TEARS – THE LANGUAGE OF THE SOUL

Tears sacred

TEARS – THE LANGUAGE OF THE SOUL

Compiled by Michael Jeshurun

The Bible teaches that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Like it or not, we are all born sinners, which means we are all born unbroken. Yes, our DNA is infected with the sin of our forefather Adam. The word that best describes this condition of unbrokenness is pride. The word that best describes brokenness is humility.

We are all—every last one of us—more or less unbroken. The Christian journey is one of God bringing us out of tree of knowledge trash such as sinful, rule-based, self-righteous, self-sufficient, prideful dependence upon our own strength, wisdom and knowledge into the tree of life treasures of brokenness, humility, worship of and dependence upon Him. These are God’s highest desires for all of His children, and His desires are always what is best for us. They are highly prized by Him, and once we begin to understand and bear the fruit of them, we will prize them highly too.

Biblically, tears are an essential expression of brokenness. They are God’s provision for cleansing us of the unbrokenness that hinders and sometimes destroys our spiritual, mental and physical health and well being.

“Thou feedest them with the bread of tears; and givest them tears to drink in great measure” (Psalm 80:5).
Ken Gire wrote in Windows of the Soul, “In each tear is distilled something of eternity, something of love and compassion and tenderness, all things that originate in heaven and come to earth as a sacrament to the soul, if only I am willing to take and to eat. The closest communion with God comes, I believe, through the sacrament of tears. Just as grapes are crushed to make wine and grain to make bread, so the elements of this sacrament come from the crushing experiences of life.

Many Hebrew words for grieving, weeping and lamentation actually mean “to distill”, which means to “separate and change from one substance to another”. This word beautifully describes God’s renewing work in the midst of our tears. In the life long metamorphosis of our souls, God is continually transforming us from the sin-marred image of Adam into the glorious image of Christ. The tears we pour out at the feet of Jesus, both joyful and sad, are the distillation of God’s eternal work in our lives.

Tears are the language of the soul. When they are turned toward God, they are never wasted nor shed in vain. Though often shunned by man they are treasured by God. Psalm 56:8 says that God keeps our tears in a bottle and writes each one in His book.

God considers our precious tears an offering. Exodus 22:29 urges that we not “delay to offer the first of [our] ripe fruits, and of [our] liquors . . . “.

The primary meaning of the Hebrew word for “liquors” is “tears”. And we should not delay the offering of them! They are put into His bottle and are written in His book. I can almost see the fingers of God lovingly caressing each line in that weighty tome as He ponders our every offering and sacrifice of brokenness—love letters straight from our heart to His. Just let your heart ponder this for a moment. Our tears are treasures in heaven, for they represent our every moment of surrender to Him.

The great old theologian, Matthew Henry wrote of this verse, “God has a bottle and a book for his people’s tears, both those for their sins and those for their afflictions. He observes them with compassion and tender concern; he is afflicted in their afflictions, and knows their souls in adversity. Paul was mindful of Timothy’s tears (2 Timothy 1:4), and God will not forget the sorrows of his people. God will comfort his people according to the time wherein he has afflicted them, and give to those to reap in joy who sowed in tears. What was sown a tear will come up a pearl.”

[Gleaned from sources on the web]

Christ’s Distinguishing Love for His Lily – the Church

Carnation weekend

Christ’s Distinguishing Love for His Lily – the Church

C.H. Spurgeon

“As the lily among thorns, so is My darling among the daughters.” [Sos 2:2]

He styles her, “My darling.” An exquisitely sweet name; as if His love had all gone forth from Him, and had become embodied in her. The first point then of her relation to Christ is that she has His DARLING. Think of it, and let the blessed truth dwell long and sweetly in your meditations. The Lord of life and glory, the Prince of the kings of the earth, has such a loving heart that He must have an object upon which to spend His affection; and His people, chosen from among men, whom he calls His church, these are they who are His “love,” the object of His supreme delight. “Christ loved the church, and gave Himself for it.”

He looked on His people and he exclaimed, “as the Father has loved me even so have I loved you.” Every believer, separated from mankind, and called unto the fellowship of Christ, is also the peculiar object of His love. Not in name only, but in deed and in truth, does Jesus love each one of us who have believed on Him. You may each one of you say with the apostle, “He loved me”; you may read it in any tense you please- He loved me; He loves me; He will love me, for He gave Himself for me. This shall be your song in heaven, “Unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood, to Him be glory.”

This love is DISTINGUISHING love, for in its light one special object shines as a lily, and the rest, “the daughters,” are as thorns. Love has fixed on its chosen object, and compared with the favored one all others are as nothing. There is a love of Jesus which goes forth to all mankind, for “the Lord is good to all, and His tender mercies are over all His works”; but there is a special and peculiar love which He bears to His own.

