THE ARMINIAN LIMITATION OF THE ATONEMENT

THE ARMINIAN LIMITATION OF THE ATONEMENT

The Arminian limits the Atonement as certainly as does the Calvinist.

The Calvinist limits the EXTENT of it in that he says it does not apply to ALL persons; while the Arminian limits the POWER OF IT.

The Arminian says that in itself it does not actually save anybody.

The Calvinist limits it quantitatively, but not qualitatively; the Arminian limits it qualitatively, but not quantitatively.

For the Calvinist it is like a narrow bridge which goes ALL THE WAY ACROSS THE STREAM; for the Arminian it is like a great wide bridge which goes ONLY HALF-WAY ACROSS.

As a matter of fact, the Arminian places more severe limitations on the work of Christ than does the Calvinist.

For WHOM did Christ die? We answer without hesitation, CHRIST DIED FOR “GOD’S ELECT”!

“And she shall bring forth a Son, and thou shalt call His name Jesus: for He shall save HIS people from THEIR sins [Mt. 1:21].

Christ died not simply to render sins pardonable, but “to PUT AWAY SIN by the sacrifice of Himself” [Heb. 9:26]. As to WHO’S “sin” has been “put away”, Scripture leaves us in no doubt—it was that of the elect. “For the transgressions of MY PEOPLE was He stricken [Isa. 53:8]. Again the Lord’s own words are, “I lay down My life for the SHEEP” (not the goats)! [John 10:15]

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

The Arminian’s fanciful delusion of an Unlimited Atonement is reduced to this – “IF the sinner believes, then Christ died for him; if the sinner does not believe, then Christ did not die for him; thus the sinner’s act is made the cause of its own object, as though his believing WOULD MAKE THAT TO BE WHICH OTHERWISE WAS NOT”. [A.W. Pink]

“Calvinism or the ‘Doctrines of Grace’ isn’t a produce stand from which we can pick and choose which doctrines we wish to keep and pass over the rest in a sort of hermeneutical reprobation. Calvinism is an interwoven system of theology which must be accepted or rejected as a whole. From the acceptance of one point, one is compelled by simple logic to the acceptance of all the rest. You can’t deny one without denying them all. The four-point Calvinist is as consistent as a psalm-singing atheist”. [Anonymous]

[Quoted from Loraine Boettner’s ‘Reformed Doctrine of Predestination’] 

WHAT IS GOD UP TO WITH CORONA?

WHAT IS GOD UP TO WITH CORONA?

Erick Raymond

“God is always doing 10,000 things in your life, and you may be aware of three of them.” (John Piper)

I appreciate this quote because it reminds us of our limited perspective. We simply cannot see all that God is doing. But even above blind spots, we have capacity issues. Not only is God doing more than we can see, but he is also doing more than we can fathom. Therefore the first steps in Christian humility have to be in the path revealed by God’s Word. In it, we are given a divine intel briefing that helps us to know what’s going on.

Take the current pandemic, for example. If I had a buck for every time someone postulated as to what God was doing in this situation, we’d be making our church budget. There are mysteries here that we simply do not know. But there are things revealed that we do know.

Amid this current trial, we don’t know all of the things God is doing (the 9,997 things, for example), but we do know of at least three. As you and I encounter various trials, we know that God is doing these three things in our lives. In James 1:2-4, we find how what a surprising servant trials are in the hand of God.

 GOD IS PURIFYING OUR FAITH

James writes that trials test our faith (James 1:3a). The testing here has to do with a purifying or proving process. The apostle Peter brings out the nuance of the Word with a bit more texture:

In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (1 Pet. 1:6-7)

The parallel is clear, trials purify our faith like fire purifies gold or other metals. Doug Moo, in his commentary on James, writes, “The difficulties of life are intended by God to refine our faith: heating it in the crucible of suffering so that impurities might be refined away and so that it might become pure and valuable before the Lord.”

To make the point further, James’s point isn’t so much about verifying the presence of faith, but testing the already present faith and making it stronger. This is what trials do.

As we lift our eyes over the horizon of self-quarantines and our ears over the continuous news reports, we hear the Word of God speak personally and practically to us.

 What is God doing during the trial of the Coronavirus? He is purifying the faith of this people.

 GOD IS CREATING ENDURANCE

When we become a Christian, we aren’t instantly zapped with maturity. Instead, God uses the sweaty and painful work sanctification to mold and make us like Jesus. Trials then produce the spiritual fortitude, the endurance that God uses to make us persevere in him.

The other day I went out for a run. While I was motivated by getting outside, enjoying the sun, and getting some fresh air, my actual goal was to get some exercise. As I got going, I felt faster. I remember thinking that I’ve improved since my last run. Then I made a right and suddenly felt a bit slower. It was harder. What happened? I turned into the wind. What was previously at my back was now in my face.

This brings up a question: were the wind and hills good for me? I guess it depends on my objective. If I was trying not to sweat, then no, they weren’t. But, if I was trying to get faster and build endurance, then they most certainly were good. It depends on the objective.

