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

Friday, March 30, 2018

Religious but lost

Mark 12:34 “And when Jesus saw that he answered discreetly, he said unto him, thou art not far from the kingdom of God. And no man after that durst ask him any question.” I want to speak to you today from the passage of Scripture found in the book of Mark. If you will, take your Bible and turn with me to the book of Mark chapter 12:34. My subject will be: “RELIGIOUS BUT LOST.” That’s right; I want us to think together on this subject: “RELIGIOUS BUT LOST.”

Now, let me read the text, Mark chapter 12:34: “And when Jesus saw that he answered discretely, (that is intelligently), he said unto him: Thou art not far from the kingdom of God.” Here is a man who’s interested in the kingdom of God but who is not in the kingdom of God. Here’s a man who is a student of the Scriptures, a man educated in the Bible, and yet, he does not know the living God; “he’s not far from the kingdom of God.”

Here’s a man who is devoutly religious but who’s never been regenerated. And here’s a man who is concerned about the law and morality, for his questions to Christ Jesus were about the law and morality. Here was a man who’s interested in the law and interested in morality but who has no righteousness and no holiness in the sight of God almighty. He is most religious, but lost.

Now, I don’t know how to stress the importance of this message this morning. I don’t know how to get across to you just how important I feel this message is to me and to you and to every person who hears this program. But my friend; notice the speaker here is not a denominational fanatic. The speaker here is not some religious radical. The speaker here is not a promoter of personal priorities; the speaker here is the Lord of heaven and earth. This is the Master Himself talking and Jesus said to him: “Thou art not far from the kingdom of heaven.” This is Christ Himself speaking. This is not some religious fanatic or radical or denominational promoter deciding because a man doesn’t believe like he does that he’s not in the kingdom of God. This is not a man saying, “because you don’t see things like I see them, you’re not saved;” this is Christ the Son of God. And the Lord certainly knows them that are His. And the Lord is saying to this man: “You’re not far from the kingdom of heaven.”

Now, I need to listen to Christ: “He that hath ears to hear let him hear.” And I need to listen to the Master here as He deals with this religious man because I have an interest in the kingdom of God. I have an interest in the law of God. I have a concern about the Scriptures and a concern about understanding the things that are written, don’t you? And yet, our Lord said to a man similar to you and to me: “You are not far from the kingdom of heaven.” I need to examine myself whether I am in the faith. “I need to give diligence to make my calling and election sure,” and my friend, you do too! Don’t take for granted this most important thing in all of the world. Don’t take for granted your relationship with God, the salvation of your soul.

Now, I have four divisions for this message and this will make it easy for you to understand and to follow and to remember, I hope: First of all: We are going to look at the man himself, the man to whom Christ said: “You are not far from the kingdom of God” Secondly: Then we are going to look at this man’s knowledge, what did he know? Did he know as much as you know or as much as I know or did he know more? Thirdly: Then we are going to look at this man’s attitude; what was his attitude? Did he have a good attitude or a poor attitude? Fourthly: Then we are going to last of all in closing the message find out where he failed, where did he fail?

First of all: Look at the man; who was the man? Christ said to this man: “Thou art not far from the kingdom of God.” Who was this man? This may surprise you; verse 28 says, “This man, was one of the scribes.” We don’t know a great deal about him but we do know that he was a scribe and we do know something about the scribes. What were the duties of the scribes? Do you know what their duties were, to preserve, to translate, to transcribe, and to interpret the Scriptures. That was the job of the scribes. They were the men who sat down with pen and ink and translated the Scriptures from other languages. They were the men who preserved the Scriptures. They were men who transcribed the Scriptures. They were the men who interpreted the Scriptures, in other words; this man was an authority on the Bible, the Old Testament Scriptures. That’s exactly what he was, he was a scribe. We have the Pharisees who came to Christ and the Sadducees and then one of the scribes. He was a man who was an authority on the Bible. He knew by memory much of the Word of God. He could quote the Scriptures from memory. He had written the Scriptures over, and over, and over, and over again. And yet, (they didn’t have printing presses) the scribes wrote the Scriptures. And yet, Christ said to this man; “You are not in the kingdom of God but you’re not far from it.” It’s certain that the way of life is to be found in the Bible: “Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God: Of his own will begat he us with the Word of truth. The gospel is the power of God unto salvation.” If you would know the way of life; turn to the Scriptures. But my friend; you can be a student of the Scriptures and not know the way of life. That’s right; our Lord said to the Pharisees, now listen, in John, is it chapter 5:40, He said: “You search the scriptures for in them you think you have eternal life but they are they which testify of me and you will not come to me that you might have life.” I’ve often heard people say: “Well, you know; he sure knows his Bible.” This scribe new his Bible too, but he didn’t know his Lord. And it’s possible to know the doctrines (this man was an authority on the doctrines, and the traditions, and all of these things) but he didn’t know the Lord. To know the Word of God is not necessarily to know the living Word of God, the Lord Jesus Christ.
All right, that’s the man. He was a student of the Scriptures; he was a scribe. He was an authority on the Bible. He knew the doctrines and traditions and all of these things but he did not know the Master and Christ said: “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” Now that’s the man.