As a man loves his neighbors but still he has a special affection for his own wife, so is the church Christ’s bride, beloved above all the rest of mankind, and every individual believer is the favored one of heaven. The saint is united to Christ by a mystical union, a spiritual marriage bond, and above all others, Christ loves the souls espoused to Him. He said once, “I pray for them. I pray not for the world, but for them which you have given me;” thus indicating that there is a specialty about His intercession.

We rejoice in the largeness and the width of Jesus’ love, but we do not therefore doubt its specialty. The sun shines on all things, but when it is focussed upon one point, ah, then there is a heat about it of which you little dreamed! The love of Jesus is focussed on those whom the Father has given Him. Upon you, my brother or sister, if indeed you are a believer in Jesus Christ, the Lord’s heart is set, and he speaks of you in the words of the text as “my love,” loved above all the daughters, precious in His sight and honorable, so that he will give men for you and people for your life.

Observe that this is a love which he OPENLY AVOWS. The bridegroom speaks and says before all men, “As a lily among thorns, so is my darling among the daughters.” He puts it upon record in that book which is more widely scattered than any other, for he is not ashamed to have it published on the housetops. The love of Christ was at first hidden in His heart, but it soon revealed itself, for even of old His delights were with the sons of men, and he bent His steps downward to this world in divers forms before ever Bethlehem’s song was sung. And now, since the incarnate God has loved, and lived, and died, He has unveiled His love in the most open form, and astonished heaven and earth thereby.

On Calvary He set up an open proclamation, written in His own heart’s blood, that He loved His own people even unto the end. He bids His ministers proclaim it to the world’s end, that many waters could not quench His love, neither could the floods drown it; and that neither life, nor death, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. He would have it known, for he is not ashamed to call His people “the bride, the Lamb’s wife.” He declares it that His adversaries may know it, that He has a people in whom His heart delights, and these he will have and hold as His own, when heaven and earth shall pass away.

Note, too, that He who gave the beauty is the first to see it. While they are unknown to the world Jesus knows His own. Long before anybody else sees any virtue or any praise in us, Jesus observes it, and is pleased therewith. He is quick to say, “Behold, he prays,” or “Behold, he repents.” He is the first to say, “I have surely heard Ephraim bemoaning himself.”

Love’s eyes are quick, and her ears are open. Love covers a multitude of faults, but it discovers a multitude of beauties. Can it be so, O my soul, can it be so that Christ has made you lovely in His loveliness? Has He shed a beauty upon you, and does He Himself look complacently upon it? He whose taste is exquisite, and whose voice is the truth, who never calls that beautiful which is not beautiful, can he see a beauty in your sighs and tears, in your desires after holiness, in your poor attempts to aid His cause, in your prayers and in your songs, and in your heart’s love towards Him.

Can He see a beauty in these? Yes, assuredly He can, or He would not speak as He does in this text. Let His condescending discernment have all honor for this generous appreciation of us. Let us bless and love Him because he deigns to think so highly of us who owe everything to Him. “You are,” says He, “my darling, as the lily.”

“As the lily among thorns” wears also another meaning. Dr. Thompson writes of a certain lily, “It grows among thorns, and I have sadly lacerated my hands in extricating it from them. Nothing can be in higher contrast than the luxuriant, velvety softness of this lily, and the withered, tangled hedge of thorns about it.” Ah, beloved, you know who it was that in gathering your soul and mine, lacerated not His hand only, but His feet, and His head, and His side, and His heart, yes, and His inmost soul. He spied us out, and said, “Yonder lily is mine, and I will have it”; but the thorns were a terrible barrier; our sins had gathered round about us, and the wrath of God most sharply stopped the way. Jesus pressed through all, that we might be His; and now when he takes us to Himself he does not forget the thorns which girded His brow, and tore His flesh, for our sakes.

This then is a part of our relationship to Christ, that we cost Him very dear. He saw us where we were, and He came to our deliverance; and now, even as Pharaoh’s daughter called the young child’s name “Moses,” “because,” said she, “I drew him out of the water,” so does Jesus call His chosen “the lily among thorns,” because such she was when he came to her rescue. Never will he forget Calvary and its thorns, nor should His saints allow the memory thereof to fade. Amen!

GOD HAS GIVEN COMMANDMENT TO SAVE HIS ELECT – AND THEY WILL BE SAVED! PERIOD!

Commandment to save

GOD HAS GIVEN COMMANDMENT TO SAVE HIS ELECT – AND THEY WILL BE SAVED! PERIOD!

