LOVE IS THE GREATEST VIRTUE

Golden 24152

LOVE IS THE GREATEST VIRTUE

C.H.Spurgeon

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. [1Cor 13:1]

If there be no love to God, and no love to man, the vital element is wanting. Whatever sound we make if the Word of God is not in us, it is a sound that has no meaning, conveys no heavenly meaning. “I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.” What if any of us who bear witness for Christ with our tongues should be found to be no better than this?
 

And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. [1Cor 13:2]

Judas had, no doubt, faith in God’s miracles, but yet he was not saved. Selfishness was his ruling motive; he had no love to God or man. How this clips the wings of those lofty ones who hover on high, boasting of their knowledge and of their gifts! There are many who have few gifts —obscure and unknown — who love God much, and these are the accepted ones. Before God the balances of the sanctuary are rather turned by the shekel of love, than by any weight of talent or position.

And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. [1Cor 13:3]

Love is a matter of the- heart, and if the heart be not right with God, external acts, though they are very similar to the highest acts that flow from love, are of no service. God requires the heart to be right, and if that be not right, whatever cometh out of us is not acceptable in his sight.

But the greatest of these is charity (Love)! [1Cor 13:3]

It is the highest, the pinnacle. It is not the foundation — that is faith. Just as a rose in full bloom is greater than the stem that bears it, so, whilst faith is most needful, and hope most cheering, Love is the most beautiful and brightest of the three.

THE DISCRIMINATING GRACE OF THE SON OF GOD

Sheep from the Goats

THE DISCRIMINATING GRACE OF THE SON OF GOD

Glen Berry

WE MUST be discerning but also humbly understanding in that discernment. No man has ALL the truth; and no man is totally free of ALL error even in expressing his theology and view of our infinite God. Many men, if not most men that have a love for the truth and turn to the Bible for its instruction and leading, THINK what they believe in every aspect IS truth. But admittedly, shades of expression and wording, often present what is FALSE and NOT true. But man has been so steeped in “the way it is,” that he can well think he is RIGHT when in actuality he is dead wrong. Just because you have been “taught from a child” that a thing is true DOES NOT MAKE IT TRUE.

We can also walk with “horse-blinders” on our eyes. We may see a certain thing so clearly but lose focus entirely of a truth right beside what we see, or think we see. It is NOT that two opposite things are true, but without seeing and balancing many scriptures, we can arrive at a “half-truth,” which is in reality a false- hood or a false doctrine. Thus our personal and private interpretation becomes truth TO US, while if we would “interpret scripture by scripture,” or let the Scriptures be their OWN interpreter, that false doctrine would be jettisoned to the trash-heap.

While no man is totally free from error, some men have so much false teaching that they are hardly worth listening to. Others may have error here and there but give out so much practical instruction that IS right, that we need to even be willing to humbly learn from them because they may well be teaching an area of truth and proclaiming a lot of truth that most others are NOT covering at all!

Recently I was listening to such a minister. His wisdom in practical Christian instruction is amazing, yet this day his upbringing and MISunderstanding showed through as he made some expressions that needed a lot of qualification to even be understood rightly. But basically he was in an area where his beliefs were just wrong, in error, or as some would say, were just “flat out wrong.”

For example he was saying that if your theology limits the mercy of God extending to ALL, then you needed to change your theology, no matter what it was.

Well, right here one would need to explain what he really means by such words as “mercy,” “salvation,” or “extending to all.” The above paragraph CAN be true, if you are saying one thing, but total error if you are speaking of another thing.

For example there is more than one kind of salvation in the Bible. There are natural salvations, like a person being saved from drowning, that have nothing to do with the eternal salvation of the soul. There is “mercy” extended even to God’s creation that has nothing to do with their “going to heaven when they die.” God loved Jacob eternally, but even before the twins were born, he “hated” Esau. Yet Esau had a good natural life and it was a mercy of God to let him live that life when He could have cast Esau into hell at any time short of that long natural life. God rains on the just AND on the unjust. His sunshine gives warmth to all. Laying in a hammock on a warm tropical beach is surely more pleasant than burning in hell—the place where ALL of mankind DESERVES TO BE and will be someday apart from the sovereign saving grace of our sovereign God and the discriminating saving blood of God the Son.

But this minister to whom I refer, along with many, many others, makes it PLAIN what his understanding is. We could well agree with him IF—a big IF—he believed that “mercy extending to all” did not necessarily include mercy in eternal salvation, or if when it DID include eternal salvation, it was restricted ONLY to those who God chose before the foundation of the world to be in Christ, and it meant ONLY the sheep of God for whom Christ came to earth to save, those sheep, “His people,” from their sins. For nowhere in the Bible does it teach that Christ gave His life for the goats who are forever the “children of the devil.” But He DID die as a Sacrifice to the Father, for those the Father gave Him—a limited and specific number and a certain believing people, but a people found in all the world, not just in the Jewish community of Israel. He died for His people in every kindred nation and tribe over all the earth. There is a VAST difference in these two views. One is sustainable by the very Word of God, and one view is not sustainable.

But this minister—as with so many others—reveals their false view, which carries them in their false doctrine. This is plainly revealed by such statements as:

“Anyone that you come “eye-ball to eye-ball” with you can know that God loves them and that Christ died to save them.” FALSE! ”

If God created you in His image, then you can be sure “God always loved you and He always will.” FALSE!

“God is not willing that any son or daughter of Adam should perish but His will is that ALL should be saved.” FALSE!

