A NEW FATHER AND A NEW HEART OR THE PERMANENCY OF OUR ADOPTION INTO GOD’S FAMILY

A NEW FATHER AND A NEW HEART
OR
THE PERMANENCY OF OUR ADOPTION INTO GOD’S FAMILY

Donald Macleod 

Martin Luther, whose tormented conscience and anguished thinking launched the Protestant Reformation, once remarked, “If the doctrine of justification is lost, the whole of Christian doctrine is lost.” It is hardly surprising, then, that there is voluminous Protestant literature on justification.

The doctrine of adoption, by contrast, has been largely neglected. Yet the two are inseparably linked.

GRACE BEYOND AND ABOVE

Which is not to say that they are identical. Adoption is a grace beyond and above justification. In justification, God acquits sinners of all the charges against them. Indeed, he goes further still and declares that in Christ their righteousness meets the highest possible standards. They are as righteous as Christ himself (2 Corinthians 5:21). There is not a stain on their characters.

At this point, in normal human systems of justice, the accused is then simply free to go, and both he and the judge hope they will never see each other again. But the divine judge not only acquits. He invites the sinner home — and not just for an evening. He adopts us as his own forever, tells us we are to call him “Father,” and pronounces us lawful heirs to all he is and to all that he has.

Paul is the only New Testament writer who uses the term adoption, but he is not the only one who speaks of believers being God’s children. John also highlights it, particularly in 1 John 3:1. “See,” he exclaims, “what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.” Yet while they speak of the same subject, the two apostles use different language, and to get anything like the full doctrine we need to look carefully at each.

CHANGE IN STATUS

The word adoption, like the word justification, refers not to a change in our disposition and character, but to a change on our status. It speaks of a revolution in our relationship with God. As unbelieving sinners, we were utterly alienated from him: total outsiders, as far as his family was concerned. Now we belong, and by using the term adoption, Paul is using formal legal language to remind us that our membership of our new family is absolutely secure. It can never be undone.

There is a parallel to all this in the story of Moses. The abandoned Hebrew baby, born as a slave under sentence of death, is taken into the palace by a royal princess, and formally adopted as her son. It is just so with believers in relation to God. He is committed to us. He has given us his name. He has made us his heirs, and solemnly pledged that as our heavenly Father, he will provide for us with the lavishness that befits his means as possessor of all the riches of glory (Philippians 4:19).

He has said, in effect, “From now on, you have nothing to worry about (Matthew 6:26). I will care for you (1 Peter 5:7), and if you do ever find yourself overtaken by anxiety, come and talk about it to me at once (Philippians 4:6–7). Always remember that I am your home, and that I will never disown you; and should you ever go astray, I will always take you back (Luke 15:20). My love will never let you go.”

TRANSFORMATION IN HEART

But adoption as a human transaction leaves the heart unchanged, and this is why the language of John is such an important complement to the language of Paul. Where Paul speaks of “adoption,” John speaks of being “born again”; and where Paul emphasises our being God’s “heirs,” John speaks of our being his “children.”

Adoption, whether in the ancient world or the modern, gave rights, but it did not transform; but when we are “born of God,” his “seed” (sperma) is in us (1 John 3:9). This is why Peter can even go so far as to say that we become partakers of the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4), while Paul declares that at the heart of God’s purpose for the universe lies his determination that one day every one of his adopted sons and daughters will be as glorious as his only begotten Son (Romans 8:28–29).

For the time being, sadly, this is not how we appear: To deny that we are sinners is to deceive ourselves (1 John 1:8). But by the time Christ returns, our likeness to our Father will be unmistakeable (1 John 3:2), and he will have no hesitation about making us stand in the full light of his glory (Jude 24). We will be his pride and joy.

A NEW PEOPLE

Divine adoption, then, secures what no human adoption can secure. It is always accompanied by a radical and total transformation at the very core of our being. Not only have we a new status. We are new people (Ephesians 4:24).

Should we, then, just sit back passively and let grace do its work? Not for a moment! Indeed, the seed that God has implanted in us won’t let us sit back, nor will the hope that God has given us. The assurance that our destiny is to be “like him” impels us to set about purifying ourselves, and to do so with the utmost rigour, satisfied with nothing less than to be as pure as God himself (1 John 3:3).

As John sees it, the Christian believer should react to the discovery of any personal impurity with the same shock-horror as God would react to the discovery of a blemish in himself.

THE MELODY OF JOY AND SALVATION

Adoption was widely practiced in the ancient world, but there was one crucial difference between secular practice and what we see in the New Testament.

In the secular world, adoption was usually for the benefit of the adoptive parents, not for the benefit of the child. For example, a farmer might want help with tilling his land, or a childless couple might want someone to look after them in old age, or an aristocrat might want someone to perpetuate the family name. In the New Testament the benefits are all the other way.

While we may be sure that adoption gives God immense satisfaction, he never adopts in order to meet some need of his own. He adopts us because he loves us, not because he needs us.

And far from exploiting us and subjecting us to a life of drudgery, he showers upon us every spiritual blessing (Ephesians 1:3) and fills our lives with the melody of joy and salvation (Psalm 118:15).

FURTHER CONSIDERATIONS – 

Question – I know that as Christians we are “born again of incorruptible seed” (1 Pet. 1:23). Why then do several places in the Church Epistles speak of our being “adopted” by God?

The Greek word translated “adoption” is huiothesia, and it occurs only five times in the New Testament, all in the Church Epistles (Rom. 8:15, 23; 9:4; Gal. 4:5; Eph. 1:5). According to Vine’s Lexicon it means: “the place and condition of a son given to one to whom it does not naturally belong.” Louw and Nida’s Greek Lexicon says: “to formally and legally declare that someone who is not one’s own child is henceforth to be treated and cared for as one’s own child, including complete rights of inheritance.” Huiothesia literally means, “to place as a son.”

“Adoption” clearly indicates that a Christian is a member of God’s family. In the Roman culture, the adopted son or daughter had four major changes: a change of family, a change of name, a change of home, and a change of responsibilities.
Most importantly, by using the word “adoption,” God emphasizes that salvation is permanent for the Christian, which is why it appears only in the Church Epistles. Some versions translate huiothesia as “sonship,” but we believe that is not as good as “adoption.” While it is true that someone adopted into the family attains sonship (the status of a son), “adoption” is more accurate to the Greek meaning of the word, and it correctly expresses the fact that the adopted child is permanently placed in the family.

Birth seems so much more desirable than adoption that it is fair to ask why God would even use “adoption.” The answer is that the Romans recognized that when a baby was born, “you got what you got,” whether you liked it or not. This would include the sex of the child, birthmarks, etc. Thus, according to Roman law, a naturally born baby could be disowned from the family. However, people adopting a child knew exactly what they were getting, and no one adopted a child unless that specific child was wanted as a family member, so according to law an adopted child could not be disowned. He or she was permanently added to the family. Many early believers were Roman citizens, and using the word “adoption” was one of God’s ways to let the Church know that He chose the children brought into His family, and they could not be taken from it.

The Roman historian William M. Ramsay writes:
“The Roman-Syrian Law-Book…where a formerly prevalent Greek law had persisted under the Roman Empire—well illustrates this passage of the Epistle. It actually lays down the principle that a man can never put away an adopted son, and that he cannot put away a real son without good ground. It is remarkable that the adopted son should have a stronger position than the son by birth, yet it was so.” [W. M. Ramsay, ‘A Historical Commentary on St. Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians’, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, MI]

“The term adoption, as understood by the Romans, differs from what occurs with believers in one important detail: Believers are BORN AGAIN, literally RECREATED, as God’s sons. We move from one species to another species. That’s what the Greek for “new creation” means. We become the SAME SPECIES that Jesus is. This is not like adoption is anywhere on earth. A born again believer is recreated WITHIN Christ. We become PART OF HIM. An adopted Roman child contains no biological similarity to his or her adopted parents. We, on the other hand, as believers, are Jesus’ brothers and sisters IN EVERY WAY. We are bone of His bone and flesh of His flesh; we have to be because we, as the Church, are His Bride, and will MARRY HIM one day. So while comparing what we are to Roman adoption is useful in SOME aspects, it does not capture who we are to Him in a VERY IMPORTANT aspect. We are truly ONE with Him.”  – Jeffery Stewart

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GOD’S CLARION CALL TO HIS ELECT

GOD’S CLARION CALL 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!

CRUCIFYING THE FLESH – THE MARK OF A TRUE CHRISTIAN

CRUCIFYING THE FLESH – THE MARK OF A TRUE CHRISTIAN

John Flavel

“And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” [Gal 5:24,25] 

If they that be Christ’s have crucified the flesh, then the number of real Christians is very small. It is true, if all that SEEM TO BE meek, humble, and heavenly, might pass for Christians, the number would be great; but if no more must: be accounted Christians, than those who crucify the flesh, with its affections and lusts, O how small is the number!

For, O how many be there under the Christian name, that pamper and indulge their lusts, that secretly hate all that faithfully reprove them, and really approve none but such as feed their lusts, by praising and admiring them? How many there are that make provision for the flesh to fulfill its lusts, who cannot endure to have their corruptions crossed? How many are there that seem very meek and humble, until an occasion be given them to stir up their passion, and then you shall see in what degree they are mortified: the flint is a cold stone, till it be struck, and then it is all fiery.

