THE ROLE OF THE GOSPEL IN SALVATION

Chosen in Him

THE ROLE OF THE GOSPEL IN SALVATION

Michael Jeshurun

That the work of the Holy Spirit PRECEDES our believing is unequivocally established by 2 Thessalonians 2:13—”God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth.” Note that “sanctification of the Spirit” comes before and makes possible “belief of the truth.” What then is the “sanctification of the Spirit”? We answer, THE NEW BIRTH. In Scripture “sanctification” ALWAYS means “separation,” separation from something and unto something or someone.” [A.W. Pink]

First there is a “NEW CREATION” (2 Cor. 5:17; Eph. 2:10), and then the “NEW CREATURE” is stirred into exercise. Faith and all other graces are wrought in us by the Spirit through the instrumentality of Word, but not so with the principle of life and grace from which these graces proceed.

In His work of “quickening,” by which we mean the impartation of spiritual life to the soul, the Spirit acts immediately from WITHIN, and not by applying something from WITHOUT. Quickening is a direct operation of the Spirit WITHOUT THE USE OF ANY INSTRUMENT: the WORD IS USED BY HIM AFTERWARDS to call into exercise the life then communicated.

Regeneration is a direct operation of the Holy Spirit upon the human spirit. It is the action of Spirit upon spirit, of a Divine Person upon a human person, whereby spiritual life is imparted. Nothing, therefore, of the nature of means or instruments can come between the Holy Spirit and the soul that is made alive. God did not employ an instrument or means when He infused physical life into the body of Adam. There were only two factors: the dust of the ground and the creative power of God which vivified that dust. The Divine omnipotence and dead matter were brought into direct contact, with nothing interposing. The dust was not a means or instrument by which God originated life. So in regeneration there are only two factors: the human soul destitute of spiritual life, and the Holy Spirit who quickens it.

The word and truth of God, the most important of all the means of grace, is not a means of regeneration, as distinct from conviction, conversion and sanctification. This is evident when we remember that it is the office of a means or instrument, to excite or stimulate an already existing principle of life. Physical food is a means of physical growth, but it SUPPOSES physical vitality, if the body is dead, bread cannot be a means or instrument. Intellectual truth is a means of intellectual growth, but it supposes intellectual vitality. If the mind be idiotic, secular knowledge cannot be a means or instrument. Spiritual truth is a means of spiritual growth, in case there be spiritual vitality. But if the mind be dead to righteousness, spiritual truth cannot be a means or instrument.

“The unenlightened understanding is unable to apprehend, and the unregenerate will is unable to believe. Vital force is lacking in these two principal factors. What is needed at this point is life and force itself. Consequently, the Author of spiritual life Himself must operate directly, without the use of means or instruments; and OUTRIGHT give spiritual life and power from the dead: that is, ex nihilo. The new life is not imparted because man perceives the truth, but he perceives the truth because the new life is imparted. A man is not regenerated because he has first believed in Christ, but he believes in Christ because he has been regenerated.” (W. T. Shedd, Presbyterian, 1889)

“Fallen man is not regenerated by any instinct, choice, or exertion of his own; he does not by any personal endeavor contribute anything towards being born again; nor does he cooperate in the least degree with the efficient cause: instead, every inclination of his heart, every exercise of his will, is in direct opposition thereto.

The new birth is not brought about by the power and influence of others. No sinner is ever born again as the result of the persuasions and endeavors of preachers or Christian workers. However pious and wise they are, and however earnestly and strenuously they exert themselves to bring others to holiness, they do in no degree produce the effect. “If all the angels and saints in Heaven and all the godly on earth should join their wills and endeavors and unitedly exert all their powers to regenerate one sinner, they could not effect it; yea, they could do nothing toward it. It is an effect INFINITELY beyond the reach of finite wisdom and power!” [S. Hopkins].

“In regeneration one of God’s elect is the subject, and the Spirit of God is the sole agent. The subject of the new birth is wholly passive: he does not act, but is acted upon. The sovereign work of the Spirit in the soul precedes all holy exercises of heart—such as sorrow for sin, faith in Christ, love toward God. This great change is wrought in spite of all the opposition of the natural heart against God: “So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy” (Rom. 9:16). This great change is not a gradual and protracted process, but is instantaneous: in an instant of time the favored subject of it passes from death unto life.”  [A.W. Pink]

Now here’s the kicker – the ‘Gospel’ itself actually saves no one but brings to light the life and immortality which the regenerated soul has been made a partaker of.  A spiritually dead soul CANNOT hear the gospel and be saved! But the Holy Spirit sovereignly regenerates the dead soul without any external means! And THEN the gospel is brought to this soul which has been made alive to reveal what has happened to it.

Read these two verses very prayerfully and meditate on them –

“Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel!” [2Tim 1:9,10]

Notice the ‘order’ Beloved, “Who hath saved us, and called us . . .” God first sovereignly saves us by the operation of the Holy Spirit and THEN calls us through the Gospel! In other words God does not call and save but He saves and then calls! Sovereign regeneration FIRST and then conversion through the Gospel!

