“Is not My Word like as a fire? saith the LORD; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?” (Jer. 23:29)
What caused the Reformation?
Many people might answer that question by pointing to Martin Luther and his 95 Theses.
But if you were to ask Luther himself, he would not point to himself or his own writings. Instead, he would give all the credit to God and His Word.
Near the end of his life, Luther declared: “All I have done is put forth, preach and write the Word of God, and apart from this I have done nothing. . . . It is the Word that has done great things. . . . I have done nothing; the Word has done and achieved everything.”
Elsewhere, he exclaimed: “By the Word the earth has been subdued; by the Word the Church has been saved; and by the Word also it shall be reestablished.”
Noting Scripture’s foundational place in his own heart, Luther wrote: “No matter what happens, you should say: There is God’s Word. This is my rock and anchor. On it I rely, and it remains. Where it remains, I, too, remain; where it goes, I, too, go.”
Luther understood what caused the Reformation. He recognized that it was the Word of God empowered by the Spirit of God preached by men of God in a language that the common people of Europe could understand and when their ears were exposed to the truth of God’s Word it pierced their hearts and they were radically changed.
It was that very power that had transformed Luther’s own heart, a power that is summarized in the familiar words of Hebrews 4:12: “The Word of God is quick and powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword.”
During the late middle ages, the Roman Catholic Church had imprisoned God’s Word in the Latin language, a language the common people of Europe did not speak. The Reformers unlocked the Scriptures by translating them. And once the people had the Word of God, the Reformation became inevitable.
We see this commitment to the Scriptures even in the centuries prior to Martin Luther, beginning with the Forerunners to the Reformation:
In the 12th century, the Waldensians translated the New Testament from the Latin Vulgate into their regional French dialects. According to tradition, they were so committed to the Scriptures that different Waldensian families would memorize large sections of the Bible. That way, if Roman Catholic authorities found them and confiscated their printed copies of Scripture, they would later be able to reproduce the entire Bible from memory.
In the 14th century, John Wycliffe and his associates at Oxford translated the Bible from Latin into English. Wycliffe’s followers, known as the Lollards, went throughout the countryside preaching and singing passages of Scripture in English.
In the 15th century, Jan Huss preached in the language of the people, and not in Latin, making him the most popular preacher in Prague at the time. Yet, because Huss insisted that Christ alone was the head of the church, not the pope, the Catholic Council of Constance condemned him for heresy and burned him at the stake (in 1415).
In the 16th century, as the study of Greek and Hebrew were recovered, Martin Luther translated the Bible into German, with the New Testament being completed in 1522.
In 1526, William Tyndale completed a translation of the Greek New Testament into English. A few years later he also translated the Pentateuch from Hebrew. Shortly thereafter he was arrested and executed as a heretic—being strangled and then burned at the stake. According to Fox’s Book of Martyrs, Tyndale’s last words were “Lord, Open the King of England’s Eyes.” And it was just a couple years after his death that King Henry VIII authorized the Great Bible in England—a Bible that was largely based on Tyndale’s translation work. The Great Bible laid the foundation for the later King James version (which was completed in 1611).
The common thread, from Reformer to Reformer, was an undying commitment to the authority and sufficiency of Scripture, such that they were willing to sacrifice everything, including their own lives, to get the Word of God into the hands of the people.
They did this because they understood that the power for spiritual reformation and revival was not in them, but in the gospel (cf. Rom. 1:16–17). And they used the Latin phrase sola Scriptura (“Scripture alone”) to emphasize the truth that God’s Word was the true power and ultimate authority behind all they said and did.
It was ignorance of Scripture that made the Reformation necessary. It was the recovery of the Scripture that made the Reformation possible. And it was the power of the Scripture that gave the Reformation its enduring impact, as the Holy Spirit brought the truth of His Word to bear on the hearts and minds of individual sinners, transforming them, regenerating them, and giving them eternal life.
“Make me to go in the path of Thy commandments; for therein do I delight.” [Psalm 119:35]
There was a time when David had confidence in his own ability and ‘will power’. But his sin with Bathseba and his murder of Uriah which followed changed all that!
There was a day when he had boasted – “”I WILL behave myself wisely in a perfect way. O when wilt Thou come unto me? 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. A froward heart shall depart from me: I WILL not know a wicked person” (Ps. 101:2-4),
Commenting on the above verses, Pink says – Note the repeated “I will” in the above passage, and learn therefrom how much the “will” of man is worth”!
Now after many falls and serious sins, David was convinced that if he was going to go in the path of God’s commandments, GOD would have to make him go! As I have found out and proved through many years of bitter experience that only TO WILL is present with me, but to PERFORM that which is good I FIND NOT! And most often, the good that I would I do not, but the evil which I would not, THAT I DO! [Rom 7:19]
Augustine was right when he said – “Grant what Thou commandest and then command what Thou wilt”!
The man with the withered arm in Matthew 12 is a case in point. Remember what the Master told him to do? The Lord said – ‘Stretch forth thine hand”! Did he have the power to comply in his own strength and ability to stretch it forth?! Commenting on this Pink says –
“Listen! Here was a man with a withered hand, paralyzed, and Christ says. “Stretch forth thine hand”; It was the one thing that he could not do! Christ told him to do a thing that was impossible in himself. Well then you say why did Christ tell him to stretch forth his hand? Because DIVINE POWER WENT WITH THE VERY WORD THAT COMMANDED HIM TO DO IT! Divine power ENABLED him to. The man could not do it of himself. If you think that he could you are ready for the lunatic asylum, I don’t not care who you are. Any man or woman here who thinks that that man was able to stretch forth his paralyzed arm by an effort of his own will is ready for the lunatic asylum! How can paralysis move”? Good question!
And every regenerated child of God, unless Divine power enables him is much like the man with the withered arm! The inability under which he labors is not an inability to exercise volition, but an inability to be willing to exercise HOLY VOLITIONS. And it is this phase of it which led Luther to declare that ‘FREE WILL’ IS AN EMPTY TERM, WHOSE REALITY IS LOST; and a lost liberty, according to my grammar, is no liberty at all”!
“Make me to go in the path of Thy commandments; for therein do I delight”!
SPURGEON’S COMMENT –
“To will is present with me; but how to perform that which good I find not.” Thou hast made me to love the way, now make me to move in it. It is a plain path, which others are treading through thy grace; I see it and admire it; cause me to travel in it. This is the cry of a child that longs to walk, but is too feeble; of a pilgrim who is exhausted, yet pants to be on the march; of a lame man who pines to be able to run. It is a blessed thing to delight in holiness, and surely he who gave us this delight will work in us the yet higher joy of possessing and practicing it. Here is our only hope; for we shall not go in the narrow path till we are made to do so by the Maker’s own power. O Thou who didst once make me, I pray Thee make me again: Thou hast made me to know; now make me to go. Certainly I shall never be happy till I do, for my sole delight lies in walking according to Thy bidding.
