SIN’S ENORMITY!

SIN’S ENORMITY!

A.W. Pink

“Oh, do not do THIS ABOMINABLE THING that I hate!” Jeremiah 44:4

If we took a survey of everything on the earth — we could find nothing so vile as sin. The basest and most contemptible thing in this world, has some degree of worth in it, as being the workmanship of God. But sin and its foul streams have not the least part of worth in them. Sin is WHOLLY EVIL without the least mixture of good — it is VILENESS IN THE ABSTRACT.

Sin’s heinousness appears in its AUTHOR: “The one who practices sin is of the Devil; for the Devil has sinned from the beginning.” Sin is the Devil’s trade, and he practices it incessantly!

SIN’S ENORMITY is seen in what it has done to man: it has completely ruined his nature and brought him under the eternal curse of God!

SIN IS THE SOURCE OF ALL OUR MISERIES. All evil and wretchedness are its fruits. There is . . .
no distress of the mind,
no anguish of the heart,
no pain of the body
— but is due to sin!

All the MISERIES which mankind groans under, are to be ascribed to sin!

SIN IS THE CAUSE OF ALL DIVINE PUNISHMENTS: ” Thy way and thy doings have procured these things unto thee; this is thy wickedness (punishment).” Had there been no sin, there would have been . . .
no wars,
no calamities,
no prisons,
no hospitals,
no insane asylums,
no cemeteries
no eternal Hell!
Yet who lays these things to heart?

“The deceitfulness of sin!” SIN ASSUMES MANY GARBS. When it appears in its nakedness — it is seen as a black and misshapen monster! How God Himself views it, may be learned from the various similitudes used by the Holy Spirit to set forth its ugliness and loathsomeness. Sin is likened to the SCUM of a seething pot in which is a detestable carcass — and to a dead and rotting body!

There is a far greater malignity in sin than is commonly supposed, even by the majority of church members. Men regard sin as an INFIRMITY, and term it a HUMAN FRAILTY or HEREDITARY WEAKNESS. The majority regard sin as a MERE TRIFLE.

Tens of thousands of RELIGIONISTS see so little FILTH in sin, that they imagine a few tears will wash away its stain. They perceive so little CRIMINALITY in it, that they persuade themselves that a few good works will make full reparation for it.

All comparisons fail to set forth the horrible malignity in THAT ABOMINABLE THING WHICH GOD HATES. We can say nothing more evil of sin, than to term it what it is!

WHAT SOME OLDER DIVINES SAID CONCERNING SIN – 

Men tell us in these days that sin is what you think it is. Well, it is not. Sin is what God thinks it is. You may think according to your own conscience. God thinks according to His. – John G. Lake

Any concept of grace that makes us feel more comfortable sinning is NOT biblical grace. God’s grace never encourages us to live in sin, on the contrary, it empowers us to say no to sin and yes to truth. — Randy Alcorn

Evangelical repentance is repentance of sin as sin: not of this sin nor of that, but of the whole mass. We repent of the sin of our nature as well as the sin of our practice. We bemoan sin within us and without us. We repent of sin itself as being an insult to God. Anything short of this is a mere surface repentance, and not a repentance which reaches to the bottom of the mischief. Repentance of the evil act, and not of the evil heart, is like men pumping water out of a leaky vessel, but forgetting to stop the leak. Some would dam up the stream, but leave the fountain still flowing; they would remove the eruption from the skin, but leave the disease in the flesh. — Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Sin is not to be ignored, nor minimised. It is the most patent fact in life, the darkest experience in the history of the race. It is the root of all the world’s tragedies. It is that which makes “conscience a thousand swords,” “the torture of an inward hell,” “the worm that doth begnaw the soul.” — James M. Campbell

People do not drift toward Holiness. Apart from grace-driven effort, people do not gravitate toward godliness, prayer, obedience to Scripture, faith, and delight in the Lord. We drift toward compromise and call it tolerance; we drift toward disobedience and call it freedom; we drift toward superstition and call it faith. We cherish the indiscipline of lost self-control and call it relaxation; we slouch toward prayerlessness and delude ourselves into thinking we have escaped legalism; we slide toward godlessness and convince ourselves we have been liberated. — D.A. Carson

Sin and the child of God are INCOMPATIBLE. They may occasionally meet; BUT THEY CANNOT LIVE TOGETHER IN HARMONY! — John R. W. Stott

 

Advertisements

THE GOD OF ALL COMFORT

THE GOD OF ALL COMFORT

Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the GOD OF ALL COMFORT; Who comforteth us in ALL our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. [2Cor 1:3,4]

“I have long perceived the truth of what the apostle says in 2 Corinthians 1:4 – It is God’s way to take His people, AND ESPECIALLY HIS SERVANTS, through trying and painful experiences, in order that they may USE to His glory the consolation wherewith He has comforted them.

It is those who know most of the plague of their own heart, who are best fitted to speak a word in season to weary souls. It is out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh, and it is he who has passed through the furnace who can best deal with those now in the fire.”

