THE CHRISTIAN AND ‘SELFIES’!

THE CHRISTIAN AND ‘SELFIES’!

preacher Gary Shepard

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

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

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

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

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

O WHEN WILT THOU COME UNTO ME

O WHEN WILT THOU COME UNTO ME

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

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

TRUE AND FALSE RELIGION

TRUE AND FALSE RELIGION

by J. C. Philpot

“I see that you are very religious in every way.” Acts 17:22

True religion is what the world does not want –nor does true religion want the world. The two are as separate as Christ and Belial. But some religion the world must have! And as it will not have, and cannot have the true–it will and must have the false.

Worldly religion cannot exist without an order of men to teach it and practice its ceremonies. Hence come clergy, forming a recognized priestly caste. And as these must, to avoid confusion, be governed, all large corporate bodies requiring a controlling power, thence come bishops and archbishops, ecclesiastical courts, archdeacons–and the whole apparatus of clerical government.

The ceremonies and ordinances cannot be carried on without buildings set apart for the purpose–thence churches and cathedrals. As prayer is a part of all religious worship, and carnal men cannot, for lack of the Spirit, pray spiritually–they must have forms of devotion made ready to their hand, thence come prayer-books and liturgies. As there must be mutual points of agreement to hold men together, there must be written formulas of doctrine –thence come articles, creeds, and confessions of faith.

And finally, as there are children to be instructed, and this cannot be safely left to oral teaching, for fear of ignorance in some and error in others, the very form of instruction must be drawn up in so many words– thence come catechisms. People are puzzled sometimes to know why there is this and that thing in an established religion–why we have churches and clergy, tithes and prayer-books, universities and catechisms–and the whole apparatus of religion. They do not see that all these things have sprung, as it were, out of a moral necessity, and are based upon the very constitution of man–that this great and widespread tree of a human religion has its deep roots in the natural conscience; and that all these branches necessarily and naturally grow out of the broad and lofty stem.

The attachment, then, of worldly people to a worldly religion is no great mystery. It is no riddle for a Samson to put forth–or requiring a Solomon to solve.

THE FALLING SPARROW  – A MEDITATION

THE FALLING SPARROW  – A MEDITATION

John Marshall

“Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing?” [Matt 10:29]
Jesus, sending forth the Twelve to do ministry and missions, here takes time to encourage them. Their involvement in kingdom work entails danger. To depict God’s tender loving care for them, our Master used sparrows as an object lesson.

Sparrows, the smallest and least valuable of edible birds, were cheap finger food. They could be purchased live, if a buyer wanted to cook them fresh at home, or could be bought plucked and stuck on skewers, ready to be eaten like kebabs.

The price was right, two for a penny, five for two pennies (Luke 12:6). By paying extra, a sparrow was thrown in free to make a bargain. Sparrows were cheap, not valuable, in people’s eyes a trifle, but in God’s eyes, not trivial. Even the free fifth sparrow, the one thrown in to close a deal, was not forgotten by God.

“And one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.” [Matt 10:29]

Few things in nature seem less significant than a dying sparrow plummeting to the ground. Nevertheless, God attends the funeral of every fallen sparrow.

Our text does not say a sparrow falls without His knowing about it. This is a valid and accurate observation, but does not convey the precise intent of our text.

God knows, but also somehow vitally interacts, with a sparrow’s fall. Even seemingly callous, capricious laws of nature are not outside Father’s involvement.

What appear to us to be accidents of nature are never off God’s radar screen. He tracks each fowl on the wing, logging every mile they fly. Though birds are as numerous as stars, none of them, not one, is ever lost track of by God. Even birds of no value to people, including the free fifth sparrow, are never forgotten by God.

When gravity draws a dying bird to the ground, God descends in the fall, accompanying the flight as a constant active presence in the moment. In a very real way, God is with dying sparrows. When a bird fulfils its purpose, God gives it a nest in which to die, and the nest is His own soft, infinite presence (Morgan).

Well, this is all interesting and good for ornithologists and bird watchers, but what does it have to do with you and me? EVERYTHING!! If God is engaged in every small incident in a sparrow’s life, He is also intimately involved in OUR LIVES.

