Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Reforming Reflections’ Category

Jesus Declining the Legions C. H. Spurgeon

“Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?  But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?” — Matthew 26:53, 54

It is the garden of Gethsemane.  Here stands our Lord, and yonder is the betrayer.  He is foremost of the multitude.  You know his face, the face of that son of perdition, even Judas Iscariot.  He comes forward, leaving the men with the staves, and the swords, and the torches, and lanterns, and he proceeds to kiss his Master; it is the token by which the officers are to know their victim.  You perceive at once that the disciples are excited: one of them cries, “Lord, shall we smite with the sword?”  Their love to their Master has overcome their prudence.  There are but eleven of them, a small band to fight against the cohort sent by the authorities to arrest their Master; but love makes no reckoning of odds.  Before an answer can be given, Peter has struck the first blow, and the servant of the high-priest has narrowly escaped having his head cleft in twain; as it is, his ear is cut off.

Then the Savior comes forward in all his gentleness, as self-possessed as when he was at supper, as calm as if he had not already passed through an agony.  Quietly, he says, “Suffer it to be so now;” he touches the ear, and heals it, and in the lull which followed, when even the men that came to seize him were spell-bound by this wondrous miracle of mercy, he propounds the great truth, that they that take the sword shall perish with the sword, and bids Peter put up his weapon.

Then he utters these memorable words: “Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?  But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?

For a man to have force ready to his hand, and then to abstain from using it, is a case of self restraint, and possibly of self-sacrifice, of a far nobler kind.  Our Savior had his sword at his side that night, though he did not use it.  “What!” say you, “how can that be true?”  Our Lord says, “Can I not now pray to my Father, and he will give me twelve legions of angels?”

Our Lord had thus the means of self-defense; something far more powerful than a sword hung at his girdle; but he refused to employ the power within his reach.  His servants could not bear this test; they had no self-restraint, the hand of Peter is on his sword at once.  The failure of the servants in this matter seems to me to illustrate the grand self-possession of their Master.

Let us now proceed to learn from the words of the Lord Jesus which we have selected as our text.

Brethren, I would have you notice from the text OUR LORD’S GRAND RESOURCE. “Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father?”

Our Lord is surrounded by his adversaries, and there are none about him powerful enough to defend him from their malice; what can he do?  He says, “I can pray to my Father.”  This is our Lord’s continual resource in the time of danger; yea, even in that time of which he said, “This is your hour and the power of darkness.”  He can even now pray to his Father.

First, Jesus had no possessions on earth, but he had a Father. I rejoice in his saying, “Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father?”  He is a betrayed man; he is given up into the hands of those who thirst for his blood; but he has a Father almighty and divine.  If our Lord had merely meant to say that God could deliver him, he might have said, “Thinkest thou not that I can pray to Jehovah?” or, “to God:” but he uses the sweet expression “my Father” both here and in that text in John, where he says, “The cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?”

O brethren, remember that we have a Father in heaven.  When all is gone and spent, we can say, “Our Father.”  Relatives are dead, but our Father lives.  Supposed friends have left us, even as the swallows quit in our wintry weather; but we are not alone, for the Father is with us.  Cling to that blessed text, “I will not leave you orphans; I will come unto you.”  In every moment of distress, anxiety, perplexity, we have a Father in whose wisdom, truth, and power, we can rely.  Your dear children do not trouble themselves much, do they?  If they have a want, they go to father; if they are puzzled, they ask father; if they are ill-treated, they appeal to father.  If but a thorn is in their finger, they run to mother for relief.  Be it little or great, the child’s sorrow is the parent’s care.  This makes a child’s life easy: it would make ours easy if we would but act as children towards God.  Let us imitate the Elder Brother, and when we, too, are in our Gethsemane, let us, as he did, continue to cry, “My Father, My Father.”  This is a better defense than shield or sword.

Our Lord’s resource was to approach his Father with prevailing prayer.  “Can I not now pray to my Father?”  Our Lord Jesus could use that marvelous weapon of All-prayer, which is shield, and sword, and spear, and helmet, and breast-plate, all in one.  When you can do nothing else, you can pray.  If you can do many things besides, it will still be your wisdom to say, “Let us pray!”  But I think I hear you object, that our Lord had been praying, and yet his griefs were not removed.  He had prayed himself into a bloody sweat with prayer, and yet he was left unprotected, to fall into his enemies’ hands.  This is true, and yet it is not all the truth; for he had been strengthened, and power for deliverance was at his disposal.  He had only to press his suit to be rescued at once.  The Greek word here is not the same word which would set forth ordinary prayer: the Revised Version puts it, “Thinkest thou that I cannot beseech my Father?”  We make a great mistake if we throw all prayer into one category, and think that every form of true prayer is alike.  We may pray and plead, and even do this with extreme earnestness, and yet we may not use that mode of beseeching which would surely bring the blessing.  Hitherto, our Lord had prayed, and prayed intensely, too; but there was yet a higher form of prayer to which he might have mounted if it had been proper so to do.  He could so have besought that the Father must have answered; but he would not.  O brethren, you have prayed a great deal, perhaps, about your trouble, but there is a reserve force of beseeching in you yet: by the aid of the Spirit of God you may pray after a higher and more prevailing rate.  This is a far better weapon than a sword.

I was speaking to a brother yesterday about a prayer which my Lord had remarkably answered in my own case, and I could not help saying to him, “But I cannot always pray in that fashion.  Not only can I not so pray, but I would not dare to do so even if I could.”  Moved by the Spirit of God, we sometimes pray with a power of faith which can never fail at the mercy-seat; but without such an impulse we must not push our own wills to the front.  There are many occasions upon which, if one had all the faith which could move mountains, he would most wisely show it by saying nothing beyond, “Nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.”  Had our Lord chosen to do so, he had still in reserve a prayer-power which would have effectually saved him from his enemies.  He did not think it right so to use it; but he could have done so had he pleased.

Notice, that our Lord, felt that he could even then pray. Matters had not gone too far for prayer.  When can they do so?  The word “now” practically occurs twice in our version, for we get it first as “now,” and then as “presently.”  It occurs only once in the original; but as its exact position in the verse cannot easily be decided, our translators, with a singular wisdom, have placed it in both the former and the latter part of the sentence.  Our Savior certainly meant — “I am come now to extremities; the people are far away whose favor formerly protected me from the Pharisees; and I am about to be seized by armed men; but even now I can pray to my Father.”

