A BIBLICAL CRITIQUE OF BISHOP MICHAEL CURRY’S SERMON ON ‘LOVE’

A BIBLICAL CRITIQUE OF BISHOP MICHAEL CURRY’S SERMON ON ‘LOVE’

David Robertson

Many have commented that Bishop Michael Curry’s exuberant sermon was such a powerful message and it should get people to reading the bible. Still others that even if it wasn’t spot on we should take the Philippians 1:18 attitude “What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached.” – But that is the key question – was Christ preached? Was the love of Christ preached?

IT WASN’T!

1) Firstly if it had been it would have been the first time that the preaching of Christ met with worldwide commendation! Everyone loved it – from the atheist Ed Miliband, to the LGBT activist Vicky Beeching. Liberal and Evangelical alike sang its praises. It was such a post-modern meaningless sermon that anyone could take any meaning they liked. Listen to what Jesus says: “Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets!” (Luke 6:26)

2) It was hypocritical. Bishop Curry was at a wedding that upheld the traditional Cranmer prayer book (and biblical) view of marriage as being between a man and a woman – and which expressly said so. Yet he does not believe that – and has been active in getting the reference to procreation and to man and woman removed from the prayer book in his church.

Incidentally his province is meant to be under the discipline of the whole Anglican Church, yet the Archbishop of Canterbury not only invited him but also enthusiastically endorsed him. Biblical Evangelicals within the Church of England have been well and truly shafted! It is important to grasp that Liberals like Curry use words in different ways – we need to ask what does he mean by Jesus, love and the cross. We may be hearing one thing when he is saying another.

3) It was unbiblical – The sermon cited 1 John 4:8 out of context. I know that he did not have time to do all of this, but there is no way that the little he did say is reflective of the letter he took it from. Just to mention a few things.

a) Sin – John sets the whole of the Cross-against the background of sin. Bishop Curry did not mention sin once. “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” (1:8).

b) The Atonement – John tells us that Jesus died on the cross for our sins. That forgiveness for sins comes from that. Jesus is the atoning sacrifice (the propitiation, turning aside the just wrath of God against sin) for our sins, and not only ours but the sin of the whole world” (2:2). “Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” (3:16). “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” (4:10). When Curry spoke of the cross, it spoke of it as sacrificial, as exemplary, not as THE atoning sacrifice. We too can be sacrificial and it is that sacrificial love that is redemptive and changes the world. Can you see what he is doing? He is turning the cross from being THE redemptive work, to it being an example of redemptive love that we can all show. He is teaching us that we can save ourselves and indeed save the world by just having the kind of love that Christ had and following his example. That is not the Gospel. It is the antithesis of the Gospel.

c) Obedience – Obedience was left out of the marriage vows. It was also left out of the sermon. Which given that it was a sermon about love and love is defined as obedience in his text is a big miss! “And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.” (2:3). “But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.” (2:5). But the Bishop said nothing about obeying the commands of God. Imagine if he had said this – “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments” (5:3). Do you think for a moment he would have had such a positive response?

d) Loving the World was commended, not condemned “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (2:15) “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.” (3:1). Bishop Curry made no distinction at all between Jesus and the world. So the world loved his message. If he had preached Christ, the world would have hated it. As it is the world loved his message, because it pushed all their buttons.

e) Beware False Teachers – Many antichrists have come (2:18) “Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous. He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil” (3:7-8). “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world!” (1Jn 4:1)

False teaching, false spirits, the devil being at work. Again none of that was mentioned. The whole concept of evil and the devils work was not part of the picture at all. But our battle is not against flesh and blood. Nor against Donald Trump. It is against sin, self and Satan.

f) There is a great division between those who know God and those who don’t. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. (4:8). Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God (5:1). If you don’t know Jesus you are not born of God. And if you are not born of the God who is love, you cannot love in the way that John is speaking about.