This is like trials. God brings the stiff-headwinds of adversity and the hills of difficulty in our lives to build endurance. He aims to make us more and more like Jesus. This takes work. And it takes the shape of trials. Sanctification takes place in the context of pushing through adversity. Crushing the head of Satan under our feet is hard work (Rom. 16:20). God uses trials to make us more endure.

The current circumstances bring some stiff headwinds, don’t they? Most things in life are made more difficult. Plans are canceled. Finances are drying up. People are ill. Future plans are in doubt. Lifestyles are being restricted. Church ministry has radically changed. This is difficult.

 What is God doing in the midst of this trial? He is building endurance in his people.

GOD IS MATURING HIS PEOPLE

According to James, this brings about maturity. God uses these trials to make us more like Jesus. Think about it: perfection comes at the end. And God means to get his people to the end. So how does he do it? One tool in the divine toolbox is a trial. These various trials push us more and more into Christ.

In a couple of other passages in the New Testament, we see this reflected.

Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope (Rom. 5:3–4)

Therefore we ourselves boast about you in the churches of God for your steadfastness and faith in all your persecutions and in the afflictions that you are enduring. (2 Thess. 1:4)

Notice how Paul pivots off the suffering to praise God. He is worshiping while they are suffering. This would be strange if we didn’t have this crucial piece of information: God is using difficulty for our good. Hard does not mean bad. In fact, in many cases, it means blessing.

 What is God doing in the midst of this trial? He is maturing his people.

WHEN GOD ANSWERS OUR PRAYERS WITH TRIALS

Sometimes we pray and ask God to grow us and make us more like Jesus. Then to our surprise, we find ourselves neck-deep in a trial. So we pray and ask God to take it away. But what if it was God who brought the trial as the answer to our prayer for growth? John Newton’s hymn I Asked the Lord is appropriate to consider here:

I asked the Lord that I might grow
In faith, and love, and every grace;
Might more of His salvation know,
And seek, more earnestly, His face.

‘Twas He who taught me thus to pray,
And He, I trust, has answered prayer!
But it has been in such a way,
As almost drove me to despair.

I hoped that in some favored hour,
At once He’d answer my request;
And by His love’s constraining pow’r,
Subdue my sins, and give me rest.

Instead of this, He made me feel
The hidden evils of my heart;
And let the angry pow’rs of hell
Assault my soul in every part.

Yea more, with His own hand He seemed
Intent to aggravate my woe;
Crossed all the fair designs I schemed,
Blasted my gourds, and laid me low.

Lord, why is this, I trembling cried,
Wilt Thou pursue Thy worm to death?
“‘Tis in this way, the Lord replied,
I answer prayer for grace and faith.

These inward trials I employ,
From self, and pride, to set thee free;
And break thy schemes of earthly joy,
That thou may’st find thy all in Me.”

God is not only doing more than we can see; he is doing more than we can fathom. But of the infinite number of things God is doing, we can be sure that amid trials, he is doing these three things in our lives: he is purifying our faith, creating endurance, and he’s maturing us. For this reason, we can count it all joy when we encounter various trials (James 1:2).

 

GOD NEVER GIVES YOU MORE THAN YOU CAN HANDLE

GOD NEVER GIVES YOU MORE THAN YOU CAN HANDLE

Richard L Rice

The past few weeks have been very disturbing to many people, and by all accounts, life is going to get much more difficult before it gets better.

Never once have I experienced a warning from suffering asking me if I’m ready for another round.

Life’s trials are sometimes like a gentle rain. Other times they come like a ferocious storm of destruction. Either way, we are never asked about them in advance.

Christian people say, “Well, God never gives you more than you can handle.” It seems like such a comforting idea, but think about what it means. It means that you can make it on your own without God. He only gives you things He knows you can handle. You can overcome because God has confidence in you and your abilities. This saying isn’t from the Bible.

Sometimes the trials of life are far greater than we can handle. The Bible never leads us to ourselves, but always back to God. Rather than our ability to “handle” trials, these are times we learn the greatness of God’s power and grace to keep, comfort, and sustain us.

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble (Psalm 46:1).

“He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength” (Isaiah 30:29).

He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

The answer is never found from within, but always and only in Him.

GOD BY HIS PROVIDENCE ENSURES THAT THE CHRISTIAN MAY NOT FIND HIS REST IN THIS WORLD

GOD BY HIS PROVIDENCE ENSURES THAT THE CHRISTIAN MAY NOT FIND HIS REST IN THIS WORLD

J.C. Philpot

“They wandered in the wilderness in a solitary way; they found no city to dwell in.” Psalm 107:4

The true Christian finds this world to be a wilderness.

There is no change in the world itself.

The change is in the man’s heart.

THE WILDERNESS WANDERER thinks it altered—a different world from what he has hitherto known . . . his friends, his own family, the employment in which he is daily engaged, the general pursuits of men – their cares and anxieties, their hopes and prospects, their amusements and pleasures, and what I may call ‘the general din and whirl of life’, all seem to him different to what they were—and for a time perhaps he can scarcely tell whether the change is in them, or in himself.