Now most of the balance of this booklet I am taking from our booklet, “The Real Jesus,” so you’ll see what Jesus Himself says, for such preachers “don’t get it.”

But lest some will reply AGAINST TRUTH and say that we do not believe in certain things, let me make this statement:

Any and everyone who wants to be saved from sin can be. In- deed, “whosoever will may come. “NOT whosoever WON’T! Christ Jesus died to save ALL who will ever come to Him— not for those who WON’T come. He will cast NONE away that come to Him, loving Him and believing in Him for who He REALLY is. But salvation is NOT given to those who believe in Him for who HE IS NOT. Nor is salvation for those who are not and who will not trust Him wholly, leaving some room for trusting in their own works or merit. For such, “Christ profits them nothing” (Galatians 5:2).

Check out Christ’s own words and see if they agree with your thinking, or what you have been taught. If not, will you bend, will you bow to the biblical description of who the Savior is and what He came to do?

Some no doubt will retort, “No matter what you say, or what you pen down, God is still not willing that ANY should perish, and He is “not a respecter of persons.” These are two prime areas where many preachers wrest the scriptures. First, God does NOT have “pleasure in the death of the wicked” (Ezekiel 33:11). That is NOT saying it is God’s purpose and will that NO SON OF ADAM shall perish. Look at 2 Peter 39: “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering TO US- WARD, not willing that ANY [of us] should perish, but that ALL [of us] should come to repentance.

The question is: WHO is “the us-ward” or “us”? Why, it refers to those to whom Peter is writing his letter: “To them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:1). Likewise his first letter is addressed to the “elect according to the foreknowledge of God. ” Plainly, that is WHO it is that “God is not willing that any should perish, “the us-ward.’ How can a preacher miss this? What if I am engaged to marry a wonderful girl and I cannot see her as often as I would like. So I write her a letter—a love letter. What would you think if another girl who I don’t even know got a hold of my letter and applied it to herself instead of seeing it was for my fiancée? How valid would that be? A third grader would know it would be a false application. Yet many preachers and professing believers apply Peter’s love letter to the elect as though it is written to everyone of the human race! You certainly can’t trust them when they don’t know or want to know any better! Plus their interpretation presents a less powerful God and a failing Savior!

Now as for God not being “a respecter of persons.” The same preachers will twist this to teach that God has no sovereign choice as to who He saves. But God has made sovereign choices all through the Bible. Not being a “respecter of per- sons” actually means the opposite of what they say. It means that God does not make His choices based on the status or merits, or actions of the recipient of His choice. Just like in Romans 9:11, “(For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of Him that calleth). ” So let scripture interpret scripture and don’t ignore such plain teaching. Will you bend, will you bow to the sovereign God?

Now let us get to the issue, FOR WHOM DID CHRIST JESUS SHED HIS BLOOD ON THE CROSS? Was it for every sin of every son and daughter of Adam, as so many teach today? Oh, they will admit that He could not have died for the sin of final unbelief. So they will tell you that the SIN question was forever settled because the blood of Jesus covers every sin of every son and daughter of Adam. And if any choose to go to hell and not heaven, it will be ONLY for the sin of UNBELIEF. If that be so, why did Jesus tell certain un- believing Jews that they did not believe because they were NOT His sheep and that they would die in their SINS (plural)?

The truth is that Jesus DID die for the sin of unbelief in His people, in His sheep, and delivers them from that unbelief as well as every other sin. Nowhere does it teach that He died for the sheep AND the goats, the wheat AND the tares, or for every sin of every son and daughter of Adam whether they believe or not! Can you find that in Jesus’ own words? Or anywhere else in Scripture? Will you bend, will you bow to Jesus?

THE TESTIMONY OF JESUS:

“And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shaft call His name JESUS: for He shall save HIS PEOPLE from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only be- gotten Son, that whoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16) That is a glorious promise, but it is NOT teaching that He gave His only begotten Son for every son and daughter of Adam, whether they come to belief or not. God gave to the nation of Israel the oracles of God, and they got the idea that none of the world could be saved without being an Israelite. But God makes it plain that He has a people in all the world, in all nations and kindred on earth. “World” does not necessarily carry the meaning of “every son and daughter of Adam.”

But look at what Jesus Himself says:

“I have manifested Thy name unto the men WHICH THOU GAVEST ME OUT OF THE WORLD: Thine they were, and Thou gavest them Me; and they have kept Thy word” (John 17:6).

I pray for them: I pray NOT for the world, but for them which Thou hast given Me; for they are Thine. And all Mine are Thine, and Thine are Mine,’ and I am glorified in them” (John 17:9.10).

Does that really sound like Jesus plans on giving His life for every son and daughter of Adam? Neither did He give His life for the rebellious fallen angels—none of them. (Salvation is of the Lord, and not “of chance.” )

“I have manifested Thy name unto the men WHICH THOU GAYEST ME OUT OF THE WORLD: Thine they were, and Thou gavest them Me; and they have kept Thy word” (John 17:6).

I pray for them: I pray NOT for the world, but for them which Thou has given Me; for they are Thine. And all Mine are Thine, and Thine are Mine; and I am glorified in them” (John 17:9.10).

If you refuse to bend, if you refuse to bow to this Jesus, then you are saying that He died for multitudes that the Father did NOT give Him! You would be saying that Jesus died for the sins of those NOT given Him by the Father. That is error to the nth degree! That is painting a false picture.