Michael Jeshurun

If God has given commandment to ‘save you’ you WILL BE SAVED! Period! No ifs ands or buts about it! The commandment of the Lord standeth sure! Balak hired Balaam to curse Israel, but Balaam replied – “If Balak would give me his house full of silver and gold, I CANNOT GO BEYOND THE COMMANDMENT OF THE LORD, to do either good or bad of mine own mind; but what the LORD saith, that will I speak?”

“Behold, I have received COMMANDMENT to bless: and He hath blessed; and I CANNOT REVERSE IT!” [Num 23:20]

“Omnipotence has many servants, and some of those least seen are the strongest it employs. If there be an angel anywhere, my friend, he is thy friend if thou be God’s friend. If there be in heaven or earth any intelligence flying swiftly at this moment, he flies upon no errand of harm to thee. Be thou full sure of that.

Occasionally I meet with very foolish people, who believe in things which are unrevealed, in things superstitious, in glamors strange, and baseless fancies. Ofttimes they are not a little frightened about I scarcely know what such as enchantments, divinations, sorceries etc. There is such a credulity that still survives among the extremely ignorant. But whenever I have heard such observations I have always thought of that wonderful text in the Book of Numbers, “Surely there is no enchantment against Jacob, neither is there any divination against Israel.” [Num 23:23]

There can be no spiritual powers which you or I have any need to fear. I remember hearing a good brother speak about courage against the devil, and in reference to spiritual power he said that he believed that a man of God, when he had faith, could kick his way through a street full of devils from one end to the other. I admired his simile. It was worthy of Martin Luther, for it was the kind of thing that Martin Luther would have said. Oh, if the air were as full of devils as it is of fogs, a man that has God within him might laugh them all to scorn.

WHO can hurt the man whom God protects?

Unseen powers and terrible they may be, but they cannot injure us, for there are other unseen powers more terrible still, the hosts of that Lord who is mighty in battle, and all these are sworn to protect the child of God. “Thou hast given commandment to save me,” says David; and if God has charged his angels to protect and save His people from all harm, depend upon it they are secure.”
[C.H. Spurgeon]

IF ANY MAN THIRST LET HIM COME TO CHRIST AND DRINK

If any man thirst

IF ANY MAN THIRST LET HIM COME TO CHRIST AND DRINK

– by A.W. Pink

“In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto Me, and drink”. [John 7:37]

Here is the Gospel in a single short sentence. Three words in it stand out and call for special emphasis—”thirst,” “come,” “drink.” The first tells of a recognized need. Thirst, like hunger, is something of which we are acutely conscious. It is a craving for that which is not in our actual possession. There is a soul thirst as well as a bodily. The pathetic thing is that so many thirst for that which cannot slake them. Their thirst is for the things of the world: pleasure, money, fame, ease, self-indulgence; and over all these Christ has written in imperishable letters, “Whosoever drinketh of this water SHALL THIRST AGAIN.”

But in our text Christ is referring to a thirst for something infinitely nobler and grander, even for Himself. He speaks of that intense longing for Himself which ONLY THE SPIRIT OF GOD CAN CREATE IN THE SOUL. If a poor sinner is convicted of his pollution and desires cleansing, if he is weighted down with the awful burden of conscious guilt and desires pardon, if he is fully aware of his weakness and impotency and longs for strength and deliverance, if he is filled with fears and distrust and craves for peace and rest,—then, says Christ, let him “come unto Me.” Happy the one who so thirsts after Christ that he can say, “As the hart panteth after the water-brooks, so panteth my soul after Thee, O God” (Ps. 42:1).

“Let him come unto Me.” “Come” is one of the simplest words in the English language. It signifies our approach to an object or person. It expresses action, and implies that the will is operative. To come to Christ means, that you do with your heart and will what you would do with your feet were He standing in bodily form before you and saying, “Come unto me.” It is an act of faith. IT INTIMATES THAT YOU HAVE TURNED YOUR BACK UPON THE WORLD, AND HAVE ABANDONED ALL CONFIDENCE IN EVERYTHING ABOUT YOURSELF, AND NOW CAST YOURSELF EMPTY-HANDED, AT THE FEET OF INCARNATE GRACE AND TRUTH. But make sure that nothing whatever is substituted for Christ. It is not, come to the Lord’s table, or come to the waters of baptism, or come to the priest or minister, or come and join the church; but come to CHRIST HIMSELF, and to none other.

