PRAYER OF THE REPENTENT SINNER

PRAYER OF THE REPENTENT SINNER

C.H. Spurgeon

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

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

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

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

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

THE NEED TO BE ESTABLISHED IN SOUND DOCTRINE

THE NEED TO BE ESTABLISHED IN SOUND DOCTRINE

C.H. SPURGEON

IT IS A GREAT THING to begin the Christian life by believing good solid doctrine. Some people have received twenty different “gospels” in as many years; how many more they will accept before they get to their journey’s end, it would be difficult to predict. I thank God that He early taught me THE gospel, and I have been so perfectly satisfied with it, that I do not want to know any other. 

Constant change of creed is sure loss. If a tree has to be taken up two or three times a year, you will not need to build a very large loft in which to store the apples. When people are always shifting their doctrinal principles, they are not likely to bring forth much fruit to the glory of God.

It is good for young believers to begin with a firm hold upon those great fundamental doctrines which the Lord has taught in His Word. Why, if I believed what some preach about the temporary, trumpery salvation which only lasts for a time, I would scarcely be at all grateful for it; but when I know that those whom God saves He saves with an everlasting salvation, when I know that He gives to them an everlasting righteousness, when I know that He settles them on an everlasting foundation of everlasting love, and that He will bring them to His everlasting kingdom, oh, then I do wonder, and I am astonished that such a blessing as this should ever have been given to me!

“Pause, my soul! adore, and wonder!
Ask, ‘Oh, why such love to me?’
Grace hath put me in the number
Of the Saviour’s family: Hallelujah!
Thanks, eternal thanks, to Thee!”

WHO IS ‘THAT PROPHET’ LIKE UNTO MOSES?

WHO IS ‘THAT PROPHET’ LIKE UNTO MOSES?

compiled by Michael Jeshurun

Who is “that prophet” whom the Jews referred to when they questioned John the Baptist of his identity? For they asked, “What then? Art thou Elias? And he saith, I am not. Art thou THAT PROPHET? And he answered, No.” [John 1:21]

So who was “THAT PROPHET” which the Jews had in mind?

Even Philip who shortly after the Lord called him to be a disciple finds Nathanael and says, “We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” [John 1:45]

We know that all the prophets testify of Christ, but when did Moses make mention of our Lord? Tucked into the midst of Deuteronomy, talking about the punishment of false prophets, Moses made a remarkable prophecy:

“The LORD thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, LIKE UNTO ME; unto him ye shall hearken!” [Deut 18:15] And again –

“I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, LIKE UNTO THEE, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him.
And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him.” [Deut 18:18,19]

One thing is clear from the above prophecy i.e. that “THAT PROPHET” whom God would raise from amongst the Jews would be one “LIKE UNTO MOSES”.

Are there any ‘similarities’ between Moses the deliverer and our Lord Jesus Christ? Let us see . . . .

1. First off, He’s definitely from “among the brothers” of Israel, so that’s a good start. The Prophet must be Jewish, and Jesus’ heritage was from the tribe of Judah.

2. Both were shepherds – The Lord Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd”, and Moses also tended sheep – figuratively and literally.

3. Both were sent to bring salvation after 400 years of apparent inactivity from God – the Israelites had been enslaved for 400 years in Egypt, and the 400 years before The Lord Jesus came had been notably silent years from God.

4. Both fasted for 40 days and nights – Moses while on Mount Sinai, and The Lord Jesus in the Judean desert, when being tempted by Satan.

5. Both spent time in Egypt as children (as Jesus had to be hidden there for a while as a baby to escape Herod)

6. Both were born at a time when evil kings pronounced death to all Jewish baby boys in the area – Pharaoh had commanded all Hebrew baby boys to be drowned at birth, and Herod had issued a command to kill all baby boys under the age of two. Both were miraculously rescued from that threat.

7. Both were called by God to lead and save.

8. Both did miracles to testify to their God-given authority

9. Both instituted a covenant of blood that brought salvation for many – Moses with the Passover lamb’s blood on the doorposts, The Lord Jesus, Lamb of God, brought in the new covenant in his blood on the beams of the cross

10. Both were given God’s public stamp of approval with an audible voice from heaven, heard by the crowd – Moses at Sinai, and The Lord Jesus at his baptism

11. Both gave up great riches to lead a humble life of service and poverty – Moses from the palace of the King of Egypt, The Lord Jesus from the heights of heaven. Both were noted for their great humility (Numbers 12:3, Hebrews 11:26-27, Philippians 2)

12. Both were initially rejected by the Jews when the foretold salvation didn’t seem as if it was going to happen. When Moses first challenged Pharaoh, things got a lot worse for the Israelites, leading to despair and anger. The Lord Jesus’s crucifixion looked like a hopeless defeat. Both salvation situations initially looked like the promises were not going to come true. But they did.