Prayer is an ever-open door. There is no predicament in which we cannot pray.  If we follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth, we can now pray effectually unto our Father, even as he could have done.  Do I hear you say, “The fatal hour is near?”  You may now pray.  “But the danger is imminent!”  You may now pray.  If, like Jonah, you are now at the bottom of the sea, and the weeds are wrapped about your head, you may even now pray.  Prayer is a weapon that is stable in every position in the hour of conflict.  The Greeks had long spears, and these were of grand service to the phalanx so long as the rank was not broken; but the Romans used a short sword, and that was a far more effectual weapon at close quarters.  Prayer is both the long spear and the short sword.  Yes, brother, between the jaws of the lion you may even now pray.  We glory in our blessed Master, that he knew in fullness of faith that if he would bring forth his full power of prayer he could set all heaven on the wing.  As soon as his beseeching prayer had reached the Father’s ear, immediately, like flames of fire, angels would flash death upon his adversaries.

Our Lord’s resort was not to the carnal weapon, but to the mighty engine of supplication.  Behold, my brethren, where our grand resort must always be.  Look not to the arm of flesh, but to the Lord our God.  Church of God, look not piteously to the State, but fly to the mercy-seat. Church of God, look not to the ministry, but resort to the throne of grace.  Church of God, depend not upon learned or moneyed men, but beseech God in supplicating faith.  Prayer is the tower of David built for an armory.  Prayer is our battle-axe and weapons of war.  We say to our antagonist: “Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father.”  Let this suffice to display our Savior’s grand resource in the night of his direst distress

 

Read Full Post »

‘Lovest Thou Me?’ by Alexander MacLaren

‘Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou Me more than these? He saith unto Him, Yea, Lord; Thou knowest that I love Thee. He saith unto him. Feed My lambs.’ — John 21:15

Peter had already seen the risen Lord.  There had been that interview on Easter morning on which the seal of sacred secrecy was impressed; when, alone, the denier poured out his heart to his Lord and was taken to the heart that he had wounded.  Then there had been two interviews on the two successive Sundays in which the Apostle, in common with his brethren, had received, as one of the group, the Lord’s benediction, the Lord’s gift of the Spirit, and the Lord’s commission.

But something more was needed.  There had been public denial; there must be public confession.  If he had slipped again into the circle of the disciples with no special treatment or reference to his fall, it might have seemed a trivial fault to others, and even to himself.  And so, after that strange meal on the beach, we have this exquisitely beautiful and deeply instructive incident of the special treatment needed by the denier before he could be publicly reinstated in his office.

The meal seems to have passed in silence.  That awe which hung over the disciples in all their intercourse with Jesus during the forty days lay heavy on them, and they sat there, huddled round the fire, eating silently the meal which Christ had provided, no doubt gazing silently at the silent Lord.  What a tension of expectation there must have been as to how the oppressive silence was to be broken!  And how Peter’s heart must have throbbed and the others’ ears been pricked up, when it was broken by ‘Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou Me?’  We may listen with pricked-up ears too.  For we have here, in Christ’s treatment of the Apostle, a revelation of how He behaves to a soul conscious of its fault; and, in Peter’s demeanor, an illustration of how a soul, conscious of its fault, should behave to Him.

There are three stages here: the threefold question, the threefold answer and the threefold charge.  Let us look at these.

I. The threefold question. The reiteration in the interrogation did not express doubt as to the veracity of the answer nor dissatisfaction with its terms; but it did express, and was meant, I suppose, to suggest to Peter and to the others that the threefold denial needed to be obliterated by the threefold confession; and that every black mark that had been scored deep on the page by that denial needed to be covered over with the gilding or bright coloring of the triple acknowledgment.  And so Peter thrice having said, ‘I know Him not;’ Jesus with a gracious violence forced him to say thrice, ‘Thou knowest that I love Thee.’  The same intention to compel Peter to go back upon his past comes out in two things besides the triple form of the question.

The one is the designation by which he is addressed, ‘Simon, son of Jonas,’ which travels back, as it were, to the time before he was a disciple, and points a finger to his weak humanity before it had come under the influence of Jesus Christ.  ‘Simon, son of Jonas,’ was the name that he bore in the days before his discipleship. It was the name by which Jesus had addressed him, therefore, on that never-to-be-forgotten turning-point of his life when he was first brought to Him by his brother Andrew.  It was the name by which Jesus had addressed him at the very climax of his past life when, high up, he had been able to see far, and in answer to the Lord’s question, had rung out the confession: ‘Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God!’  So the name by which Jesus addresses him now says to him in effect: ‘Remember thy human weakness; remember how you were drawn to Me; remember the high-water mark of thy discipleship, when I was plain before thee as the Son of God, and remembering all these, answer Me — lovest thou Me?’

The same intention to drive Peter back to the wholesome remembrance of a stained past is obvious in the first form of the question. Our Lord mercifully does not persist in giving to it that form in the second and third instances: ‘Lovest thou Me more than these?’  More than these, what?  I cannot for a moment believe that that question means something so trivial and irrelevant as ‘Lovest thou Me more than these nets and boats and the fishing?’  No; in accordance with the purpose that runs through the whole, of compelling Peter to retrospect, it says to him, ‘Do you remember what you said a dozen hours before you denied Me, “Though all should forsake Thee, yet will not I”?  Are you going to take that stand again?  Lovest thou Me more than these, that never discredited their boasting so shamefully?’