Secondly: Now, let’s look at this man’s knowledge! What was the question he asked to begin with? Well, he looked at Christ after the Pharisees and the Sadducees had dealt with their questions and had been put to silence and walked away and he kept standing there. He looked at the Master and he said: “Master; what is the greatest commandment of all?” And the Lord Jesus Christ replied: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy mind, with all thy soul, and with all thy strength and the second is like unto it: thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” Now listen to the man; he said: “Master; thou hast well said the truth, (that’s the truth) there is but one God and there’s none other but he.” Now my friend; I may shock you a little bit but you listen, I’m preaching the Scriptures! Here is a man who was an authority on the Bible. Here was a man who memorized the Scriptures. Here was a man who studied the Scriptures and translated the Scriptures and transcribed the Scriptures and interpreted the Scriptures. But, Christ said to him: “You’re not far from the kingdom of God.” And here’s a man who believed in one God, not just any god, not a false god; he believed in the God of David, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of creation. He said: “Master; you’ve said the truth, there is but one God; there’s none other but he.” In other words, this man; it’s evident he believed in God and yet Christ said to him: “Thou art not far from the kingdom of God.” But my friend, to believe in one God; (now listen to me) is not to be saved. James wrote in James 1:19: “You believe that there’s one God. The devil believes and trembles.” You believe there’s one God and you do well but the devil believes there’s one God and the devil trembles at the mention of his name. When Christ appeared to those, that man who was demon possessed and cast the demons out of him, do you know what those demons said before they came out of that man? “We know who you are; you are the holy one of Israel. Have you come to torment us before our time?” They believed in one God. They believed in Christ as the Son of God, the holy one of God. They believed in judgment but they certainly were not redeemed.
 This man believed in one God; he said: “Master; you spoke the truth, there is none other but he.” He is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Then he said, “There is no such thing as an idol.” This man hated idolatry. Do you take comfort in the fact that you believe there is one God? Do you take comfort in the fact that you do not bow down to idols and you do not serve false Gods? Well this man had a strong feeling about idolatry too; he spoke it very emphatically; he said: “There is but one God and there’s none other God but he.” Now, let me show you something else in the next verse, verse 33; he went a step further. What did this man know? He knew there was one God. He knew there was no such thing as an idol. Now watch this; he knew that the condition of the heart was more important in the sight of God than all of the outward works and ceremonies of religion. Does that shock you? Now, listen to what he says in the next verse, verse 33. You look at it right there in your Bible. He says, “You spoke the truth Master; there’s but one God and there’s none other but he. And to love God with all the heart (and with all the understanding, that is the mind), with all the soul and the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as himself, is more than all the burnt offerings and sacrifices.” That’s exactly what he said. Are you with me? And yet, our Lord said to him: “Thou art not far from the kingdom of God.” This is astonishing; especially in this man’s day, because his day was a day of works, ceremonies, sacrifices, and burn offerings. Most people trusted in these things, he evidently didn’t. Most people depended for their salvation on these very things that he is talking about. He was one of the few that understood that salvation was not in these things and yet, the Master said: “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” Now, this is interesting isn’t it? It’s so applicable to this day when we have so much religion and so much presumption, so much carnal assurance and so much easy beliefs.

Thirdly: The man’s attitude! Now, we’ve seen the man; he was a Bible scholar, a Bible student, a Bible translator, a Bible transcriber, a man who had memorized Scripture. He was a man who believed there was one God. He was a man who had no use for idols. He was a man that knew that the condition of the heart was more important than the bowing of the knee. It was more important than burnt offerings and sacrifices. And yet, to this very man, our Lord said: “You’re not far from the kingdom of God.”
Well his attitude must have been bad. Well, let’s see; look at the man’s attitude. He had a better attitude than the Pharisees and Sadducees. They had already been put to silence and pouted and walked off and would have nothing to do with Christ. But this man recognized the wisdom of Christ. Listen to him: “Master;” he called Him, Master, he spoke well of Christ. He said, “You told the truth.” Here was a man speaking to one who was the enemy of the Pharisees and Sadducees and scribes and all that they stood for and yet, here he is standing and talking with him and saying: “You are telling the truth; what you are saying is true, what you are saying is true.” He had an inquiring spirit. The others had gone away but he just kept standing there. He had an inquiring spirit. He had some degree of spiritual perception; he spoke of loving the Lord God. The other Pharisees spoke of tithing, fasting, giving alms, not doing this and not doing that. He spoke of loving God. That’s spiritual knowledge. He talked about loving our neighbor. He talked about heart religion and yet our Lord solemnly declared unto him, “Thou art not far from the kingdom of God.”