13. Both were criticized by their own families – Jesus’s brothers in John 7:5, and Moses’ sister and brother in Numbers 12:1.

14. Both were willing to sacrifice their own lives for the sake of those they were leading, and to pay for the sins of their people – Moses in Exodus 32, and The Lord Jesus’s own readiness to die on our behalf is evident in the Garden of Gethsemane

15. Both miraculously provided the people with bread to eat – manna was sent from heaven for the Israelites and The Lord Jesus miraculously fed the multitudes. Twice. And in one of those instances the people who witnessed the miracle exclaimed – “This is of a truth THAT PROPHET that should come into the world!” [John 6:14]

16. Both were accepted by Gentiles – Moses’ father in law, a Midianite, instantly believed (Exodus 18:10-11) The Egyptians too came to believe that the God of Israel was real and true. And the non-Jews readily accepted The Lord Jesus’s message of salvation.

17. Under Moses, all those who believed him, those who followed the instructions and put the sacrificial blood on their doors, were saved from death. Similarly, under The Lord Jesus, all those who appropriate His sacrificial blood, shed for His elect are saved from Eternal death!

18. Seven weeks (50 days) after the Exodus, the Israelites waited upon God to receive the Torah – now that they had been saved, how then should they live? God gave Moses His covenant and instructions on how to live as a community. Seven weeks (50 days) after the resurrection, the disciples waited as Jesus instructed them to receive the Holy Spirit, and the church was born – a new faith community, and a new way to live as believers.

19. Both of their faces shone with the glory of heaven, as was noted by people who saw them – Moses had to wear a veil over his face because it was beaming so much, and The Lord Jesus’s disciples saw His glory on the Mount of Transfiguration.

20. Moses chose 12 spies to explore Canaan, and The Lord Jesus chose 12 disciples. Moses appointed 70 rulers over Israel, and The Lord Jesus sent 70 disciples out to share the gospel.

21. Moses led the people out from slavery to Pharaoh! The Lord Jesus has redeemed us from slavery to Sin, Satan and the World . . . into life with Him forevermore!

The above similarities are mentioned just to ‘whet your appetite’. There are so many more similarities if you will but pray and dig into God’s Word! But there are a few crucial differences too: Moses was not perfect, and did not cross into the promised land, but our Lord Jesus is perfect, and has gone before us into Heaven itself, to prepare a place for us, and sits at the right hand of the Father not only to intercede for us but from henceforth expecting till His enemies be made His footstool! [Heb 10:12,13]

Hallelujah! Even so come quickly Lord Jesus!

[copied and paraphrased from sources on the web]

THE THEOLOGY WHICH GIVES GOD ALL THE GLORY  – THAT’S THE RIGHT ONE!

THE THEOLOGY WHICH GIVES GOD ALL THE GLORY  – THAT’S THE RIGHT ONE!

Compiled by Michael Jeshurun

“Have you ever had a shopping cart with a broken wheel? You push it around and all it wants to do is run into the sides of the aisle. If you were to let the cart go on its own, it would immediately turn and smash into that case of pickles up ahead! You are like that shopping cart! The bad wheel is your heart. It’s always veering off, leading you away from what you were created to be. You were created for God’s love and glory, but instead, your heart pulls you away from Jesus and into something much worse than a case of pickles.

Being a rebel at heart means that you do not have the ability to choose God or even to respond to God on your own because you are spiritually dead; we all are.

REFORMED THEOLOGY teaches that, because we are more sinful than we could ever imagine, it can only be God who takes that broken shopping cart wheel (our sinful heart) and replaces it with one that has both the ability and the desire to seek him and to follow him. By faith in Christ, you are no longer set to smash into the aisles of sinful destruction. No, he promises to carry us in his grip of grace.”
[Brian Cosby]

“Whatsoever doctrine both depress and humble man and advance the glory of God, is true. It answers the design of the Gospel, which all centers in this: that man is to be laid low, and God to be exalted as the chief cause. It pulls man down from his own bottom, and transfers all the glory man would challenge into the hands of God: it lays man in the dust at God’s footstool. That doctrine which crosses the main design of the Gospel, and encourages pride in man, is not a spark from heaven. No flesh must glory in God’s presence (1 Corinthians 1:29).

