THE BLESSEDNESS OF BEING PERSECUTED FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS SAKE

THE BLESSEDNESS OF BEING PERSECUTED FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS SAKE

A.W. Pink

“Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for My sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you” [Matthew 5:10-12]

The Christian life is full of strange paradoxes that are quite insoluble to human reason, but that are easily understood by the spiritual mind. God’s saints rejoice with joy unspeakable, yet they also mourn with a lamentation to which the worldling is an utter stranger. The believer in Christ has been brought into contact with a source of vital satisfaction that is capable of meeting every longing, yet he pants with a yearning like that of a thirsty heart (Ps. 42:1). He sings and makes melody in his heart to the Lord, yet he groans deeply and daily. His experience is often painful and perplexing, yet he would not part with it for all the gold in the world. These puzzling paradoxes are among the evidences he possesses that he is indeed blessed of God. Such are the thoughts evoked by our present text. Who, by mere reasoning, would ever conclude that the reviled, the persecuted, the defamed, are blessed?

It is a strong proof of human depravity that men’s curses and Christ’s blessings should meet on the same persons. Who would have thought that a man could be persecuted and reviled, and have all manner of evil said of him, for righteousness’ sake? And do wicked men really hate justice and love those who defraud and wrong their neighbours? No; they do not dislike righteousness as it respects themselves: it is only that species of it which respects God and religion that excites their hatred. If Christians were content with doing justly and loving mercy, and would cease walking humbly with God [Micah 6:8], they might go through the world, not only in peace, but with applause; but he that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution (2 Tim. 3:12). Such a life reproves the ungodliness of men and provokes their resentment (Andrew Fuller).

Being “persecuted for righteousness’ sake” means being opposed because of right living. Those who perform their Christian duty condemn those who live to please self, and therefore evoke their hatred. This persecution assumes various forms, from annoying and taunting to oppressing and tormenting. The Lord here prepares us to expect that loyalty to Him and His Gospel will result in our own peace being disturbed, introducing us to the prospect of strife and warfare. Proof of this is found when He says, “For so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.” It is service for God that calls forth the fiercest opposition. Necessarily so, for we are living in a world that is hostile to Christ, as His cross has once and for all demonstrated.

Persecution has ever been the lot of God’s people. Cain slew Abel. “And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous” (1 John 3:12). Joseph was persecuted by his brethren, and down in Egypt he was cast into prison for righteousness’ sake (Gen. 37, 39). Moses was reviled again and again (see Ex. 5:21; 14:11; 16:2; 17:2; etc.). Samuel was rejected (1 Sam. 8:5). Elijah was despised (1 Kings 18:17) and persecuted (1 Kings 19:2). Micaiah was hated (I Kings 22:8). Nehemiah was oppressed and defamed (Neh. 4). The Savior Himself, the faithful Witness of God, was put to death by the people to whom He ministered. Stephen was stoned, Peter and John cast into prison, James beheaded, while the entire course of the Apostle Paul’s Christian life and ministry was one long series of bitter and relentless persecutions.

It is true that the persecution of the saints today is in a much milder form than it assumed in other ages. Nevertheless, it is just as real. Through the goodness of God we have long been protected from legal persecution, but the enmity of Satan finds other ways and means of expressing itself. Let persecuted Christians remember this comforting truth: “For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for His sake” (Phil. 1:29). The words of Christ in John 15:19, 20, have never been repealed:

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. 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.

The Lord Jesus here pronounced blessed or happy those who, through devotion to Him, would be called upon to suffer. They are blessed because such are given the unspeakable privilege of having fellowship in the sufferings of the Savior (Phil. 3:10). They are blessed because such “tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed” (Rom. 5:3-5). They are blessed because they shall be fully recompensed in the great Day to come. Here is rich comfort indeed.

Let not the soldier of the cross be dismayed because the fiery darts of the wicked one are hurled against him. Rather let him gird on more firmly the Divinely provided armor. Let not the child of God become discouraged because his efforts to please Christ make some of those who call themselves Christians speak evil of him. Let not the Christian imagine that fiery trials are an evidence of God’s disapproval.

“Rejoice, and be exceeding glad.” Not only are the afflictions that faithfulness to Christ involves to be patiently endured, but they are to be received with joy and gladness. This we should do for three reasons.

(1) These afflictions come upon us for Christ’s sake; and since He suffered so much for our redemption, we ought to rejoice greatly when we are called upon to suffer a little for Him.

(2) These trials bring us into fellowship with a noble company of martyrs, for to meet with afflictions associates us with the holy prophets and apostles. In such company, reproach becomes praise and dishonor turns to glory.

(3) We who suffer persecution for Christ’s sake are promised a great reward in heaven. Verily, we may rejoice, however fierce the present conflict may be. Having deliberately chosen to suffer with Christ rather than enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season (Heb. 11:25), we shall also reign with Him, according to His own sure promise (Rom. 8:17). Remember Peter and John, who “departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name” (Acts 5:41).