This however is the prominent and uppermost feeling in his mind—that he finds himself, to his surprise – a WANDERER IN A WORLD which has changed altogether its appearance to him. The fair, beautiful world, in which was all his happiness and all his home—has become to him a dreary wilderness.

Sin has been fastened in its conviction on his conscience.
The Holy Spirit has taken the veil of unbelief and ignorance
off his heart. He now sees the world in a wholly different
light–and instead of a paradise it has become a wilderness – for sin, dreadful sin, has marred all its beauty and happiness.

It is not because the world itself has changed that the Christian feels it to be a wilderness—but BECAUSE HE HIMSELF HAS CHANGED.

There is nothing in this world which can really gratify or satisfy the true Christian. What once was to him a happy and joyous world has now become a barren wilderness.

The scene of his former . . pursuits, pleasures, habits, delights, prospects, hopes, anticipations of profit or happiness – is now turned into a barren wasteland.

He cannot perhaps tell how or why the change has taken place, but he feels it—deeply feels it. He may try to shake off his trouble and be a little cheerful and happy as he was before—but if he gets a little imaginary relief, all his guilty pangs come back upon him with renewed strength and increased violence.

God means to make the world a wilderness to every child of His, that he may not find his happiness in it, but be a stranger and a pilgrim upon earth.

OUR RESPONSE AS CHRISTIANS TO THE CORONAVIRUS

OUR RESPONSE AS CHRISTIANS TO THE CORONAVIRUS

Warrren Peel

Self-isolation; pandemic; super spreader; coronavirus; COVID-19. Just a few of the words that have become part of everyday conversation in the weeks since the first outbreak of a novel coronavirus was reported in Wuhan, China on 31 December 2019. As of today there are 83,650 confirmed cases and have been 2,858 deaths worldwide, although those statistics are changing constantly and the cases of infection are thought be experts to be much higher than have been reported. Of course there is reason for concern, but how should we as Christians respond to an event like this? How can we be salt and light?

1. WE SHOULD BEAR WITNESS TO THE PEACE OF GOD

Christians are to be characterised by peace in the face of anxious circumstances. Is 26:3-4, ‘You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord for ever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.’ Where does the Christian’s peace come from? From staying our minds on God and trusting him. Whenever trouble threatens we need to stay our minds on the Lord. We need to remind ourselves of the many great truths about him that we have learnt through countless sermons and hours of Bible studies and reading.

We believe, for example, in the sovereignty of God. That’s something we need to stay our mind on as this virus spreads to every country and comes closer to our doors. We believe that the Lord is King over all the forces of nature. Psalm 29 tells us that the Lord sends forth his voice (as he did in the beginning at Creation) and nature obeys. Verse 10 says he sits enthroned over the flood; the Lord sits enthroned as king for ever. The word for flood is the word used of the great flood in Noah’s day — a fearful disaster that engulfed every nation and every creature with the breath of life in its nostrils. Yet the Lord was in control of that, bringing his good and righteous purposes to pass.

As the Lord asked Job in Job 38:8-11 ‘. . .who shut in the sea with doors when it burst out from the womb, when I made clouds its garment and thick darkness its swaddling band, and prescribed limits for it and set bars and doors, and said, “Thus far shall you come, and no farther, and here shall your proud waves be stayed”?’ God sets limits not just for the waves but for everything in the universe. The waters of the flood are often a symbol in Scripture for evil — but they are not outside of the Lord’s will. Viruses, no less than the waters, are subject to his mighty will. As R. C. Sproul used to say, there cannot be a single maverick molecule anywhere in the universe that is outside of God’s sovereignty.

Not only is the Lord sovereign, but he is infinitely wise. Rom 11:33, ‘Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!’ That means not only that he knows what is best, but that he knows the best way of bringing about what is best.

The Lord is also gracious. He is sovereignly working all things for the good of his people. Rom 8:28, ‘And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.’ That’s something we need to stay our minds on, if we want to know perfect peace. God knows what he is doing — and what he is doing is working all things for his people’s good. We may not always understand the details of God’s plan, but we know that it is perfect. Who knows how the Lord will use this disease in China, for example, where the Christians of Wuhan and many other places have put themselves in harm’s way to show practical love and help to the people of their city. This comes at just the time when the Chinese authorities are cracking down on Christians; new regulations came into force on 1 February which ‘will require religious leaders and organisations to display complete devotion to the Chinese Communist Party.’

We know too that the Lord has ordained the exact number of our days. Ps. 139:16, ‘. . .in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.’ Nothing in all creation can alter the time and the manner of our death–it will be whatever the Lord in his sovereign, wise and gracious will has ordained. It cannot be brought by ‘bad luck’ causing us to get infected and die ‘before our time’. We are immortal until our work is done. So Jesus tells us not to worry, because it will not add a single hour to our lifespan (Mt. 6:27).

