MAN IS ‘FREE’ BUT NOT FREE TO COME TO GOD

MAN IS ‘FREE’ BUT NOT FREE TO COME TO GOD

Man is a free agent but be cannot originate the love of God in his heart. His will is free in the sense that it is not controlled by any force outside of himself. As the bird with a broken wing is “free” to fly but not able, so the natural man is free to come to God but not able!

How can he repent of his sin when he loves it? How can he come to God when he hates Him? This is the inability of the will under which man labors. Jesus said, “And this is the judgment, that light is come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light; for their works were evil,” John 3 :19; and again, “Ye will not come to Me, that ye may have life,” John 5:40. Man’s ruin lies mainly in his own perverse will. He cannot come because he will not. Help enough is provided if he were only willing to accept it.

Paul tells us, “The carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can it be. So they that are in the flesh cannot please God:” Romans 8:7.

To assume that because man has ability to love he therefore has ability to love God, is about as wise as to assume that since water has the ability to flow, it therefore has the ability to flow up hill; or to reason that because a man has power to cast himself from the top of a precipice to the bottom, he therefore has equal power to transport himself from the bottom to the top.

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

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DIFFERENCE BETWEEN TASTING AND EATING GOD’S WORD

DIFFERENCE BETWEEN TASTING AND EATING GOD’S WORD

[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]

 MODERN DAY PROTESTANTISM AND ROMAN CATHOLICISM . . . WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE? . . . NOTHING!!!

 MODERN DAY PROTESTANTISM AND ROMAN CATHOLICISM . . . WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE? . . . NOTHING!!!

Prof D.J. Engelsma

In those days, Rome preached a salvation that had to be earned by man’s own works, as indeed it still preaches today; Rome taught that men were righteous before God, in part, by their own works, as indeed it still teaches today. In our day, the Protestant Churches teach and preach that salvation depends upon man’s own will; they proclaim that the sinner must achieve his own salvation by willing. This ‘gospel’ of much of Protestantism and the ‘gospel’ of Rome are one and the same. Essentially, there is no difference between them.

This is the reason why many Protestant Churches, preachers, evangelists and people find it possible to co-operate closely with the Roman Catholic Church, especially in the work of evangelism; and this is the reason why a great reunion with Rome on the part of many Protestants is in the offing. Rome says, ‘Salvation depends upon man working;’ modern Protestantism says, ‘Salvation depends upon man willing.’

Both are saying the same thing: ‘Salvation depends upon man.’ The apostle lumps both of these variations of the same basic doctrine together in Romans 9:16, and condemns them: ‘So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.

EFFECTUAL CALLING

EFFECTUAL CALLING

“Effectual calling is the middle link in the undividable chain of salvation. He that hath it is sure of both ends, his past predestination to life and his future glorification. Our calling is the manifestation of our election, and a sure forerunner of glory, being in effect, the voice of God telling us beforehand that He will glorify us.” – William Cowper (1774) 

This is the same brother who penned the hymn –

GOD MOVES IN A MYSTERIOUS WAY

God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea
And rides upon the storm.

Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never failing skill
He treasures up His bright designs
And works His sov’reign will.

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break
In blessings on your head.

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.

His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flow’r.

Blind unbelief is sure to err
And scan His work in vain;
God is His own interpreter,
And He will make it plain.

Praise the Lord!

 

WHETHER PHYSICAL OR SPIRITUAL FOOD ‘THE POWER TO EAT THEREOF’ IS FROM THE LORD

WHETHER PHYSICAL OR SPIRITUAL FOOD ‘THE POWER TO EAT THEREOF’ IS FROM THE LORD

Michael Jeshurun

“Every man also to whom God hath given riches and wealth, and hath given him power to eat thereof, and to take his portion, and to rejoice in his labour; this is the gift of God!” [Ecc 5:19]