Can we really REST in what is GOD’S WILL concerning Jesus Christ and concerning those who He has given to Him? YES! Just as sure as God is sure! “And this is the Father’s will which hath sent Me, that of all which He hath given Me I should lose NOTHING, but should raise it up again at the last day” (John 6:39).

But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray Him. And He said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto Me, except it were given unto him of My Father. From that time many of His disciples went back, and walked no more with Him: (John 6:64-66). And so it is still today!

Does the following sound like Jesus died for every sin of every son and daughter of Adam, though He knew who was of the devil and who would believe and who would NEVER believe: “If God were your Father, ye would love Me . . .  Why do ye NOT understand My speech? Even because ye CANNOT hear My word. Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. . He that is of God heareth God’s words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God. ‘ (See John 8.) Yet note the satisfaction of Christ in His accomplished work: “He shall see of the travail of His soul, and shall be satisfied: by His knowledge shall My righteous servant justify many,’ for He shall bear their iniquities“(lsaiah 53:11)

Most people know there are two classes of people in the world: sheep and goats. God alone knows which are which! And Jesus says, “I am the good shepherd.’ the good shepherd giveth his live for THE SHEEP. ” He also says, “I am the door of the sheep . . .  I am the good shepherd, and KNOW My sheep, and am known of mine. . . And I lay down My life FOR THE SHEEP.”  . . . “But ye believe NOT, because ye are not of My sheep, as I said unto you. My SHEEP hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me: And I give UNTO THEM eternal life; and they shall NEVER perish…. ” (See Jn. 10.) (Also 2 Peter 3:9.)

“Ye have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit. . If the world hate you, ye know that it hated Me before it hated you. . . I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you“(John 15:16-19).

Again, not one word is said by Christ about His laying down His life for the goats. His concern is dying for and saving from their sins ALL the sheep which God the Father gave Him—wherever they are found in all the world in all the time allotted to this earth.

IF Jesus wanted to save every son and daughter of Adam, children of the devil or not, then why would Jesus pray to the Father, ‘I thank Thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that Thou has HID these things from the wise and prudent, and hast REVEALED them unto babes: even so Father for so it seemed good in Thy sight. All things are delivered to Me of My Father, and no man knoweth who the Son is, but the Father; and who the Father is, but the son, AND HE TO WHOM THE SON WILL REVEAL HIM” (Luke 10:21, 22).

Just as Jesus bowed and submitted to the Father, His children must and do, as His saved sheep, bow to the Son their good Shepherd. To fail to do so simply means you are not manifesting that you are His sheep who hear His voice, but are replying AGAINST Jesus as He reveals Himself in the Bible. And if you preach and teach different from this holy revelation, then you are misleading both sheep AND goats. Would you be so bold and brazen as to say that Christ died for and wants to save any other than His sheep that were given to Him by the Father? OR, that Christ Jesus will FAIL to accomplish full salvation in saving every one that the Father gave Him?

If these things be not so, we would have to exclaim with the apostle Paul in saying what he did IF the resurrection is not true, that is, “Of all men we would be the most miserable,” not being able to rest in what God and His Christ say about our Lord and our God.

But we know the natural man cannot rest in THIS sovereign God and sovereign Christ Jesus.

According as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will” (Ephesians 1:4,5).

And you hath He quickened (made alive), who were DEAD in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1).

“Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath BEGUN a good work in you WILL PERFORM it until the day of Jesus Christ“(Philippians 1:6).

“Blessed is the man whom THOU CHOOSEST, and CAUSETH to approach unto Thee, that he may dwell in Thy courts.” (Psalm  65:4).

Do you desire a holy life? Do you crave deliverance from sin that leads on to eternal life; Does your heart cry out, “What must I do to be saved?” Then you are not far from the kingdom. Do you have a will to please and serve God and live with him that your soul loves forever? Then that will is not the will of the flesh or of man. It is a new will given by God. It is the VERY WILL spoken of in Psalm 110:3, “Thy people shall be willing in the day of Thy power.” Jesus says NO MAN can come to Him except the Father draw him. And no man can even SEE the kingdom of God unless he is born, given spiritual life, by God Himself. His sheep hear His voice. The Father and the Son are sovereign and discriminating.

HOLD THOU ME UP, AND I SHALL BE SAFE!

Hold Thou me up 45363

HOLD THOU ME UP, AND I SHALL BE SAFE!

A.W. Pink

The Lord is very jealous of His honour and will not share His glory with another. His people profess to believe that as a cardinal truth, yet they are apt to forget it. They, too, are human, and prone to hero-worship, prone to idolatry, prone to render unto the creatures that to which the Lord alone is entitled. Hence it is they so frequently meet with disappointment, and discover their beloved idol is, like themselves, made of clay. For his own people, God has chosen “the foolish things of this world,” the “weak things,” the “base things” and “things which are not” (mere “nobody’s”), “that no flesh should glory in His presence” (1 Cor. 1:27-29). 

And he has called sinful though regenerated men, and not holy angels, to be the preachers of His Gospel, that it might fully appear that “the excellency of the power” in calling sinners out of darkness into His marvelous light lies not in them nor proceeds from them, but that He alone gives the increase to the seed sown by them: “so then neither is he that planteth (the evangelist) anything, neither he that watereth (the teacher), but God” (1 Cor. 3:7).

