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

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Homosexuality....the tie that bands Evangelicals?

Most of us are familiar with The Gospel Coalition, founded by Tim Keller and co-founded by DA Carson. Some of the council members include Albert Mohler, John Piper, Allister Begg, Mark Dever, Kevin DeYoung, Ligon Duncan, Russell Moore, and Ray Ortlund, just to name a few { see https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/about/council/}. These men are the 'heavy hitters' in today's Evangelical circles, and they carry much weight and power as well as influence. 

The Gospel Coalition also has editors, one of them is a man named Sam Allberry {see his short 'bio' at https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/about/staff/}. Sam claims to be a global speaker for Ravi Zacharias international global ministries, and he claims to be a pastor. Sam also states this - 'Sam, a church pastor in Maidenhead, is a Christian because he knows that Jesus died for him and rose from the dead, and the message of Jesus makes far more sense than anything else. His life as a same-sex attacted Christian can be painful and frustrating, but more than anything it gives him great understanding and compassion for others, and a capacity for friendship that otherwise wouldn't be possible.' source - http://www.livingout.org/stories/sam

At that same site - http://www.livingout.org/who-supports-us- we find this, “Ironically, we live in a time in which it takes more courage for people to take this position publicly than to embrace homosexual practice as compatible with Christianity. But the people whose stories are on this site are not experiencing their lives as impoverished or sub-human. Their commitment to chastity within the lives God has given them is one of finding fulfilment and identity in their relationship to Christ. They show that the biblical view of homosexuality makes great sense and is even liberating when viewed from within joyful belief of the gospel story.”
Timothy Keller, Redeemer Presbyterian Church, New York
"Our Lord Jesus is, the Bible tells us, full of grace and truth. Those who follow him must also reflect his gospel truth and his gospel grace. Living Out provides a point of view of those seeking truth and grace in challenging times. These resources are anchored to biblical conviction, unwilling to be tossed around by the winds of cultural change. They are also full of mercy, offering God's grace as well as practical wisdom for those struggling to follow Christ."
Russell MoorePresident, Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, Southern Baptist Convention 
  
Did you notice what is severely lacking in those endorsements? There's no mention of homosexuality being called SIN, and there's no call to repentance! 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 makes it clear doesn't it? 
Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you". The verb 'were' in vs 11 is past tense, meaning you NO LONGER are caught in that abomination or practice it. 
So how does Sam Allberry get around this? With confusing worldly terminology, 'same sex attraction'.  I have already addressed that in another post - https://iamhis-lyn.blogspot.com/2014/03/forbidden-lust.html


We have all these big names connected to TGC, but we have NO ONE speaking out against sin and calling sinners like Sam Allberry to repentance. Instead, it is embraced, coddled, glossed over and made light of. The sad part is many of these heavy hitters are VERY influential in Christendom, they are defended even when caught in error. 
The logical conclusion concerning the lack of a sound biblical approach to the sin of homosexuality is this, these same heavy hitters are minions of Satan and are being used to 'unite' the dead apostate religion that is joining forces in these last days. 

TGC is guilty by association for NOT calling Allberry to repentance. “To be very plain, we are unable to call these things Christian Unions; they begin to look like Confederacies in Evil … It is our solemn conviction that where there can be no real spiritual communion there should be no pretense of fellowship. Fellowship with known and vital error is participation in sin.” — C.H.S., The Sword and the Trowel, November 1887

The call is to come out from among them, NOT to defend them, and that includes EVERY person associated with TGC. The true elect of God WILL separate from these wolves and we WILL call sin what it is...and we WILL defend the truth of the word of the Lord to the death if need be.  All to the praise and glory of our great Lord, God and King ---- Jesus Christ

Gird thy sword upon thy thigh, O most mighty, with thy glory and thy majesty.And in thy majesty ride prosperously because of truth and meekness and righteousness; and thy right hand shall teach thee terrible things.Thine arrows are sharp in the heart of the king's enemies; whereby the people fall under thee.-- Psalm 45:3-5

Pulpit and Pen covers up Johnny Mac's deception...*This blog does NOT endorse beginning of sorrows and its blog owner*

It was recently announced that Grace Community Church, headed by the ever Diotrephetic John MacArthur, was slated to host The Gospel Coalition’s West Coast Conference “Enduring Faithfulness” this October. This posed quite the dilemma for popular polemics blog Pulpit & Pen (hereafter referred to as P&P), as they have been outspoken critics of The Gospel Coalition and its unbilblical nature, but have unwaveringly supported John MacArthur in all of his Pharisaical folly by negligence, disregard, and willful blindness. One erroneous stipulation manufactured by the “Hardy boys” at P&P to justify error, was that MacArthur was not hosting conferences with these people at “his church,” despite the fact that he partnered with them elsewhere. This was the last thread of imagined justification they were clinging to and when news broke that MacArthur was hosting The Gospel Coalition (hereafter referred to as TGC) in his own house, as it were, they were in a bit of a predicament. You see, JD Hall of P&P believes that MacArthur will be taken home in, “a fiery chariot.” (he actually said this). He also believes that MacArthur is “venerable…. great… really awesome,” according to his most recent Polemics Report podcast . Given his infatuation with MacArthur and apparent disdain for The Gospel Coalition, it comes as no surprise that he was faced with quite the dilemma, as rebuking MacArthur is simply not an option for him or his underlings.