I know the best of Christians are mortified but in part; and strong corruptions are oftentimes found in very eminent Christians; but – they love them not so well as to purvey (supply and provide) for them; to protect, defend, and countenance them; nor dare they secretly hate such as faithfully reprove them: as many thousands that go under the name of Christians do. Upon the account of mortification it is said, “Strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and FEW there be that find it.” [Matt 7:14]

“Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.” [Heb 12:14]

FAITH IS THE ‘HAND’ THAT RECEIVES CHRIST. BUT IT IS NOT A HAND THAT WORKS TO MERIT JUSTIFICATION, BUT THE HAND THAT HUMBLY RECEIVES THE PROFFERED GIFT  

FAITH IS THE ‘HAND’ THAT RECEIVES CHRIST. BUT IT IS NOT A HAND THAT WORKS TO MERIT JUSTIFICATION, BUT THE HAND THAT HUMBLY RECEIVES THE PROFFERED GIFT

Dr. Joel R. Beeke

Faith is essential as it alone unites a sinner to Christ, but faith is not conditional in any meritorious sense, then how is it proper to regard faith as the “hand” that receives Christ? Isn’t the natural man being attributed some ability by this metaphor? Since faith is always both God’s gift (Ephesians 2:8) and God’s work (“This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath seen” [John 6:29]), how can faith be designated as a “HAND“?

The natural man indeed has no ability to reach out to accept the salvation of God in Christ. The natural man is dead in trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1). He will never “accept Christ” of his own free will (Matthew 23:37; John 5:40). Scripture teaches that a sinner does not first move toward God, but GOD FIRST MOVES toward a sinner to unite him with Christ by faith, for a sinner would never of his own will or desire turn to Christ in faith (Romans 9:16). Even when tormented with the terrors of divine judgment, the natural man cannot be persuaded to flee to God by saving faith for salvation ((Proverbs 1:24-27).

But in regeneration the Holy Spirit grants the gift of a living, empty hand that can turn nowhere else than to Jesus. “But as many as received him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: which were born, NOT of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, NOR of the will of man, but OF GOD” (John 1:12-13; cf. Psalm 110:3).

Faith is not called a hand because it  WORKS  OR  MERITS  justification in any way, but because it RECEIVES, EMBRACES, APPROPRIATES Christ upon divine imputation. Faith is not a CREATIVE hand, but a RECEPTIVE hand. As Abraham Booth notes, “Hence,in justification we read of the precious faith IN the righteousness of our God and Saviour Jesus Christ (2 Peter 1) and of ‘faith IN His blood’ (Romans 3:25), and believers are described as ‘RECEIVING the atonement’ and RECEIVING ‘the gift of righteousness’ (Romans 5:11, 17).

Faith is PASSIVE in justification, but becomes active in accepting Christ when He is offered to the sinner. Indeed, when Christ is given, faith cannot refrain from being active, moving the believer to rejoice in the imputed righteousness of Christ with spiritual and profound joy. Nevertheless, this joy can boast no human merit, for it is NOT THE HAND IN ITSELF which produces joy and makes rich, BUT THE GIFT RECEIVED by the hand of faith, Jesus Christ.

The hand of faith graciously and unconditionally receives and rests upon Christ and His righteousness alone. Faith lives out of Christ, in whom all of our salvation is to be found (John 15:1-7). As B. B. Warfield appropriately summarizes:

It is from its object [Jesus Christ] that faith derives its value…. The saving power of faith resides thus not in itself, but in the Almighty Savior on whom it rests….It is not faith that saves, but faith in Jesus Christ….It is not strictly speaking, even faith in Christ that saves, but Christ that saves through faith.

Now HOW is room made in the soul for faith’s appropriation of Christ? How does faith experientially appropriate Christ and His righteousness? What is the hallmark of such appropriation?

The concept of receiving Christ by faith, hijacked in our day by Arminianism, needs to be recovered even for the Reformed pulpit. Many sincere Reformed Christians are afraid to speak of “receiving Christ” simply because of the false way modern evangelists describe such reception (i.e. as an act of the supposedly “free will” of the sinner to fulfill a condition for salvation). Believing that it somehow seems wrong and “Arminian” to receive Christ, their response to the gospel with liberty is inhibited.

To deny faith as the foundation of justification is not to minimize faith or the need for personally receiving Christ by faith. Though Scripture never ascribes merit to faith itself, it establishes unequivocally the necessity of faith (Hebrews 11:6). The sovereign grace of the imputed righteousness of Christ MUST be personally RECEIVED BY FAITH if a sinner is to be grafted or incorporated into Christ (John 3:36; Romans 5:11,17). The Holy Spirit uses faith to work out sovereign grace. As G. C. Berkouwer states: “the way of salvation is the way of faith just  because it is only in faith that the exclusiveness of divine grace is recognized and honored….Faith is no competitor of sola gratia [by grace alone]; but sovereign grace is confirmed by faith…. Sola gratia and sola fide [by faith alone], thus, remain the be all and end all of the relation between faith and justification.”

Faith is a holy command, a personal necessity, a pressing urgency (2 Kings 17:14, 18, 21). There is only faith or damnation (Mark 16:16; John 3:18). Faith is indispensable. John Flavel wrote, “The soul is the life of the body; faith is the life of the soul; Christ is the life of faith.”

By the Spirit and Word of God, justifying faith is a saving grace which, first, convicts of sin and misery; second, assents to the gospel from the heart; third, receives and rests upon Christ and His righteousness for pardon and salvation; and fourth, lives out of Christ, who is the hallmark of appropriating faith (Hebrews 10:39; Romans 10:14, 17; John 16:8-9; Romans 10:8-10; acts 10:43; Philippians 3:9; Galatians 3:11; cf. Westminster Larger Catechism, Questions 72-73). These marks of faith are experienced in the soul and urge closer examination if we are to ascertain the experiential dimensions of “by” in justification by faith alone.

FIRST then, faith is an experiential, convicting, soul-emptying grace. To lay hold of Christ, to treasure His righteousness, necessitates LOSING MY OWN RIGHTEOUSNESS. Faith teaches utter humility, the total emptiness of all within the sinner when he is viewed outside of Christ. Faith means utter despair of everything except Christ. To that end, faith makes a sinner conscious of the desperate situation he is in and the tragic judgment he deserves. Sin must become sin if grace is to become grace. Far from being a work of merit, faith is a realizing of my demerit, a negating of all hope of merit, a becoming aware of divine mercy. My filthy rags must be stripped away; the spiritual character of the law which demands perfect love to God and my neighbor must condemn me, if I am to come to appreciate the beauty of the Savior who, for the ungodly, perfectly obeyed the law in His active obedience and bore the penalty of sin in His Passive obedience (Romans 5:6-10). My unrighteousness must be uncovered if Christ’s righteousness is to be discovered (Psalm 71:16).

SECOND, faith wholeheartedly “assents to the truth of the gospel” (Westminster Larger Catechism, Question 73). Faith is no mere intellectual assent. Faith believes from the heart that which the Scriptures teach about self, the holiness of God, and the saviorhood of Christ. Thrust before God’s holiness, faith repudiates self-righteousness and is brought to need Christ experientially as revealed in the Scriptures and given by the Spirit. Faith abandons all self-merit while being increasingly allured to Christ and his merits (Romans 7:24-25). Faith surrenders to the evangel and falls into the outstretched arms of God. “The act of faith is as much being held by God as holding Him; the power of faith is exercised as much in capitulation as in conquering—the faith that overcomes the world is capitulation to Christ’s great victory.”

Faith looks away from self and itself to Christ, living and moving entirely from and in grace. Faith flees with all the soul’s poverty to Christ’s riches, with all the soul’s guilt to Christ as reconciler, with all the soul’s bondage to Christ as liberator. Faith confesses with Augustus Toplady:

Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to Thy cross I cling;
Naked, come to Thee for dress;
Helpless, look to Thee for grace;
Foul, I to the fountain fly;
Wash me, Saviour, or I die.

THIRD, justifying faith is especially that act of the soul by which a sinner lays hold of Christ and His righteousness and experiences pardon and peace that passes understanding (Philippians 4:7). Faith is nothing less than the MEANS which unites a sinner with his Savior. “Faith justifies in no other way,” wrote Calvin, “than as it introduces us into a participation of the righteousness of Christ.” It apprehends (fides apprehensiva) “closes” with, and “grasps” Christ in warm believing embrace, surrendering all of self, clinging to His Word, relying on His promises, Christ is not only the object of faith, but is Himself present in faith. Faith reposes in the person of Christ— hearing, seeing, trusting, taking, embracing, knowing, rejoicing loving, triumphing. It leaves its case in the hands of Christ as great Physician, while taking His prescriptions, following His directions, trusting simply and supremely in his finished work and ongoing intercessions.

Faith, Luther writes, “clasps Christ as a ring clasps its jewel”; faith wraps the soul in Christ’s righteousness. it appropriates with a believing heart the perfect righteousness, satisfaction and holiness of Christ. It tastes the efficacy of Christ’s blood-righteousness as the righteousness of God Himself (Romans 3:21-25; 5:9; 6:7; 2 Corinthians 5:18-21). It weds the soul to Christ, experiences divine pardon and acceptance in the Beloved, and makes the soul partaker of every covenant mercy. Faith and Christ become inseparable in justification as Daniel Cawdray illustrates:

As the act of healing through the eyes of the Israelites and the brazen serpent went together; so, in the act of justifying, these two, faith and Christ, have a mutual relation, and must always concur—faith as the action which apprehendeth, Christ as the object which is apprehended; so that neither the passion of Christ saveth without faith, nor doth faith help unless it be in Christ, its object.

William Gurnall put it this way: “With one hand faith pulls off its own righteousness and throws it away; with the other it puts on Christ’s.” The Heidelberg Catechism explains personal appropriation of Christ’s righteousness best:

QUESTION 60: HOW art thou righteous before God?

