A WORD ON TRUE HOLINESS

A WORD ON TRUE HOLINESS

 William F. Bell

And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.”  [Ephesians 4:24]. 

 But as He which hath called you is holy, so BE YE HOLY in all manner of conversation (conduct); Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.” [1 Peter 1:15-16].

Evangelist Rolfe Barnard (1904-1969) once said that churchgoers in his day “were terribly afraid” of the word “holiness.” Today, many still are! I have often said that the only kind of Christian we should be is the “holiness” kind. God is the Holy One. We have a Holy Bible. We declare a holy gospel. Christ is the holy Son of God. The Spirit living within us is the Holy Spirit. The true children of God are called “THE HOLY PEOPLE” (Isaiah 62:12).

Note that Paul uses the expression, TRUE HOLINESS.” When we read that something is “true,” it is being contrasted with that which is “false.” Mere outward religion is false holiness! God is called “THE LIVING AND TRUE GOD (1 Thessalonians 1:9) in contrast to all “false” gods (Psalm 115:4-8).

WE MUST BE CONCERNED ABOUT “TRUE HOLINESS.” Simon Peter was quoting the Old Testament when he said, “BE HOLY IN ALL YOUR CONDUCT. Is not this highly important today when “sexual harassment” is constantly in the news? How we need to guard our thoughts, our words, and our actions! KEEP THYSELF PURE,” Paul admonished Timothy (1 Timothy 5:22), later saying to him, “FLEE ALSO YOUTHFUL LUSTS” (2 Timothy 2:22). How can these texts be misunderstood? But some religious people make fun of this doctrine of holiness, asking, “But how is it possible for unholy sinners to be holy and pure?” To answer that question requires a biblical knowledge of the doctrines of human depravity, election, redemption, justification, and sanctification.

Note that Peter is writing to the “elect,” those having been “born again” and “called” (1 Peter 1:2,3,15). Paul clearly says he is writing “TO THE SAINTS WHICH ARE AT EPHESUS, AND TO THE FAITHFUL IN CHRIST JESUS (Ephesians 1:1). “Saints” are “holy ones,” but only “in Christ Jesus.” Is not this crucial to understanding true holiness? God declares, “For I am holy,” but no sinner can ever say this! Only Christ our Lord was “holy” and “not defiled” with sin [Hebrews 7:26].

We know that “holiness” is far more than merely “abstaining” from certain outward things often called “sin.” But all the “abstaining” in the world from what men call outward “sins” could never produce true holiness! Mark that down. But no matter our view, the “be holy” texts of Scripture are powerful, including this one: “FOLLOW PEACE WITH ALL, AND HOLINESS, WITHOUT WHICH NO ONE SHALL SEE THE LORD” [Hebrews 12:14]. Note that we must “pursue” peace and holiness, that is, “be diligent” about it by the grace of God.

SINNERS “BORN FROM ABOVE” HAVE DIFFERENT  “CONDUCT” FROM THE UNREGENERATE. 

We desire to honor Christ in daily living, knowing assuredly that only God’s grace makes sinners differ from each other. None of us can ever “live holy” personally, for our fallen nature does not allow it. But those “born again” possess a new nature, being indwelt by the Holy Spirit (John 14:16-18; Romans 8:9; 2 Peter 1:1-4). Paul calls it being CREATED ACCORDING TO GOD.” We never “put off the old man” until the grace of God “renews” our minds in order for us to “put on the new man.”

Some indeed have a “holier-than-thou” attitude, but this does not destroy the biblical doctrine of “true holiness.” It is also true that our “conduct” does not save us legally, for the only ground of our salvation is the justifying righteousness of our Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 3:24-26). But does not the cross of Calvary assure us that God will have a holy people? Yes! We know that “holiness” is an EVIDENCE of justification in our lives, for Simon Peter attributes it to the Spirit of God: “IN SANCTIFICATION OF THE SPIRIT, UNTO OBEDIENCE” [1 Peter 1:2]

Note, “sanctification of the Spirit” is “unto obedience.” How could it be any clearer?

Those “chosen” by the Father, “redeemed” by the Son, and “called” by the Spirit, are described in this gracious manner: “THAT WE SHOULD BE HOLY AND WITHOUT BLAME BEFORE HIM IN LOVE (Ephesians 1:4). Therefore, the Lord Jesus Christ is our “holiness”  OBJECTIVELY (1 Corinthians 1:30), and because of that glorious fact the Spirit also works in us “holiness” of life SUBJECTIVELY (1 Thessalonians 4:3-4).

The true believer can never be “antinomian” (lawless) in life, anymore than a bird can live in water!

Sin is not a redeemed person’s element, and if we can sin without grieving over it, that spells no regeneration! But, beloved, if we have been justified through Christ’s work “FOR US,” then we experimentally “put on the new man” because Christ Jesus now lives “IN US.” And this is the glorious gospel, as the poet confirms by writing,

Ye souls, redeemed with blood,

And called by grace divine,

Walk worthy of your God,

And let your conduct shine;

Keep Christ, your living Head, in view,

In all you say, in all you do.

William Gadsby

 

SUICIDE AND THE SAINT

SUICIDE AND THE SAINT

Scanned and edited from the writings of A.W. Pink by Michael Jeshurun

“And when he was come out of the ship, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit, Who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no man could bind him, no, not with chains: Because that he had been often bound with fetters and chains, and the chains had been plucked asunder by him, and the fetters broken in pieces: neither could any man tame him. And always, night and day, he was in the mountains, and in the tombs, crying, and cutting himself with stones. But when he saw Jesus afar off, he ran and worshipped Him, And cried with a loud voice, and said, What have I to do with thee, Jesus, Thou Son of the most high God? I adjure Thee by God, that Thou torment me not. For He said unto him, Come out of the man, thou unclean spirit.” [Mark 5:2-8]

That the man, above recorded, was not only a demoniac, or man possessed with demons, but also a maniac, or mad-man, is evident from the text of v. 15, in which it is said, the people saw him “sitting, and clothed and in his RIGHT MIND.” And it is very evident that the expression in his right mind” can have no reference to the work of the Holy Spirit in him as a sanctified soul, although it may be so spiritualized; for of this secret and Divine work, the common people or unconverted Gadarenes could be no judges, nor could it be cognizible to their senses; but the plain and obvious meaning of the text is this: that the man was restored to the use of his natural faculties, that his mind was both sound and intelligent.

In the passage above cited, the Church of Christ is presented with one of the most remarkable cases in the Book of God, of the preservation of a soul under great tribulation, from the act of self-destruction; of the miraculous deliverance of a child of God, under derangement of mind, from the dreadful crime of SUICIDE. In this affecting narrative, the Christian world is presented with an extraordinary display of the preservation of one of God’s elect (a lunatic) from the commission of suicide, though continually incited to the same, by a host or legion of devils! Of a man in whom the words of the apostle were most truly exemplified, PRESERVED IN CHRIST JESUS, and (then) called ” (Jude 1). And, my brethren, if the soul of the “elect” be thus wondrously preserved in Christ Jesus BEFORE calling, or before the spiritual and saving manifestation of Christ to the soul, how much rather when that soul is sensibly and savingly sanctified by the Presence and Indwelling of God? “Know ye not (says the apostle to the Church at Corinth) that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you.

Think for a moment, my Christian friends, of the deplorable state and condition of this poor Maniac, and yet (O amazing truth) a vessel of God’s boundless and eternal mercy. Behold a man, whom no man could tame; fierce and ramping as a lion; a man isolated from his fellow-men, mad, forsaken, desolate; a miserable and terrific outcast; a man, literally full of Devils! Look to his habitation, among the corpses of the dead; and mark, this was not an occasional retreat, but his very dwelling-place; “who had his dwelling among the tombs.” Look too at the state of his body; naked, bleeding, and wounded: to the state of his mind- “crying continually”; driven about with a tempest, sometimes furiously rushing upon the mountains; at others, prowling and weeping among the tombs.

Poor man! And hadst thou no friend to pity thee, none to speak peace to thy bleeding soul? Alas, who dared approach? For he was full of devils (it is worthy to note that no sooner were these spirits permitted to enter the swine, than they led them to instant destruction!) spirits of the damned bent on destruction, and were urging their victim continually to the commission of SUICIDE, “by cutting himself with stones.”

Poor man! And hadst thou no eye to pity thee? Blessed be God! The eternal Jehovah was thy refuge; His everlasting arms were underneath; and therefore the gates of hell could not prevail. “I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death: O death, I will be thy plague: O grave, I will be thy destruction: repentance shall be hid from Mine eyes.” O the safety of the soul that is wrapped up in the “bundle of life,” and embosomed in the heart of God! Many waters cannot quench the flame of heavenly love, nor can the floods of hell extinguish it. Such an one may be persecuted of devils, but he shall not be forsaken; cast down of hell, but not destroyed. Sooner or later the sweet music of this precious promise shall ring in his ears, and bring peace and consolation to his afflicted soul: “Fear thou not, for I am with thee; be not dismayed, for I am thy God. I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea I will uphold thee with the right hand of My righteousness.”

O, my Christian brethren, could we have stood upon an elevation and beheld the ravings of this poor Maniac, how affecting had been the sight, how afflictive the contemplation! Now, prowling like a wolf among the dwellings of the dead; then, furiously rushing up and down the mountains, crying, weeping, bleeding. Why does he not plunge from off the mountain’s brow and end his wild career? The arm of Omnipotence restrains him. Why not bleed to death of his wounds? An unseen hand binds them up. But how can mortality sustain such a conflict? The arms of God are underneath; and “Mercy (in Christ) embraceth him on every side.” Nature exhausted, he sinks upon the ground and falls insensibly to sleep. The rains drench his skin, the winds blow, (he hears them not), the tempest rages, and now the rays of the sun dart upon his defenceless head; and yet, he still survives! A spark of heavenly, unextinguishable flame, tossed upon the rude ocean of turbulent and tormenting devils!