[Quoted from A.W. Pink’s – “Studies in Saving Faith”]

DON’T THROW IN THE TOWEL YET CHRISTIAN

DON’T THROW IN THE TOWEL YET CHRISTIAN

A.W. Pink

“And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” [Galatians 6:9]

Regeneration is but the commencement of the saving operations of the Holy Spirit, and those who are the favored subjects of them are assured that, “He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the Day of Jesus Christ” [Phi 1:6], causing them to grow in grace and become fruitful branches of the Vine.
Yet the divine work of grace in a soul is not carried forward MECHANICALLY without any concurrence on the part of its subjects. It is a fatal error to conclude that because the work of salvation and sanctification is a divine one — that WE have no responsibility in connection therewith. Scripture teaches the very OPPOSITE: we are exhorted to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling — BECAUSE it is God who works in us [Phi 2:12-13]. Grace is bestowed not to encourage IDLENESS — but to energize unto holy activity. The Spirit of God does not produce APATHY — but stirs those He indwells unto a diligent use of means. The one who was loudest in owning, “But by the grace of God I am what I am,” hesitated not to add, “but I labored more abundantly than they all!” [1 Corinthians 15:10].God always deals with His people as rational and accountable creatures. Unto those who believed on Him, the Lord Jesus said, “If you CONTINUE in my word, then are you my disciples indeed” [John 8:31], and not merely by lip profession. The apostles returned to their converts, “confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them TO CONTINUE in the faith,” warning them that they “must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God” [Act 14:22].

Walking that “narrow” way, which is the ONLY ONE “which leads unto life” [Mat 7:14], is not the easy matter which so many vainly imagine. Rather does it call for self-denial, godly fear, circumspection, and persevering effort. “AS you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord — SO walk in him” [Col 2:6] must be heeded by us if we are to make a good continuance. HOW did we “receive Christ Jesus the Lord”? By ceasing to fight against Him, and throwing down the weapons of our rebellion. By determining to end a life of self-will, giving ourselves up to Him freely and wholly, consenting to be His forever. By penitently confessing our sins and trusting in His redeeming blood. By coming empty-handed to draw upon His fullness.

How did we “receive” Him? As He is freely offered in the Gospel: “able also to save them to the uttermost all who come unto God by him” [Heb 7:25]. As a whole Christ: a PROPHET to teach, a PRIEST to atone, a KING to reign over us. As a COMPLETE Savior: to deliver from the penalty of sin, cleanse from its pollution, free from its power; to sanctify as well as justify, purify, and ultimately glorify. “SO walk you in him”: continue as you began — in subjection to, in dependence upon Him.

A Gospel FAITH — must issue in Gospel PRACTICE. “Walking in Christ means living OUT OF SELF, in conformity to Him. Only thus do we obtain evidence of having SAVINGLY “received” Him.

The GENUINENESS of faith is always seen in what it PRODUCES. Alas, the WALK of most professing Christians gives the lie to their TALK. A good continuance is only made possible by our regular use of those means of grace which God has appointed for His people.
If the WORD is neglected — the soul will be starved. . . .

If MEDITATION is not practiced — the heavenly manna will not be digested.

If PRAYER be omitted, or performed formally and mechanically — fresh supplies of grace will not be obtained.

Unless the love of God is kept constantly before the heart — the affections will soon cool.

Unless we draw daily upon Christ’s mediatorial fullness — we shall be feeble and incapable of wrestling with our foes.

Unless we tread the path of obedience — Satan will quickly overcome us.

There must also be a RIGHT USE of the means, or they will profit us nothing. The Word itself does not nourish — unless faith be mixed with it [Heb 4:2]. They must be used in a spirit of humble dependence on God, for they avail not apart from His BLESSING upon them. Put them not in the stead of Christ. Trust not in the mere use of them, as though your diligence therein ensured success. Yet they MUST BE USED patiently and perseveringly: “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not” [Gal 6:9]. Amen!

THE BLESSING OF GOD IS OUTSIDE THE CAMP OF APOSTATE CHRISTIANITY

THE BLESSING OF GOD IS OUTSIDE THE CAMP OF APOSTATE CHRISTIANITY

A.W. Pink

“I am thoroughly convinced that one of the chief hindrances today to many of the Lord’s people enjoying their inheritance is that they are in their WRONG PLACE, they are where Christ is not: he is on the outside of EVERYTHING CORPORATE.

To be where he is not is to miss the place of blessing, is to have our peace disturbed, and is to be corrupted by those who are not walking with Him. I am more firmly convinced today than I was 14 months ago that our place is on the ‘outside of the camp’. That is the place of reproach, loneliness, and of testing; but as it is the place where CHRIST is, it is, necessarily, the place of blessing, peace and joy”.
[A.W. Pink in his letter to the Colemans. Quoted from ‘The Life of Arthur W. Pink’ – Iain H. Murray]

“COME OUT FROM AMONG THEM, AND BE YE SEPARATE, SAITH THE LORD! [2 Corinthians 6:17].

And what will follow when this Divine command is obeyed? Why, then we shall prove the truth of those words of Christ: “If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world HATETH you (John 15:19). WHICH “world” is specifically in view here? Let the previous verse answer: “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.”