It is for this reason that God suffers it to appear that the best of men are but men at the best. No matter how richly gifted they may be, how eminent in God’s service, how greatly honored and used of Him, let His sustaining power be withdrawn from them for a moment and it will quickly be seen that they are “earthen vessels.” No man stands any longer than he is supported by Divine grace. The most experienced saint, if left to himself, is immediately seen to be as weak as water and as timid as a mouse.

“Man at his best state is altogether vanity” (Ps. 39:5). Then why should it be thought a thing incredible when we read of the failings and falls of the most favored of God’s saints and servants? Noah’s drunkenness, Lot’s carnality, Abraham’s prevarications, Moses” anger, Aaron’s jealousy, Joshua’s haste, David’s adultery, Jonah’s disobedience, Peter’s denial, Paul’s contention with Barnabas, are so many illustrations of the solemn truth that “there is not a just man upon earth that doeth good, and sinneth not” (Eccl. 7:20).

Perfection is found in Heaven, but nowhere on earth except in the Perfect Man.

THE WORD OF GOD DIVIDES FAMILIES!

Mother scolding her daughter (9-10)

THE WORD OF GOD DIVIDES FAMILIES!

Michael Jeshurun

“The gospel of Satan is not a system of revolutionary principles, nor yet a program of anarchy. It does not promote strife and war, but aims at peace and unity. It seeks not to set the mother against her daughter nor the father against his son, but fosters the fraternal spirit whereby the human race is regarded as one great ‘brotherhood’ “[A.W. Pink].

The Gospel of Jesus Christ divides families! No honest Christian or student of the Bible will deny this. One of the very first acts of God recorded in the Scriptures is – “And God divided the light from the darkness”! [Gen 1:4]. The Master Himself affirmed on many occasions, “Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division”! [Lk 12:51]. Again, “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword”!

And where does Jesus word bring division? The very next verse tells us “For from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three. The father shall be divided against the son, and the son against the father; the mother against the daughter, and the daughter against the mother; the mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law [Lk 12:51-53]. Note the words ‘from henceforth’ which means from the time the Lord began His ministry even until He comes again, the preaching of the truth will continue to divide families! The Lord said emphatically that this was one of the reasons why He came. When He sent out His twelve apostles to preach, He cautioned them beforehand saying the same words: “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me” [Mt. 10:34-37].

How come we hardly hear any sermons on the above verses? When was the last time you heard a preacher tell you that Jesus Christ divides families? Beloved, this fact that Christ divides families is not an exception, but the rule.

The Lord said, He came to seek and to save His lost sheep, and His sheep are scattered in ‘families’ both Christian and non-Christian. So when the Lord calls out His sheep out of these families the division is inevitable. Remember? “A man’s foes shall be they of his own household” [Matt. 10:36]. The ‘man’ in this passage is the Lord’s sheep whom He has chosen to save as opposed to the rest of his family whom he hath chosen not to save. He says “five in one house shall be divided, three against two, and two against three.” At times the Lord may choose to save two or even three in a family of five, but nowhere in the Scripture does the Lord promise to save the whole family!

Was it not so from the beginning? Adam had two sons – Cain and Abel. God loved Abel, but Cain was of the wicked one [1John 3:12]. Noah found grace in God’s eyes and was therefore saved. But were all of Noah’s family ‘children of God’? No! Ham the younger son of Noah proved to be wicked! [Gen 9:22-24]. The same with the sons of Issac, one was loved of God the other was hated. “Was not Esau Jacob’s brother? saith the LORD: yet I loved Jacob, and I hated Esau’! [Mal 1:2,3]

The point being this: God has no grandchildren! Only Children! Preachers who Baptize their children assuming that they too are chosen to be saved have not fully understood and grasped the Sovereignty of God in Salvation! Flesh and blood do not inherit the Kingdom of God! A.W. Pink rightly affirms –“the taking place of the new birth is “not of blood,” that is to say, it is not a matter of heredity, for regeneration does not run in the veins”!

You cannot contend that God wants the whole family saved and yet do justice to the Lord’s words which emphatically teach that the Gospel divides families. He says, “And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child; and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death. And ye shall be hated by all men for My name’s sake; but he that endureth till the end shall be saved [Matt 10:21,22].

One of the reasons that we have not seen the true colors of our ‘loved ones’ is because we have not been persecuted and hunted down like many of the early Christians. Persecution always separates the goats from the sheep!

I AM A TRULY BORN AGAIN CHRISTIAN. WHY IS THEIR NO DIVISION IN MY FAMILY?

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever! [Heb13:8]. The Lord has not changed and neither will the effects caused by His words ever change! In his letter to the Galatians, the Apostle affirms, “But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now”! [Gal 4:29].

The Christian is one who is born after the Spirit. And almost every ‘born-again’ child of God when he initially becomes a Christian has testified of the hatred that he felt from his family and loved ones. He is then glad to relate to his Master’s Words, “The servant is not greater than his Lord. If they have persecuted Me, they will also persecute you” [John 15:20].

This persecution and hatred is only experienced by those who are making every effort to live like their Master! But if we are unfaithful by hiding our light under a bushel and are compromising the truth by attempting to serve two masters then we can successfully escape “the reproach of Christ”! He was hated by the world and has called us to fellowship with His sufferings. And it is only, “All those who live godly in Christ Jesus who suffer persecution! [2Tim 3;12].

I as a Christian have to constantly ask myself – “has my gold become dim and my silver turned to dross”? “Is the light that is in me, now darkness, and has my salt lost its savour”? To lose our zeal and first love for Christ is no small thing! It is the same as being ashamed of Him and forsaking him for a ‘mess of pottage’ like Esau. It is something to be repented of!