Poor and afflicted Child of Mercy! And wherefore thus grievously afflicted and tormented? That in the inscrutable decrees of Jehovah, he might become a Barnabas, a son of CONSOLATION! A pastor after God’s own heart, a feeder of the flock of Christ: “and he departed and began to publish in Decapolis how great things Jesus had done for him: and all men did marvel.” A Preacher, not like many of the day who thrust themselves into the Ministry, the leprosy of whose presumption is stamped of God upon their foreheads, but a Minister of the Sanctuary, chosen of the Father, ordained of the Spirit, and sent forth of the Son, to testify of the remorseless tyranny of Satan, the helplessness and wretchedness of man, and the abundant and exceeding riches of the sovereign grace of God; a man of deep and heartfelt experience; a guide to the blind, and a champion for the truth; a preacher inspired of the Spirit, entrusted and empowered of God. But, poor afflicted Child of Mercy! wherefore wast thou thus grievously tried and tormented ? That the power, grace, and glory of God may be transcendently manifest: that in the ages to come, the Church might behold (in this poor Maniac) a bright and living Epistle of the preservation of ALL God’s blood-bought Family FROM THE APPALLING CRIME OF SUICIDE. 

O, my Brethren, how full of sweet and heavenly consolation is the deliverance of this Demoniac to all the distressed and persecuted people of God! Behold a man without human control, without the restraint of human reason, and carried away by Devils as a flood, and yet PRESERVED FROM SUICIDE. Can a stronger case be possibly conceived, or can its parallel be found ?

Poor and afflicted child of God, hast THOU a Legion of Devils in thy soul? THOU SHALT NEVER COMMIT SUICIDE!

Art thou driven as with a tempest night and day; Thou no house, no home? Thou shalt never commit suicide. Art thou deprived of reason, and is thy body naked, bleeding, wounded? Thou shalt never commit suicide; for the Spirit of the Lord shall go forth with healing in His wings, and shall pluck thee out of many waters: He shall bear thee as an olive branch through the windows of heaven, and place thee, as the trophy of Mercy, in the bosom of thy God. “And the ransomed of the Lord shall return and come to Zion with everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.” [Isaiah 35:10]

Tossed as a wreck, (with helm of reason lost) little did this Maniac dream of the mercies that awaited him on high: but no sooner has the appointed moment of deliverance arrived, than the Sun of righteousness dispels the gloom: and in His glorious beams the holy Dove descends, broods over her adopted child, and plucks Her darling from the lions. “Sing O ye heavens; for the Lord hath done it: shout, ye lower parts of the earth: break forth into singing, ye mountains, O forest, and every tree therein: for the Lord hath redeemed Jacob, and glorified Himself in Israel.” [Isaiah 44:23] Poor afflicted child of God, dost thou sometimes fear the violence of temptation will lead thee to the commission of Suicide?! Behold a man in whom a legion of Devils appeared to have full sway, a fierce and ramping Maniac; in a word, a man who seemed forsaken of God, and given up to hell, and yet preserved from Suicide. Hitherto thou shalt come, Satan, but no further, and here (TOUCH NOT HIS LIFE) shall thy proud waves be stayed.

Again, the apostle propounds this question to the Church; “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?” and then replies, “In ALL these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us:” but do I TRIUMPH in tribulation, if tribulation drives me to SUICIDE?

And lastly, it is the office of the Holy Spirit to work repentance (The dying thief repented, and made a confession to the glory of God!) for sin in the souls of ALL His saints. But how can there be repentance of that sin which carries me as a criminal before the Judge, and presents me reeking with the blood of life? Is there repentance in the grave? The Word says, No! Where then stands my unrepentant soul? Thus the CRIME OF SUICIDE CARRIES THE OFFENDER BEYOND THE PALE OF MERCY (it carries him before God in the very commission of his sin), seals his awful doom, and apportions him eternally with all the sons of perdition. Like Judas and Ahithophel, that man perishes in his iniquity.

SUICIDE IS SELF-MURDER, and is one of the most desperate crimes which can be committed. Inasmuch as this sin precludes repentance on the part of its perpetrator, it is beyond forgiveness. Such creatures are so abandoned by God as to have no concern for their eternal salvation, seeing they pass into the immediate presence of their Judge with their hands imbrued in their own blood. Such are self-murderers, for they destroy not only their bodies but their souls, too.

Now the Spirit testifies, that “all Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness; that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” [2Tim 3:16] My Christian Brethren, have you a single case in the Divine Record of a saint’s falling into Suicide? I say, have you a single case in the whole Bible of a saint’s having fallen into the commission of that dreadful sin? YOU HAVE NONE! You may search from Genesis to Revelation, but you will find none. Now, if the thing were possible, we ought to have an example, seeing the Word of God is given for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be “thoroughly furnished,” but behold, we have NOT ONE!

What, then, is the common inference or conclusion to be drawn from this memorable fact? The conclusion, I apprehend, will be thus: THAT THE CHILD OF GOD, OR SPIRITUAL BELIEVER IN CHRIST, IS NEVER PERMITTED TO FALL INTO SUICIDE.

But some say, Did not Samson commit Suicide? By no means. He died as a martyr, fighting in the cause of God. He fell contending with the world, and went triumphantly to glory. O there is a mighty difference in dying to the confusion of God’s enemies, and falling as a Suicide to the confusion of friends! When Samson contended with a thousand of his foes, his life was prolonged; but in this, his last conflict, he fought, fell, and conquered as in a moment. Grasping the pillars upon which the house stood, Samson cried unto his God; and having received power from on high (the sanction of the HOLY ONE!) he bowed his head and yielded up the ghost. Like his blessed Lord and Master (of whom he was a glorious type) he overcame most in his death. Samson died a blessed martyr in the cause of God; he fell not into Suicide. Did Stephen shrink to declare the truth in the very teeth of his enemies? So neither did Samson shrink from the pillars of the house, though like Stephen, he were to be stoned to death. Thus fell these champions of the faith, scorning bodily deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. “He that hateth his life in this world,” said our blessed Lord to His disciples, “shall keep it unto life eternal.”

As Mr. Hunt so plainly pointed out, Samson certainly was not guilty of this enormous sin; instead, he died as a godly hero for the good of Israel. It is to be carefully noted that the life of Samson ended by his calling upon the Lord! His last act is one of PRAYER, and it was in direct answer thereto that supernatural strength was granted unto him, so that “the dead which he slew at his death, were more than they which he slew in his life” (Judges 16:28, 30).

But it will be asked, Have not the saints of God ever attempted Suicide ? Most certainly they have; both before and after calling. Like the poor Demoniac recorded by Matthew (chap. 17: 15) they have oftentimes sought their own destruction; but, through Mercy, have, as oftentimes, been wonderfully delivered. “Thou shalt not die, but live, and declare the works of God.” [Psalm 118:17]

“Sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law but under grace.” “Destitute, afflicted, tormented.” One of the dear children of God determines upon self-destruction: carried as by a flood, she steals along the river’s brink, selects the fatal spot, and is just about to plunge into the stream, when suddenly the voice of God is heard; in an instant, Satan flees, the soul is set free, and Christ resumes His throne. O Satan, “thou hast thrust sore at me that I might fall, but the Lord helped me!” “The Lord is my strength and song, and is become my salvation.” Another child of God draws the knife, but the weapon fails. Another grasps the cup of poison, but his hand so trembles that he cannot hold it to his lips. Another takes a halter and looks for a beam, but is prevented he knows not how. Another suspends his body from a door, but soon the fastening fails, and he drops to the floor.

Carnal professors, whose hearts have been “swept and garnished” by themselves, never dream of such temptations as these, and are ready to reproach and accuse the children of God when thus exercised; but let such professors remember God hath not spoken in vain, “when the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him.” Carried by this flood, David fell into adultery and murder; and poor boasting Peter cursed and swore, and declared he knew not his Lord and Master. Merciful God! What ways and means hast Thou devised to prove the unchangeableness of Thy sovereign mercy, the immutability of Thy Covenant love! My Covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of My lips.” [Psalm 89:34]

PROFESSORS ARE NOT ALWAYS REGENERATED POSSESSORS

But, it may be asked, are there not instances of men celebrated for knowledge of Divine mysteries, and of most exemplary conduct, falling into the crime of Suicide? The fact is notorious, and cannot be denied: but that we may reply to the question effectually, let us turn to the Word of truth, the unerring testimony of God. “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels and have not charity (Christ dwelling in my soul) I am become as a sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.” In other words, though I be ever so gifted, and have not grace, I am nothing.

As a preacher I may be greatly attractive to my hearers; as “one that hath a pleasant voice, and can play well on an instrument;” but if Christ be not formed in my soul “the hope of glory” I am nothing. Even David, that eminent man of God, was deceived in this matter. He took a man of gifts, for a man of grace; but as he advanced in the Divine life, God showed him greater things. He went to the house of God with Ahithophel and took sweet counsel together, and thought him a dear brother in the Lord; but in time of temptation this high-sounding professor (this cymbal of the Sanctuary) fell away. He sided with Absalom in the rebellion, pleaded against the sweet singer of Israel, and sought to compass the death of the king, by the very son of his bowels! I say, therefore, though men be gifted to speak as with the tongues of men and of angels, and draw the eyes of the Church upon them as the beloved of God, if they be not TEMPLES OF THE HOLY GHOST (truly “born of God”), in time of temptation they fall away.

There is more than one instance of suicide recorded in the Bible, and most solemn and instructive is their testimony. There are three cases in all, and each of them was that of a PROFESSOR, who belonged EXTERNALLY to the people of God; but in none of them can it be fairly shown that he was a REGENERATED  soul.

The first was Saul, the apostate king. It is true that for a brief season he seemed to run well—but the evil spirit which troubled him, his rank disobedience to the Lord, his murderous designs upon David, and his consulting with the witch of Endor—all clearly marked him out as a son of Belial, before he took his own life (1 Chron. 10:4).

The second was Ahithophel, who basely deserted David and befriended Absalom in his insurrection (2 Sam. 17:23).

The third was Judas, the traitorous Apostle, who, though he deceived his fellows, was denominated by Christ as “a devil” (John 6:70).

Rightly has it been said “These stand forth as so many monuments of the power of Satan, the strength of despair, and the indignation of the Almighty.” This, in itself, is quite sufficient in our judgment to settle the matter – that the only ones mentioned in Scripture who directly took their own lives, were not believers – but UNBELIEVERSLet the reader carefully ponder that fact. But that is negative evidence; the positive, as we shall see, is equally conclusive.

