The Voice of My Beloved (Christ)

The Voice of My Beloved (Christ)

Robert M`Cheyne

“The voice of my beloved! Behold, he cometh leaping upon the mountains, skipping upon the hills. My beloved is like a roe, or a young hart; behold;, he standeth behind our wall, he looketh forth at the windows, showing himself through the lattice. My beloved spake, and said unto me, Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away. For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; the flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land; the fig-tree putteth forth her green figs, and the vines with the tender grape give a good smell. Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away. O my dove, that art in the clefts of the rock, in the secret places of the stairs, let me see thy countenance, let me hear thy voice; for sweet is thy voice, and thy countenance is comely. Take us the foxes, the little foxes that spoil the vines; for our vines have tender grapes. My beloved is mine, and I am his; he feedeth among the lilies. Until the day break, and the shadows flee away, turn, my beloved, and be thou like a roe, or a young hart, upon the mountains of Bether.” Song of Solomon 2:8-17

There is no book of the Bible which affords a better test of the depth of a man’s Christianity than the Song of Solomon. (1.) If a man’s religion be all in his head – a well-set form of doctrines, built like mason-work, stone above stone – but exercising no influence upon his heart, this book cannot but offend him; for there are no stiff statements of doctrine here upon which his heartless religioin may be built. (2.) Or, if a man’s religion be all in his fancy – if, like Pliable in the Pilgrim’s Progress, he be taken with the outward beauty of Christianity – if, like the seed sown upon the rocky ground, his religion is fixed only in the surface faculties of the mind, while the heart remain rocky and unmoved; though he will relish this book much more than the first man, still there is a mysterious breathing of intimate affextion in it, which cannot but stumble and offend him. (3.) But if a man’s religion be heart religion – if he hath not only doctrines in his head, but love to Jesus in his heart – if he hath not only heard and read of the Lord Jesus, but hath felt his need of Him, and been brought to cleave unto Him, as the chiefest among ten thousand, and the altogether lovely, then this book will be inestimably precious to his soul; for it contains the tenderest breathings of the believer’s heart towards the Saviour, and the tenderest breathings of the Saviour’s heart again towards the believer.

“The matter of it is totally sublime, spiritual, and mystical; and the manner of its handling universally allegorical.” – John Owen

It is agreed among the best interpreters of this book – (1.) That is consists not of one song, but of many songs; (2.) That these songs are in a dramatic form; and (3.) That, like the parables of Christ, they contain a spiritual meaning, under the dress and ornaments of some poetical incident.

The passage which I have read forms one of these dramatically songs, and the subject of it is, a sudden visit which an Eastern bride receives from her absent lord. The bride is represented to us as sitting lonely and desolate in a kiosk, or Eastern Arbour – a place of safety and of retirement in the gardens of the East – described by modern travellers as “an arbour surrounded by a green wall, covered with vines and jess amines, with windows of lattice-work.”

The mountains of Bether (or, as it is on the margin, the mounts of division), the mountains that separate her from her beloved, appear almost impassable. They look so steep and craggy, that she fears he will never be able to come over them to visit her any more. Her garden possesses no loveliness to entice her to walk forth. All nature seems to partake in her sadness; winter reigns without and within; no flowers appear on the earth; all the singing birds appear to be sad and silent upon the trees; and the turtle’s voice of love is not heard in the land.

It is while she is sitting thus lonely and desolate that the voice of her beloved strikes upon her ear. Love is quick in hearing the voice that is loved; and therefore she hears sooner than all her maidens, and the song opens with her bursting exclamation, “The voice of my beloved!” When she sat in her solitude, the mountains between her and her lord seemed nearly impassable, they were so lofty and so steep; but now she sees with what swiftness and ease he can come over these mountains, so that she can compare him to nothing else but the gazelle, or the young hart, the loveliest and swiftest creatures of the mountains. “My beloved is like a roe, or a young hart.” Yea, while she is speaking, already he has arrived at the garden wall; and now, behold, “he looketh in at the window, showing himself through the lattice.” The bride next relates to us the gentle invitation, which seems to have been the song of her beloved as he came so swiftly over the mountains. While she sat alone, all nature seemed dead – winter reigned; but now he tells her that he has brought the spring-time along with him. “Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away. For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; the flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land. The fig-tree putteth forth her green figs, and the vines with the tender grape give a good smell. Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away.” Moved by this pressing invitation, she comes forth from her place of retirement into the presence of her lord, and clings to him like (a) timorous dove to the clefts of the rock; and then he addresses her in these words of tenderest and most delicate affection: “O my dove, that art in the clefts of the rock, in the secret places of the precipice, let me see thy countenance, let me hear thy voice; for sweet is thy voice, and thy countenance is comely.” Joyfully agreeing to go forth with her lord, she yet remembers that this is the season of greatest danger to her vines, from the foxes which gnaw the bark of the vines; and therefore she will not go forth without leaving this command of caution to her maidens: “Take us the foxes, the little foxes that spoil the vines, for our vines have tender grapes.” She then renews the covenant of her espousals with her beloved, in these words of appropriating affection: “My beloved is mine, and I am his; let him feed among the lilies.” And last of all, because she knows that this season of intimate communion will not last, since her beloved must hurry away again over the mountains, she will not suffer him to depart without beseeching him that he will often renew these visits of love, till that happy day dawn when they shall not need to be separated any more: “Until the day break, and the shadows flee away, turn, my beloved, and be thou like a roe, or a young hart upon the mountains of Bether.”

We might well challenge the whole world of genius to produce in any language a poem such as this – so short, so comprehensive, so delicately beautiful. But what is far more to our present purpose, there is no part of the Bible which opens up more beautifully some of the innermost experience of the believer’s heart.

Let us now, then, look at the parable as a description of one of those visits which the Saviour often pays to believing souls, when He manifests himself unto them in that other way than He doeth unto the world.

I.  WHEN THE BELIEVER IS ALONE

When Christ is away from the soul of the believer, he sits alone

We saw in the parable, that, when her lord was away, the bride sat lonely and desolate. She did not call for the young and gay to cheer her solitary hours. She did not call for the harp of the minstrel to soothe her in her solitude. There was no pipe, nor tabret, nor wine at her feasts. No, she sat alone. The mountains seemed all but impassable. All nature partook of her sadness. If she could not be glad in the light of her lord’s countenance, she was resolved to be glad in nothing else. She sat lonely and desolate. Just so it is with the true believer in Jesus. Whatever be the mountains of Bether that have come between his soul and Christ, – whether he hath been seduced into his old sins, so that “his iniquities have separated again between him and his God, and his sins have hid his face from Him, that He will not hear,” – or whether the Saviour hath withdrawn for a season the comfortable light of his presence for the mere trial of his servant’s faith, to see, if, when he “walketh in darkness and hath no light, he will still trust in the name of the Lord, and stay himself upon his God,” – whatever the mountains of separation be, it is the sure mark of the believer that he sits desolate and alone. He cannot laugh away his heavy care, as worldly men can do. He cannot drown it in the bowl of intemperance, as poor blinded men can do. Even the innocent intercourse of human friendship brings no balm to his wound – nay, even fellowship with the children of God is now distasteful to his soul. He cannot enjoy what he enjoyed before, when they that feared the Lord spoke often one to another. The mountains between him and the Saviour seem so vast and impassable, that he fears He will never visit him more. All nature partakes of his sadness – winter reigns without and within. He sits alone, and is desolate. Being afflicted, he prays; and the burden of his prayer is the same with that of an ancient believer: “Lord, if I may not be made glad with the light of thy countenance, grant that I may be made glad with nothing else; for joy without thee is death.”