And notice again WHAT the role of the gospel is in salvation – “it BRINGS TO LIGHT life and immortality” through the gospel! When Scripture says – “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the Word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.” [1Pet 1:23] it is not speaking of the ‘spoken Word’ which the preacher preaches, but the Eternal Word – even the glorious second person of the Godhead!

“His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns; and He had a name written, that no man knew, but He Himself. And He was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and His Hame is called The Word of God.” [Rev 19:12,13]

DOES THE GOSPEL REGENERATE?

Woman hand watering young plant in pile of soil

DOES THE GOSPEL REGENERATE?

Hattie Berry

Written to those who believe in salvation by grace through faith and that not of themselves: It is the gift of God, not of works lest any man should boast; for we are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus unto good works which God hath foreordained that we should walk in them.

Without a natural mind or spirit, we could not understand natural things. “What man knoweth the things of man save the spirit of man which is in him? Even so, the things of God knoweth no man but the Spirit of God” (1 Corinthians 2:11). It is impossible to understand the things of God without His Spirit, as it is to understand natural things without a natural mind.

Now if you will tell us how much rain and dew it takes to give life to a dead plant, we will tell you how much gospel it will take to quicken a dead sinner. If you believe in gospel preaching for regeneration, the task will be easy; but remember, the life is not in the preaching of the gospel, but in the child of grace who is fed and strengthened by the gospel. The dear Savior declared what has already been done for us. We experience it at His appointed time.

The blind man whose eyes Jesus opened was asked, “Dost thou believe?’ “Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me.” Those who have been called by the dear Savior into His gospel rest are prepared for gospel preaching. They shall be taught of God. Every man, therefore, who has been taught by the Father, cometh unto Him.

Naturally, a person must be in possession of a mind before he is capable of being taught; so one must be in possession of a spiritual mind before he can be taught spiritual things. We must receive the Spirit, which is of God, to enable us to know the things of God. The life or germ does not come into the earth through the rain; so the eternal life does not come to the sinner by the preaching of the gospel. The living seed must be in the earth before the rain can assist in the growth of the plant; so the Spirit of God or eternal life must be in the poor sinner before the gospel preaching can teach him spiritual things.

The gospel message is as essential to a Christian’s growth as rain is to the vegetable growth. Preaching is not to quicken a dead sinner, but to feed and sustain one who has already been quickened.

God puts His law in our minds and writes it in our hearts. We should think on these things even in the midst of worldly cares. Truly my soul waiteth upon God. From Him cometh my salvation. He only is my rock and my defence. I shall not be greatly moved.

—Taken from the first issue of Sovereign Grace, Jan. 1932, edited by W. J. Berry

for more such Christian articles from a Sovereign Grace perspective please visit –
http://www.primitivepublications.net/ 

NOAH – SAVED BY GRACE JUST AS ANY OTHER ROTTEN SINNER

Grace saved Noah

NOAH – SAVED BY GRACE JUST AS ANY OTHER ROTTEN SINNER

Michael Jeshurun

“But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord” (Gen. 6:8).

THAT is what set Noah apart from the rest – Sovereign Grace! And lest men give Noah the glory for his ‘obedience’ God for a season withdraws His upholding hand and His enabling grace that we might see what Noah is made of. And alas just as any other Saint through the the ages, the minute God withdraws His sustaining hand Noah, the same Noah who had seen a world just then drowned in the deluge gets drunk and shames himself before his children.

No man stands or ‘obeys’ any longer than he is upheld by divine grace!

Oh let us “Cease from man, whose breath is in his nostrils: for wherein is he to be accounted of?!” [Isaiah 2:22]

Here is a word from A.W. Pink on Noah . . . .

“But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord” (Gen. 6:8).

This is the first thing that is told us about Noah. Grace is the foundation of every life that is well-pleasing to God. Grace is the source from which issues every blessing we receive.

It was the GRACE OF GOD and not the GRACES OF NOAH which preserved him from a watery grave!

Is it not beautiful to note that it is here this precious word “grace” is seen for the first time in God’s Word! It was when the sin of the creature had reached its climax that Grace was exercised and displayed, as if to teach us from the onset, that it is nothing within man which calls forth the bestowment of Divine favors.

When God said, “I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air,” it seemed as if He was about to make an end of the entire race. But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. He was as a lily among the thorns, whose godly walk would appear the lovelier from contrast with that of the world about him. Humanly speaking it has never been an easy matter for the believer to live that life that brings glory to God, not even when he receives encouragement from fellow-saints. But here was a man living in a world of wickedness, where “all flesh had corrupted his way on the earth.” Here was a man who was compelled to set his face against the whole current of public opinion and conduct. What a testimony to the sufficiency and keeping power of Divine grace!

“Not by might, nor by power, but by My spirit, saith the Lord of hosts.Who art thou, O great mountain? before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain: and he shall bring forth the headstone thereof with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace unto it!” [Zech 4:6,7]

ANYONE WHO IS ‘SAVED’ IS SAVED BY ‘ONE MAN’S OBEDIENCE!’ AND THAT MAN IS THE MAN CHRIST JESUS!