So, dear brethren! here we have Jesus Christ, in His treatment of this penitent and half-restored soul, forcing a man, with merciful compulsion, to look steadfastly and long at his past sin and to retrace step by step, shameful stage by shameful stage, the road by which he had departed so far.  Every foul place he is to stop and look at and think about.  Each detail he has to bring up before his mind.  Was it not cruel of Jesus thus to take Peter by the neck, as it were, and hold him right down, close to the foul things that he had done, and say to him, ‘Look! look! look ever! And answer, Lovest thou Me?’  No; it was not cruel; it was true kindness. Peter was never so abundantly and permanently penetrated by the sense of the sinfulness of his sin, as after he was sure, as he had been made sure in that great interview, that it was all forgiven.  So long as a man is disturbed by the dread of consequences, so long as he is doubtful as to his relation to the forgiving Love, he is not in a position beneficially and sanely to consider his evil in its moral quality only.  But when the conviction comes to a man, ‘God is pacified towards thee for all that thou hast done;’ and when he can look at his own evil without the smallest disturbance rising from slavish fear of issues, then he is in a position rightly to estimate its darkness and its depth.  And there can be no better discipline for us all than to remember our faults and penitently to travel back over the road of our sins, just because we are sure that God in Christ has forgotten them.  The beginning of Christ’s merciful treatment of the forgiven man is to compel him to remember, that he may learn and be ashamed.

And then there is another point here in this triple question.  How significant and beautiful it is that the only thing that Jesus Christ cares to ask about is the sinner’s love! We might have expected: ‘Simon, son of Jonas, are you sorry for what you did?  Simon, son of Jonas, will you promise never to do the like any more?’  No!  These things will come if the other thing is there.  ‘Lovest thou Me?’  Jesus Christ sues each of us, not for obedience primarily, not for repentance, not for vows, not for conduct, but for a heart; and that being given, all the rest will follow.  That is the distinguishing characteristic of Christian morality: that Jesus seeks first for the surrender of the affections, and believes, and is warranted in the belief, that if these are surrendered, all else will follow.  And love being given, loyalty and service and repentance and hatred of self-will and of self-seeking will follow in her train.  All the graces of human character which Christ seeks and is ready to impart, are, as it were, but the pages and ministers of the regal Love, who follow behind and swell the cortege of her servants.

Christ asks for love.  Surely that indicates the depth of His own!  In this commerce, He is satisfied with nothing less and can ask for nothing more; and He seeks for love because He is love and has given love.  Oh! to all hearts burdened, as all our hearts ought to be — unless the burden has been cast off in one way — by the consciousness of our own weakness and imperfection, surely, surely, it is a gospel that is contained in that one question addressed to a man who had gone far astray, ‘Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me?’

Here, again, we have Jesus Christ, in His dealing with the penitent, willing to trust discredited professions. We think that one of the signs of our being wise people is that experience shall have taught us ‘once’ being ‘bit, twice’ to be ‘shy,’ and if a man has once deceived us by flaming professions and ice-cold acts, never to trust him any more.  We think that is ‘worldly wisdom’ and ‘the bitter fruit of earthly experience’ and ‘sharpness’ and ‘shrewdness’ and so forth.  Jesus Christ, even whilst reminding Peter by that ‘more than these,’ of his utterly hollow and unreliable boasting, shows Himself ready to accept once again the words of one whose inveracity He had proved.  ‘Charity hopeth all things, believeth all things,’ and Jesus Christ is ready to trust us when we say, ‘I love Thee,’ even though often in the past our professed love has been all disproved.

We have here, in this question, our Lord revealing Himself as willing to accept the imperfect love which a disciple can offer Him. Of course, many of you well know that there is a very remarkable play of expression here.  In the two first questions, the word which our Lord employs for ‘love’ is not the same as that which appears in Peter’s two first answers.  Christ asks for one kind of love; Peter proffers another.  I do not enter upon discussion as to the distinction between these two apparent synonyms.  The kind of love which Christ asks for is higher, nobler, less emotional and more associated with the whole mind and will.  It is the inferior kind, the more warm, more sensuous, more passionate and emotional, which Peter brings.  And then, in the third question, our Lord, as it were, surrenders and takes Peter’s own word, as if He had said, ‘Be it so!  You shrink from professing the higher kind; I will take the lower and I will educate and bring that up to the height that I desire you to stand at.’  Ah, brother! however stained and imperfect, however disproved by denials, however tainted by earthly associations, Jesus Christ will accept the poor stream of love – though it be but a trickle when it ought to be a torrent – which we can bring Him.

These are the lessons which it seems to me lie in this triple question.  I have dealt with them at the greater length because those which follow are largely dependent upon them.  But let me turn now briefly, in the second place, to —

II. The triple answer. ‘Yea, Lord! Thou knowest that I love Thee.’  Is not that beautiful, that the man who by Christ’s Resurrection (as the last of the answers shows) had been led to the loftiest conception of Christ’s omniscience and regarded Him as knowing the hearts of all men should, in the face of all that Jesus Christ knew about his denial and his sin, have dared to appeal to Christ’s own knowledge?  What a superb and all-conquering confidence in Christ’s depth of knowledge and forgivingness of knowledge that answer showed!  He felt that Jesus could look beneath the surface of his sin and see that below it there was, even in the midst of the denial, a heart that in its depths was true.  It is a tremendous piece of confident appeal to the deeper knowledge and therefore the larger love and more abundant forgiveness of the righteous Lord — ‘Thou knowest that I love Thee.’

Brethren! a Christian man ought to be sure of his love to Jesus Christ.  You do not study your conduct in order to infer from it your love to others.  You do not study your conduct in order to infer from it your love to your wife or your husband or your parents or your children or your friend.  Love is not a matter of inference; it is a matter of consciousness and intuition.  Whilst self-examination is needful for us all for many reasons, a Christian man ought to be as sure that he loves Jesus Christ as he is sure that he loves his dearest upon earth.

It used to be the fashion long ago — this generation has not depth enough to keep up the fashion — for Christian people to talk as if it were a point they longed to know, whether they loved Jesus Christ or not.  There is no reason why it should be a point we long to know.  You know all about your love to one another and you are sure about that.  Why are you not sure about your love to Jesus Christ?  ‘Oh! but,’ you say, ‘look at my sins and failures;’ and if Peter had looked only at his sins, do you not think that his words would have stuck in his throat?  He did look, but he looked in a very different way from that of trying to ascertain from his conduct whether he loved Jesus Christ or not.  Brethren, any sin is inconsistent with Christian love to Christ.  Thank God, we have no right to say of any sin that it is incompatible with that love!  More than that; a great, gross, flagrant, sudden fall like Peter’s is a great deal less inconsistent with love to Christ than are the continuously unworthy, worldly, selfish, Christ-forgetting lives of hosts of complacent professing Christians today.  White ants will eat up the carcass of a dead buffalo more quickly than a lion will.  To have denied Christ once, twice, thrice, in the space of an hour, and under strong temptation, is not half so bad as to call Him ‘Master’ and ‘Lord,’ and day by day, week in, week out, in works to deny Him.  The triple answer declares to us that in spite of a man’s sins, he ought to be conscious of his love and be ready to profess it when need is.