Ah! my friends, do you know anything of this sorrow? Do you know what it is thus to sit alone and be desolate, because Jesus is out of view? If you do, then rejoice, if it be possible, even in the midst of your sadness! for this very sadness is one of the marks that you are a believer – that you find all your peace and all your joy in union with the Saviour.

But ah, how contrary is the way with most of you! You know nothing of this sadness. Yes, perhaps you make a mock at it. You can be happy and contented with the world, though you have never got a sight of Jesus. You can be merry with your companions, though the blood of Jesus has never whispered peace to your soul. Ah, how plain that you are hastening on to the place where “there is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked!”

II.  CHRIST’S COMING TO THE BELIEVER

Christ’s coming to the desolate believer is often sudden and wonderful

We saw in the parable, that it was when the bride was sitting lonely and desolate that she heard suddenly the voice of her lord. Love is quick in hearing; and she cries out, “The voice of my beloved!” Before, she thought the mountains all but impassable; but now she can compare his swiftness to nothing but that of the gazelle or the young hart. Yea, whilst she speaks, he is at the wall – at the window – showing himself through the lattice. Just so is it often with the believer. While he sits alone and desolate, the mountains of separation appear a vast and impassable barrier to the Saviour, and he fears He may never come again. The mountains of a believer’s provocations are often very great. “That I should have sinned again, who have been washed in the blood of Jesus. It is little that other men should sin against Him; they never knew him – never loved Him as I have done. Surely I am the chief of sinners, and have sinned away my Saviour. The mountains of my provocations hath grown up to heaven, and He never can come over it any more.” Thus it is that the believer writes bitter things against himself; and then it is that oftentimes he hears the voice of his beloved. Some text of the word, or some word from a Christian friend, or some part of a sermon, again reveals Jesus in all his fulness – the Saviour of sinners, even the chief. Or it may be that He makes himself known to the disconsolate soul in the breaking of bread, and when He speaks the gentle words, “This is my body, broken for you; this cup is the New Testament in my blood, shed for the remission of the sins of many; drink ye all of it,” – then he cannot but cry out, “The voice of my beloved! Behold, He cometh leaping upon the mountains, skipping upon the hills.”

Ah! my friends, do you know anything of this joyful surprise? If you do, why should you ever sit down despairing, as if the Lord’s hand were shortened at all that He cannot save, or as if his ears were grown heavy that He cannot hear? In the darkest hour say, “Why art thou cast down, O my soul? And why art thou disquieted within me? Still trust in God, for I shall yet praise Him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.” Come expectingly to the word. Do not come with that listless indifference, as if nothing that a fellow-worm can say were worth your hearing. It is not the word of man, but the word of the living God. Come with large expectations, and then you will find the promise true, that He filleth the hungry with good things, though He sends the rich empty away.

III.  CHRIST’S COMING CHANGES ALL THINGS

Christ’s coming changes all things to the believer, and his love is more tender than ever

We saw in the parable that when the bride was desolate and alone, all nature was steeped in sadness. Her garden possessed no charms to draw her forth, for winter reigned without and within. But when her lord came so swiftly over the mountains, he brought the spring along with him. All nature is changed as he advances, and his invitation is, “For the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; arise, my love, my fair one, and come away.” Just so it is with the believer when Christ is away; all is winter to the soul. But when He comes again over the mountains of provocation, He brings a gladsome spring-time along with Him. When that Sun of Righteousness arises afresh upon the soul, not only do his gladdening rays fall upon the believer’s soul, but all nature rejoices in his joy. The mountains and hills burst forth before Him into singing, and all the trees of the field clap their hands. It is like a change of season to the soul. It is like that sudden change from the pouring rains of a dreary winter to the full blushing spring, which is so peculiar to the climes of the sun.

The world of nature is all changed. Instead of the thorn comes up the fir-tree, and instead of the brier comes up the mirtle-tree. Every tree and field possesses a new beauty to the happy soul. The world of grace is all changed. The Bible was all dry and meaningless before; now, what a flood of light is poured over its pages! how full, how fresh, how rich in meaning, how its simplest phrases touch the heart! The house of prayer was all sad and dreary before – its services were dry and unsatisfactory; but now, when the believer sees the Saviour, as he hath seen Him heretofore within his holy place, his cry is: “How amiable are thy tabernacles, O Lord of Hosts! a day in thy courts is better than a thousand.” The garden of the Lord was all sad and cheerless before; now tenderness towards the unconverted springs up afresh, and love to the people of God burns in the bosom – then they that fear the Lord speak often one to another. The time of the singing the praises of Jesus is come, and the turtle voice of love to Jesus is once more heard in the land: the Lord’s vine flourishes, and the pomegranate buds, and Christ’s voice to the soul is, “Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away.”

As the timorous dove pursued by the vulture, and well-nigh made a prey, with fluttering anxious wing, hides itself deeper than ever in the clefts of the rock, and in the secret places of the precipice, so the backslidden believer, whom Satan has desired to have, that he might sift him as wheat, when he is restored once more to the all-gracious presence of his Lord, clings to Him with fluttering, anxious faith, and hides himself deeper than ever in the wounds of his Saviour. Thus it was that the fallen Peter, when he had so grievously denied his Lord, yet, when brought again within sight of the Saviour, standing upon the shore, was the only one of the disciples who girt his fisher’s coat unto him, and cast himself into the sea to swim to Jesus; and just as that backslidden apostle, when again he had hidden himself in the clefts of the Rock of Ages, found that the love of Jesus was more tender towards him than ever, when he began that conversation, which, more than all others in the Bible, combines the kindest of reproofs with the kindest of encouragements, “Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these?” just so does every backslidden believer find, that when again he is hidden in the freshly opened wounds of his Lord, the fountain of his love begins to flow afresh, and the stream of kindness and affection is fuller and more overflowing than ever, for his word is, “Oh, my dove, that art in the clefts of the rock, in the secret places of the precipice, let me see thy countenance, let me hear thy voice; for sweet is thy voice, and thy countenance is comely.”

Ah, my friends, do you know anything of this? Have you ever experienced such a coming of Jesus over the mountain of your provocations, as made a change of season to your soul? and have you, backslidden believer, found, when you hid yourself again deeper than ever in the clefts of the rock – like Peter girding his fisher’s coat unto him, and casting himself into the sea – have you found his love tendered than ever to your soul? Then, should not this teach you quick repentance when you have fallen? Why keep one moment away from the Saviour? Are you waiting till you wipe away the stain from your garments? Alas! what will wipe it off, but the blood you are despising? Are you waiting till you make yourself worthier of the Saviour’s favour? Alas! though you wait till all eternity, you can never make yourself worthier. Your sin and misery are your only plea. Come, and you will find with what tenderness He will heal your backslidings, and love you freely: and say, “Oh, my dove” etc.

IV.  CHRIST STIRS UP FEAR, LOVE AND HOPE

I observe the threefold disposition of fear, love and hope, which this visit of the Saviour stirs up in the believer’s bosom. These three form, as it were, a cord in the restored believer’s bosom, and a threefold cord is not easily broken.