2. WE SHOULD BEAR WITNESS TO THE COMING JUDGMENT OF GOD

Pestilences are one of the ‘signs of the times’ Jesus mentions in Luke 21:10-11, ‘Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and pestilences. And there will be terrors and great signs from heaven.’ These things will characterise the approach of the return of Christ. Of course these things have always been true of human history, but in the parallel passage in Matthew 24:8, Jesus describes these things as the beginning of the birth pains. As a birth approaches the contractions are closer together, more intense, more painful. Isn’t that the point about the signs of the times? As we draw closer to the Lord’s return, these things become more frequent, more intense, more painful? So we are kept alert, in a constant state of readiness for the Lord’s return, without ever being able to predict a specific date. It is always imminent, but never predictable. Every generation will think, with genuine cause, ‘It could happen in my lifetime’.

Every outbreak of pestilence, whether a localised epidemic or a global pandemic, should remind us of the Lord’s words, and force the question upon us, ‘Am I ready for Christ’s return? Have I bowed the knee to Jesus as Lord? Am I living the faithful, godly life he has called me to? Will I be put to shame at his appearing?’ The coronavirus should impress upon us afresh that this world is passing away, that history is not going round in circles but heading towards a great and terrible Day of judgment. It should drive us to pray and to witness to the lost around us with ever greater urgency.

It is striking how frightened so many people are by this virus. It has shaken the world, perhaps especially the economically developed nations of the world, where people feel immune and secure against so many dangers. But now they are confronted by a force that their wealth and medical advances cannot save them from; there is no vaccine at present, nor is there likely to be any time soon. This virus is no respecter of persons. It cannot be contained. The world is at its mercy. And yet the vast majority of people will not contract this disease, and the majority of those who do will not die from it. How much more terrified should people be of the judgment of God when it sweeps over them suddenly, unstoppably, affecting every person who has ever lived, no matter where in the world they are? This pandemic, and every pandemic, is a small, pale shadow of the ultimate judgment of God.

And yet there is a vaccine for God’s judgment. There is a cure. But it is only found in Jesus Christ, who bore the full effects of the virus of our sin to deliver that cure.

OUR EYES ARE UPON THEE O GOD

OUR EYES ARE UPON THEE O GOD

J.C. Philpot

 “O our God, wilt Thou not judge them? For we have no might against this great company that cometh against us; neither know we what to do: but our eyes are upon Thee.” [2Chr 20:12]

Jehoshaphat did not know what to do; he was altogether at his wit’s end; and yet he took the wisest course a man could take.

This is the beauty of it; that when we are fools, then we are wise; when we are weak, then we are strong; when we know not what to do, then we do the only right thing. O had Jehoshaphat taken any other course; had he collected an army, sent through Judah, raised troops and forged swords and spears he would certainly have been defeated! But not knowing what to do, he did the very thing he should do. OUR EYES ARE UPON THEE.”

 “Thou must fight our battles; thou must take the matter into Thy own hands. Our eyes are upon Thee, waiting upon thee, looking up, and hoping in Thee; believing in Thy holy name, expecting help from Thee, from whom alone help can come.” But this is painful work to be brought to this point, “Our eyes are upon Thee,” implying there is no use looking to any other quarter. It assumes that the soul has looked, and looked, and looked elsewhere in vain, and then fixed its eyes upon God as knowing that from Him alone all help must come.

This I believe to be the distinctive mark of a Christian, that his eyes are upon God. On his bed by night; in his room by day; in business or at market, when his soul is in trouble, cast down, and perplexed, his eyes are UPON GOD. From Him alone all help must come; none else can reach his case. All other but the help of God is ineffectual; it leaves him where it found him; it does him no good. We are never safe except our eyes are upon God. Let our eyes be upon Him, we can walk safely; let our eyes be upon the creature, we are pretty sure to slip and stumble.

ALL THINGS ORDAINED OF GOD

ALL THINGS ORDAINED OF GOD

“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid—you are worth more than many sparrows!” Matthew 10:29-31

Charles Spurgeon: “Blessed is that man who is done with chance, who never speaks of luck—but believes that from the least, even to the greatest, all things are ordained by the Lord. We dare not leave out the least event! The creeping of an aphid upon a rosebud is as surely arranged by the decree of Providence—as the march of a pestilence through a nation! Believe this, for if the least thing is omitted from the supreme government, so may the next be, and the next—until nothing is left in the divine hands. There is no place for chance, since God fills all things.”

J.C. Ryle: “There is no such thing as chance, luck or accident in the Christian journey through this world. All is arranged and appointed by God. And all things are working together for the believer’s good!”

Charles Spurgeon: “God’s Providence not only extends to mankind in general, and to the beasts of the field, and the birds of the air, and the innumerable fish in the sea—but also to every atom of matter in the universe!”

Charles Spurgeon: “All things are ordained of God and are settled by Him, according to His wise and holy predestination. Whatever happens here on earth—happens not by chance, but according to the counsel of the Most High!”

Matthew Henry: “God who feeds the sparrows—will not starve His saints! God controls all the concerns of His people, even of those that are most minute, and least regarded. This is an encouragement to live in a continual dependence upon God’s providential care! If God numbers our hairs, much more does He number our heads. He takes care of our lives, our needs, our concerns, and our souls. God’s universal providence extends itself to all creatures, and to all their actions—even the smallest and most minute!”