“And drink.” It is here that so many seem to fail. There are numbers who give evidence of an awakened conscience, of heart-exercise, of a conscious need of Christ; and there are numbers who appear to be seeking Him, and yet stop short at that. But Christ not only said, “Come unto Me,” but He added, “and drink.” A river flowing through a country where people were dying of thirst, would avail them nothing unless THEY DRINK OF IT. The blood of the slain lamb availed the Israelite household nothing, unless the head of that household had applied it to the door. So Christ saves none who do not receive Him by faith. “Drinking” is here a figurative expression, and signifies making Christ your own. In all ages God’s saints have been those who saw their deep need, who came to the Lord, and appropriated the provision of grace.

“If any man thirst, let him come unto Me, and drink.”

Let us not forget where these words were first uttered. THE SPEAKER WAS NOT IN A PENITENTIARY (PRISON OR JAIL), BUT IN THE TEMPLE. Christ was not addressing a company of profligates, but a RELIGIOUS CROWD who were observing a Divinely-instituted Feast! What an example for each of His servants!

Brother preacher, take nothing for granted. Do not suppose that because those you address are respectable people and punctual in their religious exercises they are necessarily saved. Heed that word of your Master’s, and “preach the gospel to EVERY CREATURE,” cultured as well as illiterate, the respectable as well as the profligate, the religious man as well as the irreligious!

“For ALL have sinned, and come short of the glory of God!” [Rom 3:23]

EVEN CHRISTIANS NEED REST

Rest awhile

EVEN CHRISTIANS NEED REST

C.H. Spurgeon

“Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and REST A WHILE.” [Mark 6:31]

What! When the people are fainting? When the multitudes are like sheep upon the mountains without a shepherd? Does Jesus talk of rest? When Scribes and Pharisees, like grievous wolves, are rending the flock, does he take his followers on an excursion into a quiet resting place? Does some red-hot zealot denounce such atrocious forgetfulness of present and pressing demands? Let him rave in his folly. The Master knows better than to exhaust his servants and quench the light of Israel.

REST TIME IS NOT WASTE TIME. It is economy to gather fresh strength. Look at the mower in the summer a day, with so much to cut down ere the sun sets. He pauses in his labour, is he a sluggard? He looks for his stone, and begins to draw it up and down his scythe, with “rink-a-tink—rink-a-tink—rink-a-tink.” Is that idle music? is he wasting precious moments? How much he might have mown while he has been ringing out those notes on his scythe! But he is sharpening his tool, and he will do far more when once again he gives his strength to those long sweeps which lay the grass prostrate in rows before him. Even thus a LITTLE PAUSE prepares the mind for GREATER SERVICE in the good cause.

Fishermen must mend their nets, and we must every now and then repair our mental waste and set our machinery in order for future service. To tug the oar from day to day, like a galley-slave who knows no holidays, suits not mortal men. Mill-streams go on and on forever, but we must have our pauses and our intervals. Who can help being out of breath when the race is continued without intermission? Even beasts of burden must be turned out to grass occasionally; the very sea pauses at ebb and flood; earth keeps the Sabbath of the wintry months; and man, even when exalted to be God’s ambassador, must rest or faint; must trim his lamp or let it burn low; must recruit his vigour or grow prematurely old.

It is wisdom to take occasional furlough. IN THE LONG RUN, WE SHALL DO MORE BY SOMETIMES DOING LESS. On, on, on forever, without recreation, may suit spirits emancipated from this “heavy clay,” but while we are in this tabernacle, we must every now and then cry halt, and serve the Lord by holy inaction and consecrated leisure. Let no tender conscience doubt the lawfulness of going out of harness for awhile, but learn from the experience of others the necessity and duty of taking timely rest.

“For thus saith the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel; In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength!” [Isaiah 30:15]

CHRIST’S PRECIOUS LAMBS

Lamb-and-Boy final

CHRIST’S PRECIOUS LAMBS

C.H. Spurgeon

“Come, ye children, hearken unto me: and I will teach you the fear of the LORD!” [Psalm 34:11]

The best of the church are none too good for this work. Do not think because you have other service to do that therefore you should take no interest in this form of holy work, but kindly, according to your opportunities, stand ready to help the little ones, and to cheer those whose chief calling is to attend to them. To us all this message comes: “Feed My lambs!” To the minister, and to all who have any knowledge of the things of God, the commission is given. See to it that you look after the children that are in Christ Jesus. Peter was a LEADER among believers, YET HE MUST FEED THE LAMBS!

The LAMBS are the young of the flock. So, then, we ought to look specially and carefully after those who are YOUNG IN GRACE. They may be old in years, and yet they may be, mere babes in grace as to the LENGTH OF THEIR SPIRITUAL LIFE, and therefore they need to be under a good shepherd.