Noahs Obedience

ANYONE WHO IS ‘SAVED’ IS SAVED BY ‘ONE MAN’S OBEDIENCE!’ AND THAT MAN IS THE MAN CHRIST JESUS!

Michael Jeshurun

(This post is written in response to a meme that has been making rounds on ‘Social media’ which has a picture of Noah’s ark with the words “Grace did not save Noah . . . Obedience did”)

“For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of One shall many be made righteous!” [Rom 5:19]

Get this people – “It is not sufficient that the believer stand before God with no sins upon him—that is merely negative. The holiness of God requires a POSITIVE RIGHTEOUSNESS to our account—that His Law be PERFECTLY KEPT. But WE are unable to keep it, therefore OUR SPONSOR FULFILLED IT FOR US! By the blood-shedding of our blessed Substitute the gates of Hell have been forever shut against all those for whom He died. By the perfect obedience of our blessed Surety the gates of Heaven are opened wide unto all who believe.

My title for standing before God, not only without fear, but in the conscious sunshine of His full favour, is because CHRIST has been made “righteousness” unto me (1 Cor. 1:30). Christ not only paid all my debts, but fully discharged all my responsibilities. THE LAW-GIVER IS MY LAW-FULFILLER! Every holy aspiration of Christ, every godly thought, every gracious word, every righteous act of the Lord Jesus, from Bethlehem to Calvary, unite in forming that “best robe” in which the seed royal stand arrayed before God.” [A.W. Pink]

Say “Praise the Lord!”

To contend that Noah or Abraham or Paul or for that matter any saint of God was saved by THEIR obedience betrays not only an ignorance of the truth but a marvelous blindness!

“Not by works of righteousness which WE have done, but according to HIS MERCY HE SAVED US, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost!” [Titus 3:5]

Thank you Lord Jesus!

BE YE THANKFUL CHRISTIAN

No shoes final

BE YE THANKFUL CHRISTIAN

John Bunyan

“Neither MURMUR YE, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer.” [1Cor 10:10]

“And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and BE YE THANKFUL.” [Col 3:15]

Wouldest thou grow in this grace of fear? Then take heed of A MURMURING AND REPINING HEART, for that is not a heart for this grace of fear to grow in. As for instance, when men murmur and repine at God’s hand, at His dispensations, and at the judgments that overtake them, in their persons, estates, families, or relations, their murmuring tendeth to destroy fear; FOR A MURMURING SPIRIT IS SUCH AN ONE AS SEEMS TO CORRECT GOD, and to find fault with His dispensations, and where there is that, the heart is far from fear.

A murmuring spirit either comes from that wisdom that pretends to understand that there is a failure in the nature and execution of things, or from an envy and spite at the execution of them. Now if murmurings arise from this pretended wisdom of the flesh, then instead of fearing of God, His actions are judged to be either rigid or ridiculous, which yet are done in judgment, truth, and righteousness. So that a MURMURING HEART CANNOT BE A GOOD ONE FOR THE FEAR OF GOD TO GROW IN.

Alas! the heart where that grows must be a soft one; as you have it in Job 23:15, 16; and a heart that will stoop and be silent at the most abstruse of all His judgments.

“I was dumb, because THOU didst it.” (Psalm 39:9) The heart in which this fear of God doth flourish is such, that it bows and is mute, if it can but catch sight of the hand, wisdom, justice, or the holiness of God in this or the other of his dispensations, and so stirs up the soul to fear before Him. But if this murmuring ariseth from envy and spite, that looketh so like to the spirit of the devil, that nothing need be said to give conviction of the horrible wickedness of it.

– Excerpt from ‘The Fear of God’ by John Bunyan.

TAKING THE CUP OF SALVATION

Cup of salvation final

TAKING THE CUP OF SALVATION

C.H. Spurgeon

“What shall I render unto the LORD for all His benefits toward me? I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the Name of the LORD.” [Psalm 116:12,13]

I will take the cup of salvation. “I will take” is a strange answer to the question, “What shall I render?” and yet it is the wisest reply that could possibly be given.

“The best return for one like me,
So wretched and so poor,
Is from His gifts to draw a plea
And ask Him still for more.”

To take the cup of salvation was in itself an act of worship, and it was accompanied with other forms of adoration, hence the Psalmist says, and call upon the name of the LORD. He means that he will utter blessings and thanksgivings and prayers, and then drink of the cup which the Lord had filled with His saving grace. What a cup this is! Upon the table of infinite love stands the cup full of blessing; it is ours by faith to take it in our hand, make it our own, and partake of it, and then with joyful hearts to laud and magnify the gracious One who has filled it for our sakes that we may drink and be refreshed.

We can do this figuratively at the sacramental table, and we can do it spiritually every time we grasp the golden chalice of the covenant, realizing the fulness of blessing which it contains, and by faith receiving its divine contents into our inmost soul. Beloved reader, let us pause here and take a long and deep draught from the cup which Jesus filled, and then with devout hearts let us worship God.