WHAT “world” hated Christ and hounded Him to death? The RELIGIOUS world, those who pretended to be most zealous for God’s glory. So it is now. Let the Christian turn his back upon a Christ—dishonoring Christendom, and his fiercest foes and most relentless and unscrupulous enemies will be those who claim to be Christians themselves!

“Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you… for My sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad” (Matthew 5:11,12).

Ah, my brother, it is a healthy sign, a sure mark that you are profiting from the Word, when the religious world hates you. BUT IF, ON THE OTHER HAND, YOU STILL HAVE A “GOOD STANDING” IN THE “CHURCHES” OR “ASSEMBLIES” THERE IS GRAVE REASON TO FEAR THAT YOU LOVE THE PRAISE OF MEN MORE THAN THAT OF GOD! [Profiting from the Word]

Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, AND TOUCH NOT the unclean thing.” [2Cor6:14,17]

O my Christian reader, seek grace to obtain the uncompromising spirit of Moses. When urged to worship God in “Egypt” (i. e. the white-washed “churches” OF THE WORLD), say it is impossible, for “what communion hath light with darkness!” when pressed to leave your children in a worldly Sunday School, to be instructed by those who have not the fear of God upon them, refuse, when invited to at least retain your membership in the HOLY SPIRIT-DESERTED “CHURCHES” and contribute of your means to their upkeep, decline to do so.

That going forth to meet the Lord is to be understood as expressing both external and internal action. Externally, it signifies separation from the world, especially its pleasures, for Christ will not be met with while we waste our time engaging in them. “Be not unequally yoked together with unbelievers… come out from among them” (2 Corinthians 6:14-17) must be heeded if we would “meet the Bridegroom.” More particularly, their going forth denoted a turning of their backs upon the apostate ECCLESIASTICAL SYSTEM: Christ had informed His disciples that he had abandoned a Judaism which had rejected Him (Matthew 23:37, 38), so if they would meet with Him, they too must “go forth unto Him outside the camp” (Hebrews 13:15). THE SAME IS TRUE NOW. [Practical Christianity]

[Writing to Lowell Green, September 2, 1934]
My earnest advice is for you to have little or NOTHING TO DO with the people of the religious world today. They CANNOT help you spiritually, and where they help not they are bound to HINDER! Be much in prayer and on your guard against a holier-than -thou attitude. if we are not very watchful, separation soon leads to self- righteousness. On the other hand, association with empty professors soon corrupts and paralyzes true spirituality.

Prayer, reading and meditation will do far more for your soul – with God’s blessing on the same – than attending meetings and being active in ‘Christian service’

PREDESTINATION FOUND THROUGHOUT SCRIPTURE

PREDESTINATION FOUND THROUGHOUT SCRIPTURE

A.W. Pink

There is not a single book in the Word of God where election is not either expressly stated, strikingly illustrated, or clearly implied. Genesis is full of it: the difference which the Lord made between Nahor and Abraham, Ishmael and Isaac, and His loving Jacob and hating Esau are cases to the point. In Exodus we behold the distinction made by God between the Egyptians and the Hebrews. In Leviticus the atonement and all the sacrifices were for the people of God, nor were they bidden to go and “offer” them to the surrounding heathen. In Numbers Jehovah used a Balaam to herald the fact that Israel were “the people” who “shall dwell alone, and shall not be numbered among the nations” (23:9); and therefore was he constrained to cry “How goodly are thy tents, O Jacob, and thy tabernacles, 0 Israel” (24:5). In Deuteronomy it is recorded “The Lord’s portion is his people; Jacob is the lot of his inheritance” (32:9).

In Joshua we behold the discriminating mercy of the Lord bestowed upon Rahab the harlot, while the whole of her city was doomed to destruction. In Judges the sovereignty of God appears in the unlikely instruments selected, by which He wrought victory for Israel: Deborah, Gideon, Samson. In Ruth we have Orpah kissing her mother-in-law and returning to her gods, whereas Ruth cleaves to her and obtained inheritance in Israel—who made them to differ? In 1 Samuel David is chosen for the throne, preferred to his older brethren. In 2 Samuel we learn of the everlasting covenant “ordered in all things, and sure” (23:5). In 1 Kings Elijah becomes a blessing to a single widow selected from many; while in 2 Kings Naaman alone, of all the lepers, was cleansed. In 1 Chronicles it is written “Ye children of Jacob, His chosen ones” (16:13); while in 2 Chronicles we are made to marvel at the grace of God bestowing repentance upon Manasseh.

And so we might go on. The Psalms, Prophets, Gospels and Epistles are so full of this doctrine that he may run that readeth it. [Hab 2:2]

How come God chose YOU to Salvation?!

How come God chose YOU to Salvation?!

 A.W. Pink

The cause of ‘Election’ or ‘Predestination’ is not in the creature elected, but in God’s own Sovereign Will! God purposed in Himself to elect a certain people, not because of anything good in them or from them, either actual or foreseen, but solely out of His own mere pleasure. As to why He chose the ones He did, we do not know, and can only say, “Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Thy sight.”