As soon as a person is converted and added to the church, he should become the object of the special care and kindness of his fellow-members. He has but newly come among us, and has no familiar friends among the saints, therefore let us all be friendly to him. Even should we leave our older comrades, we must be doubly kind towards those who are newly escaped from the world, and have come to find a refuge with the Almighty and His people. Watch with ceaseless care over those new-born babes who are strong in desires, but strong in nothing else. They have but just crept out of darkness, and their eyes can scarcely bear the light; let us be a shade to them until they grow accustomed to the blaze of gospel day.

Addict yourselves to the holy work of caring for the feeble and despondent. Peter himself that morning must have felt like a newly-enlisted soldier, for he had in a sense ended his public Christian life by denying his Lord, and he had begun it again when he “went out and wept bitterly.” He was now making a new confession of his faith before his Lord and his brethren, and, therefore, because he was thus made to sympathize with recruits, he is commissioned to act as a guardian to them. Young converts are too timid to ask our help, and so our Lord introduces them to us, and with an emphatic word of command He says, “Feed My lambs!” This shall be our reward: “Inasmuch as you have done it unto one of the least of these—you have done it unto Me!”

However young a believer may be, he should make an OPEN CONFESSION of his faith, and be folded with the rest of the flock of Christ. We are not among those who are suspicious of YOUTHFUL PIETY: we could never see more reason for such suspicions in the case of the young, than in the case of those who repent late in life. Of the two we think the latter are more to be questioned than the former: for a selfish FEAR OF PUNISHMENT and dread of death are more likely to produce a COUNTERFEIT FAITH than mere childishness would be. How much has the child missed—which might have spoiled it! How much it does not know—which we hope it never may know!

Oh, how much there is of brightness and trustfulness about children when converted to God which is not seen in elder converts! Our Lord Jesus evidently felt deep sympathy with children—and he is but little like Christ who looks upon them as a trouble, and treats them as if they must needs be either little deceivers or foolish simpletons. To you who teach in our schools is given this joyous privilege of finding out where these young disciples are, who are truly the lambs of Christ’s flock, and to you He says, “Feed My lambs!”; that is, instruct such as are truly gracious, but young in years.

It is very remarkable that the word used here for “feed My LAMBS” is very different from the word employed in the precept, “feed My SHEEP.” I will not trouble you with Greek words, but the second “feed” means exercise the office of a shepherd, rule, regulate, lead, manage them, do all that a shepherd has to do towards a flock; but this first feed does not include all that: it means distinctly FEED, and it directs teachers to a duty which they may perhaps, neglect—namely, that of INSTRUCTING children in the faith.

The lambs do not so much need keeping in order, as we do who know so much, and yet know so little: who think we are so far advanced that we judge one another, and contend and strive. Christian children mainly need to be taught the DOCTRINE, PRECEPT, and CHRISTIAN LIVING: they require to have Divine truth put before them clearly and forcibly. Why should the higher doctrines, the DOCTRINES OF GRACE, be kept back from them? They are not as some say, bones; or if they are bones—they are full of marrow, and covered with fatness! If there is any doctrine too difficult for a child, it is rather the fault of the teacher’s conveyance of it—than of the child’s power to receive it, provided that child is really converted to God. It is ours to make doctrine simple; this is to be a main part of our work. Teach the little ones the whole truth and nothing but the truth; for instruction is the great need of the child’s nature.

A child has not only to LIVE as you and I have—but also to grow; hence he has double need of food. When fathers say of their boys, “What appetites they have!” they should remember that we also would have great appetites if we had not only to keep the machinery going, but to ENLARGE it at the same time. Children in grace have to grow, rising to greater capacity in knowing, being, doing, and feeling, and to greater power from God; therefore above all things they must be FED. They must be WELL fed or instructed, because they are in danger of having their cravings perversely satisfied with error! Youth are susceptible to false doctrine.

Whether we teach young Christians truth or not, the DEVIL will be sure to teach them ERROR. They will hear of it somehow, even if they are watched by the most careful guardians. The only way to keep CHAFF out of the child’s little measure—is to fill it brimful with good WHEAT. Oh, that the Spirit of God may help us to do this! The more the young are taught the better; it will keep them from being misled!

DESIRING THE MILK OF THE WORD

The milk of the Word

DESIRING THE MILK OF THE WORD

J.C. Philpot

“As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the Word, that ye may grow thereby.” [1Peter 2:2]

The only real food of the soul must be of God’s own appointing, preparing, and communicating.

You can never deceive a hungry child. You may give it a plaything but still it cries. It may serve for a few minutes; but the pains of hunger are not to be removed by a doll. A toy horse will not allay the cravings after the mother’s breast.