Let God’s afflictions be what they can be, yet I will always acknowledge they can never be in any degree so great as His benefits: and oh, that I could think of something that I might render to Him for all his benefits: for shall I receive such great, such infinite benefits from Him, and shall I render nothing to Him by way of gratefulness? But, alas, WHAT HAVE I TO RENDER? ALL MY RENDERING TO HIM WILL BE BUT TAKING MORE FROM HIM: for all I can do is but to take the cup of salvation, and call upon His Name, and what rendering is there in this taking?

If I could take the cup of tribulation, and drink it off for His sake, this might be a rendering of some value; but this, God knows, is no work for me to do. It was His work, who said, “Can ye drink of the cup, of which I shall drink?” Indeed, HE drank of the cup of tribulation, to the end that WE might take the cup of salvation; but then in taking it we must call upon His name; UPON HIS NAME AND UPON NO OTHER; or else we shall make it a CUP OF CONDEMNATION, seeing there is NO OTHER NAME UNDER HEAVEN, IN WHICH WE MAY BE SAVED, BUT ONLY THE NAME OF JESUS!

FORGETTING THOSE THINGS WHICH ARE BEHIND!

Remorse

FORGETTING THOSE THINGS WHICH ARE BEHIND!

There are two things that usually bring the Christian down: they are : REMORSE OVER THE PAST, AND WORRY OVER THE FUTURE; and God’s word forbids from doing EITHER. What has happened till now is past and there is little we can do to undo it. It is what men term as ‘water under the bridge’.

But for the Christian there is always hope no matter how bad his/her past may have been. The Apostle’s admonition is – “forgetting those things WHICH ARE BEHIND, and reaching forth unto those things WHICH ARE BEFORE”! [Phil 3:13] Now this is easily said than done. Memories of the past constantly haunt us and the results of our past mistakes most often stare us in the face. And if we were without God like most the worldly people the future would be pretty bleak. But we have a God who is SOVEREIGN and with whom ALL THINGS are possible.

Our God can and does overrule any mistake or sins of our past for His glory! In the Old Testament the Lord told His people- “I will RESTORE to you the years that the locust hath eaten, the cankerworm, and the caterpiller, and the palmerworm, my great army which I sent among you. And ye shall eat in plenty, and be satisfied, and praise the name of the LORD your God, that hath dealt wondrously with you: and my people shall never be ashamed. And ye shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I am the LORD your God, and none else: and MY PEOPLE SHALL NEVER BE ASHAMED.”! [Joel 2:25]

Now ponder the above verse very prayerfully! God says He can and will restore what you think may hopelessly be lost, and in the end you will never be ashamed.

This is one of the amazing things about God. He can take our broken dreams and make a miracle out of our lives.

The more we learn how sovereign our God is, the more we can be assured that He is in COMPLETE CONTROL of all that has transpired in our lives. If you are a Christian, then you know that God did not spare His only begotten Son to save you. Now THAT is the ultimate expression of love. One may sacrifice their child to save a FRIEND, but only God sacrificed His Son to save His ENEMIES. “For if, when WE WERE ENEMIES, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life”! [Rom 5:10]

Seeing that He has given His well beloved to save our wretched souls, will He now trick or trap us into ruin? “Oh but I brought all this on myself by MY OWN wrong decisions”! In a certain sense this is true, but in a deeper sense it is God who has been guiding you in all the decisions you have made! “A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps”! [Prov 16:9]. Again, “A Man’s goings are OF THE LORD; how can a man then understand his own way”? [Prov 20:24]

The Patriarch Job was so established and confident of God’s ‘Absolute Sovereignty’ that in spite of all the evil that befell him, he could confidently affirm – “But HE KNOWETH the way that I take: when He hath tried me, I shall COME FORTH AS GOLD”! [Job 23:10]

One thing that I have learnt during these twenty six years as a Christian is that the Lord is sovereignly overruling ALL OUR DECISIONS for His glory and for our ultimate good! Unless we grasp this amazing truth, we shall be miserable in this vale of tears. ‎”The misfortunes and adversities of life, so called, assume a different color when we look at them through this glass of Absolute Predestination. It is sad to hear people trying to live over their lives again and saying to themselves: ‘IF I had chosen a different profession,’ ‘IF I had taken a different turning of the road,’ ‘IF I had married another person.’ Etc. All this is weak and unChristian. The web of destiny we have woven, in a sense, with our own hands, and yet God had His part in it. It is GOD’S PART in it, and not our part, that gives us faith and hope.” [Clarence E. Macartney]

Dearly Beloved, this doctrine of Absolute Sovereignty is not a novelty amongst God’s people, but is as old as the Bible itself. This is what made Joseph affirm to his brethren, “ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good”! [Gen 50:20]. Knowledge of this doctrine is what made David say concerning Shimei when he cursed David, “let him curse, because the LORD hath said unto him, Curse David. Who shall then say, Wherefore hast thou done so”? [1Sam 16:10]. Finally when Judas would betray our Master, the Lord does not entreat him to repent, but rather says, “That thou doest, do quickly”! [Jn 13:27].