Monday, May 28, 2018

The Christian's armor

by A.W. Pink



In the passage which is to be before us the Apostle gathers up the whole previous subject of the Epistle into an urgent reminder of the solemn conditions under which the Christian's life is lived. By a graphic figure he shows that the Christian's life is lived on the battlefield, for we are not only pilgrims but soldiers; we are not only in a foreign country, but in the enemy's land. Though the redemption which Christ has purchased for His people be free and full, yet, between the beginning of its application to us and the final consummation of it, there is a terrible and protracted conflict through which we have to pass. This is not merely a figure of speech, but a grim reality.
Though salvation is free, yet it is not obtained without great effort. The fight to which God's children are called in this life, is one in which Christians themselves receive many sore wounds, and thousands of professors are slain. Now, as we shall see in the verses which follow, the Apostle warns us that the conflict has to do with more than human foes: the enemies we have to meet are superhuman ones, and therefore in order to successfully fight against them we need supernatural strength. We must remember that the Christian belongs to the spiritual realm as well as the natural, and so he has spiritual as well as natural foes; and hence he needs spiritual strength as well as physical.
Therefore the Apostle begins here by saying, "Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power" (Eph. 6:10). The word "finally" denotes that the Apostle had reached his closing exhortation, and the words "be strong" link up with what immediately proceeds as well as with what now follows. Some of you will remember that the whole of the fifth, and opening verses of the sixth chapters are filled with exhortations: exhortations which pertain to each aspect of the Christian life; exhortations to regulate him in the home, in business, in the world. Those exhortations are addressed to the husband, wife, child, master, servant, and in order for the Christian to obey them he needs to "be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power." Thus, the call which is given in verse 10 is not only an introduction to what follows, but is also closely related to that which precedes.
"Finally"—after all the Christian duties I have set before you in the previous verses, now—"be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power." The words "Be strong" mean to muster strength for the conflict, and be strong "in the Lord" signifies we must seek that strength from the only source from which we can obtain it. Note carefully it is not "be strong from the Lord," nor is it "be strengthened by the Lord." No, it is "be strong in the Lord." Perhaps you will get the thought if I use this analogy: just as a thumb that is amputated is useless, and just as a branch cut off from the vine withers, so a Christian whose fellowship with the Lord has been broken, is in a strengthless, fruitless, useless state. Thus, "be strong in the Lord" means first of all, see to it that you maintain a live practical relationship to and remain in constant communion with the Lord. Just as my arm must be a part of, a member, in my body, if it is to be vitalized and fitted to perform its functions, so I must be in real touch with the Lord, in daily communion with Him, in living contact—not in theory, but in actual experience.
It is deeply important that we should, before we proceed farther, grasp the exhortation found in verse 10: otherwise there will be no strength for the conflict. "Be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power." At first sight there seems to be a needless repetition there; but it is not so. A soldier not only needs strength of body for the carrying of his heavy weapons, for the strain of long marches, and for the actual fighting, but he also needs courage: a powerful giant who is a coward would make a pitiful soldier. The two chief things which are needed for one engaged in fighting, are strength and courage, or vitality and a brave heart; and that is what is in view in verse 10—the last clause brings in the thought of boldness. "Be strong": in faith, in hope, in wisdom, in patience, in fortitude, in every Christian grace. To be strong in grace, is to be weak in sin.
It is vitally essential to remember that we need to have our strength and courage renewed daily. Be strong in the Lord: seek His strength at the beginning of each day—"those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength" (Isaiah 40:31). God does not impart strength to us wholesale: He will not give me strength on Monday morning to last through the week. No, there has to be the renewing of our strength, and that strength has to be drawn from the Lord by the actings of faith, appropriating from His "fullness." The enemies we have to contend with cannot be overcome by human wisdom and might. Unless we go forth to the conflict continually looking to Christ for all needed supplies of grace, deriving all our vitality from Him, we are sure to be defeated.
"Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil" (Eph. 6:11). Our first need is to stir up ourselves to resist temptation by a believing reliance upon God's all-sufficient grace, that is, obtaining from Him the strength which will enable us to go forth and fight against the foe. Our second greatest need is to be well armed for the conflict into which we must daily enter. This is the relation between verses 10 and 11: "Be strong in the Lord" and "Put on the whole armor of God": first, stir up yourselves to resist temptation, seeking strength at the beginning of the day for the conflict; then see to it that you take unto yourselves, put on, the whole armor of God.
The Christian is engaged in a warfare. There is a fight before him, hence armor is urgently needed. It is impossible for us to stand against the wiles of the devil unless we avail ourselves of the provisions which God has made for enabling us to stand. Observe it is called "the armor of God." Just as the strength we need, comes not from ourselves, but must be supplied by the Lord; so our means of defense lie not in our own powers and faculties, but only as they are quickened by God. It is called the "armor of God" because He both provides and bestows it, for we have none of our own; and yet, while this armor is of God's providing and bestowing, we have to "put it on"! God does not fit it on us; He places it before us; and it is our responsibility, duty, task, to put on the whole armor of God.
This same figure of "the armor" is used three times in the Epistles of Paul, and I believe we find in them a reference to the Trinity. I think the "armor of righteousness" (2 Cor. 6:7) looks more particularly unto Christ; the "armor of light" (Romans 13:12) more especially to the Holy Spirit, who is the One that immediately illuminates us: and the "armor of God" unto the the Father, who is the Provider of it.
Now it is very important we should recognize that this term "armor" is a figurative one, a metaphor, and refers not to something which is material or carnal. It is a figurative expression denoting the Christian's graces: the various parts of the armor represent the different spiritual graces which are to protect his varied faculties; and when we are told to "put on" the armor, it simply means we are to call into exercise and action our graces. Notice, "Put on the whole armor of God," that is, avoiding the snares of the devil; or to drop the figure, so exercise all the Christian graces that no part of the soul is exposed unto the Enemy. Those who wish to approve themselves of being in possession of Grace, must see to it that they have all the graces of a saint.
"Put on the whole armor of God, that (in order that) you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil" (Eph. 6:11). There is no standing against him if we are not armored: or to drop the figure, there is no success in resisting the devil if our graces be not in exercise. On the other hand, there is no failing and falling before him if our graces are healthy and active. "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places" (v. 12). The opening "For" has the force of "Because": the Apostle is advancing a reason, which virtually amounts to an argument, so as to enforce the exhortation just given. Because we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, not against puny human enemies no stronger than ourselves, but against powers and rulers of the darkness of this world: therefore the panoply of God is essential. That is brought in to emphasize the terribleness of the conflict before us. It is no imaginary one, and no ordinary foes we have to meet; but spiritual, superhuman, invisible ones. Those enemies seek to destroy faith and produce doubt. They seek to destroy hope and produce despair. They seek to destroy humility and produce pride. They seek to destroy peace and produce bitterness and malice. They seek to prevent our enjoyment of heavenly things by getting us unduly occupied with earthly things. Their attack is not upon the body, but upon the soul.
"Therefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand" (v. 13). The opening "Therefore" means, in view of the fact that we wrestle against these powerful superhuman, invisible foes, who hate us with a deadly hatred and are seeking to destroy us; therefore appropriate and use the provision which God has made, so that we may stand and withstand. The first clause of verse 13 explains the opening words of verse 11. Verse 11 says "put on," make use of all proper defensive weapons for repulsing the attacks and the 13th says "take unto you the whole armor of God": we "put on" by taking it "unto us," that is, by appropriation, by making it our own. "That you may be able to withstand": to withstand is the opposite of yielding, of being tripped up, thrown down, by the devil's temptations; it means that we stand our ground, strive against and resist the devil.
"That you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand": the "stand" is the opposite of a slothful sleep or a cowardly flight. We have that illustrated in the case of the Apostles. In Gethsemane they did not "stand," but lay down and slept at the post of duty. No wonder that a little later they all "forsook Him and fled" (Matt. 26:56)! I want you to notice that we are not here told to advance. We are only ordered to "stand." God has not called His people to an aggressive war upon Satan, to invade his territory, and seek to wrest from him what is his; but He has told us to occupy the ground which He has allotted us.
This is the third time in these verses the Spirit of God has repeated that word "Stand"—not advance, not rush hither and there, like a crazy person. "Stand therefore" is all God has told us to do in our conflict with the devil.
1. "Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth" (Eph. 6:14). Now that brings before us the first of the seven pieces of the Christian's Armor which is mentioned in the passage. First, let me warn you against the carnalization of this word, thinking of something that is external, visible, or tangible. The figure of the "belt" is taken from a well known custom in Oriental countries, where the people all wear long flowing outer garments reaching to the feet, which would impede their actions when walking, working or fighting. The first thing a person does there when about to be active, is to gird up around his waist that outer garment which trails to the ground. When the garment is not girded and hangs down, it indicates the person is at rest. To "gird up" is therefore the opposite of sloth and ease, following the line of least resistance. Be girded about with a belt of truth.
I believe there is a double reference or meaning here in the word "truth." But first of all, I want to take up what it is that we need to "gird." The breastplate is for the heart, the helmet for the head, what, then, is the "belt" for? In that from which the figure is borrowed, the reference is to the waist. But what does that metaphor denote? Plainly, the center or mainspring of all our activities. And what is that? Obviously, it is the mind. The mind is the mainspring of action: first the thought, and then the carrying out of it. 1 Peter 1:13 helps us here: "gird up the loins of your mind." "Having your loins girt about with truth" (Eph. 6:14): it is not so much our embracing the truth, as the truth embracing us. Thus, the spiritual reference is to the holding in and regulation of the thoughts of the mind. The mind "girded up," means a mind which is disciplined; the opposite of one where the thoughts are allowed to run loose and wild.
Again; the "loins" are the place of strength, so is the mind. If we allow our thoughts and imaginations to run wild, we will have no communion with God, and no power against Satan. If our thoughts are not brought into captivity, in obedience to Christ, the devil will soon gain a hold over us. "Having your loins girt about with truth." I think the word "truth" has reference, in the first place, to the Word of God: "Your Word is truth" (John 17:17): that is what must regulate the mind, control the thoughts, subdue the imaginations: there must be a knowledge of, faith in, love for, subjection to, God's Word. "Stand therefore, having your loins (your mind) girt about with truth" (v. 14). Now that suggests to us the characteristic quality of the adversary against whom we are called upon to arm. Satan is a liar, and we can only meet him with the Truth. Satan prevails over ignorance by means of guile or deceit; but he has no power over those whose minds are regulated by the Truth of God. "If you continue in My Word, then are you My disciples indeed; And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:3132)—"free" from the toils, the power, the deceptions of Satan.
I think the word "truth" here has a second meaning. Take for example Psalm 51:6, God "desire truth in the inward parts": "truth" there signifies reality, sincerity. Truth is the opposite of hypocrisy, pretense, unreality. That is why the belt of truth comes first, because if it is lacking, everything else is vain and useless. The strength of every grace lies in the sincerity of it. In 1 Timothy 1:5 we read of "sincere faith," which means true, genuine, real faith; in contrast from a faith which is only theoretical, notional, lifeless, inoperative—a faith which utterly withers before the fires of testing. "Grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity" (Eph. 6:24). That is another discriminating verse, distinguishing between a real and false love, a true and faithless love.
There are thousands of Protestants who have a similar love for Christ as Romanists have for His mother, Mary: it is merely a natural love, a fleshly sentiment, a carnal emotion. But genuine, spiritual love for Him, strives to please Him: it is an intensely practical thing, a principle of holy obedience. O how we need to examine our graces and test them by Scripture, to see whether our faith and love be genuine. We repeat that, reality and sincerity are the strengths of every Christian grace. That is why the belt of Truth comes first in the different pieces of armor. The belt of Truth (corresponding to the military belt of the warrior) signifies, then, the mind being regulated by the Word of God, and guarded by real sincerity; and this alone will protect us against Satan's temptations unto slackness, of guile and hypocrisy.
Only as this is "put on" by us, shall we be able to "stand against the wiles of the devil": to "stand" is to so "resist" him that he does not throw us down. To "put on" the belt of truth means applying the Word to the first movements of our minds. This is where Eve failed: she had received the Word, but not in the love of it. Instead of resisting the devil, she parleyed with him. Instead of the truth bridling her imaginations and desires, she cast it from her. How different with Christ! When Satan approached Him, He was girded with the belt of truth: His thoughts were regulated by the Word, and there was an absolute sincerity Godwards.
2. The second part or piece of the Christian's armor is mentioned in Ephesians 6:14: "And having on the breastplate of righteousness." First of all, notice the connecting "and," which intimates that there is a very close relation between the mind being girded with truth, and the heart protected with the breastplate of righteousness. All of these seven pieces of armor are not so connected, but the "and" here between the first two denotes that they are inseparably united. Now, obviously, the breastplate of righteousness is that protection which we need for the heart. This verse is closely parallel to Proverbs 4:23, "Keep your heart with all diligence," understanding by the "heart" the affections and conscience.