Fourthly: Wherein did he fail? And I want you to see this whole picture. While I am painting this picture and while we are asking the Spirit of God to speak to us individually that we “might examine ourselves whether we are in the faith, that we might give diligence to make our calling and election sure.” That we might answer the question, “What think we of Christ?” Wherein did he fail? Here’s a man who perhaps some of you have already put yourself in this man’s place, a teacher, a Sunday school teacher maybe, a translator of Scriptures, a believer in one God, always believed in one God, never had any doubt there’s only one God. “The heavens declare the glory of God. The firmament showeth his handiwork.” A student of the moral law; “I believe in what’s right and I hate what’s wrong.” Here was a man who was a perceptive man, an inquiring man, who knew the truth when he heard it, a man who spoke well of Christ. Well, wherein did he fail? Why was he not in the kingdom of God?
My friend, there are some things missing here! The first one is this; I find no personal confession of sin. Now I hear this man speaking well of the law, talking about the law, conversing about the law, inquiring about the law, and studying the law. But I do not hear any confession from his mouth or any acknowledgment of the fact that he had broken that law, that in any way he had sinned against a holy God or in any way that he had not personally in his heart, in his thoughts, imagination, words and deeds, kept the law of God that he had broken it and was a sinner before God. Do you hear anything like that? Go over his whole conversation and there’s not one confession of sin, there’s not one acknowledgement of sin.
 You know, the Scripture tells us this: “Whoso covereth his sins shall not prosper but whoso confesseth and forsaketh his sin shall find mercy.” Doesn’t the Word of God say: “If we confess our sins he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness?” My friend, every person who has ever come to Christ has come to Christ as a sinner, not as a moral man, not as a righteous man, for Christ himself said: “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” And Paul said: “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners of whom I am chief.” And as I listen to this man talk about there being one God and talking about the law and talking about the truthfulness of the Master’s statement and talking about no idols are to be served; I do not hear this man saying one thing about his personal guilt before God. Do you know what the law does? The law is a schoolmaster that brings us to Christ. The law is that which God gives to strip a man, to knock his fleshly foundations out from under him, to convince him “of sin and of righteousness and of judgment.” “What the law saith it saith to them who are under the law that every mouth may be stopped and all the world become guilty before God.”
I hear no confession of sin here at all. I hear no acknowledgment of personal guilt: “O God be merciful to me the sinner.” I hear no acknowledgment before God that I have sinned in thy sight and no longer worthy to be called thy son. Make me but a hired servant. Have you ever seen your sins and actually before God acknowledged them? David said: “I acknowledge my sins; my transgressions are ever before me.”
 Secondly: I hear no plea for mercy, not in all of this conversation; I hear no plea for mercy! Oh, when the Publican stood in the temple and cried: “God be merciful to me the sinner;” that’s a plea for mercy that was heard. When the thief on the cross hanging there in death’s agony looked over at Christ and said: “I’m getting what I deserve; Lord remember me when you come into your kingdom.” That’s a plea for mercy and it was heard. Every invitation that Christ ever gave in the Bible presupposes guilt; did you know that? “Ho everyone that thirsteth; come to the water, come to the water,” that’s the invitation, come to the water of life.  Who comes to the water of life, a man who’s thirsty, a man who needs the water of life? “Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.” Who comes for rest, the man who’s weary and heavy laden by sin? All of these invitations presuppose guilt. I want you to listen to David’s confession in Psalm 51 and his plea for mercy, a confession of sin. This is always prerequisite, this is always the condition, and these are God’s terms for salvation, repentance and faith. Paul said; “When I preach the gospel I preach repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.” And I see neither of these in this man’s conversation.
Have you ever felt it in your own heart and experienced it in your own soul, I mean genuine conviction of sin and sorrow for sin, and repentance over sin, and grief over sin, and faith in Christ as your only hope, a plea for mercy? Listen to David, now Psalm 51: “Have mercy on me O God. According to thy loving kindness, according to the multitude of thy tender mercies O God, blot out my transgressions.” Do you hear that? That’s a plea for mercy! “Wash me from mine iniquity. Cleanse me from my sin. Purge me with hyssop. Create in me a right spirit. Renew within me a clean heart for I acknowledge my transgressions; my sin is ever before me.” The man was heard! It can’t be said of David, “thou art not far from the kingdom of God;” he was in the kingdom of God. It cannot be said of the publican in the temple, “thou art not far from the kingdom of God;” he was in the kingdom of God. It cannot be said of the thief on the cross, “thou art not far from the kingdom of God;” Christ said; “Today you will be with me in paradise.” I hear no plea for mercy on the part of this scribe, no confession of sin, no acknowledgement of transgression and no plea for mercy.

Thirdly: I hear no confession of the Lord Jesus Christ as his Lord and Saviour! Oh, he speaks well of Christ. He talks about Christ being a Master. He talks about Christ being a teacher. He acknowledges Christ as a moralist. He acknowledges Christ as a man of authority but not as the Redeemer and Lord. “What think ye of Christ? Whose Son is he?” The Scripture does not say; “If thou shalt confess with thy mouth Jesus to be a good man, a prophet, a healer, a moralist?” But rather it says, “If thou shalt confess with thy mouth Jesus to be Lord and believe in thine heart God raised him from the dead, (that he was crucified, buried, and raised from the dead, by the power of God), thou shalt be saved.” He was crucified as a substitute, buried as the scapegoat, raised as the justifier, ascended and seated as the Mediator between God and men at God’s right hand.
Do you know, our Lord said to the disciples one day: “Whom do men say that I am?” This is natural men that he is talking about, men like the scribes, religious men, but natural men. “Whom do they say that I am?” And the disciples said; “Well, they speak well of you. Some say that you are Elias.” Now, that’s quite a compliment because Elias (Elijah) to the Jews was a very great prophet. “Some say that you are John the Baptist.” Now John the Baptist was admired of almost all the people. “Some say that you are one of the prophets.” But Christ said, “Whom do you say that I am?” And the disciples; Peter spoke for them and he said: “We believe that thou art the Christ, (that is the Messiah, the Redeemer, the one whom God will send to redeem Israel, all Israel, believers from their sins). Thou art the Shepherd of our souls. Thou art the chief Shepherd, the great Shepherd, the good Shepherd, the substitute, the sacrifice, the sin-offering, and all of these things; that’s who thou art, the Son of the living God.”
 Now my friend, I don’t hear that out of this man. I don’t hear any confession of sin. I don’t hear any plea for mercy and I don’t hear any acknowledgement of who is Jesus Christ? Now, who is Jesus Christ? Well, the Scriptures tell me that He’s the Redeemer, He’s the Saviour, He’s the Lord, He’s the way of life, He’s the bread of life, He’s the chief corner stone, and He’s the door of salvation. He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man cometh to the father but by me.”

Now, notice last of all: And I do not see this man leaving his crowd and going and walking with Christ. When our Lord came before this crowd, there were the Pharisees, Sadducees, and scribes. They began to ask him questions and he answered and put them to silence one at a time. He put the silence to the Pharisees, and put the silence to the Sadducees, and they left, they got angry and walked off. Here’s this scribe, a man who knew something about the Bible, a man who knew there was one God, a man who knew that there was no idols. He knew that a heart relationship with God was more important than ceremony, sacrifice, and all of these things. Here was a man whose attitude was better than the attitude of these other men, he did, he said: “Master, you tell the truth.” But here was a man when every man walked off he walked off with them. When Christ left he didn’t follow Him. He didn’t walk in His footsteps. He didn’t take up his cross and follow Christ; he stayed with his crowd, he stayed in his occupation, he stayed in his present environment, he stayed in everything he was in when he met Christ at the first.  Our Lord said: “Take up your cross and follow me, be identified with Me, look to Me, be one with Me, be brought into a saving, living, vital union, with Me. And where I am, there the disciple will be and what I am, that the disciple will be.”