The Psalmist does not ask the Lord to do for him what he ought to do for himself: he wishes himself to “go” or tread in the path of the command. He asks not to be carried while he lies passive; but to be made “to go.” Grace does not treat us as stocks and stones, to be dragged by horses or engines, but as creatures endowed with life, reason, will, and active powers, who are willing and able to go of themselves if once made to do so. God worketh in us, but it is that we may both will and do according to his good pleasure.
The holiness we seek after is not a forced compliance with command, but the indulgence of a whole hearted passion for goodness, such as shall conform our life to the will of the Lord. Can the reader say, “therein do I delight”? Is practical godliness the very jewel of your soul, the coveted prize of your mind? If so, the outward path of life, however rough, will be clean, and lead the soul upward to delight ineffable. He who delights in the law should not doubt but what he will be enabled to run in its ways, for where the heart already finds its joy the feet are sure to follow.
Note that the corresponding verse in the former (Psalms 119:27 ) was “Make me to UNDERSTAND,” and here we have “Make me to GO.” Remark the: order, first understanding and then going; for a clear understanding is a great assistance towards practical action”. [Amen!]
One last quote from Thomas Marten – “Make me to go in the path of thy commandments. David, in the former verses, had begged for LIGHT, now for STRENGTH TO WALK ACCORDING TO THIS LIGHT. We need not only light to know our way, but a heart to walk in it. Direction is necessary because of the blindness of our minds; and the effectual impulsions of grace are necessary because of the weakness of our hearts. It will not answer our duty to have a naked notion of truths, unless we embrace and pursue them. So, accordingly, WE NEED A DOUBLE ASSISTANCE FROM GOD; THE MIND MUST BE ENLIGHTENED, THE WILL MOVED AND INCLINED. The work of a Christian lies not in depth of speculation, but in the height of practice.
The excellency of Divine grace consisteth in this, — That God doth first teach what is to be done, and then makes us to do what is taught: “Make me to go in the path of thy commandments.”
LETTER TO AN ARMINIAN ASSERTING THAT ‘CALVINISM’ ISN’T REALLY ABOUT CALVIN AFTER ALL
Dear Jim, Once again please forgive my late response. I trust that all is well with you and your family. I realize that our friendship has reached an ‘uneasy level’ where we are NOT in agreement. But sir, trust me if this was a MINOR issue where we could ‘agree to disagree’ I would be more than willing do that. But this is an issue concerning the ‘crux of the matter’ as far as the ‘gospel’ is concerned and I must remain faithful to the message which God has delivered to me concerning His absolute sovereignty.
I would start by reminding you, that it was NOT CALVIN who said – “I lay down My life for THE SHEEP”! [John 10:11] Again it wasn’t Calvin who said, “No man CAN COME to Me, except the Father which hath sent Me DRAW HIM”! [John :44] Neither said he – “AS MANY as were ORDAINED to eternal life believed”! [Acts 13:48]
Now I want to make it very clear that we use the term “Calvinism” ONLY FOR IDENTIFICATION, and are NOT IN AGREEMENT with all that Calvin taught. That Calvin contributed a lot to the system that bares his name we do not deny. But even though we may quote a few things from the works of Calvin, our appeal is NOT TO CALVIN OR ANY CONFESSIONS OR CREEDS OF THE CHURCHES, BUT TO THE LAW AND TESTIMONY OF JEHOVAH.
Historically speaking, the so-called “Doctrines of Grace” – which go by the nickname of Calvinism – did not originate with Calvin. They are the result of a Synod held in Dort, Holland in 1618/19, after Calvin was long dead. Those of us who hold to Reformed Theology do so not because we are attempting to replicate the theology or ecclesiology of a mere MAN – John Calvin, but because we are convinced that the Biblical arguments and the conclusions stemming from that Synod are valid and our OWN EXEGESIS AND EXPERIENCE CONFIRMS THE FIVE POINTS.
If it could be proven that John Calvin was indeed a murderous wretch, an ‘Infant baptizer’ or whatever, still it would have no effect on the theology that sprung from the pen of the Reformers. In other words, the “guilt by association” tactic has no teeth!
If John Calvin believed what the Spirit of God has taught us in our personal study of God’s Word and our experience in our preaching ministry, then good for him! But it means NOTHING TO US!
We be persuaded that the Spirit of God would have by and by taught us these glorious truths WHETHER THERE WAS A CALVIN OR NOT!
No infant comes into the world knowing everything, but learns as he grows! Even so a truly born again child of God may have many misconceptions concerning the nature and method of his salvation at first, but if he is saved at all, then the Spirit will by and by teach him what He means when He says that “It is NOT of him that WILLETH, nor of him that RUNNETH, but OF GOD that showeth mercy”! [Rom 9:16]
“But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day”! [Prov 4:18]
Whatever glorifies God 100%, THAT is what is right!
The doctrines of grace which we hold gives God ALL THE GLORY and puts man where He belongs, i.e. IN THE DUST!
“Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, but unto Thy name give glory, for Thy mercy, and for Thy truth’s sake”! [Psalm 115:1]
You are either an Arminian or a Calvinist! You either believe that Salvation is ALL OF GOD, or you believe that it is partly of God and partly of man!
There is NO MIDDLE GROUND!
Those who pretend that they are neither Arminians nor “Calvinists” are in reality hypocrites! They suppose that they are neutral! But in matters pertaining to the doctrines of Soteriology (salvation) there are NO NEUTRALS!
NOBODY IS NEUTRAL! EVERYBODY HAS A BIAS FOR OR AGAINST! You’re either a capitalist or a communist. You’re either a conservative or a liberal–a rightist or a leftist–right or wrong! Nothing short of right is right. There is no such thing as neutrality on anything. Even a battery has only two poles, positive and negative, and you cannot get them together without fireworks! No battery has neutral poles: You’re either alive or dead, hot or cold!