Charles Spurgeon: “Providence may be seen as the finger of God, not merely in those events which shake nations and are duly emblazoned on the page of history—but in little incidents of common life. Yes, in the motion of a grain of dust, the trembling of a dew-drop, the flight of a swallow, or the movements of a fish!”

Charles Spurgeon: “We talk of God’s providence when we have hairbreadth escapes. But are they not quite as much divine providences, when we are preserved from danger?”

Charles Spurgeon: “It is most important for us to learn that the smallest trifles are as much arranged by the God of Providence—as the most momentous events! He who counts the stars—has also numbered the hairs of our heads. Our lives and deaths are predestined—but so, also, are our sitting down and our rising up.”

Louis Berkhof: “Scripture everywhere teaches that even the minutest details of life are of divine ordering!”

Charles Spurgeon: “Jesus rules the whole world for the good of His people. All the arrangements of Providence are under His control. Nothing is done in the entire universe, without His command or His permission.”

Charles Spurgeon: “The best remedy for affliction, is sweet submission to God’s providence. What can’t be cured, must be endured!”

J.C. Ryle: “If God has given His Son to die for us—let us beware of doubting His kindness and love in any painful providence of our daily life.”

Charles Spurgeon: “Divine Providence is a downy pillow for an aching head—and a blessed salve for the sharpest pain. He who can feel that his times are in the hand of God—need not tremble at anything that is in the hand of man!”

CHRIST ALONE CAN RESCUE YOU

CHRIST ALONE CAN RESCUE YOU

J.C. Philpot

“Mine eyes are ever toward the LORD; for He shall pluck my feet out of the net.” [Psalm 25:15]

“Give us help from trouble: for vain is the help of man.” [Psalm 60:11]

What a mighty God we have to deal with!

And what would suit our case but a mighty God?

Have we not mighty SINS?

Have we not mighty TRIALS?

Have we not mighty TEMPTATIONS?

Have we not mighty foes and mighty FEARS?

And who is to deliver us from all this mighty army, except the mighty God? It is not a ‘little God’ (if I may use the expression) that will do for God’s people. They need a ‘mighty God’, because they are in circumstances where none but a mighty God can intervene in their behalf.

And it is well worth our notice that the Lord puts His people purposely into circumstances where they may avail themselves, so to speak, of His omnipotent power, and thus know from living personal experience, that He is a mighty God, not in mere doctrine and theory, but a mighty God in their special and particular behalf.

Why, if you did not feelingly and experimentally know . . .
your mighty sins,
your mighty trials,
your mighty temptations,
your mighty fears,
you would not need a mighty God.

O how this brings together the strength of God and the weakness of man! How it unites poor helpless creatures with the Majesty of heaven! How it conveys to feeble, worthless worms the very might of the Omnipotent Jehovah!

This sense of . . .
our weakness and His power,
our misery and His mercy,
our ruin and His recovery,
the aboundings of our sin and
the super-aboundings of His grace;
a feeling sense of these opposite yet harmonious things, brings us to have personal, experimental dealings with God. And it is in these personal dealings with God that the life of all religion consists.

“The righteous cry, and the LORD heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles.” Psalm 34:17

TIMES OF SOUL-DISTRESS, SPIRITUAL DARKNESS, AND CONFLICT ARE IN GOD’S HAND

TIMES OF SOUL-DISTRESS, SPIRITUAL DARKNESS, AND CONFLICT ARE IN GOD’S HAND

Octavius Winslow (1808-1878)

edited and rearranged by Michael Jeshurun 

“My Times are in Thy Hand.” [Psalm 31:15]

What confirmation would the precious truth contained in these words derive from the personal experience of the man of God who penned them? Reviewing the past of his eventful history, he would trace the guiding and overshadowing hand of his heavenly Father in all the circumstances of the checkered and diversified scene; and as memory thus recalled the strange and momentous events of his life, with what overpowering solemnity would the conviction force itself upon his mind, that for the form and complexion of that life how little was it indebted to himself!

Circumstances which chance could not originate, events which human sagacity could, not foresee, and results which finite experience could not determine, would at once lift his grateful and adoring thoughts to that God of infinite foreknowledge and love, whose overruling providence had guarded with a sleepless eye each circumstance, and whose infinite goodness had guided with a skillful hand each step. With this retrospect before him, with what intensity of feeling would the aged king exclaim: “My Times Are in Thy Hand.”

But if David felt this truth- that all his interests were in God’s keeping, and under His supreme direction- so consolatory, as life drew near its close, how much more cheering may it be to US just entering upon a new year of life, all whose history is, to our view, wisely and beneficently enshrouded in obscurity, and all whose events, from the least to the greatest, are happily beyond our control. “My times are in Thy hand.” Who can give us the heartfelt, soothing influence of this precious truth but the Holy Spirit by whose divine inspiration it was uttered? May He now unfold and apply with His sanctifying, comforting power this portion of his own Holy Word to the reader’s heart!