The plain truth of Romans 8:29 is that God, before the foundation of the world, singled out certain sinners and appointed them unto salvation (2 Thess. 2:13). This is clear from the concluding words of the verse: “Predestinated to be conformed to the image of His Son,” etc. God did not predestinate those whom He foreknew were “conformed,” but, on the contrary, those whom He “foreknew” (i.e., loved and elected) He predestinated to be conformed. Their conformity to Christ is not the cause, but the effect of God’s foreknowledge and predestination.

God did not elect any sinner because He foresaw that he would believe, for the simple but sufficient reason that no sinner ever does believe until God gives him faith; just as no man sees until God gives him sight. Sight is God’s gift, seeing is the consequence of my using His gift. So faith is God’s gift (Eph. 1:8,9), believing is the consequence of my using His gift. If it were true that God had elected certain ones to be saved because in due time they would believe, then that would make believing a meritorious act, and in that event the saved sinner would have ground for “boasting,” which Scripture emphatically denies: Ephesians 2:9.

Surely God’s Word is plain enough in teaching that believing is not a meritorious act. It affirms that Christians are a people “who have believed through grace” (Acts 18:27). If then, they have believed “through grace,” there is absolutely nothing meritorious about “believing,” and if nothing meritorious, it could not be the ground or cause which moved God to choose them. No; God’s choice proceeds not from anything in us, or anything from us, but solely from His own sovereign pleasure. Once more, in Romans 11:5, we read of “a remnant according to the election of grace.” There it is, plain enough; election itself is of grace, and grace is unmerited favour something for which we had no claim upon God whatsoever.

It thus appears that it is highly important for us to have clear and scriptural views of the “foreknowledge” of God. Erroneous conceptions about it lead inevitably to thoughts most dishonoring to Him. The popular idea of Divine foreknowledge is altogether inadequate. God not only knew the end from the beginning, but He planned, fixed, predestinated everything from the beginning. And, as cause stands to effect, so God’s purpose is the ground of His prescience. If then the reader be a real Christian, he is so because God chose him in Christ before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4), and chose not because He foresaw you would believe, but chose simply because it pleased Him to choose: chose you notwithstanding your natural unbelief. This being so, all the glory and praise belongs alone to Him.

You have no ground for taking any credit to yourself. You have “believed through grace” (Acts 18:27), and that, because your very election was “of grace” (Rom. 11:5).

[Quoted from A.W. Pink’s ‘Foreknowledge of God’]

A CLOSER LOOK AT THE CONTROVERSIAL HEBREWS 6

A CLOSER LOOK AT THE CONTROVERSIAL HEBREWS 6

[The following is gleaned and paraphrased from the writings of A.W. Pink, John Owen and John Brown] by Michael Jeshurun]

“For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, if they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.”  [Heb 6:4-6]

Any Christian, who requests for an explanation or commentary of Hebrews chapter 6, usually has verses 4-6 in mind. And these verses before us have proved to be one of the fiercest theological battlegrounds of the centuries. It is at THIS POINT that the hottest fights between Calvinists and Arminians have been waged. Those who believe that it is possible for a real Christian to so sin and backslide as to fall from grace and be lost eternally have confidently appealed to these verses for proof of their THEORY; while those who hold to the eternal security and the perseverance of the saints have too easily explained it away as that which describes only empty professors.

The chief problem in trying to give the correct teaching on a portion like this on a ‘Blog’ is the limitation of both time and space. TIME, because MANY who may be desirous to know the meaning thereof have LITTLE TIME to read a LONG post; and as for space, there is only so much which can be posted on a Blog post. But a difficult portion of scripture such as this is not easily dealt with in a few words or even in a few paragraphs. But with God’s enabling let us do our best and pray for God’s enablement, that He may be glorified and the saints may be edified.

In considering the persons spoken of in the above verses, it is of first importance to note that the apostle does not say, “US who were once enlightened”, nor even “YOU“, instead, he says “THOSE“. In sharp contrast from those spoken of in the passage, he says to the Hebrew believers, “Beloved, we are persuaded better things of YOU“.

Afterwards, when the apostle comes to declare his hope and persuasion concerning these Hebrew believers that they were not such as those whom he had before described in 4-6, nor such as would fall away unto perdition, he doth it upon three grounds whereon they were differenced from them as:

 1. That they had such things as did ‘ACCOMPANY SALVATION’; that is, such as salvation is inseparable from.

 2. He describes them by their DUTIES OF OBEDIENCE AND FRUITS OF FAITH. This was their ‘work and labor of love’ towards the name of God, verse 10. And hereby, also, doth he differentiate them from those in the text, concerning whom he supposeth that they may perish eternally, which these fruits of saving faith and sincere love cannot do.

 3. He adds, that, in the preservation of those there mentioned, the FAITHFULNESS OF GOD was concerned: ‘GOD IS NOT UNRIGHTEOUS TO FORGET’. For they were such he intended as were interested in the covenant of grace, with respect whereunto alone there is any engagement on the faithfulness or righteousness of God to preserve men from apostasy and ruin; and there is so with an equal respect unto all who are so taken into the covenant. But of those in the text he supposeth no such thing; and thereupon doth not intimate that either the righteousness or faithfulness of God was anyway engaged for their preservation, but rather the contrary” (Dr. John Owen).