III. Lastly, we have here the triple commission. I do not dwell upon it at any length because in its original form it applies especially to the apostolic office.  But the general principles which underlie this threefold charge, to feed and to tend both ‘the sheep’ and ‘the lambs,’ may be put in a form that applies to each of us, and it is this — the best token of a Christian’s love to Jesus Christ is his service of man for Christ’s sake.  ‘Lovest thou Me?’  ‘Yea! Lord.’  Thou hast said: go and do, ‘Feed My lambs; feed My sheep.’  We need the profession of words; we need, as Peter himself enjoined at a subsequent time, to be ready to ‘give to every man that asketh us a reason of the hope’ and an acknowledgment of the love that is in us.  But if you want men to believe in your love, however Jesus Christ may know it, go and work in the Master’s vineyard.  The service of man is the garb of the love of God.  ‘He that loveth God will love his brother also.’  Do not confine that thought of service and feeding and tending to what we call evangelistic and religious work.  That is one of its forms, but it is only one of them.  Everything in which Christian men can serve their fellows is to be taken by them as their worship of their Lord and is taken by the world as the convincing proof of the reality of their love.

Love to Jesus Christ is the qualification for all such service.  If we are knit to Him by true affection, which is based upon our consciousness of our own falls and evils and our reception of His forgiving mercy, then we shall have the qualities that fit us and the impulse that drives us to serve and help our fellows.  I do not say — God forbid! — that there is no philanthropy apart from Christian faith, but I do say that, on the wide scale, and in the long run, they who are knit to Jesus Christ by love will be those who render the greatest help to all that are ‘afflicted in mind, body, or estate.’  The true basis and qualification for efficient service of our fellows is the utter surrender of our hearts to Him who is the Fountain of love and from whom comes all our power to live in the world, as the images and embodiments of the love which has saved us that we might help to save others.

Brethren! let us all ask ourselves Christ’s question to the denier.  Let us look our past evils full in the face, that we may learn to hate them and that we may learn more the width and the sweep of the power of His pardoning mercy.  God grant that we may all be able to say, ‘Thou knowest all things; Thou knowest that I love Thee!’

 

Read Full Post »

“A Godly Man Is a Thankful Man” PDF

Thomas Watson

Praise and thanksgiving is the work of heaven and he begins that work here which he will always be doing in heaven.  The Jews have a saying — the world subsists by three things: the law, the worship of God and thankfulness.  As if where thankfulness was missing, one of the pillars of the world had been taken away and it was ready to fall.  The Hebrew word for ‘praise’ comes from a root that signifies ‘to shoot up.’  The godly man sends up his praises like a volley of shots towards heaven.  David was modeled after God’s heart and how melodiously he warbled out God’s praises!  Therefore he was called ‘the sweet psalmist of Israel’ (2 Sam. 23:1). Take a Christian at his worst, yet he is thankful.  To illustrate this more clearly, I shall lay down these four particulars:

1. Praise and thanksgiving is a saint-like work.

We find in Scripture that the godly are still called upon to praise God: ‘ye that fear the Lord, bless the Lord’ (Psalm 135:20). ‘Let the saints be joyful in glory: let the high praises of God be in their mouth’ (Psalm 149:5, 6). Praise is a work proper to a saint:

(i) None but the godly can praise God aright. As all do not have the skill to play the lute, so not everyone can sound forth the harmonious praises of God.  Wicked men are required to praise God, but they are not fit to praise him.  None but a living Christian can tune God’s praise.  Wicked men are dead in sin; how can they who are dead lift up God’s praises?  ‘The grave cannot praise thee’ (Isa. 38:18). A wicked man stains and eclipses God’s praise.  If an unclean hand works in damask or flowered satin, it will slur its beauty.  God will say to the sinner, ‘What hast thou to do, to take my covenant in thy mouth?’ (Psalm 50:16).

(ii)Praise is not comely for any but the godly: ‘praise is comely for the upright’ (Psalm 33:1). A profane man stuck with God’s praises is like a dunghill stuck with flowers.  Praise in the mouth of a sinner is like an oracle in the mouth of a fool.  How uncomely it is for anyone to praise God if his whole life dishonors God!  It is as indecent for a wicked man to praise God as it is for a usurer to talk of living by faith, or for the devil to quote Scripture.  The godly alone are fit to be choristers in God’s praises.  It is called ‘the garment of praise’ (Isa. 61:3). This garment fits hand­somely only on a saint’s back.

2. Thanksgiving is a more noble part of God’s worship.

Our wants may send us to prayer but it takes a truly honest heart to bless God. The raven cries; the lark sings. In petition we act like men; in thanksgiving we act like angels.

3. Thanksgiving is a God-exalting work.

‘Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me’ (Psalm 50:23). Though nothing can add the least mite to God’s essential glory, yet praise exalts him in the eyes of others.  Praise is a setting forth of God’s honor, a lifting up of his name, a displaying of the trophy of his goodness, a proclaiming of his excellence, a spreading of his renown, a breaking open of the box of ointment, whereby the sweet savor and perfume of God’s name is sent abroad into the world.


4. Praise is a more distinguishing work.

By this a Christian excels all the infernal spirits.  Do you talk of God?  So can the devil; he brought Scripture to Christ.  Do you profess religion?  So can the devil; he transforms himself into an angel of light.  Do you fast?  He never eats.  Do you believe?  The devils have a faith of assent; they believe, and tremble (Jas. 2:19). But as Moses worked such a miracle as none of the magicians could reproduce, so here is a work Christians may be doing, which none of the devils can do, and that is the work of thanksgiving.  The devils blaspheme, but do not bless.  Satan has his fiery darts but not his harp and viol.