This is the thing that troubles me a great deal about present day religion. They do not follow the Saviour. They look to Christ to receive what they want. They look to Christ to meet their needs and their particular goals, to make them what they already want to be, instead of becoming what He wants them to be, walking in His footsteps. This is what’s missing, a confession of sin, a plea for mercy, and a confession of Christ as Lord and Master, Saviour!

 Fourthly: To follow Him! The Lord said, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Henry Mahan

Thursday, March 29, 2018

God be merciful to me

 “God, be merciful to me.” And that “a” there is “the.” It’s a definite article. It’s “God, be merciful to me the sinner.”
I don’t care if you are here this morning for the first time or if you’ve been here for 25 years. You are only a sinner. It doesn’t matter if you have been a believer for five minutes of you have been a believer for five years. You are still just a sinner saved by grace. You never graduate beyond God’s grace. You never cease to be a sinner.
 He didn’t say, “I’m a reformed sinner. I’m a former sinner. I’m a penitent sinner. I’m a praying sinner. I’m an awakened sinner.” I’m tired of people putting those justifying names ahead of the word. You’re just and I’m just the sinner. That’s all.
Men see sin in proportion as they see God’s holiness. Did you know that? That’s the reason most people have a sorry conception of sin. It is because they have a sorry conception of God. Now you read the Bible and you’ll find that out. When Isaiah saw the Lord how did he see him? He saw him, he said in Isaiah six, “High and lifted up. His train filled the temple and the cherubims and seraphims cried, ‘Holy, holy, holy.’” And then Isaiah cried, “Woe is me. I’m a man of unclean lips. I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips.”
 You are pretty good because you are comparing yourself with the pretty bad. You will find out when you compare yourself with the perfect, immaculate, pure, holy God almighty in whose presence the heavens are not even clean and the stars are not pure, much less man that drinketh iniquity like the water, you’ll find out how unholy you are. And the reason you have such a sorry conception of sin, the reason you have got sins catalogued so that you don’t do this and you don’t do that and you don’t the other and you are a pretty good fellow is because you’ve got a pretty little god, a peanut god, mind you, an unholy god, a god like unto yourself who can only do what you will let him do, who can only be what you will let him be, who can only accomplish what you will let him accomplish.

“God, be merciful to me, the sinner.”

Job thought he was a pretty good fellow. Job defended his righteousness, defended his morality, bragged about his accomplishments. He said, “I’ll never let go of my righteousness.” Well, you know what happened in chapters 37, 38, 39 and 40, don’t you? God revealed himself to Job in his holiness and Job said, “Lord, I’ve heard of you by the ear. But now mine eye seeth thee.” And what was the result? “Wherefore I hate myself. I repent in sackcloth and ashes.”

The missing note in present day preaching, the God of the Bible has not been preached; God in his holiness, God in his sovereignty, God in his immaculate justice, God in his righteousness, God in his love, holy love, pure love, immaculate love, sinless love. “In him is no darkness.” And men in their sins. And until men see God in his holiness they will never be convicted of their guilt and of their sins.

They will still come with their idol, evil familiarity right into the presence of a holy God and begin to talk about who they are and what they have done. But somewhere, somehow the Holy Spirit is going to convince some people of sin when he has come. The preacher can’t do it and your friends can’t do it, but the Holy Ghost can. And he is going to come and he is going to whittle down some old sinner. Oh, and when he does it, it’s tough. But thank God for Holy Spirit conviction. He is going to come and he is going to lay bare your heart and how painful it will be. He will show you what you are. He will show you who you are. He will show you your hatred and your lust and your malice and your envy and your jealousy and your selfishness and your pride. He will strip you. He will knock all your foundations of religious flesh out from under you, all your ceremonialism and custom and tradition and heritage and background. And he will leave you empty, dangling over the gaping jaws of a burning condemning hell. The only thing between you and perishing is God’s mercy. Guilty.

 You want to know what’s wrong? I know what’s wrong. These preachers, I don’t know whether they know it or not, but the missing note in present day preaching is the conviction of sin. Men have never been lost. We’ve got them to make decisions when they are juniors or sophomores or something else or primaries and we have run them through the baptismal waters and put their names on the roll. We’ll call in a hot shot singer and our hot shot preacher and he’ll tell his little jokes and preach his little sermons that he has preached all over the country and give his invitation and down the aisle they run, shake the preacher’s hand, run them through the pool, put their name on the roll, kiss them good bye. They are already to die. They have been dead and they are still dead and they have never received life. They have never been lost, never been convicted.

Our Father in heaven, oh God, be merciful to me. Let thy blood be propitiation for me. Forgive my sins through the blood of thy sin. Be merciful to me, the sinner. Reveal unto us the true condition of our fallen hearts. Reveal unto us the true condition of our minds and our wills. Shut us up to mercy until we call on the living God, until he speaks to us in pardon and peace. Lord, move in our midst. Leave us not to ourselves. Help us that we might be saved from this perverse religious generation for we pray it in Christ’s name. Amen.


Henry Mahan

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

John MacArthur and the Gospel Coalition

Burn your "Strange Fire" book. It means nothing now.

John MacArthur will be hosting The "Gospel" Coalition at Grace Community Church this October. It's a pastors conference. Because I guess one pastors conference a year isn't enough.



Also, take note of the update recently added to the bottom of the post. JMac's fan club will simply roll their eyes, scream 'judgmental', and move on. 