It is scarcely accurate to designate as “mere professors” those described in verses 4,5. They were a class who had enjoyed GREAT PRIVILEGES; beyond any such as now accompany the preaching of the Gospel. Those here portrayed are said to have had FIVE advantages, which is in contrast from the six things enumerated in verses 1, 2, which things belong to man in the flesh, under Judaism. YET WERE THEY NOT TRUE CHRISTIANS. This is evident from WHAT IS NOT SAID. Observe, they were not spoken of as GOD’S ELECT, AS THOSE FOR WHOM CHRIST DIED, AS THOSE WHO WERE BORN OF THE SPIRIT. They are not said to be JUSTIFIED, FORGIVEN, ACCEPTED IN THE BELOVED. Nor is anything said of their faith, love, or obedience. Yet these are the VERY THINGS WHICH DISTINGUISH A REAL CHILD OF GOD.

FIRST it speaks of them as being ‘enlightened’. The Greek word for “enlightened” here signifies “to give light or knowledge by teaching”. It is so rendered by the Septuagint in Judges 13:8, 2 Kings 12:2, 17:27. The apostle Paul uses it for “to make manifest”, or “bring to light” in 1 Corinthians 4:5, 2 Timothy 1:10. Satan blinds the minds of those who believe not, lest “the light of the gospel should shine unto them” (2 Cor. 4:4), that is, give the knowledge of it. Thus, “enlightened” here means to be instructed in the doctrine of the gospel, so as to have a CLEAR APPREHENSION OF IT. In the parallel passage in Hebrews 10:26 the same people are said to have “received the knowledge of the truth”, cf. also 2 Peter 2:20, 21. It is, however, ONLY A NATURAL KNOWLEDGE OF SPIRITUAL THINGS, SUCH AS IS ACQUIRED BY OUTWARD HEARING OR READING; just as one may be enlightened by taking up the special study of one of the sciences. It falls far short of THAT SPIRITUAL ENLIGHTENMENT WHICH TRANSFORMS (see 2 Cor. 3:18). An illustration of an unregenerate person being “enlightened”, as here, is found in the case of Balaam; Numbers 24:4.

SECOND, they had “tasted” of the heavenly gift. To “taste” is to have a personal experience of, in contrast from mere report. “Tasting does not include eating, much less digesting and turning into nourishment what is so tasted; for its nature being only thereby discerned it may be refused, yea, though we like its relish and savor, on some other consideration. The persons here described, then, are those who have to a certain degree understood and relished the revelation of mercy; like the stony-ground hearers they have received the Word with a transient joy” (John Owen). The “tasting” is in contrast from the “eating” of John 6:50-56.

THIRD, they were “made partakers of the Holy Spirit”. First, it should be pointed out that the Greek word for “partakers” here is a different one from that used in Colossians 1:12 and 2 Peter 1:4, where real Christians are in view. The word here simply means “companions”, referring to what is EXTERNAL RATHER THAN INTERNAL. It is to be observed that this item is placed in the center of the five, and this because it describes the animating principle of the other four, which are all effects. THESE APOSTATES HAD NEVER BEEN “BORN OF THE SPIRIT” (JOHN 3:6), STILL LESS WERE THEIR BODIES HIS “TEMPLES” (1 COR. 6:19). NOR DO WE BELIEVE THIS VERSE TEACHES THAT THE HOLY SPIRIT HAD, AT ANY TIME, WROUGHT WITHIN THEM, OTHERWISE PHILIPPIANS 1:6 WOULD BE CONTRAVENED. It means that they had shared in the benefit of His supernatural operations and manifestations: as “The place was shaken” (Acts 4:31) illustrates.

FOURTH, “And have tasted the good Word of God”. “I understand by this expression the PROMISE OF GOD RESPECTING THE MESSIAH, the sum and substance of all. It deserves notice that this promise is by way of eminence termed by Jeremiah ‘that good word’ (Jer. 33:14). To ‘taste’, then, this ‘good Word of God’, is to experience that God has been faithful to His promise—to enjoy, so far as an unconverted man can enjoy the blessings and advantages which flow from that promise being fulfilled. To ‘taste the good Word of God’, seems, just to enjoy the advantages of the new dispensation” (Dr. J. Brown). Further confirmation that the apostle is here referring to that which these apostates had witnessed of the fulfillment of God’s promise is obtained by comparing Jeremiah 29:10, “After seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform My good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place”.

Observe how studiously the apostle still keeps to the word “TASTE“, the better to enable us to IDENTIFY THEM. They could not say with Jeremiah, “Thy words were found and I did EAT THEM” (Jer. 15:16). “It is as though he said, I speak not of those who have received nourishment; but of such as have so far TASTED it, as that they ought to have desired it as ‘sincere milk’ and grown thereby” (Dr. John Owen). A solemn example of one who merely “tasted” the good Word of God is found in Mark 6:20: “for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just man and an holy, and observed him; and when he heard him, HE DID MANY THINGS, AND HEARD HIM GLADLY“.