If a sparrow falleth not to the ground without the Father and if the hairs of our head are all numbered, then rest assured that ALL THINGS that transpire in the life of the believer are working together for his/her good. He began this good work in us and He alone will one day finish it and to Him alone will be all the Glory!

“The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house; his hands shall also finish it; and he shall bring forth the headstone thereof with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace unto it! Not by might, nor by power, but by My spirit, saith the LORD of hosts”! [Zech 4;6-8]

“Beloved, I would encourage you to constantly remind yourself of the Scripture where the Psalmist says that – “He (God) led them forth by the RIGHT WAY that they might go to a city of habitation.” Is that not amazing? For we read that “they (the Israelites) WANDERED:” and that their wanderings were in a “WILDERNESS,” where there were no TRACKED PATHS? And we read that it was “a solitary way”? How, then, could it be “a RIGHT WAY,” where there was no way at all? Yet the Spirit of God says, that it WAS the “right way.” Reason, sense, and nature, have to hold their peace. Because, nature never can understand how a way of trouble, of temptation, of exercise, of sorrow, of perplexity can be the right way. But GOD NEVER MEANT NATURE, SENSE, AND REASON TO UNDERSTAND IT. The Lord gives faith to His dear people, that His dealings may be believed in, not reasoned upon; and He raises up this precious gift of the Spirit in their soul, not that they may confer with nature, sense, and reason, but that they may believe His own testimony in their heart and conscience. For this reason God leads His people by such paths as are directly contrary to nature, sense, and reason, in order to baffle them!

By faith, then, only can we understand how it is “a right way.” And when faith is in exercise, then it is known to be “a right way.” Our losses, our crosses, our trials in providence, our afflictions of body, our perplexities of mind, our sorrows of heart, – all are then to us “a right way.” ‘Once,’ you say, ‘they were a labyrinth: I could not find my way through them: they were an enigma, which I could not unravel. But soon you will see that those things, which so puzzled, perplexed, and tried me, led to your greatest blessings. I could not,’ you will say, ‘see the hand of the Lord at THAT TIME: but how plainly do I see it NOW? In that painful dispensation, that agony of soul, that trouble of mind, that distressing path, how plainly do I see NOW that the Lord’s hand was leading me”! [J.C. Philpot]

And the Lord is not done yet, Beloved! He will CONTINUE to lead you and ultimately bring you into your desired haven!

He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still. Then are they glad because they be quiet; so He bringeth them unto their DESIRED HAVEN. Oh that men would praise the LORD for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men! [Psa 107:29-31]

Love

Michael Jeshurun!

P.S. If I could, would I go back and change anything in my life? Trust me, actually NO! This path which He has brought me through is the BEST for me. For had there been a better path, HE who loved me enough to die for me would have brought me that way! Hallelujah!

CONTEMPLATING THE SOVEREIGN GOD OF THE SCRIPTURES

Contemplation of God

CONTEMPLATING THE SOVEREIGN GOD OF THE SCRIPTURES

Compiled by Michael Jeshurun

If the contemplation of God does not ‘blow your mind’, then he is probably not THE GOD of the Bible you are contemplating. If the God you believe in can be understood and explained to satisfy your peanut brain, he is probably not THE GOD of the Bible! If after you are done with your preaching, the natural unregenerate man does not exclaim- “that is not MY idea of God” or “that is not the God of love I believe in” you probably haven’t preached it right!

As Boettner rightly said- “If the Gospel does not startle and terrify and amaze a man when presented to him, it is not the true Gospel”!

It has been well said that, “Nothing will so enlarge the intellect, nothing so magnify the whole soul of man, as a devout, earnest, continued, investigation of the great subject of the Deity. The most excellent study for expanding the soul is the science of Christ and Him crucified and the knowledge of the Godhead in the glorious Trinity.” (C. H. Spurgeon).

Let us quote a little further from this prince of preachers.

The proper study of the Christian is the God-head. The highest science, the loftiest speculation, the mightiest philosophy, which can engage the attention of a child of God, is the name, the nature, the person, the doings, and the existence of the great God which he calls his Father. There is something exceedingly improving to the mind in a contemplation of the Divinity. It is a subject so vast, that all our thoughts are lost in its immensity; so deep, that our pride is drowned in its infinity. Other subjects we can comprehend and grapple with; in them we feel a kind of self-content, and go on our way with the thought, “Behold I am wise.” But when we come to this master science, finding that our plumb-line cannot sound its depth, amid that our eagle eye cannot see its height, we turn away with the thought “I am but of yesterday and know nothing.” (Sermon on Mal. 3:6).