But before weighing that, perhaps a word or two should be said upon what the Spirit has chronicled about Jonah, for the nearest approach to a saint actually committing suicide is his, for he distinctly bade the sailors in the ship “take me up and cast me forth into the sea” (Jonah 1:12). But observe, first, that was designed for THEIR good, “So shall the sea be calm UNTO YOU!” Second, Jonah did not himself jump overboard. Third, as in the case of Samson, the providence of God had designed that he should be a remarkable type of Christ. Finally, remember that God MIRACULOUSLY DELIVERED HIMas though to show us that He will not, under any circumstances, allow one of His own to destroy himself.

The same feature appears most conspicuously in the case of Job. It should be pointed out first, that the situation of that patriarch was a most desperate one and his sufferings almost unprecedented. Second, he was tempted, yes urged by his wicked wife, to resort unto extreme measures, “curse God, and die” (2:9). Third, poor Job ardently longed for death, as that which would put a happy end to his miseries. This is clear from his own words, “O that I might have my request, and that God would grant me the thing that I long for! Even that it would please God to destroy me; that He would let loose His hand and cut me off” (6:8, 9). This is recorded, we need hardly say, for OUR ADMONITION, and not for OUR IMITATION. Fourth, yet though he was peeved at death’s delay, and fretful because life still remained in him, nevertheless the fact remains that HE DID NOT destroy himself. The Lord’s qualification to Satan, “Behold, he is in your hand; but save his life” (2:6)—makes it clear that while He allows the Devil to sorely BUFFET a saint, he cannot take his LIFE.

“Is suicide A SINor not? Is rebellion a sin, unbelief a sin, despair a sin? Then suicide must be a SIN OF SINS; for it is the last fruit, the highest summit of those sins. Can a man who commits it be said to die in faith, or hope, or love? Where is receiving the end of faith, the salvation of the soul, (1 Peter 1:9), if a man dies in unbelief, as a suicide must do? How can his hope be “an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast” (Heb. 6:19) if it breaks in the storm? And where is love, when he bids defiance to the Almighty by breaking through the bounds of life and death which He has set up? Evidently he dies in sin, and in a sin for which he can have no repentance, for he cuts himself off from repentance by that same act by which he cuts himself off from life” (J. C. Philpot, Gospel Standard, 1861).

How each of us, then, needs to earnestly pray, “Hold Thou me up and I shall be safe!” [Psalm 119:117]. It is nothing but Sovereign Grace which makes any of us to differ. Probably there are very few Christians but at one time or other seriously pondered suicide, yet the Lord in His covenant-faithfulness either renewed their graces, changed their intentions, or thwarted their efforts – as He did more than once with the hymn-writer of blessed memory, William Cowper. And to those Christians who are fearful lest such a terrible ending as suicide should be their lot, we close by reminding them of the sure promises of the preserving hand of the Most High over His saints. “Many are the afflictions of the righteous—but the Lord DELIVERETH HIM out of them ALL” (Psalm 34:19). “Who are KEPT by the power of God through faith unto salvation” (1 Peter 1:5).

“We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God KEEPETH HIMSELF, and that wicked one toucheth him not” (1 John 5:18). These are strong testimonies to show that Jehovah will not allow Satan to prevail over any of His chosen ones.

 

JESUS IS NOT THE ANSWER!

JESUS IS NOT THE ANSWER!

Michael Jeshurun

Almost every evangelistic meeting in our day advertises this promising message- Jesus is the answer! You’ve tried everything else, now try Jesus! Or Pick Jesus and He will solve your problems, etc.

We are here to tell you that Jesus is not ‘the answer’ for the social, moral and financial evils which plague mankind.

Christ is not here to deliver the alcoholic or the drug addict or cure the cancer patient or solve someone’s financial woes! His mission always was and still is in His own Words – “To seek and to save that which was lost!” [Luke 19:10]

Yes, Jesus IS the ‘answer’ but only to them who are truly ‘lost’ and subsequently ‘called’, but to the rest He is as the apostle said, “a stumbling block”! [1Cor 1:23,24]

Jesus came not to set right the moral and social evils of the world, or for that matter to solve men’s financial problems and give them a prosperous life. He came to seek and to save that which was lost!

WHO are these ‘Lost’?

They are those whom the Father chose from before the foundation of the world and permitted to be lost through the Fall only to be sought, found and be redeemed by Christ. They are those whom He calls sheep as opposed to goats! [Matt 25:32] It is for these and these alone that Christ came, and of all these ‘lost’ He loses NONE! “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]

And unlike Darius “who would gladly have saved Daniel, but could not” (Dan. 6:14) the Lord Jesus seeks and saves every single one of God’s Elect whom He came to save!

The plain fact that many die in their sins and go into a Christless eternity ought to tell us that not ALL are ‘lost’ as most Christians presume! For if they were truly the ‘lost’ and belonged to Christ’s fold, then they would be found and saved by Him before they closed their eyes in death. Amen?

These lost sheep are those for whom Christ came! And all the sheep that Christ owns in time He owned from eternity. No one ‘becomes’ a sheep in time and joins Christ’s fold. Those who are brought into His fold in time were always a part of His flock from eternity, and as we said above they were in the wisdom of God lost through the fall. All that the Great Shepherd does is seek and save that which originally belonged to Him by divine decree!

One of the important facts which many miss out when studying the parables of the Lost Sheep, the Lost Coin and the Lost Son is that in all three cases the ‘seekers’ sought for that which was ALREADY THEIRS! [Luke 15:4-32]

The Shepherd HAD a hundred sheep, and the woman HAD ten coins and the father was looking out and patiently waiting, not for a stranger but for HIS OWN SON!

God’s elect do not start out as goats and later become sheep by accepting Jesus! The sheep are sheep from ETERNITY! They are KNOWN and loved by the Father from BEFORE TIME BEGAN!

“Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, WHICH WAS GIVEN US IN CHRIST JESUS BEFORE THE WORLD BEGAN!” [2 Tim 1:9]

And here’s the kicker – No man knows he is ‘lost’ until Christ finds Him!

In his hymn Amazing Grace, John Newton wrote – “I once was lost but now am found!”

LOST is the condition of ALL whom God saves. Lost, that is, in such a condition as to not be able to know God, save ourselves or find the way to God, to please God or come to Him. Why are there so few that are saved in our day? Maybe it is because nobody’s really lost. Nobody actually see themselves in this desperate condition – LOST.

Fact is, “If you’ve never been lost, then you’ve never been saved!”

THIS is whom Christ came to save and this is whom He saves – the LOST! Lost means helpless, hopeless, and unable to save ourselves. Lost in sin. God’s people are described as “LOST SHEEP” and in need of the Shepherd’s seeking and saving.

Those who are truly “lost” must be found. When they are found by the seeking Shepherd, they attribute all of their salvation to Him and say as Newton, “I once was lost but now AM FOUND!”

Praise the Lord!

MOST BIBLE COLLEGES AND SEMINARIES TODAY ARE IN THE HANDS OF THE LORD’S ENEMIES

MOST BIBLE COLLEGES AND SEMINARIES TODAY ARE IN THE HANDS OF THE LORD’S ENEMIES

 Michael Jeshurun

 There came to Him (Jesus) the chief priests and the scribes, and the elders. And say unto Him, By WHAT authority doest Thou these things? And WHO gave Thee this authority?” [Mark 11:27,28].

How history repeats itself! “From WHAT College have YOU graduated? And in WHICH Seminary were YOU trained”? are the modern forms of this query!

[A.W. Pink]

Recently I posted an article by a Brother who clearly exposed and repudiated the error of Transubstantiation or the ‘Real-Presence of Christ in the bread and wine, and the people who were contending for this error, were more interested in the ‘credentials’ of the said Brother than the truth he had presented!

The question to ask is not “WHO gave you the authority to preach” but “Is your preaching in accord with God’s word”? The AUTHORITY to preach is not something that is bestowed by MAN, or even a school of men (like a College or Seminary). And it is definitely not bestowed by an Institution which claims to be the Church of Christ but teaches and practices everything contrary to the revealed Word of God.

The Pharisees were the only ones in Scripture who questioned a persons’ ‘authority to preach’! ‘And when He was come into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came unto Him as He was teaching, and said, “By what authority doest thou these things? and who gave thee this authority”? Strikingly the Lord does not answer their query but says, “Neither tell I you by what authority I do these things.” [Mat 21:23-27]

Even when the Apostle Paul started preaching, none of the older Apostles asked him who gave him the authority, but admitted, that “he who persecuted us in times past now preaches the faith which once he destroyed”! [Gal 1:23]

Contrary to popular opinion, there is no warrant in Scripture for a formal Seminary education to qualify men to be preachers! The closest example in Scripture to a college or seminary education is the Pharisee’s education system. The result of their education system is pretty clear. They could not even recognize God when He came to them in person (Jesus). They really believed that they loved God, but in actuality they hated God (Jesus) because God did not fit the theology they had been taught in their schools. They refused to believe the truth. They went to Hell, because their education was a stumbling block. They were proud, arrogant, hypocritical, and looked for the approval and honor of men. God intentionally hid spiritual understanding from them. “At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.” (Matthew 11:25) The Pharisees education system was a failed education system and yet the Church’s Seminary education system is very similar to it.

THE MEN CHRIST CHOSE AND APPOINTED TO ‘FEED HIS SHEEP’ WERE FOR THE MOST PART ‘UNEDUCATED MEN’!

The way Jesus trained His disciples was totally different than a college or seminary education today. It was more of an apprenticeship, and could not be described as a formal education. AT THE END OF THEIR TRAINING WITH JESUS, THEY WERE STILL DESCRIBED AS UNLEARNED AND IGNORANT MEN. However, their preaching brought thousands to a saving faith in Jesus and impacted the world. “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marveled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.” (Acts 4:13) God Himself gave us the example that education is not important.

Jesus did not even attend the “elementary” school for Jewish boys that taught them how to read. “And the Jews marveled, saying, How knoweth this man letters, having never learned? [John 7:15]

Paul was a highly educated man in the teachings of the Pharisees. He knew the terminology, the reasoning, the jargon of the religious elite. But he put that all aside as worthless when God called him to preach! [See I Corinthians 2:1-16]

Moses was educated in Pharaoh’s house with the best education in Egypt. However, that did not qualify him to lead the Children of Israel. God had to humble him for 40 years in the desert, leading sheep, before he was ready to be the leader that God wanted him to be. When God called Moses, he did not feel qualified to be a leader or to stand before Pharaoh. He asked God to send someone else instead.

