glimpse by faith of a once-crucified Man?

“Here it is I find my heaven,    
While upon the Lamb I gaze.”

“Shew me Thy glory.”  Does not this also follow in relation to His exalted divinity and majesty at the right hand of God?  “Him hath God exalted with His right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.”  There is a glory that His people at times are favoured to see in a living Jesus, living representatively as the first fruits of the glorious harvest.  Show me this glory.  Perhaps sometimes some of you read in the Scriptures of the Lord Jesus and have to say, “Show me the glory there is in this.  Lord, open my poor blind eyes and let me see something.  Open my eyes that I may behold wondrous things out of Thy law.”

When the Lord reveals Himself in these particulars some measure the glory of His grace and of His mercy to you; when He makes it known and gives you to feel it and brings into your heart a taste of forgiveness, what effect has that?  One effect is worship.  It will always produce worship.  It will not make the things of God and eternity light but it will produce in your heart a sacred awe that words cannot describe yet which is very blessed to feel.  It produces worship.  You fall before Him and it is a sweet falling.

“The more Thy glories strike my eyes    
The humbler I shall lie.”

That is true, is it not? and that is real humility when it is really felt. “Jesus Christ,” said Goodwin, “is most glorified in secret.”  How those tokens of grace will flow together in your heart and all to lift Him up in your affections.

“Sinners are high in His esteem, 
And sinners highly value Him.”

It will produce repentance.  It was so with Job after all he passed through; nothing really brought him down but a view of God.  His three friends could not do it; they did not understand him; neither did Elihu, although he had a very quieting effect upon his spirit.  But it was the view he had of God that brought him down into deep repentance.  “I have heard of Thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth Thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.”  O this is where His glory is seen and this is where it will be above all the ignorance and confusion of face that can be felt.  How glorious He is to the eye of faith at such a time!  None can compare with Him.

“Shew me Thy glory.”  Another effect is conformity.  A sight of His glory in these particulars will conform you in some measure to His suffering image and produce a willingness to bear your cross for Christ’s sake.  “Shew me Thy glory.”  Another effect is love; when He reveals Himself love flows out toward Him because it is His love entering into your heart.  “We love Him, because He first loved us.”

But there is a glory that can be seen by believers even with their mortal eyes, and that is the glory of His works both in grace and in providence.  If we look up even to the visible heavens, we see the glory of God; that is if we have open eyes to see it.  “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth His handywork,” and there is something very real about this when the Lord blesses your soul and brings pardon and peace and sets your soul at liberty.  You will see His glory in the leaf of a tree; everything will speak it.  It is as it were so many voices speaking the glory of God and if we may be favoured to feel that this God is really our God, is there not a glory in the sense of that relationship?  “Let Thy work appear unto Thy servants, and Thy glory unto their children.  And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us: and establish Thou the work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands establish Thou it.”

Have we ever seen the glory of God in a faint measure, had a glimpse, a blink of His glory?  It is the glory of His mercy and the glory of His sovereignty and the glory of His goodness.  That was what He proclaimed to Moses and that is what He will proclaim in your heart. When He reveals this glory, He will bring His goodness to you, poor, unworthy sinners that you may feel to be, His goodness in His blessed gospel, and He will proclaim His name before you and give you to know who He is and what He is.  He will give you to see the glory of His sovereignty and He will make it known in your soul that you are to speak of His sovereign mercy.  I “will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy.”

I think it may be said that as to our knowledge of divine things here, even if we are graciously taught, it is more of the glory of His mercy that we see than the glory of His majesty.  Yet you cannot see the glory of His mercy without seeing His majesty in it.  O have there not been moments when His mercy and His majesty, His justice and His grace, have mingled in your feelings so as to enable you to say,

“Compared with Christ, in all beside    
No comeliness I see; 
The one thing needful, dearest Lord,    
Is to be one with Thee”?