1. Filial Fear

First of all, there is fear – As the bride in the parable would not go forth to enjoy the society of her lord, without leaving the command behind to her maidens to take the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines, so does every believer know and feel that the time of closest communion is also the time of greatest danger. It was when the Saviour had been baptized, and the Holy Ghost, like a dove, had descended upon Him, and a voice, saying, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased,” – it was then that He was driven into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil; and just so it is when the soul is receiving its highest privileges and comforts, that Satan and his ministers are nearest – the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines.

(1) Spiritual pride is near. When the soul is hiding in the wounds of the Saviour, and receiving great tokens of his love, then the heart begins to say, Surely I am somebody – how far I am above the everyday run of believers! This is one of the little foxes that eats out the life of vital godliness.
(2) There is making a Christ of your comforts – looking to them, and not to Christ – leaning upon them and not your beloved. This is another of the little foxes.
(3) There is the false notion that now you must surely be above sinning, and above the power of temptation, now you can resist all enemies. This is the pride that goes before a fall – another of the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines.

Never forget, I beseech you, that fear is a sure mark of a believer. Even when you feel that it is God that worketh in you, still the word saith, Work out your salvation with fear and trembling; – even when your joy is overflowing, still remember it is written, “Rejoice with trembling;” and again: “Be not high-minded, but fear.” Remember the caution of the bride, and say: “Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines, for our vines have tender grapes.”

2. Appropriating Love

But if cautious fear be a mark of a believer in such a season, still more is appropriating love. When Christ comes anew of mountains of provocation, and reveals himself to the soul free and full as ever, in another way than He doth unto the world, then the soul can say, “My beloved is mine, and I am his.” I do not say that the believer can use these words at all seasons. In times of darkness and in times of sinfulness the reality of a believer’s faith is to be measured rather by his sadness than by his confidence. But I do say, that in seasons when Christ reveals himself afresh to the soul, shining out like the sun from behind a cloud, with the beams of sovereign, unmerited love – then no other words will satisfy the true believer but these: “My beloved is mine, and I am his.” The soul sees Jesus to be so free a Saviour – so anxious that all should come to Him and have life – stretching out his hands all the day – having no pleasure in the death of the wicked – pleading with men: “Turn ye, turn ye, why will ye die?” The soul sees Jesus to be so fitting a Saviour – the very covering which the soul requires. When he first hid himself in Jesus, he found Him suitable to all his need – the shadow of a great rock in a weary land. But now he finds out a new fitness in the Saviour, as Peter did when he girt his fisher’s coat unto him, and cast himself into the sea. He finds that He is a fitting Saviour for a backsliding believer; that his blood can blot out even the stains of him who, having eaten bread with Him, has yet lifted up the heel against Him. The soul sees Jesus to be so full a Saviour – giving to the sinner not only pardons, but overflowing, immeasurable pardons – giving not only righteousness, but a righteousness that is more than mortal, for it is all divine – giving not only the Spirit, but pouring water on him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground. The soul sees all this in Jesus, and cannot but choose Him and delight in Him with a new and appropriating love, saying, “My beloved is mine.” And if any man ask, How darest thou, sinful worm, to call that Divine Saviour thine? the answer is here, For I am his: He chose me from all eternity, else I never would have chosen Him. He shed his blood for me, else I never would have shed a tear for Him. He cried after me, else I never would have breathed after Him. He sought after me, else I never would have sought after Him. He hath loved me, therefore I love Him. He hath chosen me, therefore I evermore choose Him. “My beloved is mine, and I am his.”

3. Prayerful Hope

But, lastly, if love be a mark of the true believer at such a season, so also is prayerful hope. It was the saying of a true believer, in an hour of high and wonderful communion with Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here!” My friend, you are no believer, if Jesus hath never manifested himself to your soul in your secret devotions – in the house of prayer, or in the breaking of bread – in so sweet and overpowering a manner, that you have cried out, “Lord, it is good for me to be here!” But though it be good and very pleasant, like sunlight to the eyes, yet the Lord sees that it is not wisest and best always to be there. Peter must come down again from the mount of glory, and fight the good fight of faith amid the shame and contumely of a cold and scornful world. And so must every child of God. We are not yet in heaven, the place of open vision and unbroken enjoyment. This is earth, the place of faith, and patience, and heavenward-pointing hope. One great reason why close and intimate enjoyment of the Saviour may not be constantly realized in the believer’s breast is, to give room for hope, the third string that forms the threefold cord. Even the most enlightened believers are walking here in a darksome night, or twilight at most; and the visits of Jesus to the soul do but serve to make the surrounding darkness more visible. But the night is far spent, the day is at hand. The day of eternity is breaking in the east. The Sun of Righteousness is hasting to rise upon our world, and the shadows are preparing to flee away. Till then, the heart of every true believer, that knows the preciousness of close communion with the Saviour, breathes the earnest prayer, that Jesus would often come again, thus wetly and suddenly, to lighten him in his darksome pilgrimage. Ah! yes, my friends, let every one who loves the Lord Jesus in sincerity, join now in the blessed prayer of the bride: “Until the day break, and the shadows flee away, turn, my beloved, and be thou like a roe or a young hart upon the mountains of Bether.”

FROM ITS FIRST STIRRINGS TO ITS FINAL CONSUMMATION, SALVATION IS OF THE LORD (2020)

FROM ITS FIRST STIRRINGS TO ITS FINAL CONSUMMATION, SALVATION IS OF THE LORD (2020)

Dr. N.R. Needham

Richard was a fairly recent convert to the Augustinian understanding of grace. One Sunday, he visited a church where the preacher seemed to go out of his way to show the congregation how utterly dependent on God they were for their spiritual life. There can be no self-reliance, he declared, no looking to ourselves; all goodness, all holiness flow from God to us. Why, even the very faith by which we believe and trust in God is itself His gift to sinners!

‘This is good,’ Richard thought. ‘The man has clearly grasped the sovereignty of grace in salvation. Augustine would be pleased with him.’ But alas, Richard’s verdict was premature. Suddenly the sermon went sensationally pear-shaped. After all the extolling of God as the giver of faith, the preacher suddenly added: ‘But of course, even though faith is God’s gift, we have to accept the gift by our free wills. We can refuse it if we choose. It’s up to us.’ By the time it was all over, Richard left church feeling rather deflated. ‘It’s up to us’ seemed a strange note on which to conclude a celebration of God’s grace.

Richard was right to feel deflated. If it is ultimately ‘up to us’ to make sure we accept the divine gift of faith, then manifestly God is not the giver of all our spiritual virtues [which is what the preacher in the church Richard was visiting had started out by saying]. Apparently, I have something in me, some act of my own, which reaches out and grasps God’s kind offer of faith. What is this ‘something’? It can’t be faith, because faith is what God is offering to give me. I don’t know how the preacher would have described this mysterious ‘something’. Repentance, perhaps? Can I repent by my own will, and God then crowns my cake of repentance with the icing of faith?

But where did the repentance come from? If I can repent by my own will, why can’t I believe and trust by my own will? Doesn’t the same Scripture that says faith is God’s gift [Eph.2:8, Phil.1:29] also say that repentance is His gift [Acts 5:31, 2 Tim.2:25]? Maybe the preacher would have acknowledged that repentance is God’s gift. But probably it would then have fared no better than faith. Probably the preacher would have said, ‘But of course, even though repentance is God’s gift, we have to accept the gift by our free wills. We can refuse it if we choose. It’s up to us.’