Of the saints at Rome Paul could say “your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world” [Romans 1:8], while to the Galatians he complained “ye did run well, who did hinder you?” (Galatians 5:7). To the Thessalonians he could say “Your faith groweth exceedingly” [2 Thessalonians 1:3], but of the Ephesians it is recorded “thou hast left thy first love” [Revelation 2:4].

The Master said that if you deny Him before men, He will deny you before His father and His angels. To deny Christ is to compromise and not speak out against the evil in your own house but be a partaker or a silent spectator!

Time was when you said with David, “I will walk within my house with a perfect heart.

I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes: I hate the work of them that turn aside; it shall not cleave to me. I have not sat with vain persons, I will not sit with the wicked’! [Psa 101:2,3; 26:4,5]. But now you are pretty comfortable sitting with your ‘family’ and watching Ophrah Winfrey deny your Lord (who shed His blood for you), your favorite ‘Actor’ kissing and fondling another man’s wife, or watching some horror movie in which some maniac is ripping out somebody’s guts! None of this bothers you anymore! Your conscience is seared with a hot iron! [1Tim 4:1]

Time was when you renounced your father’s Roman Catholicism and preached against it at every given opportunity! But now you are quite comfortable sitting in their ‘prayer meetings’ and celebrating their pagan festivals, like Christmas and Easter!

Time was when you told your son or daughter to stop playing the Devil’s music in your house or leave! But now you’ve learnt to live with it and even give them money to buy their Rock music records and Harry Potter books!

You have now become ‘wise’ and have realized that if you continue to take a zealous stand for the Lord, you might wind up losing your loved ones. So you have learnt to live with it. You know in your heart that to take a stand for all that Scripture demands of you would mean to lose your loved one. And that is a hard saying for you. You want to be Christ’s disciple but are not willing to pay the price. ‘From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no

more with Him’. [Jn 6:66] Are you one of them? Am I one of them?

Let me close by saying, a disciple is one who continues with Christ, taking a stand for Him at the cost of everything and everyone he holds dear. Where the rubber meets the road the true disciple of Christ is even willing to hate his ‘loved ones’ in comparison to His Lord who bled and died for him!

And there went great multitudes with Him: and He turned, and said unto them, If any man come to Me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple! [Luke 14:25, 26]

THE MEANING OF “FOREKNOW” IN ROMANS 8:29

Loving couple

THE MEANING OF “FOREKNOW” IN ROMANS 8:29

For whom he did FOREKNOW, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren!” [Rom 8:29]
God has always possessed perfect knowledge of all creatures and of all events. There has never been a time when anything past, present, or future was not fully known to Him.* But it is not His knowledge of future events (of what people would do, etc.) which is referred to in Romans 8:29,30, for Paul clearly states that those whom He FOREKNEW He predestined, He called, He justified, etc. Since all men are not predestined, called, and justified, it follows that all men were NOT FOREKNOWN by God in the sense spoken of in verse 29.

It is for this reason that the Arminians are forced to add some qualifying notion. They read into the passage some idea not contained in the language itself such as those whom He foreknew WOULD BELIEVE ETC., He predestined, called and justified. But according to the Biblical usage of the words “know,” “knew,” and “foreknew” there is not the least need to make such an addition, and since it is unnecessary, it is improper. When the Bible speaks of God knowing particular individuals, it often means that He has special regard for them, that they are the objects of His affection and concern. For example in Amos 3:2, God, speaking to Israel says, “You only have I known of all the families of the earth; therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities.” The Lord knows ABOUT ALL THE FAMILIES OF THE EARTH, but He knew Israel in a special way. They were His chosen people whom He had set His heart upon. See Deuteronomy 7:7,8; 10:15. Because Israel was His in a special sense He chastised them, cf. Hebrews 12:5,6.

God, speaking to Jeremiah, said, “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you,” (Jeremiah 1:5). The meaning here is not that God knew about Jeremiah but that He had a special regard for the prophet before He formed him in his mother’s womb. Jesus also used the word “knew” in the sense of personal, intimate awareness. “On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you evildoers’ “ (Matt. 7:22,23). Our Lord cannot be understood here as saying, I knew nothing about you, for it is quite evident that He knew all too much about them – their evil character and evil works; hence, His meaning must be, I never knew you intimately nor personally, I never regarded you as the objects of my favor or love.

Paul uses the word in the same way in I Corinthians 8:3, “But if one loves God, one is KNOWN by him,” and also II Timothy 2:19, “the Lord knows those who are His.” The Lord knows ABOUT all men but He only KNOWS those “who love Him, who are called according to His purpose” (Rom 8:28) – THOSE WHO ARE HIS!

Murray’s argument in favor of this meaning of “foreknew” is very good. “It should be observed that the text says ‘whom He foreknew’; whom is the object of the verb and there is no qualifying addition. This, of itself, shows that, unless there is some other compelling reason, the expression ‘whom he foreknew’ contains within itself the differentiation which is presupposed. If the apostle had in mind some ‘qualifying adjunct’ it would have been simple to supply it. Since he adds none we are forced to inquire if the actual terms he uses can express the differentiation implied. The usage of Scripture provides an affirmative answer. Although the term ‘foreknew’ is used seldom in the New Testament, it is altogether indefensible to ignore the meaning so frequently given to the word ‘know’ in the usage of Scripture; ‘foreknow’ merely adds the thought of ‘beforehand’ to the word ‘know’.