God is aware of every incident, however little, in our lives. They are not outside His knowledge, nor are they outside His care and involvement. Whatever minutia hurts us grieves the Father, draws Him near, and engages His intervention.

I desperately need this truth branded deep in me. In worship last Sunday we wrote on cards what we feel keeps us from growing in Christ. I wrote on my card “Distrust. I need to trust Jesus more.” To these verses about God’s interest in us I come with a profound spirit of humility. I approach them more as student eager to learn than as accomplished teacher. I must make progress in trusting Christ more.

My personal quest is not primarily focused on gaining increased knowledge about God’s ways, though this is a worthy goal. My chief objective is increased faith in God’s ways. Facts alone do not provide answers adequate for our frailties.

“If I understood God, he could not be the true God. . . .When I cannot climb, I kneel. Where I cannot build an observatory, I set up an altar” (Spurgeon).

We do want increased knowledge, but along with it we crave deeper peace, stronger confidence. We want to trust God more in every part, every inch, of life.

We yearn to draw closer to this One whose involvement in our lives is punctual and particular, whose omnipotence and omniscience make His interaction with us universal. Finite minds fumble with Infinity, yet long to love it anyway.

Our Father does not flit (move swiftly) in and out of lives, stopping by only on occasions when He thinks He has time, and feels a need to deal with some matter of huge importance. God does not take care of big things and leave little things to chance.

The two are in fact indistinguishable. What we deem important often fizzles into being trivial. What we see as insignificant may change the course of history.

The Bible records two events that occurred at Dothan (Gen 37:17; 2 Kin 6:13). Here Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers, and Elisha’s scared servant saw the mountain filled with God’s protecting horses and chariots of fires. The latter, a huge miracle, is often told to inspire confidence in God. Joseph being sold into slavery isn’t as exciting a story, but God used it to save the whole nation of Israel.
From our limited viewpoint, we can’t predict if an event, however trivial or important it seems to us, will prove huge or not. In high school, I rode horses one Sunday afternoon. I so chafed the insides of my thighs that I preached that night with my legs bowed to keep my pants from galling my skin. You may laugh it off as insignificant, but due to this, months later I did not go ride horses on a Sunday afternoon with a college revival team. One other student also chose not to go, for reasons I don’t know. We two were put in an elderly couple’s home that afternoon and fell in love. Ruth and I are wed today because we chose not to go horse back riding one afternoon in Ellington MO. Let us rejoice in serving a God engaged in each moment, each detail, each incident, of life. We must come to trust Him in all.

We need this blessed assurance, for tough times await us. God watches and cares, but sparrows still fall. Even in the Lord’s holy work itself, troubles dog our steps. Sometimes God wills His servants to suffer and yea to die. The Lord said of Saul of Tarsus, “I will show him how great things he must suffer for My name’s sake” (AC 9:16). It helps us to know in all of life, but especially in doing ministry and missions, nothing bad can happen to us without our Father knowing about it in advance, allowing it to come, and accompanying it to us with His own dear presence. Harm can befall us only if God sees good reason for it to come our way.

In our text, Jesus was sending the Twelve on a dangerous mission, a microcosm of what their life work would become. In later years, they all were hurt, and most died, for their dear Savior’s cause. Come life or come death, they needed to know Jesus would be engaged with them. We too need to know this.

To prove His involvement even in these situations, Jesus appeared at the death of the first martyr in Acts (7:55). As Stephen died a martyr’s death, the Master STOOD in respect and LET HIS STANDING BE SEEN. The sight speaks comfort into our darkest hours. If we believe God is with us in situations this inexplicable, we can believe He is with us in EVERY difficulty. Amen!

“IT IS FINISHED!” MEANS … “IT IS FINISHED!”

“IT IS FINISHED!” MEANS … “IT IS FINISHED!”

When the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ shouted in His dying breath “It is finished!” (John 19:30), He spoke regarding the redemption of the sinners for whom He died (among other things).

When He said “It is FINISHED!” He meant … “It is FINISHED!” The redemption of every soul for whom He died was COMPLETED, PERFECTED, ACCOMPLISHED, ACHIEVED, FINALIZED.