Imagine if Bishop Curry had said to the young couple – “it’s great to see your love, but there is a greater love, and you really need to know that love. You need to know the God who is love. You need to trust and accept his atoning work of sacrifice. You need to show your love by obeying his commands (including being faithful to each other). You need to watch out for the evil in your own heart, and that from the devil. Always look to Christ “ But he didn’t (even though the Cranmer’s Anglican liturgy recognizes all those things); and he couldn’t because he does not believe that. He disobeys Gods word, denies his atoning sacrifice and does not teach the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

So what does the fact that so many good Christians and pastors accepted this as a ‘gospel sermon’ tell us?

It teaches us that the world has had a far deeper impact on our general thinking than we realize. We just seem to accept its premises.

It teaches us that we should not use the world’s methodology. I know that there are some who think that just because Jesus is mentioned and the bible quoted, this is a great thing, and even if he was not especially orthodox, we can use this as a kind of marketing tool. Whilst I agree that we should use every opportunity we can get – we should not justify or accept false teaching, just because it can be turned for good. It is very dangerous to say to our people that a sermon which gave a false view of the cross, a wrong view of salvation and was preached by a man who denies the Bible as the word of God, is somehow to be celebrated as something that points people to Jesus.

Which Jesus?

It teaches us that we need to be on our guard. The false teachers that Peter mentions were not people who were open in their heresy. They “secretly introduce destructive heresies”. Paul warned the Ephesian elders “For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears” (Acts 20:29-31).

The devil is subtle. Most churches gradually decline – they don’t usually make one big jump. We need to walk the straight line – never deviating one iota from the Word of God – whether to legalism on the one hand, or liberalism on the other.
We should not be surprised. Remember what Jesus said: “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?(Matthew 7:15-16).

The lesson of the churches in Revelation is that even faithful churches with hard working people can be deceived.
“And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges;
I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan’s seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth.
But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.
So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate.
Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth!” [Rev 2:12-16]

A teacher who calls sexual immorality ‘love’ is following the teaching of Balaam, not Christ!

I would appeal to my fellow evangelicals, especially those who are in church leadership. Don’t be deceived. I know I can be deceived – I have been in the past and I pray that the Lord would deliver me from that in the future. And don’t let the flock which God has entrusted you with be deceived. Stick to the Word, discern the spirits, and be bold and courageous in standing up against those who come either as roaring lions or as angels of light – and preach to us another Gospel and a different Jesus.

Finally – I don’t believe that 2 billion people heard the Gospel in this sermon. The only people who heard the Gospel in it were Christians who already know the Gospel. Instead of rejoicing in the crumbs we get from heretics, we should be seeking to learn more of Christ ourselves and get out there and tell the world about the real Jesus – one person at a time!

He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches!

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THEY CALLED HIM ANTICHRIST!

THEY CALLED HIM ANTICHRIST!

Quoted from the ‘Remnant of God’

ANTI:
• to stand in place of
• a subtle imposter
• wolf in sheep’s clothing
• not a violent opposer
• a gentle confuser

The Roman Catholic church committed ADULTERY in her relationship with the HUSBANDMAN Christ Jesus. She became ANTIChrist when she stepped against Him.

The Roman Catholic church has always ‘claimed’ to be walking “with” Christ. Just as Judas “kissed” Christ, so has Rome “kissed” His Truth. They “softly and gently” send their wolves forward wearing the clothing of a little lamb so as to gentle draw the masses away from Christ. They betray Christ as soft as the kiss of JUDAS!

Arnulf Bishop of Orleans (Roman Catholic)
“deplored the roman popes as “monsters of guilt” and declared in a council called by the King of France in 991ad that the pontiff, clad in purple and gold, was, “Antichrist, sitting in the temple of God, and showing himself as God” -Phillip Schaff, History of the Christian church, 8 vols., reprint of the 3d (1910)ed. (Grand Rapids Mich.: Wm. B Eerdmans Publishing Co., n.d.)