And THAT is what God’s school of training does to those whom He calls and trains, – i.e. it shows them how insufficient they are for the task ahead! Almost every man whom God called to ‘go speak for Him’ in holy writ made excuses and tried to shake off the task, for they found themselves insufficient! [2Cor 3:5]

“Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven”! [Matt 18:1-5]

College and seminary education and degrees do not help a pastor to become humble as a little child. A pastor must be converted in his thinking about what greatness really is. Unfortunately, a seminary degree and especially the title “Doctor” does not help a pastor become more humble. Neither can a man who is not humble himself help others to be humble so that they can enter the kingdom of heaven. (v.3)

GOD’S DESIGN OF THE CHURCH STRUCTURE IS ONE OF EQUALITY RATHER THAN HIERARCHY. BROTHERHOOD RATHER THAN MASTER AND SERVANT OR PROFESSOR AND STUDENT.

The word “Minister” means: “to run on errands; an attendant, that is, (generally) a waiter (at table or in other menial duties); specifically a Christian teacher and pastor (technically a deacon or deaconess): deacon, minister, servant.” (Strong’s Greek Dictionary) A degree of higher education is a great hindrance to this command for a pastor to view himself as a servant. Church structure is opposite of business or government structure. A pastor must not do things to receive honor of others – special dress, special seat, parking, fancy or high pulpit, or honorary title or degree. All of those are contrary to the attributes of a servant. [See Matt 20:25-28]

Jesus commands (It is not a suggestion) that a pastor is not to use a title of honor: “Reverend”, “Doctor”, or “Ph.D.” “M.Div.” “Th.D.”, “Senior Pastor”, etc. A person’s education must not be used in the church to elevate that individual above any other person. Everyone in the church are equals (v.8) Highly educated persons in the church are not be acknowledged as such in the church. [read A.W. Pinks article –“Doctor or brother”]

Think of it – Jesus SAT DOWN to teach His disciples. Matthew 5, the sermon on the Mount, Jesus spoke to the multitudes SITTING DOWN. Jesus in the synagogue in Nazareth SAT DOWN to teach. Jesus taught SITTING in a boat. A pulpit is usually ELEVATED above the people and puts the pastor at the center of attention and importance center stage. That is the OPPOSITE of Jesus’ command to be servant of all.

“At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank Thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because Thou hast 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”. [Matt 11:25-27]

The Pharisees were highly educated in the Old Testament in the “seminary” of their day. But God hid spiritual understanding from them and revealed it to uneducated men. Note what Jesus said, that God knew that this was best to hide true spiritual understanding from the educated! Jesus did not have any formal education. If a pastor desires to follow Christ and do what Jesus would do, why does he desire to have a seminary education? Why does the church desire their pastor to have a seminary education?

God’s design for pastors is the opposite of one patterned after seminary training. God has chosen the uneducated, the foolish in the world’s eyes, the weak, the base things of the world, those that are despised. God has not chosen the educated to lead the church. Jesus followed this same principle in choosing the twelve disciples. Not one educated Pharisee was chosen. Later when Paul, a highly educated Pharisee became a Christian, he tells us how he renounced his education so that his ministry would be more effective for Christ.

“Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise. 19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God”. [1Cor 3:18]

God warns us here that it is easy for a highly educated person to deceive himself. The tendency with a college or seminary education is that with a degree to one’s name, that person has a tendency to feel that he is wise.

THEREFORE IF A PASTOR HAS A SEMINARY DEGREE, HE NEEDS TO BECOME A FOOL BY RENOUNCING IT SO THAT HE CAN BECOME WISE. OTHERWISE HIS THOUGHTS, THOUGH APPEARING TO BE WISE, ARE VAIN IN TRUE SPIRITUAL UNDERSTANDING.

Here are some quotes from A.W. Pink on Seminaries –

The best place of training for the pastor is not a seminary but the school of adversity. Spiritual lessons can be learned only in the furnace of affliction. [Gleanings from Paul]

Commenting on Isaiah 40:29-31, he says –

But where had Elijah learned this all-important lesson? Not in any seminary or bible-training college, for it there were such in that day they were like some in our own degenerate time—in the hands of the Lord’s enemies. [Life of Elijah].

This was one of the trials which this writer (Pink) encountered over thirty years ago, when his pastor and Christian friends urged him to enter a theological seminary, though they knew that deadly error was taught there. It was not easy to take his stand against them, but he is deeply thankful he did so. [Gleanings from Elisha].

Passing through a seminary and putting on the ministerial garb does not transform the unregenerate into regenerate men. When our Lord announced, “The truth shall make you free,” it was the religious leaders of the Jews who declared they were never in bondage; and when He affirmed, “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do,” they replied, “Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil?” (John 8). [The Doctrine of man’s Impotence].

Commenting on John 7:15 –

“How knoweth this man letters, having never learned?” How like the spirit

which is abroad today! How many there are in the educational and religious world who suppose it is impossible for man to expound the Scriptures gracefully and to the edification of his hearers unless, forsooth, he has first been trained in some college or seminary! Education is an altar which is now thronged by a multitude of idolatrous worshippers. That, no doubt, is one reason why God’s curse has fallen on almost all our seats of learning. [Exposition of John]

Commenting on John 7:17 –

“If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.” How this word rebuked, again, these worldly-minded Jews; and how it reverses the judgment of many of our moderns! One does not have to enter a seminary or a Bible Institute and take a course in Christian Apologetics in order to obtain assurance that the Bible is inspired, or in order to learn how to interpret it. Spiritual intelligence comes not through the intellect, but via the heart: it is acquired not by force of reasoning, but by the exercise of faith.

An experiential acquaintance with Christ is the one thing needful. A heart knowledge of God’s truth is the vital thing, and it is that which no schooling or seminary training can confer. [Exposition of John]

Commenting on John 9:34 –

Alas, how tragically does history repeat itself. These men were too arrogant to receive anything from this poor beggar. They were graduates from honored seats of learning, therefore was it far too much beneath their dignity to be instructed by this unsophisticated disciple of Christ. And how many a preacher there is today, who in his fancied superiority, scorns the help which ofttimes a member of his congregation could give him. Glorying in their seminary education, they cannot allow that an ignorant layman has light on the Scriptures which they do not possess. Let a Spirit-taught layman seek to show the average preacher “the way of the Lord more perfectly,” and he must not be surprised if his pastor says — if not in so many words, plainly by his bearing and actions — “dost thou teach us?” How marvellously pertinent is this two-thousand-year-old Book to our own times! “And they cast him out” (John 9:34).

But to “open” the Scriptures helpfully to the saints requires something more than a few months’ training in a Bible institute, or a year or two in a seminary. None but those who have been personally taught of God in the hard school of experience are qualified so to “open” the Word that Divine light is cast upon the spiritual problems of the believer, for while Scripture interprets experience, experience is often the best interpreter of Scripture. [Acts 17:2,3].

[Some of the above is quoted from – ‘A Biblical Research Report by Myron Horst’]

 

I KNOW I AM BAD, BUT I WOULD BE MUCH WORSE IF IT WERE NOT FOR THE LORD’S UPHOLDING GRACE

I KNOW I AM BAD, BUT I WOULD BE MUCH WORSE IF IT WERE NOT FOR THE LORD’S UPHOLDING GRACE

John Newton

“One trial abides with me: a body of sin and death, an inward principle of evil, which renders all I do defective and defiled.
But even here I find cause for thankfulness, for with such a heart as I have, my sad story would soon be much worse if the Lord were not my keeper.

By this I may know that He favours me, since weak and variable as I am in myself, and powerful and numerous as my enemies are, they have not yet prevailed against me.

And I am admitted to a throne of grace, I have an Advocate with the Father. And such is the power, care, and compassion of my great Shepherd that, prone as I am to wander, He keeps me from wandering quite away.

When I am wounded, He heals me.
When I faint, He revives me again.”

–John Newton, Wise Counsel: John Newton’s Letters to John Ryland Jr., Ed. Grant Gordon (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 2009), 170.

STRENGTHENING THE HANDS OF THE MOURNERS IN ZION

STRENGTHENING THE HANDS OF THE MOURNERS IN ZION

A.W. Pink

“Strengthen ye the weak hands, and confirm the feeble knees.

Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: behold, your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompence; He will come and save you.” [Isaiah 35:3,4]

It is the duty of the preacher to faithfully warn the young convert that the peace, joy and assurance which usually follows the first realization of sins’ forgiveness, will in turn be succeeded by fierce temptations, inward conflicts, sad failures which will produce grief, darkness, and doubtings. It was so with Abraham, with Moses, with Job, with Peter, with Paul; yea, with all the saints whose biographies are recorded at any length in the Scriptures. Great changes are to be expected in the young convert’s feelings and frames, so that his comforts are dampened, and the dew of death seems to settle upon his graces. A deeper realization of his awful depravity—what he is by nature—will make him groan and cry out “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” (Rom. 7:24); yet that only makes way for a fuller and further weaning from self.

Very often the young Christian is allowed by God to sink yet lower in his experience. Satan is let loose upon him and sin rages fiercely within him, and strive and pray as he may, it often obtains the upper hand over him. Guilt weighs heavily on his conscience, no relief is granted from any source until he now seriously questions the genuineness of his conversion and greatly fears that Satan has fatally deceived him. He feels that his heart is as hard as the nether millstone, that faith in him is dead, that there is no help and no hope for him. He cannot imagine that one who has been born again and is indwelt by the Holy Spirit could be so enslaved by sin. If God were his Father, He would surely hear his cries and grant deliverance from his spiritual enemies. But the heavens are as brass over him until the very breath of prayer seems frozen within him.

Hoping against hope he seeks relief from the pulpit. But in vain. The sermons he hears only aggravate his woes for they depict the Christian’s experience as vastly different from his own: they deal with the bright side and say little or nothing on the dark side. If he converses with the professing Christians of the day he is likely to get laughed at, and told to cease being occupied with himself and look only to Christ, to lay hold of the promises of God and go on his way rejoicing. That is the very thing he most of all desires: “to will IS present” with him, “but how to perform that which is good” he “finds NOT” (Rom. 7:18). Poor soul! is there no one that understands his case? no one qualified to minister comfort to him? Alas, alas, there are few indeed in this frothy age.