The doctrine of justification by works is thrown down by the apostle with this very argument as a thunderbolt: ‘Where is boasting then? It is excluded…by the law of faith’ (Romans 3:27), that is by the doctrine of the Gospel. Boasting would be introduced by ascribing regeneration to nature, as much as it is excluded by denying justification by works. The doctrine of the Gospel would contradict itself to usher in boasting with one hand whilst it thrust it out with the other. Our Saviour gave this rule long ago, that the glorifying of God is the evidence of truth in persons: ‘he that seeketh His glory that sent him, the same is true’ (John 7:18). By the same reason also in things and doctrines” [Charnock, 1660].

Reformed theology gives God His rightful place as sovereign ruler and disposer of all things, who hath mercy on whom He will and hardens whom He will and places man in the dust where he belongs!

And remember whatever gives GOD ALL the glory THAT is what is right!

“He that speaketh of himself seeketh his own glory: but he that SEEKETH HIS GLORY THAT SENT HIM, THE SAME IS TRUE, and no unrighteousness is in him.” [John 7:18]

“So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.” [Rom 9:16]

“The Reformed Faith, then, offers us a great God who is really the sovereign Ruler of the Universe. “Its grand principle,” says Bayne, “is the contemplation of the universe of God revealed in Christ. In all places, in all times, from eternity to eternity, Calvinism sees God.” Our age, with its emphasis on democracy, doesn’t like this view, and perhaps no other age liked it less. The tendency today is to exalt man and to give God only a very limited part in the affairs of the world.” [Loraine Boettner]

“ . . thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself: but I will reprove thee, and set them in order before thine eyes!” [Psalm 50:21]

“And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and He doeth according to His will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay His hand, or say unto Him, What doest Thou?” [Daniel 4:35]

THE CHRISTIAN AND ‘SELFIES’!

THE CHRISTIAN AND ‘SELFIES’!

preacher Gary Shepard

Today’s Smartphone technology gives the ability to take pictures wherever one has their phone. Not only can we take pictures of others, scenery and more, we can also take pictures of ourselves! This has given rise to a new term in social media, the “selfie.” These are often close up pictures one takes of themselves and posts on various social websites.

Men and women clearly post these selfies using the one they think is best, showing their best features and at the best angle. This is exactly what people seek to show to God and others, their best “selfie.” They want to project to God and men their best SELF-righteousness.

Christ spoke a parable in which He showed how natural this is to fallen man. “And He spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others” (Luke 18:9). The selfies posted are but open evidences of the vanity and pride of sinners concerning what they think they are and look like to others. But I’m afraid they only look that way to themselves.

So it is spiritually like the Pharisee in the parable whose prayer was, “God, I thank Thee, that I am not as other men are… I fast and tithe..” His view of himself was in his own eyes and based on what he DID. But there was another man whose eyes God had opened so that the “selfie” he saw of himself was surely ugly in God’s sight and man’s. In light of that revelation of what he then says himself to be, he cries out to God for mercy. As the psalmist, “And enter not into judgment with Thy servant: for in Thy sight shall no man living be justified.” (Psalm 143:2) This publican cries, “God be merciful to me a sinner.” This is the selfie he sees of himself before the infinitely holy God.

This picture was revealed to him by the Spirit of God. He was the one “justified”, declared righteous by God! When we see ourselves in God’s light, we hide our faces and pray to be seen in Christ alone. We desire not our own righteousness which is as filthy rags but to be made the righteousness of God in Christ. We look to His righteousness imputed to us. Only in the gospel wherein the righteousness of God is revealed can we see that “selfie” by faith which God can favor and we have comfort from. O God our merciful Savior, let my selfie be in the Lord Jesus Christ!

HOLD MY HAND AND LEAD ME DEAR LORD!

HOLD MY HAND AND LEAD ME DEAR LORD!