That’s right! Whether it be your physical food or your spiritual food, unless the Lord gives you ‘the power to eat thereof’ you just will not have the hunger for it! How many rich people there are who have fully loaded pantries and jumbo refrigerators packed with all kinds of delicacies but have not the power or hunger to eat it for one reason or another; and how many Christians there are in our day who have access to the best theology and sound doctrinal books and have a Bible in almost every room and even on their smart-phones but alas there is no hunger for the Word of God! Or as the wise man said, “GOD GIVETH THEM NOT POWER TO EAT THEREOF, but a stranger eateth it: this is vanity, and it is an evil disease!” [Ecc 6:2]

If the above is a description of YOUR spiritual state then please read on . . . for it is a solemn truth that “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every Word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God!” [Matt 4:4]

Let us first prayerfully read and consider the following Psalm –

“Teach me, O LORD, the way of Thy statutes; and I shall keep it unto the end.

Give me understanding, and I shall keep Thy law; yea, I shall observe it with my whole heart.

Make me to go in the path of Thy commandments; for therein do I delight.

Incline my heart unto Thy testimonies, and not to covetousness.

Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity; and quicken thou me in Thy way.

Stablish t\Thy word unto Thy servant, who is devoted to Thy fear.

Turn away my reproach which I fear: for Thy judgments are good.

Behold, I have longed after Thy precepts: quicken me in Thy righteousness.” – [Psalm 119:33-40]

As you know, this is a psalm all about God’s Word, with each verse referring to the Bible by one of many synonyms or titles (commandments, statutes, precepts, ways, ordinances, law, etc.). In verse 40, the “behold” draws attention to the statement “I LONG for Thy precepts.” THIS IS A PSALM OF LOVING AND LONGING FOR SCRIPTURE!

Maybe you’ve heard it said that God doesn’t make us do things, won’t cause us to love Him or follow Him or walk after Him, but He wants us to do that of our own volition and will, so that our love will be spontaneous and self-caused and therefore genuine. But the writer of this psalm trusted in God, not his own heart. If God didn’t cause these, they wouldn’t happen. The problem with “free will” of humans is that men freely and willfully choose sin by nature and are not inclined to good unless God’s will and God’s free grace first rescues us from ourselves.

Fallen humans are not as naturally free as they think they are, according to Jesus in John 8; all who sin are slaves to sin, and they’re not truly free, they need the truth to SET THEM FREE, i.e. the Son to set them free to be truly free.

This writer wasn’t concerned with his free will being off limits to God’s intervention — He knew divine intervention was his only hope. If God didn’t make him walk in the right way (v. 35) his tendency would be to go his own way. Does God’s causative grace mean we’re robots? No, it recognizes we’re  REBELLIOUS at heart in need of changed hearts to be made willing to believe and read the Word. If God didn’t cause his heart to be inclined, it never would be (v. 36). If God didn’t open his eyes, they would still be closed (v. 18).

Even as believers we need to pray like this psalm if want to be like this psalmist and be growing in our desires for God’s Word.

I think it’s appropriate to quote the words of Martin Luther the Reformer, as his theology and attitude was very similar to this psalm: ‘your first duty is to begin to pray, and to pray to this effect that if it please God to accomplish something for His glory—not for yours or any other person’s—He may very graciously grant you a true understanding of His words. For no master of the divine words exists except the Author of these words, as He says: “They shall be all taught of God” (John 6:45). You must, therefore, completely despair of your own industry and ability and rely solely on the [illuminating Holy] Spirit.’[3] And he pointed to Psalm 119:34-37

  1. Give me understanding, that I may observe Thy law …
  2. Make me walk in the path of Thy commandments …
  3. Incline my heart to Thy testimonies …
  4. Turn away my eyes from looking at vanity, And revive me …

Luther: ‘completely despair of your own [faculties], for by these you will not attain the goal … Rather kneel down in your private little room and with sincere humility and earnestness pray God, through His dear Son, graciously to grant you His Holy Spirit to enlighten and guide you and give you understanding.’