Eberhard II, archbishop of Salzburg (Roman Catholic)
“stated at a synod of bishops held at Regensburg in 1240 (some scholars say 1241) that the people of his day were “accustomed” to calling the pope antichrist.” -LeRoy Edwin Froom, The Prophetic Faith of our Fathers, 4 vols. (Wash DC: Review and Herald publishing assc, 1950-1954)

John Wycliffe
“When the western church was divided for about 40 years between two rival popes, one in Rome and the other in Avigon, France, each pope called the other pope antichrist – and John Wycliffe is reputed to have regarded them as both being right: “two halves of Antichrist, making up the perfect Man of Sin between them.” -Ibid

Martin Luther (Lutheran) 
“We here are of the conviction that the papacy is the seat of the true and real Antichrist…personally I declare that I owe the Pope no other obedience than that to Antichrist.” (Aug. 18, 1520) Taken from The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers, Vol. 2., pg. 121 by Froom. (In response to a papal bull [official decree]): “I despise and attack it, as impious, false… It is Christ Himself who is condemned therein… I rejoice in having to bear such ills for the best of causes. Already I feel greater liberty in my heart; for at last I know that the pope is antichrist, and that his throne is that of Satan himself.” –D’Aubigné, b.6, ch. 9.

Cotton Mather (Congregational Theologian) 
“The oracles of God foretold the rising of an Antichrist in the Christian Church: and in the Pope of Rome, all the characteristics of that Antichrist are so marvelously answered that if any who read the Scriptures do not see it, there is a marvelous blindness upon them.” Taken from The Fall of Babylon by Cotton Mather in Froom’s book, The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers, Vol. 3, pg. 113.

John Wesley (Methodist) 
Speaking of the Papacy he said, “He is in an emphatical sense, the Man of Sin, as he increases all manner of sin above measure. And he is, too, properly styled the Son of Perdition, as he has caused the death of numberless multitudes, both of his opposers and followers… He it is…that exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped…claiming the highest power, and highest honour…claiming the prerogatives which belong to God alone.” Taken from Antichrist and His Ten Kingdoms by John Wesley, pg. 110.

Ellen G. White: Seven Day Adventists
“This compromise between paganism and Christianity resulted in the development of “the man of sin” foretold in prophecy as opposing and exalting himself above God. That gigantic system of false religion is a masterpiece of Satan’s power–a monument of his efforts to seat himself upon the throne to rule the earth according to his will.

Thomas Cranmer (Anglican) 
“Whereof it followeth Rome to be the seat of antichrist, and the pope to be very antichrist himself. I could prove the same by many other scriptures, old writers, and strong reasons.” (Referring to prophecies in Revelation and Daniel.) Taken from Works by Cranmer, Vol. 1, pp. 6-7.

Roger Williams (First Baptist Pastor in America) 
He spoke of the Pope as “the pretended Vicar of Christ on earth, who sits as God over the Temple of God, exalting himself not only above all that is called God, but over the souls and consciences of all his vassals, yea over the Spirit of Christ, over the Holy Spirit, yea, and God himself…speaking against the God of heaven, thinking to change times and laws; but he is the son of perdition (II Thess. 2).” Taken from The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers by Froom, Vol. 3, pg. 52.

1689 London Baptist Confession
Chapter 26: Of the Church. The Lord Jesus Christ is the Head of the church, in whom, by the appointment of the Father, all power for the calling, institution, order or government of the church, is invested in a supreme and sovereign manner; neither can the Pope of Rome in any sense be head thereof, but is that antichrist, that man of sin, and son of perdition, that exalteth himself in the church against Christ, and all that is called God; whom the Lord shall destroy with the brightness of his coming. ( Colossians 1:18; Matthew 28:18-20; Ephesians 4:11, 12; 2 Thessalonians 2:2-9 )

John Knox (Scotch Presbyterian) 
Knox wrote to abolish “that tyranny which the pope himself has for so many ages exercised over the church” and that the pope should be recognized as “the very antichrist, and son of perdition, of whom Paul speaks.” Taken from The Zurich Letters, pg. 199 by John Knox.