Oh, the neutral is always so fair! “I can see BOTH sides.” The Liar! THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS BOTH SIDES! Only ONE side can be right and only ONE side can be wrong, so in claiming to be neutral and pretending to see right and wrong on both sides, the neutral puts himself above everybody. He is the most righteous of all. He can see how everybody’s a little bit wrong but him and he is the only one right–the only one who really sees the truth, which he claims is somewhere in-between, which makes him the worst liar and most treacherous enemy of all! As Jesus said “He that is not for Me is against Me, and he that gathereth not with Me scattereth abroad.” [Matt 12;30]
You either believe fallen man is totally depraved and CANNOT come to God of his own ‘free-will’ or you don’t! [John 6;44]
You either believe God has elected a CERTAIN NUMBER and sovereignly ordained them to eternal life or you don’t! [Acts 13:48]
You either believe that Christ laid down His life FOR THE SHEEP and them alone, as he said He did, or you don’t! [John 10:15]
You either believe that the Holy Spirit DRAWS God’s chosen by an IRRESISTIBLE POWER or you don’t! [Jer 31:3] And finally you either believe Christ saves FULLY AND FINALLY those whom He died for unto the end or you don’t! [Heb 7:25]
There is no MIDDLE GROUND HERE!
I know what have written might sound harsh and ‘un-loving’, but “Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the TRUTH”?! [Gal 4:16]. “FAITHFUL are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful”. [Prov 27:6]
If you choose to believe that fallen, depraved man has a ‘free-will’ to either accept or reject Christ, and that the spiritually dead man can respond to God’s call anytime HE chooses, you are free to do so. But I believe that if you are TRULY SAVED by the Spirit of God and have ‘the root of the matter in you’ [Job 19:28] then God will sooner or later open your eyes to the truth of that word – “it is not of him that WILLETH, nor of him that RUNNETH, but OF GOD that sheweth mercy”!! [Rom 9:16].
Dear Jim, to further dialogue and debate this issue would be a waste of time for both of us. I am sure you realize this by now. But please know that I shall be praying for you that God will be pleased to open your eyes to the truth of His absolute sovereignty and show you that our God is STILL the Absolute Sovereign who has ‘mercy on WHOM HE WILL and hardens WHOM HE WILL and NONE can say unto Him “what doest Thou”?! [Daniel 4:35]
CHRIST’S WORK ON THE CROSS AND THE ASSURANCE THAT FOLLOWS
Oh what a trauma and struggle it can be to some of God’s children to struggle with the Assurance of salvation. We must all admit that we have had times when we have struggled with it. Even the ‘man after God’s own heart’ – the Psalmist David had his doubts, or he had not prayed – “say unto my soul, I am thy salvation!” [Psalm 35:3]
“What does this sweet prayer teach me? It shall be my evening’s petition; but first let it yield me an instructive meditation. The text informs me first of all that David had his doubts; for why should he pray, “Say unto my soul, I am thy salvation,” if he were not sometimes exercised with doubts and fears? Let me, then, be of good cheer, for I am not the only saint who has to complain of weakness of faith.
If David doubted, I need not conclude that I am no Christian because I have doubts. The text reminds me that David was not content while he had doubts and fears, but he repaired at once to the mercy-seat to pray for assurance; for he valued it as much fine gold. I too must labour after an abiding sense of my acceptance in the Beloved, and must have no joy when His love is not shed abroad in my soul. When my Bridegroom is gone from me, my soul must and will fast.
I learn also that David knew where to obtain full assurance. He went to his God in prayer, crying, “Say unto my soul I am thy salvation.” I must be much alone with God if I would have a clear sense of Jesus’ love. Let my prayers cease, and my eye of faith will grow dim. Much in prayer, much in heaven; slow in prayer, slow in progress. I notice that David would not be satisfied unless his assurance had a divine source. “Say unto my soul.” Lord, do Thou say it ! Nothing short of a divine testimony in the soul will ever content the true Christian.
Moreover, David could not rest unless his assurance had a vivid personality about it. “Say unto my soul, I am thy salvation.” Lord, if Thou shouldst say this to all the saints, it were nothing, unless Thou shouldst say it to ME. Lord, I have sinned; I deserve not Thy smile; I scarcely dare to ask it; but oh! say to my soul, even to my soul, “I am thy salvation.” Let me have a present, personal, infallible, indisputable sense that I am Thine, and that Thou art mine.” – C.H. Spurgeon
It is truly a gift of God this ‘Assurance’. And God will not let His child struggle with these doubts for long. He WILL come and speak peace to their heart.
“I will hear what God the LORD will speak: for He WILL SPEAK PEACE UNTO HIS PEOPLE, and to his saints” [Psalm 85:8] THIS is a promise to EVERY child of God dearly Beloved . . . both for the ones who have always remained faithful and for those who have been big time Prodigals (like me)!
Our Master wrought a great work on that Cross! It is called the ‘work of righteousness’. It was a work which only HE could do! And He did it and cried out “IT IS FINISHED!” And ascended into heaven and SAT DOWN at the right hand of God as our mediator! Men generally ‘sit down’ only after their work is accomplished! And our Lord accomplished the great work on OUR BEHALF and sat down! Hallelujah!
And this ‘work of righteousness’ which He wrought has an EFFECT. And what is that effect?
“And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the EFFECT of righteousness QUIETNESS AND ASSURANCE FOR EVER.” [Isaiah 32:17]
It was THIS Assurance which made the Psalmist confess on his death-bed –
“Although my house be not so with God; yet HE hath made with me an everlasting covenant, ORDERED IN ALL THINGS, AND SURE: for THIS is all my salvation, and all my desire, although He make it not to grow!” [2Sam 23:5]
“That everlasting covenant is so “ordered” as to promote the glory of God, the honor of the Mediator, and the holiness and blessing of His people. It is “sure” because its promises are those of Him who cannot lie, because full provision is made in it for all the failures of believers, and because its administration is in the hands of Christ. “For this is all my salvation.” David rightly traced his salvation back to “the everlasting covenant”: alas that so many today are ignorant of this inexhaustible well of comfort.
It is not enough that we go back to the hour when we first believed, nor even to the Cross where the Savior paid the price of our redemption; to the everlasting covenant we must look, and see there God graciously planning to give Christ to die for His people and impart the Spirit to them for quickening and the communicating of faith. THIS is “all our salvation” for it entirely suffices, containing as it does a draft of all the salvation-acts of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
It is the blessed privilege of the believer—no matter how great a failure he feels himself to be (provided he is sincere in mourning his failures and honest in his endeavors to please his Lord)— to remind himself that he is approaching One in covenant relationship with him, yea, to plead that covenant before Him. David—despite all his falls—acknowledged “He hath made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things, and sure” [2 Samuel 23:5], and so may the reader if he grieves over sins as David did, confesses them as contritely, and has the same pantings of heart after holiness.