Many preachers aver otherwise. They say He meant “It is finished HYPOTHETICALLY! – as in “I made redemption possible for everyone.” They say He meant “It is finished PARTLY! – as in “I have done My part, but now you must do yours.” They say He meant “It is finished PROVISIONALLY! – as in “I have provided redemption for all who will of their own freewill have it.” They say He meant “It is finished CONDITIONALLY!” – as in “I have redeemed you if you meet the condition.”

When Jesus Christ said “It is finished!” He meant … “It is finished – ACTUALLY, COMPLETELY, PERFECTLY, EFFECTUALLY, UNCONDITIONALLY, ABSOLUTELY, EVERLASTINGLY, IMMUTABLY, PERIOD!”

Not one single solitary sinner for whom Jesus Christ died will die unredeemed and be condemned and consigned to everlasting punishment.

Rather, each and every sinner for whom Jesus Christ died is redeemed and will join the heavenly hosts in singing to Him, “Thou art worthy . . . for Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by Thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation!” (Revelation 5:9).

Will YOU join them?

“Let the redeemed of the LORD say so!” (Psalm 107:2).

[From The SOVEREIGN GRACE BAPTIST CHURCH Bulletin]

APOSTASY AND A CLOSER LOOK AT THE CONTROVERSIAL HEBREWS 6

APOSTASY AND A CLOSER LOOK AT THE CONTROVERSIAL HEBREWS 6

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GOD MAKES HIS SAINTS WEAK

GOD MAKES HIS SAINTS WEAK

J.C. Philpot

“Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.” Acts 14:22

The very word “confirm” implies that the souls of Christ’s disciples need strengthening. If there were no temptations to try, no sharp sorrows to grieve, no painful afflictions to distress them; or if, on the other hand, there were no sensible weakness of soul, no sinking of heart, no despondency of spirit, no giving way of faith and hope, no doubt or fear in the mind, how could the souls of the disciples be strengthened?

The souls of God’s people are not made of cast iron, against which arrow after arrow may be discharged and leave no dent, make no impression. The hearts of the Lord’s people are in a measure conformed to the heart of Christ. And what was his heart? “My heart,” he says, “is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels.” [Psalm 22:14]

And thus the Lord’s people, who carry in their bosom broken hearts and contrite spirits, made so by grace, are often sinking, often shaken, often cast down through the many trials they have to encounter. It is for this reason that they need confirming, supporting, strengthening, and that the Lord himself would lay his everlasting arms underneath them, lift them into his bosom, and make his strength perfect in their weakness.

And is not this the gospel way? Can I, by dint of creature exertion, brace up my soul to a certain pitch? If trouble comes, am I like a patient sometimes under the keen knife of the surgeon to brace up my nerves to bear the operation more unflinchingly? This is nature, flesh, reason; not grace. The Lord does not require this of his people. He dealt not so with his beloved Apostle, according to the account which he gives in 2 Corinthians 12. What did the Lord speak into his heart, under trial and temptation, that he might proclaim it upon Zion’s walls to the Church of the living God, “My grace is sufficient for you; for my strength is made perfect in weakness.”

Therefore, he adds, “Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” But it is very painful to the Lord’s people to find no strength when they need it most, no faith when they have the greatest need of it, no help when most required. To pass through this experience baffles and disconcerts many of the living family; but when the Lord is pleased in a mysterious way to communicate His own strength, and to make it perfect in weakness; when He deals with them, as with the worthies of old, who “out of weakness were made strong,” they can then bless the Lord for their very weakness, and, like Paul, glory in their infirmities, because the power of Christ rests upon them.

What Would Martin Luther Say to “Free Will”?

What Would Martin Luther Say to “Free Will”?

Those who promote the free will of natural man will often, in their defense, offer up various passages from Scripture which declare to man what he MUST DO to be saved. The following is how Luther responded to such arguments:

“If thou art willing’ is a verb in the subjunctive mood, which asserts nothing…a conditional statement which asserts nothing indicatively.” “if thou art willing”, “if thou hear”, “if thou do” declare, not man’s ability, but his duty. The commandments are not given inappropriately or pointlessly; but in order that through them the proud, blind man may learn the plague of his impotence, should he try to do as he is commanded.