Here, again, experimental preaching is urgently needed, preaching which enters into the very experiences described above—experiences shared, in some measure, by all quickened souls while they are in this “Wilderness of Sin.” But O what wisdom from on High (not from books!) is needed if, on the one hand, the “smoking flax” is not to be “quenched” and the “bruised need” not broken—and, on the other hand, sin be not made light of, failures be not excused, and the standard of holiness be not lowered. The pulpit should declare frankly that there are times when the mind of the believer is filled with deep distress, that there are seasons when the light of God’s countenance is turned away from His people, and the Devil is permitted to sorely wound them, tell them that they have committed the unpardonable sin, and that there is no hope for them; but that such experiences are no proof at all that they are still unregenerate.

The preacher has to bear steadily in mind that if there are among his hearers carnal professors who are ready to seize eagerly anything which would bolster them up in their false assurance, there are also feeble and ailing babes in Christ which require tender nursing (Isa. 60:4; 1 Thess. 2:7), and little ones of God’s family who lack assurance, and because of this think the worst of themselves. It is therefore wise business to “take forth the precious from the vile” (Jer. 15:19): that is, by a discriminating ministry expose and terrify the sin-hardened, but speak words of comfort to the real mourners in Zion. “In our congregations there are wheat and chaff on the same floor: we cannot distinguish them by name, but we must by character” (Matthew Henry).

We must make it clear that those who regard sin lightly, have not the fear of God before their eyes; those not grieved because they find so much in their hearts opposed to Divine holiness, are unregenerate—no matter how much head-knowledge of the Truth they possess or how loud be their Christian profession.

It is at this very point that the true under-shepherd of Christ stands out in marked contrast from the “hireling” of the flock, concerning whom God says, “Ye have made the heart of the righteous sad, whom I have not made sad; and strengthened the hands of the wicked, that he should not return from his wicked way, by promising him life” (Ezek. 13:22). On the one hand, the regenerate are “made sad” by pratings about “the victorious life,” or “the second blessing,” or “the baptism of the Spirit.” These blind leaders of the blind claim to have so “got out of Romans 7 into Romans 8,” to have so left behind them all inward conflicts and agonizing doubtings, as to virtually have entered into the state of the glorified—causing real Christians to conclude that they know nothing of that Gospel which is “the power of God unto salvation” and must be complete strangers to a miracle of grace within them.

On the other hand, these false prophets declare that all who have “accepted Christ as their personal Saviour” are saved, even though they have not yet received the second blessing, that they are justified though not “entirely sanctified.” They assure the godless, the worldling, the pleasure-intoxicated, that they may be saved at this very moment on the sole and simple condition that they believe God so loved them as to give His Son to die for them. Thus peace is assured to the unconcerned “when there is no peace,” the hearts of the careless are hardened, and the wicked are promised life without any regard to God’s demand that they must “forsake” their idols. “Nor can anything strengthen the hands of sinners more than to tell them they may be saved in their sins without repentance; or that there may be repentance, though they do not return from their wicked ways” (Matthew Henry).

The duty of God’s servants is clearly enough defined in this respect: “They shall teach My people the difference between the holy and profane, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean” (Ezek. 44:23). Surely it is of vast importance that a deeply exercised soul should know whether or not his sins have been cleansed by the blood of Christ. But for that, teaching is necessary, teaching from a Divinely-qualified teacher; for if an inexperienced “novice” lays his hand to such a task he will only make bad matters worse and add to the fearful confusion which now prevails on every side. Only one who has himself sailed much in these deep waters is fitted to serve as pilot to floundering ships; none but one who had been harassed by Satan as Bunyan had, could have written “The Pilgrim’s Progress.”

“That we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God” (2 Cor. 1:4) states the principle. One who has actually suffered from a serious disease is best fitted to recognize symptoms of it in others and recommend the remedies which he found most efficacious. Furthermore, one must be personally taught by the Spirit before he can explain to sin-sick and Satan tormented souls the “mystery of the Gospel”— the strange paradoxes of the Christian life.

It is one thing to read “for when I am weak, then am I strong” (2 Cor. 12:10), it is quite another matter to prove the truth of it in actual experience. Nor is that statement any more paradoxical than the fact that it is the spiritually “poor” who are spiritually rich (Matt. 5:3). And equally true is it that those who most clearly perceive their filthiness and mourn over their pollution are they who have the best evidence that their sins have been washed away; as the most humble souls are the ones who most bewail their pride.

A CALL TO THE PREACHER TO EXAMINE HIMSELF

A CALL TO THE PREACHER TO EXAMINE HIMSELF

Compiled by Michael Jeshurun

“Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.” [1Tim 4:16]

Every workman knows the necessity of keeping his tools in a good state of repair, for “if the iron be blunt, and he does not whet the edge, then must he put to more strength.” If the workman lose the edge from his axe, he knows that there will be a greater draught upon his energies, or his work will be badly done. Michaelangelo,1 the elect of the fine arts, understood so well the importance of his tools, that he always made his own brushes with his own hands, and in this he gives us an illustration of the God of grace, Who with special care fashions for Himself all true ministers.

It is true that the Lord can work with the faultiest kind of instrumentality, as He does when He occasionally makes very foolish preaching to be useful in conversion; and He can even work without agents, as He does when He saves men without a preacher at all, applying the Word directly by His Holy Spirit; but we cannot regard God’s absolutely sovereign acts as a rule for our action. He may, in His own absoluteness, do as pleases Him best, but we must act as His plainer dispensations instruct us; and one of the facts which is clear enough is this, that the Lord usually adapts means to ends, from which the plain lesson is that He shall be likely to accomplish most when we are in the best spiritual condition—or in other words, we shall usually do our Lord’s work best when our gifts and graces are in good order, and we shall do worst when they are most out of trim. This is a practical truth for our guidance; when the Lord makes exceptions, they do but prove the rule.

We are, in a certain sense, our tools, and therefore must keep ourselves in order. If I want to preach the Gospel, I can only use my own voice; therefore I must train my vocal powers. I can only think with my own brains, and feel with my own heart, and therefore I must educate my intellectual and emotional faculties. I can only weep and agonize for souls in my own renewed nature, therefore must I watchfully maintain the tenderness which was in Christ Jesus. It will be in vain for me to stock my library, or organize societies, or project schemes, if I neglect the culture of myself—for books, agencies, and systems are only remotely the instruments of my holy calling. My own spirit, soul, and body are my nearest machinery for sacred service; my spiritual faculties, and my inner life, are my battle axe and weapons of war.

M’Cheyne, writing to a ministerial friend who was traveling with a view to perfecting himself in the German tongue, used language identical to our own: “I know you will apply hard to German, but do not forget the culture of the inner man—I mean of the heart. How diligently the cavalry officer keeps his sabre clean and sharp; every stain he rubs off with the greatest care. Remember you are God’s sword, His instrument, I trust, a chosen vessel unto Him to bear His name. In great measure, according to the purity and perfection of the instrument, will be the success. It is not great talents God blesses so much as likeness to Jesus. A holy minister is an awful weapon in the hand of God.”

It is a terrible thing when the healing balm loses its efficacy through the blunderer who administers it. You all know the injurious effects frequently produced upon water through flowing along leaden pipes; even so the Gospel itself, in flowing through men who are spiritually unhealthy, may be debased until it grows injurious to their hearers. It is to be feared that Calvinistic4 doctrine becomes a most evil teaching when it is set forth by men of ungodly lives, and exhibited as if it were a cloak for licentiousness; and Arminianism, on the other hand, with its wide sweep of the offer of mercy, may do most serious damage to the souls of men, if the careless tone of the preacher leads his hearers to believe that they can repent whenever they please, and that, therefore, no urgency surrounds the Gospel message.

THE MINISTER SHOULD BE A SAVED MAN.

It should be one of our first cares that we ourselves be saved men. That a teacher of the Gospel should first be a partaker of it is a simple truth, but at the same time a rule of the most weighty importance. We are not among those who accept the apostolical succession of young men simply because they assume it; if their college experience has been rather vivacious than spiritual, if their honors have been connected rather with athletic exercises than with labours for Christ, we demand evidence of another kind than they are able to present to us. No amount of fees paid to learned doctors, and no amount of classics received in return, appear to us to be evidences of a call from above. True and genuine piety is necessary as the first indispensable requisite; whatever “call” a man may pretend to have, if he has not been called to holiness, he certainly has not been called to the ministry.

“First be trimmed thyself, and then adorn thy brother,” say the rabbis. “The hand,” saith Gregory, “that means to make another clean, must not itself be dirty.” If your salt be unsavory how can you season other? Conversion is a sine quanon (absolute prerequisite) in a minister. Ye aspirants to our pulpits: “ye must be born again” (Joh 3:7). Nor is the possession of this first qualification a thing to be taken for granted by any man, for there is very great possibility of our being mistaken as to whether we are converted or not. Believe me, it is no child’s play to “make your calling and election sure” (2Pe 1:10). The world is full of counterfeits, and swarms with panderers to carnal self-conceit, who gather around a minister as vultures around a carcass. Our own hearts are deceitful, so that truth lies not on the surface, but must be drawn up from the deepest well. We must search ourselves very anxiously and very thoroughly, lest by any means after having preached to others we ourselves should be castaways (1Co 9:27).

How horrible to be a preacher of the Gospel and yet to be unconverted! Let each man here whisper to his own inmost soul, “What a dreadful thing it will be for me if I should be ignorant of the power of the truth which I am preparing to proclaim!” Unconverted ministry involves the most unnatural relationships. A graceless pastor is a blind man elected to a professorship of optics, philosophizing upon sight and vision, discoursing upon and distinguishing to others the nice shades and delicate bleedings of the prismatic colours, while he himself is absolutely in the dark! He is a dumb man elevated to the chair of music; a deaf man fluent upon symphonies and harmonies! He is a mole professing to educate eaglets; a limpet (a lowly mollusk) elected to preside over angels. To such a relationship one might apply the most absurd and grotesque metaphors, except that the subject is too solemn. It is a dreadful position for a man to stand in, for he has undertaken work for which he is totally, wholly, and altogether unqualified, but from the responsibilities of which this unfitness will not screen him, because he willfully incurred them.

Whatever his natural gifts, whatever his mental powers may be, he is utterly out of court for spiritual work if he has no spiritual life; and it is his duty to cease the ministerial office till he had received this first and simplest of qualifications for it.