FIFTH, “And the powers of the world to come,” or “age to come.” The reference here is to the new dispensation which was to be ushered in by Israel’s Messiah according to Old Testament predictions. It corresponds with “these last days” of Hebrews 1:2, and is in contrast from the “time past” or Mosaic economy. Their Messiah was none other than the “mighty God” (Isa. 9), and wondrous and glorious, stupendous and unique, were His miraculous works. Of these mighty “powers” these apostates had “tasted”, or had an experience of. They had been PERSONAL WITNESSES OF THE MIRACLES OF CHRIST, AND ALSO OF THE WONDERS THAT FOLLOWED HIS ASCENSION, WHEN SUCH GLORIOUS MANIFESTATIONS OF THE SPIRIT WERE GIVEN. Thus they were “without excuse”. Convincing and conclusive evidence had been set before them, but there had been no answering faith in their hearts. A solemn example of this is found in John 11:47, 48.

“If they shall fall away”. The Greek word here is very strong and emphatic, even stronger than the one used in Matthew 7:27, where it is said of the house built on the sand, “and great was the fall thereof”. It is a COMPLETE FALLING AWAY, A TOTAL ABANDONMENT OF CHRISTIANITY WHICH IS HERE IN VIEW. It is a willful turning of the back on God’s revealed truth, an utter repudiation of the Gospel. It is making “shipwreck of the faith” (1 Tim. 1:19). THIS TERRIBLE SIN IS NOT COMMITTED BY A MERE NOMINAL PROFESSOR, FOR HE HAS NOTHING REALLY TO FALL AWAY FROM, SAVE AN EMPTY NAME. The class here described are such as had had their minds enlightened, their consciences stirred, their affections moved to a considerable degree, and yet who were never brought from death unto life. NOR IS IT BACKSLIDING CHRISTIANS WHO ARE IN VIEW. It is not simply “fall into sin”, this or that sin. The greatest “sin” which a regenerated man can possibly commit is the personal denial of Christ: Peter was guilty of this, yet was he “renewed again unto repentance”. It is the total renunciation of all the distinguishing truths and principles of Christianity, and this not secretly, but openly, which constitutes Apostasy.

“If they shall fall away”. “This is scarcely a fair translation. It has been said that the apostle did not here assert that such persons did or do ‘fall away’; but that if they did—a supposition which, however, could never be realized—then the consequence would be they could not be ‘renewed again unto repentance’. THE WORDS LITERALLY RENDERED ARE, ‘AND HAVE FALLEN AWAY’, OR, ‘YET HAVE FALLEN’. The apostle obviously intimates that such persons might, and that such persons did, ‘fall away’. BY ‘FALLING AWAY’, WE ARE PLAINLY TO UNDERSTAND WHAT IS COMMONLY CALLED APOSTASY. This does not consist in an occasional falling into actual sin, however gross and aggravated; nor in the renunciation of some of the principles of Christianity, even though those should be of considerable importance; but in an open, total, determined renunciation of all the constituent principles of Christianity, and a return to a false religion, such as that of unbelieving Jews or heathens, or to open infidelity and open godlessness” (Dr. J. Brown).

Now it is impossible to “renew again unto repentance” those who have totally abandoned the Christian revelation. It needs to be carefully observed that in the whole of this passage from Hebrews 5:11 onwards the apostle is speaking of his own ministry. In God’s hands, His servants are instruments by which He works and through whom He accomplishes His evangelical purpose. Thus Paul could properly say “I have begotten you through the gospel” (1 Cor. 4:15). And again, “My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you” (Gal. 4:19). So the servants of God had, through the preaching of the Gospel, “renewed unto repentance” those spoken of in Hebrews 6:4. But they had apostatized; they had totally repudiated the Gospel. It was therefore “impossible” for the servants of God to “renew them again unto repentance”, for the all-sufficient reason that THEY HAD NO OTHER MESSAGE TO PROCLAIM TO THEM. They had no other Gospel in reserve, no further motives to present. Christ crucified had been set before them. Him they now denounced as an Imposter. There was “none other name” whereby they could be saved. THEIR PUBLIC RENUNCIATION OF CHRIST RENDERED THEIR CASE HOPELESS SO FAR AS GOD’S SERVANTS WERE CONCERNED. “LET THEM ALONE” (MATTHEW 15:19) WAS NOW THEIR ORDERS: COMPARE JUDE 22. Whether or not it was possible for God, consistently with His holiness, to shame them, our passage does not decide.

“Seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh” (verse 6). This is brought in to show the aggravation of their awful crime and the impossibility of their being renewed again unto repentance. By renouncing their Christian profession they declared Christ to be an Imposter. Thus they were irreclaimable. To attempt any further reasoning with them, would only be casting pearls before swine. With this verse should be carefully compared the parallel passage in Hebrews 10:26-29. These apostates had “received the knowledge of the truth”, though not a saving knowledge of it. Afterward they sinned “willfully”: there was a deliberate and open disavowal of the truth. The nature of their particular sin is termed a “treading under foot the Son of God (SOMETHING WHICH NO REAL CHRISTIAN EVER DOES) and counting (esteeming) the blood of the covenant an unholy thing”, that is, looking upon the One who hung on the Cross as a common malefactor. For such there “remaineth no more sacrifice for sins”. Their case is hopeless so far as man is concerned; and the writer believes, such are abandoned by God also.

“Seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put Him to an open shame”. “They thus identify themselves with His crucifiers—they entertained and avowed sentiments which were He on earth and in their power, would induce them to crucify Him. They exposed Him to infamy, made a public example of Him. They did more to dishonor Jesus Christ than His murderers did. They never professed to acknowledge His divine mission; but these apostates had made such a profession—they had made a kind of trial of Christianity, and, after trial, had rejected it” (Dr. J. Brown).

Taking the passage as a whole, it needs to be remembered that ALL WHO HAD PROFESSED TO RECEIVE THE GOSPEL WERE NOT BORN OF GOD: THE PARABLE OF THE SOWER SHOWS THAT. Intelligence might be informed, conscience searched, natural affections stirred, and yet there be “NO ROOT” in them [Job 19:28]. All is not gold that glitters. THERE HAS ALWAYS BEEN A “MIXT MULTITUDE” (Ex. 12:38) who accompany the people of God. Moreover, there is in the real Christian the old heart, which is “deceitful above all things and desperately wicked”, and therefore is he in constant need of faithful warning. Such, God has given in every dispensation: Genesis 2:17; Leviticus 26:15, 16; Matthew 3:8; Romans 11:21; 1 Corinthians 10:12.

Finally, let it be said that while Scripture speaks plainly and positively of the perseverance of the saints, yet it is a perseverance of SAINTS, not UNREGENERATE PROFESSORS. Divine preservation is not only in a safe state, but also in a holy course of disposition and conduct. We are “kept by the power of God through faith”. We are kept by the Spirit working in us a spirit of entire dependency, renouncing our own wisdom and strength. THE ONLY PLACE FROM WHICH WE CANNOT FALL IS ONE DOWN IN THE DUST. It is there the Lord brings His own people, weaning them from ALL CONFIDENCE IN THE FLESH, and giving them to experience that it is when they are weak they are strong. SUCH, AND SUCH ONLY, ARE SAVED AND SAFE FOREVER.

[The above is gleaned and paraphrased from the writings of A.W. Pink, John Owen and John Brown]

THE GOD WHO NEVER FORGETS YOU

THE GOD WHO NEVER FORGETS YOU

A.W. Pink

“Who remembered us in our low estate: for his mercy endureth for ever.” [Psalm 136:23

“Who remembered us.” This is in striking and blessed contrast from our forgettings of Him. Like every other faculty of our beings, the memory has been affected by the Fall and bears on it the marks of depravity. This is seen from its power to retain what is worthless and the difficulty encountered to hold fast that which is good. A foolish nursery-rhyme or song heard in youth, is carried with us to the grave; a helpful sermon is forgotten within twenty-four hours! But most tragic and solemn of all is the ease with which we forget God and His countless mercies. But, blessed be His name, God never forgets us. He is the faithful Rememberer.

We were very much impressed when, on consulting the concordance, we found that the first five times the word “remember” is used in Scripture, in each case it is connected with God. “And God remembered Noah, and every living thing, and all the cattle that was with him in the ark” (Gen. 8:1). “And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth” (Gen. 9:16). “And it came to pass, when God destroyed the cities of the plain, that God remembered Abraham, and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow, when He overthrew the cities in the which Lot dwelt” (Gen. 19:29), etc. The first time it is used of man we read, “Yet did not the chief butler remember Joseph, but forgat him” (Gen. 40:23)!

The historical reference here is to the children of Israel, when they were toiling amid the brick-kilns of Egypt. Truly they were in a “low estate”: a nation of slaves, groaning beneath the lash of merciless task-masters, oppressed by a godless and heartless king. But when there was none other eye to pity, Jehovah looked upon them and heard their cries of distress. He “remembered” them in their low estate. And why? Exodus 2:24,25 tells us: “And God heard their groaning, and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. And God looked upon the children of Israel, and God had respect unto it.”

Our text is not to be limited to the literal seed of Abraham: it has reference to the whole “Israel of God” (Gal. 6:16). The saints of this present Day of salvation also unite in saying, “Who remembered us in our low estate.” How “low” was our “estate” by nature! As fallen creatures we lay in our misery and wretchedness, unable to deliver or help ourselves. But, in wondrous grace, God took pity on us. His strong arm reached down and rescued us. He came to where we lay, saw us, and had compassion on us (Luke 10:33). Therefore can each Christian say, “He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings” (Psa. 40:2).

And why did He “remember” us? The very word “remember” tells of previous thoughts of love and mercy towards us. As it was with the children of Israel in Egypt, so it was with us in our ruined condition by nature. He “remembered” His covenant, that covenant into which He had entered with our Surety from everlasting. As we read in Titus 1:2 of eternal life “which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world was. Promised to Christ, that He would give that eternal life to those for whom our covenant Head should transact. Yes, God “remembered” that He had “chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world” (Eph. 1:4), therefore did He, in due time, bring us from death unto life.