How is it that as soon as you get hold of a single imperative verb you infer an indicative meaning, as though the moment a thing is commanded it is done, or can be done? Does it follow from: ‘turn ye’ that therefore you can turn? Does it follow from “‘Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart’ (Deut 6.5) that therefore you can love with all your heart? What do arguments of this kind prove, but the ‘free-will’ does not need the grace of God, but can do all things by its own power. By the law is the knowledge of sin’ [Rom 3:20], so the word of grace comes only to those who are distressed by a sense of sin and tempted to despair. Imperative or hypothetical passages, or wishes of Jesus, by which is signified, not what we can do, or do do…but what we OUGHT TO DO, and what is required of us, so that our impotence may be made known to us and the knowledge of sin may be given to us.

As to why some are touched by the law and others not, so that some receive and others scorn the offer of grace…this is the hidden will of God, Who, according to His own counsel, ordains such persons as He wills to receive and partake of the mercy preached and offered … If man has lost his freedom, and is forced to serve sin, and cannot will good, what conclusion can more justly be drawn concerning him, than that he sins and wills evil necessarily?

…If any man doth ascribe of salvation, even the very least, to the free will of man, he knoweth nothing of grace, and he hath not learnt Jesus Christ aright!”

[From Luther’s De Servo Arbitrio or ‘The Bondage of the Will’]

 

SIN – A BLOW IN GOD’S FACE

SIN –  A BLOW IN GOD’S FACE

“Against Thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Thy sight”! [Psalm 51:4]

“This, then, I would first of all advise the reader to do—to bear in mind that which I observed at the beginning of the Psalm, that David is here speaking in the person of all the saints, and not in his own person only, not in his own person as an adulterer. Although I do not say it might not be, that it was THIS FALL which, as a medium, brought him under the knowledge of himself and of his whole human nature, and made him think thus: “Behold! I, so holy a king, who have with so much pious devotedness observed the law and the worship of God, have been so tempted and overcome by the inbred evil and sin of my flesh, that I have murdered an innocent man, and have for adulterous purposes taken away his wife!

And is not this an evident proof that my nature is more deeply infected and corrupted by sin than ever I thought it was? I who was yesterday chaste am today an adulterer! I who yesterday had hands innocent of blood, am today a man of blood guiltiness!” And it might be that in this way he derived the feeling sense of his entire sinfulness, from his fall into adultery and murder, and from thence drew his conclusion—that neither the tree nor the fruit of human nature were good, but that the whole was so deformed and lost by sin, that there was nothing sound left in the whole of nature. This I would have the reader bear in mind, first of all, if he desire to have the pure meaning of this passage.

In the next place, the grammatical construction is to be explained, which seems to be somewhat obscure. For what the translator has rendered by the Preterperfect, ought to be the PRESENT: AGAINST THEE ONLY DO I SIN; that is, I know that before thee I am nothing but a sinner; or, before thee I do nothing but evil continual; that is, MY WHOLE LIFE IS EVIL AND DEPRAVED ON ACCOUNT OF SIN. I cannot boast before thee of MERIT or of righteousness, but am EVIL ALTOGETHER, and in thy sight THIS is my character—I do evil. I have sinned, I do sin, and shall sin to the end of the chapter”. – MARTIN LUTHER.

“Sin is a clenched fist and a blow in the face of God.” Joseph Parker

When I have sinned, have I viewed my actions as a “sin” AGAINST GOD?

“If sin had its way it would both dethrone and annihilate God.”
William S. Plumer

While our sinful acts have consequences that may result in great harm to those around us, the essence of sin is that it is an act of rebellion against my Father in heaven. I know I’m not keen on hearing this and maybe you aren’t either, but it’s true! When we begin to clearly recognize the fact that sin is a personal act of defiance in the face of the great love our Father in heaven has bestowed upon us, it makes sin appear as it really is – sin is about a heart in revolt. Rather than having a heart like God, beating in unison with heaven’s glory, David decided in his heart that he would DO HIS OWN THING…that he would be the ruler of his world!

The author Arthur Skevington Wood observed, “Sin is a little word with only three letters, but the biggest is ‘I’.” I elevate my viewpoint over my Father’s. I put myself in charge instead of my Father.

It has been said that there’s no such thing as a little sin because there is no such person as a little God to sin against.