As there was a double reference in the word "truth," first to the Word of God, and second to sincerity of spirit, so I believe there is a double reference here in "the breastplate of righteousness." I think it refers both to that righteousness which Christ wrought out for us, and that righteousness which the Spirit works in us; both the righteousness which is imputed and the righteousness which is imparted; which is what we need if we are to withstand the attacks of Satan.
We might compare 1 Thessalonians 5:8, "Let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love." I have been quite impressed of late in noting how frequently that word "sober" occurs in the Epistles. Soberness is that which should characterize and identify the people of God. It is the opposite of that superficial flightiness, which is one of the outstanding marks of worldlings today. It is the opposite of levity, and also of that feverish restlessness of the flesh, by which so many are intoxicated religiously and every other way. "But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love." Here, of course, it has the secondary meaning of what is in view in Ephesians 6:14; it is the practical righteousness, like what we find in Revelation 19:8.
This second piece of armor, as I have said, is inseparably connected with the belt of truth, for sincerity of mind and holiness of heart must go together. It is in vain we pretend to the former, if the latter be lacking. Where there is genuine sincerity of mind, there will be, and is, holiness of heart. To put on the breastplate of righteousness, means to maintain the power of holiness over our affections and conscience! A verse that helps us to understand this is Acts 24:16, "Herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offense toward God, and toward men." There you have an illustration of a man taking unto himself, putting on the "breastplate of righteousness." Paul exercised himself to maintain a good conscience, both Godward and manward, and that requires daily diligence and persistent effort.
Now the breastplate of righteousness is for withstanding Satan's temptations unto unholiness. The belt of truth is to meet Satan's evil suggestions to defile the mind; the breastplate of righteousness is needed to foil his efforts to corrupt the affections or defile the conscience. Where there is not a conscience which reproaches us, then we soon fall victims to other attacks of the devil.
3. Passing on to the third piece of armor: "And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace" (Eph. 6:15). This is perhaps the most difficult of the seven pieces of armor to understand and define: and yet, if we hold fast the first thought that the Holy Spirit is using a figure of speech here, that the reference is to that which is internal rather than external, spiritual rather than material, and also that He is following a logical order; there should not be much difficulty in ascertaining what is meant by the sandals of peace. Just as the belt of truth has to do with the mind, the breastplate of righteousness with the heart, so the shoes for the feet are a figure of that which concerns the will. At first sight that may sound far-fetched, and yet if we will think for a moment it should be obvious that what the feet are to the body, the will is to the soul. The feet carry the body from place to place, and the will is that which directs the activities of the soul; what the will decides, that is what we do.
Now the will is to be regulated by the peace of the Gospel. What is meant by that? This, in becoming reconciled to God and in having goodwill to our fellows, the Gospel is the means or instrument that God uses. We are told in Psalm 110:3 "Your people shall be willing in the day of Your power": that means far more than they shall be ready to hearken to and believe the glad tidings of the Gospel. There is brought over into the Gospel, substantially, everything which was contained in both the moral and ceremonial Law. The Gospel is not only a message of good news, but a Divine commandment and rule of conduct: "For the time is come that judgment must (not "shall"—now, not in the future!) begin at the House of God: and if it first begins at us, what shall the end be of those who obey not the Gospel of God?" (1 Peter 4:17). Yes, the Gospel is a rule to submit unto, a Divine fiat which demands obedience: "your professed subjection unto the Gospel of Christ" (2 Cor. 9:13). Those words are absolutely meaningless today in nine circles out of ten throughout Christendom, for the "Gospel" does not signify anything to them except "glad tidings"—there is nothing to be in "subjection to"! This is partly what I have in mind when saying there is carried over into and embodied in the Gospel the substance of everything which was found in the Law.
Let me put it in another form: All the exhortations contained in the New Testament Epistles are nothing more than explanations and applications of the Ten Commandments. The Gospel requires us to deny ourselves, take up the cross daily, and follow Christ in the path of unreserved obedience to God. "Your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace" signifies, with alacrity and readiness, response to God's revealed will. The peace of "the Gospel" comes from walking in subjection to its terms and by fulfilling the duties which it prescribes. Just so far as we are obedient to it, we experimentally enjoy its peace. Thus, this third piece of armor is for fortifying the will against Satan's temptations unto self-will and disobedience, and this, by subjection to the Gospel.
Just as the feet are the members which convey the body from place to place, so the will directs the soul; and just as the feet must be adequately shod if we are to walk properly and comfortably, so the will must be brought into subjection unto the revealed will of God if we are to enjoy His peace. Let there be that complete surrender daily, the dedicating of ourselves to God, and then we will be impervious unto Satan's attacks and temptations to disobedience. Just as the belt of truth is to protect us from Satan's efforts to fill the mind with wandering thoughts and evil imaginations, just as the breastplate of righteousness is God's provision to protect us from Satan's efforts to corrupt our hearts and produce that which is unholy; so having our feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel of peace means the will being brought into subjection to God, and that protects us from Satan's temptation unto disobedience.
You will notice when we come to the fourth piece of armor, the "and" is lacking. The first three were joined together, for that which is denoted by those figurative terms is inseparably linked together—the mind, the heart, the will: there you have the complete inner man.
4. "Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith you shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one" (v. 16). I think the words "above all" have a double force. First, literally understanding them as a preposition of place, meaning over-all, shielding as a canopy, protecting the mind, heart, and will. There must be faith in exercise, if those three parts of our inner being are to be guarded. Second, "above all" may be taken adverbially, signifying, chiefly, pre-eminently, supremely. It is an essential thing that you should take the shield of faith, for Hebrews 11:6 tells us, "But without faith it is impossible to please Him." Yes, even if there were sincerity, love, and a pliable will, yet without faith we could not please Him. Therefore, "above all" take unto you the shield of faith.
Faith is all in all resisting temptations. We must be fully persuaded of the Divine inspiration of the Scriptures if we are to be awed by their precepts and cheered by their encouragements; we will never heed properly the Divine warnings or consolations, unless we have explicit confidence in their Divine authorship. The whole victory is here ascribed to faith "above all": it is not by the breastplate, helmet, or sword, but by the shield of faith that we are enabled to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.
It seems to be a general principle in the Spirit's arrangement of things in Scripture, to put the most vital thing in the center: we have seven pieces of armor, and the shield of faith is the fourth! Faith is the life of all the graces. If faith is not in exercise, love, hope, patience cannot be. Here we find faith is likened unto a "shield," because it is intended for the defense of the whole man. The shield of the soldier is something he grips, and raises or lowers as it is needed. It is for the protection of his entire person.