ANSWER: Only by a true faith in Jesus Christ (Rom. 3:22ff; Gal. 2:16); so that, though my conscience accuse me, that I have grossly transgressed all the commandments of God, and kept none of them (Rom 3:9ff.), and am still inclined to all evil (Rom. 7:23); notwithstanding, God, without any merit of mine (Rom. 3:24), but only of mere grace (Tit. 3:5; Eph. 2:8-9), grants (Rom. 4:4-5; 2 Cor. 5:19) and imputes to me (1 john 2:1) the perfect satisfaction, righteousness, and holiness of Christ (Rom. 3:24-25); even so, as if I never had had, nor committed any sin; yea, as if I had fully accomplished all that obedience which Christ has accomplished for me (2Cor. 5:210), inasmuch as I embrace such benefit with a believing heart (Rom. 3:28; Jn 3:18).

QUESTION 61: Why sayest thou that thou are righteous by faith only?

ANSWER: Not that I am acceptable to God on account of the worthiness of my faith (Psa. 16:2; Eph. 2:8-9), but because only the satisfaction, righteousness, and holiness of Christ, is my righteousness before God (1 Cor. 1:30; 2:2); and that I cannot receive and apply the same to myself any other way than by faith only (1 John 5:10).

FOURTH, faith lives out of Christ. Being united to Christ by faith, the believer is objectively possessed of all Christ’s benefits and subjectively experiences these benefits as abundantly as the Spirit applies them and as he is capable of receiving them through apprehending Christ. since grace and faith are given in Christ, the essential righteousness of the believer will remain extrinsic to him, even as Christ is really present within him, effecting daily conversion. “Christ without” is the ground of justification; “Christ within,” the fruit of justification, and an evidence of vital union of the believer to Christ.29 For faith, Christ—both in glory as ascended Lord and in the believer’s soul—is the chief among ten thousand, white and ruddy, altogether lovely (Song of Solomon 5:10, 16). with the Queen of Sheba, faith can say of the greater Solomon when gazing and feasting upon His blessed person and benefits, “Behold, the one half of the greatness of thy wisdom was not told me: for thou exceedest the fame that I heard” (2 Chronicles 9:6). Faith exclaims, “Christ is all, and in all” (Colossians 3:11)!

This Christ-centeredness is the hallmark of faith. Faith’s distinguishing mark is the real and redeeming presence of Christ. It is the very nature and fountain of faith to rest entirely upon Christ. Faith does not look at itself. Many today are too preoccupied with looking at their faith rather than faith’s object. The Reformers spoke and wrote much about faith, but their concern was object-centered rather than subject-centered, Christo-centric rather than anthropocentric, theological rather than psychological. It is not faith in OUR faith, nor faith in THE faith, nor faith in OUR justification, that is salvific, but faith IN CHRIST. The Puritans caught this well. As George Swinnock indicted, “First, Faith must look out for Christ; secondly, Faith must look up to Christ for grace; thirdly, Faith must take Christ down, or receive Him and grace.”  “Faith has two hands,” Thomas Manton wrote, “with one it stretches out for Christ; with the other, it pushes away all that comes between Christ and the soul.” Faith not only ventures TO Christ with the demanding law at its heels and UPON Christ with all the soul’s guilt, but it also ventures FOR Christ despite all difficulties and discouragements.

WITHOUT FAITH IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO PLEASE GOD.” (Hebrews 11:6). God is pleased with faith because faith is pleased with Christ. Christ honors faith the most of all graces because faith honors Christ the most. Faith continually takes refuge, as the Belgic Confession states, “in the blood, death, passion, and obedience of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Article 29).

CHRIST IS FAITH’S ONLY OBJECT AND ONLY EXPECTATION. He is the heartbeat and life of faith. Faith enables the soul to enjoy the whole salvation of Christ; by faith Christ becomes the soul’s wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption (1 Corinthians 1:30). Faith commits the total person to the total person of Christ. This Christ-centeredness, more than anything else, makes faith inseparable from justification and superior to all other graces in justification.

Small wonder then that faith has been called the captain of all spiritual graces. Thomas Watson wrote, “Love is the crowning grace in heaven, but faith is the conquering grace upon earth….Faith is the master-wheel; it sets all the other graces running….Other graces make us like Christ, faith makes us members of Christ.” “Call forth first that commander-in-chief,” George Swinnock adds, “and then the private soldiers, the other graces, will all follow.”

In the application of justification, faith is not a builder but a beholder; it has nothing to give or achieve, but has all to RECEIVE. Faith is neither the ground nor substance of our justification, but THE HAND, THE INSTRUMENT, THE VESSEL which receives the divine gift proffered to us in the gospel. “As little as a beggar, who puts forth his hand to receive a piece of bread, can say that he has earned the gift granted him,” Herman Kuiper wrote, “so little can believers claim that they have merited justification, just because they have embraced the righteousness of Christ, graciously offered them in the Gospel.”

 

‘ALL SOUL’S DAY’ IS A SCAM

‘ALL SOUL’S DAY’ IS A SCAM

ALL-SOULS-DAY is a Satanic religious holiday based upon a demonic doctrine!

“All Souls’ Day (formally, Commemoratio omnium Fidelium Defunctorum or Commemoration of all the Faithful Departed), also called Defuncts’ Day in Mexico and Belgium, is the day set apart in the Roman Catholic Church and some other churches for the commemoration of the faithful departed. The celebration is based on the doctrine that the souls of the faithful which at death have not been cleansed from venial sins, or have not atoned for past transgressions, cannot attain the beatific vision, and that they may be helped to do so by prayer and by the sacrifice of the mass.

The feast falls on November 2 and follows All Saints Day. Since the liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council the feast is celebrated on November 2 even in years when that date falls on a Sunday. In the traditional Latin rite, the observance is transferred to Monday, November 3 if November 2 is a Sunday, as black vestments are never permitted on Sundays.” -SOURCE (WIKIPEDIA, the free online dictionary)

Oh how foolish are Catholics to believe that some sins are “venial” (forgivable); but others aren’t. God can forgive ALL sins. Isaiah 1:18 promises, “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool” (Isaiah 1:18). The ONLY sin, the unpardonable sin, which God cannot forgive is the grievous sin of REJECTING CHRIST. In Romans 8:9, the Holy Spirit is referred to as the “Spirit of Christ.”

Proverb 14:12 states, “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” You can be 100% sincere; but you’ll still go straight to Hell if you die in your sins. These malicious doctrines of the Catholic Church are NOT taught in the Word of God. You’ve been lied to. All sin is wicked and wrong. There is no such thing as a little white sin, all sin is horrible! Thankfully, God sent His only begotten Son into the world to shed His blood upon the cross for our sins (John 3:16; 1st Peter 1:18-19.

 All Souls Day is a Fraud!

 The Catholic teaching that the prayers of the living can help the dead is unscriptural. Not once did any of the Bible prophets or Apostles pray for the dead. Jesus never taught us to pray for the dead. The Word of God couldn’t be any more clear that once we breathe our last breath, our eternal destiny is forever sealed. In Matthew 25 Jesus likened Heaven to a parable of 10 virgins.

The Bible says that 5 were wise; but the other 5 were foolish. When the bridegroom came at midnight, “the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out” (Matthew 25:8). Carefully notice that the wise women couldn’t help the foolish women. In verse 12 the bridegroom said, “Verily I say unto you, I know you not.” Noah and the ark is another prime example of what will happen to the wicked who die in their sins. Once God shut the door to the ark, it was too late.

Committing even one sin will send you to Hell for all eternity. All-Souls-Day is a fraudulent event, based upon the damnable heresies of evil men. No one can help you escape God’s wrath if you die in your sins … “How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation” (Hebrews 2:3). Don’t be a fool by placing your salvation in the hands of other sinners, because they cannot help you. If you think that some sins aren’t all that bad (venial sins), and that you can pray your loved one’s out of punishment, then you are greatly deceived by Satan.

2nd Thessalonians plainly states, “In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord.”  If you die without having obeyed the Gospel (the good news) of Christ crucified, then you WILL burn in Hell forever.

Catholics teach that certain of their members who die in their “venial” sins will go to Purgatory; but the Word of God teaches something entirely different … “But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.” If you have believed upon Christ, that God has imputed Christ’s righteousness to your record, and your sins to His. In fact, Romans 4:6 states … “Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works.

So why would such a blessed man go to suffer in Purgatory? Do you see how much the Catholic Church has LIED to you.  The Bible is clear, either you are a total heathen, or you have Christ’s righteousness in spite of your present sins. Lot was a sinful man; but he believed God and it was counted unto him for righteousness. Does this give us a license to sin, of course not.

All-Souls-Day is a scam, based upon a manmade foolish doctrine.

You can pray ’til you’re blue in the face; but it won’t help your departed loved ones at all. You can give all your money to the Church; but it’s too late for your loved ones if they died in their sins without Christ as Savior. There is absolutely NOTHING anyone can do to benefit those suffering in Hell. This is clearly evidenced by the account given in Luke 16:19-31 of the rich man who went to Hell. Jesus didn’t say that this was a parable, as He always did when He spoke parables.  Also, unlike His parables, Jesus used SPECIFIC names in this account (i.e., Abraham and Lazarus).

The rich man was in torment, and begged Abraham to send Lazarus from the dead to warn his five brothers. Abraham makes a startling statement by saying, “And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.” In other words, if people won’t listen to the Word of God, then nothing will reach them for Christ.

Catholicism is a lie of the devil, a prison-house of religion. If I didn’t sincerely care about people, then I wouldn’t take the time to WARN you. The Catholic religion is all a bunch of Satanic lies based upon traditions and ridiculous manipulations of the Word of God. I plead with you as a friend, obey the Bible by turning to the Lord Jesus Christ in faith and forsaking the Mother of Harlots. The Great Whore of the Catholic Church will take you to hell with them if you’re foolish enough to follow them. Don’t do it. Salvation is NOT found in a religion, but in a Person–the Lord Jesus Christ! You need Christianity friend, NOT Churchianity.

HOW can I be saved?