Use 1: See here the true genius and complexion of a godly man.  He is much in doxologies and praises. It is a saying of Lactantius that he who is unthankful to his God cannot be a good man.  A godly man is a God-exalter.  The saints are temples of the Holy Ghost (1 Cor. 3:16). Where should God’s praises be sounded, but in his temples?  A good heart is never weary of praising God: ‘his praise shall continually be in my mouth’ (Psalm 34:1). Some will be thankful while the memory of the mercy is fresh, but afterwards leave off. The Carth­aginians used at first to send the tenth of their yearly revenue to Hercules, but by degrees they grew weary and left off sending.  David, as long as he drew his breath, would chirp forth God’s praise: ‘I will sing praises unto my God while I have any being’ (Psalm 146:2). David would not now and then give God a snatch of music, and then hang up the instrument, but he would continually be celebrating God’s praise.  A godly man will express his thankfulness in every duty.  He mingles thanksgiving with prayer: ‘in every thing by prayer with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God’ (Phil. 4:6). Thanksgiving is the more divine part of prayer.  In our petitions we express our own necessities; in our thanksgivings we declare God’s excellences.  Prayer goes up as incense, when it is perfumed with thanksgiving.

And as a godly man expresses thankfulness in every duty, he does so in every condition.  He will be thankful in adversity as well as prosperity: ‘In every thing give thanks’ (1 Thess. 5:18). A gracious soul is thankful and rejoices that he is drawn nearer to God, though it be by the cords of affliction.  When it goes well with him, he praises God’s mercy; when it goes badly with him, he magnifies God’s justice.  When God has a rod in his hand, a godly man will have a psalm in his mouth.  The devil’s smiting of Job was like striking a musical instrument; he sounded forth praise: ‘The Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord’ (Job. 1:21). When God’s spiritual plants are cut and bleed, they drop thankfulness; the saints’ tears cannot drown their praises.

If this is the sign of a godly man, then the number of the godly appears to be very small. Few are in the work of praise.  Sinners cut God short of his thank offering: ‘Where are the nine?’ (Luke 17:17). Of ten lepers healed, there was but one who returned to give praise.  Most of the world are sepulchers to bury God’s praise.  You will hear some swearing and cursing but few who bless God.  Praise is the yearly rent that men owe, but most are behind with their rent.  God gave King Hezekiah a marvelous deliver­ance, ‘but Hezekiah rendered not again according to the benefit done unto him’ (2 Chron. 32:25). That ‘but’ was a blot on his escutcheon.  Some, instead of being thankful to God, ‘render evil for good.’  They are the worse for mercy: ‘Do ye thus requite the Lord, O foolish people and unwise?’ (Deut. 32:6). This is like the toad that turns the most wholesome herb to poison.  Where shall we find a grateful Christian?  We read of the saints ‘having harps in their hands’ (Rev 5:8) — the emblem of praise.  Many have tears in their eyes and complaints in their mouths, but few have harps in their hand and are blessing and praising the name of God.

Use 2: Let us scrutinize ourselves and examine by this characteristic whether we are godly: Are we thankful for mercy?  It is a hard thing to be thankful.

Question: How may we know whether we are rightly thankful?

Answer 1: When we are careful to register God’s mercy: ‘David appointed certain of the Levites to record, and to thank and praise the Lord God of Israel’ (1 Chron. 16:4). Physicians say that the memory is the first thing that decays.  It is true in spiritual matters: ‘They soon forgot his works’ (Psalm 106:13). A godly man enters his mercies, as a physician does his remedies, in a book, so that they may not be lost.  Mercies are jewels that should be locked up.  A child of God keeps two books always by him: one to write his sins in, so that he may be humble; the other to write his mercies in, so that he may be thankful.

Answer 2: We are rightly thankful when our hearts are the chief instrument in the music of praise: ‘I will praise the Lord with my whole heart’ (Psalm 111:1). David would tune not only his viol, but also his heart.  If the heart does not join with the tongue, there can be no comfort.  Where the heart is not engaged, the parrot is as good a chorister as the Christian.

Answer 3: We are rightly thankful when the favors which we receive endear our love to God the more.  David’s miraculous preservation from death drew forth his love to God: ‘I love the Lord’ (Psalm 116:1). It is one thing to love our mercies; it is another thing to love the Lord.  Many love their deliverance but not their deliverer.  God is to be loved more than his mercies.

Answer 4: We are rightly thankful when, in giving our praise to God, we take all worthiness from ourselves: ‘I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies thou hast showed unto thy servant’ (Gen. 32:10). As if Jacob had said, ‘Lord, the worst bit thou carvest me is better than I deserve.’  Mephibosheth bowed himself and said, ‘What is thy servant, that thou should look upon such a dead dog as I am?’ (2 Sam. 9:8). So when a thankful Christian makes a survey of his blessings and sees how much he enjoys that others better than he lack, he says, ‘Lord, what am I, a dead dog, that free grace should look upon me, and that thou shouldest crown me with such loving kindness?’

Answer 5: We are rightly thankful when we put God’s mercy to good use.  We repay God’s blessings with service.  The Lord gives us health, and we spend and are spent for Christ (2 Cor. 12:15). He gives us an estate, and we honor the Lord with our substance (Proverbs 3:9). He gives us children, and we dedicate them to God and educate them for God.  We do not bury our talents but trade them.  This is to put our mercies to good use.  A gracious heart is like a piece of good ground that, having received the seed of mercy, produces a crop of obedience.

Answer 6: We are rightly thankful when we can have our hearts more enlarged for spiritual than for temporal mercies: ‘Blessed be God, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings’ (Eph. 1:3). A godly man blesses God more for a fruitful heart than a full crop.  He is more thankful for Christ than for a kingdom.  Socrates was wont to say that he loved the king’s smile more than his gold.  A pious heart is more thankful for a smile of God’s face than he would be for the gold of the Indies.

Answer 7: We are rightly thankful when mercy is a spur to duty.  It causes a spirit of activity for God.  Mercy is not like the sun to the fire, to dull it, but like oil to the wheel, to make it run faster.  David wisely argues from mercy to duty: ‘Thou hast delivered my soul from death.  I will walk before the Lord in the land of the living’ (Psalm. 116:8, 9). It was a saying of Bernard, ‘Lord, I have two mites, a soul and a body, and I give them both to thee.’