As one biographer summarized Luther’s view: ‘All our study is futile without the work of God overcoming our blindness and hard-heartedness. Luther and Augustine were one on this central issue of the Reformation. At the heart of Luther’s theology was a total dependence on the freedom of God’s [all-powerful] grace rescuing powerless man from the bondage of the will. Concerning free will Luther said, “Man has in his own power a freedom of the will to do or not to do external works, regulated by law and punishment [genuine choices made within his nature, but he cannot just change his nature by mere willpower] … On the other hand, man cannot by his own power purify his heart and bring forth godly gifts, such as true repentance of sins, a true, as over against an artificial, fear of God, true faith, sincere love, chastity.…”

In other words, the will is “free” to move our action, but beneath the will there is a bondage that can only be overcome by the free grace of God. Luther saw this bondage of the will as the root issue in the fight with Rome and regarded this one book of his—The Bondage of the Will— as his “best theological book, and the only one in that class worthy of publication.” … the powerlessness of man before God, not the indulgence controversy or purgatory, was the central question of the Christian faith. Man is powerless to justify himself, powerless to sanctify himself, powerless to study as he ought …

“My soul breaketh for the longing that it hath unto Thy judgments (Thy Word) at all times!” [Psalm 119:20]

“I opened my mouth, and panted: for I longed for Thy commandments (Thy Word)!” [Psalm 119:131]

“I have longed for Thy salvation (Thy Word), O LORD; and Thy Law is my delight!” [Psalm 119:174]

Praying in utter dependence is not trusting by being passive and inactive; true faith and prayer mobilizes action. We trust and obey. It’s not enough to be readers of the Word, or as James says, hearers of the Word only, we must be doers of the Word. Praying is essential and recognizes God’s sovereignty, but our responsibility is equally balanced in this passage.

It’s like Philippians 2:12-13 which commands our responsibility to “Work … For it is God which worketh in you BOTH TO WILL AND TO DO of His good pleasure.

In Galatians 2:20 Paul says “The life I now live I live by faith in the Son of God” but in the same verse he says “it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me” Which is it? The answer is yes/both

His philosophy wasn’t “let go and let God” – a better slogan is “get going and trust God”

If you do already love the Lord and His Word, but need revival and rekindled longings for Him and His Word, plead with God for it. It’s only natural for a baby to cry out for the only thing that will satisfy them. Peter says in the same way babies desire milk, you must desire the Word.” Right while I was writing this part of my notes this week Jaime handed me a visual illustration of this as I got to feed our newborn son. We’re supposed to continually long for the Word with the same intensity that a baby longs for his milk.

 You’re supposed to go to the Bible like a baby goes to the bottle.  The verb “long for” is a powerful desire, the strongest possible craving.  In the Greek OT that Peter and his readers would have used, this is the same word translated in Ps 42:1 “As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after Thee, O God!”  This is a breathless, panting, a passionate earnest hunger and desire. We need to read, heed (obey), and plead for more longing for God and His Word.

“My dear Lord, I can but tell Thee that Thou knowest I long for nothing but Thyself, nothing but holiness, nothing but union with Thy will. Thou hast given me these desires, and thou alone canst give me the thing desired. My soul longs for communion with Thee, for mortification of indwelling corruption, especially spiritual pride. How precious it is to have a tender sense and clear apprehension of the mystery of godliness, of true holiness! What a blessedness to be like Thee as much as it is possible for a creature to be like its creator! Lord, give me more of Thy likeness; enlarge my soul to contain fullness of holiness; engage me to live more for Thee. Help me to be less pleased with my spiritual experiences, and when I feel at ease after sweet communings, teach me it is far too little I know and do. Blessed Lord, let me climb up near to Thee, and love, and long, and plead, and wrestle with Thee, and pant for deliverance from the body of sin, for my heart is wandering and lifeless, and my soul mourns to think it should ever lose sight of its beloved. Wrap my life in divine love, and keep me ever desiring Thee, always humble and resigned to Thy will, more fixed on Thyself, that I may be more fitted for doing and-suffering. In Jesus’ name Amen!”