Michael Jeshurun

“Make me to go in the path of Thy commandments; for therein do I delight.” [Psalm 119:35]

There was a time when David had confidence in his own ability and ‘will power’. But his sin with Bathseba and his murder of Uriah which followed changed all that!

There was a day when he had boasted – “”I WILL behave myself wisely in a perfect way. O when wilt Thou come unto me? I WILL walk within my house with a perfect heart. I WILL set no wicked thing before mine eyes: I hate the work of them that turn aside; it shall not cleave to me. A froward heart shall depart from me: I WILL not know a wicked person” (Ps. 101:2-4),

Commenting on the above verses, Pink says – Note the repeated “I will” in the above passage, and learn therefrom how much the “will” of man is worth”!

Now after many falls and serious sins, David was convinced that if he was going to go in the path of God’s commandments, GOD would have to make him go! As I have found out and proved through many years of bitter experience that only TO WILL is present with me, but to PERFORM that which is good I FIND NOT! And most often, the good that I would I do not, but the evil which I would not, THAT I DO! [Rom 7:19]

Augustine was right when he said – “Grant what Thou commandest and then command what Thou wilt”!

The man with the withered arm in Matthew 12 is a case in point. Remember what the Master told him to do? The Lord said – ‘Stretch forth thine hand”! Did he have the power to comply in his own strength and ability to stretch it forth?! Commenting on this Pink says –

“Listen! Here was a man with a withered hand, paralyzed, and Christ says. “Stretch forth thine hand”; It was the one thing that he could not do! Christ told him to do a thing that was impossible in himself. Well then you say why did Christ tell him to stretch forth his hand? Because DIVINE POWER WENT WITH THE VERY WORD THAT COMMANDED HIM TO DO IT! Divine power ENABLED him to. The man could not do it of himself. If you think that he could you are ready for the lunatic asylum, I don’t not care who you are. Any man or woman here who thinks that that man was able to stretch forth his paralyzed arm by an effort of his own will is ready for the lunatic asylum! How can paralysis move”? Good question!

And every regenerated child of God, unless Divine power enables him is much like the man with the withered arm! The inability under which he labors is not an inability to exercise volition, but an inability to be willing to exercise HOLY VOLITIONS. And it is this phase of it which led Luther to declare that ‘FREE WILL’ IS AN EMPTY TERM, WHOSE REALITY IS LOST; and a lost liberty, according to my grammar, is no liberty at all”!

“Make me to go in the path of Thy commandments; for therein do I delight”!

SPURGEON’S COMMENT –

“To will is present with me; but how to perform that which good I find not.” Thou hast made me to love the way, now make me to move in it. It is a plain path, which others are treading through thy grace; I see it and admire it; cause me to travel in it. This is the cry of a child that longs to walk, but is too feeble; of a pilgrim who is exhausted, yet pants to be on the march; of a lame man who pines to be able to run. It is a blessed thing to delight in holiness, and surely he who gave us this delight will work in us the yet higher joy of possessing and practicing it. Here is our only hope; for we shall not go in the narrow path till we are made to do so by the Maker’s own power. O Thou who didst once make me, I pray Thee make me again: Thou hast made me to know; now make me to go. Certainly I shall never be happy till I do, for my sole delight lies in walking according to Thy bidding.

The Psalmist does not ask the Lord to do for him what he ought to do for himself: he wishes himself to “go” or tread in the path of the command. He asks not to be carried while he lies passive; but to be made “to go.” Grace does not treat us as stocks and stones, to be dragged by horses or engines, but as creatures endowed with life, reason, will, and active powers, who are willing and able to go of themselves if once made to do so. God worketh in us, but it is that we may both will and do according to his good pleasure.

The holiness we seek after is not a forced compliance with command, but the indulgence of a whole hearted passion for goodness, such as shall conform our life to the will of the Lord. Can the reader say, “therein do I delight”? Is practical godliness the very jewel of your soul, the coveted prize of your mind? If so, the outward path of life, however rough, will be clean, and lead the soul upward to delight ineffable. He who delights in the law should not doubt but what he will be enabled to run in its ways, for where the heart already finds its joy the feet are sure to follow.

Note that the corresponding verse in the former (Psalms 119:27 ) was “Make me to UNDERSTAND,” and here we have “Make me to GO.” Remark the: order, first understanding and then going; for a clear understanding is a great assistance towards practical action”. [Amen!]