Yes, the incomprehensibility of the Divine nature should teach us humility, caution and reverence. After all our searchings and meditations we have to say with Job, “Lo, these are parts of His ways: but how little a portion is heard of Him!” (26:14). When Moses besought Jehovah for a sight of His glory, He answered him “I will proclaim the name of the Lord before thee” (Ex. 33:19), and, as another has said, “the name is the collection of His attributes.”

Rightly did the Puritan John Howe declare:
The notion therefore we can hence form of His glory, is only such as we may have of a large volume by a brief synopsis, or of a spacious country by a little landscape. He hath here given us a true report of Himself, but not a full; such as will secure our apprehensions—being guided thereby—from error, but not from ignorance. We can apply our minds to contemplate the several perfections whereby the blessed God discovers to us His being, and can in our thoughts attribute them all to Him, though we have still but low and defective conceptions of each one. Yet so far as our apprehensions can correspond to the discovery that He affords us of His several excellencies, we have a present view of His glory.

As the difference is indeed great between the knowledge of God which His saints have in this life and that which they shall have in Heaven, yet, as the former should not be undervalued because it is imperfect, so the latter is not to be magnified above its reality. True, the Scripture declares that we shall see “face to face” and “know” even as we are known (1 Cor. 13:12), but to infer from this that we shall then know God as fully as He knows us, is to be misled by the mere sound of words, and to disregard that restriction of the same which the subject necessarily requires. There is a vast difference between the saints being glorified and their being made Divine. In their glorified state, Christians will still be finite creatures, and therefore, never able to fully comprehend the infinite God.

The saints in heaven will see God with the eye of the mind, for He will be always invisible to the bodily eye; and will see Him more clearly than they could see Him by reason and faith, and more extensively than all His works and dispensations had hitherto revealed Him; but their minds will not be so enlarged as to be capable of contemplating at once, or in detail, the whole excellence of His nature. To comprehend infinite perfection, they must become infinite themselves. Even in Heaven, their knowledge will be partial, but at the same time their happiness will be complete, because their knowledge will be perfect in this sense, that it will be adequate to the capacity of the subject, although it will not exhaust the fulness of the object. We believe that it will be progressive, and that as their views expand, their blessedness will increase; but it will never reach a limit beyond which there is nothing to be discovered; and when ages after ages have passed away, He will still be the incomprehensible God. (John Dick, 1840).

ARE YOU ON THE ROAD TO HEAVEN OR HELL?

Heaven or Hell

ARE YOU ON THE ROAD TO HEAVEN OR HELL?

Augustus Toplady

The readers of this address, and indeed the whole world at large, may be distributed into two kinds of people: those who are travelling to Canaan, and those who are going the direct contrary way. There are but two roads: the broad, which leadeth to destruction, and the narrow, which opens into life. Travelers all mankind are; and travellers at a very swift rate.

The grand point is, Where are you travelling to?

Are you desirous of knowing whither your footsteps tend, and toward what country thy face is set?

If so, have recourse to the Scriptures of truth, but study them on your knees; that is, in a spirit of prayer, and with the simplicity of a little child.

Suppose, for instance, that we look at John 16:8, where Christ thus describes the office of the Holy Ghost, and the effects which His converting influences have on the human mind: “When ‘He is come He shall convince the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment”; that is, He shall, first, feelingly demonstrate to them their absolute sinnership, and their total helplessness, working in them a deep sense and real hatred of self and sin; and He shall, secondly, lead them to rest on Christ, and on His righteousness alone, for justification.

Now, has God the Spirit done these things for you?

Has He wrought, or begun to work these convictions in your soul?

If He has not, nor so much as kindled a growing desire after Christ and His salvation in your breast, I dare not give you the right hand of fellowship. I dare not salute you as one of my fellow-travelers to the kingdom of God.

No, you are yet in Egypt, and you will quickly be in hell, except the Holy Ghost take you in hand, and give you a new heart, and lead you to Christ.

But if you have ground to hope that this work of grace is experienced by you in some degree; if, on looking at your soul in the gospel-glass, you can discern the traces of faith, love, repentance and sanctification there, you are of the number of those who have been enabled, through grace, to set forth to go into the land of Canaan, and into the land of Canaan you shall come.

Two things are particularly needful for you to observe:

1. That the world will endeavour to turn your feet out of the narrow way. If the wicked are so muzzled by Providence that they cannot bite, they will snarl at least. If they cannot do you real injury, they will probably pelt you with scandal, and sneer at you for being, in their opinion, righteous over-much. But let not this discourage you ~ but imitate the blind man in the gospel, who the more he was exhorted by the multitude to hold his peace, cried out so much the more, “Thou Son of David, have mercy on me.”

2. Beware of sin. May you be enabled to shun the remotest appearance of evil. Though a truly converted, person cannot fall, so as to turn back finally and perish everlastingly; yet, if he is not kept watching unto prayer, he may lose his peace and joy in believing, and that inward testimony of the Holy Spirit, that felt fellowship with God, and that sweet tranquility of conscience, without which living scarcely deserves the name of life.