What is it in me that accepts repentance, then? A spiritually softened heart, perhaps? But if I can soften my own heart by my own will [or does that mean ‘soften my will by my own will’?], why can’t I repent by my own will, or believe by my own will? And doesn’t the same Scripture that says faith and repentance are God’s gifts also say that the heart of flesh is His gift [Deut.30:6, Ezek.36:26-27]? Maybe the preacher would have acknowledged that the heart of flesh is God’s gift too. But probably it would then have fared no better than faith and repentance. Probably the preacher would have said, ‘But of course, even though the heart of flesh is God’s gift, we have to accept the gift by our free wills. We can refuse it if we choose. It’s up to us.’

What is it in me that accepts the heart of flesh, then? Is it perhaps…. But we have been here before, and by now it is getting a touch silly. Like some bizarre spiritual board game, we are constantly going one square forwards and two squares backwards. And somehow, we always end up on a square that says, ‘It’s up to us.’

Augustine’s theology of the new life in Christ was really just a way of saying, ‘It’s not up to us.’ Our new life in Christ comes from Christ. From its first stirrings to its final consummation, it comes from Christ. Faith, repentance, the softened heart, and any other virtue that can be named they all come from Christ. Our conversion comes from Christ. Our regeneration comes from Christ. Our spiritual illumination comes from Christ. Our desire for Christ comes from Christ. Our seeking after Christ comes from Christ. As that great Italian Augustinian, Thomas Aquinas, was to teach 800 years after Augustine’s death, NOTHING COMES BEFORE GRACE!

All the things that we might think make us ready for grace are themselves the work of grace. If we insist on talking about ‘accepting grace’, even the acceptance of grace is created in us by grace.
The truth about grace, then, is both simple and radical. The first brick in the foundation of our salvation is laid in us by Christ, just as the last tile on the roof will be. He creates us afresh. He begets us again. He raises us from the dead. At no point can we take any credit to ourselves. No true Christian has the slightest wish to take any credit to himself or herself.

That is why, as I said in the Introduction, all God’s redeemed children are Augustinians when they pray. They may be Semi-Pelagians in their heads, but their twice-born hearts know better, and when they speak to their God, they give Him all the praise, gratitude and glory for saving them. Lex orandi lex credendi: the law of praying is the law of believing.

Of course, if Augustine is right in his understanding of what the Bible says about the bondage of our fallen wills, it follows that our spiritual regeneration must necessarily come only and utterly from Christ. Left to our own devices, all we ever do is sin; for we love created things, not the Creator, and our lives are built on that false love. There is no beauty in Christ that we should desire Him. We are too busy desiring other things. That is why ‘It’s up to us’ is such a tragically hopeless recipe for any kind of salvation.

Scripture describes our salvation as a new creation, a rebirth, a resurrection. Yet God did not say to a non-existent universe, ‘I’m offering to create you, but it’s up to you to accept the offer.’ Parents do not say to non-existent children, ‘We’re offering to conceive you, but it’s up to you to accept the offer.’ The Lord did not say to Lazarus, ‘I’m offering to resurrect you from the tomb, but it’s up to you to accept the offer.’ The depth and horrible complexity of our corruption make just as futile any ‘It’s up to you’ scheme of salvation. If indeed it is ‘up to us,’ whether in the Pelagian sense [obey the law and win heaven!] or the Semi-Pelagian sense [accept the offer of salvation!], then no-one will ever be saved. As Benjamin Warfield commented, a gospel of ‘Whosoever will’ is not much good in a world of universal ‘Won’t!’

Augustine knew that however daintily it is dressed, however carefully it is qualified, however tiny the amount it leaves to us to contribute to our own salvation, ‘It’s up to us’ is always a counsel of hellish despair for sinners deceived and broken and exhausted and blinded and driven mad and killed by sin. He would have none of it, either for himself, or for his flock, or for the Church Catholic. The bishop of Hippo sang loud and clear with his theological mind the song of confession and praise that every saved heart knows well:

‘It’s not up to us! We were dead in our transgressions and sins, in which we used to live when we followed the ways of the world. We were under the power of the prince of this world, the spirit who is now at work in the children of disobedience. We lived among them. We gratified the cravings of the flesh and followed its desires and thoughts. We were by nature the children of wrath, like the rest. But God, Who is rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, made us alive with Christ, even when we were dead in transgressions.

By grace we have been saved. By grace, through faith and this not from ourselves, it is the gift of God. No works. No-one can boast. God Who said, “Let light shine out of darkness!” caused His light to shine in our hearts, giving us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, shining in the face of Christ. We were foolish, obstinate, deluded, the slaves of various cravings and pleasures, spending our lives in malice and envy, hateful ourselves and hating one another. But the kindness and love of God our Saviour dawned upon us, and He saved us, not in consequence of righteous things we did, but because of His mercy.

Yes, HE SAVED US, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, Whom He poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Saviour. By grace we are justified. We are new creations in Christ. The old has passed away. The new has come. All this is from God, Who has reconciled us to Himself through Christ. Thanks be to God!’

ADDING A STITCH TO THE CELESTIAL GARMENT OF MY RIGHTEOUSNESS

ADDING A STITCH TO THE CELESTIAL GARMENT OF MY RIGHTEOUSNESS

C.H. Spurgeon

If there be one stitch in the celestial garment of my righteousness, which I am to insert myself, then I am lost. If there be one drachma in the price of my redemption which I am to make up, then must I perish. If there be one contingency—one “if,” or “though,” or “but,” about my soul’s salvation, THEN AM I A LOST MAN! 

“The LORD will perfect that which concerneth me.” [Psalm 138:8]

But THIS is my confidence, the Lord that began will perfect. He HAS done it ALL, MUST do it ALL, he WILL do it ALL. My confidence must not be in what I can do, or in what I have resolved to do, but entirely in what THE LORD WILL DO!

How often do you and I stand star-gazing into the future, and trembling, because we think we see divers portents, and strange sights, which portend some future trouble. O child of God! leave the future to thy God. O leave everything that is to come in the hand of him to whom the future is already present, and who knows beforehand everything that shalt befall thee. Draw from the present living water with which to moisten the arid desert of the future; snatch from the altar-fires of to-day a torch with which to light up the darkness of that which is to come. Depend on it, that He who is to-day thy sun, shall be thy sun for ever—even in the darkest hour he shall shine upon thee; and he who is to-day thy shield shall be thy shield for evermore; and even in the thickest part of the battle he shall catch the dart, and thou shalt stand unharmed.

The faith of our text is a personal faith. “The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me.” Here is the loudest note of all; this is the handle whereby we must lay hold of this sword if we would use it aright—”that which concerneth me.” Oh, it is a sweet truth to know and believe that God will perfect all his saints; ’tis sweeter still to know that “he will perfect me.” It is blessed to believe that all God’s people shall persevere; but the essence of delight is to feel that I shall persevere through him. Many persons are contented with a kind of general religion, an universal salvation. They belong to a Christian community; they have joined a Christian church, and they think they shall be saved in the lump—in the mass; but give me a personal religion.