John Calvin (Presbyterian) 
“Some persons think us too severe and censorious when we call the Roman pontiff Antichrist. But those who are of this opinion do not consider that they bring the same charge of presumption against Paul himself, after whom we speak and whose language we adopt… I shall briefly show that (Paul’s words in II Thess. 2) are not capable of any other interpretation than that which applies them to the Papacy.” Taken from Institutes by John Calvin.

THE CHRISTIAN’S ‘SELFIE’

THE CHRISTIAN’S ‘SELFIE’

preacher Gary Shepard

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

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

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

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

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

TWO KINDS OF PEOPLE ON TWO DIFFERENT ROADS

TWO KINDS OF PEOPLE ON TWO DIFFERENT ROADS

Augustus Toplady

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

The grand point is, Where are you travelling to?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Two things are particularly needful for you to observe:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE HINGE ON WHICH ALL DOCTRINE TURNS

THE HINGE ON WHICH ALL DOCTRINE TURNS

“There are few books which written over 400 years ago are still applicable today; Martin Luther’s masterpiece, The Boncage of the Will, is one of those books. Anyone desiring to know more about the root of dissent between Luther and the Catholic Church must read this book.

In his treatise Luther systematically demolishes Erasmus’ arguments in favor of free-will. Luther brilliantly illustrates why the will is in total and complete bondage and enslavement to sin, and why free-will is a completely meaningless term. Luther argues that the only thing the will is free to do is to sin and rebel against God.

Luther shows that salvation is totally dependent on the grace of God and His sovereign Will. To say that even a small part of the human will can prepare itself to receive God’s grace is an utterly ludricous sentiment. Erasmus believes that a human being by a very small effort can earn God’s grace. Luther totally destroys this view and shows that to espouse such a view makes one worse than the Pelagians, who held that it took numerous great works to earn God’s grace”.
[by Seth Aaron Lowry]

“This book is as applicable today as it was when Luther first wrote this book. When so many Protestant Churches hold to a soteriological view more akin to that of Erasmus, it is absolutely vital that the truth of the Reformation be brought back into the spotlight. Read this book to gain a greater understanding of the major area of disagreement among the Reformers and the Catholic Church of the time, and also to understand that our salvation is not predicated on any meritorious work that we accomplish, but simply on the grace of God.

The denial of free will was the position of the Reformation. The Reformers had always been settled on this crucial issue. This was the “manifesto” of the Reformation. On this issue the Gospel, and Reformation Christianity, stands or falls. The selling of indulgences and other ecclesiastical abuses were not the central issues. They were the occasion for the Reformation, not the cause. Luther at the end of his rebuttal, in his book ‘Bondage of the Will’, praises Erasmus thus:

“I give you hearty praise and commendation on this further account—that you alone, in contrast with others, have attacked the real thing, that is, the essential issue. You have not wearied me with those extraneous issues about the Papacy, purgatory, indulgences and such like trifles. . . . You, and you alone, have seen the hinge on which all turns, and aimed for the vital spot” (319).

Erasmus had understood the issues clearly and went straight for the jugular. If Erasmus had succeeded in this debate against Luther, Roman Catholicism would have triumphed, and the Reformation lost. What Erasmus failed to do 500 years ago, he now succeeds magnificently among the supposed posterity of the Reformation, who are even now returning to Rome.

If there is ever going to be a reclaiming of the Gospel, if there is ever going to be a second Reformation, this essential issue—the bondage of the will—must once again be proclaimed and successfully defended. No lesser victory will do”.

[Quoted from – ‘Martin Luther on Free-Will’ from The Highway]

WHAT THE OLDER DIVINES SAID CONCERNING ‘FREE-WILL’

WHAT THE OLDER DIVINES SAID CONCERNING ‘FREE-WILL’

Compiled by Michael Jeshurun

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SANCTIFICATION – A SURE MARK OF GOD’S ELECTION!