Many times in Scripture ‘know’ has a pregnant meaning which goes beyond that of mere cognition. It is used in a sense practically synonymous with ‘love’, to set regard upon, to know with peculiar interest, delight, affection, and action (cf. Gen 18:19; Exod. 2:25; Psalm 1:6; 144:3; Jer. 1:5; Amos 3:2; Hosea 13:5; Matt 7:23; I Cor. 8:3; Gal. 4:9; II Tim. 2:19; I John 3:1). There is no reason why this import of the word ‘know’ should not be applied to ‘foreknow’ in this passage, as also in 11:2 where it also occurs in the same kind of construction and where the thought of election is patently present (cf. 11:5,6). When this import is appreciated, then there is no reason for adding any qualifying notion and ‘whom He foreknew’ is seen to contain within itself the differentiating element required. It means ‘whom he set regard upon’ or ‘whom he knew from eternity with distinguishing affection and delight’ and is virtually equivalent to ‘whom he foreloved’.

This interpretation, furthermore, is in agreement with the efficient and determining action which is so conspicuous in every other link of the chain – it is God who predestinates, it is God who calls, it is God who justifies, and it is He who glorifies. Foresight of faith would be out of accord with the determinative action which is predicated of God in these other instances and would constitute a weakening of the total emphasis at the point where we should least expect it….It is not the foresight of difference but the foreknowledge that makes difference to exist, not a foresight that recognizes existence but the foreknowledge that determines existence. It is a sovereign distinguishing love.”

Hodge observes that “as TO KNOW is OFTEN TO APPROVE AND LOVE, it may express the idea of peculiar affection in this case; or it may mean to select or DETERMINE UPON….The usage of the word is favourable to either modification of this general idea of preferring. ‘The people which he foreknew,’ i.e., loved or selected, Rom. 11:2; ‘Who verily was foreordained (Gr. foreknown), i.e., FIXED UPON, CHOSEN before the foundation of the world.’ I Peter 1:20; II Tim. 2:19; John 10:14,15; see also Acts 2:23; I Peter 1:2. The idea, therefore, obviously is, that those whom God peculiarly loved, and by thus loving, distinguished or selected from the rest of mankind; or to express both ideas in one word, those whom HE ELECTED HE predestined, etc.”

Although God knew about all men before the world began, He did not know all men in the sense that the Bible sometimes uses the word “know,” i.e., with intimate personal awareness and love. It is in this latter sense that God ‘foreknew’ those whom He predestined, called, and justified, as outlined in Romans 8:29,30!

Romans 8:29 does not refer to the foresight of faith, good works, etc.

As was pointed out above, it is unnecessary and therefore indefensible to add any qualifying notion such as faith to the verb foreknew in Romans 8:29. The Arminians make this addition, not because the language requires it, but because their theological system requires it – they do it to escape the doctrines of unconditional predestination and election. They read the notion of foreseen faith into the verse and then appeal to it in an effort to prove that predestination was based on foreseen events. Thus particular individuals are said to be saved, NOT because God WILLED that they should be saved (for He willed the salvation of everyone) BUT because THEY THEMSELVES WILLED to be saved. Hence salvation is make to depend ultimately on the individual’s will, not on the sovereign will of Almighty God – faith is understood to be man’s gift to God, not God’s gift to man.

Haldane, comparing Scripture with Scripture, clearly shows that the foreknowledge mentioned in Romans 8:29 cannot have reference to the foreseen faith, good works, or the sinner’s response to God’s call. “Faith cannot be the cause of foreknowledge, because foreknowledge is before predestination, and faith is the effect of predestination. ‘As many as were ordained to eternal life believed,’ Acts 13:48. Neither can it be meant of the foreknowledge of good works, because these are the effects of predestination. ‘We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works; which God hath before ordained (or before prepared) that we should walk in them;’ Eph. 2:10. Neither can it be meant of foreknowledge of our concurrence with the external call, because our effectual calling depends not upon that concurrence, but upon God’s purpose and grace, given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, 2 Tim. 1:9.

By this foreknowledge, then, is meant, as has been observed, the love of God towards those whom he predestinates to be saved through Jesus Christ. All the called of God are foreknown by Him, – that is, they are the objects of His eternal love, and their calling comes from this free love. ‘I have loved thee with an everlasting love; therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn thee,’ Jer. 31:3.” 4

Murray, in rejecting the view that “foreknew” in Romans 8:29 refers to the foresight of faith, is certainly correct in stating that “It needs to be emphasized that the rejection of this interpretation is not dictated by a predestinarian interest. Even if it were granted that ‘foreknew’ means foresight of faith, the biblical doctrine of sovereign election is not thereby eliminated or disproven. For it is certainly true that God foresees faith;* he foresees all that comes to pass. The question would then simply be: whence proceeds this faith which God foresees? And the only biblical answer is that the faith which God foresees is the faith he himself creates (cf. John 3:3-8; 6:44; 45,65; Eph. 2:8; Phil. 1:29; II Pet. 1:2).

Hence his eternal foresight of faith is preconditioned by his decree to generate this faith in those whom he foresees as believing, and we are thrown back upon the differentiation which proceeds from God’s own eternal and sovereign election to faith and its consequents. The interest, therefore, is simply one of interpretation as it should be applied to this passage. On exegetical grounds we shall have to reject the view that ‘foreknew’ refers to the foresight of faith.”