“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved!”  [Acts 16:31]

(copied from the web)

WHAT FUELED THE REFORMATION?

WHAT FUELED THE REFORMATION?

Nathan Busenitz

“Is not My Word like as a fire? saith the LORD; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?” (Jer. 23:29)

What caused the Reformation?

Many people might answer that question by pointing to Martin Luther and his 95 Theses.

But if you were to ask Luther himself, he would not point to himself or his own writings. Instead, he would give all the credit to God and His Word.

Near the end of his life, Luther declared: “All I have done is put forth, preach and write the Word of God, and apart from this I have done nothing. . . . It is the Word that has done great things. . . . I have done nothing; the Word has done and achieved everything.”

Elsewhere, he exclaimed: “By the Word the earth has been subdued; by the Word the Church has been saved; and by the Word also it shall be reestablished.”

Noting Scripture’s foundational place in his own heart, Luther wrote: “No matter what happens, you should say: There is God’s Word. This is my rock and anchor. On it I rely, and it remains. Where it remains, I, too, remain; where it goes, I, too, go.”

Luther understood what caused the Reformation. He recognized that it was the Word of God empowered by the Spirit of God preached by men of God in a language that the common people of Europe could understand and when their ears were exposed to the truth of God’s Word it pierced their hearts and they were radically changed.

It was that very power that had transformed Luther’s own heart, a power that is summarized in the familiar words of Hebrews 4:12: “The Word of God is quick and powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword.”

During the late middle ages, the Roman Catholic Church had imprisoned God’s Word in the Latin language, a language the common people of Europe did not speak. The Reformers unlocked the Scriptures by translating them. And once the people had the Word of God, the Reformation became inevitable.

We see this commitment to the Scriptures even in the centuries prior to Martin Luther, beginning with the Forerunners to the Reformation:

In the 12th century, the Waldensians translated the New Testament from the Latin Vulgate into their regional French dialects. According to tradition, they were so committed to the Scriptures that different Waldensian families would memorize large sections of the Bible. That way, if Roman Catholic authorities found them and confiscated their printed copies of Scripture, they would later be able to reproduce the entire Bible from memory.

In the 14th century, John Wycliffe and his associates at Oxford translated the Bible from Latin into English. Wycliffe’s followers, known as the Lollards, went throughout the countryside preaching and singing passages of Scripture in English.

In the 15th century, Jan Huss preached in the language of the people, and not in Latin, making him the most popular preacher in Prague at the time. Yet, because Huss insisted that Christ alone was the head of the church, not the pope, the Catholic Council of Constance condemned him for heresy and burned him at the stake (in 1415).

In the 16th century, as the study of Greek and Hebrew were recovered, Martin Luther translated the Bible into German, with the New Testament being completed in 1522.

In 1526, William Tyndale completed a translation of the Greek New Testament into English. A few years later he also translated the Pentateuch from Hebrew. Shortly thereafter he was arrested and executed as a heretic—being strangled and then burned at the stake. According to Fox’s Book of Martyrs, Tyndale’s last words were “Lord, Open the King of England’s Eyes.” And it was just a couple years after his death that King Henry VIII authorized the Great Bible in England—a Bible that was largely based on Tyndale’s translation work. The Great Bible laid the foundation for the later King James version (which was completed in 1611).

The common thread, from Reformer to Reformer, was an undying commitment to the authority and sufficiency of Scripture, such that they were willing to sacrifice everything, including their own lives, to get the Word of God into the hands of the people.

They did this because they understood that the power for spiritual reformation and revival was not in them, but in the gospel (cf. Rom. 1:16–17). And they used the Latin phrase sola Scriptura (“Scripture alone”) to emphasize the truth that God’s Word was the true power and ultimate authority behind all they said and did.

It was ignorance of Scripture that made the Reformation necessary. It was the recovery of the Scripture that made the Reformation possible. And it was the power of the Scripture that gave the Reformation its enduring impact, as the Holy Spirit brought the truth of His Word to bear on the hearts and minds of individual sinners, transforming them, regenerating them, and giving them eternal life.

FROM ADOPTION TO WORSHIP TO SANCTIFICATION TO GLORY

FROM ADOPTION TO WORSHIP TO SANCTIFICATION TO GLORY

C.H. Spurgeon

“After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy Name! etc” [Matthew 6:9]

This prayer begins where all true prayer must commence, with the spirit of adoption, “Our Father.” There is no acceptable prayer until we can say, “I will arise, and go unto my Father.” This child-like spirit soon perceives the grandeur of the Father “in heaven,” and ascends to devout adoration, “Hallowed be thy name.” The child lisping, “Abba, Father,” grows into the cherub crying, “Holy, Holy, Holy.”

There is but a step from rapturous worship to the glowing missionary spirit, which is a sure outgrowth of filial love and reverent adoration–“Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Next follows the heartfelt expression of dependence upon God–“Give us this day our daily bread.” Being further illuminated by the Spirit, he discovers that he is not only dependent, but sinful, hence he entreats for mercy, “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors:” and being pardoned, having the righteousness of Christ imputed, and knowing his acceptance with God, he humbly supplicates for holy perseverance, “Lead us not into temptation.”

The man who is really forgiven, is anxious not to offend again; the possession of justification leads to an anxious desire for sanctification. “Forgive us our debts,” that is justification; “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil,” that is sanctification in its negative and positive forms.

As the result of all this, there follows a triumphant ascription of praise, “Thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, forever and ever, Amen.” We rejoice that our King reigns in providence and shall reign in grace, from the river even to the ends of the earth, and of His dominion there shall be no end. Thus from a sense of adoption, up to fellowship with our reigning Lord, this short model of prayer conducts the soul.

Lord, teach us thus to pray.

GOD WANTS YOUR HEART!

GOD WANTS YOUR HEART!

Compiled from the works of A.W. Pink by Michael Jeshurun

The story is told of the little girl who wanted to make her father a present for his birthday. Each evening, instead of spending her usual time with her father, she worked on knitting him a scarf . . . and as a result nearly broke his heart! God may appreciate the little scarf you’re making for Him, but He’d rather have YOU!

And when we say He’d rather have YOU, we mean that He’d rather have your HEART! “My son, give Me thine HEART!” [Prov 23:26]

“Keep thy HEART with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life” [Prov. 4:23].

The man is what his heart is. If THIS be dead to God, then nothing in him is alive. If THIS be right with God, all will be right. As the mainspring of a watch sets all its wheels and parts in motion, so as a man “thinketh in his heart, so is he” (Prov. 23:7). If the heart be right, the actions will be. As a man’s heart is, such is his state now and will be hereafter: if it be regenerated and sanctified there will be a life of faith and holiness in this world, and everlasting life will be enjoyed in the world to come. Therefore, “Rather look to the cleansing of thine heart, than to the cleansing of thy well; rather look to the feeding of thine heart, than to the feeding of thy flock; rather look to the defending of thine heart, than to the defending of thine house; rather look to the keeping of thine heart, than to the keeping of thy money” (Peter Moffat, 1570).

Rightly did the Puritan John Favel say, “The keeping and right managing of the heart in every condition is the great business of a Christian’s life.” Now to “keep” the heart right implies that it has been SET RIGHT. Thus it was at regeneration, when it was given a new spiritual bent. True conversion is the heart turning from Satan’s control to God’s, from sin to holiness, from the world to Christ. To KEEP the heart right signifies the constant care and diligence of the renewed to preserve his soul in that holy frame to which grace has reduced it and daily strives to hold it. “Hereupon do all events depend: the heart being kept, the whole course of our life here will be according to the mind of God, and the end of it will be the enjoyment of Him hereafter. This being neglected, life will be lost, both here as unto obedience, and hereafter as to glory” (John Owen in ‘CAUSES OF APOSTASY‘).

To “keep” the heart means STRIVING TO SHUT OUT FROM IT ALL THAT IS OPPOSED TO GOD. “Little children, keep yourselves from idols” (1 John 5:21). God is a jealous God and will brook no rival; He claims the throne of our hearts, and requires to be loved by us supremely. When we perceive our affections being inordinately drawn out unto any earthly object, we are to fight against it, and “resist the devil.” When Paul said, “All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be BROUGHT UNDER THE POWER of any” (1 Cor. 6:12), he signified that he was keeping his heart diligently, that he was jealous lest THINGS should gain that esteem and place in his soul which was due alone unto the Lord. A very small object placed immediately before the eye is sufficient to shut out the light of the sun, and trifling things taken up by the affections may soon sever communion with the Holy One.

Before regeneration our hearts were deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked (Jer. 17:9): that was because the evil principle, the “flesh,” had complete dominion over them. But inasmuch as “the flesh” remains in us after conversion, and is constantly striving for the mastery over “the spirit,” the Christian needs to exercise a constant watchful jealousy over his heart, mindful of its readiness to be imposed upon, and its proneness unto a compliance with temptations. All the avenues to the heart need to be carefully guarded so that nothing hurtful enters therein, particularly against vain thoughts and imaginations, and especially in those seasons when they are apt to gain an advantage. For if injurious thoughts are suffered to gain an inroad into the mind, if we accustom ourselves to give them entertainment, then in vain shall we hope to be “spiritually minded” (Romans 8:6). All such thoughts are only making provision to fulfill the lusts of the flesh.

Thus, for the Christian to “keep” his heart with all diligence means for him to pay close attention to the direction in which his affections are moving, to discover whether the things of the world are gaining a firmer and fuller hold over him or whether they are increasingly losing their charm for him. God has exhorted us, “Set your affections on things ABOVE, not on things on the earth” (Col. 3:2), and the heeding of this injunction calls for CONSTANT examination of the heart to discover whether or not it is becoming more and more dead unto this deceitful and perishing world, and whether heavenly things are those in which we find our chief and greatest delight. “Take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart” (Deut. 4:9).