One last quote from Thomas Marten – “Make me to go in the path of thy commandments. David, in the former verses, had begged for LIGHT, now for STRENGTH TO WALK ACCORDING TO THIS LIGHT. We need not only light to know our way, but a heart to walk in it. Direction is necessary because of the blindness of our minds; and the effectual impulsions of grace are necessary because of the weakness of our hearts. It will not answer our duty to have a naked notion of truths, unless we embrace and pursue them. So, accordingly, WE NEED A DOUBLE ASSISTANCE FROM GOD; THE MIND MUST BE ENLIGHTENED, THE WILL MOVED AND INCLINED. The work of a Christian lies not in depth of speculation, but in the height of practice.

The excellency of Divine grace consisteth in this, — That God doth first teach what is to be done, and then makes us to do what is taught: “Make me to go in the path of thy commandments.”

GOD’S ACTS AND GOD’S WAYS!

GOD’S ACTS AND GOD’S WAYS!

Michael Jeshurun

Way back in the Old Testament God had said, “Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth ME, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness . . . etc” [Jer 9:23,24]

This is something which God Himself ensures will happen! “I will even betroth thee unto Me in faithfulness: and thou shalt know the LORD”! [Hosea 2:20]

To “KNOW THE LORD” is to know His attributes and His ways!

In Psalm 103:7 it is recorded – “He made known HIS WAYS unto Moses, HIS ACTS unto the children of Israel”!

Moses was His ‘chosen’, His ‘elect’ and so God made known to him “HIS WAYS”, the ‘children of Israel’ on the other hand (at least the majority of them) as history proves were like the nominal Christians of our day, so all they knew were “HIS ACTS’!

It takes grace and revelation from above to know “HIS WAYS”.

No other school of thought sets forth the ‘ways of God’ and His acts, especially concerning His Absolute Sovereignty, His Attributes and His Providence as the Reformed school of thought!

While not all who call themselves ‘Reformed’ know the Lord I will say without hesitation that no man truly knows the Lord as the Reformed Christian!

The nominal Christian will ALWAYS attack the doctrines of grace by using all kinds of excuses – saying that we are being brainwashed by the teachings of ‘men’, the God of ‘Calvinism’ is a monster blah blah . .

“Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept My saying, they will keep yours also.

But all these things will they do unto you for My Name’s sake, because THEY KNOW NOT HIM THAT SENT ME”! [John 15:20,21]

The Arminian gospel or the ‘gospel’ of man’s free-will offends no one! It never raises the question as Paul’s gospel did . . . “Why doth He yet find fault? For who hath resisted His will”?

Nothing divides the sheep from the goats as does the doctrine of Absolute Predestination! A.W. Pink once wrote to his friend Lowell Green, who was looking for a Church to fellowship – Pink said – “preach election to them and they will show you the character of goats”!

I always tell the Christian Preachers and Pastors I run into – “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”!

THE CHRISTIAN A HEAVENLY CITIZEN

THE CHRISTIAN A HEAVENLY CITIZEN

C.H. Spurgeon

“For our conversation (citizenship) is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ!” [Philippians 3:20]

There can be no comparison between a soaring seraph and a crawling worm. Christians ought so to live that it were idle to speak of a comparison between them and the men of the world. It would not be a comparison but a contrast. No scale of degrees should be possible; the believer should be a direct and manifest contradiction to the unregenerate. The life of a saint should be altogether above and out of the same list as the life of a sinner. We should compel our critics not to confess that moralists are good, and Christians a little better; but while the world is darkness, we should manifestly be light; and while the world lies in the wicked one, we should most evidently be of God, and overcome the temptations of that wicked one. Wide as the poles asunder, are life and death, light and darkness, health and disease, purity and sin, spiritual and carnal, divine and sensual!

If we were what we profess to be, we should be as distinct a people in the midst of this world, as a white race in a community of Ethiopians; there should be no more difficulty in detecting the Christian from the worldling than in discovering a sheep from a goat, or a lamb from a wolf!