[Quoted from the Appendix of the book “The Five Points of Calvinism: Defined, Defended, Documented” by David N. Steele and Curtis C. Thomas.]

 

 

 

WHAT IT MEANS TO ‘HEAR’ THE WORD OF GOD?

Hear the Word

WHAT IT MEANS TO ‘HEAR’ THE WORD OF GOD?

A.W. Pink

“Why do ye not understand My speech? Even because ye cannot hear My word!” [John 8:43]

“Even because ye cannot hear my word.” – The word “hear” [an Hebrew idiom] signifies to receive and believe — compare John 9:27; 10:3; 12:47; Acts 3:22, 23, etc. And why was it that these Jews “could not hear” His Word? It was because they were children in whom was no faith [Deuteronomy 32:20].

It was because they had no ear for God, no heart for His Word, no desire to learn His will. Proof positive was this that they were dead in trespasses and sins, and therefore not children of God. Unspeakably solemn is this. Hearing God’s Word is an attitude of heart. We speak now not of the Divine side, for true it is that the Lord Himself must prepare the heart [Proverbs 16:1] and give the hearing ear [Proverbs 20:12].

But from the human side, man is fully responsible to hear. But he cannot hear the still small voice of God while his ears are filled with the siren songs of the world. That he has no desire to hear does not excuse him, rather does it the more condemn him. The Lord grant that the daily attitude of writer and reader may be that of little Samuel, “Speak, Lord, for Thy servant heareth!” [1 Sam 3:10]

“And when He putteth forth his own sheep, He goeth before them, and the sheep follow Him: FOR THEY KNOW HIS VOICE! And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they KNOW NOT THE VOICE OF STRANGERS!” [John 10:4,5]

 

A SPECIAL PRAYER FOR THE BRETHREN IN THE USA WHO ARE CAUGHT IN THE SNOWSTORM

Snowstorm USA

A SPECIAL PRAYER FOR THE BRETHREN IN THE USA WHO ARE CAUGHT IN THE SNOWSTORM

A special prayer for all of God’s people caught in the blizzard and snowstorm in the USA. May the good Lord protect you and provide for you during this difficult time.

“GOD is our refuge and strength, A VERY PRESENT HELP in trouble. THEREFORE will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah!” [Psalm 46:1-3]  Hallelujah!

JESUS – A SHELTER IN THE TIME OF STORM

The Lord’s our Rock, in Him we hide,

A Shelter in the time of storm;

Secure whatever ill betide,

A Shelter in the time of storm.

 Oh, Jesus is a Rock in a weary land,
A weary land, a weary land;
Oh, Jesus is a Rock in a weary land,
A Shelter in the time of storm.

A shade by day, defense by night,

A Shelter in the time of storm;

No fears alarm, no foes afright,
A Shelter in the time of storm.

 The raging storms may round us beat,
A Shelter in the time of storm
We’ll never leave our safe retreat,
A Shelter in the time of storm

O Rock divine, O Refuge dear,

A Shelter in the time of storm;
Be Thou our Helper ever near,
A Shelter in the time of storm.

Lots of Love

Michael Jeshurun

 

 

 

THE LORD HAS APPOINTED TEACHERS IN HIS CHURCH

Need for Teachers

THE LORD HAS APPOINTED TEACHERS IN HIS CHURCH

“And He gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and TEACHERS; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ”! [Ephesians 4:11-13]

A.W. Pink in writing to his friend the young Rev. R. Harbach, writes –

“I was very glad to hear from you again and quite pleased with your letter as far as it went. May I offer a comment – not in the way of criticism, but of instruction – on your statement: “not that I would esteem the writings of men greater than the Scriptures themselves.” You need to be careful at that point lest you draw a wrong antithesis – the writings of some men might profit you more than your personal reading of the Scriptures!

The Holy Scriptures are indeed in a class all to themselves, and claim a reverence, veneration and submission which no other writings do or can. But “the writings of men” needs defining. The expositions of Scripture by God’s own servants also occupy an unique place – in the realm of human literature – and have a special claim upon our attention! It is God’s method to use human instrumentality, and He has called and equipped a few of His servants to be teachers (not merely “preachers”) – specially gifted by Him to “open” His Word, and they are to be highly esteemed for their work’s sake” [1Thes 5:12,13]

You are likely to get more real help and enlightenment from one hour’s careful perusal of say, Goodwin on Ephesians 1or Manton on Psalm 119 than if you spent ten (10) hours in reading and studying either chapter directly for yourself! And that statement is NOT disparaging to the Scriptures, but simply illustrates the method which God is pleased to employ in the instructing of the rank and file of His people.

True you need to read regularly the Scriptures themselves and thoroughly familiarize yourself with their contents – as you also need to test by Scripture (1Thes 5:21) so far as you are able (and at present that is very little) what each expositor says. Yet I feel strongly that it is also true that you need to spend much more time now and in the near future (D.V.) to study the writings of the true servants of God. Only then will 2Timothy 2:15 become yours.”

[Quoted from “Letters to a Young Pastor” – by A.W. Pink]

But “Oh” says someone, “does not the Scripture say, ‘the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things . . .” [1Jn 2:27]

Is there a discrepancy here? Between the verses which inform us that God has appointed teachers in His Church [Eph 4;11-13], and admonishes us to teach others [2Tim 2:2], and chides some saying, “For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat”?! [Heb 5:12]

NOT AT ALL!