To “keep” the heart means STRIVING TO BRING IT INTO CONFORMITY WITH THE WORD. We are not to rest content until an actual image of its pure and holy teachings is stamped upon it. Alas, so many today are just PLAYING with the solemn realities of God, allowing them to flit across their fancy, but never embracing and making them their own.

Why is it, dear reader, that those solemn impressions you had when hearing a searching sermon or reading a searching article so quickly faded away? Why did not those holy feelings and aspirations which were stirred within you last? Why have they borne no fruit? Was it not because you failed to see that your heart was duly affected by them? You failed to “hold fast” that which you had “received and heard” (Rev. 3:3), and in consequence your heart became absorbed again in “the cares of this life” or “the deceitfulness of riches,” and thus the Word was choked!

It is not enough to hear or read a powerful message from one of God’s servants, and to be deeply interested and stirred by it. If there be no diligent effort on your part, then it will be said that “your goodness is as a morning cloud, and as the early dew it goeth away” (Hosea 6:4). What, then, is required? THIS: earnest and persevering prayer that God will fasten the message in your soul as a nail in a sure place, so that the Devil himself cannot catch it away. What is required? THIS: “Mary kept all these things, and PONDERED them in her heart” (Luke 2:19). Things which are not duly pondered are soon forgotten: meditation stands to reading as mastication does to eating. What is required? This: that you promptly PUT INTO PRACTICE what you have learned, walk according to the light God has given, or it will quickly be taken from you (Luke 8:18).

Not only must the outward actions be regulated by the Word, but THE HEART MUST ALSO BE CONFORMED THERETO. It is not enough to abstain from murder, the causeless anger must be put away. It is not enough to abstain from the act of adultery, the inward lust must be mortified too (Matt. 5:28). God not only takes note of and keeps a record of all our external conduct, but He “weighteth the spirits” (Prov. 16:2). Not only so, He requires US to scrutinize the springs from which our actions proceed, to examine our motives, to ponder THE SPIRIT in which we act. God requires truth — that is sincerity, reality — in “THE INWARD PARTS” (Psalm 51:6). Therefore does He command us, “Keep thy heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life!”

To “keep” the heart means TO PRESERVE IT TENDER UNTO SIN. The unregenerate man makes little or no distinction between sin and crime; as long as he keeps within the law of the land, and maintains a reputation for respectability among his fellows, he is, generally speaking, quite satisfied with himself. But it is far otherwise with one who has been born again: he has been awakened to the fact that he has to do with GODand must yet render a full account unto Him. He makes conscience of a hundred things which the unconverted never trouble themselves about. When the Holy Spirit first convicted him he was made to feel that his whole life had been one of rebellion against God, of pleasing himself. The consciousness of this pierced him to the quick: his inward anguish far exceeded any pains of body or sorrow occasioned by temporal lapses. He saw himself to be a spiritual leper, and hated himself for it, and mourned bitterly before God. He cried, “Hide Thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me” (Psalm 51:9, 10).

Now it is the duty of the Christian, and part of the task which God has set him, to see to it that THIS SENSE OF THE EXCEEDING SINFULNESS OF SIN BE NOT LOST. He is to labour daily that his heart be duly affected by the heinousness of self-will and self-love. He is steadfastly to resist every effort of Satan to make him pity himself, think lightly of wrongdoing, or excuse himself in the same. He is to live in the constant realization that THE EYE OF GOD IS EVER UPON HIM, so that when tempted he will say with Joseph, “How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin AGAINST GOD?” (Gen. 39:9). He is to view sin in the light of the Cross, daily reminding himself that it was HIS iniquities which caused the Lord of glory to be made a curse for him; employing the dying love of Christ as a motive why he must not allow himself in anything that is contrary to the holiness and obedience which the Saviour asks from all His redeemed.

Ah, my Christian reader, it is no child’s play to “keep the heart with all diligence.” The easy-going religion of our day will never take its devotees (or rather its victims!) to heaven. The question has been asked, “WHO shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? or WHO shall stand in His Holy place?” and plainly has the question been answered by God Himself: “He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart,” etc. (Psalm 24:3, 4). Equally plain is the teaching of the New Testament, “Blessed are the pure in heart: for THEY shall see God” (Matt. 5:8). A “pure heart” is one that hates sin, which makes conscience of sin, which grieves over it, which strives against it. A “pure heart” is one that seeks to keep undefiled the temple of the Holy Spirit, the dwelling-place of Christ (Eph. 3:17).

To “keep” the heart means TO LOOK DILIGENTLY AFTER ITS CLEANSING. Perhaps some of our readers often find themselves sorrowfully crying, “Oh, the vileness of my heart!” Thank God if He HAS discovered this to you. But, dear friend, there is no sufficient reason why your “heart” should  CONTINUE to be vile. You might lament that your garden was overgrown with weeds and filled with rubbish; but need it remain so? We speak not now of your sinful NATURE, the incurable and unchangeable “flesh” which still indwells you; but of your “HEART,” which God bids you “keep.” You  ARE  responsible to purge your mind of vain imaginations, your soul of unlawful affections, your conscience of guilt.

But, alas, you say, “I have no control over such things: they come unbidden and I am powerless to prevent them.” So the Devil would have you believe! Revert again to the analogy of your garden. Do not the weeds spring up unbidden? Do not the slugs and other pests seek to prey upon the plants? What, then? Do you merely bewail your helplessness? No, you resist them, and take means to keep them under. Thieves enter houses uninvited, but whose fault is it if the doors and windows be left unfastened? Oh, heed not the seductive lullabies of Satan. God says, “Purify your hearts, ye double minded” (James 4:8); that is, one mind for Him, and another for self! One for holiness, and another for the pleasures of sin.

But HOW am I to “purify” my heart? By vomiting up the foul things taken into it, shamefacedly owning them before God, repudiating them, turning from them with loathing; and it is written, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to CLEANSE us from all unrighteousness.” By daily renewing our exercise of repentance, and  SUCH  repentance as is spoken of in 2 Corinthians 7:11- “for behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter.” By the daily exercise of faith (Acts 15:9), appropriating afresh the cleansing blood of Christ, bathing every night in that “fountain” which has been opened “for sin and uncleanness” (Zech. 13:1). By treading the path of God’s commandments: “Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit” (1 Peter 1:22).

We now point out what is obvious to every Christian reader, namely that such a task calls for Divine aid. Help and grace need to be earnestly and definitely sought of the Holy Spirit each day. We should bow before God, and in all simplicity say, “Lord, Thou requirest me to keep my heart with all diligence, and I feel utterly incompetent for such a task; such a work lies altogether beyond my poor feeble powers; therefore I humbly ask Thee in the name of Christ graciously to grant unto me supernatural strength to do as Thou hast bidden me. Lord, work in me both to will and to do of Thy good pleasure.”

Ah, my reader, true conversion is not only turning away from gross sin, it is the heart forsaking ALL sin. There must be NO RESERVE, for God will not allow any idol, nor must WE. Jehu went so far, but he stopped short of the vital point; he put away evil, but he did not do that which was good. He heeded not the law of the Lord to walk in it “WITH ALL HIS HEART.” 

It is greatly to be feared that THOSE WHO ARE HEEDLESS ARE GRACELESS, for where the principle of holiness is planted in the heart it makes its possessor circumspect and desirous of pleasing God IN ALL THINGS — not from servile fear, but from grateful love; not by constraint, but freely; not occasionally, but CONSTANTLY.

“Keep thine heart with all diligence.” Guard it jealously as the dwelling place of Him to whom you have given it. Guard it with the utmost vigilance, for not only is there the enemy without seeking entrance, but THERE IS A TRAITOR WITHIN desirous of dominion. The Hebrew for “with all diligence” literally rendered is “above all”; above all the concerns of our outward life, for, careful as we should be as to that, it is before the eyes of men, whereas the heart is the object of GOD’S holy gaze. Then “keep” or preserve it more sedulously than your reputation, your body, your estate, your money. With all earnestness and prayer, labour that no evil desire prevails or abides there, avoiding all that excites lust, feeds pride, or stirs up anger, crushing the first emotions of such evils as you would the brood of a scorpion.

“But HOW can I get my heart right? Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard his spots?” Answer: you are creating your own difficulty by confounding “heart” with “nature”; they are quite DISTINCT. It is important to recognize this, for many are confused thereon. There has been such an undue emphasis upon the “two natures in the Christian” that often it has been lost sight of that the Christian is A PERSON over and above his two natures. The Scriptures make the distinction clear enough. For example, God does not bid us keep our “nature,” but He does our “hearts.” We do not believe with our “nature,” but we do with our “hearts” (Romans 10:10). God never tells us to “rend” our nature (Joel 2:13), “circumcise” our nature (Deut. 10:6) or “purify” our nature (James 4:8), but He does our “hearts”! The “heart” is the very centre of our responsibility, and to deny that we are to improve and keep it is to repudiate human accountability.

It is the Devil who seeks to persuade people that they are not responsible for the state of their hearts, and may no more change them than they can the stars in their courses. And the “flesh” within finds SUCH A LIE VERY AGREEABLE TO ITS CASE. But he who has been regenerated by the sovereign grace of God cannot, with the Scriptures before him, give heed unto any such delusion. While he has to deplore how sadly neglected is the great task which God has set before him, while he has to bemoan his wretched failure to make his heart what it ought to be, nevertheless he wants to do better; and after his duty has been pressed upon him he will daily seek grace better to discharge his duty, and instead of being totally discouraged by the difficulty and greatness of the work required he will cry the more fervently to the Holy Spirit for His enablement.