What is all the bread in the world, unless I myself feed upon it? I am starved, though Egypt be full of corn. What are all the rivers that run from the mountains to the sea, if I be thirsty? Unless I drink myself, what are all these? If I be poor and in rags, ye do but mock me if ye tell me that Potosi’s mines are full of treasure? You do but laugh at me if you speak of Golconda’s diamonds. What care I for these, unless I have some participation for myself? But if I can say even of my crust, “It is my own,” then I can eat it with a grateful heart. That crust which is my own is more precious than all the granaries of Egypt if they are not my own, and this promise even if it were smaller would be more precious than the largest promise that stands in the Bible, if I could not see my right to it personally myself. But now, by bumble faith, sprinkled with the blood of Christ, resting in his merits, trusting in his death, I come to the text, and say throughout this year, and every year, “The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me”—unworthy me. Lost and ruined me. He will yet save me; and

“I, among the blood-wash’d throng,
Shall wave the palm, and wear the crown,
And shout loud victory.”

This, then, is the believer’s confidence. May God grant you the same!

“The LORD will perfect that which concerneth me.” [Psalm 138:8]

[Quoted from Spurgeon’s sermon – ‘Faith in Perfection’]

WHAT CAN I RENDER UNTO THE LORD?

WHAT CAN I RENDER UNTO THE LORD?

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!

IF IT WASN’T FOR THE ANGELS WHICH WATCH OVER HIM, THE CHILD OF GOD WOULD’VE BEEN A GONER A LONG TIME AGO

IF IT WASN’T FOR THE ANGELS WHICH WATCH OVER HIM, THE CHILD OF GOD WOULD’VE BEEN A GONER A LONG TIME AGO

compiled by Michael Jeshurun

If I am still alive today I owe it to the Lord and His angels, period! If it wasn’t for His angelic protection both before and after my Salvation, I’d have been a goner a long time ago! I have been in some very serious motorbike crashes where I escaped with just a few bruises while three of my best buddies who were better riders than me have died. I’ve got a bullet wound in my left leg which but for the Lord’s mercy could have either cost me my leg or probably my life. I once had a demon possessed German Shepherd nearly maul my left eye out and would have lost that eye but for the Lord’s protection and immediate medical aid.

A lot of Christians do not realize this, but as Christians they are hasting across a land where they are not wanted, to the Promised Land! “The child of God is journeying through an enemy’s land; every day he is exposed to danger. The slanderer is behind him, the open foeman is before him; the wild beast that prowls by night, and the pestilence that wasteth by day, continually seek his destruction!”- C.H. Spurgeon

Incidentally that Psalm – Plsam 91 was originally written with our Lord as the Son of man in mind, and it only becomes ours because we are in Him as part of His body – i.e. of His flesh and of His bones. [Eph 5:30] And if the LORD OF GLORY needed angelic protection while down here, how much more do WE need them!

“For He shall give His angels charge over thee!” [Psalm 91:11]

“Not one guardian angel, as some fondly dream, but all the angels are here alluded to. They are the bodyguard of the princes of the blood imperial of heaven, and they have received commission from their Lord and ours to watch carefully over all the interests of the faithful. When men have a charge they become doubly careful, and therefore the angels are represented as bidden by God himself to see to it that the elect are secured. It is down in the marching orders of the hosts of heaven that they take special note of the people who dwell in God. It is not to be wondered at that the servants are bidden to be careful of the comfort of their Master’s guests; and we may be quite sure that when they are specially charged by the Lord himself they will carefully discharge the duty imposed upon them.

To keep thee in all thy ways. To be a bodyguard, a garrison to the body, soul, and spirit of the saint. The limit of this protection “in all thy ways” is yet no limit to the heart which is right with God. It is not the way of the believer to go out of his way. He keeps in the way, and then the angels keep him. The protection here promised is exceeding broad as to place, for it refers to ALL our ways, and what do we wish for more? HOW angels thus keep us we cannot tell. Whether they repel demons, counteract spiritual plots, or even ward off the more subtle physical forces of disease, we do not know. Perhaps we shall one day stand amazed at the multiplied services which the unseen bands have rendered to us.

THEY, that is the angels, God’s own angels, shall cheerfully become our servants. THEY SHALL BEAR THEE UP IN THEIR HANDS; as nurses carry little children, with careful love, so shall those glorious spirits bear up each individual believer. Lest thou dash thy foot against a stone; even minor ills they ward off. It is most desirable that we should not stumble, but as the way is rough, it is most gracious on the Lord’s part to send his servants to bear us up above the loose pebbles. If we cannot have the way smoothed it answers every purpose if we have angels to bear us up in their hands. Since the greatest ills may arise out of little accidents, it shows the wisdom of the Lord that from the smaller evils we are protected.” – C.H. Spurgeon

Here is a word from A.W. Pink on God’s angels as our ministering spirits –

Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?” [Hebrews 1:14]

This verse presents a fact which should awaken in every Christian varied and deep emotions. Alas that, through lack of diligence in searching the Word, so many of the Lord’s people are largely in ignorance of much that is said therein, and here referred to.

It should awaken within us a sense of wonderment. The angels are portrayed as our attendants! When we remember who and what they are—their exalted rank in the scale of being, their sinlessness, their wondrous capacities, knowledge and powers—it is surely an astonishing thing to learn that they should minister unto us. Think of it, the unfallen angels waiting upon the fallen descendants of Adam! The courtiers of Heaven ministering to worms of the earth! The mighty angels, who “excel in strength,” taking notice of and serving those so far beneath them! Could you imagine the princes of the royal family seeking out dwellers in the slums and ministering to them, not once or occasionally, but constantly? But the analogy, altogether fails. The angels of God are sent forth to minister unto redeemed sinners! Marvel at it.

It should awaken within us fervent praise to God. What an evidence of His grace, what a proof of His love that He sends forth His angels to “minister” unto us! This is another of the wondrous provisions of His mercy, which none of us begin to appreciate as we should. It is another of the blessed consequences of our union with Christ. In Matthew 4:11 we read, “angels came and ministered unto Him.” Therefore, because Divine grace has made us one with Him, they do so to us too. What a proof is this of our oneness with Him! Angels of God are sent forth to minister unto redeemed sinners! Bow in worship and praise.

It should deepen within us a sense of security. True, it may be abused, but rightly appropriated, how it is calculated to quiet our fears, counteract our sense of feebleness, calm our hearts in time of danger! Is it not written, “The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear Him, and delivereth them;” then why be afraid? We doubt not that every Christian has been “delivered” many more times from the jaws of death by angelic interposition, than any of us imagine. The angels of God are sent forth to minister unto redeemed sinners. Then let the realization of this deepen within us a sense of the Lord’s protecting care for entrusting us to His mighty angels.

“Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for them who shall be the heirs of salvation?” (verse 14). Three things are to be considered: those to whom the angels minister, why they thus minister and the form their ministry takes.

Those to whom the angels minister are here termed “heirs of salvation,” an expression denoting at least four things. There is an Estate unto which God has predestined His people, an inheritance – willed to them by God. This Estate is designated “salvation,” see 1 Thessalonians 5:9, where our appointment unto it is mentioned. It is the consummation of our salvation which is in view, Hebrews 9:28; 1 Peter 1:3,4. Well may this estate or inheritance be called “Salvation,” for those who enter it are forever delivered from all danger, freed from all enemies, secured from all evils. This expression “heirs of salvation” also denotes our legal rights to the inheritance: our title is an indefeasable one. Further, it presupposes the coming in of death, Christ’s death. Finally, it implies the perpetuity of it—”to him and his heirs forever.”