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

strangers and pilgrims

James Smith, 1842

"All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth!" Hebrews 11:13
Every believer is a pilgrim. He is traveling back to God, from whom Adam revolted. He is going to his Father's house, to meet His brethren and sisters in the Lord. He is presently a stranger in a strange land, surrounded by temptations, trials, and foes. His journey lies through a great and terrible wilderness — therefore he must not expect a very smooth path, or many comfortable accommodations. He will have much to grieve and distress him, and perhaps most from quarters where he least expected it. His heart will be often burdened with grief, and filled with sorrow — tears are common to the Christian. He feels the unsuitableness of the things of time, to his spirit, profession, and aim. And therefore he confesses, "I am a stranger and a pilgrim — as all my fathers were!" Psalm 39:12
Weariness and painfulness are his portion now — but a rest remains for him. It is a glorious rest. It embraces and includes all the believer has prayed for — or can desire!
It waits for him at the end of his journey,
it was prepared for him from the foundation of the world,
it is now promised to him in the faithful word, and
it will be bestowed upon him when he has fought the good fight, and finished his course.
Everything at present may appear gloomy and distressing; but before you, believer, everything is glorious, magnificent, and blessed! Press on then, toward the mark, for the prize of your high calling. Fight the good fight of faith. Travel on in the strength of Jesus. You are going home — and you have a glorious home to go to! Angels will hail you to rest, Jesus will invite you to glory, and your fellow-pilgrims will rejoice to see you come!
All Heaven will be in harmony to see you safely reach your home; and the minute after you have entered your rest — you will forget all the fatigue, all the dangers, and all the difficulties of the way! You will perhaps be filled with wonder, that you should ever have allowed such trifles to vex you, or such little trials to discourage you — with such a glorious end before you.
Fellow-pilgrim, expect trouble — but expect also mercy to help you in time of need! Expect to feel your circumstances to be trying — but expect also your Savior's strength to be perfected in your weakness! You will soon join the illustrious company of Patriarchs, Prophets, Apostles, and Martyrs, in the kingdom of God! You will soon end your tedious, tiresome journey — and enter into the joy of your Lord.
Never forget you are a pilgrim — a stranger — only a sojourner here in this poor world. Here you have no continuing city — but you seek one to come.
Nothing can make this poor world, your rest; if you had all you think you want — you would find it a wilderness still. Be content then, to wait until you get home! There you shall enjoy — and always enjoy all your desires! There will not be one want, one wish, or one unfulfilled desire there! All will be satisfied — all will be full. Yet a little while, and you will see the portal of your Father's house, and hear Him say, "Come in, blessed of the Lord, tarry no longer outside! Come, dwell forever with Me!"
Not all things else are half so dear,
As His delightful presence here;
What must it be in Heaven!
'Tis Heaven on earth to hear Him say,
As now I journey day by day,
'Poor sinner, cast your fears away,
Your sins are all forgiven!'
But how must His celestial voice
Make my enraptured heart rejoice,
When I, in glory, hear Him!
While I before His heavenly gate,
For everlasting entrance wait,
And Jesus on His throne of state,
Invites me to come near Him!
Come in, you blessed, sit by Me;
With my own life I ransomed thee;
Come, taste my perfect favor;
Come in, you happy, spirit, come;
You now shall dwell with Me at home;
You blissful mansions, make him room,
For he must stay forever!

Sunday, March 25, 2018

He must bring you down

choice blessings in disguise

"I have refined you, but not as silver is refined. Rather, I have refined you in the furnace of suffering!" Isaiah 48:10 

The love of Jesus will not preserve His people from trials — but rather, assures them of trials! All whom He loves — He chastens! He has a furnace to purge our dross, and refine our souls. His Word and the Spirit reveal to us our defilement and impurity — and His grace and providence co-operate to remove them. "I am the Lord God, who sanctifies you." 

It is divine love which . . .
  prepares the furnace, 
  kindles the flame, 
  brings the Christian into it, 
  superintends the whole process, and 
  brings him out as gold, seven times purified!

"From all your filthiness and from all your idols, I will cleanse you!" He cleanses them in the laver of the Word by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Spirit. But He also cleanses them by a variety of afflictive dispensations, through which He causes them to pass. 

Our sin calls for trials — His love sends them!


Our nature repines at trials — but grace submits to them!

Our corruption is enraged at trials — but the Spirit sanctifies them to our good, and our Savior's glory. 

He makes His people choice ones — in the "furnace of affliction!" He says, "I will put you into the fire — and will purely purge away your dross." 

Believer, never repine at your trials, nor be over-anxious for their removal. They are appointed by Jesus as your Purifier — and are choice blessings in disguise! 

Seek their sanctification, 
wrestle with God that you may see His love in every stroke, and 
look to Jesus that you may enjoy His presence when passing through the flame! 

Nothing can hurt you — while Jesus is near you; and He is never nearer to you — than when you are in the furnace!For He sits right there as the Refiner . . .
  watching the process, 
  regulating the heat, and 
  waiting to effect a gracious deliverance — when the ends of His love are answered. 

He is only preparing you for fresh manifestations of His glory — and fitting you for larger communications of His love.

In the furnace, you will lose nothing that is worth keeping — but you will obtain what is truly valuable!

The flesh and the soul need constant cleansings — for corruption is so deeply rooted in our nature, that it takes a long and painful process to purge it out! But in reference to the furnace, your Lord says, "The Lord did this to purge Israel's wickedness, to take away all her sin!"