So with babes in grace. A hungry soul cannot feed upon playthings. Altars, robes, ceremonies, candlesticks, bowings, mutterings, painted windows, intoning priests, and singing men and women; these dolls and wooden horses; these toys and playthings of the religious baby house, cannot feed the soul that, like David, cries out after the living God (Psalm 42:23).

Christ, the bread of life, the manna that came down from heaven, is the only food of the believing soul (John 6:51).

‘Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and Thy Word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart!” [Jer 15:16]

LIFE FROM THE DEAD!

YOU hath He quickened

LIFE FROM THE DEAD!

C.H. Spurgeon

Our translators, as you observe, have put in the words “hath He quickened”, because Paul had thrown the sense a little farther on, and it was possible for the reader not to catch it. They have but anticipated the statement of the fourth and fifth verses: “God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ.”

Here is the point. God has quickened us, who were dead in trespasses and sins, spiritually dead. We were full of vigour towards everything which was contrary to the law or the holiness of God, we walked according the course of this world; but as for anything spiritual, we were not only somewhat incapable, and somewhat weakened; but we were ACTUALLY AND ABSOLUTELY DEAD!

We had no sense with which to comprehend spiritual things. We had neither the eye that could see, nor the ear that could hear, nor the power that could feel!

We were dead, all of us; and yet we were not all like one another. Death may be universal over a certain number of bodies, and yet those bodies may look very different. The dead that lie on the battle-field, torn of dogs or kites, rotting, corrupting in the sun, what a horrible sight! The corpse looks like life still; yet is your beloved one in the coffin as dead as the mangled bodies on the battle-field. Corruption has not yet done its work, and tender care has guarded the body as yet from what will surely come to it; YET IS THERE DEATH, SURE, COMPLETE DEATH, IN THE ONE CASE AS WELL AS IN THE OTHER!

So we have many who are lovely, amiable, morally admirable, like him whom the Saviour looked upon and loved; yet they are dead for all that. We have others who are drunken, profane, unchaste; they are dead, not more dead than the others; but their death has left its terrible traces more plainly visible. Sin brings forth death, and death brings forth corruption. Whether we were corrupt or not, is not a question that I need to raise here; let everyone judge concerning himself. But dead we were, most certainly. Even though trained by godly parents, though well instructed in the gospel scheme, though saturated with the piety that surrounded us, we were dead, as dead as the harlot of the street, as dead as the thief in the jail.

Now, the text tells us that, though we were dead, yet Christ has come, and by His Spirit He has raised us out of the grave. This text brings us Easter tidings; it sings of resurrection; it sounds in our ear the trumpet of a new life, and introduces us into a world of joy and gladness. We were dead; but we are quickened by the Spirit of God. I cannot help stopping a minute to know whether it is so with you, my dear hearers, and praying that what I might have to say may act as a kind of sieve, separating between the really living and those who only think that they are alive, so that, if you have not been quickened, if you are only “a child of nature, finely dressed,” but not spiritually alive, you may be made aware of it. If you have been quickened, even though your life be feeble, you may cry to the living God with the “Abba, Father,” which never comes from any lip but that which has been touched and quickened by the Holy Spirit.

Read the full sermon  . . .

http://www.romans45.org/spurgeon/sermons/2267.htm

Our Salvation – the sole result of God’s covenant love in Christ

Covenant Love

Our Salvation – the sole result of God’s covenant love in Christ

Robert Hawker

REFLECTIONS on Psalm 51 from Hawker’s Poor Man’s Commentary:

READER! let you and I look at this man after God’s own heart, and tremble in the recollection of what man is in his highest attainments, if left for one moment void of grace. Oh! what an important truth it is, and must be, to be impressed upon the mind, that our poor fallen nature is the same in all men: there is, there can be no difference: a corrupt stock must produce a corrupt generation; and this in an endless succession from father to son. And that the seeds of sin do not produce an equal degree of blossom and fruit in all men, doth not arise from any difference in our nature, but from the preventing and restraining grace of God. Oh! how blessed is it to see this and to be convinced of it, that we may not only ascribe all the praise where that praise is alone due, but also may walk with such holy fear and caution, amidst the numberless temptations arising both from our own nature and the dangers everywhere around, as to be always on the watch-tower, and while we think we stand, to take heed lest we fall. And above all, to be forever looking up for grace from above, knowing that they that are kept are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.

Reader, let us not dismiss the contemplation of a subject in which we are so highly interested, without gathering from the review, under divine teaching, another improvement, namely, that as the best of men are but men, and cannot keep themselves from falling; so when, from the strength of temptation without, and the weakness of our own powers within, we are at any time overtaken in a fault, it is well to be convinced that no exertions of our own can restore us to the divine favour. David knew this and therefore, in another of his Psalms, gives the glory to God for his recovery by grace. “Thou restorest my soul (saith he) thou leadest me in the paths of righteousness, for thy name’s sake.” Hence, therefore, from the Lord let us seek grace, and the renewings of the Holy Ghost, to raise us up when fallen, and to restore to our souls the light of his countenance.