It is a sad thing when a saint is overturned on the road. Though he cannot lose his soul, yet a fall may break the neck of his comforts, and make him go halting to his journey’s end. “The devil,” as one justly remarks, “is never better pleased than when he can roll a child of God in the dirt.” Beg of the Lord, therefore, to hold up your goings in His paths, that your footsteps slip not.

Yet, if you should fall, be humbled, but do not despair. May you be led to pray afresh to God, who is able to raise you up, and to set you on your feet again, and helped to look to the blood of the covenant, and say to the Lord from the depth of your heart,

“Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee,
Foul, I to the fountain fly,
Wash me, Saviour, or I die.”

It has been justly observed that “it is one thing to fall into the mire, and another thing to lie in it.” When the Lord has graciously restored you, you will look upon sin as the bitterest calamity that can befall you, and consider those who would entice you to it as the very worst enemies you have.
Soon shall we arrive where not only sin, but every temptation to it and every propensity toward it will cease for ever. As a good man once said on his deathbed, “Hold out, faith and patience! Yet a little while, and I shall need you no longer.”

When faith and patience have done and suffered their appointed work, the disciples of Christ shall ascend from the wilderness to paradise. Then will they be able to say, “Called by the Lord’s effectual grace, we went forth into the land of Canaan; and, clothed with His righteousness and preserved by His power, into the land of Canaan we are come.” Even so, Amen.

[Taken from an address by Augustus Montague Toplady on Genesis 12:5.]

ARE YOU A ‘THORNY GROUND’ HEARER?

Choke the Word final

ARE YOU A ‘THORNY GROUND’ HEARER?

C.H. Spurgeon

“And these are they which are sown among thorns; such as hear the Word, And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the Word, and it becometh unfruitful!” [Mark 4:18,19]

Fruit-bearing made the difference appear in the various soils upon which the sower scattered seed. You would not so certainly have known the quality if you had not seen the failure or success of the seed. We do not know your hearts until we see your bearing toward the Gospel. If it produces in you holiness and love to God and humanity, then we know that there is good soil in you; but if you are merely promising people, but not performing people, then we know that the ground of your heart is hard, or stony, or thorny.

The Word of the Lord tries the hearts of the children of men, and in this it is as the fire which distinguishes between metal and dross. O my dear hearers, you undergo a test today! Peradventure you will be judging the preacher, but a greater than the preacher will be judging you, for the Word itself shall judge you. You sit here as a jury upon yourselves; your own condition will be brought clearly out by the way in which you receive or refuse the Gospel of God. If you bring forth fruit to the praise of God’s grace, well; but if not, however you may seem to hear with attention and may retain what you hear in your memories, if no saving effect is produced upon your souls we shall know that the soil of your heart has not been prepared of the Lord and remains in its native barrenness.

First let me deal with those of you who hear the Word attentively, and, in a sense, receive it into your hearts and understandings, so that the seed grows in you, though its fruit never comes to perfection. You are religious persons, and to all appearance you are under the influence of godliness. You exhibit plenty of leaf, but there is no corn in the ear, no substance in your Christianity.

Those described in my text were not only hearers, but in a measure THEY ACCEPTED THE GOOD WORD. The seed fell not only on this ground, but into it, so that it began to grow. Of you it is true that you do not refuse the Gospel, or raise disputes concerning it. I am glad that you have no difficulties about the inspiration of Scripture, or the Deity of our Lord, or the fact of His atonement. You do not befog yourselves with “modern thought,” but you avow your belief in the old, old Gospel. So far so good; but what shall I make of the strange fact that your acceptance of the truth has no effect upon you? It is a very lamentable case, is it not, that a person should believe the Gospel to be true, and yet should live as if it were a lie? If it is the truth, why do you not yield obedience to it? The person knows that there is an atonement for sin, but he has never confessed his sin and accepted the great sacrifice. Those great truths, which circle about the Cross like a coronet of stars, he has seen their beauty and enjoyed their brilliance, but he has never allowed their light to enter his heart and find a reflection in his moral character. This is evil, only evil.

If you believe the truth, what do you more than the Devil? No, you are behind him, for he believes, AND TREMBLES, and you have not gone so far as the trembling. It should be so, that every great truth which is believed should influence the mind, sway the thoughts, and mold the life. This is the natural fruitage of great spiritual truth. The doctrine of grace, when it takes possession of the mind and governs the heart, produces the purest results; but if it is held in unrighteousness, it is a curse rather than a blessing to have a HEAD KNOWLEDGE. Is it not a dreadful thing to believe God’s revelation without receiving God’s Spirit? This is to accept a well, but never to drink of the water; to accept corn in the barn, and yet die of hunger. God have mercy upon the possessors of a dead faith!

The seed sown among thorns LIVED AND CONTINUED TO GROW. And in many people’s minds the Gospel of divine truth is growing after a fashion: they understand it better, can defend it more valorously, and speak of it more fluently. Moreover, it does influence them in some form and degree, for gross vices are forsaken. They are decent imitations of believers: you can see the shape of an ear: the stalk has struggled up through the thorns until you can see its head, and you are led to expect corn. But go to that apparent wheat-ear, and feel it: there are the sheaths but there is nothing in them; you have all the makings of an ear of wheat, but it will yield no grain. I would speak to those before me who, perhaps, have been baptized and are members of the church; I want to ask of them a question or two. Do you not think that there is a great deal of empty profession nowadays?