James Smith

Friday, March 23, 2018

Secret sinners

James Smith, 1859

"The Lord does not see it!" Ezekiel 9:9
"My way is hidden from the Lord!" Isaiah 40:27
"The guilt of Ephraim is stored up, his sins are kept on record!" Hosea 13:12
The only thing some fear is exposure. They would not be exhibited in their true colors before their fellow-men — for all the world! They wish to live and act in the dark. They do not fear the eye of God — but they dread the eye of man! In public they are one thing — and in private just the opposite! No one really knows them.
There is a vast amount of hypocrisy in the world. Multitudes wear a mask. They are not at all — what they seem to be. This is sad. The consequences will be fearful by and bye.
Open sinners offend God and men — secret sinners offend God only! But God is the principal party. Better offend the whole world — than offend God. But who are these secret sinners?
There is the sly drunkard. The man who only gets intoxicated at home, or who manages to drink much, and yet never reel in the street. He robs his family. He introduces disease into his body. He squanders his property. He becomes selfish. He neglects his duties; moral, entirely; domestic, in part. Few, if any suspect him, until at length his bloated countenance begins to tell tales. "My way is hidden from the Lord!"
There is the crafty deceiver. He practices deception upon the ignorant and unwary. He talks like an honest man — but he acts like a rogue. Believe his plausible pretensions — and he will be sure to pick your pocket. His words are smooth; his tongue is oily; his professions are fair; his offers appear to be generous — but his aim is to make you his dupe! Few detect him — until they are caught in his net! "My way is hidden from the Lord!"
There are the self-righteous. They appear very devout. They perform many duties. Their views of truth are, perhaps, tolerably sound. Their external deportment is correct. They are sure they are safe for Heaven; they wish everyone to think that they are right. They talk of Christ — but they do not rest alone on his finished work. They speak of the Holy Spirit — but they have never felt his regenerating and renewing operations. They boast of free grace — but in heart they think much more of their own performances. They imagine God must love them — because they love themselves. They conclude they must be saved — because if they have not made God their debtor — they have done much that on account, of which he cannot reject them.
Self-love is the root of their profession. Self-esteem is the ground of their confidence. They work for life, not from life. They are under the legal covenant, not the evangelical. They have never been stripped before God's throne. The law has never come home, in its convincing and condemning power, to their consciences. They have never had their mouths stopped, or been brought in guilty before God. Therefore they prefer their own sandy foundation — to the Rock of Ages! And they stumble at the stumbling stone, even Christ, who is the wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption of his people. "My way is hidden from the Lord!"
There are the self-deceivers. These imagine that they are rich and increased with goods, and have need of nothing. They have elected themselves to everlasting life — and conclude, without any just grounds, that God has done so too. Because they have never thoroughly examined their hearts in the light of God's Law, or carefully compared what they call their experience, with the Biblical evidences of a new birth — they conclude that they are Christians — though they are still in their natural sinful condition.
They take home all the promises — and put from them all the threatenings. They make use of evidences for others — but see not the need of doing so for themselves. They take it for granted that they are right — but are laboring under a most fearful deception. They are in the state which Solomon refers to when he said, "There is a generation that are pure in their own eyes, and yet is not washed from their filthiness!" (Proverbs 30:12). "These are those who make themselves rich — yet have nothing!" (Proverbs 13:7).
The blood of Christ is not at the root of their profession;
the life of God is not in their souls;
the power of the Holy Spirit has never been experienced in their hearts;
they deceive themselves — and they deceive others. "My way is hidden from the Lord!"
Reader, are you either of these characters? Are you sure that you are not? Search and look. Self-examination never injures a real Christian!
The power of SIN is great. And one of the most fearful things in sin is its power of self-concealment. It hides its own deformity from many — who are actually under its influence.
The subtlety of SATAN is great. He is said to deceive the whole world (Rev. 12:9). Suppose he should have deceived you! If you are acting under his influence — you have deceived yourself! Your sin may be hidden from men, it may be hidden from yourself — but it is not hidden from God! His eyes are in every place, beholding the evil and the good. He searches the heart and tries the thoughts! He knows exactly what is your state — and it would be well for you to know it; for if it is bad — it may now be changed; or if it is good — you may rejoice and bless God for it.
The revealing day is coming; then if wrong, God will set our iniquities before his face, and our secret sins in the light of his countenance. He will expose every secret sinner. He will show to the whole world what you have been doing in the dark! Hear his own word, "For God will bring every act to judgment, including every hidden thing, whether good or evil!" (Eccles. 12:14). The sins that are hidden now — will be hidden no longer! But then shall be brought to pass the fearful prediction written, "The sinners in Zion (God's professing people) shake with fear! Terror seizes the godless! Who of us can dwell with the consuming fire? Who of us can dwell with everlasting burning?" (Isaiah 33:14).
Fear now may drive us to the Savior — but there will then be no Savior to flee to! The Judge on the throne will act justly and impartially, and will render to every man according to his deeds. Many will be condemned — who expected to be acquitted! Many will be driven to Hell — who were sure of being invited to Heaven! Every false covering will then be stripped off, every deceitful heart will be laid bare — and no longer will anyone say, "My way is hidden from the Lord!"
But there is another and better sense in which our sins may be hidden, and that is, by obtaining the pardon of them. If we detect our sins, if we confess them before God, if we plead the blood and obedience of Jesus for their pardon — God will blot them out! He will cover them, so as to conceal them forever. Then we shall know what the Psalmist meant when he exclaimed, "Oh, the blessedness of the man whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Oh, the blessedness of the man whose sin the Lord does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit!" (Psalm 32:1,2).
When God forgives the penitent sinner, who stands before the throne of his grace, pleading the merits of his Son — he casts all his sins behind his back — or he throws them into the depths of the sea! They are thus covered, hidden, and concealed forever!

Let us, therefore, conceal our sins no longer; let us confess them before God, and obtain the pardon of them. Let us never profess before our fellow-men — what we do not really possess. Let us make our lives — the index of our hearts!

Thursday, March 22, 2018

There are three things

by James Smith, 1855

As I was walking out for exercise in the fields one morning, having been pleading with God to give me some profitable subject for meditation--I suddenly fell into this train of thought, which I afterwards wrote down; and, as it may interest and profit some, it is here inserted.