[The above is a condensation from a sermon by brother Philip G. Layton titled – “Increasing Your Hunger and Longing for God’s Word”]  

SIN IS FALLING SHORT OF THE GLORY OF GOD

SIN IS FALLING SHORT OF THE GLORY OF GOD

Donald Bell

 “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;”

(Romans 3:23)

Some may not be as profane as others, but “all have sinned”!

You may be a fine mother, a loving daughter, chaste and very moral, receiving praise from all who know you but…if you have not received Christ by faith, and His righteousness has not been charged to your account you are no better off before God than the vilest harlot there is.

There is no difference, all have sinned and missed the mark and have come short of God’s glory.

There you are O man, sitting easy; you are regarded as honest, having the respect of all who know you. You pay your debts, you love your wife and children, you work hard to provide for their needs, yea even their wants.

But what about your needs, your wants before God?

Do you trust Christ right now?

Is He alone your righteousness before God’s holiness?

If He is not, then you are no better off than the rapist and child abuser in prison.

There is no difference, “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God”!

“The glory of God” is the standard for human life.

Not what our wives and children, nor what our neighbors or mothers and fathers have set for us!

It is easy to believe that the whore and whoremonger, the liar and murderer come short of the glory of God, but…so are you, there is no difference, all have sinned and are falling short of the glory of God.

 “The righteousness by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all, for there is no difference.”(Romans 3:22)

This is the only remedy for coming short of God’s glory. This righteousness is received by faith in Christ. It is a gift, not an award for your merit or your works.

Remember, “ALL have sinned.”

 “O how sweet to trust in Jesus,

just to take Him at His word.

Just to rest upon His promise,

just to know “Thus saith the Lord.”

Where there is faith in Christ, there is acceptance, reliance, dependence, and confidence, all of which are opposed to self-effort, self-reliance and self-confidence.

 THE FLESH WILL ALWAYS BE FLESH !

 THE FLESH WILL ALWAYS BE FLESH !

J.C. Philpot

There is no promise made that in this life, we shall be set free from the indwelling and the in-working of sin. Many think that their flesh is to become “progressively holier and holier”—that sin after sin is to be removed gradually out of the heart—until at last they are almost made perfect in the flesh. But this is an idle dream, and one which, sooner or later will be crudely and roughly broken to pieces.

The flesh will ever remain the same—and we shall ever find that the flesh will lust against the Spirit. Our fleshly nature is corrupt to the very core. It cannot be mended. It cannot be sanctified. It is the same at the last, as it was at the first—inherently evil, and as such will never cease to be corrupt until we put off mortality—and with it the body of sin and death.

All we can hope for, long after, expect, and pray for—is that this evil fleshly nature may be subdued, kept down, mortified, crucified, and held in subjection under the power of grace. But as to any such change passing upon the flesh—or taking place in the flesh as to make it holy—it is but a pharisaic delusion, which, promising a holiness in the flesh, leaves us still under the power of sin.

The true sanctification of the new man of grace—which is wrought by a divine power—is utterly distinct from any imagined holiness in the flesh—or any vain dream of its progressive sanctification.

HABITUAL DOUBTING AND FALSE HUMILITY 

HABITUAL DOUBTING AND FALSE HUMILITY

Octavius Winslow

“And He said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? How is it that ye have no faith?” [Mark 4:40]

The habitual, or even the occasional, doubtful apprehension indulged in of his interest in Christ will tend materially to the enfeebling and decay of a believer’s faith; no cause can be more certain in its effects than this. If it be true that the exercise of faith develops its strength, it is equally true that the perpetual indulgence of doubtful apprehensions of pardon and acceptance must necessarily eat as a canker-worm at the root of faith.

Every misgiving felt, every doubt cherished, every fear yielded to, every dark providence brooded over, tends to unhinge the soul from God, and dims its near and loving view of Jesus.

To doubt the love, the wisdom, and the faithfulness of God, to doubt the perfection of the work of Christ, to doubt the operation of the Spirit on the heart, what can tend more to the weakening and decay of this precious and costly grace?

Every time the soul sinks under the pressure of a doubt of its interest in Christ, the effect must be a weakening of the soul’s view of the glory, perfection, and all-sufficiency of Christ’s work. But imperfectly may the doubting Christian be aware what dishonor is done to Jesus, what reflection is cast upon His great work, by every unbelieving fear he cherishes.