And lastly, and above all, let us remember, and everlastingly keep in view, that all our pardons, all our recoveries after backslidings, our perseverance in grace, our final preservation to God’s kingdom, as well as our first awakenings from sin; all and everyone is the sole result of God’s covenant love in Christ, and the merits of his blood and righteousness. Yes! thou precious, blessed Jesus, thou who art the Lord our righteousness! it is thy Father’s merciful engagement to thee, and the efficacy of thy obedience and death, which become the everlasting cause and security of all our mercies. God is a pardoning God to all thy redeemed, because there is an everlasting acceptableness in thy Person and thy work, notwithstanding our manifold departures, backslidings, and sins. And though those departures wound our souls, though those backslidings daily testify our poor corrupt nature, though those sins plead against us, and Satan is ready to accuse; yet, precious Jesus, thy blood is a speaking blood, and speaketh more for us than all that are against us.

Oh! grant our souls the daily, hourly benefit of thy great salvation! Lord, let this be the continued joy of all thy redeemed, that we have redemption through thy blood, the forgiveness of our sins, according to the riches of thy grace.

Amen.

Gospel Invitations

Gospel invitations

Gospel Invitations

by J.H. Gosden

“We believe that the invitations of the gospel, being spirit and life (that is, under the influence of the Holy Spirit), are intended only for those who have been made by the blessed Spirit to feel their lost state as sinners and their need of Christ as their Savior, and to repent of and forsake their sins.” As distinct from general invitations and promises of temporal benefits and national blessings, which are conditional, divine gospel invitations and promises cannot be fortuitous, but must surely be determinate (Eph. 1. 11).

If God intends saving good to a person, nothing can frustrate that intention (Rom. 8:28-31). Through the effectual operations of the Holy Ghost, gospel invitations eventually meet with a heart-felt response from those to whom they are given, as being exactly answerable to their condition. They are spoken to definite characters, and usually have attached to them gracious promises of suitable blessing upon compliance. What, for instance, could be more fitting for heavy laden, weary labourers than to be invited to come to the Lord Jesus Christ, who assures them rest in Himself (Matt. 11:28)? But what meaning would such an invitation and promise have for those who never felt the weight of guilt, and were never wearied with labouring without success to keep the whole law of God.

How suitable to thirsty people is an invitation to the all-satisfying waters of divine life and grace, mercy, love and truth which issue from the river of God which is full of water and the streams whereof make glad the city of God (Isa. 55:1, Psa. 46:4)! And what more congruous than for bankrupts, fraudulently insolvent, to be bidden come and regale themselves with wine and milk, and enrich themselves with gold tried in the fire, on gospel terms -without money and without price?” Christ charged on the Laodiceans the folly of an ignorant imagination of independence., and discovered to them their entire wretchedness, before inviting them to “buy” the enriching provisions of His free market (Rev. 3:16-18).

God’s intention does not rest upon the concurrence of the persons invited, but their compliance arises from the divine determination to do them good (Jer. 31 40; Phil, 2, 13). Without doubt there is a concurrence between the inscrutable sovereign will of God (His intention of grace) and the renewed will of a regenerate sinner. Divine power brings this about, according to the important and discriminating word of Christ: “All that the, Father giveth Me shall come to Me, and him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out” (John 6:37). Very definitely the Savior denies that any others ever do come to Him (ver. 44).

Who would say that the invitations and promises are intended for those who never come? Would an all-wise and righteous God invite those from whom He withholds the requisite influence of invincible grace to bring them into compliance with His holy gospel? Or is His knowledge so imperfect that He is unaware who will and who will not respond, and consequently must issue invitations promiscuously? It is surely blasphemy to think thus! Can it therefore be other than misleading for ministers indiscriminately to scatter invitations among a mixed congregation?

True, our knowledge of who are the Lord’s elect people can be but very imperfect and partial. “By their fruits ye shall know them,” is a divinely-given rule. Consequently it is imperative first to describe the character of sin, to show the condition of mankind under the law, their need of mercy and salvation; then to preach salvation as accomplished by the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ, and to “testify repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 20. 21), describing the character of those who are invited – the lost, the lame, the halt, the blind, the sick, and not the whole.

Fitness for Christ’s outstretching invitations and His attractive promises is not in creature merit, but is in an urgent felt need of the very blessings contained in the gospel of salvation.