Alas, the Church is so much adulterated, that we have to abate our glorying, and cannot exalt her character as we would. “The precious sons of Zion, comparable to fine gold, how are they esteemed as earthen pitchers, the work of the hands of the potter!” O for the time when “our citizenship shall be in heaven,” and the ignoble life of the man, whose god is his belly and whose end is destruction, shall be rebuked by our unworldly, unselfish character! There should be as much difference between the worldling and the Christian as between hell and heaven, between destruction and eternal life. As we hope at last that there shall be a great gulf separating us from the doom of the impenitent, there should be here a deep and wide gulf between us and the ungodly! The purity of our character should be such, that men must take knowledge of us that we are of another and superior race. God grant us more and more to be most clearly a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people, that we may show forth the praises of Him who has called us out of darkness into His marvelous light!

Brothers and sisters, tonight I exhort you to holiness, not by the precepts of the law; not by the thunders from Sinai; not by the perils or punishments which might fall upon you if you are unholy; but by the privileges to which you have been admitted! Gracious souls should only be urged by arguments from divine grace. Whips are for the backs of fools, and not for heirs of heaven! By the honorable citizenship which has been bestowed upon you, I shall beseech you to let your citizenship be in heaven, and I shall urge that most prevailing argument, that the Lord Jesus Christ is coming, and therefore we should be as men and women who watch for our Lord, diligently doing service unto Him, that when He comes He may say unto us, “Well done, good and faithful servants.” I know that the grace which is in you will freely answer to such a plea.

Our text, I think, might be best translated thus—“Our citizenship is in heaven.” The French translation renders it, “As for us, our burgessship is in the heavens.” Doddridge paraphrases it, “But we converse as citizens of heaven, considering ourselves as denizens of the New Jerusalem, and only strangers and pilgrims upon earth.”

THE FIRST IDEA which is suggested by the verse under consideration is this—if our citizenship is in heaven, then WE ARE ALIENS HERE; we are strangers and foreigners, pilgrims and sojourners in the earth, as all our fathers were. In the words of Sacred Writ, “Here we have no continuing city,” but, “we desire a better country, that is a heavenly.”

SECONDLY, although aliens on earth, WE ARE CITIZENS IN HEAVEN. What is meant by our being citizens in heaven? Why, first that we are under heaven’s government! Christ, the King of heaven, reigns in our hearts; the laws of glory are the laws of our consciences; our daily prayer is, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” The proclamations issued from the throne of glory are freely received by us, the decrees of the great King we cheerfully obey. We are not without law to Christ. The Spirit of God rules in our mortal bodies, divine grace reigns through righteousness, and we wear the easy yoke of Jesus! O that He would sit as King in our hearts, like Solomon upon his throne of gold. We are Yours, Jesus, and all that we have; You rule without a rival.

As citizens of the New Jerusalem, we share heaven’s honors. The glory which belongs to beatified saints belongs to us, for we are already sons of God, already princes of the blood imperial! Already we wear the spotless robe of Jesus’ righteousness; already we have angels for our servitors, saints for our companions, Christ for our Brother, God for our Father, and a crown of immortality for our reward. We share the honors of citizenship, for we have come to the general assembly and Church of the first-born, whose names are written in heaven. “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it does not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that when He shall appear, we shall be like He is; for we shall see Him as He is.”

We must now come to our THIRD POINT, which is OUR CONVERSATION IS IN HEAVEN. Our walk and acts are such as are consistent with our dignity as citizens of heaven. Among the old Romans, when a dastardly action was proposed, it was thought a sufficient refusal to answer, “Romanus sum—I am a Roman.” Surely it should be a strong incentive to every good thing if we can claim to be freemen of the Eternal City! Let our lives be conformed to the glory of our citizenship. In heaven they are holy, so must we be—so are we if our citizenship is not a mere pretense. They are happy, so must we be, always rejoicing in the Lord!

In heaven they are obedient—so must we be, following the faintest monitions of the divine will. In heaven they are active, so should we be, both day and night praising and serving God. In heaven they are peaceful, so should we find a rest in Christ, and be at peace even now. In heaven they rejoice to behold the face of Christ, so should we be, always meditating upon Him, studying His beauties, and desiring to look into the truths of God which He has taught.

In heaven they are full of love, so should we love one another as brethren. In heaven they have sweet communion, one with another, so should we, who though many, are one body, be every one members one of the other. Before the throne they are free from envy and strife, ill-will, jealousy, emulation, falsehood, anger, so should we be—we should, in fact, seek while we are here, to keep up the manners and customs of the good old fatherland, so that, as in Paris, the Parisian soon says, “There goes John Bull,” so they should be able to say in this land, “There goes a heavenly citizen, one who is with us and among us, but is not of us.” Our very speech should be such that our citizenship should be detected! We should not be able to live long in a house without men finding out what we are.