Now the figure which the Holy Spirit uses here in connection with Satan's attacks, is taken from one of the devices of the ancients in their warfare, namely, the use of darts which had been dipped in tar and set on fire, in order to blind their foes: that is what lies behind the metaphor of "quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one"; what is in view, is Satan's efforts to prevent our looking upward! When those darts are in the air the soldiers had to bow their heads to avoid them, holding their shields above. And Satan is seeking to prevent our looking upward.
The attacks of the devil are likened to "fiery darts," first, because of the wrath with which he shoots them. There is intense hatred in Satan against the child of God. Again; the very essence of his temptations is to inflame the passions and distress the conscience. He aims to enkindle covetousness, to excite worldly ambition, to ignite our lusts. In James 3:6 we read, "the tongue is set on fire of hell"—that means the devil's "fiery darts" have affected it. The third reason why his temptations are likened unto "fiery darts" is because of the end to which they lead if not quenched; should Satan's temptations be followed out to the end, they would land us in the lake of fire. The figure of "darts" denotes that his temptations are swift, noiseless, dangerous.
Now taking the shield of faith means appropriating the Word and acting on it. The shield is to protect the whole person, wherever the attack be made, whether on spirit, or soul, or body; and there is that in the Word which is exactly suited unto each, but faith must lay hold of and employ it. Now in order to use the shield of faith effectually the Word of Christ needs to dwell in us "richly" (Col. 3:16). We must have available a word which is pertinent for the particular temptation presented. For example, if tempted unto covetousness, I must use, "Lay not up for yourselves treasure on earth"; when solicited by evil companions, "If sinners entice you, consent not"; if tempted to harshness, "Be kindly affectioned one to another." It is because the details of Scripture have so little place in our meditations, that Satan trips us so frequently.
"Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith you shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one" (Eph 6:16). Like most of the other terms used, "faith" here also has a double signification. The faith which is to be our "shield" is both an objective and a subjective one. It has reference, first, to the Word of God—the authority of which is ever binding upon me. It points, secondly, to my confidence in that Word, the heart going out in trustful expectation to the Author of it, and counting upon its efficacy to repulse the devil.
5. "And take the helmet of salvation" (v. 17). This is the fifth piece of the Christian's armor. First of all we may note the link between the fourth and fifth pieces as denoted by the word "and," for this helps us to define what the "helmet of salvation" is; it is linked with faith! Hebrews 11:1 tells us, "faith is the substance of things hoped for," and if we compare 1 Thessalonians 5:8 we get a confirmation of that thought: "But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation." Here in Thessalonians, then, we have "hope" directly connected with "the helmet."
Incidentally, this verse is one of many in the New Testament which puts salvation in the future, rather than in the past!—hope always looks forward, having to do with things to come; as Romans 8:25 tells us, "But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it." Now faith and hope are inseparable: they are one in birth, and one in growth; and, we may add, one in decay. If faith languishes, hope is listless. By the helmet of salvation, then, I understand the heart's expectation of the good things promised, a well-grounded assurance that God will make good to His people those things which His Word presents for future accomplishment.
We might link up with this, 1 John 3:3—scriptural hope purifies. It delivers from discontent and despair, it comforts the heart in the interval of waiting. Satan is unable to get a Christian to commit many of the grosser sins which are common in the world, so he attacks along other lines. Often he seeks to cast a cloud of gloom over the soul, or produce anxiety about the future. Despondency is one of his favorite weapons, for he knows well that "the joy of the Lord" is our "strength" (Neh. 8:10), hence his frequent efforts to dampen our spirits. To repulse these, we are to "take the helmet of salvation": that is, we are to exercise hope
6. "And the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God" (v. 17). God has provided His people with an offensive weapon as well as defensive ones. At first sight that may seem to clash with what we said about Christians not being called upon to be aggressive against Satan, seeking to invade his territory and wrest it from him. But this verse does not clash to the slightest degree. 2 Corinthians 7:1 gives us the thought: "Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit": that is the active, aggressive side of the Christian's warfare. We are not only to resist our lusts—but to subdue and overcome them.
It is significant to note how late the "Sword of the Spirit" is mentioned in this list. Some have thought that it should have come first, but it is not mentioned until the sixth. Why? I believe there is a twofold reason. First, because all the other graces that have been mentioned are necessary in order to make a right use of the Word. If there is not a sincere mind and a holy heart we shall only handle the Word dishonestly. If there is not practical righteousness, then we shall only be handling the Word theoretically. If there is not faith and hope we shall only misuse it. All the Christian graces that are figuratively contemplated under the other pieces of armor, must be in exercise before we can profitably handle the Word of God.
Second, it teaches us that, even when the Christian has attained unto the highest point possible in this life, he still needs the Word. Even when he has upon him the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, his feet shod with the shoes of the preparation of the Gospel of peace, and has taken unto himself the shield of faith and the helmet of salvation, he still needs the Word!
The Word of God is here called "the Sword of the Spirit" because He is the Author, the Interpreter, and the Applier of it. He is the only One who can give it power over us. We can handle the Word, meditate upon it, pray over it, and it has no effect upon us whatever, unless the Spirit applies His Sword! If you think of this verse in the light of Christ's temptation, you will find that He used that Sword for self-defense in repulsing the assaults of the devil: He was not aggressively attacking him! And blessed, too, is it to mark that, as the dependent Man, He used that weapon in the power of "the Spirit": See Matthew 4:1Luke 4:14.
7. The last piece of armor is given in verse 18, "Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints." Prayer is that which alone gives us the necessary strength to use the other pieces of armor! After the Christian has taken unto himself those six pieces, before he is thoroughly furnished to go forth unto battle and fitted for victory, he needs the help of his General. For this, the Apostle bids us to pray "always" with all supplication of the Spirit. We are to fight upon our knees! Only prayer can keep alive the different spiritual graces which are figured by the various pieces of armor.
"Praying always": in every season—in times of joy as well as sorrow, in days of adversity as well as prosperity. Not only so, but "watching thereunto with all perseverance": that is one of the essential elements in prevailing prayer—persistency. Watch yourself that you do not let up, become slack or discouraged. Keep on! The 18th verse is as though the Apostle said, "Forget not to seek unto the God of this 'armor,' and make humble supplication for His assistance; for only He who has given us these arms can enable us to make a successful use of them."
Some have called it the "all verse." "Praying always with all prayer . . . with all perseverance and supplication for all saints": think not only of yourself, but also of your fellow-soldiers who are engaged in the same conflict!
Question—What does the 12th verse mean?