The Christian who means business will labour to have a “willing” heart (Exodus 35:5), which acts spontaneously and gladly, not of necessity; a “perfect” heart (1 Chron. 29:9), sincere, genuine, upright; a “tender” heart (2 Chron. 34:26), yielding and pliable, the opposite of hard and stubborn; a “broken” heart (Psalm 34:18), sorrowing over all failure and sin; a “united” heart (Psalm 86:11), all the affections centred on God; an “enlarged” heart (Psalm 119:32), delighting in EVERY part of Scripture and loving all God’s people; a “sound” heart (Prov. 14:30), right in doctrine and practice; a “merry” heart (Prov. 15:15), rejoicing in the Lord always; a “pure” heart (Matt. 5:8), hating all evil; an “honest and good heart” (Luke 8:15), free from guile and hypocrisy, willing to be searched through and through by the Word; a “single” heart (Eph. 6:5), desiring only God’s glory; a “true” heart (Heb. 10:22), genuine in all its dealings with God.

This work of keeping the heart is OF SUPREME IMPORTANCE. The total disregard of it means that we are mere formalists. “My son, give Me thine heart!” (Prov 23:26) And until THAT be done, God will accept nothing from us. The prayers and praises of our lips, the labour of our hands, yea, and a correct outward walk, are things of no value in HIS sight while the heart be estranged from Him. As the inspired apostle declared, “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not LOVE, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not LOVE, I am nothing: And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor and though I give my body to be burned, and have not LOVE, it profiteth nothing” (1 Cor. 13:1-3). If the heart be not right with God, we cannot WORSHIP Him, though we may go through the form of it. Watch diligently, then, your love for HIM.

God cannot be imposed upon, and he who takes NO care to order his heart aright before Him IS A HYPOCRITE!

“And they come unto thee as the people cometh, and they sit before thee as My people, and they hear thy words, but they will not do them; for with their mouth they show much love, BUT THEIR HEART goeth after their covetousness. And, lo, thou art unto them as a very lovely song of one that hath a pleasant voice, and can play well on an instrument” (Ezek. 33:31, 32). Here are a company of formal hypocrites, as is evident from the words “as My people” i.e. LIKE them, but not OF THEM. And what constituted them impostors? Their outside was very fair — high professions, reverent postures, much seeming delight in the means of grace. Ah, but their HEARTS were not set on God, but were commanded by their lusts, and went after their covetousness.

But lest a real Christian should infer from the above that He is a hypocrite too, because many times his heart wanders, and he finds — strive all he may — that he cannot keep his mind stayed upon God when praying, reading His Word, or engaged in public worship, to him we answer that the objection carries its own refutation. You say “strive all I may”; ah, if you HAVE, then the blessing of the upright is yours, even though God sees well to exercise you over the affliction of a wandering mind. There remains still much in the understanding and affections to humble you, but if you are EXERCISED over them, strive against them, and SORROW OVER your very imperfect success, then that is quite enough to clear you of the charge of reigning hypocrisy.

The keeping of the heart is supremely important because “out of it are the issues of life”; it is the source and fountain of all vital actions and operations. The heart is the warehouse, the hand and tongue are but the shops; what is in THESE comes from THENCE — the heart contrives and the members execute. It is in the heart that the principles of the spiritual life are formed: “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil” (Luke 6:45). Then let us diligently see to it that the heart be well stored with pious instruction, seeking to increase in grateful love, reverential fear, hatred of sin, and benevolence in all its exercises, that from within these holy springs may flow and fructify our whole conduct and conversation.

This work of keeping the heart is THE HARDEST OF ALL. “To shuffle over religious duties with a loose and heedless spirit will cost no great pains; but to set thyself before the Lord, and tie up thy loose and vain thoughts to a constant and serious attendance upon Him: THIS will cost something! To attain a facility and dexterity of language in prayer, and put thy meaning into apt and decent expressions, is easy; but to get thy heart broken for sin whilst thou art confessing it, be melted with free grace, whilst thou art blessing God for it, be really ashamed and humbled through the apprehensions of God’s infinite holiness, and to KEEP thy heart in THIS frame, not only IN, but AFTER duty, this will surely cost thee some groans and travailing pain of soul.

To repress the outward acts of sin, and compose the external acts of thy life in a laudable and comely manner, is no great matter — even carnal persons by the force of common principles can do this; but to kill the root of corruption within, to set and keep up an holy government over thy thoughts, to have all things lie straight and orderly in the heart, THIS IS NOT EASY” (John Flavel).

Ah, dear reader, it is far, far easier to speak in the open air than to uproot pride from your soul. It calls for much less toil to go out and distribute tracts than it does to cast out of your mind unholy thoughts. One can speak to the unsaved much more readily than he can deny self, take up his cross daily, and follow Christ in the path of obedience. And one can teach a class in the Sunday School with far less trouble than he can teach himself how to strengthen his own spiritual graces. To keep the heart with all diligence calls for frequent examination of its frames and dispositions, the observing of its attitude toward God, and the prevailing directions of its affections; and that is something which no empty professor can be brought to do! Give liberally to religious enterprise he may, but give himself unto the searching, purifying and keeping of his heart he will not.

This work of keeping the heart is A CONSTANT ONE. “The keeping of the heart is such a work as is never done till life be done: THIS LABOUR AND OUR LIFE END TOGETHER!

It is with a Christian in this business, as it is with seamen that have sprung a leak at sea; if they tug not constantly at the pump, the water increases upon them, and will quickly sink them. It is in vain for them to say the work is hard, and we are weary; there is no time or condition in the life of a Christian which will suffer an intermission of this work. It is in the keeping watch over our hearts, as it was in the keeping up of Moses’s hands, while Israel and Amalek were fighting below (Exodus 17:12); no sooner do Moses’ hands grow heavy and sink down, but Amalek prevails. You know it cost David and Peter many a sad day and night for intermitting the watch over their own hearts but a few minutes” (John Flavel).

CONSEQUENCES OF HEART WORK:

Having sought to show that the keeping of the heart is the great work assigned the Christian, in which the very soul and life of true religion consists, and without the performance of which all other duties are unacceptable to God, let us now point out some of the corollaries and consequences which necessarily follow from this fact.

(1) The labours which many have taken in religion are lost. Many great services have been performed, many wonderful works wrought by men, which have been utterly rejected by God, and shall receive no recognition in the day of rewards, WHY? BECAUSE they took no pains to keep their hearts with God in those duties; this is the fatal rock upon which thousands of vain professors have wrecked to their eternal undoing — they were diligent about the EXTERNALS of religion, but regardless of their HEARTS. How many hours have professors spent in hearing, reading, conferring and praying, and yet as to the supreme task God has assigned have done nothing. Tell me, vain professor, when did you spend five minutes in serious effort to keep, purge, improve it? Think you that such an easy religion can save you? If so, we must INVERSEthe words of Christ and say, “Wide is the gate and broad is the way that leadeth unto life, and many there be that go in thereat.”

(2) If the keeping of the heart be the great work of the Christian, then how few REAL Christians are there in the world. If everyone who has learned the dialect of Christianity and can talk like a Christian, if everyone who has natural gifts and abilities and who is helped by the common assisting presence of the Spirit and pray and teach like a Christian, if all who associate themselves with the people of God, contribute of their means to His cause, take delight in public ordinances, and pass as Christians were real ones, then the number of the saint would be considerable. But, alas, to what a little flock do they shrink when measured by THIS rule: how few make conscience of keeping their hearts watching their thoughts, judging their motives. Ah, there is no human applause to induce men to engage in this difficult work, and were hypocrites to do so they would quickly discover what they do not care to know. This heart work is left in the hands of a few hidden ones. Reader, are YOU one of them?

(3) Unless real Christians spend more time and pains about their hearts than they have done, they are never likely to grow in grace, be of much use to God or be possessors of much comfort in this world. You say, “But my heart seems so listless and dead.” Do you wonder at it, when you keep it not in daily communion with Him who is the fountain of life? If your body had received no more concern and attention than your soul, what state would it now be in? Oh, my brother, or sister, has not your zeal run in the wrong channels? God may be enjoyed even in the midst of earthly employments: “Enoch walked with God, and begat sons and daughters” (Gen. 5:19) — he did not retire into a monastery, nor is there any need for you to do so.

(4) It is high time the Christian reader set to this heart work in real earnest. Do not you lament, “They made me the keeper of the vineyards; but mine own vineyard have I not kept” (Song of Sol. 1:16)? Then away with fruitless controversies and idle questions; away with empty names and vain shows; away with harsh censuring of others — turn upon YOURSELF. You have been a stranger long enough to this work; you have trifled about the borders of religion too long: the world has deterred you from this vitally necessary work too long. Will you now resolve to look better after your heart? Haste you to your closet.

 ADVANTAGES OF HEART WORK

The heart of man is his worst part before it be regenerate, and his best part afterwards; it is the seat of principles and the source of actions. The eye of God is, and the eye of the Christian ought to be, principally fixed upon it. The great difficulty after conversion is to keep the heart with God. Herein lies the very pinch and stress of religion; here is that which makes the way to life a narrow way, and the gate of heaven a straight one. To afford some direction and help in this great work, these articles have been presented. We realize their many defects, yet trust that God will be pleased to use them. No other subject can begin to compare with it in practical importance.

The general neglect of the heart is the root cause of the present sad state of Christendom; the remainder of this article might readily be devoted unto the verifying and amplifying of that statement; instead, we merely point out briefly one or two of the more prominent features. Why is it that so many preachers have withheld from their congregations that which was, so obviously, most needed? Why have they “spoken smooth things” instead of wielding the sword of the Spirit? Because their own hearts were not right with God: HIS holy fear was not upon them. An “honest and good heart” (Luke 8:15) will cause a servant of Christ to preach what he sees to be the most essential and profitable truths of the Word, however displeasing they may be unto many of his people. He will faithfully rebuke, exhort, admonish, correct and instruct, whether his hearers like it or not.