SANCTIFICATION – A SURE MARK OF GOD’S ELECTION!

J.C. Ryle

Sanctification, again, is the only sure mark of God’s election. The names and number of the elect are a secret thing, no doubt, which God has wisely kept in His own power, and not revealed to man. It is not given to us in this world to study the pages of the book of life, and see if we are there. But if there is one thing clearly and plainly laid down about election, it is this,—that elect men and women may be known and distinguished by holy lives.

It is expressly written that they are “elect through sanctification,—chosen unto salvation through sanctification,—predestinated to be conformed to the image of God’s Son,—and chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world that they should be holy.”—Hence when St. Paul saw the working “faith” and labouring “love” and patient “hope” of the Thessalonian believers, he says, “I know your election of God.” (1 Peter 1:2; 2 Thess. 2:13; Rom 8:29; Eph 1:4; 1 Thess 1:3, 4.)

He that boasts of being one of God’s elect, while he is wilfully and habitually living in sin, is only deceiving himself, and talking wicked blasphemy. Of course it is hard to know what people really are, and many who make a fair show outwardly in religion, may turn out at last to be rotten-hearted hypocrites. But where there is not, at least, some appearance of sanctification, we may be quite certain there is no election! The Church Catechism truly teaches, that the Holy Ghost “sanctifieth all the elect people of God.”

Sanctification, then, is the invariable result of that vital union with Christ which true faith gives to a Christian.—“He that abideth in Me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit.” (John 15:5) The branch which bears no fruit is no living branch of the vine. The union with Christ which produces no effect on heart and life is a mere formal union, which is worthless before God. The faith which has not a sanctifying influence on the character is no better than the faith of devils. It is a “dead faith, because it is alone.” It is not the gift of God, the faith of God’s elect. In short, where there is no sanctification of life, there is no real faith in Christ. True faith worketh by love. It constrains a man to live unto the Lord from a deep sense of gratitude for redemption. It makes him feel that he can never do too much for Him that died for him. Being much forgiven he loves much. He whom the blood cleanses walks in the light. He who has real lively hope in Christ, purifieth himself even as He is pure. (James 2:17-20; Titus 1:1; Gal 5:6; 1 John 1:7; 3:3.)

Sanctification, again, is the outcome and inseparable consequence of regeneration. He that is born again and made a new creature, receives a new nature and a new principle, and always lives a new life. A regeneration which a man can have, and yet live carelessly in sin or worldliness, is a regeneration never mentioned in Scripture. On the contrary, St. John expressly says that He that is born of God doth not commit sin,—doeth righteousness,—loveth the brethren,—keepeth himself—and overcometh the world. (1 John 2:29; 3:9-14; 5:4-18.) In a word, where there is no sanctification there is no regeneration, and where there is no holy life there is no new birth. This is, no doubt, a hard saying to many minds: but, hard or not, it is simple Bible truth. It is written plainly, that he who is born of God is one whose “seed remaineth in him, and he cannot sin because he is born of God.” (1 John 3:9)

Sanctification, again, is the only certain evidence of that indwelling of the Holy Spirit which is essential to salvation. “If any man have not the Spirit of Christ he is none of His.” (Rom 8: 9) The Spirit never lies dormant and idle within the soul: He always makes His presence known by the fruit He causes to be borne in heart, character, and life. “The fruit of the Spirit,” says St. Paul, “is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance,” and such like. (Gal 5:22.) Where these things are to be found, there is the Spirit: where these things are wanting, men are dead before God. The Spirit is compared to the wind, and, like the wind, He cannot be seen by our bodily eyes. But just as we know there is a wind by the effect it produces on waves, and trees, and smoke, so we may know the Spirit is in a man by the effects He produces in the man’s conduct. It is nonsense to suppose that we have the Spirit, if we do not also “walk in the Spirit.” (Gal 5:25.) We may depend on it as a positive certainty, that where there is no holy living there is no Holy Ghost. The seal that the Spirit stamps on Christ’s people is sanctification. As many as are actually “led by the Spirit of God, they,” and they only, “are the sons of God!” (Rom 8: 14)

GOD’S PERPETUAL CARE FOR HIS OWN

GOD’S PERPETUAL CARE FOR HIS OWN

I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken – Psalm 37:25

Here is David’s testimony: although I have seen many adventures as a youth, and faced many struggles throughout my life, I have never yet seen God neglect one of his children or forsake the godly when they are in need.