Answer—It does not refer to the sphere or place where the "wrestling" itself is done, but emphasizes the fact that the foes which attack the Christian are superhuman. We are not to interpret that verse by the language of earth's geography: it does not say "for we wrestle in high places against principalities and powers." No, the high places are connected with those who attack the Christian, and not with the place where the wrestling is done.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

The push to accept the sin of homosexuality

This is a very informative podcast from Janet Mefferd exposing the likes of Tim Keller, founder of  TGC, and Al Mohler, both of whom have muddied the waters concerning the sin of homosexuality. I do not agree with Littleton's views on certain things he speaks about, the main purpose of this post is to reveal the compromise that is subtly taking place thanks to men like DA Carson, Keller and Mohler, and the training in the seminaries that are producing these activists.

Here is the link for the podcast - https://watch.pairsite.com/5-18-18-Janet-Mefferd-Today.mp3

Friday, May 18, 2018

Soul winning?

This was originally posted at https://michaeljeshurun.wordpress.com/2016/03/10/soul-winning-gods-business-or-mans/  and is a most excellent read!





 J.F. Poole
“What is soul winning? Some people have a difficult time dealing with that title. But then some people just love to argue about terminology. Whether a person does or does not agree with the title ‘soul winning,’ he must admit that the subject is in the Bible. The Bible speaks of it in Proverbs 11.30 ‘The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise.’” [From an exchange paper purporting to be Calvinistic.]
As can be seen from the above quote, soul winning is a popular trade among the harlot daughters of Babylon. Throwing out a verse from the scriptures, such as Proverbs 11:30, to buttress their zeal is also a prevailing practice. It matters little to them if the verse has only a perceived bearing on the subject. Toss it out for general consumption anyway.
The common opinion among these dandy little servants of Mother Babylon goes like this: “The primary reason God leaves His little children here on earth after ‘saving’ them is so they may plunder the highways and hedges to win souls.” “The harvest is ripe,” according to these traffickers, and “souls perish for want of sufficient winners.” That would be grave indeed, were it so; but as long as we have a Bible in our hands we shall vehemently deny it.
Before giving our understanding of Proverbs 11:30 in particular, and “soul winning & dquo; in general, we offer another extract from the above exchange article:
“The Hebrew word for ‘winneth’ is laqach and means ‘to get, fetch, lay hold of, bring.’ That is what we do when we witness to lost people. We get them and bring them to us by inviting them to church, inviting them to our home or to a restaurant. We ‘bring’ them to a hearing of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”
As far as it goes, the definition of the Hebrew word is correct, even though the rest of the paragraph is a conglomeration derived from the fleshly works system. We give here the complete quotation of the Strong’s Concordance definition for laqach for the reader”s consideration: 3947. laqach, law-kakh’; a prim, root; to take (in the widest variety of applications):—accept, bring, buy, carry away, drawn, fetch, get, infold, X many, mingle, place, receive (-ing), reserve, seize, send for, take (away, -ing, up), use, win. Integrity might have required that the author also contend for other of these renderings, such as ACCEPT, or SEIZE, rather than to select only those words that seem to further a pet notion. But dishonesty knows no bounds, and false zeal has never bothered with accuracy. Our complaint with the writer, however, is not so much his contorted selection of word meanings to employ as it is with his application. None but the depraved would, in the light of Truth, apply ‘winneth’ to lost people; at least in the way he means ‘lost people.’ To the Arminian (which is nothing more than a naked Calvinist) mind, the lost are those that have not yet experienced being born again, or a work of grace.
If there is one obvious doctrine of the Scriptures that clangs a death knell for “soul winning” it is the doctrine of the total, utter depravity of sinners lost in Adam’s fall. All the race of man has fallen and died in Adam (Romans 5:12-14; 6:23). Perhaps the soul winning author has not yet learned that those dead in sin are really, truly and completely spiritually dead; spiritually dead as dead can be. Perhaps too he believes he can fan a spark of his own kindling in these dead souls and bring up in them some few flames of life after all. We would as quickly expect to see Jesus fail in giving life to His chosen dead as to see the Arminian author succeed in his efforts. But our author will cry out, “You have not quoted me entirely. I have been taken out of context.” Not to worry, Mr. Arminian Soul Winner; we shall, the Lord willing, give enough of your diatribe to “get you into context.”
“Now salvation is a different matter. Winning a soul (a person) is persuading him to listen to the truth of the Gospel. Christians can ‘win’ souls that way. But we cannot save a soul, so we do not win a soul in the sense of saving him. We can bring him to the Lord by encouraging him to think about the message of the Gospel, but we cannot bring him to the Lord in salvation. Only the Lord can save!”
Amazing, isn’t it? Only the Lord can save, but He, according to the author, sub-contracts the business of bringing these dead souls, ‘(a person),’ to Him first. We recall the Lord saying to this author’s sanctimonious counterparts of old, “And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life (John 5:40).” Perhaps the author and his tribe believe the Lord should have added, “But I shall shortly send unto you a people imbued with universal charity, called soul winners; them ye shall hear and follow (from the Volume of Contorted Notions).” The writer also alludes to persuading souls to listen to the truth of the gospel. We are very aware of Paul persuading men (II Corinthians 5:11), but it was certainly not a persuasion aimed at turning goats into sheep, or raising those dead in sin to adhere to gospel precepts. In fact, his condemnation of such a practice elsewhere was just the contrary. “This persuasion cometh not of him that calleth you. A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump (Galatians 5:8,9).”
Mr. Arminian Author would also have his soul winning allies “encourage him to think about the message of the gospel.” Perhaps the following Scripture has also escaped his blighted mind: “The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts (Psalms 10:4).” Unhumbled sinners will neither seek after God, the gospel, or truth in general; none of these are in all his thoughts. Neither, can we believe, shall the most dedicated soul winner persuade the sinner to think otherwise.
We offer one other quote from this deluded religionist:
“We may win souls, and those souls may never be saved; but we must win souls. We must tell about Jesus. Romans 10:17 says ‘So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.’ We must tell, God must draw, and the sinner must repent and believe.”
In all our years of hearing these fanatics, we have never come across a more jumbled bit of Ashdod mumblings. About the most charitable thing we can say concerning the above is that the poor fellow has a total lack of understanding of what he is saying, and, “The man that wandereth out of the way of understanding shall remain in the congregation of the dead (Proverbs 21:16).” This soul winning parson informs us that souls may be won, yet be lost after all; but nevertheless the imperative need remains to win souls. Is this not lame reasoning based on unequal premises? “The legs of the lame are not equal: so is a parable in the mouth of fools (Proverbs 26:7).”
“We must tell, God must draw, and the sinner must repent and believe.” This vain reasoning, which attempts to place God on a level equal to wretched sinners, deserves some careful comparison with the Divine Record. “These things hast thou done, and I kept silence; thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself: but I will reprove thee, and set them in order before thine eyes (Psalms 5:.21).” And again: “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts (Isaiah 55:9).” Soul winners, those fancied rescuers of lost sinners, may vainly imagine they MUST tell, but who, we ask, has required this of them? Can it possibly be dreamed that God has NEED of them to round up these otherwise lost souls? Soul winners may also be deluded that the sinner MUST repent and believe, but will that square with the Bible? Is not repentance and belief as much a gift as eternal life itself? And if so, then would not repentance and belief be contingent on the “must tell” of soul winners for God to impart it? Absurd, is it not?
“God must draw.” MUST draw? To whom shall the God of all power be made amenable? That God will draw some to come to Jesus is clear from John 6:44, but we know of no influence that may require Him to draw except His own holy purposes. Are we to suppose that if the soul winners of this wretched world put forth a special effort in order to effect their religious hoax on the lost that God would be obliged to ‘draw’ them? Surely, “There are many devices in a man’s heart; nevertheless the counsel of the LORD, that shall stand (Proverbs 19:21).”
“The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise (Proverbs 11.30).” We understand the righteous to be those that are made so by the imputed righteousness of Christ, for all their righteousnesses are as filthy rags. Left alone they would be as destitute of any God-pleasing attributes as the most wicked rogue that ever lived. Their fruit consists of only such things as grow from the planting of God, and as He blesses them to yield their fruit for the harvest it will be, as always, after its kind – a tree of life. There is no blighted or dead fruit to be cast off before the harvest. All will mature and come forth to the glory of their kind Husbandman and Lord of the harvest. David had been taught this truth for he wrote, “And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper (Psalm 1:3).”
Notice well, “HE SHALL BE LIKE A TREE…” Is not Christ the tree of Life to which all His children will be conformed? “Say ye to the righteous, that it shall be well with him: for they shall eat the fruit of their doings (Isaiah 3:10).” Do not the children of God feed on Christ, as He dwells in them? We would suggest the reader ponder carefully the references Christ made to the tree and its fruits in the New Testament; Matthew 7:17, 12:33 and Luke 3.9.
“And he that winneth souls is wise.” If blessed to discover who is the wise one spoken of here it is certain we shall as well learn who it is that wins souls. We have long held the view that the wise one here that winneth souls is Christ personally, for surely He alone is sufficient to both woo and win a poor sinner in need of deliverance. God alone knoweth them that are His, and He has known them from all eternity. They were written up in the Book of life of the Lamb, and were as secure as if they were already in heaven. “The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn thee (Jeremiah 31:3).”
Yes, God must draw, but not because a fanatic soul winner has ranted off his Ashdod soul winning spiel to a sinner; rather God draws with a loving-kindness rooted in an everlasting love for those He chose in Christ before the highest hills were laid. Should there be a Pharisee so bold as to insist God has nevertheless commissioned him to round up prospects for heaven by implementing the soul winning hustle, we envy them not.
We freely admit there are those, called by grace, described in the Bible as wise. And we freely insist as well that those wise ones are made wise only as they stand in Christ. Daniel spoke of these wise ones: “And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever (Daniel 12:3).” As Christ shined with glistering white when overshadowed by the presence of His Father on the mount, even so these wise ones shine in the effulgence of their Father and God. Called of God as anointed witnesses, they, in their heavenly calling, turn, or point the way, to Christ their Righteousness in proclaiming the gospel they were sent to preach. How vastly superior is this turning, appointed by God Himself, to the cheap, Bablyonish theatrics of the self-appointed soul winners. When God sends out teachers, we may be sure He has students for them to address. When God raises up pastors, there will be flocks to turn to Righteousness. Paul will plant, Apollos will water, but God shall give the increase; all this, we may add, without the benefit of soul winners.
There is another sort of wise individual that demands our attention. They are described by Paul as he addressed the Corinthians. “For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world (I Corinthians 1:19, 20)?” It would be more than a strain on one’s sensibilities to claim these wise fellows were the same as the wise soul winner mentioned in Proverbs 11:30. These wise ones do, however, perfectly match the conduct of the author we quoted along with all his cohorts. Surely, the wisdom necessary to win a soul lies only with our Lord and not with these that are wise only in the world’s foolishness.
 PAUL’S EXAMPLE
“And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God (I Corinthians 2:1-5).”
We might search these profound words till time shall be no more and never find a clue that Paul ever dreamed of what is passed off today as soul winning. No excellency of speech; no buttonholing the unsuspecting; no plans of salvation for those who would “accept Jesus”; not an enticing word. If we are to follow Paul as he followed Christ, we would shun the soul winning business as a self-aggrandizing farce. Our Lord will call His sheep by name, for He knows them. Hireling soul winners cannot do this. Our Lord bids the weary to come to Him. This too is something even the most dedicated hireling among the soul winner cannot do.
“Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision. For we are the circumcision which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have not confidence in the flesh (Philippians 3:2,3).” No confidence in the flesh fairly well sums up our attitude towards soul winners and their nefarious schemes.