The declaration that “our times are in the Lord’s hand,” implies that the future of our history is impenetrably and mysteriously veiled from our sight. We live in a world of mysteries. They meet our eye, awaken our inquiry, and baffle our investigation at every step. Nature is a vast arcade of mysteries. Science is a mystery, truth is a mystery, religion is a mystery, our existence is a mystery, the future of our being is a mystery. And God, who alone can explain all mysteries, is the greatest mystery of all. How little do we understand of the inexplicable wonders of a wonder-working God, “whose thoughts are a great deep,” (Psa 36:6) and “whose ways are past finding out!” [Rom 11:33]

To God NOTHING is mysterious! In purpose, nothing is unfixed; in forethought, nothing is unknown; in providence, nothing is contingent. His glance pierces the future as vividly as it beholds the past. “He knows the end, from the beginning.” (Isa 46:10) All His doings are parts of a divine, eternal, and harmonious plan. He may make ”darkness His secret place; His pavilion round about Him dark waters, and thick clouds of the skies, and to human vision His dispensations may appear gloomy, discrepant, and confused; yet is He, “working all things after the counsel of His own will,” and “at the brightness that is before Him, His thick clouds pass.” and all is transparent and harmonious to His eye.

And WHY this obscurity thus investing all our future? Would it not make for our present well-being; would it not be a satisfaction and a blessing, could we pull back the mystic veil, and gaze with a farseeing and undimmed eye upon “our times,” yet awaiting us this side the grave? Remembering the past, you are, perhaps, ready to say: “Could I but have foreseen, I would have fore-arranged. Had I anticipated the result of such a step, or have known the issue of such a movement, or have safely calculated the consequences of such a measure, I might have pursued an opposite course, and have averted the evil I now deplore, and have spared me the misery I now feel.” But hush this vain reasoning! God, your God, O believer has in wisdom, faithfulness, and love, hidden all the future from your view!

“You shall remember all the way which the Lord your God has led you these forty years.” How has He guided, counseled, and upheld you! He has led you by a right way. In perplexity He has directed you- in sorrow He has comforted you- in slippery paths His mercy has held you up, and when fallen He has raised you again. From seeming evil He has educed (brought out) positive good. The mistakes you have made and the follies you have committed in the blindness of your path, and in the sinfulness of your heart, have but led you to a closer acquaintance with, and to a stronger confidence in God. They have opened up to you new and more glorious views of His character and His government; while in leading you closer to the feet of Jesus in self-knowledge and self abhorrence, they have unlocked to you spring of spiritual blessings, fresh, sanctifying, and, unspeakable.

Beloved, God has placed us in a school in which He is teaching us to lay our blind reason at His feet, to cease from our own wisdom and guidance, and lean upon and confide in Him as children with a parent. The goodness of God to us, combined with a jealous regard to His own glory, constrains Him to conceal the path along which He conducts us. His promise is, “And I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not; I will lead them in paths that they have not known: I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them” (Isa 42:16)…Dear child of God, your afflictions, your trials, your crosses, your losses, your sorrows – all – ALL are in your heavenly Father’s hand. They cannot come until sent by Him. Bow that stricken heart, yield that tempest-tossed soul to His sovereign disposal, to His calm, righteous sway, in the submissive spirit and language of your suffering Savior, “Not my will, but Thine, be done (Luk 22:42)!

My times of sadness and of grief are in Thy hand.”

TIMES OF SOUL-DISTRESS, SPIRITUAL DARKNESS, AND CONFLICT ARE IN HIS HAND. Many such are there in the experience of the true saints of God. Many the hard-fought battle, the fiery dart, the desperate wound, the momentary defeat in the Christian’s life…But it is in the Lord’s hand. No spiritual cloud shades, no mental distress depresses, no fiery dart is launched that is not by Him permitted, and for which there is not a provision by Him arranged. There is nothing that the Lord has taken more entirely and exclusively into His keeping than the redeemed, sanctified souls of His people. All their interests for eternity are exclusively in His hand. In the infinite fullness of Jesus, in the inexhaustible supply of the covenant, in the exceeding great and precious promises of His Word, He has anticipated every spiritual exigency of the believer.

How precious is your soul to Him Who bore all its sins, Who exhausted all its curse, Who travailed for it in ignominy and suffering, and Who ransomed it with His own most precious blood. Guarded, also, by His indwelling Spirit is His kingdom of righteousness, joy, and peace within you. Oh, endeavor to realize that, whatever be your mental exercises, spiritual conflicts, doubts and fears, your “times” of soul despondency are in the Lord’s hand.

Lodged there, safe are your spiritual interests. “All His saints are in His hand” (cf. Deu 33:3). And He to Whose care you have confided your redeemed soul has pledged Himself for its eternal security. Of His own sheep He says, “I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, who gave them to me, is greater than all: and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand” (John10:28-29). With like precious faith and humble assurance, you are privileged to exclaim with Paul, “I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that Day!” (2Ti 1:12).