There are three things which I especially desire:
more communion with God, 
more likeness to the Lord Jesus, and
more usefulness to his Church. 

There are three things which I deprecate:
the withering of my gifts, 
the decay of my graces, and
to become useless in the Lord's vineyard.

There are three things which I dread:
that I should become a proud professor, 
that I should become a lukewarm Christian, and
that I should fall into the hands of man.

There are three things which I sometimes wish for (but which God will never grant me on earth):
to be totally free from sin, 
to be delivered from a daily cross, 
and to be always happy. 

There are three things which I feel sure of:
hatred by the world, 
opposition by hypocrites, and
love by spiritual believers. 

There are three foes which always oppose me:
the world, 
the flesh, and
the devil.

There are three friends which will always stand by me:
a peaceful conscience, 
the bride of Jesus, and
the Lamb of God. 

There are three deaths which have been experienced by me:
a death in sin, 
a death to sin, 
a death to the law of God.

There are three lives which shall be lived by me:
a temporal life, 
a spiritual life, and
an eternal life. 

There are three things which burden me:
a body of sin and death, 
the opposition I meet with, and
my own ingratitude.

There are three things which support me:
the Father's love, 
the Son's redemption, and
the Spirit's work. 

There are three things which are a sore trial to me:
an irritable temper, 
a flippant tongue, and
self-love.

There are three things which bring strong consolation to me:
the open fountain of Christ blood, 
the promises of God, and
the Savior's free invitation. 

There are three things which are especially dear to me:
the Word of God, 
the throne of grace, and
the ordinances of the Lord's house. 

There are three things lacking in me:
perfect penitence, 
entire resignation, and
fervent love.

There are three books which are very useful to me:
the book of nature
the book of Holy Scriptures, and
the book of my own experience

There are three teachers which are employed to instruct me:
the Holy Spirit, 
a special providence, and
the rod of God. 

There are three things which are manifested in me:
the nature of sin, 
the power of grace, and
the faithfulness of God. 

There are three things which would be greatly useful to me:
more humility,
spiritual wisdom, and
enlightened zeal. 

There are three things which characterize me:
weakness, 
poverty, and
sinfulness.

Yet, there are three things which may be seen in me:
Christ's strength,
God's grace, and
the Spirit's holiness. 

There are three things which are feared by me:
a stiff neck, 
a hard heart, and
a presumptuous spirit. 

There are three things which are matter of joy to me:
the conversion of sinners,
that my name is written in heaven, and
the glory to be given me at the appearing of Jesus Christ. 

There are three things which must be renounced by me:
preconceived opinions, 
worldly wisdom, and
natural religion. 

There are three things which must be held fast by me:
the Word of truth, 
my confidence in God, and
my profession of the gospel.

There are three things which are especially required of me:
to do justly,
to love mercy, and
to walk humbly with my God. 

There are three things which are promised to me:
tribulation in the world, 
sufficient strength in Jesus, and
eternal life at the end of my course. 

There are three things which the Lord observes and approves in me:
the work of faith, 
the labor of love, and
the patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. 

There is a threefold deliverance which is effected for me:
from the dominion of sin, 
from the present evil world, and
from my deserved doom. 

There are three things which I would trample under foot:
unfounded prejudice, 
vain distinctions, and
self-righteousness. 

There are three things which I would aim at daily:
to exalt Christ, 
to glorify God, and
to bring sinners to repentance.

There are three things which are still sure to me:
a rough road, 
changing experiences, and
safety at last. 

There are three things which are behind me:
a wicked life, 
a broken law, and
the pit of destruction. 

There are three things which are before me:
death, 
perfect conformity to Jesus, and
eternal glory. 

There are three things which are on my right hand:
Satan to resist me, 
the Lord Jesus to save me, and
my own heart set on things above. 

There are three things which are on my left hand:
the lust of the flesh, 
the lust of the eye, and
the pride of life. 

There are three things which I greatly admire:
the Savior's person, 
the promises of God, and
the instruments he employs in carrying on his work. 

There are three things which much please me:
the doctrines of the gospel, 
the witness of the Spirit, and
the light of God's countenance. 

There are three things which I delight in:
that Jehovah is my God, 
the comfort he imparts to me, and
the riches of glory which are set before me. 

There are three things which I hate:
the cant of hypocrites, 
the flattery of friends, and
the pride of professors. 

There are three things which are good for me:
to draw near to God, 
to be afflicted, and
to sing praises unto the Lord. 

There are three things which often disgust me:
Satan's temptations, 
the powerful working of unbelief, and
the conduct of religious professors.

There are three things which are prescribed to me:
to believe in God, 
to love the saints, and
to observe the Lord's ordinances.

There are three things which are too often neglected by me:
self-examination, 
diligent reading of the Bible, and
secret prayer. 

There are three things which are too deep for me to fully know:
the depravity of my heart, 
the devices of Satan, and
the manner of the Spirit's working. 

There are three things which I wish to leave with the Lord:
to choose my lot in life, 
to fight my battles, and
to supply all my needs. 

There are three things which I do not consider worth having:
a form of godliness, without the power, 
a name to live, while dead, and
the commendation of the enemies of Christ. 

There are three things in which I glory:
the cross of Christ, 
my saving knowledge of God, and
the everlasting gospel. 

There are three things which have been taken from me:
proud free will, 
vain boasting, and
enmity to God. 

There are three things which abide with me:
faith, 
hope, and
charity.

I am made up of three men:
corruption--the old man, 
grace--the new man, and
the body--the outward man. 

I fill a threefold office:
prophet in the Church of Christ, 
priest before the altar, and
king anointed to reign with Christ. 

I wear a threefold garment:
the righteousness of the Lord Jesus, 
the graces of the Holy Spirit, and
the garment of humility. 