The text says, “Our conversation is in heaven,” and I think we may also read it, as though it said, “OUR COMMERCE IS IN HEAVEN.” We are trading on earth, but still the bulk of our trade is with heaven. We trade for trinkets in this land, but our gold and silver are in heaven. We commune with heaven, and how? Our trade is with heaven by meditation; we often think of God, our Father, and Christ, our Brother; and, by the Spirit, the Comforter, we are brought in contemplative delight to the general assembly and Church of the first-born, whose names are written in heaven.

Time has gone; those clocks will strike when you ought not. There is a great reason why we should live like aliens and foreigners here, and that is because CHRIST IS COMING SOON! The early Church never forgot this. Did they not pant and thirst after the return of their ascended Lord? Like the 12 tribes, day and night they instantly watched for Messiah. But the Church has grown weary of this hope. There have been so many false prophets who tell us that Christ is coming, that the Church thinks He never will come; and she begins to deny, or to keep in the background the blessed doctrine of the second advent of her Lord from heaven. I do not think the fact that there have been many false prophets, should make us doubt our Lord’s true Word. Perhaps the very frequency of these mistakes may show that there is truth at the bottom! You have a friend who is ill, and the doctor says he cannot last long. He must die; you have called a great many times expecting to hear of his departure, but he is still alive. Now the frequent errors of the physicians do not prove that your friend will not die one of these days, and that speedily, too! And so, though the false prophets have said, “Lo, here,” and “Lo, there,” and yet Christ has not come—that does not prove that His glorious appearing will never arrive.

He may appear tonight, while we stand here; just when we think that he will not come, the thief shall break into the house. We ought, therefore, to be always watching! Since the gold and silver that you have will be worthless at His advent; since your lands and estates will melt to smoke when He appears; since, then the righteous shall be rich, and the godly shall be great, lay not up your treasure here, for it may at any time vanish, at any time disappear, for Christ at any moment may come!

I think the Church would do well to be always living as if Christ might come today. I feel persuaded she is doing ill if she works as if He would not come till 1866, because He may come before, and He may come this moment! Let her always be living as if He would come NOW, still acting in her Master’s sight, and watching unto prayer.

“He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!” [Revelation 22:20]

THE GOD WHO MAKES HIS PEOPLE WILLING!

THE GOD WHO MAKES HIS PEOPLE WILLING!

A.W. Pink

“Thy people shall be willing in the day of Thy power!” [Psalm 110:3]

We must first distinguish carefully between God’s ‘Effectual call’ which is received by the Elect and that which comes to ALL who are under the sound of the Word: the one is PARTICULAR, the other GENERAL. Whosoever comes under the sound of the Word, yea, all who have it in their hands in its written form, are called by God to forsake their sins and seek His mercy in Christ.

This general call comes to the elect and non-elect alike: but alas, it is refused by all of them. It is described in such passages as, “Unto you, 0 men, I call; and my voice is to the sons of man” (Prov. 8:4), “many [are] called, but few chosen” (Matt. 20:16). Their rejection of the same is depicted thus: “Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded” (Prov. 1:24), “They all with one consent began to make excuse” (Luke 14:18). But it is with the special and particular call, of which the elect alone are the subjects, that we are now concerned.

Second, then, this calling of the elect is an INDIVIDUAL AND INWARD ONE, falling not upon the outward ear, but penetrating to their very hearts. It is the Word of God’s power, reaching them in their natural state of spiritual death and quickening them into newness of life. It is the Good Shepherd seeking and saving His lost sheep and restoring them to His Father: as it is written, “He calleth His own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. And when He putteth forth His own sheep, He goeth before them, and the sheep follow Him; for they know His voice” (John 10:3, 4). From the legal side of things the salvation of God’s elect became an accomplished fact when Christ died and rose again, but not until the Spirit of God’s Son is sent into their hearts— “whereby they cry Abba, Father”—is it made good in their actual experience. It is by the Spirit alone that we are given a saving knowledge of the Truth, being led by Him into a right apprehension thereof: The Spirit so shines upon our understanding that we are enabled to take in the spiritual knowledge of God and His Son Jesus Christ.