It makes a world of difference in our praying when we can “take hold of God’s covenant,” assured of our personal interest in it. When we plead the fulfillment of covenant promises [Jeremiah 32:40, 41; Hebrews 10:16, 17], for example, we present a reason God will not reject, for He cannot deny Himself.” – A.W. Pink
ALL YOUR WORRYING CANNOT ADD EITHER AN INCH TO YOUR HEIGHT OR A MINUTE LONGER TO YOUR LIFE
“Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?” [Matt 6:27]
All through this chapter our Lord is showing men not only the unnecessariness of anxious thoughts and cares but also the unprofitableness of them; it being impossible for a man, with all his care and thought to add even a cubit to his stature.
Though the word ‘stature’ is used by our Lord, He is not really talking about men’s HEIGHT and their anxiousness to increase it as some are in our day, but rather their AGE or life-span. As John Gill correctly explains, “a cubit may as well be applied to a man’s age, as an “hand’s breadth” is to his days, Psalm 39:5. Nor is it so reasonable to think, that Christ should be speaking of making such an addition to a man’s height; though that, to be sure, is an impossible thing: since the far greater part of Christ’s hearers must be come to their full growth, and could not hope to have any addition made to their height; though they might hope to add to their days”
Albert Barnes likewise says, “This word ‘Stature’ means “height.” The original word, however, means oftener “age,” John 9:21; “He is of age;” so also John 9:23. If this be its meaning here, as is probable (compare Robinson, Lexicon ), it denotes that a man cannot increase the length of his life at all. The utmost anxiety will not prolong it one hour beyond the time appointed for death.”
But whether it is your height or age you are worried about, you should know that all the worry in the world could not make you an inch taller or extend your life a minute longer. Why, then, do we give way to care about things which we cannot alter? If fretting were of any use it would have some excuse; but as it does no good, let us cease from it.
As the apostle said, ” Be careful (or anxious) for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” [Phil 4:6,7]
THE FRUITLESS BRANCHES OF JOHN 15 ARE NOT GOD’S ELECT BUT PROFESSING NOMINAL CHRISTIANS
compiled by Michael Jeshurun
“Every branch in Me that beareth not fruit He taketh away!” [John 15:2]
This verse has been one of the historical battlegrounds of doctrinal interpretation only second to Hebrews 6. Not only has this text provided the field for forgetting those things which are behind many battles between the two schools of theology – Arminian and Calvinist, but even among Calvinists themselves there has been disagreement as to the interpretation of this passage. Though there are other important problems in the parable of John 15:1-8, the most significant question concerns THE IDENTIFICATION OF THE UNFRUITFUL BRANCHES mentioned in the parable.
Arminians have generally understood the unfruitful branches as representative of true believers who, because they become unfruitful, lose their salvation and consequently are ultimately cast into the fires of hell.
But that would negate everything that Christ said concerning the eternal security of those whom He saves. The Master said in no uncertain terms, “I give unto them eternal life; and THEY SHALL NEVER PERISH, neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand. My Father, which gave them Me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of My Father’s hand.” [John 10:28, 29]
There are some well meaning Calvinists who have tried to solve this problem by saying that “taketh away” does not necessarily mean “take away” but it actually means to “lift up”. A propping of the branch so it can bear more fruit. But that will not work! And it will not work because of verse six of the same chapter where the Lord says – “If a man abide not in Me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.”
The scriptures affirm that there is a kind of attachment to Jesus that is not a saving attachment. There is a kind of union with the Vine that is not a saving union!
There are numerous examples in the New Testament of that sort of thing. Here is one of the clearest – Judas. Judas was chosen by Jesus. He was one of the 12 apostles. He had a relationship with Jesus. When the apostles went out to heal and to cast out demons, Judas went with them too. He cast out demons. He healed the sick and cleansed the lepers just as the others. And he did it in the name of Jesus. In fact he had so cleverly camouflaged himself with the rest of the apostles that when the Lord said “One of you shall betray Me!” They did not say, “We know WHO he is talking about.” No! They had not the faintest clue that it was Judas!
Truth is, Judas was not saved! He was not born again. He was not elect. He was, as Jesus himself said, a son of perdition from the start. And it was already prophesied in the Old Testament that he was going to betray Jesus.
Here is another illustration of the fact that there is a kind of attachment to Jesus that is not a saving attachment. There is a kind of union with the Vine that is not a saving union. . . .
Jesus said in Matthew 7 “Not everyone that saith unto Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of My Father which is in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Thy name? and in Thy name have cast out devils? and in Thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from Me, ye that work iniquity.” [Matt 7:21-23]
The million dollar question is not whether YOU profess to know Christ but whether CHRIST knows you! “The Lord knoweth them that are His!” [2Tim 2:19] And it goes without saying that He also knoweth them who claim to be His but are not!
As it was with Israel of old so it is with the Church NOW! Concerning Israel the apostle said, “they are not all Israel, which are of Israel: Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children!” [Rom 9:6,7] And we would not be wrong to conclude that in our day they are not all ‘Christians’ who call themselves Christians and neither are they the children of God because they were born in a Christian family and were ‘baptized’ whether in infancy or when they came of age! “Flesh and blood CANNOT inherit the kingdom of God!” [1Cor 15:50] Period!
God has no grandchildren! Only children! You are either a child of God by the New-birth and are sovereignly placed into the True Vine to bear fruit or you are just a branch that has attached itself by mere profession but have not “the root of the matter in you!” [Job 19:28] Oh yes, you may profess to ‘know God’ but as the apostle warned, “in works you deny Him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work Reprobate!” [Titus 1:16]
You may have heard this before but there is the true invisible Church within the visible one!
“I am the vine, ye are the branches.” “If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered.” It is plain that in such language our Lord recognised a twofold union to Himself,— one, a living union, like that of the fruitful branch in the vine; the other, a dead or mere external union, such as the unfruitful branch in the vine, that was cast forth and withered; and such precisely is the two-fold connection with Christ, exemplified in the case respectively of the invisible and the visible Church.