I have been condemned in three courts--and yet justified in them all:
the court of conscience, 
the Church of God, and
the court of God's justice. 

I have been justified three times:
at the resurrection of Christ my substitute, 
when faith received his righteousness, and
when good works justified my faith before the world. 

I am the subject of a threefold sanctification:
by the purpose of the Father, 
by the blood of the Son, and
by the cleansing operations of the Holy Spirit. 

I am a free man of three cities:
the present world, 
the church below, and
the Jerusalem which is above. 

I have been an eye-sore to three parties:
the devil, 
the world, and
envious professors. 

I shall have occupied three peculiar seats:
a dunghill by nature, 
among the princes in the Church by grace, and
the throne of glory by special privilege. 

I shall have three grand holidays:
one when the Holy Spirit sets my soul at liberty, 
another when death sets me free from this mortal clay, and
and another when Jesus comes to be glorified in his saints. 

I shall then have appeared in three different characters:
a vile rebel against God, 
a supplicating sinner at mercy's footstool, and
a justified son of God before his throne. 

I shall have had three fathers:
a human father, 
the devil, and
Jehovah himself. 

I shall have received three laws:
the law of nature, 
the moral law of God, and
the law of the Spirit of life. 

I shall have passed through three gates:
the gate of hope, 
the gate into Christ's sheepfold, and
the gate of death. 

I shall have walked in three ways:
the broad road of destruction, 
the highway of holiness, and
Jesus Christ the only way to the Father. 

I shall have conversed with three distinct classes of beings:
carnal men, 
spiritual Christians, and
the Lord himself. 

I shall have made three appearances:
once all black--like the devil, 
then speckled--with nature and grace, and
then all pure--whiter than the driven snow!

I shall have undergone three momentous changes:
one at regeneration--when I passed from death unto life, 
one at death--when my soul shall be admitted into Heaven, and
one at the resurrection--when my body shall be raised powerful, glorious, and immortal.

I view three things as pre-eminently excellent:
the fear of the Lord, 
a sound judgment, and
Christ formed in the heart, as the hope of glory. 

There are three things which I may covet:
the best gifts, 
a contrite and humble spirit, and
to be filled with all the fullness of God. 

There are three things which are removed from me:
the burden of sin, 
the wrath of God, and
all condemnation. 

There are three things which I do not know:
what is before me, 
how God will provide for me, and
what I shall be. 

There are three things which I do know:
that in my flesh dwells no good, 
that though I was once blind, now I see, and
that I must needs die. 

There are three things which are prepared for me:
fountain to cleanse me, 
robe to adorn me, and
mansion to receive me. 

There are three things which await me:
a crown of righteousness, 
a palm of victory, and
a throne of glory. 

There are three things which shall be done for me:
God shall wipe away all tears from my eyes, 
God shall remove all cause of pain and sorrow from my nature, and
the Lamb in the midst of the throne shall eternally satisfy me. 

There are three things which shall never be known by me:
the frown of divine justice, 
the curse of holy Jehovah, and
the power of God's anger. 

There are three things which are hurtful to me:
carnal ease, 
the flattery of professors, and
fullness of bread. 

There are three things which benefit me:
temptation, 
affliction, and
opposition. 

There are three things which are pursued by me:
to know more of the Lord, 
to live in peace with all men, and
thorough sanctification. 

Satan tries to thwart me in three things:
by spoiling my comforts, 
hindering my usefulness, and
seeking to devour my soul. 

Satan has three things to expect:
to be disappointed of his prey, 
to be judged by the saints, and
to be eternally punished for his wickedness. 

There are three things which I would never trust:
my own heart, 
an arm of flesh, and
my treacherous memory. 

There are three subjects which I should never meddle with:
the fall of the angels, 
the origin of moral evil, and
how God will justify himself.

There are three things which I cannot understand:
the nature of God, 
the cause of my election, and
how divinity and humanity constitute one person.

There are three things which I should often think of:
what I have been, 
what I now am, and
what I shall be. 

A threefold freedom is granted me:
from the law of God,
from the reign of sin, and
to make use of, and enjoy the Lord Jesus. 

I am an heir of three worlds:
the natural, 
the spiritual, and
the eternal. 

There are three things which will never grieve me:
that I have been poor in this world, 
that I have preached the gospel fully, and
that I am related to Jesus Christ. 

There are three things which comprise all I wish:
to know God, and glorify him, 
to see Jesus, and be like him; and
to be united to the saints, and be eternally happy. 

There are three things which shall never be heard by me
Christ reproaching me, 
God disowning me, and
the devils triumphing in my everlasting destruction. 

There are three things which shall be eternally enjoyed by me:
the love of God, 
the presence of Jesus, and
the company of the saints. 

There are three things which will eternally delight me:
to be filled with holiness, 
to be employed in praising Jehovah, and
to have gained a complete victory over all my foes.

There are three things which must come down:
the pride of men, 
the devil's kingdom, and
the cause of error

There are three things which will stand:
the house built on the Rock, 
the purpose of God, and
the Messiah's kingdom. 

There are three things which cannot be removed
the church of God, 
the covenant of grace, and
the kingdom we receive. 

There are three things which will stand the fiery trial:
genuine faith, 
the Word of God, and
a real Christian. 

Lost sinners are like Satan in three things:
their nature
their employment, and
their end

Three things make Hell:
the wrath of God, 
the stings of a guilty conscience, and
black despair. 

Three things prove a man a Christian:
worshiping God in the spirit, 
rejoicing in Christ Jesus, and
having no confidence in the flesh. 

Three things are never satisfied:
a doubting Christian, 
a worldly miser, and
the man of pleasure. 

Christ fills three offices:
prophet--for the ignorant, 
priest--for the guilty, and
king--for the depraved. 

Christ has been in three states:
ancient glory,
deep humiliation, and
merited dignity. 

What more shall I say!