David was a man of action, a prominent ruler, and a longtime servant of God. This was not a man who lacked experience, or had hid in a corner, or had recently joined the ranks of godly men. And his declaration is that—in all his years of service, in the great variety of his circumstances—he has never, even once, seen the godly forsaken or left uncared for!

But there seems to be even more behind David’s statement than mere observation. He admits that he is now old. He has seen many other saints grow old, and even die, throughout his lifetime. And now that he is facing old age himself, he looks back on his past observations in order to draw present comfort.

“If God has never forsaken any of His servants in the past, then he will not forsake me now,” David seems to be saying. “Just as I have seen Samuel, and my father, and many others grow old—and God remained faithful to them to the end—God will be with me to the end, as well.”

Dear believer, God was faithful to David; and he will be faithful to you. He has never yet failed to make good on a single one of his promises; he will be with you through the challenges of youth, and in the losses and pains of old age.

Praise the LORD! 

[From the Baptist Devotional]

BABES IN GRACE NEED THE MILK OF THE WORD

BABES IN GRACE NEED THE MILK OF THE WORD

J.C. Philpot

“As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the Word, that ye may grow thereby.” [1Peter 2:2]

The only real food of the soul must be of God’s own appointing, preparing, and communicating.

You can never deceive a hungry child. You may give it a plaything but still it cries. It may serve for a few minutes; but the pains of hunger are not to be removed by a doll. A toy horse will not allay the cravings after the mother’s breast.

So with babes in grace. A hungry soul cannot feed upon playthings. Altars, robes, ceremonies, candlesticks, bowings, mutterings, painted windows, intoning priests, and singing men and women; these dolls and wooden horses; these toys and playthings of the religious baby house, cannot feed the soul that, like David, cries out after the living God (Psalm 42:23).

Christ, the bread of life, the manna that came down from heaven, is the only food of the believing soul (John 6:51).

‘Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and Thy Word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart!” [Jer 15:16]

CHRIST’S SISTER AND SPOUSE

CHRIST’S SISTER AND SPOUSE

Robert Murray M’Cheyne

(must read for all God’s Elect – M.J.)

“A garden enclosed is My sister, My spouse; a spring shut up, a fountain sealed.” [SONG 4:12]

THE NAME HERE GIVEN TO BELIEVERS — “My sister, my spouse,” or rather, “my sister-spouse.” There are many sweet names from the lips of Christ addressed to believers: “O thou fairest among women,” 1:8; “My love,” 2:2; “My love, my fair one,” 2:10; “O my dove,” 2:14; “My sister, my love, my dove, my undefiled,” 5:2; “O prince’s daughter,” 7:1. But here is one more tender than all, “My sister, my spouse,” 4:9; and again, verse 10, and here, verse 12. To be spoken well of by the world is little to be desired; but to hear Christ speak such words to us, is enough to fill our hearts with heavenly joy. The meaning you will see by what Paul says, 1 Cor. 11:5: “Have we not power to lead about a sister, a wife, as well as other apostles?” He means power to marry one who is like-minded—a sister in the Lord; one who will be both a wife and a sister in Christ Jesus—a wife by covenant, a sister by being born of the same Father in heaven. So Christ here says of believers, “My sister, my spouse,” that they are not only united to Him by choice and covenant, but are likeminded also.