Ah! As soon shall Christ Himself perish, as one bought with His blood. No member of His body, insignificant though it may be, shall be dissevered. No temple of the Holy Spirit, frail and imperfect though it is, shall be destroyed. Not a soul to whom the divine image has been restored and the divine nature has been imparted, upon whose heart the name of Jesus has been carved, shall be involved in the final and eternal destruction of the wicked. Nothing shall perish but the earthly and the sensual. Not one grain of precious faith shall be lost, not one spark of divine light shall be extinguished, not one pulsation of spiritual life shall die!

Oh, think of this, you who have fled all sinful and trembling to Jesus, you who cling to Him…as the ivy to the oak: NEVER shall you lose that hold of faith you have on Christ, and never will Christ lose that hold of love He has on you. (see Jer 32:40) You and Jesus are one, indivisibly and eternally one. Nothing shall separate you from His love, nor sever you from His care, nor exclude you from His sympathy, nor banish you from His heaven of eternal blessedness. YOU are in Christ, the subject of His grace; and CHRIST is in you, the hope of glory (Col 1:27). All your cares are Christ’s care, all your sorrows are Christ’s sorrow, all your need is Christ’s supply, all your sicknesses are Christ’s cure, all your crosses are Christ’s burden. Your life—temporal, spiritual, eternal—is “hid with Christ in God” (Col 3:3).

Oh, the unutterable blessings that spring from a vital union with the Lord Jesus! The believer can exultingly say, “Christ and I are one! One in nature, one in affection, one in sympathy, one in fellowship, and one through the countless ages of eternity! The life I live is a life of faith in Him (Gal 2:20). I fly to Him in the confidence of a loving friend, in the simplicity of a little child, and I reveal to Him my secret sorrow. I confess to Him my hidden sin. I acknowledge my heart backsliding. I make known to Him my needs, my sufferings, my fears. I tell Him how chilled my affection is, how reserved my obedience is, how imperfect my service is, and yet how I long to love Him more ardently, to follow Him more closely, to serve Him more devotedly, to be more wholly and holily His. And how does He meet me? With a hearkening ear, with a beaming eye, with a gracious word, with an out-stretched hand with benignity and gentleness all like Himself.” Confide, then, dear reader, your spiritual and deathless interests in the Lord’s hand…

To those who, depressed with a painful foreboding at their final dissolution, are all their lifetime subject to bondage, how consolatory is the reflection that the time of the believer’s death is peculiarly in the Lord’s hand. It is solemnly true that there is a “time to die” (Ecc 3:2). Ah! Affecting thought—“a time to die!”—a time when this mortal conflict will be over; when this heart will cease to feel, alike insensible to joy or sorrow; when this head will ache and these eyes will weep no more! [It will be the] best and holiest of all: a time “when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality” (1Co 15:54), and “we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is” (1Jo 3:2)…If this be so, then, O Christian, why this anxious, trembling fear? Your time of death, with all its attendant circumstances, is in the Lord’s hand. All is appointed and arranged by Him Who loves you and Who redeemed you—infinite goodness, wisdom, and faithfulness consulting your highest happiness in each circumstance of your departure. The final sickness cannot come, the “last enemy” cannot strike until He bids it.

All is in His hand. Then calmly, confidingly leave life’s closing scene with Him. YOU CANNOT DIE AWAY FROM JESUS! Whether your spirit wings its flight at home or abroad, amid strangers or friends, by a lingering process or by a sudden stroke, in brightness or in gloom, Jesus will be with you! Upheld by His grace and cheered with His presence, you shall triumphantly exclaim, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me!” (Psa 23:4), bearing your dying testimony to the faithfulness of God and the preciousness of His promises.

“My time to die is in your hand, O Lord, and there I calmly leave it”…In WHOSE hand are the believer’s times? In a Father’s hand. Be those times what they may, times of trial, times of temptation, times of suffering, times of peril, times of sunshine or of gloom, of life or death— THEY ARE IN A PARENT’S HAND. Is your present path lonely and dreary? Has the Lord seen fit to recall some fond blessing, to deny some earnest request, or painfully to discipline your heart? All this springs from a Father’s love as fully as though He had unlocked His treasury and poured its costliest gifts at your feet…

In a Redeemer’s hand, also, are our times. That same Redeemer Who carried our sorrows in His heart, our curse and transgressions on His soul, our cross on His shoulder, Who died, Who rose again, Who lives and intercedes for us, and Who will gather all His ransomed around Him in glory is your Guardian and your Guide. Can you not cheerfully confide all your earthly concerns, all your spiritual interests to His keeping and control? “Casting all your care upon Him; for He careth for you” (1Pe 5:7)? “Oh, yes!” faith replies, “in that hand that still bears in its palm the print of the nail are all my times. ‘I will trust, and not be afraid’! (Isa 12:2)

 Let us, in conclusion, trace the practical influence that this truth should exert upon our minds…Let this precious truth, “My times are in Thy hand,” divest your mind of all needless, anxious care for the present or the future. Exercising simple faith in God…“Be content with such things as ye have: for He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” (Heb 13:5). Learn to be content with your present lot, with God’s dealings with and His disposal of you.