Those who are united to the Saviour by a living union,— unseen indeed of men, but known to Him, – constitute that society of believers spoken of in Scripture as the spiritual or invisible Church of Christ. Those, on the other hand, who are united to the Saviour by an external union of outward profession and outward privileges, known and seen of men, numbering among them the true believers in Christ, but not exclusively made up of true believers, constitute the visible Church. “The visible Church,” says the Confession of Faith, “which is also catholic or universal under the gospel (not confined to one nation as before under the law), consists of all those throughout the world that profess the true religion, together with their children, and is the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ, the house and family of God, out of which there is no ordinary possibility of salvation.” – James Bannerman
“Every branch in me that beareth not fruit He taketh away!” John Calvin said, “Christ intends by these words to awaken anxious inquiry, by declaring that all the branches which shall be unfruitful will be cut off from the vine. But here comes a question – Can anyone who is engrafted into Christ be without fruit? I answer, many are supposed to be in the vine, according to the opinion of men, who actually have no root in the vine Thus, in the writings of the prophets, the Lord calls the people of Israel His Vine, because, by outward profession, they had the name of The Church.” – John Calvin
Another has rightly said, “We cannot press this metaphor so far to say that branches that are cut off were truly saved; after all, Jesus promises that no one – not even we – can snatch ourselves from His hand (10:27–30). Our Lord is alluding to the fact that it is possible to be in the church and not be regenerate. Those who profess faith in Christ falsely can be called “branches” of a sort, because their profession connects them to the covenant communion in a way that is not true of those who openly deny Christ. But apart from true faith, such branches never receive nourishment from the vine. They cannot bear fruit and are therefore finally cut off.” – Ligonier Ministries
That the unfruitful branches represent unsaved professors, has been the standard interpretation of the great majority of Calvinistic commentators and is in accord with the whole tenor and preponderance of Scripture.
Concerning the phrase “in me,” John Gill has commented as follows: There are two sorts of branches in Christ the vine; the one sort are such who have only an historical faith in him, . . . they are such who only profess to believe in him, as Simon Magus did; are in him by profession only; they submit to outward ordinances, become church members, and so are reckoned to be in Christ, being in a church-state, as the churches of Judea, and Thessalonica, and others., are said, in general, to be in Christ; though it is not to be thought that every person in these churches was truly and savingly in him.”
Alexander MacLaren too concludes that the unfruitful branches represent unsaved professors. “It seems to me that the very language of the metaphor before us requires us to interpret the fruitless branches as meaning all those who have a mere superficia1, external adherence to the True Vine. For according to the whole teaching of the parable, if there be any real union there will be some life, and if there be any life, where will be some fruit, and therefore, the branch that has no fruit has no life, because It has no real union. And so the application, as I take it, is necessarily to those professing Christians, nominal adherents to Christiainity or to Christ’s Church, people that come to Church and chapel, and if you ask them to put down in the census paper what they are, they will say Christians. . . . but who have no real hold upon Jesus Christ, and no real reception of anything from Him.”
DO ALL CHRISTIANS PRODUCE FRUIT?
Yes! All truly regenerated Christians produce fruit! It may be a bountiful hundredfold, an average sixty fold or a meager thirty fold . . . according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. But ALL true Christians bear fruit!
“But what is this ‘fruit’? A popular conception, frequently heard in testimonies, is that a Christian’ sole purpose is to ‘win souls’ and that ‘soul-winning’ is the fruit alluded to when we speak of a Christian bearing fruit. But of the sixty-six times the word ‘fruit’ is used in the New Testament, only one verse uses it for soul-winning (Jn. 4:36). And it is even possible that this verse may be interpreted so that soul-winning is not the fruit designated here. The other non-literal usages of the word all refer to SPIRITUAL fruit; the fruit of the Spirit, or the fruits of righteousness which are the general result of the Holy Spirit’s work in and through the believer.
These “fruits” are primarily attitudes produced in the believer. These attitudes are of course, manifested in the believer’s actions. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith [fulness], meekness, temperance and self-control]: against such there is no law [Gal. 5:22-23]. Can a believer conceive of a Christian who has never experienced the love, joy, or peace, that the Holy Spirit produces? If such fruit has never been produced, then it may be safely affirmed that the Holy Spirit is not resident in such a person and that such a person is not saved!
This present generation of Christians has emphasized the doctrine of carnality while de-emphasizing the doctrine that a true faith MUST PRODUCE FRUIT. Earlier generations of Christians were more insistent upon this latter point as well as the first. Only a generation ago Dr. Ironside spoke emphatically upon this point. . . . “when you are born again, you love to follow Jesus, and if you do not, you are not a Christian. Take that home. Examine your own foundations a bit. . . . It makes a tremendous difference what you do. If you do not behave yourself, it shows that you are not a real Christian. I know that a real Christian may fail, but the difference can be seen in Peter and Judas. Peter failed, and failed terribly, but he was genuine, and one look from Jesus sent him out weeping bitterly; his heart was broken to think that he had so dishonored his Lord. But Judas companied with the Lord almost three-and-a-half years, and was a devil all the time; he was a thief, and was seeking his own interest. He was even made the treasurer of the company, and he held the bag, but we read, “He bare away what was put therein” (John 12:6), as this has been literally translated. At last remorse overtook him, not genuine repentance, and what was the result? He went and hanged himself. He was never a child of God. There is a great difference, you see, between a Christian and a false professor.”
The only proof that a person is a real Christian is the “fruit” produced in his life. “Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them!” (Mt. 7:20). Indeed, this very truth is taught by the parable under consideration. FRUIT WILL BE PRODUCED IF THE UNION WITH CHRIST IS REAL. Paul tells believers that they were saved “unto good works” (Eph. 2:10). He also states that when believers stand before the Bema, “then shall every man have his praise of God” (I Cor. 4:5).” – Charles R. Smith
“There are a great many believers who bear very little fruit for God, but ALL bear some fruit for Him. There are many people in the Vine (and the Vine speaks of profession here on earth) who bear no fruit for Him, and will eventually be cut off altogether when Jesus comes. There will be no place with Him because there is no union with Him.” – Ironside.
NO MATTER WHAT YOU MAY HAVE ‘FORSAKEN’ FOR CHRIST, NONE OF IT CAN BE COMPARED TO WHAT YOU NOW HAVE IN HIM
That’s right! No matter WHAT you may have ‘forsaken’ for Christ when He called you, it is not worthy to what you now have in Him and the blessings yet to come in the future!
The apostle Peter once asked our Lord, “Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed Thee; WHAT shall we have therefore?” [Matt 19:27] And our Lord replied, “Verily I say unto you, THERE IS NO MAN that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for My sake, and the Gospel’s, but he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life!” [Mark 10:28-30]
No bank or shareholding company in the world gives you THAT kind of interest – a 100%!
David Livingstone, the British missionary who pioneered the jungles of Africa and died there, said, “I NEVER MADE A SACRIFICE!” He gave EVERYTHING, but knew that what he was getting in return was worth much more than anything he could possibly give! Although he gave his life, he reaped dividends in immortal souls, thousands reached with the gospel!