It is a secret wounding of Jesus, however the soul might shrink from such an inference; it is a lowering, an undervaluing of Christ’s obedience and death – that glorious work of salvation with which the Father has declared Himself well pleased – that work with which divine justice has confessed itself satisfied – that work, on the basis of which every poor, convinced sinner is saved, and on the ground of which millions of redeemed and glorified spirits are now basking around the throne – that work, we say, is dishonoured, undervalued, and slighted by every doubt and fear secretly harbored or openly expressed by a child of God.

The moment a believer looks at his unworthiness more than at the righteousness of Christ – supposes that there is not a sufficiency of merit in Jesus to supply the absence of all merit in himself before God – what is it but a setting up his sinfulness and unworthiness above the infinite worth, fulness, and sufficiency of Christ’s atonement and righteousness?

There is much spurious humility among many of the dear saints of God. It is thought by some, that to be always doubting one’s pardon and acceptance is the evidence of a humble spirit. It is, allow us to say, the mark of the very opposite of a lowly and humble mind. That is true humility that credits the testimony of God – that believes because He has spoken it – that rests in the blood and righteousness and all-sufficiency of Jesus, because He has declared that “whoever believes in Him shall be saved.”

This is genuine lowliness – the blessed product of the Eternal Spirit. To go to Jesus just as I am, a poor, lost, helpless sinner – to go without previous preparation – to go glorying in my weakness, infirmity, and poverty, that the free grace, and sovereign pleasure, and infinite merit of Christ might be seen in my full pardon, justification, and eternal glory.

There is more of unmortified pride, of self-righteousness, of that principle that would make God a debtor to the creature, in the refusal of a soul fully to accept of Jesus, than is suspected. There is more real, profound humility in a simple, believing venture upon Christ, as a ruined sinner, taking Him as all its righteousness, all its pardon, all its glory, than it is possible for any mortal mind to fathom.

Doubt is ever the offspring of pride, humility is ever the handmaid of faith.

MY TIMES IN GOD’S HAND

MY TIMES 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!

GOD IS NOT YOUR CO-PILOT

GOD IS NOT YOUR CO-PILOT

Chris Cunningham

“Without Me ye can do nothing!” [John 15:5]

A current oracle of wisdom adorning the sign in front of a “church” near my home reads: ‘If God is your co-pilot, swap seats!’ I really do my best to completely ignore such nonsense, but now and then one, such as this, displays in a remarkable way the depth of religious error apart from revealing grace.

Even this “correction” of a previously conceived masterpiece ‘God is my co-pilot,’ is a weakly disguised declaration of the humanism that is the new age gospel of anti-Christ.

If your God needs a co-pilot, you are in deep trouble. If you cooperated in any way whatsoever with God in the matter of your salvation, then there is no grace for you and you have no Saviour. Christ is all and in all (Col. 3:11), the Alpha and Omega (Rev. 21:6, the Author and Finisher of our faith Heb. 12:2). There is no need for any sinner to swap seats with God, because there is only ONE seat. It is the throne of the universe, and Christ sits alone upon it (Rev. 4:2). My only hope is to sit there in Him (Eph. 2:6), and this happens only at His sovereign, gracious, saving discretion.

If men and women were ever made to see how utterly dependent we are upon Christ, then certainly we would fly to Him. We hang utterly upon His mercy. He will save us or damn us as it pleases Him. But whether pilot or co-pilot, grace is no more grace (Rom. 11:6). If I have any hand in it, then it is disaster. I am nothing, I have nothing, I can do nothing, and I like it that way. “CHRIST IS ALL” is not a slogan or a saying we put on our church sign. It is the indisputable message of Holy Scripture.

Neither salvation nor sanctification is in any way a cooperative effort. When Peter was sinking beneath the waves, he didn’t say,’Lord, nothing is going to happen today that you and I together can’t handle.’ He said, “LORD, SAVE ME!”