Thursday, May 17, 2018

God has spoken


"It is not a question of what I think, or of what any one else thinks—it is, What saith the Scriptures? It is not a matter of what any church or creed teaches—it is, What teaches the Bible? God has spoken, and that ends the matter: “Forever, O Lord, Thy Word is settled in heaven.”
~ Arthur Pink, “Divine Inspiration of the Bible”

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

The fight of faith

Arthur W. Pink

There are some who teach that those Christians who engage in spiritual fighting are living below their privileges. They insist that God is willing to do all our fighting for us. Their pet slogan is, “Let go, and let God.” They say that the Christian should turn the battle over to Christ. There is a half truth in this, yet only a half truth, and carried to extremes it becomes error. The half truth is that the child of God has no inherent strength of his own: says Christ to His disciples, “Without Me, ye can do nothing” (John 15:5). Yet this does not mean that we are to be merely passive, or that the ideal state in this life is simply to be galvanized automations. There is also a positive, an active, aggressive side to the Christian life, which calls for the putting forth of our utmost endeavours, the use of every faculty, a personal and intelligent co-operation with Christ.

There is not a little of what is known as “the victorious life” teaching which is virtually a denial of the Christian’s responsibility. It is lopsided. While emphasizing one aspect of truth, it sadly ignores other aspects equally necessary and important to be kept before us. God’s Word declares that “every man shall bear his own burden” (Galatians 6:5), which means, that he must discharge his personal obligation. Saints are bidden to “Cleanse themselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit” (2 Cor. 7:1), and to “keep themselves unspotted from the world” (James 1:27). We are exhorted to “overcome evil with good” (Rom. 12:21). The apostle Paul declared, “I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection” (1 Cor. 9:27). Thus, to deny that a Christian is called upon to engage in a ceaseless warfare with the flesh, the world, and the Devil, is to fly in the face of many plain Scriptures.

There is a very real twofoldness to the Christian life, and every aspect of Divine truth is balanced by its counterpart. Practical godliness is a mysterious paradox, which is incomprehensible to the natural man. The Christian is strongest when he is weakest, wealthiest when he is poorest, happiest when most wretched. Though unknown (1 John 3:1); yet he is well known (Gal. 4:9). Though dying daily (1 Cor. 15:31), yea, dead; yet, behold, he lives (Col. 3:3-4). Though having nothing, yet he possesses all things (2 Cor. 6:10). Though persecuted, he is not forsaken; cast down, he is not destroyed. He is called upon to “rejoice with trembling” (Psalm 2:11), and is assured: “Happy are ye that weep now” (Luke 6:21). Though the Lord maketh him to lie down in green pastures and leadeth him beside still waters, he is yet in the wilderness, and “in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is” (Psalm 63:1). Though followers of the Prince of peace, Christians are to endure “hardness as good soldiers of Jesus Christ” (2 Timothy 2:3); and though “more than conquerors,” they are often defeated.

“Fight the good fight of faith” (1 Tim. 6:12). We are called upon to engage in a ceaseless warfare. The Christian life is to be lived out on the battlefield. We may not like it, we may wish that it were otherwise, but so has God ordained. And our worst foe, our most dangerous enemy, is self, that “old man” which ever wants his way, which rebels against the “yoke” of Christ, which hates the “cross”; that “old man” which opposes every desire of the “new man,” which dislikes God’s Word and ever wants to substitute man’s word. But self has to be “denied” (Matt. 16:24), his “affections and lusts crucified” (Gal. 5:24). Yet that is by no means an easy task. O what a conflict is ever going on within the true Christian. True there are times when the “old man” pretends to be asleep or dead, but soon he revives and is more vigorous than ever in opposing that “new man.” Then it is that the real Christian seriously asks, “If it be so (that I truly am a child of God) why am I thus?” Such was Rebekah’s puzzling problem when “the children struggled together within her” (Gen. 25:22).