THESE TWO THINGS ARE INSEPARABLE — Some would like to be the spouse of the Saviour, without being the sister. Some would like to be saved by Christ, but not to be made like Christ. When Christ chooses a sinner, and sets his love on the soul, and when He woos the soul and draws it into covenant with himself, it is only that He may make the soul a sister,—that He may impart his features, his same heart, his all, to the soul. Now, many rest in the mere forgiveness of sins. Many have felt Christ wooing their soul, and offering himself freely to them, and they have accepted Him. They have consented to the match. Sinful and worthless and hell-deserving, they find that Christ desires it; that He will not be dishonoured by it; that He will find glory in it; and their heart is filled with joy in being taken into covenant with so glorious a bridegroom. But why has He done it? To make you partaker of his holiness, to change your nature, to make you sister to himself,—of his own mind and spirit. He has sprinkled you with clean water, only that He may give you a new heart also. He brings you to himself and gives you rest only that He may make you learn of Him his meekness and lowliness in heart.

INSEPARABLE — You cannot be the spouse of Christ without becoming sister also. Christ offers to be the bridegroom of sin-covered souls. He came from heaven for this; took flesh and blood for this. He tries to woo sinners, standing and stretching out his hands. He tells them of all his power, and glory, and riches, and that all shall be theirs. He is a blood-sprinkled bridegroom; but that is his chief loveliness. The soul believes his word, melts under his love, consents to be his. “My beloved is mine, and I am his.” Then He washes the soul in his own blood; clothes it in his own righteousness; takes it in with Him to the presence of his Father. From that day the soul begins to reflect his image. Christ begins to live in the soul. The same heart, the same spirit, are in both. The soul becomes sister as well as spouse,—Christ’s not only by choice and covenant, but by likeness also. Some of you Christ has chosen; you have become his justified ones. Do you rest there? No; remember you must be made like Him,—reflect his image; you cannot separate the two.

THE ORDER OF THE TWO — You must be first the spouse before you can be the sister of Christ,—his by covenant before his by likeness. Some think to be like Christ first,—that they will copy his features till they recommend themselves to Christ. No, this will not do. He chooses only those that have no comeliness— polluted in their own blood, that He may have the honour of washing them. “When thou wast in thy blood,” Ezek. 16:6. Are there any trying to recommend themselves to Christ by their change of life? Oh, how little you know Him! He comes to seek those who are black in themselves. Are there some of you poor, defiled, unclean? You are just the soul Christ woos. Proud, scornful? Christ woos you. He offers you his all, and then He will change you.

TO WHAT CHRIST COMPARES BELIEVERS: “A garden enclosed.”—The gardens in the East are always enclosed; sometimes by a fence of reeds, such are the gardens of cucumbers in the wilderness; sometimes by a stone wall, as the garden of Gethsemane; sometimes by a hedge of prickly pear. But what is still more interesting is, they are often enclosed out of a wilderness. All around is often barren sand; and this one enclosed spot is like the garden of the Lord. Such is the believer.

ENCLOSED BY ELECTION — In the eye of God, the world was one great wilderness,—all barren, all dead, all fruitless. No part was fit to bear anything but briars. It was nigh unto cursing. One part was no better than another in his sight. The hearts of men were all hard as rock, dry and barren as the sand. Out of the mere good pleasure of his will, He marked out a garden of delights where He might show his power and grace, that it might be to his praise. Some of you know your election of God by the fruits of it,—by your faith, love, and holiness. Be humbled by the thought that it was solely because He chose you. Why me, Lord? why me?

ENCLOSED BY THE SPIRIT’S WORK — Election is the planning of the garden. The Spirit’s work is the carrying it into effect. “He fenced it,” Isa. 5:2. When the Spirit begins his work, it is separating work. When a man is convinced of sin, he is no more one with the careless, godless world. He avoids his companions—goes alone. When a soul comes to Christ, it is still more separated. It then comes into a new world. He is no more under the curse—no more under wrath. He is in the smile and favour of God. Like Gideon’s fleece, he now receives the dew when all around is dry.