Alas! the unregenerate pastor becomes terribly mischievous too, for of all the causes which create infidelity, ungodly ministers must be ranked among the first. I read the other day, that no phase of evil presented so marvelous a power for destruction, as the unconverted minister of a parish, with a £1200 organ, a choir of ungodly singers, and an aristocratic congregation. It was the opinion of the writer, that there could be no greater instrument for damnation out of hell than that!

People go to their place of worship and sit down comfortably, and think they must be Christians, when all the time all that their religion consists in, is listening to an orator, having their ears tickled with music, and perhaps their eyes amused with graceful action and fashionable manners; the whole being no better than what they hear and see at the opera—not so good, perhaps, in point of aesthetic beauty, and not an atom more spiritual. Thousands are congratulating themselves, and even blessing God that they are devout worshippers, when at the same time they are living in an unregenerate Christless state, having the form of godliness, but denying the power thereof. He who presides over a system which aims at nothing higher than formalism, is far more a servant of the devil than a minister of God.

A formal preacher is mischievous while he preserves his outward equilibrium, but as he is without the preserving balance of godliness, sooner or later he is almost sure to make a slip in his moral character—and what a position is he in then! How is God blasphemed, and the Gospel abused! Terrible is it to consider what a death must await such a man! and what must be his after-condition! The prophet pictures the king of Babylon going down to hell, and all the kings and princes whom he had destroyed, and whose capitals he had laid waste, rising up from their places in Pandemonium, and saluting the fallen tyrant with the butting sarcasm, “Art thou become like unto us?” (Isa 14:10). And cannot you suppose a man who has been a minister, but who has lived without thirst in his heart, going down to hell, and all the imprisoned spirits who used to hear him, and all the ungodly of his parish rising up and saying to him in bitter tones, “Art thou also become as we are? Physician, didst thou not heal thyself? Art thou who claimed to be a shining light cast down into darkness forever?” Oh! if one must be lost, let it not be in this fashion! To be lost under the shadow of a pulpit is dreadful, but how much more so to perish from the pulpit itself!

Richard Baxter, in his book ‘Reformed Pastor’, amid much other solemn matter, writes as follows. “Take heed to yourselves lest you should be void of that saving grace of God which you offer to others, and be stranger to the effectual working of that Gospel which you preach; and lest, while you proclaim the necessity of a Saviour to the world, your hearts should neglect Him, and you should miss of an interest in Him and His saving benefits. Take heed to yourselves, lest you perish while you call upon others to take heed of perishing, and lest you famish yourselves while you prepare their food. Though there be a promise of shining as stars to those that turn any to righteousness (Dan 12:3), this is but on supposition that they be first turned to it themselves.

Their own sincerity in the faith is the condition of their glory simply considered, though their great ministerial labours may be a condition of the promise of their greater glory. Many men have warned others that they come not to that place of torment, which yet they hasted to themselves; many a preacher is now in hell, that hath and an hundred times called upon his hearers to use the utmost care and diligence to escape it. Can any reasonable man imagine that God should save men for offering salvation to others, while they refused it themselves; and for telling others, which they themselves neglected and abused? Many a tailor goes in rags that maketh costly clothes for others; and many a cook scarce licks his fingers, when he hath dressed for others the most costly dishes.

Believe it, brethren, God never saved any man for being a preacher, nor because he was an able preacher; but because he was a justified, sanctified man, and consequently faithful in his Master’s work. Take heed, therefore, to yourselves first, that you be that which you persuade others to be, and believe that which you persuade them daily to believe, and have heartily entertained that Christ and Spirit which you offer unto others. He that bade you love your neighbors as yourselves, did imply that you should love yourselves and not hate and destroy both yourselves and them.” – Richard Baxter

My brethren, let these weighty sentences have due effect upon you. Surely there can be no need to add more; but let me pray you to examine yourselves, and so make good use of what has been addressed to you. – C.H. Spurgeon

A word from Brother Paul Washer –

“Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.” [1Tim 4:16]

This verse means almost nothing in the evangelical community today. How many pastors and preachers do you think take it seriously? How many say to themselves. “I need to pay close attention to myself to insure salvation for me and those who hear me?”

I have a question, pastor: when was last time you examined your own life to see if you were in the faith, to see if you really know the Lord? You see, my dear friend, I have great assurance when I study my own conversion, when I discuss it with other men, when I look over the twenty five years of my pilgrimage with Christ, I have great assurance of having come to know Him. But even now, if I were to depart from the faith, and walk away, and keep going in that direction, into heresy, into worldliness, it could be the greatest of proofs that I never knew Him – that the whole thing was a work of the flesh.

I know what I am saying is outstanding to you. You think, “Oh my, I have never heard such a thing,” but this is the old timeless biblical truth you need to hear. Just read John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress.

“Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.” [1Tim 4:16]

May God bless His Church.

THE CLARION CALL OF GOD TO HIS ELECT

THE CLARION CALL OF GOD TO HIS ELECT

Michael Jeshurun

Even Spurgeon saw SEPARATION as a biblical necessity for himself. He said “Whether others do so or not, I have felt the power of the text, ‘Come out from among them, and be ye separate,’ and have quitted both Union and Association once for all. This is forced upon me, not only by my convictions, but also by the experience of the UTTER USELESSNESS OF ATTEMPTING TO DEAL WITH THE EVIL EXCEPT BY PERSONALLY COMING OUT FROM IT”.

The bounden duty of a true believer towards men who profess to be ‘Christians’, and yet deny the Word of the Lord, and reject the fundamentals of the gospel, is to come out from among them. FELLOWSHIP WITH KNOWN AND VITAL ERROR IS PARTICIPATION IN SIN. To stay in a community which fellowships all beliefs in hope of setting matters right, is as though Abraham had stayed at Ur, or at Haran, in the hope of converting the household out of which he was called.

And incidentally, it must be mentioned here that when the Lord called Abraham, Scripture records that He called HIM ALONE!

“Look unto Abraham your father, and unto Sarah that bare you: for I CALLED HIM ALONE, and blessed him, and increased him.” [Isa 51:2]. Now when GOD calls His child, He calls him alone, not him and his relatives or him and his friends! It is a personal call where you are required to pay a great price by forsaking those that are near and dear to you. Not everyone can pay this price but those and ONLY THOSE THAT ARE TRULY CALLED OF GOD!

Commenting on the above verse, A.W. Pink writes –

“Observe carefully the words “I called him ALONE.” Remember that this was while he dwelt in Ur, and as modern excavations have shown, that was a city of vast extent: out of all its huge number of inhabitants God revealed himself to ONE ONLY! The Lord here emphasized that very fact and calls upon us to mark the singularity of His election by this word “ALONE.” See here, then, the absolute sovereignty of God, exercising His own imperial will, choosing whom He pleases. He had mercy upon Abraham simply because He was pleased to do so, and He left the remainder of his countrymen in heathen darkness simply because it so seemed good in His sight. There was nothing more in Abraham than in any of his fellows why God should have selected HIM: whatever goodness was found in him later was what God Himself put there, and therefore it was the CONSEQUENCE and not the CAUSE of His choice.

Striking as is the case of Abraham’s own election, yet God’s dealings with his offspring is equally if not more noteworthy. Therein God furnished an epitome of what has largely characterized the history of all His elect, for it is a VERY RARE THING TO FIND A WHOLE FAMILY which (not simply makes a profession, but) gives evidence of enjoying His special favor. THE COMMON RULE IS THAT ONE IS TAKEN AND OTHER IS LEFT, for those who are given to really believe this precious but solemn truth, are made to experimentally realize its force in connection with their own kin. Thus Abraham’s own family furnished in his next and immediate successors, a prototype of the future experience of the elect”. [Gleanings in Genesis]

“I will take you ONE of a city, and TWO of a family, and I will bring you to Zion”! [Jer 3:14]

The words – ‘Come out of her, My people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues . . .” is more of a decree than a suggestion or even a command! [Rev 18:4]

And because of this irresistible decree, God’s chosen WILL COME OUT, no matter what the price! They just CANNOT and WILL NOT continue to be a part of the Apostasy!

When the Apostle said, “They went out FROM US, but they were not OF US; for IF they had been OF US, they would no doubt have continued WITH US: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not ALL OF US [1John 2:19] . . . he means not that they (the apostates) went out of his particular denomination (for he had none) but that they traded the true brotherhood for that which is false . . . like Judas!

“And the sheep hear His voice: and He calleth his own sheep BY NAME, and leadeth them out. 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 10:3-5]

Remember this beloved – complicity with error will take from the best of men the power to enter any successful protest against it.

When the Lord said to Peter, “follow Me”, Peter turned around and saw another disciple and said, “Lord, and what shall this man do?” To which the Lord said, “If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? FOLLOW THOU ME.”[Jn. 21:19-22]. Every man shall give an account to God for himself.

The LIE that is being pushed by compromising nominal Christians to those who want to get out of the Apostasy is – “Yes, we know the truth is not preached here and the leadership is compromised, but you NEED TO BE HERE to help others see the truth and pull them on to the Rock!”

HOGWASH! THAT’S A LIE FROM THOSE WHO DO NOT WANT TO PAY THE PRICE OF REJECTION AND PERSECUTION!

YOU CANNOT CONTINUE IN AN APOSTATE CHURCH AND LEAD SOMEONE ELSE TO THE TRUE CHURCH. It just doesn’t work that way!

In order to pull someone on to the rock you need to be on the rock yourself. The Bible teaches, “Have NO FELLOWSHIP with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove (expose) them”[Eph. 5:11]. It is not going to be easy, it will cost you EVERYTHING. But that is the price you have to pay to be His disciple. [see Luke 14:25-35]

REMEMBER, THAT THE LORD JESUS AND ALL HIS APOSTLES REMAINED SEPARATE FROM THE ESTABLISHED RELIGIOUS ORDER OF THEIR DAY. It says of Jesus that He suffered outside the gate, therefore let us go forth unto Him, outside the camp (of APOSTATE CHRISTIANITY) bearing His reproach [Heb. 13:12,13]. Amen!

THE PENITENT SINNER’S PRAYER

THE PENITENT SINNER’S PRAYER

C.H. Spurgeon

“Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” [Psalm 51:10]

CREATE. What! has sin so destroyed us, that the Creator must be called in again? What ruin then doth evil work among mankind! CREATE IN ME. I, in my outward fabric, still exist; but I am empty, desert, void. Come, then, and let thy power be seen in a new creation within my old fallen self. Thou didst make a man in the world at first; Lord, make a new man in me! A CLEAN HEART. In the seventh verse he asked to be clean; now he seeks a heart suitable to that cleanliness; but he does not say, “Make my old heart clean” he is too experienced in the hopelessness of the old nature. He would have the old man buried as a dead thing, and a new creation brought in to fill its place.