Answer 8: We are rightly thankful when we motivate others to this angelic work of praise.  David does not only wish to bless God himself, but calls upon others to do so: ‘Praise ye the Lord’ (Psalm 111:1).  The sweetest music is that which is in unison.  When many saints join together in unison, then they make heaven ring with their praises.  As one drunkard will be calling upon another, so in a holy sense, one Christian must be stirring up another to the work of thankfulness.

Answer 9: We are rightly thankful when we not only speak God’s praise but live his praise. It is called an expression of gratitude.  We give thanks when we live thanks.  Such as are mirrors of mercy should be patterns of piety.  ‘Upon Mount Zion shall be deliverance, and there shall be holiness’ (Obad. 17). To give God oral praise and dishonor him in our lives is to commit a barbarism in religion, and is to be like those Jews who bowed the knee to Christ and then spat on him (Mark 15:19).

Answer 10: We are rightly thankful when we propagate God’s praises to posterity.  We tell our children what God has done for us: in such a want he supplied us; from such a sickness he raised us up; in such a temptation he helped us.  ‘O God, our fathers have told us, what work thou didst in their days, in the times of old’ (Psalm 44:1).  By transmitting our experiences to our children, God’s name is eternalized, and his mercies will bring forth a plentiful crop of praise when we have gone.  Heman puts the question, ‘Shall the dead praise thee?’ (Psalm 88:10). Yes, in the sense that when we are dead, we praise God because, having left the chronicle of God’s mercies with our children, we start them on thankfulness and so make God’s praises live when we are dead.

Use 3: Let us prove our godliness by gratefulness: ‘Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name’ (Psalm 29:2).

1. ‘It is a good thing to be thankful: ‘It is good to sing praises unto our God’ (Psalm 147:1). It is bad when the tongue (that organ of praise) is out of tune and jars by murmuring and discontent.  But it is a good thing to be thankful.  It is good, because this is all the creature can do to lift up God’s name; and it is good because it tends to make us good.  The more thankful we are, the more holy.  While we pay this tribute of praise, our stock of grace increases.  In other debts, the more we pay, the less we have; but the more we pay this debt of thankfulness, the more grace we have.

2. Thankfulness is the rent we owe to God. ‘Kings of the earth and all people; let them praise the name of the Lord’ (Psalm 148:11, 13). Praise is the tribute or custom to be paid into the King of heaven’s exchequer.  Surely while God renews our lease, we must renew our rent.

3. The great cause we have to be thankful. It is a principle grafted in nature, to be thankful for benefits.  The heathen praised Jupiter for their victories.

What full clusters of mercies hang on us when we go to enumerate God’s mercies!  We must, with David, confess ourselves to be nonplussed: ‘Many, O Lord my God, are thy wonderful works which thou hast done, they cannot be reckoned up in order’ (Psalm. 40:5). And as God’s mercies are past numbering, so they are past measuring.  David takes the longest measuring line he could get.  He measures from earth to the clouds, no, above the clouds, yet this measure would not reach the heights of God’s mercies: ‘Thy mercy is great above the heavens’ (Psalm 108:4). Oh, how God has enriched us with his silver showers!  A whole constellation of mercies has shone in our hemisphere.

(i) What temporal favors we have received!  Every day we see a new tide of mercy coming in.  The wings of mercy have covered us, the breast of mercy has fed us: ‘the God which fed me all my life long unto this day’ (Gen. 48:15). What snares laid for us have been broken!  What fears have blown over!  The Lord has made our bed, while he has made others’ graves.  He has taken such care of us, as if he had no-one else to take care of.  Never was the cloud of providence so black, but we might see a rainbow of love in the cloud.  We have been made to swim in a sea of mercy, and does not all this call for thankfulness?

(ii) That which may put another string into the instru­ment of our praise and make it sound louder is to consider what spiritual blessings God has conferred on us.  He has given us water from the upper springs; he has opened the wardrobe of heaven and fetched us out a better garment than any of the angels wear.  He has given us the best robe and put on us the ring of faith, by which we are married to him.  These are mercies of the first magnitude, which deserve to have an asterisk put on them.  And God keeps the best wine till last.  Here he gives us mercies only in small quantities; the greatest things are laid up.  Here there are some honey drops and foretastes of God’s love; the rivers of pleasure are reserved for paradise.  Well may we take the harp and viol and triumph in God’s praise!  Who can tread on these hot coals of God’s love and his heart not burn in thankfulness?

4. Thankfulness is the best policy. There is nothing lost by it.  To be thankful for one mercy is the way to have more.  It is like pouring water into a pump which fetches out more.  Musicians love to sound their trumpets where there is the best echo, and God loves to bestow his mercies where there is the best echo of thankfulness.

5. Thankfulness is a frame of heart that God delights in. If repentance is the joy of heaven, praise is the music.  Bernard calls thankfulness the sweet balm that drops from a Christian.  Four sacrifices God is very pleased with: the sacrifice of Christ’s blood; the sacrifice of a broken heart; the sacrifice of alms; and the sacrifice of thanksgiving.  Praise and thanksgiving (says Mr. Greenham) is the most excel­lent part of God’s worship, for this shall continue in the heavenly choir when all other exercises of religion have ceased.

6. What a horrid thing ingratitude is! It gives a dye and tincture to every other sin and makes it crimson.  In­gratitude is the spirit of baseness: ‘They that eat thy bread have laid a wound under thee’ (Obad. 7). Ingratitude is worse than brutish (Isa. 1:3). It is reported of Julius Caesar that he would never forgive an ungrateful person.  Though God is a sin-pardoning God, he scarcely knows how to pardon for this. ‘How shall I pardon thee for this?  Thy children have forsaken me, when I had fed them to the full, they then committed adultery’ (Jer. 5:7). Draco (whose laws were written in blood) published an edict that if any man had received a benefit from another, and it could be proved against him that he had not been grateful for it, he should be put to death.  An unthankful person is a monster in nature, a paradox in Christianity.  He is the scorn of heaven and the plague of earth.  An ungrateful man never does well except in one thing — that is, when he dies.