John Bunyan, who wrote the wonderful book, Pilgrim’s Progress, defined sin in this way, “Sin is the dare of God’s justice, the rape of His mercy, the jeer of His patience, the slight of His power and the contempt of His love.”

When confronted with the mutinous behavior of his rebel heart, David correctly admitted, “I have sinned against the Lord.” There was no question in David’s mind his was a PERSONAL ACT AGAINST A PERSONAL FATHER, whose heart he broke.

May we never forget the words of an old divine who wrote, “Our sense of sin is in proportion to our nearness to God.” In the case of David, he realized that the “One” whose heart he wanted most to emulate, was the “One” whose heart he crushed – and this is what makes sin such an affront to our loving Father in heaven.

“Against THEE, thee only, have I sinned”. There is a GODLY SORROW which leads a man to life; and THIS sorrow is wrought in a man BY THE SPIRIT OF GOD, and in the heart of the godly; that he mourns for sin because it has displeased GOD, who is so dear and so sweet a Father to him. And suppose he had neither a heaven to lose, nor a hell to gain, yet he is sad and sorrowful in heart because he has grieved GOD.
John Welch, 1576-1622.

[Material gleaned from various sources on the Web]

ONE SIN OPENS THE DOOR FOR MORE

ONE SIN OPENS THE DOOR FOR MORE

Thomas Watson

A godly man considers the mischief which ONE SIN LIVED IN, will do.

1. One sin lived in, gives Satan as much advantage against you as more sins. The fowler can hold a bird by one wing. Satan held Judas fast by one sin.

2. One sin lived in, proves that the heart is not sound. He who hides one rebel in his house is a traitor to the crown. The person who indulges one sin is a traitorous hypocrite!

3. One sin lived in, will make way for more—as a little thief can open the door to more. Sins are LINKED and CHAINED together. One sin will draw on more. David’s adultery made way for murder. ONE SIN NEVER GOES ALONE! If there is only ONE NEST EGG—the devil can brood on it!

4. One sin lived in, is as much a breach of God’s law as more sins. “Whoever keeps the entire law, yet fails in one point, is guilty of breaking it all.” (James 2:10) The king may make a law against felony, treason and murder. If a man is guilty of only one of these—he is a transgressor.

5. One sin lived in, prevents Christ from entering. One stone in the pipe keeps out the water. One sin indulged in, obstructs the soul and keeps the streams of Christ’s blood from running into it!

6. One sin lived in, will spoil all your good duties. One dead fly will spoil the whole box of precious ointment. A DROP OF POISON will spoil a glass of wine. Abimelech, a bastard-son, destroyed seventy of his brethren. (Judges 9:5) ONE BASTARD-SIN will destroy seventy prayers.

7. One sin lived in, will be a cankerworm to eat out the peace of conscience. “Alas! What a scorpion lies within!” (Seneca). One sin is a PIRATE—to rob a Christian of his comfort. One jarring string puts all the music out of tune. One sin lived in—will spoil the music of conscience.

8. One sin lived in, will DAMN as well as more sins. One DISEASE is enough to kill. If a FENCE is made ever so strong, and only ONE GAP is left open; the wild beast may enter and tread down the corn. If only one sin is allowed in the soul, you leave open a gap for the devil to enter! A soldier may have only one gap in his armor—and the bullet may enter there. He may as well be shot there—as if he had no armor on at all.

So if you favor only one sin, you leave a part of your soul unprotected—and the bullet of God’s wrath may enter there—and shoot you! One sin lived in, may shut you out of heaven! What difference is there, between being shut out of heaven for one sin—or for many sins? One millstone will sink a man into the sea—as well as a hundred!

Therefore, beware of cherishing one sin! Give a certificate of divorce to every sin. Kill the Goliath sin! “Let not sin REIGN over you.” (Romans 6:12) In the original it is “Let not sin KING it over you.” Grace and sin may be together—but grace and THE LOVE OF SIN cannot. Therefore parley with sin no longer—but with the SPEAR OF MORTIFICATION, spill the heart-blood of every sin!

“For if you live after the flesh, you shall die: but if you through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, you shall live.” [Romans 8:13]

“Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry” [Colossians 3:5]