NONE BUT GOD CAN CREATE EITHER A NEW HEART OR A NEW EARTH.

Salvation is a marvellous display of supreme power; the work IN us as much as that FOR us is wholly of Omnipotence. The affections must be rectified first, or all our nature will go amiss. The heart is the rudder of the soul, and till the Lord take it in hand we steer in a false and foul way. O Lord, thou who didst once make me, be pleased to new make me, and in my most secret parts renew me. RENEW A RIGHT SPIRIT WITHIN ME. It was there once, Lord, put it there again. The law on my heart has become like an inscription hard to read: new write it, gracious Maker.

Remove the evil as I have entreated thee; but, O replace it with good, lest into my swept, empty, and garnished heart, from which the devil has gone out for a while, seven other spirits more wicked than the first should enter and dwell. The two sentences make a complete prayer. CREATE what is not there at all; RENEW that which is there, but in a sadly feeble state.

Is Music Neutral?

Is Music Neutral?

Michael Jeshurun

On a Forum some time ago a Sister in Christ asked me as to what constitutes true worship. She wrote – “I know that many only worship with Psalms, but the scriptures say “psalms, hymns and spiritual songs – making worship in your heart to the Lord.” My husband and I usually worship the Lord with some of Gadsby’s Hymns, though I am unable to sing. It would be interesting to see what others believe is True Worship.

Pasted below is the answer the Lord led me to write –

Dear Sister,

The question which you have raised is indeed an important one for the Christian. If you had asked me this question in your living room over a cup of tea, my answer would have been plain and simple and straight to the point. This is because you are already for the most part established on what God’s will is for the Christian with regards to music. I praise God for that.

But since you have raised this question on a ‘Forum’ the answer cannot be given in a word, for there are many who visit a forum who have no idea what Christian music is and whether God is concerned as to the kind of music we listen to and sing in His honour.

So please bear with me if I go a little bit into detail and mention things in this post that may not even be relevant to you. But trust me, it will be relevant to many and be a blessing to many more.

First we must begin by correcting a few false notions which exist in the mind of many Christians regarding music. One of them is that “All the music is neutral only the words matter.” In fact the entire ‘Contemporary Christian Music’ (CCM) is built on this one massively deceptive pillar!

The other lie that is prevalent among many so called Christians today is that–”the Bible gives no instructions on the type of music for a Christian to listen to. It’s all a matter of preference and culture.

As we shall see, this is not true. Let their be no doubt. . .
Music is not neutral. Has never been neutral. Nor ever will be neutral!

Do you remember that when king Saul was troubled by an evil spirit, they did not go around looking for a doctor or a soothsayer but a musician! And the scripture records – “And it came to pass, when the evil spirit from God was upon Saul, that David took an harp, and played with his hand: so Saul was refreshed, and was well, and the evil spirit departed from him”. [1sam 16:23] Saul’s men knew the power of music. They knew music had inherent powers! They knew music wasn’t neutral!

Ask any composer who is asked to compose music for a play or a movie. The music is not the same for a happy scene as it is for a sad one. Because music has an effect on both the mind, (emotions) and the body.

One more fact to bear in mind while discussing Christian music is that the purpose of Christian music was NEVER meant to evangelize the lost! Many contemporary ‘Christian’ musicians and compromised ‘Churches’ which allow Christian Rock and Christian Rap music in their assemblies justify it by saying that they are doing it to ‘reach the lost’ who come to their services.

God’s only method of reaching the lost is the preaching of the Word of God. Not aping the world and using their music! ‘For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe”! [1Cor 1:21]

How to discern music?

Many sincere Christians when it comes to music usually ask –“What about such and such a group or such and such a singer, can we listen to him or use their songs to worship the Lord”?

The best way to answer that question is to give them guidelines as to what godly music is in the first place and let them make the judgment. As the scripture admonishes – “test all things, and hold fast to that which is good”! [1Thes 5;21] Does the Bible give us any indication to the type of music we should sing? Did the Lord God who made heaven and earth, who created music and sound, who put so much emphasis on music in His Word forget to tell us what is Christian music?

Not hardly. Thank God — He has given us instructions for our music.

“Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making MELODY in your heart to the Lord”.  [Ephesians 5:18-19]

Let us start with a word of reproof to those who use Rock or Rap music to ‘worship’ the Lord.

We need to understand that Music is composed of three main components; melody, harmony and rhythm. If these ingredients are not present, then it’s not music, but noise. Though there is a lot of harmony and some rhythm in Rock and Rap music, there is hardly any melody. Because of that, rock is unlike any other music. In other music, the melody is the main component, but in rock – the rhythm or the beat literally takes over the music.

Perhaps the most important defining quality of rock and roll is the BEAT, . . . Rock and roll is different from other music primarily because of the BEAT.” (Charles Brown, The Art of Rock and Roll, p. 42)

And it is that BEAT that the FLESH loves!

When secular rock-star, Michael Jackson was asked why he did the filthly-sexual, hand gestures on stage, he replied:

“It’s the music that COMPELS me to do it. You don’t think about it, it just happens. I’M A SLAVE TO THE RHYTHM.” (The Evening Star, February 11, 1993, p. A10)

So ask yourself, can one use Rock or Rap music to worship the Lord?

Here is a quote from Rock star David Bowie (sodomite) – “Rock has always been THE DEVILS MUSIC . . . . I believe rock and roll is dangerous . . . . I feel we are only heralding something EVEN DARKER THAN OURSELVES.” (Rolling Stone, Feb. 12, 1976)

Some country Gospel songs were written and sung in the right spirit. But sadly not all.  Much discernment is needed in determining whether a particular country gospel is Christian.

MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS IN WORSHIP

There are those who would forbid all musical instruments in worship. But I would have to disagree. Because the Scripture does not forbid it!

Praise him with the sound of the trumpet: praise him with the psaltery and harp.
Praise him with the timbrel and dance: praise him with stringed instruments and organs. Praise him upon the loud cymbals: praise him upon the high sounding cymbals.etc Psalms 150:3-5

With all the many references to musical instruments, there is one instrument that is NEVER mentioned! The DRUM! Why is that? The drum was a very common instrument in Egypt and the lands around Israel. And yet the DRUM is NEVER mentioned in a King James Bible.

Did the Lord just forget to include the DRUM or is there another reason?

Is it because — drums are associated with voodoo, shamanism, paganism and magic rituals?

“[Drums] represents the beat of the heart and is played to summon up magic powers.” (Miranda Bruce-Mitford, The Illustrated Book of Signs & Symbols, DK Publishing, 1996 p.80)

“The shaman was the original ‘long hair’, the first rock star draped in leather, dancing POSSESSED to a rhythm banged out on A DRUM.” (Danny Sugerman, Appetite for Destruction, p. 208)

In Siberia, in northern Asia, drums are used in shamanic rituals to heal people. It is believed that the shaman can communicate with the spirit world THROUGH DRUMMING. (Louise Tythacott, Musical Instruments, Thomas Learning, 1995, p. 37)

“Pagan dances and rituals are always accompanied by the incessant BEAT of DRUMS. Rhythm plays a major role in these demonic activities.” (Hart, Lowell Satan’s Music Exposed, Salem Kirban Inc., 1980 p.71)

The DRUM has always been associated with the paganism and the devil. In fact, a little more than a hundred years ago, drums were forbidden (exy th for the military) in America!

“The arrival of African slaves has had one of the strongest influences on North American music. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, millions of African people were taken as slaves to the U.S. to work on plantations in the South. They brought many of their own traditions with them but were forbidden to play their DRUMS.” (Louise Tythacott, Musical Instruments, Thomas Learning, 1995, p.19)

Do you know why New Orleans is the voodoo capital of the U.S, and also the birthplace of jazz? Because drumming was forbidden in the U.S. – except in New Orleans!

When the first blacks from Africa were converted to Christianity they knew the power and evil influence of DRUMS. And the converted blacks strictly forbid the use of drums! They referred to the drums as “the Devil’s drum”. (Martha Bayles, Hole in Our Soul: The Loss of Beauty and Meaning in American Popular Music, p. 138)

One simple guideline for Christian music is NO DRUMS!

CHRISTIAN MUSIC SHOULD FEED THE SPIRIT — NOT THE FLESH!

CHRISTIAN MUSIC SHOULD EMPHAZIE THE MELODY — NOT THE BEAT!

So much then for a general statement on music, and now to particularize:

 CHRISTIAN MUSIC SHOULD PRAISE THE LORD JESUS CHRIST — NOT MAN

Now, you would think this point is unnecessary for CHRISTian music. After all, CHRISTian means “a follower, believer of Jesus Christ”. And if it is truly Christian music, it should testify, praise and sing about the Lord Jesus Christ.

The PURPOSE of Christian music is to PRAISE the Lord.

I will be glad and rejoice in thee: I will sing praise to THY NAME, O thou most High. Psalm 9:2

Be thou exalted, LORD, in thine own strength: so will we SING and praise THY POWER. Psalm 21:13

The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my SONG will I praise HIM. Psalm 28:7

Praise the LORD with harp: sing unto him with the psaltery and an instrument of ten strings. Sing unto him a new song; play skilfully with a loud noise. Psalm 33:2-3

When someone truly gets saved, God puts a NEW song in their mouth. And that song is “PRAISE unto our God” — the result of salvation is — praise unto our GOD! And it’s not something we work up, or “fake”, or just do — but it’s something God “puts”! Christian music is “praise unto our GOD“.

He hath PUT a NEW SONG in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the LORD. Praise 40:1-3

Sadly, much of what goes by the name CHRISTian Music today is NOT CHRISTian. It does NOT testify, praise or sing about the Lord Jesus Christ. In fact, a great deal of it does not even mention the Lord Jesus Christ. Much of today’s Christian Music goes out it’s way to avoid the name of Jesus Christ – or any Christian content whatsoever.

CHRISTIAN MUSIC IS FOR THE LORD — NOT THE WORLD.

A Christian’s music is sung to the Lord. It is not for the world.

Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart TO THE LORD; Ephesians 5:19

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts TO THE LORD. Colossians 3:16

Sing praises TO THE LORD, which dwelleth in Zion: declare among the people his doings. Psalm 9:11

Isaiah 12:2 sums it up wonderfully, “. . .for the LORD JEHOVAH is . . . MY SONG . . .”:

Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the LORD JEHOVAH is my strength and MY SONG; he also is become my salvation. Isaiah 12:2

The ONLY way Christian Music can appeal to the world is make it UN-Christianwhich is exactly what CCM does. Most CCM artists “remove” or “redefine” the Lord Jesus Christ. They replace the Lord Jesus Christ with the pronouns; “he”, “him”, “you”, “I”, et. al. They also “redefine” the Lord Jesus Christ as a “politically-correct” “tolerant”, “lovey-dovey”, non-judgemental, “partying”, “hip-hop”, “rapping-rocker” that appeals to the world. Songs such as, dc Talk’s “Jesus Freak”, Messiah Prophet Band’s, “Master of the Metal”, et al. clearly describe “another Jesus” than the Jesus Christ of the Bible. In 2 Cor. 11:4, the apostle Paul warns of “another Jesus”.

Just as the lost world is not interested in a “Bible-believing” church that preaches the word of God, the world is not interested in music that openly praises the Lord. The lost world is NOT going to praise the Lord Jesus Christ. The Bible is CLEAR — “the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God”!

After Babylon captured the children of Israel, Babylon requested Israel to sing, but Israel refused to sing “the Lord’s song in a strange land”. Notice, it is “the Lord’s song” — NOT the world’s song or even Israel’s song.

How shall we sing the LORD’S SONG in a strange land? Psalms 137:1-4

CHRISTIAN MUSIC IS A NEW SONG — NOT AN OLD SONG

Just before I got saved, I loved rock ‘n’ roll. Nothing – but nothing, was more important to me than rock music!. I played rock guitar – day and night! I did not have a dream or goal besides rock music. And when I got saved in November 1986, at 19 years old, I had NO intention to stop listening and playing rock music. But something changed. . .

I didn’t know it then — but “old things are passed away; behold, all things are become NEW” and that included my music!

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become NEW. 2 Corinthians 5:17

I didn’t change intentionally — but within a few months, the ONLY music I wanted to listen to and play was real Christian Music. Music that praised my Lord and Savior! My desire and love for rock music was replaced by a NEW SONG — even PRAISE unto our God!

Fanny Crosby is the greatest hymn writer that ever lived, writing over 9,000 songs! Before Fanny got saved, at 45 years old, she wrote many secular songs. But after she got saved — things were different. . . Here’s what Fanny said about mixing Christian and worldly music:

“Sometimes I need to reject the music proposed for my songs because the musicians misunderstand that the Fanny Crosby who once wrote for the people in the saloons has merely changed the lyrics. Oh my no. The church must never sing it’s songs to the melodies of the world.” (Danny Castle, video “What’s Wrong with Christian Rock”)

And do you know why Fanny Crosby said that — because Fanny got saved! And God “hath put a NEW SONG in my mouth, even PRAISE unto our God” inside the NEW Fanny Crosby! Fanny Crosby wrote over 9,000 songs to the Lord! Fanny used over 200 different pen names because she wanted to make sure God got the glory and not her.

CHRISTIAN MUSIC’S MESSAGE SHOULD BE CLEAR — NOT VAGUE OR DECEPTIVE

The Bible says in 1 Cor 14:15:

I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the UNDERSTANDING also. 1 Cor. 14:15

The message in Christian music should be clear, not vague, or unclear. Christian music should praise the Lord and — the listener should clearly understand the message.

The apostle Paul didn’t try to “trick” anybody, he wanted to make sure he was understood:

Seeing then that we have such hope, we use great PLAINNESS of speech: 2 Cor. 3:12

And my speech and my preaching was NOT with ENTICING words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: 1 Cor. 2:4

Paul warns against “enticing words”, such as CCM does:

And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with ENTICING words. Colossians 2:4

Martin Luther, the German Reformer, also avoided any worldly influence and wanted the message clear:

“But I would like to avoid any new words or the language used at court. In order to be understood by the people, only the simplest and the most common words should be used for singing; at the same time, however, they should be pure and apt; and further, the sense should be CLEAR and as close as possible to the psalm.” (Martin Luther, “To George Spalatin,” Letters II, p. 69)

Look how clear these songs praise the Lord. And literally thousands of examples could be given:

“Blessed Assurance, Jesus is Mine” by Fanny Crosby
“My Jesus I Love Thee” by Adoniram Gordon

“Wonderful, Wonderful Jesus” by Anna Russell
“Victory in Jesus” by E.M. Bartlett
“Jesus Is All the World to Me” by Will Thompson
“Jesus Is the Sweetest Name I Know” by Lela Long

 CHRISTIAN MUSIC SHOULD EMPHASIS THE MESSAGE — NOT THE MUSIC, NOR THE MUSICIAN

Christian music should give ALL the attention and praise to the Lord — and NONE to the music, or the musician, or the singer. The Lord should get ALL the praise, ALL the glory, and ALL the honor. Spiritually speaking, the Christian musician should be heard but not seen — the Christian musician should be hidden in Christ.

Sing forth the honour of his name: make his praise glorious. Psalm 66:2

Christian musicians today are so caught up with their “music” and just the “right-sound” that the message takes a backseat. A lot of Christian music (especially with the “canned” accompaniment tapes) is a “performance” rather than a message. When that happens, the “performance” completely destroys the message by pointing all the attention to self or the music. Consequently, the musician “robs” the Lord of any praise and from a Christian perspective, it’s fruitless.

Sadly, many musicians (and not just limited to CCM) are like the chief rulers that the Lord Jesus addressed in John 12:

For they loved the PRAISE OF MEN more than the praise of God. John 12:43

Much of Christian music today is more entertainment than ministry. A lot of Christian musicians (and not limited to CCM or Christian Rock) are far more interested in impressing their audience and “flaunting” their musical talent than ministering to the Lord. You can not sing to “please men” and sing unto the Lord. It’s one or the other.

For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should NOT be the servant of Christ. Galatians 1:10

Christian music is not entertainment. Christian music is spiritual “food”. Real Christian music admonishes [reprove mildly], while praising the Lord.

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and ADMONISHING one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your HEARTS to the Lord. Colossians 3:16

Christian music is from the heart, not just the voice. Beautiful voices are a “dime a dozen”. But beautiful hearts are “more priceless than gold”. I can’t remember the times I’ve watched a Christian musician, flaunt, pomp, articulate, get every note and vibrato perfect — and yet God was nowhere around. And yet, I’ve seen several times, when the singer may not hit the right notes — and yet God was all over them — and it showed!

A church we once attended had a man, named “J.C.” Brown. “J.C.”, by the world’s standards “wasn’t all there” — but “J.C.” and the Lord “was all there”. When “J.C.” would sing, he didn’t know all the words, he wasn’t musically “in tune” — but he was spiritually “in tune” with the Lord. And when “J.C.” sang, hearts were moved, tears would flow and you knew God was there. Why? “J.C.” was “in tune” with the Lord.

Christian music is not entertainment, not a talent show, not a performance or a concert — but a SERIOUS ministry to the Lord.

Augustine once stated:

“When I am moved by the voice of him that sings more than the words sung, I confess to have sinned”. (Oliver Strunk, Source Reading in Music History, Vol. I, p. 74)

 CHRISTIAN MUSIC IS IN THE LOCAL CHURCH — NOT CONCERT HALLS, NIGHT CLUBS.

God’s place of worship and fellowship is the local church.

Praise ye the LORD. Sing unto the LORD a new song, and his praise in the CONGREGATION of saints. Psalm 149:1

I will declare thy name unto my brethren: in the midst of the CONGREGATION will I praise thee. Psalm 22:22

Saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the CHURCH will I sing praise unto thee. Hebrew 2:12

While I realize there are exceptions, the primary place for Christian music, (excluding tapes, CD’s and other recordings) is the church. CCM’ers justify their performing in worldly concert halls, auditoriums, et. al. as “trying to reach the lost“. Of course, at the same time they charge $15 – $20, rarely mention Jesus Christ and never, never, never — mention hell, judgement, sin or enough “salvation doctrine” to get anyone saved!.

CHRISTIAN MUSIC SHOULD FEED THE SPIRIT — NOT THE FLESH

The Christian life is a spiritual life.

A Christian is born-again of the Spirit.

That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. John 3:6-7

A Christian is to walk in the Spirit:

This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. Galatians 5:16

God is a Spirit — and you “MUST worship him in spirit”.

God is a Spirit: and they that worship him MUST worship him in spirit and in truth. John 4:24

And a Christian’s music should be spiritual — not carnal.

I will sing with the SPIRIT, and I will sing with the understanding also. 1 Cor 14:15

ROCK MUSIC AND CCM IS FLESHLY MUSIC!

 LASTLYAND MOST IMPORTANTLY CHRISTIAN MUSIC SHOULD BE RICH IN THE WORD AND DOCTRINE.

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the lord. Colossians 3:16

This is one reason why many older saints stick to the Psalms in their singing. Because when you are singing the Psalms you cannot be singing anything else other than the Word.

But even the other hymns and spiritual songs which we sing should be judged by how rich in the word and scriptural they are and how doctrinally right they are. Not all the hymns in the Hymn book (whether Baptist or Presbyterian) were written by holy men of God as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. Some of them are obviously erroneous and while others are not easily discernable to the simple. So it behooves the Christian to examine every hymn and spiritual song in the light of God’s word before he lifts his voice to sing them.

 Let me close with a good rule of the thumb for determining if the Christian music we use is biblical:

(1) Can I hum the tune after hearing it?

(2) Can I understand the words?

(3) Do the words conform to sound biblical doctrine and truth?

(4) Do the words, and the tune, honor the Lord rather than pander to the flesh and the physical?

(5) Does the song emphasize grace, salvation, eternity, etc.? (6) Does it simply sound like a “love song” that has a romantic tinge to it, rather than proper spiritual love?

(7) Is the song loud and blaring in order to bring on an emotional response?

(8) Is it a mantra with empty repetition (Praise God, praise God, praise God, praise God)?

(9) Can both old and young understand the song and be equally touched by it?

I trust the above was of some help in discerning what constitutes TRUE WORSHIP.

Love

Mike

[Much of the above is taken from Jeff Godwin’s ‘Bible Guidelines for Christian Music’]