Why have so many church members departed from the faith and given heed to seducing spirits? Why have multitudes been led away by the error of the wicked, turning the grace of God into lasciviousness? Why have so many others been attracted to companies of notional professors, which, despite their proud boasts of being the only people gathered together in (or unto) the name of Christ, are, for the most part, people who have only an acquaintance with the letter of Scripture and are strangers to practical godliness? Ah, the answer is not far to seek: it was because they had no HEART acquaintance with the things of God. It is those who are sickly and diseased who fall easy victims unto the quacks; so it is those whose hearts are never rooted and grounded in the Truth who are tossed about with every wind and doctrine. The study and guarding of the heart is the best antidote against the infectious errors of the times. And this leads us to point out some of the ADVANTAGES of keeping the heart. For much of what follows we are indebted to the Puritan, John Flavel.

(1) The pondering and garrisoning of the heart is a great help to the understanding of the deep things of God. An honest and experienced heart is a wonderful aid to a weak head. Such a heart will serve as a commentary upon a great portion of the Scriptures. When such a one reads the Psalms of David or in the Epistles of Paul, he will find there many of his own difficulties stated and solved: he will find them speaking the language of his own heart — recounting HIS experiences, expressing  HIS  sorrows and joys. By a close and regular study of the heart he will be far better fitted to understand the things of God than graceless rabbis and inexperienced doctors — not only will they be clearer, but far sweeter unto him. A man may discourse orthodoxly and profoundly of the nature and effects of faith, of the preciousness of Christ, and the sweetness of communion with God, who never felt the impressions or efficacy of them upon his own spirit. But how dull and dry will these  NOTIONS be unto those who have BEWITCHED THEM.

Ah, my reader, EXPERIENCE is the great schoolmaster. Much in Job and Lamentations will seem dull and uninteresting until you have had DEEPER EXERCISES OF SOUL. The seventh chapter of Romans is not likely to appeal much unto you until you make more conscience of indwelling sin. Many of the later Psalms will appear too extravagant in their language until you enjoy closer and sweeter fellowship with God. But the more you endeavour to keep your heart, and bring it into subjection unto God, to keep it from the evil solicitations of Satan, the more SUITED TO YOUR OWN CASE will you find many chapters of the Bible.

It is not simply that you have to be in the “right mood” to appreciate, but that you have to pass through certain exercises of heart ere you can discover their appropriateness. Then it is that you will have “felt” and “tasted” for yourself the things of which the inspired writers treat. Then it is that you will have the key which unlocks many a verse that is fast closed unto masters of Hebrew and Greek.

(2) Care in keeping the heart supplies one of the best evidences of sincerity. There is no external act which distinguishes the sound from the unsound professor, but before this trial no hypocrite can stand. It is true that when they think death to be very near many will cry out of the wickedness and fear in their hearts, but that signifies nothing more than does the howling of an animal when it is in distress. But if you are tender of your conscience, watchful of your thoughts, and careful each day of the workings and frames of your heart, this strongly argues the sincerity of it; for what but a real hatred of sin, what but a sense of the Divine eye being upon you, could put anyone upon these secret duties which lie out of the observation of all creatures? If, then, it be such a desirable thing to have a fair testimony of your integrity, and to know of a truth that you fear God, then study, watch, keep the heart.

The true comfort of our souls much depends upon this, for he that is negligent in keeping his heart is generally a stranger to spiritual assurance and the sweet comforts flowing from it. God does not usually indulge lazy souls with inward peace, for He will not be the patron of any carelessness. He has united together our diligence and comfort, and they are greatly mistaken who suppose that the beautiful child of assurance can be born without soul pangs. Diligent self-examination is called for: first the looking into the Word, and then the looking into our hearts, to see HOW FAR THEY CORRESPOND. It is true that the Holy Spirit indwells the Christian, but He cannot be discerned by His essence; IT IS HIS OPERATIONS THAT MANIFEST HIM, and these are known BY THE GRACES HE PRODUCES in the soul; and those can only be perceived by diligent search and honest scrutiny of the heart. It is in the HEART that the Spirit works.

(3) Care in keeping the heart makes blessed and fruitful the means of grace and the discharge of our spiritual duties. What precious communion we have with God when He is approached in a right frame of soul: then we may say with David, “My meditation of Him shall be sweet” (Psalm 104:34). But when the heart be indisposed, full of the things of this life, then we miss the comfort and joy which should be ours. The sermons you hear and the articles you read (if by God’s servants) will appear very different if you bring a PREPARED heart to them! If the heart be right you will not grow drowsy while hearing or reading of the riches of God’s grace, the glories of Christ, the beauty of holiness, or the needs-be for a scripturally ordered walk. It was because the heart was neglected that you got so little from attending to the means of grace!

The same holds good of prayer. What a difference there is between a deeply exercised and spiritually burdened heart pouring out itself before God in fervent supplication and the utterance of verbal petitions by rote! It is the difference between reality and formality. He who is diligent in heart work and perceives the state of his own soul is at no loss in knowing WHAT to ask God for. So he who makes it a practice of walking with God, communing with God, meditating upon God, spontaneously worships Him in spirit and in truth: like David, he will say, “My heart is inditing a good matter” (Psalms 45:1). The Hebrew there is very suggestive: literally it is “my heart is boiling up a good matter”; it is a figurative expression, taken from a living spring, which is bubbling up fresh water. The formalist has to rack his mind and, as it were, laboriously pump up something to say unto God; but he who makes conscience of heart work finds his soul like a bottle of new wine -ready to burst, giving vent to sorrow or joy as his case may be.

(4) Diligence in keeping the heart will make the soul stable in the hour of temptation. The care or neglect of the conscience largely determines our attitude toward and response unto solicitations of evil. The careless heart falls an easy prey to Satan. His main attacks are made upon the heart, for if he gains THAT he gains all, for it commands the whole man! Alas, how easy a conquest is an UNGUARDED heart; it is no more difficult for the Devil to capture it than for a burglar to enter a house whose windows and doors are unfastened. It is the watchful heart that both discovers and suppresses the temptation before it comes in its full strength. It is much like a large stone rolling down a hill — it is easy to stop at first, but very difficult after it has gained full momentum. So, if we cherish the first vain imagination as it enters the mind, it will soon grow into a powerful lust which will not take a nay.

Acts are preceded by desires, and desires by thoughts. A sinful object first presents itself to the imagination, and unless THAT  be nipped in the bud the affections will be stirred and enlisted. If the heart does not repel the evil imagination, if instead it dwells on it, encourages it, feeds on it, then it will not be long before the consent of the will is obtained. A very large and important part of heart work lies in observing its first motions, and checking sin THERE. The motions of sin are weakest at the first, and a little watchfulness and care then prevents much trouble and mischief later. But if the first movings of sin in the imagination be not observed and resisted, then the careless heart is quickly brought under the full power of temptation, and Satan is victorious.

(5) The diligent keeping of the heart is a great aid to the improving of our graces. Grace never thrives in a careless soul, for the roots and habits of grace are planted in the heart, and the deeper they are radicated there the more thriving and flourishing grace is. In Ephesians 3:17, we read of being “rooted and grounded in love”: love in the heart is the spring of every gracious word of the mouth and of every holy act of the hand. But is not CHRIST the “root” of the Christian’s graces? Yes, the originating root, but grace is the DERIVATIVE root, planted and nourished by Him, and according as THIS thrives under Divine influences, so the fruits of grace are more healthy and vigorous. But in a heart which is not kept diligently those fructifying influences are choked. Just as in an uncared-for garden the weeds crowd out the flowers, so vain thoughts that are not disallowed, and lusts which are not mortified, devour the strength of the heart. “My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and with fatness; and my mouth shall praise Thee with joyful lips: WHEN I remember Thee upon my bed, and meditate on Thee in the night watches” (Psalm 55:5, 6).

(6) The diligent care of the heart makes Christian fellowship profitable and precious. Why is it that when Christians meet together there are often sad jarrings and contentions? It is because of unmortified passions. Why is their conversation so frothy and worthless? It is because of the vanity and earthiness of their hearts. It is not difficult to discern by the actions and converse of Christians what frames their spirits are under. Take one whose mind is truly stayed upon God; how serious, heavenly and edifying is his conversation: “The mouth of the righteous speaketh wisdom, and his tongue talketh of judgment: the law of his God IS IN HIS HEART” (Psalm 37:30, 31). If each of us was humbled every day before God and under the evils of his own heart, we should be more pitiful and tender toward others (Gal. 6:1).

(7) A heart well kept fits us for any condition God may cast us into, or any service He has to use us in. He who has learnt to keep his heart lowly is fit for prosperity; and he who knows how to apply Scripture promises and supports is fit to pass through any adversity. So he who can deny the pride and selfishness of his heart is fit to be employed in any service for God. Such a man was Paul; he not only ministered to others, but looked well to his own vineyard (see 1 Cor 9:27). And what an eminent instrument he was for God: he knew how to abound and how to suffer loss. Let the people defy him, it moved him not except to indignation; let them stone him, he could bear it.

(8) By keeping our hearts diligently we should the soonest remove the scandal; and stumbling-blocks out of the way of the world. How the worthy name of our Lord is blasphemed because of the wicked conduct of many who bear His name. What prejudice has been created against the Gospel by the inconsistent lives of those who preach it. But if we keep our hearts, we shall not add to the scandals caused by the ways of loose professors. Nay, those with whom we come in contact with will see that we “have been with Jesus.” When the majestic beams of holiness shine from a heavenly walk, the world will be awed and respect will again be commanded by the followers of the Lamb.