Do you not think that many have a name to live and are dead? “Yes,” say you, “I know a neighbor whom I judge to be in that condition.” May not another neighbor judge the same of you? Would it not be well to raise the question about yourself? Have you really believed in the Lord Jesus? Are you truly converted from sin and self? Turn that sharp eye of yours homeward for a while. Examine your own actions, and judge your condition by them. Put yourself into the crucible. O my God, what if I should be a preacher to others, and should be myself a castaway!

Will not every deacon and elder, and every individual church member, speak to himself after the same fashion. You will go to your Sunday school class this afternoon; will you be teaching the children what you do not know? You mean to go to a meeting this evening and talk to others about conversion; will you be exhorting them to that which you have never yourself experienced? Will it be so? You do not need fine preaching, but you do need probing in the conscience. A thorough examination will do the healthy no harm, and it may bless the sick. “Lord, let me know the worst of my case,” is one of my frequent prayers, and I suggest it to you.

I would speak a little about THE THORNS. They are by Matthew described as “the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches.” Luke adds, “and pleasures of this life,” and Mark still further mentions, “the lusts of other things.” I suppose that the sower did not see any thorns when he threw the handful of corn; they had all been cut down level with the surface. He probably hoped that it was all good ground, and therefore he sowed it little suspecting that the thorns were in possession.

Note well that THORNS ARE NATURAL TO THE SOIL. Since the fall these are the firstborn children of the ground. Any evil which hinders religion is not at all an extraordinary thing—it is what we ought to expect among fallen human beings. Grace is an exotic; thorns are indigenous. Sin is very much at home in the human heart and, like an ill weed, it grows apace. If you wish to go to heaven, I might take a little time to show you the way, and I would need to stir you up to diligence; but if you must go to hell—well, “easy is the way to destruction”—it is only a little matter of neglect. “How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation?”

Evil things are easy things: for they are natural to our fallen nature. Right things are rare flowers that need cultivation. If any of you are being injured by the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches, I am not astonished; it is natural that it should be so. Therefore, be on your guard against these mischiefs. I pray you say to yourself, “Come, there is something in this man’s talk. He is very slow and dull, but still there is something in what he says. I may, after all, be tolerating those thorns in my heart which will kill the good seed, for I am of like passions and infirmities with other people.” I beseech you look to yourselves, that you be not deceived at the last.

THE THORNS WERE ALREADY ESTABLISHED IN THE SOIL. They were not only the natural inhabitants of the soil, but they were rooted and fixed in it. Our sins within us claim the freehold of our faculties, and they will not give it up if they can help it. They will not give way to the Holy Spirit, or to the new life, or to the influences of divine grace, without a desperate struggle. The roots of sin run through and through our nature, grasp it with wonderful force, and keep up their grasp with marvelous tenacity. O my dear hearer, whoever you may be, you are a fallen creature! If you were the Pope himself, or the President of the United States, or the Queen of England, it would be true of you that you were born in sin and shapen in iniquity, and your unregenerate heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked.

The established church of the town of Mansoul has the Devil for its archbishop!

Sin has enclasped our nature as a boa constrictor encircles its victim, and when it has maintained its hold for twenty, forty, or sixty years, I hope you are not so foolish as to think that holy things will easily get the mastery. Our evil nature is radically conservative, and it will endeavor to crush out every attempt at a revolution by which the grace of God should reign through righteousness. Wherefore, watch and pray, lest temptation choke that which is good in you. Watch earnestly, for grace is a tender plant in a foreign soil, in an uncongenial clime, while sin is in its own element, and is strongly rooted in the soil.

Do you know why so many professing Christians are like the thorny ground? It is because processes have been omitted which would have gone far to alter the condition of things. It was the husbandman’s business to uproot the thorns, or burn them on the spot. Years ago when people were converted, there used to be such a thing as conviction of sin. The great subsoil plow of soul-anguish was used to tear deep into the soul. Fire also burned in the mind with exceeding heat: as people saw sin and felt its dreadful results, the love of it was burned out of them. But now we are dinned with braggings about rapid salvations. As for myself, I believe in instantaneous conversions, and I am glad to see them; but I am still more glad when I see a thorough work of grace, a deep sense of sin, and an effectual wounding by the law. We shall never get rid of thorns with plows that scratch the surface.

Those fields grow the best corn which are best plowed. Converts are likely to endure when the thorns cannot spring up because they have been plowed up. Dear hearer, are you undergoing today a very severe conviction of sin? Thank God for it. Are you in awful trouble and anguish? Do not think that a calamity has happened to you. May God Himself continue to plow you, and then sow you, and make sure work in you for years to come!

Read the full sermon . . . .

http://www.romans45.org/spurgeon/sermons/2040.htm