Hunger and thirst after righteousness is a condition indicative of soul life and health, into which divine grace alone can bring one. These only are the intended objects of gospel invitations and promises; to them God determines and ultimately conveys the blessings of a full and free and everlasting salvation. Similarly, the state of godly mourning for sin, fitting a person for the enjoyment of divine pardon, accompanies free grace, and is pre-supposed in the invitations. Inviting people to repent or to come to Christ, apart from such “breaking up of the fallow ground,” is much like sowing amongst thorns, which appears strangely inconsistent (Jer. 4:3; Hos. 10. 12), Yet we must guard against discouraging a coming sinner by imposing conditions. One hymn-writer puts it very simply:

“All the fitness He requireth,
‘Tis to feel your need of Him:
This He gives you
Its His Spirit’s rising beam.”

Whilst it is solemnly true that in a state of nature NONE of the sons of men will come to Christ for life (John 5:40), it seems most inappropriate to invite such as have no realization of their desperate need to come for what they can have no desire, Let a man be first convinced of his sin and ruin, and shown the all sufficiency of Christ for salvation, then invitations are blessedly fitting, and gospel promises most attractive and amazing. Yet such is the condition of a convicted sinner that the invitation requires almost to take on the nature of “compulsion” to overcome the diffidence frequently felt.

“Why was I made to hear His voice,
And enter while there’s room
When thousands make a wretched choice,
And rather starve than come?

“‘Twas the same love that spread the feast
That sweetly forced me in,
Else I had still refused to taste,
And perished in my sin-

It behooves us poor, ignorant, sinful mortals to consider with deepest reverence divine “intentions,” But in-so-far as God has revealed Himself in His Word, it is preposterous to think otherwise than that He intends precisely what He says, and says exactly what He intends. “I saith not to the seed of Jacob. Seek ye me in vain” (Isa. 45:19). When He said, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find-, knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” Christ was inviting His disciples to importunate prayer, assuring them of success (Luke 11:1-13). For whom would this be intended but for those who felt needy, helpless, outcast and poor? How many fearful, tempted sinners not as yet assured of their interest in the blessings of the gospel, have been emboldened by such divine invitations to venture to ask, seek, knock and to wait with an expectancy based upon the gracious pledge of success! When a minister perceives in his congregation such poor, hungry, guilty, troubled sinners how he will “draw out his soul unto them” (Isa. 58:10) and “compel” them to come in (Luke 14:23)!

But it will be said that that very parable shows many who were bidden but found excuses, and does not that really prove that the invitations of the gospel are intended for them also? We think not, The secret purpose of God concerning every individual of the human race (and every angel and devil), though hidden from us, is determined in the divine mind (Rom. 9:18 2Pet.2:4-5). That many never repent or believe the gospel, who yet come under the outward sound of the Word and hear mention of the invitations, is not in our mind the same thing as God intending to bless them with salvation if only they will concur. That would make gospel blessings contingent on man’s will.

Ultimately all the elect of God are “made willing in the day of Christ’s power” in their own experience, and being then thoroughly convinced of their sin and brought to repentance, the invitations and promises of the gospel are made spirit and life in their producing a heart-felt thankful response.

“Lo, glad I come. and Thou, blest Lamb,
Shalt take me to Thee as I am
Nothing but sin I Thee can give,
Nothing but love shall I receive.”

When the Lord Jesus circulates that broad invitation, “Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely” (Rev. 22:17) His intention was to extend it – and to limit it to those possessed of a willingness. Whence comes this willingness? Divine grace alone produces it, changing that inveterate “will not” of John 5:40 into a sweetly compliant, “Behold, we come unto Thee for Thou art the Lord our God” (Jer, 3:22). Where is a willing sinner but is taught the truth of Hart’s word:

“Death’s within thee, all about thee
But the remedy’s without thee:
See it in thy Saviour’s blood”

In regard to the solemn inexcusability of all who despise the gospel under the sound of which they may be brought through divine providence, the Lord’s own words are’: “Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father: there is one that accuseth you, even Moses, in whom ye trust” (John 5:45). Grace, through faith and repentance – Christ’s own precious gifts – alone can deliver from condemnation. If ye believe not that I AM (He), ye shall die in your sins.” “Except ye repent, ye shall likewise perish” (John 8:24. Luke 13:3). Paul strikes a solemn note of warning: How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation?” – an antidote to fatalism, without suggesting a contingent salvation.

“Blessed is the man whom Thou choosest and causest to approach unto Thee” (Psa. 65:4), Making divine invitations effectual in the heart’s experience. Eternally blessed they who shall receive that final invitation, that welcome command: “Come, ye blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Matt. 25:34).