God is a debtor to NO MAN! No man ever makes a ‘sacrifice’ to God which God does not pay back a hundredfold!
Even if you just gave your meager 10% to God with a true heart, He promises to open unto you the windows of Heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that THERE SHALL NOT BE ROOM ENOUGH TO RECEIVE IT!” [Mal 3:10]
But no true child of God gives or sacrifices with an intention to get a hundredfold. Amen? They give whatever God requires of them because they love Him above everything! It is only the false ‘Prosperity Preachers’ like Benny Hinn and Creflo Dollar who urge their congregations to ‘GIVE’ that they may ‘GET’!
But the true children of God give expecting NOTHING, and God in turn opens the windows of heaven and pours out a 100% in one form or another!
When the Lord called me 34 years ago, I really did forsake all to follow Him! You could say I literally walked out on a limb and sawed it off! I lost many things which were very dear to me – my parents, my girlfriend my best friends and even my job!
Many look at my life and say that I was a fool to have done what I did! To burn all my bridges and follow an unseen God for a ‘pie in the sky’!
But as a good old quote by Jim Elliot says – “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep, to gain what he cannot lose.”
The story is told of a man who was walking down the busy streets of London with a quote written in bold on the front of his tall hat. It read – “I am a fool for Christ’s sake”! Some saw it and snickered. And as he passed by some turned around to take another look at him, and saw he had written on the back of his hat – “whose fool are you”?!
Everybody is somebody’s fool! I was chosen to be a fool for Christ’s sake as all true Christians are! [1Cor 4:10]
WHOSE FOOL ARE YOU?!
Michael Jeshurun an unworthy and unprofitable servant of the most High.
Gleaned from the writings of J.C. Ryle by Michael Jeshurun
No matter how long you’ve been a born-again Christian, or how sanctified or well-versed in the Word you might be, the child born to you will be as Totally Depraved as you and that from the womb! [Psa 58:3] – M.J.
“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” [Prov 22:6]
I suppose that most professing Christians are acquainted with the text at the head of this page. The sound of it is probably familiar to your ears, like an old tune. It is likely you have heard it, or read it, talked of it, or quoted it, many a time. Is it not so?
But, after all, how little is the substance of this text regarded! The doctrine it contains appears scarcely known, the duty it puts before us seems fearfully seldom practiced. Reader, do I not speak the truth?
It cannot be said that the subject is a new one. The world is old, and we have the experience of nearly six thousand years to help us. We live in days when there is a mighty zeal for education in every quarter. We hear of new schools rising on all sides. We are told of new systems, and new books for the young, of every sort and description. And still for all this, the vast majority of children are manifestly not trained in the way they should go, for when they grow up to man’s estate, they do not walk with God.
Now how shall we account for this state of things? The plain truth is, the Lord’s commandment in our text is not regarded – and therefore the Lord’s promise in our text is not fulfilled.
Reader, these things may well give rise to great searchings of heart. Permit then a word of exhortation from a minister, about the right training of children. Believe me, the subject is one that should come home to every conscience, and make every one ask himself the question, “Am I in this matter doing what I can?”
It is a subject that concerns almost all. There is hardly a household that it does not touch. Parents, teachers, uncles, aunts, brothers, sisters – all have an interest in it. Few can be found, I think, who might not influence some parent in the management of his family, or affect the training of some child by suggestion or advice. All of us, I suspect, can do something here, either directly or indirectly, and I wish to stir up all to bear this in remembrance.
It is a subject, too, on which all concerned are in great danger of coming short of their duty. This is preeminently a point in which men can see the faults of their neighbors more clearly than their own. They will often bring up their children in the very path which they have denounced to their friends as unsafe. They will see motes in other men’s families, and overlook beams in their own. They will be quick sighted as eagles in detecting mistakes abroad, and yet blind as bats to fatal errors which are daily going on at home. They will be wise about their brother’s house, but foolish about their own flesh and blood. Here, if anywhere, we have need to suspect our own judgment. This, too, you will do well to bear in mind.
As a minister, I cannot help remarking that there is hardly any subject about which people seem so tenacious as they are about their children. I have sometimes been totally astonished at the slowness of sensible Christian parents to admit that their own children are in fault, or deserve blame. There are not a few people to whom I would far rather speak about their own sins—than tell them their children had done anything wrong.
Come now, and let me place before you a few hints about right training. God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit bless them, and make them words in season to you all. Reject them not because they are blunt and simple; despise them not because they contain nothing new. Be very sure, if you would train children for heaven, they are hints that ought not to be lightly set aside.
First, then, if you would train your children rightly, train them in the way they SHOULD go – and not in the way that they desire.
Remember – children are born with a decided bias towards evil – and therefore if you let them choose for themselves, they are certain to choose wrong.
The mother cannot tell what her tender infant may grow up to be – tall or short, weak or strong, wise or foolish – he may be any of these things or not – it is all uncertain. But one thing the mother can say with certainty – he will have a corrupt and sinful heart! It is natural to us to do wrong. “Foolishness,” says Solomon, “is bound in the heart of a child” (Proverbs 22:15). “A child left to himself brings his mother to shame” (Proverbs 29:15). OUR HEARTS ARE LIKE THE EARTH ON WHICH WE TREAD; LET IT ALONE, AND IT IS SURE TO BEAR WEEDS.
If, then, you would deal wisely with your child, you must not leave him to the guidance of his own will. Think for him, judge for him, act for him, just as you would for one weak and blind; but for pity’s sake, give him not up to his own wayward tastes and inclinations. It must not be his likings and wishes that are consulted. He knows not yet what is good for his mind and soul, any more than what is good for his body. You do not let him decide what he shall eat, and what he shall drink, and how he shall be clothed. Be consistent, and deal with his mind in like manner. TRAIN HIM IN THE WAY THAT IS SCRIPTURAL AND RIGHT, AND NOT IN THE WAY THAT HE DESIRES.
If you cannot make up your mind to this first principle of Christian training – it is useless for you to read any further. SELF-WILL is almost the first thing that appears in a child’s mind – and it must be your first step to resist it.
Secondly, TRAIN UP YOUR CHILD WITH ALL TENDERNESS, AFFECTION, AND PATIENCE.
I do not mean that you are to spoil him – but I do mean that you should let him see that you love him.
LOVE SHOULD BE THE SILVER THREAD THAT RUNS THROUGH ALL YOUR CONDUCT! Kindness, gentleness, long-suffering, forbearance, patience, sympathy, a willingness to enter into childish troubles, a readiness to take part in childish joys – these are the cords by which a child may be led most easily – these are the clues you must follow if you would find the way to his heart.