Yet this blessed word goes beyond our initial experience of God’s saving grace. Historically, our text refers not only to God remembering His people while they were in Egypt, but also, as the context shows, while they were in the Wilderness, on their way to the Promised Land. Israel’s experiences in the desert but foreshadow the saints’ walk through this hostile world. And Jehovah’s “remembrance” of them, manifested in the daily supply of their every need, adumbrated the rich provisions of His grace for us while we journey to our Home on High. Our present estate, here on earth, is but a lowly one, for we do not now reign as kings. Yet, is our God ever mindful of us, and hourly does He minister to us.

“Who remembered us in our low estate.” Not always are we permitted to dwell upon the mount. As in the natural world, so in our experiences. Bright and sunny days give place to dark and cloudy ones: summer is followed by winter. Disappointments, losses, afflictions, bereavements came our way, and we were brought low. And ofttimes just when we seemed to most need the comfort of friends, they failed us. Those we counted on to help, forgot us. But, even then, there was One “who remembered us” and showed Himself to be “the same yesterday and today and forever,” and then did we prove afresh that “His mercy endureth forever” (1 Chron. 16:34)

“Who remembered us in our low estate.” There are some who may read these lines that will think of another application of these words: namely, the time when you left your first love, when your heart grew cold, and your life became worldly. When you were in a sadly back-slidden state. Then, indeed, was your estate a low one; yet even then did our faithful God “remember” thee. Yes, each of us has cause to say with the Psalmist “He restoreth my soul; He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake” (23:3).

“Who remembered us in our low estate.” Still another application of these words may be made, namely, to the last great crisis of the saint, as he passes out of this world. As the vital spark of the body grows dim and nature fails, then too is our “estate” low. But then also the Lord remembereth us, for “His mercy endureth for ever. Man’s extremity is but God’s opportunity. His strength is made perfect in our weakness. It is then that he “remembers” us by making good His comforting promises, “Fear thou not, for I am with thee; be not dismayed, for I am thy God; I will strengthen thee, yea, I will help thee, yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of My righteousness” (Isa. 41:10).

“Who remembered us in our low estate.” Surely this text will furnish us with suitable words to express our thanksgiving when we are at Home, present with the Lord. How we shall then praise Him for His covenant faithfulness, His matchless grace, and His loving kindness, for having “remembered us in our low estate! Then shall we know, even as we are known. Our very memories will be renewed, perfected, and we shall remember all the way the Lord our God hath led us” (Deut. 8:2), recalling with gratitude and joy His faithful remembrances, acknowledging with adoration that “His mercy endureth for ever.”

SLEEP – A DIVINE GIFT

SLEEP – A DIVINE GIFT

 A.W. Pink

“It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: for so He giveth His beloved sleep”.  [Psalm 127:2]

How often is it now lost sight of that the Lord cares for the bodies of His saints as well as for their souls. This is more or less recognized and owned by believers in the matter of food and clothing, health and strength, but it is widely ignored by many concerning the point we are here treating of.

SLEEP is as imperative for our physical well-being as is food and drink, and the one is as much the GIFT of our heavenly Father as is the other.

We cannot put ourselves to sleep by any effort of will, as those who suffer with insomnia quickly discover. Nor does exercise and manual labour of itself ensure sleep: have you ever lain down almost exhausted and then found you were “too tired to sleep”?

Sleep is a DIVINE GIFT, but the nightly recurrence of it blinds us to the fact.

When is so pleases Him, God withholds sleep, and then we have to say with the Psalmist, “Thou holdest mine eyes waking” (77:4). But that is the exception rather than the rule, and deeply thankful should we be that it is so. Day by day the Lord feeds us, and night by night He “giveth His beloved sleep.” Thus in this little detail—of Elijah’s sleeping under the juniper tree—which we are likely to pass over lightly, we should perceive the gracious hand of God ministering in tenderness to the needs of one who is dear unto Him.

Yes, “the Lord pitieth them that fear Him,” and why? “for He knoweth our frame; He remembereth that we are dust” (Ps. 103:14). He is mindful of our frailty, and tempers His winds accordingly; He is aware when our energies are spent, and graciously renews our strength. It was not God’s design that His servant should die of exhaustion in the wilderness after his long, long flight from Jezreel, so he mercifully refreshes his body with sleep. And thus compassionately does He deal with us.

Alas, how little are we affected by the Lord’s goodness and grace unto us. The unfailing recurrence of His mercies both temporally and spiritually inclines us to take them as a matter of course. So dull of understanding are we, so cold our hearts Godward, it is to be feared that most of the time we fail to realize WHOSE loving hand it is which is ministering to us. Is not this the very reason why we do not begin really to value our health until it is taken from us, and not until we spend night after night tossing upon a bed of pain do we perceive the worth of regular sleep with which we were formerly favored?

And such vile creatures are we that, when illness and insomnia come upon us, instead of improving the same by repenting of our former ingratitude, and humbly confessing the same to God, we murmur and complain at the hardness of our present lot and wonder what we have done to deserve such treatment. O let those of us who are still blessed with good health and regular sleep fail not daily to return thanks for such privileges and earnestly seek grace to use the strength from them to the glory of God.

[Quoted from A.W. Pink’s ‘Life of Elijah’]

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.