ENCLOSED BY THE ARMS OF GOD — God is a wall of fire. Angels are around the soul. Elisha’s hill was full of horses of fire. God is round about the soul, as the mountains stand round about Jerusalem. The soul is hid in the secret of God’s presence. No robber can ever come over the fence. “A vineyard of red wine: I the Lord do keep it; I will water it every moment: lest any hurt it, I will keep it night and day.” Isa. 27:2, 3. This is sung over thee.

WELL-WATERED GARDEN — Watered in three ways. First, By a hidden well. It is the custom in the East to roll a stone over the mouth of a well, to preserve the water from sand. Second, By a fountain of living water—a well always bubbling up. Third, By streams from Lebanon.

“A SPRING SHUT UP” — This describes the Spirit in the heart, in his most secret manner of working. In some gardens there is only this secret well. A stone is over the mouth. If you wish to water the garden, you must roll away the stone, and let down the bucket. Such is the life of God in many souls. Some of you feel that there is a stone over the mouth of the well in you. Your own rocky heart is the stone. Stir up the gift of God which is in thee.

A WELL OF LIVING WATER — This is the same as John 4,— a well that is ever full and running over. Grace new every moment; fresh upspringings from God. Thus only will you advance.

STREAMS FROM LEBANON — These are very plentiful. On all sides they fall in pleasant cascades, in the bottom unite into broad full streams, and on their way water the richest gardens. The garden of Ibrahim Pacha, near Acre, is watered with streams from Lebanon. So believers are sometimes favoured with streams from the Lebanon that is above. We receive out of Christ’s fullness,— drink of the wine of his pleasures. Oh for more of these streams of Lebanon! Even in the dry season they are full. The hotter the summer, the streams from Lebanon become the fuller, because the heat only melts the mountain snows.

THE FRUIT — The very use of a garden is to bear fruit and flowers. For this purpose it is enclosed, hedged, planted, watered. If it bear no fruit nor flowers, all the labour is lost labour. The ground is nigh to cursing. So is it with the Christian. Three remarkable things are here.

No weeds are mentioned.—Pleasant fruit-trees, and all the chief spices; but no weeds. Had it been a man that was describing his garden, he would have begun with the weeds—the unbelief, corruption, evil tempers, etc. Not so Christ. He covers all the sins. The weeds are lost sight of. He sees no perversity. As in John 17: “They have kept thy word; they are not of the world.” As in Rev. 2:2: “I know thy works.”

FRUITS —The pomegranate—the very best; all pleasant fruits. And all his own. “From me is thy fruit found;” “His pleasant fruits,” verse 16. The graces that Christ puts into the heart and brings out of the life are the very best, the richest, most pleasant, most excellent that a creature can produce. Love to Christ, love to the brethren, love to the Sabbath, forgiveness of enemies, all the best fruits that can grow in the human heart. Unreasonable world! to condemn true conversion, when it produces the very fruits of paradise, acceptable to God, if not to you. Should not this make you stand and consider?

SPICES —These spices do not naturally grow in gardens. Even in the East there never was such a display as this. So the fragrant graces of the Spirit are not natural to the heart. They are brought from a far country. They must be carefully watched. They need the stream, and the gentle zephyr. Oh, I fear most of you should hang your heads when Christ begins to speak of fragrant spices in your heart! Where are they? Are there not talkative, forward Christians? Are there not self-seeking, praiseseeking, man-pleasing Christians? Are there not proud-praying Christians? Are there not ill-tempered Christians? Are there not rash, inconsiderate ones? Are there not idle, lazy, bad-working Christians? Lord, where are the spices? Verily, Christ is a bundle of myrrh. Oh to be like Him! Oh that every flower and fruit would grow! They must come from above. Many there are of whom one is forced to say, “Well, they may be Christians; but I would not like to be next them in heaven!” Cry for the wind: “Awake, O north wind; and come, thou south; blow upon my garden, that the spices thereof may flow out.