Few are to be found, even among grown-up people, who are not more easy to draw than to drive. There is that in all our minds which rises in arms against compulsion; we set up our backs and stiffen our necks at the very idea of a forced obedience. We are like young horses in the hand of a breaker – handle them kindly, and make much of them, and by and by you may guide them with thread; use them roughly and violently, and it will be many a month before you get the mastery of them at all.
Now children’s minds are cast in much the same mold as our own. Sternness and severity of manner chill them and throw them back. It shuts up their hearts, and you will weary yourself to find the door. But let them only see that you have an affectionate feeling towards them – that you are really desirous to make them happy, and do them good – that if you punish them, it is intended for their profit, and that, like the pelican, you would give your heart’s blood to nourish their souls; let them see this, I say, and they will soon be all your own. But they must be wooed with kindness, if their attention is ever to be won.
Train with this thought continually before your eyes – THAT THE SOUL OF YOUR CHILD IS THE FIRST THING TO BE CONSIDERED.
Precious, no doubt, are these little ones in your eyes; but IF YOU LOVE THEM, THINK OFTEN OF THEIR SOULS. No interest should weigh with you so much as their eternal interests. No part of them should be so dear to you as that part which will never die. The world, with all its glory, shall pass away; the hills shall melt; the heavens shall be wrapped together as a scroll; the sun shall cease to shine. But the spirit which dwells in those little creatures, whom you love so well, shall outlive them all, and whether in happiness or misery (to speak as a man) will depend on you.
This is the thought that should be uppermost on your mind in all you do for your children. In every step you take about them, in every plan, and scheme, and arrangement that concerns them, do not leave out that MIGHTY QUESTION, “How will this affect their SOULS?”
Love for the souls of your children is the quintessence of all love. To pet and pamper and indulge your child, as if this world was all he had to look to, and this life the only season for happiness – TO DO THIS IS NOT TRUE LOVE, BUT CRUELTY. It is treating him like some beast of the earth, which has but one world to look to, and nothing after death. It is hiding from him that grand truth, which he ought to be made to learn from his very infancy – that the chief end of his life is the salvation of his soul.
A true Christian must be no slave to fashion, if he would train his child for heaven. He must not be content to do things merely because they are the custom of the world; to teach them and instruct them in certain ways, merely because it is usual; to allow them to read books of a questionable sort, merely because everybody else reads them; to let them form habits of a doubtful tendency, merely because they are the habits of the day. He must train with an eye to his children’s souls. He must not be ashamed to hear his training called singular and strange. What if it is? The time is short – the fashion of this world passes away. He that has trained his children for heaven, rather than for earth – for God, rather than for man – he is the parent that will be called wise at last.
TRAIN YOUR CHILD TO A KNOWLEDGE OF THE BIBLE.
You cannot make your children love the Bible, I allow. None but the Holy Spirit can give us a heart to delight in the Word. But you can make your children acquainted with the Bible; and be sure they cannot be acquainted with that blessed book too soon, or too well.
A thorough knowledge of the Bible is the foundation of all clear views of religion. He that is well-grounded in it will not generally be found a waverer, and carried about by every wind of new doctrine. Any system of training which does not make a knowledge of Scripture the first thing is unsafe and unsound.
You have need to be careful on this point just now, for the devil is abroad, and error abounds. Some are to be found among us who give the Church the honor due to Jesus Christ. Some are to be found who make the sacraments saviors and passports to eternal life. And some are to be found in like manner who honor a catechism more than the Bible, or fill the minds of their children with miserable little story-books, instead of the Scripture of truth. But if you love your children, let the simple Bible be everything in the training of their souls; and let all other books go down and take the second place.
TRAIN THEM TO A HABIT OF PRAYER.
Prayer is the very life-breath of true religion. It is one of the first evidences that a man is born again. “Behold,” said the Lord of Saul, in the day he sent Ananias to him, “Behold, he prays” (Acts 9:11). He had begun to pray, and that was proof enough.
Prayer was the distinguishing mark of the Lord’s people in the day that there began to be a separation between them and the world. “Then men began to call upon the name of the Lord” (Gen. 4:26).
Prayer is the distinguishing trait of all real Christians now. They pray – for they tell God their needs, their feelings, their desires, their fears; and mean what they say. The nominal Christian may repeat prayers, and good prayers too, but he goes no further.
Prayer is the turning-point in a man’s soul. Our ministry is unprofitable, and our labor is vain, until you are brought to your knees. Until then, we have no hope about you.
Prayer is one great secret of spiritual prosperity. When there is much private communion with God, your soul will grow like the grass after rain. When there is little prayer, all will be at a standstill, you will barely keep your soul alive. Show me a growing Christian, a going forward Christian, a strong Christian, a flourishing Christian, and sure am I, he is one that speaks often with his Lord. He asks much, and he has much. He tells Jesus everything, and so he always knows how to act.
Reader, if you love your children, I charge you, do not let the seed-time of a prayerful habit pass away unimproved. If you train your children to anything, train them, at least, to a habit of prayer.
TRAIN THEM TO A HABIT OF OBEDIENCE.
This is an object which it is worth any labor to attain. No habit, I suspect, has such an influence over our lives as this. Parents, determine to make your children obey you – though it may cost you much trouble – and cost them many tears! Let there be no questioning, and reasoning, and disputing, and delaying, and answering back. When you give them a command, let them see plainly that you will have it done.
Obedience is the only reality. It is faith visible, faith acting, and faith incarnate. It is the test of real discipleship among the Lord’s people. “You are My friends if you do whatever I command you” (John 15:14). It ought to be the mark of well-trained children, that they cheerfully do whatever their parents command them. Where, indeed, is the honor which the fifth commandment enjoins, if fathers and mothers are not obeyed cheerfully, willingly, and at once?
Early obedience has all Scripture on its side. It is in Abraham’s praise, not merely he will train his family, but “he will command his children, and his household after him” (Gen. 18:19). It is said of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, that when “He was young He was subject to Mary and Joseph” (Luke 2:51). Observe how implicitly Joseph obeyed the order of his father Jacob (Gen. 37:13). See how Isaiah speaks of it as an evil thing, when “the child shall behave himself proudly against the ancient” (Isa. 3:5). Mark how the Apostle Paul names disobedience to parents as one of the bad signs of the latter days (2 Tim. 3:2). Mark how he singles out this grace of requiring obedience as one that should adorn a Christian minister—”a bishop must be one that rules well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity.” And again, “Let the deacons rule their children and their own houses well ” (1 Tim. 3:4, 12). And again, an elder must be one “having faithful children, children not accused of riot, or unruly” (Titus 1:6).