So, too, Paul and Silas, in the Philippian dungeon and with backs bleeding, “sang praises unto God” (Acts 16:25). We are told that others “took joyfully the spoiling of [their] goods,” knowing in themselves that they had “in heaven a better and an enduring substance” (Heb. 10:34).

May Divine grace enable all maligned, misunderstood, and oppressed saints of God to draw from these precious words of Christ that comfort and strength that they need.

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NEED FOR UPHOLDING GRACE

NEED FOR UPHOLDING GRACE

A.W. Pink

The Lord is very jealous of His honour and will not share His glory with another. His people profess to believe that as a cardinal truth, yet they are apt to forget it. They, too, are human, and prone to hero-worship, prone to idolatry, prone to render unto the creatures that to which the Lord alone is entitled. Hence it is they so frequently meet with disappointment, and discover their beloved idol is, like themselves, made of clay. For his own people, God has chosen “the foolish things of this world,” the “weak things,” the “base things” and “things which are not” (mere “nobody’s”), “that no flesh should glory in His presence” (1 Cor. 1:27-29). 

And he has called sinful though regenerated men, and not holy angels, to be the preachers of His Gospel, that it might fully appear that “the excellency of the power” in calling sinners out of darkness into His marvelous light lies not in them nor proceeds from them, but that He alone gives the increase to the seed sown by them: “so then neither is he that planteth (the evangelist) anything, neither he that watereth (the teacher), but God” (1 Cor. 3:7).

It is for this reason that God suffers it to appear that the best of men are but men at the best. No matter how richly gifted they may be, how eminent in God’s service, how greatly honored and used of Him, let His sustaining power be withdrawn from them for a moment and it will quickly be seen that they are “earthen vessels.” No man stands any longer than he is supported by Divine grace. The most experienced saint, if left to himself, is immediately seen to be as weak as water and as timid as a mouse.

“Man at his best state is altogether vanity” (Ps. 39:5). Then why should it be thought a thing incredible when we read of the failings and falls of the most favored of God’s saints and servants? Noah’s drunkenness, Lot’s carnality, Abraham’s prevarications, Moses” anger, Aaron’s jealousy, Joshua’s haste, David’s adultery, Jonah’s disobedience, Peter’s denial, Paul’s contention with Barnabas, are so many illustrations of the solemn truth that “there is not a just man upon earth that doeth good, and sinneth not” (Eccl. 7:20).

Perfection is found in Heaven, but nowhere on earth except in the Perfect Man.

GOD CAN ONLY BE KNOWN BY SUPERNATURAL REVELATION

GOD CAN ONLY BE KNOWN BY SUPERNATURAL REVELATION

A.W. Pink

God can only be known by means of a supernatural revelation of Himself. Apart from the Scriptures, even a theoretical acquaintance with Him is impossible. It still holds true that “the world by wisdom knew not God” (1 Cor. 1:21). Where the Scriptures are ignored, God is “the unknown God” (Acts 17:23). But something more than the Scriptures is required before the soul can know God, know him in a real, personal, vital way.

This seems to be recognized by few today. The prevailing practice assumes that a knowledge of God can be obtained through studying the Word, in the same way as a knowledge of chemistry may be secured by mastering its textbooks. An intellectual knowledge of God maybe; not so a spiritual one. A supernatural God can only be known supernaturally (i.e. known in a manner above that which mere nature can acquire), by a supernatural revelation of Himself to the heart. “God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Cor. 4:6). The one who has been favoured with this supernatural experience has learned that only “in Thy light shall we see light” (Psa. 36:9).

God can only be known through a supernatural facultyChrist made this clear when He said, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). The unregenerate have no spiritual knowledge of God. “The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Cor. 2:14). Water, of itself, never rises above its own level. So the natural man is incapable of perceiving that which transcends mere nature. “This is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God” (John 17:3). Eternal life must be imparted before the “true God” can be known. Plainly is this affirmed in 1 John 5:20, “We know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know Him that is true.” Yes, an “understanding,” a spiritual understanding, by new creation, must be given before God can be known in a spiritual way.

If God has revealed Himself to you dear reader, He has given you a sight of yourself, for in His light we “see light.” A most humbling, painful, and never-to-be-forgotten experience this is. When God was revealed to Abraham, he said, “I am but dust and ashes” (Gen. 18:27). When He was revealed to Isaiah, the prophet said, “Woe is me for I am undone, because I am a man of unclean lips” (Isa. 6:5). When God revealed Him-self to Job, he said, “I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:6)—note, not merely I abhor my wicked ways, but my vile self. Is this your experience, my reader? Have you discovered your depravity and lost condition? Have you found there is not a single good thing in you? Have you seen yourself to be fit for and deserving only of hell? Have you, truly? Then that is good evidence, yea, it is proof positive that the Lord God has “found” you.

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

 

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]