John’s letter is aimed at the false teaching that would come to be known as the gnostic error. The context of the passage containing 1Jn 2:27 is the false teaching coming from those who were spreading this heresy.

In leading up to his comment about not needing anyone to teach us, John warned us to “see that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you.” (1 John 2:24) He was talking about God’s Word. He continued on saying that if we hold true to it then by the anointing we have received we won’t need anyone to teach us whether something we hear is true or false because we’ll be able to compare it with the source of Truth, the Bible.

So John wasn’t saying we didn’t need teachers, because that would conflict with the portions of Scripture which speak of the necessity of teachers, and would contradict what John himself was doing right then – teaching! He was saying that we don’t need teachers to tell us whether something is right or wrong because we can test all teaching against the Word of God. This is exactly what Paul said in Acts 17:11.

 ‘Teaching’ then is an integral part of the ministry of the Church! It is GOD who has appointed these teachers. For there is much in Scripture which is ‘hard to be understood’ (2Pet 3:16) and which unless opened to us by an anointed teacher who can give us the ‘sense of it’, we could wrest it to our own destruction!

“ . . . and the Levites, caused the people to understand the law . . . So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and GAVE THE SENSE, AND CAUSED THEM TO UNDERSTAND THE READING”. [Nehemiah 8:7,8]

I have been a student of the Word of God and an ardent reader of Theology for a good twenty nine years now, and yet there are times when I run into portions of Scripture which baffle me; and I have to ask myself – “Understandest thou what thou readest”?!  [Acts 8:30]

And the only answer is – “How can I, except some man should guide me”?  [Acts 8:31]

Michael Jeshurun

KNOWING GOD – THE BEGINNING OF YOUR SEARCH NOT THE END

Sir Isaac Newton

KNOWING GOD – THE BEGINNING OF YOUR SEARCH NOT THE END

J.C. Philpot

“Then opened He their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures.” —Luke 24:45

Blessed opening, when He that has the key of David puts in his hand by the hole of the door, and opens our heart to receive his own word. Then when we go to the Word of Truth, after it has come to us, our fingers drop with sweet-smelling myrrh upon the handles of the lock. It is said that “the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear shall live.” O, to hear the voice of the Son of God in our hearts! Surely it shall make our dead hearts, cold frames, withering hopes, drooping love, dying faith, languishing prayers, and fainting minds live; yes, revive as the grain, and grow as the vine.

What is all religion without a divine beginning, middle, and end—commencing, carried on, and accomplished with a heavenly power, supernatural life, and spiritual unction?

Well may we be ashamed and sick of, and sorry for, all our thoughts, words, and works, all our knowledge and profession that have not stood, or do not stand, in the power, teaching, and wisdom of God. All our talk has been but vain babbling, our prayers lip-service, our preaching wind and vanity, our profession hypocrisy, our knowledge the worst kind of ignorance, and all our religion carnality or delusion, if they have not been divinely communicated.

Sir Isaac Newton, the wisest philosopher, is said to have remarked to one who congratulated him on his knowledge, “I have been like a little child on the sea-shore taking up a little water in a shell when the vast ocean of truth lay undiscovered before me.” Much more may a spiritual man feel how little, how nothing he knows of the unsearchable riches of Christ, and the boundless stores of wisdom hid in them.

GOD MAKES HIS PEOPLE WEAK

Strawberry better berry

GOD MAKES HIS PEOPLE WEAK

J.C. Philpot

“Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.” Acts 14:22

The very word “confirm” implies that the souls of Christ’s disciples need strengthening. If there were no temptations to try, no sharp sorrows to grieve, no painful afflictions to distress them; or if, on the other hand, there were no sensible weakness of soul, no sinking of heart, no despondency of spirit, no giving way of faith and hope, no doubt or fear in the mind, how could the souls of the disciples be strengthened?

The souls of God’s people are not made of cast iron, against which arrow after arrow may be discharged and leave no dent, make no impression. The hearts of the Lord’s people are in a measure conformed to the heart of Christ. And what was his heart? “My heart,” he says, “is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels.” [Psalm 22:14]

And thus the Lord’s people, who carry in their bosom broken hearts and contrite spirits, made so by grace, are often sinking, often shaken, often cast down through the many trials they have to encounter. It is for this reason that they need confirming, supporting, strengthening, and that the Lord himself would lay his everlasting arms underneath them, lift them into his bosom, and make his strength perfect in their weakness.

And is not this the gospel way? Can I, by dint of creature exertion, brace up my soul to a certain pitch? If trouble comes, am I like a patient sometimes under the keen knife of the surgeon to brace up my nerves to bear the operation more unflinchingly? This is nature, flesh, reason; not grace. The Lord does not require this of his people. He dealt not so with his beloved Apostle, according to the account which he gives in 2 Corinthians 12. What did the Lord speak into his heart, under trial and temptation, that he might proclaim it upon Zion’s walls to the Church of the living God, “My grace is sufficient for you; for my strength is made perfect in weakness.”

Therefore, he adds, “Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” But it is very painful to the Lord’s people to find no strength when they need it most, no faith when they have the greatest need of it, no help when most required. To pass through this experience baffles and disconcerts many of the living family; but when the Lord is pleased in a mysterious way to communicate His own strength, and to make it perfect in weakness; when He deals with them, as with the worthies of old, who “out of weakness were made strong,” they can then bless the Lord for their very weakness, and, like Paul, glory in their infirmities, because the power of Christ rests upon them.