7. Not being thankful is the cause of all the judgments which have lain on us. Our unthankfulness for health has been the cause of so much mortality.  Our gospel unthankfulness and sermon-surfeiting has been the reason why God has put so many lights under a bushel.  As Bradford said, ‘My unthankfulness was the death of King Edward VI.’  Who will spend money on a piece of ground that produces nothing but briars?  Unthankfulness stops the golden phial of God’s bounty, so that it will not drop.

Question: What shall we do to be thankful?

Answer 1: If you wish to be thankful, get a heart deeply humbled with the sense of your own vileness.  A broken heart is the best pipe to sound forth God’s praise.  He who studies his sins wonders that he has anything and that God should shine on such a dunghill: ‘Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, but I obtained mercy’ (1 Tim. 1:13). How thankful Paul was!  How he trumpeted forth free grace!  A proud man will never be thankful.  He looks on all his mercies as either of his own procuring or deserving.  If he has an estate, this he has got by his wits and industry, not considering that scripture, ‘Thou shalt remember the Lord thy God: for it is he that gives thee power to get wealth’ (Deut. 8:18). Pride stops the current of gratitude.  O Christian, think of your unworthiness; see yourself the least of saints and the chief of sinners, and then you will be thankful.

Answer 2: Strive for sound evidences of God’s love to you.  Read God’s love in the impress of holiness upon your hearts.  God’s love poured in will make the vessels of mercy run over with thankfulness: ‘Unto him that loved us, be glory and dominion forever’ (Rev. 1:5, 6). The deepest springs yield the sweetest water.  Hearts deeply aware of God’s love yield the sweetest praises.

 

Edited by Teaching Resources International. http://www.teachingresources.org

Read Full Post »

Pictures of Life PDF

By C. H. Spurgeon

What is your life?” James 4:14

It well behoves me, now that another year of my existence has almost gone, standing on the threshold of a fresh era, to consider what I am, where I am going, what I am doing, whom I am serving, and what shall he my reward.  I will not, however, do so publicly before you; I hope that I may be enabled to perform that duty in secret; but rather let me turn this occurrence to another account by speaking to you of the frailty of human life, the fleeting nature of time, how swiftly it passes away, how soon we all shall fade as a leaf, and how speedily the place which knows us now shall know us no more for ever.

The apostle James asks, “What is your life?” and, thanks to inspiration, we are at no great difficulty to give the reply; for Scripture being the best interpreter of Scripture, supplies us with many very excellent answers.  I shall attempt to give you some of them.

I. First, we shall view life with regard to ITS SWIFTNESS.

It is a great fact that though life to the young man, when viewed in the prospect appears to be long, to the old man it is ever short, and to all men life is really but a brief period.  Human life is not long.  Compare it with the existence of some animals and trees, and how short is human life!  Compare it with the ages of the universe, and it becomes a span; and especially measure it by eternity, and how little does life appear!  It sinks like one small drop into the ocean, and becomes as insignificant as one tiny grain of sand upon the seashore.

Life is swift.  If you would picture life, you must, turn to the Bible, and this evening we will walk through the Bible-gallery of old paintings.  You will find its swiftness spoken of in the Book of Job, where we are furnished with three illustrations.  In the ninth chapter and at the twenty-fifth verse, we read, “Now my days are swifter than a post.”  We are most of us acquainted with the swiftness of post-conveyance.  I have sometimes, on an emergency, taken posthorses where there has been no railway, and have been amazed and pleased with the rapidity of my journey.  But since, in this ancient Book, there can be no allusion to modern posts, we must turn to the manners and customs of the East, and in so doing we find that the ancient monarchs astonished their subjects by the amazing rapidity with which they received intelligence.  By well-ordered arrangements, swift horses, and constant relays, they were able to attain a speed which, although trifling in these days, was in those slower ages a marvel of marvels; so that, to an Eastern, one of the clearest ideas of swiftness was that of “a post.”  Well doth Job say that our life is swifter than a post.  We ride one year until it is worn out, but there comes another just as swift, and we are borne by it, and soon it is gone, and another year serves us for a steed, post-house after post-house we pass, as birthdays successively arrive, we loiter not, but vaulting at a leap from one year to another, still we hurry onward, onward, ever onward.  My life is like a post: not like the slow wagon that drags along the road with tiresome wheels, but like a post, it attains the greatest speed.

Job further says, “My days are passed away as the swift ships.”  He increases, you see, the intensity of the metaphor; for if, in the Eastern’s idea anything could exceed the swiftness of the post, it was the swift ship.  Some translate this passage as “the ships of desire;” that is, the ships hurrying home, anxious for the haven, and therefore crowding, on all sail.

You may well conceive now swiftly the mariner flies from a threatening storm, or seeks the port where he will find his home.  You have sometimes seen how the ship cuts through the billows, leaving a white furrow behind her, and causing the sea to boil around her.  Such is life, says Job, “as the swift ships,” when the sails are filled by the wind, and the vessel dashes on, cleaving a passage through the crowding waves.  Swift are the ships, but swifter far is life.  The wind of time bears me along.  I cannot stop its motion, I may direct it with the rudder of God’s Holy Spirit; I may, it is true, take in some small sails of sin, which might hurry my days on faster than otherwise they would go; but, nevertheless, like a swift ship, my life must speed on its way until it reaches its haven.  Where is that haven to be?  Shall it be found in the land of bitterness and barrenness, that dreary region of the lost?  Or shall it be that sweet haven of eternal peace, where not a troubling wave can ruffle the quiescent glory of my spirit?  Wherever the haven is to be, that, truth is the same, we are “as the swift ships.”

Job also says that life is “as the eagle that hasteth to the prey.”  The eagle is a bird noted for its swiftness.  I remember reading an account of an eagle attacking a fish-hawk, which had obtained some booty from the deep, and was bearing it aloft.  The hawk dropped the fish, which fell towards the water; but before the fish had reached the ocean, the eagle had flown more swiftly shall the fish could fall, and catching it in its beak it flew away with it.  The swiftness of the eagle is almost incalculable; you see it, and it is gone; you see a dark speck in the sky yonder; it is an eagle soaring; let the fowler imagine that, by-and-by, he shall overtake it on some mountain’s craggy peak, it shall be gone long before he reaches it.  Such is our life. It is like an eagle hasting to its prey; not merely an eagle flying in its ordinary course, but an eagle hasting to its prey.  Life appears to be hasting to its end; death seeks the body as its prey; life is ever fleeing from insatiate death; but death is too swift to be out run, and as an eagle overtakes his prey, so shall death.