It is to these “heirs of salvation” that the angels minister. To enable us the better to grasp the relation of angels to Christians, let us employ an illustration. Take the present household of the Duke of York. In it are many servants, honored, trusted, loved. There are titled “ladies” and “lords” of the realm, yet they are serving, “ministering,” to the infant Princess Elizabeth. At present, she is inferior to them in age, strength, wisdom and attainments; yet is she superior in rank and station. She is of the royal stock, a princess, possibly heir to the throne. In like manner, the heirs of salvation are now in the stage of their infancy; they are but babes in Christ; this is the period of their minority.

The angels far excel us in strength, wisdom, attainments; yet are they our servants, they “minister” unto us. Why? Because we are high above them in birth, rank, station. We are children of God, we are joint-heirs with Christ, we have been redeemed with royal blood, yea, we have been made “kings and priests unto God” (Rev. 1:6). O how wonderful is our rank—members of the Royal family of Heaven, therefore are we “ministered” unto by the holy angels. What a calling is ours! What provision has Divine love made for us!

HOW TO DISCERN WHOM TO PREACH THE GOSPEL TO

HOW TO DISCERN WHOM TO PREACH THE GOSPEL TO

“Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” [Mark 16:15] ‘Every creature’ does not necessarily mean every Tom, Dick and Harry or Jane, Jill and Mary you run into! For not ALL are called, but ‘MANY’. These ‘many’ the Lord will call either through YOUR personal evangelism, a Gospel meeting, a radio message, a Gospel tract or one way or another. And of these many to whom the Gospel call comes SOME are chosen who will believe and THE REST will not believe to which also they are appointed. [1Pet 2:8]

“Preach the Gospel to every creature” must be tempered by “Give not that which is holy to the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine!” [Matt 7:6]

Yes, the gospel goes to ‘MANY’! But for the MAJORITY it is either foolishness or a stumbling block!
But unto them which are CALLED, both Jews and Greeks, (it is) Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God! [1Cor 1:24]

If only ‘FEW’ are ‘CHOSEN’ then why does God bother to call the ‘MANY?’

Dearly beloved, please understand that the gospel goes forth as a two edged sword both to ‘save’ and to ‘damn’! It goes forth as a savor of ‘life unto life’ unto the elect and ‘death unto death’ unto the reprobate! [see – 2Cor 2:16]

GOD DOES NOT DESIRE AND NEITHER HAS HE INTENDED TO SAVE ANY WHOM HE HAS FROM ETERNITY ORDAINED TO REPROBATION! (Jude 1:4)

Now WHO are these who are so ‘CALLED’?

They are none other than those whom God FORKNEW and PREDESTINATED!

It is THESE AND THESE ALONE whom He effectually calls, justifies and glorifies! [see Romans 8:29,30]

“Ye will not come unto Me that ye might have life”! [Jn 5:40] Fallen man cannot come because he WILL NOT COME!
Ye will not come that ye might have life, DOES NOT imply that IF THEY COME, there is ‘LIFE” for them! “LIFE” or the “ATONEMENT” was only provided for those whom God hath chosen, His elect, His people, His called out ones! “I lay down My life FOR THE SHEEP”! (not the GOATS) [John 10:15]

As Edwards so profoundly put it – “Christ did not intend to save those He knew He would not save. If He intended to save any it was those He knew would be saved. Christ has died for them (the elect) and NOT FOR THE WORLD. It was the elect that Christ came to save. Since God eternally decreed not to save others Christ would not be engaged in a FOOL’S errand.” [Jonathan Edwards]

Evangelizing or preaching to the lost can be categorized into two forms – One: preaching to a group or a gathering, and Two: personal evangelism. When we tell Christians to be discerning in their preaching to the lost we generally have the latter in mind.

Our guide to personal evangelism as with everything else is always the Word of God. How did Jesus do it, or how did the apostles do it, THAT is the question. And even an external skimming through of the New Testament will show that most of the ‘personal evangelism’ done there is done in response to questions and queries asked by the lost.

Just a few minutes following their encounter the ‘woman at the well’ showed signs of her concern regarding true worship. “Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship. etc” [John 4:20]

The ‘rich young ruler’ came to Christ asking, “Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” [Mark 10:17]

The Lord had told His disciple Philip “Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert.” In other words the Lord first told him WHERE to go, and whom to preach to – “Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot (of the Ethiopian Eunuch). And even after Philip joined the Eunuch alongside his chariot he didn’t start blurting out a ‘Salvation message’ but waited for the appointed time and by and by asked the Eunuch if he understood what he was reading.

The Eunuch once again read the portion from Isaiah and then asked, “I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man? THEN Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.” [Acts 8]

Same with Philippian jailer who asked Paul and Silas, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.” [Acts 16:31,32]

When you are desirous to preach to someone, you can always ask the Lord to guide the conversation to something spiritual so that you’ll know for sure that the Lord really wants you to preach to that individual. Never forget the Lord has complete control even over the words which men speak. “The answer of the tongue is from the Lord!” [Prov 16:1] Also read Genesis 24 where Abraham’s servant who went looking for a bride for Isaac specifically prayed that if the damsel with whom he spoke to at the well said, “Both drink thou, and I will also draw for thy camels” then she was THE one that God had for Isaac, and what do you know the damsel (Rebekah) said the exact words confirming that she was the one for Isaac.

I remember once when I went to attend a wedding of one of my wife’s cousins, and it was arranged at a grand Five Star hotel. And as we walked through the lobby there was a man right in the middle of the lobby playing on the Piano very skillfully. I asked my wife to go on the wedding hall telling her that I would soon join her. I went up to this man and stood by him watching him play and got involved in a conversation. Since I am a musician and a vocalist too he asked if I would be kind enough to sing while he played the piano. I obliged and all the while was praying that God would steer the conversation to something spiritual so that I could preach the Gospel to him. And half way through the singing and playing he suddenly turned around and asked me, “Hey Mike, since you were so involved in Heavy Metal Music, I wanna know what you think of that song “Stairway to Heaven” and the accusations people make saying that there are Satanic backmasked messages in that song?”

THAT was the cue! I said, “Dennis, why don’t you take a break, there’s something I want to talk to you about.” And he took a break from his piano and we went over and sat on one of those huge sofas in the lobby and I preached Christ to him.

Then there are others whom I have had a burden to preach to and I myself start by asking a few probing questions such as – “Do you really believe in a life after death?” or “Are you aware of the fact that one of these days you will die and meet God for a reckoning?” If the man or woman to whom such a question is posed is the ‘called of God’ they will definitely be curious to know more, if not they will usually brush it off by changing the subject. For the record I have stopped trying to push the Gospel down people’s throats a long time ago.

In all your evangelizing and preaching efforts, please understand this – that generally speaking ‘sheep’ do not ‘argue’! They may ask a few sincere questions, but for the most part they will just hear the voice of the Shepherd who is speaking THROUGH YOU.

When you ‘officially’ preach the gospel of Jesus Christ . . . “It is NOT ye that speak but the SPIRIT OF YOUR FATHER which speaketh in you!” [Matt 10:20]. And as our Lord Himself told the unbelieving Jews of His day, “He that is OF GOD heareth God’s words: ye therefore hear them not, because YE ARE NOT OF GOD.” [John 8:47]

And John 8:47 above is not a stray verse quoted out of context! There are many more. Consider these –
“To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. EVERY ONE THAT IS OF THE TRUTH heareth My voice!” [John 18:37] (i.e. Everyone who belongs to the Truth – His Elect!)