Though the keeping of the heart entails such hard labour, do not such blessings supply a sufficient incentive to engage diligently in the same? Look over the eight special benefits we have named, and weigh them in a just balance; the are not trivial things. Then guard well your heart, and watch closely ITS LOVE FOR GOD. Jacob served seven years for Rebekah, and they seemed unto him but a few days, for the love that he had unto her. The labour of LOVE is always delightful. If God has your heart, the feet will run swiftly in the way of His commandments duty will be a delight. Then let us earnestly pray, “So teach us to number our days, that we may APPLY OUR HEARTS unto wisdom” (Psalm 90:12) — as we “apply our hands unto manual tasks.

Let me now close with a word or two of consolation to all serious Christians who have sought to give themselves faithfully and closely to this heart work, but who are groaning in secret over their apparent lack of success therein, and who are fearful that their experience falls short of a saving one.

First, this argues that our heart IS honest and upright. If you are mourning over heart conditions and sins, THAT is something no hypocrite does. Many a one is now in hell who had a better head than mine; many a one now in heaven complained of as bad a heart as thine.

Second, God would never leave you under so many heart burdens and troubles if He intended not your benefit thereby. You say, Lord, why do I go mourning, all the day having sorrow of heart? For long have I been exercised over its hardness, and not yet it is broken. Many years have I been struggling against vain thoughts, and still I am plagued by them. When shall I get a better heart? Ah, God would thereby show you what your heart by nature is, and have you take notice of how much you are beholden or indebted to free grace! So too, He would keep you humble, and not let you fall in love with yourself!

Third, God will shortly put a blessed end to these cares, watchings and heartaches. The time is coming when your heart shall be as you would have it, when you will be delivered from all fears and sorrows, and never again cry, “O my hard, vain, earthly, filthy heart.” Then shall all darkness be purged from your understanding, all vanity from your affections, all guilt from your conscience, all perversity from your will. Then shall you be everlastingly, delightfully, ravishingly entertained and exercised upon the supreme goodness and infinite excellency of God. Soon shall break that morning without clouds, when all the shadows shall flee away; and then we “shall be LIKE HIM, for we shall see Him as He is” (1 John 3:2). Hallelujah!

Daughters Oh so precious!

Daughters Oh so precious!

Certain is it that there is no kind of affection so purely angelic as of a father to a daughter. In love to our wives there is desire; to our sons, ambition; but to our daughters there is something which there are no words to express. ~ Joseph Addison

THE WORDS – “I GIVE UNTO THEM ETERNAL LIFE AND THEY SHALL NEVER PERISH” ARE NOT IDLE WORDS, BUT WORDS THAT ARE AS FIRMLY AND FOREVER SETTLED AS THE THRONE OF GOD!

THE WORDS – “I GIVE UNTO THEM ETERNAL LIFE AND THEY SHALL NEVER PERISH” ARE NOT IDLE WORDS, BUT WORDS THAT ARE AS FIRMLY AND FOREVER SETTLED AS THE THRONE OF GOD!

Lorraine Boettner

Jesus declared, “I give unto them (the true followers, or ‘sheep’) eternal life; and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who hath given them unto me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand,” John 10:28. Here we find that our security and God’s omnipotence are equal; for the former is founded on the latter. God is mightier than the whole world, and neither men nor Devil can rob Him of one of His precious jewels. It would be as easy to pluck a star out of the heavens as to pluck a saint out of the Father’s hand.

Their salvation stands in His invincible might and they are placed beyond the peril of destruction. We have Christ’s promise that the gates of hell shall not prevail against His Church; yet if the Devil could snatch one here and another there and large numbers in some congregations, the gates of hell would to a great extent prevail against it. In principle, if one could be lost, all might be lost, and thus Christ’s assurance would be reduced to idle words.

When we are told that “There shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, who shall show great signs and wonders; so as to lead astray, If possible, even the elect,” Matt. 24:24, the unprejudiced believing mind readily understands that it is impossible to lead astray the elect.

The mystic union which exists between Christ and believers is a guarantee that they shall continue steadfast. “Because I live, ye shall live also,” John 14:19. The effect of this union is that believers participate in His life. Christ is in us, Romans 8:10. It is not we that live, but Christ that liveth in us, Gal. 2:20. Christ and the believers have a common life such as that which exists in the vine and the branches. The Holy Spirit so dwells in the redeemed that every Christian is supplied with an inexhaustible reservoir of strength.

Paul warned the Ephesians, “Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, in whom ye were sealed unto the day of redemption,” Eph. 4:30. He had no fear of apostasy for he could confidently say, “Thanks be to God who always leadeth us in triumph in Christ,” II Cor. 2:14. The Lord, speaking through the prophet Jeremiah said, “I have loved thee with an everlasting love,” 31:3, — one of the best proofs that God’s love shall have no end is that it has no beginning, but is eternal. In the parable of the two houses, the very point stressed was that the house which was founded on the rock (Christ) did not fall when the storms of life came. Arminianism sets up another system in which some of those who are founded on the rock do fall. In the twenty-third Psalm we read, “And I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” The true Christian is no temporary visitor, but a permanent dweller in the house of the Lord. How those rob this psalm of its deeper and richer meaning who teach that the grace of God is a temporary thing!

Christ makes intercession for His people (Rom. 8:34; Heb. 7:25), and we are told that the Father hears Him always (John 11:42). Hence the Arminian, holding that Christians may fall away, must deny either the passages which declare that Christ does make intercession for His people, or he must deny those which declare that His prayers are always heard. Let us consider here how well protected we are: Christ is at the right hand of God pleading for us, and in addition to that, the Holy Spirit makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered, Rom. 8:26.

In the wonderful promise of Jer. 32:40, God has promised to preserve believers from their own backslidings:

“And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, AND I WILL NOT TURN AWAY FROM FOLLOWING THEM, TO DO THEM GOOD; and I will put my fear in their hearts, that THEY MAY NOT DEPART FROM ME.” And in Ezek. 11:19, 20,

He promises to take from them the “stony heart,” and to give them a “heart of flesh,” so that they shall walk in his statutes and keep his ordinances, and so that they shall be His people and He their God. Peter tells us that Christians cannot fall away, for they “by the power of God are guarded through faith unto a salvation ready to be revealed at the last time,” I Peter 1:5. Paul says, “God is able to make all grace to abound unto you; that ye, having always all sufficiency in everything, may abound unto every good work,” II Cor. 9:8. He declares that the Lord’s servant “shall be made to stand; for the Lord hath power to make him stand,” Rom. 14:4.

And Christians have the further promise, “There hath no temptation taken you but such as man can bear: but God is faithful, and will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation make also the way of escape, that ye may be able to endure it,” I Cor. 10:13. Their removal from certain temptations which would be too strong for them is an absolute and free gift from God, since it is entirely an arrangement of His providence as to what temptations they encounter in the course of their lives, and what ones they escape. “The Lord is faithful and will establish you and guard you from the evil one,” II Thess. 3:3. And again, “The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear Him and delivereth them,” Ps. 34:7. Amid all his trials and hardships Paul could say, ‘We are pressed on every side, yet not straightened; perplexed, yet not unto despair; pursued, yet not forsaken; smitten down, yet not destroyed; . . . knowing that He that raised up the Lord Jesus Christ shall raise us also with Jesus,” II Cor. 4:8,9,14.

The saints, even in this world, are compared to a tree that does not wither, Ps. 1:3; to the cedars which flourish on Mount Lebanon, Ps. 92:12; to Mount Zion which cannot be moved, but which abideth forever, Ps. 125:1; and to a house built on a rock. Matt. 7:24. The Lord is with them in their old age, Is. 46:4, and is their guide even unto death, Ps 48:14, so that they cannot be totally and finally lost.

Another strong argument is to be noticed concerning the Lamb’s book of life. The disciples were told to rejoice, not so much over the fact that the demons were subject to them, but that their names were written in the Lamb’s book of life. This book is a catalogue of the elect, determined by the unalterable counsel of God, and can neither be increased nor diminished. The names of the righteous are found there; but the names of those who perish have never been written there from the foundation of the world.

God does not make the mistake of writing in the book of life a name which He will later have to blot out. Hence none of the Lord’s own ever perish. Jesus told His disciples to find their chief joy in the fact that their names were written in heaven, Luke 10:20; yet there would have been small grounds for joy in this respect if their names written in heaven one day could have been blotted out the next. Paul wrote to the Philippians, “Our citizenship is in heaven,” 3:20; and to Timothy he wrote, “The Lord knoweth them that are His,” II Tim. 2:19. For the Scripture teaching concerning the book of life, see Luke 10:20; Phil 4:3; Rev. 3:5; 13:8; 17:8; 20:12-15; 21:27.

Here, then, are very simple and plain statements that the Christian shall continue in grace, the reason being that the Lord takes it upon Himself to preserve him in that state. In these promises the elect are secured on both sides. Not only will God not depart from them, but He will so put His fear into their hearts that they shall not depart from him. Surely no Spirit-taught Christian can doubt that this doctrine is taught in the Bible. It seems that man, poor, wretched and impotent as he is, would welcome a doctrine which secures for him the possessions of eternal happiness despite all attacks from without and all evil tendencies from within. But it is not so. He refuses it, and argues against it. And the causes are not far to seek.

In the first place he has more confidence in himself than he has any right to have. Secondly, the scheme is so contrary to what he is used to in the natural world that he persuades himself that it cannot be true. Thirdly, he perceives that if this doctrine be admitted, the other doctrines of free grace will logically follow. Hence he twists and explains away the Scripture passages which teach it, and clings to some which appear on the surface to favor his preconceived views. In fact, a system of salvation by grace is so utterly at variance with his everyday experience, in which he sees every thing and person treated according to works and merits, that he has great difficulty in bringing himself to believe that it can be true. He wishes to earn his own salvation, though certainly he expects very high wanes for very sorry work.