Third, then, it is an EFFECTUAL call, being accomplished by the supernatural operations of the Spirit. It holds equally good of the new creation as of the old that, “He [God] spake, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast” (Ps. 33:9). It is in such passages as “Thy people shall be willing in the day of Thy power” (Ps. 110:3), this effectual call is referred to—their natural unwillingness to surrender themselves completely to the Lord’s claims is sweetly melted down by the communication of an overwhelming sense of God’s grace and love to them. Again; “All Thy children shall be taught of the Lord” (Isa. 54:13), so taught that He “hath given us an understanding, that we may know Him that is true” (1 John 5:20). Once more, this effectual call is God’s making good the promises of the new covenant: “I will put My laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to Me a people” (Heb. 8:10).

Theologians have wisely designated this the “effectual call” so as to distinguish it from the GENERAL AND OUTWARD ONE which comes to all who hear the gospel.

THIS EFFECTUAL CALL IS NOT AN INVITATION, but is the actual bestowment of life and light!

It is the immediate fruit of God’s wondrous and infinite love to our persons when we are altogether unlovely, yea, the subjects of nothing but what renders us repulsive and hateful (see Ezek. 16:4-8!). It is then that the Holy Spirit is given to the elect—given to make good in them what Christ wrought out for them. Let it be clearly recognized and thankfully owned that the gift of the Spirit to us is as great and grand a gift as the gift of Christ for us. By the Spirit’s inhabiting us we are sanctified and sealed unto the day of redemption. By the Spirit’s indwelling of us we become the temples of the living God, His dwelling-place on earth.

It is not sufficiently recognized that all covenant mercies are in the hand of the blessed Holy Spirit, whose office and work it is to bring home the elect (by effectual calling) to Christ, and to make known and apply to their souls the salvation which the Lord Jesus has fulfilled and wrought out for them. He comes from Heaven in consequence of Christ’s atonement and ascension, and proclaims salvation from the Lord for wretched sinners. He enters their hearts of sin and woe and makes known the salvation of God.

He puts them by believing on the person and work of Christ into possession of the things that accompany salvation, and then He becomes a Comforter to them. Such do not pray for the Spirit to come and regenerate them, for they have already received Him as a life-giving and sanctifying Spirit. What they must now do is pray for grace to receive Him as the Spirit of adoption, that He may witness with their spirit that they are the children of God.

Now this effectual call is a necessary and proper consequence and effect of God’s eternal election, for NONE are the recipients of this supernatural vocation but HIS CHOSEN ONES! Wherever predestination unto everlasting glory goes before concerning any person, then effectual calling unto faith and holiness infallibly follows. “God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth” (2 Thess. 2:13).

The elect are chosen unto salvation by the free and sovereign grace of God; but how is that salvation actually obtained? How are His favored ones brought into the personal possession of it? Through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth, and not otherwise. God’s decree of election is an ordination unto everlasting life and glory, and it is evident by holiness being effectually wrought in its objects by the regenerating and sanctifying operations of the Spirit. It is thereby that the Spirit communicates what Christ purchased for them.

“And that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had afore prepared unto glory, even us, whom He hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles” (Rom. 9:23, 24). In the verses immediately preceding the apostle had treated of the unspeakably solemn subject of how God shows His wrath and makes known His power in connection with the non-elect, but here he takes up the blessed theme of how God discovers the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy. This is by the effectual call which is received individually by His people.

That call is what serves to make manifest God’s everlasting grace toward us: as Romans 8:28 expresses it we are “the called according to His purpose”; in other words, the Spirit is given to us in order to the accomplishment of God’s decree, or to put it in another way, through his effectual call the believer may look upward to the eternal love of God unto him, much as he might through a chink in his wall peer through to the shining of the sun in the heavens.

O WHEN WILT THOU COME UNTO ME

O WHEN WILT THOU COME UNTO ME

“O, when wilt Thou come unto me?” (Psa. 101:2), is often your cry. But He will surely come, “for yet a little while, and He that shall come will come, and will not tarry,” (Heb. 10:37). Wherever there is a beginning of a work of grace upon the soul, there will be a carrying on; and where there is a carrying on, there will be a completion.

The Lord will never suffer His children to rest short of Himself. This is what they are sighing for—what they inwardly desire; and unless they are enabled to realize this, they can neither happily live nor comfortably die. – [J.C. Philpot]