“But ye believe not, BECAUSE YE ARE NOT OF MY SHEEP, as I said unto you. MY SHEEP HEAR MY VOICE, and I know them, and they follow Me!” [John 10:26,27]
“We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; HE THAT IS NOT OF GOD HEARETH NOT US. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error!” [1John 4:6]

But remember this dearly Beloved, no one for whom Christ died is going to wind up in Hell because YOU failed to preach to them and neither is anyone going to walk up to you in Heaven, grab your hands and exclaim, “Oh thank you so much for sharing the Gospel with me dear Brother, if it wasn’t for YOU I wouldn’t be here!” God forbid!

“Salvation” is OF THE LORD from the first to the last and man has neither part nor lot in it!

“Not unto US, O LORD, not unto US, but unto THY NAME give glory, for THY mercy, and for THY truth’s sake!” [Psalm 115:1] Amen!

Your servant for His sake
Michael Jeshurun

THE ONLY WAY TO BE PREPARED TO MEET GOD IS TO KNOW AND OBEY JESUS CHRIST

THE ONLY WAY TO BE PREPARED TO MEET GOD IS TO KNOW AND OBEY JESUS CHRIST

 Michael Jeshurun

I hardly ever think of my old friends and acquaintances, especially those who are still in the world. But yesterday as I was riding back home on my bike I was listening to some old country gospel on my wireless AirPods and at the same time thinking of the man who had taught me how to play the guitar and sing. Though he was a Hindu by birth he supposedly came to the Lord a few years ago and was regularly attending the ‘Assemblies of God’ Church and was a tithing member.

But nobody there ever personally confronted him of his sinful life, that now that he is a Christian he should stop attending gigs, playing at bars and especially should quit smoking pot. And I was thankfully recollecting how IT WAS THE LORD who had made ME to differ not just from my guitar master but all my lost ungodly friends and Roman Catholic relatives. “For WHO maketh thee to differ from another, and what hast thou that thou didst not receive?” [1Cor 4:7]

I came home and was putting away my shopping when the phone rang . . . it was a friend of my guitar master who used to arrange gigs and shows for him. He said with a very solemn voice that my master was no more! He had gone to a neighboring town to attend a gig and after playing just three numbers he complained of not feeling too well and went back to his motel room. A little later they found him dead on the floor. The doctor said that even if the excessive pot hadn’t taken him the chain smoking would have sooner or later!

As I thought of his death I was reminded of  David Bowie, (just like John Lennon, Freddie Mercury, Bon Scott, Michael Jackson and a host of other Rock musicians) who made a carrier by blaspheming God and His Christ! Following Bowie’s death the BBC broadcasted that he had died a “peaceful death surrounded by family members.”

“A peaceful death”?! Are you kidding me? Is it a ‘peaceful death’ to one who blasphemes God and does not love His Christ? Is it a ‘peaceful death’ for one to be a regular tithing ‘Sunday Church goer’ who still goes on smoking pot, playing Rock music and lives no different from the world from which he claims God saved him?!

“If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maranatha!” [1Cor 16:22] which in Greek means – “Let him be accursed!”  “THERE IS NO PEACE, saith the LORD, unto the wicked!” [Isa 48:22]

Here is an account of what the Scripture says happens to those who die out of Christ –

“The rich man shall lie down, but he shall not be gathered: he openeth his eyes, and he is not.

Terrors take hold on him as waters, a tempest stealeth him away in the night.

The east wind carrieth him away, and he departeth: and as a storm hurleth him out of his place.

For God shall cast upon him, and not spare: he would fain flee out of his hand.

Men shall clap their hands at him, and shall hiss him out of his place!”  [Job 27:19-23]

Below is an excellent meditation from Spurgeon on HOW one can prepare to meet their God . . . .

PREPARE TO MEET THY GOD [Amos 4:12]

C.H. Spurgeon

It pains me to think of it; as I sat last night about eight o’clock, revolving in my mind a subject for this hour’s discourse, there came a knock at my door, and I was earnestly entreated by a father to hasten to the deathbed of his dear girl. I wanted much of my time for preparation, but as the dear one was in such a case, and had long been a constant hearer of the word in this tabernacle, I felt it my duty to go whether I could prepare a sermon or not. Glad I was to hear that sick one’s testimony! She told me with what I fear was her dying breath, that she was not fully assured of her interest in Christ, but she left me no room to doubt when, between spasms and convulsions, she said, “I know I love Jesus; and that is all I know.”

Yes, and I thought it IS ALL I NEED TO KNOW; if any one of us always knows that he loves the Savior, what more does he require of testimony as to his state? But my mind was sorely oppressed then as it is now with the thought that SO MANY OF YOU ARE NOT PREPARED TO DIE AT ALL! I often see my sermons in sick rooms, and I come to think of preaching sermons in a different light from what many do. I will try to preach sermons which will suit your most solemn hours and most serious circumstances; I would gladly deliver sermons which shall haunt your sickbeds, and accuse you unless you yield to their persuasions and believe in Jesus!

When you lie on the borders of the spirit world, you will count all religious trifling to be cruel mockery; so let me say it affectionately, but very earnestly to you, “Prepare to meet thy God,” for I am afraid many of you are quite unprepared! You have seen others die; they preach to you from their graves, and they say, “So to the dust must you also come, my friend; be you ready, for in such an hour as you think not, the Son of Man will call for you.” You have had sicknesses in your own body; you are not now the strong man you once were; you have already passed through many perils. What are all these but voices from the God of mercy saying, “Consider your ways”? [Haggai 1:7]

You are not such a simpleton as to think that you shall never die; YOU KNOW you will! Neither are you so insane as to think that when you die, your death will be that of a horse or a dog; you know THERE IS A HEREAFTER, and a state of being in which men shall be judged according to the deeds that they have done in the body, whether they are good, or whether they are evil; and so I therefore press upon your earnest recollection and your intense consideration at this present moment, the exhortation of the text, “Prepare to meet your God!”

“The wicked is driven away in his wickedness: but the righteous hath hope in his death!” [Prov 14:32]

Thank you Lord Jesus for dying for us and making us meet to be partakers of your rest!

“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid!” [John 14:27]

 

COVETOUSNESS – A VICE MOST CONTRARY TO TRUE RELIGION

COVETOUSNESS – A VICE MOST CONTRARY TO TRUE RELIGION

C.H. Spurgeon

“And He said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.” [Luke 12:15]

Of all the vices, none is more contrary to true religion than COVETOUSNESS. Grace may exist where there are many occasional sins, but never where there is abiding Covetousness.

Covetousness, which few men will confess, is yet a very common sin of professing Christians.

Beware of growing Covetous, for this is of all sins one of the most insidious.

Many a man, when he begins to accumulate wealth, begins also to ruin his soul.

Instead of doing more for God he does less. The more he saves the more he wants, and the more he wants of this world, the less he craves for the world to come.

This disease creeps upon men as slowly as certain infectious diseases, which slumber in the blood for months, until they find occasion to manifest themselves.

Watch against a grasping spirit, dear friend.

If you find the money stick to your hands, mind what you are at. It is all well enough for you to seek to make all you can rightly; you are bound to do so, and to use it properly.

But when the gold begins to cleave to you, it will eat as a canker, and will soon prove your ruin unless God prevent it.

Take a bright knife from your table and bury it into the earth in your garden, and leave it there, and see how it will rust. This is what will become of your soul: put it into the earth, and keep it there, it must corrode.