You are just where His providence has, in its [mysterious] but all-wise and righteous decision, placed you. It may be a painful, irksome, trying position, BUT IT IS RIGHT. Oh, yes! It is right! Only aim to glorify Him in it. Wherever you are placed, God has a work for you to do, a purpose through you to be accomplished, in which He blends your happiness with His glory. And when you have learned the lessons of His love, He will transfer you to another and a wider sphere…

 STRIVE, THEN [BY FAITH], TO LIVE A LIFE OF DAILY DEPENDENCE UPON GOD. Oh, it is a sweet and holy life! It saves from many a desponding feeling, from many a corroding care, from many an anxious thought, from many a sleepless night, from many a tearful eye, and from many an imprudent and sinful scheme…Oh, yes! beloved reader, thank God that your times, your interests, your salvation, are all out of your hands, and out of the hands of all creatures, supremely and safely in His. Forward in the path of duty, of labor, and of suffering. Aim to resemble Christ more closely in your disposition, your spirit, your whole life. Soon will it be said, “The Master is come, and calleth for thee” (John 11:28)…Patient in endurance, submissive in suffering, content with God’s allotment, zealous, prayerful, and watchful—be found standing in “thy lot at the end of the days” (Dan 12:13).

TRUST GOD IMPLICITLY FOR THE FUTURE! No sorrow comes but shall open some sweet spring of comfort…No affliction befalls but shall be attended with the Savior’s tenderest sympathy…Let your constant prayer be “Hold Thou me up, and I shall be safe” (Psa 119:17). Let your daily precept be “Casting all your care upon Him; for He careth for you” (1Pe 5:7). And then leave God to fulfill, as most faithfully He will, His own gracious, precious promise, “As thy days, so shall thy strength be” (Deu 33:25). Thus walking with God through this valley of tears until you exchange sorrow for joy, suffering for ease, sin for purity, labor for rest, conflict for victory, and all earth’s checkered, gloomy scenes for the changeless, cloudless happiness and glory of heaven. Amen!

Praise the LORD!

THE WORLDLING’S DESIRE FOR NAME AND FAME

THE WORLDLING’S DESIRE FOR NAME AND FAME

by J. C. Philpot

During his lifetime, Absalom had built a monument to himself in the King’s Valley, for he had said, “I have no son to carry on my name.” He named the monument after himself, and it is known as Absalom’s Monument to this day. [2 Samuel 18:18]

There is a yearning in the mind of man after name and fame. Shrinking from oblivion, grasping at an earthly immortality, the ambitious heart desires not wholly in death to die. It would not pass away as unnoticed and as unknown as the leaf which falls into the babbling brook, and, after a few whirls, sinks to the bottom with scarce a bubble to mark its vanishing out of light into darkness.

Few indeed care for life eternal—for an immortality of happiness and holiness in the mansions of heavenly bliss; or if there be a passing desire for heaven, it is but to escape hell. But to achieve an immortality among their fellow-men; to be or to do something which shall secure the proud and rare distinction of living after death in the memories and on the lips of successive generations, is a deep-seated feeling in the human bosom.

This, the school-boy feels, who cuts his name on the tree, as much as the painter, who longs that the canvas may breathe his name when the fingers which spread it with form and color lie mouldering in the dust; or the poet, who is content to die if his verses live for him from generation to generation. But this coveted distinction is attained by few. “Surely,” says the Psalmist, “they are disturbed in vain.” “Their memorial is perished with them.” But could they obtain their object, it would be but a shadow. No applauding breath of man reaches them in their gloomy abode; no rills of human praise let fall a drop of water from earth to hell to cool their burning tongue.

Most names that are remembered and handed down to posterity are of men in whom the Spirit of God was not. They were of the world; their words and actions were inspired by a worldly spirit, and directed to worldly ends. Therefore the world loved them in life, honored them in death, and bestows on them after death the only reward it has to give—an earthly immortality.

But when we view what they were in life, and what they are in death; when we lift up the veil which hides the mansions of the dead, is their lot worth coveting? Alas! no! Their soul is no more cheered by the honors paid to their memory than their mouldering dust is gladdened by the marble monument which stands over their grave. Solomon has already written the epitaph of this admired son of fame, the compendious history of his birth and death, beginning and end. “For he comes in with vanity, and departs in darkness, and his name shall be covered with darkness. Yes, though he live a thousand years twice told, yet has he seen no good; do not all go to one place?” (Eccles. 6:4, 6.)

But there are a few, and a few only, who have won a double immortality. Their names, their works, their influence survive them on earth when their happy spirits are bathing in the bliss of heaven. To be a Shakespeare, a Byron, a Voltaire—who that fears God would accept so wide-spread a name to accept with it what we may well apprehend is their present and future portion?

Better be the lowest pauper who starves on a parish pittance; better be the shoeless wretch that sweeps the public crossing; better live in a hovel and die in a hospital, with the grace of God in the heart, than have a world-wide, time-enduring name when the soul is howling in hell.