What a parable in action is set before us in the above Scripture! Do we need any interpreter? Does not the Christian have the key which explains that parable in the conflicting experiences of his own soul? Yes, and is not the sequel the same with you and me, as it was with poor Rebekah? “She went and inquired of the Lord.” Ah, her husband could not solve the mystery for her; no man could, nor did she lean unto her own understanding and try and reason it out. No, the struggle inside her was so great and fierce, she must have Divine assurance. Nor did God disappoint her and leave her in darkness. “And the Lord said unto her, Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger” (Gen. 25:23). But the meaning of such a verse is hid from those who are, in their own conceits, “wise and prudent.” But, blessed by God, it is revealed to those who, taught of the Spirit, are made to realize they are babes, that is, who feel they are ignorant, weak, helpless—for that is what “babes” are.

And who were the two nations that “struggled together” inside Rebekah? Esau and Jacob, from whom two vastly different nations descended, namely, Edom and Israel. Now observe closely what follows: “And the one people shall be stronger than the other.” Yes, Esau was so strong that Jacob was afraid of him, and fled from him. So it is spiritually, the “old man” is stronger than the “new man.” How strange that it should be so! Would we not naturally conclude that that which is “born of the Spirit” is stronger than that which is “born of the flesh” (John 3:6)? Of course, we would naturally think so, for “the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God” (1 Cor. 2:14). But consider the matter from the standpoint of spiritual discernment. Suppose the “new man” were stronger than the “old man”—then what? Why, the Christian would be self-sufficient, proud, haughty. But God, in His infinite wisdom, allows the “new man” in His children to be weaker than the “old man.” Why? That they may depend upon Him. But it is one thing to know the theory of this, and it is quite another to put it into practice. It is the one thing to believe the “new man” (Jacob) is weaker then the “old man” (Esau, who was born first!), and it is quite another thing to daily seek and obtain from God the needed strength to “fight” against the “old man.” That is why it is called the “good fight of faith,” for faith treats with God.

“Fight the good fight of faith” (1 Tim. 6:12). Our circumstances are the battleground. The “flesh” is never long satisfied with the “circumstances” in which God places us, but always wants to change them, or get into another set than we are now in. Thus it was with Israel of old. The “circumstances” into which God had brought the children of Israel was the wilderness, and they murmured, and wished they were back in Egypt. And that is written as a warning for us! The tendency of circumstances is to bind our hearts to the earth: when prosperous, to make us satisfied with things: when adverse, to make us repine over or covet the things which we do not have. Nothing but the exercise of real faith can lift our hearts above circumstances, for faith looks away from all things seen, so that the heart delights itself and finds its peace and joy in the Lord (Psalm 37:4). This is never easy to any of us; it is always a fight, and only Divine grace (diligently sought) can give us the victory. Oftentimes we fail; when we do, this must be confessed to God (1 John 1:9), and a fresh start made.

Nothing but faith can enable us to rise above “circumstances.” It did so in the case of the two apostles, who, with feet fast in the stocks, with backs bleeding and smarting, sang praises to God in Phillipi’s dungeon; that was faith victorious over most unpleasant circumstances. We can almost imagine each reader saying, “Alas, my faith is so weak.” Ah, ponder again this word; “Fight the good fight of faith”—note the repetition! It is not easy for faith to rise above circumstances; no, it is not. It is difficult, at times, extremely difficult; so the writer has found it. But remember, a “fight” is not finished in a moment, by one blow; oftentimes the victor receives many wounds and is sorely pounded before he finally knocks-out his enemy. So we have found it, and still find it: the great enemy, the “flesh” (self) gives the “new man” many a painful blow, often floors him; but, by grace, we keep on fighting. Sometimes the “new man” gets the victory, sometimes the “old man” does. “For a just man falleth seven times and riseth up again” (Pro. 24:16).

Yes, dear reader, every real Christian has a “fight” on his hands: self is the chief enemy which has to be conquered; our circumstances the battle-ground where the combat has to be waged. And each of us would very much like to change the battle-ground. There are unpleasant things which, at times, sorely try each of us, until we are tempted to cry with the afflicted Psalmist, “O that I had wings like a dove, that I might fly away” (Psalm 55:6). Yes, sad to say, the writer has been guilty of the same thing. But, when he is in his right mind (spiritually), he is thankful for these very “circumstances.” Why? Because they afford an opportunity for faith to act and rise above them, and for us to find our peace, our joy, our satisfaction, not in pleasant surroundings, not in congenial friends, nor even in sweet fellowship with brethren and sisters in Christ; but—in God! He can satisfy the soul. He never fails those who truly trust Him. But it is a fight to do so. Yes, a real, long, hard fight. Yet, if we cry to God for help, for strength, for determination, He does not fail us, but makes us “more than conquerors.”

There is that in each of us which wants to play the coward, run away from the battlefield—our “circumstances.” This is what Abraham did (Genesis 12:10), but he gained nothing by it. This is what Elijah did (1 Kings 19:3), and the Lord rebuked him for it. And these instances are recorded “for our learning” (Romans 15:4), as warnings for us to take to heart. They tell us that we must steadfastly resist this evil inclination, and call to mind that exhortation, “Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you (act) like men, be strong” (1 Cor. 16:13).

“Fight the good fight of faith.” Nor does the Lord call upon us to do something from which He was exempted. O what a “fight” the Captain of our salvation endured! See Him yonder in the wilderness: “forty days tempted of Satan, and was with the wild beast” (Mark 1:13), and all that time without food (Matthew 4:2). How fiercely the Devil assaulted Him, renewing his attack again and yet again. And the Saviour met and conquered him on the ground of faith, using only the Word of God. See Him again in Gethsemane; there the fight was yet fiercer, and so intense were His agonies that He sweat great drops of blood. Nor was there any comfort from His disciples: they could not watch with Him one hour. Yet He triumphed, and that, on the ground of faith: “when He had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto Him that was able to save Him from death, and was heard in that He feared” (Heb. 5:7).

Those two instances are recorded for our instruction, and, as ever, their order is beautifully significant. They teach us how we are to “fight the good fight of faith.” Christ Himself has “left us an example!” And what do we learn from these solemn and sacred incidents? This: the only weapon we are to use is the Sword of the Spirit; and, victory is only to be obtained on our knees—“with strong crying and tears.” The Lord graciously enables us so to act. O that each of us may more earnestly seek grace to fight the good fight of faith. We shall have happy and peaceful fellowship together in heaven; but before we get there, the “fight” has to be fought, and won or we shall never get there at all (2 Tim. 4:6-8).