Let us not be content to tarry down below in the marshland of the poor poverty stricken religion of this present day. But let us climb the high mountains where the sun of God’s grace is shining brightest, and stand there enjoying communion with Him, leaving the world beneath.

FREE-WILL TO GO TO HELL, BUT NONE TO GO TO HEAVEN!

FREE-WILL TO GO TO HELL, BUT NONE TO GO TO HEAVEN!

Compiled by Michael Jeshurun

“So then it is NOT of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but OF GOD that showeth mercy”! [Romans 9:16]

Free will is “corrupted nature’s deformed darling, the Pallas or beloved self-conception of darkened minds” – John Owen

“The friends of free will are the enemies of free grace.” – John Trapp

“This crown of free will is fallen from our head” and “If it be God’s purpose that saves then it is not free will.” – Thomas Watson

“A man’s free will cannot cure him even of the toothache, or a sore finger; and yet he madly thinks it is in its power to cure his soul.” – Augustus Toplady.

“Man is nothing; HE HATH A FREE WILL TO GO TO HELL, BUT NONE TO GO TO HEAVEN, till God worketh in him” and “you dishonour God by denying election. You plainly make salvation depend, not on God’s ‘free grace’ but on Man’s ‘free will.’” – George Whitefield

“Free will has carried many souls to hell, but yet never a soul to heaven.” C.H. Spurgeon

“I do not come into this pulpit hoping that perhaps somebody will of his own free will return to Christ. My hope lies in another quarter. I hope that my Master will lay hold of some of them and say, “You are mine, and you shall be mine. I claim you for myself.” My hope arises from the freeness of grace, and not from the freedom of the will.” C.H. Spurgeon

“God’s character is maligned by every person who believes in free will.” – W.E. Best

“This brought me out of the free-will fog, and truth shone in my heart like a comet … from that moment I waged war against free will.” – William Huntington

“Are we then so corrupt that we are wholly incapable of doing any good, and inclined to all wickedness? INDEED WE ARE; except we are regenerated by the Spirit of God.”

A ROSE I BOUGHT FOR MY WIFE

A ROSE I BOUGHT FOR MY WIFE

Occasion? No ‘occasion’! I’ve been regularly buying her roses or bringing her other wild flowers from the field ever since our marriage. There’s just something about giving your wife flowers that’s so divine. I can’t afford diamonds like many of my relatives, but flowers I can.

Here’s something I just read about giving your wife or your Fiancé flowers . . . . This ain‘t like the deep theological stuff I usually post. But it’s worth a read . . . . Michael Jeshurun 

TEN REASONS TO BUY HER FLOWERS ANYWAY

Most guys I know are pretty practical creatures. I mean, tell a guy your woes and they’ll do what they can to fix them. Whether the “fix” be knocking someone out or fixing your car, men like to solve problems. So it shouldn’t surprise anyone to know that most men consider buying flowers a waste of money.

Think about it. You pay $50 and they slowly wither and die before your eyes. Then what do you have? An empty vase. Usually a cheap, ugly empty vase that’s not good for much of anything except hiding under the sink. Great.

So far I’m with you. Paying $50 for something that’s just going to die in a week certainly isn’t the most practical thing to buy as a gift. Why not spend your money on something she would have forever – or at least longer than a week. I mean, for the price of roses on Valentine’s day, you could buy her a Kindle for God’s sake! Instead (says The Man) why not buy her a dvd of the first movie you saw together? (Romantic!) A cool app for her phone? (Fantastic!) What about that book you were telling her about? (Intelligent!)

Quite frankly, all of the ideas above are top notch. Heck! Most of them are cheaper than flowers. All of them will last more than a week. On top of that, most women would love all of the above. But I’m here to tell you: Do not write off giving flowers to your woman! They really do mean more to a woman than just colorful plants waiting to die. Let me explain..

Top 10 Reasons to Buy Her Flowers

They are visual candy and a daily reminder of you. – I know you’re a guy, but even you have to admit that flowers are beautiful.

Everyone likes to look at beautiful things. Top that with the fact that for an entire week, every time she looks at those flowers she’ll think of you. A great way to get those juices flowin’!

They smell great! – Smell is the most powerful sense we have. Not only that, but it’s intimately connected to our memory and thereby, our emotions. She’s going to walk by those flowers and associate good feelings towards you with that scent. Double bang for your buck if you ask me.

They make you sexier. – Yes, you heard me right. Flowers make you sexier. In a recent study, they paired men with flowers, and that made them significantly more attractive and datable. So show up with bouquet of flowers, or even a single flower and boost your chances!

They speak a secret language. – In Victorian times flowers were used as a secret code to show how a man felt about a woman. There are also some great myths and legends associated with flowers that make great fodder for the card. For example, I once had someone send me flowers and on the card he explained the flower’s myth and how it related to how he felt about me. Worked like a charm!

Even cheap flowers buy you points. – Now I won’t say that every woman is like this; but with most women, even the “cheap” flowers will score you points. I know that one of my favorite springtime treats is the $4 bunches of daffodils at Trader Joe’s. I even like the $12 bouquets of flowers you can find at Safeway. Honestly? If a woman turns down her nose at *any* sort of flowers you give with genuineness, think twice about dating her again.

Go ahead! Tell her how you feel.

– Unless you’re a big card person, (like my family), or are a poet by profession, it’s unlikely you’re penning her love notes on a regular basis. Use this opportunity to tell her how you feel. You don’t have to pen a novel, but a thoughtful sentence or two, or a nice quote will have her heart racing (and extend those feel-good benefits.).

Flowers are mood-enhancing, production-boosting powerhouses. – Multiple studies have shown that flowers boost people’s moods, relieves anxiety and boosts production at work. Wowsers! Talk about packing a wallop. Triple threat! So maybe you know she’s going to have an extra-stressful week? Bam! In comes the flowers. Smooth sailing now baby. Dontcha know it?

Giving flowers makes you look good. – I know I said that flowers make you sexier; but they also make you look good in other ways. A study done by Rutgers University found that men that give flowers are perceived as happy, achieving, strong, capable and courageous people. Now how’s that for advertising? Not only are you making her feel good; but you’re looking better and better. Now you’re cooking baby!

The numbers are in your favor. – You want practical? Here you go: 92% of women remember the last time they received flowers. 88% of survey respondents say a gift of flowers changes their mood for the better. 83% say they like to receive flowers unexpectedly. 86% say receiving flowers makes them feel special. 99% say that a person who gives flowers is thoughtful. Good Lord mister! What else can I say?!

And last but not least..women like flowers silly! Duh. – In yet another study, virtually 100% of women who were presented with flowers as a gift smiled a real or “Duchenne” smile. Unless she’s allergic, she likes flowers. Even if she tells you she doesn’t, she’s probably lying and she likes flowers.

Now before you hop on the phone or computer, let me give you a some tips on how to maximize your efforts!

Flower Buying Tips :

Make sure she’s not allergic.
Give with reason.
Give for no reason.
Be your sneakiest and find out her favorite flower. (Or just ask her!)
Think green and buying locally.
Don’t give her one of those cheesy flower cakes or weird bouquets. Stick to a simple arrangement.

Don’t just sign your name on the card, actually write something!
If you’re still twitching on the “it’s gonna die” issue, buy a potted flower instead. (i.e. lavender, African violet, orchid, etc) Just don’t complain if she has a black thumb and kills it in a week anyway.

Bonus points! Bring her a bouquet you picked from your yard.

Now go get ‘er tiger and God speed!