Parents, do you wish to see your children happy? Take care, then, that you train them to OBEY when they are spoken to – to do as they are told. Believe me, we are not made for entire independence -we are not fit for it. Even Christ’s freemen have a yoke to wear, they “serve the Lord Christ” (Col. 3:24). Children cannot learn too soon that this is a world in which we are not all intended to rule, and that we are never in our right place until we know how to obey our betters. Teach them to obey while young, or else they will be fretting against God all their lives long, and wear themselves out with the vain idea of being independent of His control.
Parents, if you love your children – let OBEDIENCE be a motto and a watchword continually before their eyes.
Fathers and mothers, I charge you solemnly before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, take every effort to train your children in the way they should go. I charge you not merely for the sake of your children’s souls; I charge you for the sake of your own future comfort and peace. Truly it is your interest so to do. Truly your own happiness in great measure depends on it. Children have ever been the bow from which the sharpest arrows have pierced man’s heart! Children have mixed the bitterest cups that man has ever had to drink! Children have caused the saddest tears that man has ever had to shed! Adam could tell you so; Jacob could tell you so; David could tell you so. There are no sorrows on earth like those which children have brought upon their parents! Oh! take heed, lest your own neglect should lay up misery for you in your old age. Take heed, lest you weep under the ill-treatment of a thankless child, in the days when your eye is dim, and your natural force abated.
If ever you wish your children to be the restorers of your life, and the nourishers of your old age—if you would have them blessings and not curses—joys and not sorrows – Judahs and not Reubens – Ruths and not Orpahs – if you would not, like Noah, be ashamed of their deeds, and, like Rebekah, be made weary of your life by them – if this be your wish, remember my advice betimes, train them while young in the right way.
IF SOMEONE MISQUOTED SCRIPTURE, WOULD YOU BE ABLE TO SPOT IT?
“Alexander Scourby was an accomplished Broadway actor, radio personality, narrator of many television documentaries, and a highly paid voice over talent for some of the largest United States corporations. His expressive way of narrating the Bible is more than just a narration, it was a performance of a lifetime. His narration of the Bible has been the most widely listened to narration of the Bible in the world and is still the most sought after narration on the market today.” – Ryan Mcguire
As far as diction, fluency, enunciation and feeling goes there is no comparison to Scourby’s reading of the KJV. It is the best there is! I have been listening to him almost every time I am cooking or doing dishes in the kitchen for the last 29 years. Sadly it is not without error. And some errors can doctrinally lead you astray, such as when he reads Psalm 58:3 as “The wicked are estranged from the TOMB!” or when he narrates 1John 2:18 as “Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard AN that antichrist shall come . .” the KJV does not say “AN Antichrist” but just “as ye have heard that antichrist shall come”. There are many more. Just Google – “Does Alexander Scourby Read the King James Version Accurately?”
Maybe this was not done deliberately, but then maybe it was! You never know. Men just cannot stomach how an ‘innocent’ looking baby can go astray ‘from the womb’. But hey, if God said it . . . IT IS SO! As A.W. Pink said long ago – “Our business is not to REASON about it, but to BOW to Holy Scripture. Our first duty is not to UNDERSTAND, but to BELIEVE what God has said.” One preacher when asked if he truly believed that a whale swallowed Jonah, retorted – “I could care less whether the whale swallowed Jonah or Jonah swallowed the whale, if my Bible says it is so . . . IT IS SO!” Amen! For with God ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE! [Mark 10:27]
WHAT is the ‘moral’ behind all this? THIS – be familiar with the Word of God, so that no preacher or teacher deceives you or beguiles you with vain words. [Eph 5:6]. Read the naked Word of God everyday regularly and familiarize yourselves with the Scriptures. As the Spirit says – “Keep My commandments, and live; and My law as the apple of thine eye. Bind them upon thy fingers, WRITE THEM UPON THE TABLE OF THINE HEART.” [Prov 7:2,3] That means ‘MEMORIZE’ Scripture as much as you can. Remember, the Holy Spirit can only bring to mind the Scripture YOU already know. He doesn’t bring to your mind verses out of ‘thin air’!
Because there are a lot of people out there misquoting Scripture. Some like Scourby may be doing it ignorantly, while other enemies of the Truth do it DELIBERATELY!
Consider for instance Dave Hunt – he reads [Acts 13:48] as “and as many as were DISPOSED to eternal life believed” not “and as many as were ORDAINED to eternal life believed.” and WHY would he do that? Because he is an enemy of Sovereign Grace! And if while listening to such heretics you are not familiar with the Scriptures you could be taken for a chump!
Don’t let it happen to YOU. Strive to be as Apollos – ‘mighty in the Scriptures’! [Acts 18:24] The Word! The Word! The Word beloved! It’s all in the Word! It’s the secret of victory, success, blessing and fruitfulness! It all depends on what place you give the Word of God in your life! May it be the FIRST! For “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God!” [John 1:1] Praise His Name!
“O how love I Thy Law!” It is a note of exclamation. He loves so much that he must express his love, and express it to God in rapturous devotion. In making the attempt he perceives that his emotion is inexpressible, and therefore he cries, “O how I love!” We not only reverence but love the law, we obey it out of love, and even when it chides us for disobedience we love it none the less. The law is God’s law, and therefore it is our love. We love it for its holiness, and pine to be holly; we love it for its wisdom, and study to be wise; we love it for its perfection, and long to be perfect. Those who know the power of the gospel perceive an infinite loveliness in the law as they see it fulfilled and embodied in Christ Jesus.
“It is my meditation all the day” This was both the effect of his love to the law and the cause of that love. He meditated in God’s word because he loved it, and loved it the more because he meditated in it. He could not have enough of it, so ardently did he love it; all the day was not too long for his converse with it. His morning prayer, his noonday thought, his evensong were all out of Holy Writ; yea, in his worldly business he still kept his mind saturated with the law of the Lord. It is said of some men that the more you know them the less you admire them; but the reverse is true of God’s word. Familiarity with the word of God breeds affection, and affection seeks yet greater familiarity.
When “Thy law” and “my meditation” are together all the day, the day grows holy, devout, and happy, and the heart lives with God in love to His Word, and delight therein. David turned away from all else but the Word and will of the Lord, for in the preceding verse he tells us that he had seen an end of all perfection; but he turned in unto the law and tarried there the whole day of his life on earth, growing henceforth wiser and holier.
May the Lord help us all to spend more time in His Word!
“But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in His law doth he meditate day and night. 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 1:2,3]