If we require a further illustration of the swiftness of life, we must turn to two other passages in the Book of Job, upon which I shall not dwell.  One, will be found in the seventh chapter, at the sixth verse, where Job says, “My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle,” which the weaver throws, so quickly that the eye can hardly discern it.  But he gives us a yet more excellent metaphor in the seventh verse of the same chapter, where he says, “O remember that my life is wind.”  Now this excels in velocity all the other figures we have examined.  Who can out stride the winds? Proverbially, the winds are rapid; even in their gentlest motion they appear to be swift.  But when they rush in the tornado, or when they dash madly on in the hurricane, when the tempest blows, and tears down everything, how swift then is the wind!  Perhaps some of us may have a gentle gale of wind, and we may not seem to move so swiftly; but with others, who are only just born, and then snatched away to heaven, the swiftness may be compared to that of the hurricane, which soon snaps the ties of life, and leaves the infant dead.  Surely our life is like the wind.

Oh, if you could but catch these idea, my friends!  Though we may be sitting still in this chapel, yet you know that we are all really in motion.  This world is turning round on its axis once in four-and-twenty hours, and besides that, it is moving round the sun in the 365 days of the year.  So that we are all moving, we are all flitting along through space, and as we are traveling through space, so are we moving through time at an incalculable rate.

Oh, what an idea this is could we but grasp it!  We are all being carried along as if by a giant angel, with broad outstretched wings, which he flaps to the blast, and flying before the lightning, makes us ride on the winds.  The whole multitude of us are hurrying along, — whither, remains to be decided by the test of our faith and the grace of God; but certain it is that we are all traveling.  Do not think that you are stable, fixed in one position; fancy not that you are standing still; you are not.  Your pulses each moment beat the funeral marches to the tomb.  You are chained to the chariot of rolling time; there is no bridling the steeds, or leaping from the chariot; you must be constantly in motion.

Thus then, have I spoken of the swiftness of life.

II. But, next, I must speak concerning THE UNCERTAINTY OF LIFE, of which we have abundant illustrations.

Let us refer to that part of Scripture from, which I have chosen my text, the Epistle of James, the fourth chapter, at the fourteenth verse: “For what is your life? It is even a vapor, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.”  If I were to ask for a child’s explanation of this, I know what he would say.  He would say, “Yes, it is even a vapor, like a bubble that is blown upward.”  Children sometimes blow bubbles, and amuse themselves thereby.  Life is even as that bubble.  You see it rising into the air; the child delights in seeing it fly about, but it is all gone in one moment.

“It is even a vapor, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.”  But if you ask the poet to explain this, he would tell you that, in the morning, sometimes at early dawn, the rivers send up a steamy offering to the sun.  There is a vapor, a mist, an exhalation rising from the rivers and brooks, but in a very little while after the sun has risen all that mist has gone.  Hence we read of “the morning cloud, and the early dew that passeth away.”  A more common observer, speaking of a vapor, would think of those thin clouds you sometimes see floating in the air, which are so light that they are soon carried away. Indeed, a poet uses them as the picture of feebleness, —

“Their hosts are scatter’d, like thin clouds

Before a Biscay gale.”

The wind moves them, and they are gone.  “What is your life? It is even a vapor, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.”  So uncertain is life!

Again, if you read in the Book of Ecclesiastes, at the sixth chapter, and the twelfth verse, you will there find life compared to something else, even more fragile than a vapor. The wise man there says that it is even “as a shadow.”  Now, what can there be less  substantial than a shadow?  What substance is there in a shadow?  Who can lay hold of  it?  You may see a person’s shadow as he passes you, but the moment the person passes away his shadow is gone.  Yea, and who can grasp his life?  Many men reckon upon a long existence, and think they are going to live here for ever; but who can calculate upon a shadow? Go, thou foolish man, who sayest to thy soul, “Thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease! eat, drink, and be merry;” go thou, and store thy room, with shadows; go thou, and pile up shadows and say, “These are mine, and they shall never depart.”  But thou sayest, “I cannot catch a shadow.”  No, and thou canst not reckon on a year, or even a moment, for it is as a shadow, that soon melteth away, and is gone.

King Hezekiah also furnishes us with a simile, where he says that life is as a thread which is cut off.  You will find this in the prophecy of Isaiah, the thirty-eighth chapter, at the twelfth verse: “Mine age is departed, and is removed from me as a shepherd’s tent: I have cut off like a weaver my life.”  The weaver cuts off his thread very easily, and so is life soon ended.

I might continue my illustrations at pleasure concerning the uncertainty of life.  We might find, perhaps, a score more figures in Scripture if we would search.  Take, for instance, the grass, the flowers of the field, etc.  But though life is swift, and though it is to pass away so speedily, we are still generally very anxious to know what it is to be, while we have it.  For we say, if we are to lose it soon, still, while we live, let us live; and whilst we are to be here, be it ever so short a time, let us know what we are to expect in it.

III. And that leads us, in the third place, to look at LIFE IN ITS CHANGES.

If you want pictures of the changes of life, turn to this wonderful Book of poetry, the Sacred Scriptures, and there you will find metaphors piled on metaphors.  And, first, you will find life compared to a pilgrimage by good old Jacob, in the forty-seventh chapter of Genesis, and the ninth verse.  That hoary-headed patriarch, when he was asked by Pharaoh what was his age, replied, “The days of the years of my pilgrimage are an hundred and thirty years; few and evil have the days of the years of my life been, and have not obtained unto the days of the years of the life of my fathers in the days of their pilgrimage.”  He calls life, a pilgrimage.  A pilgrim sets out in the morning, and he has to journey many a day before he gets to the shrine which he, seeks.  What varied scenes the traveler will behold on his way!

Sometimes he will be on the mountains, anon he will descend into the valleys, here he will be where the brooks shine like silver, where the birds warble, where the air is balmy, and the trees are green, and luscious fruits hang down to gratify his taste, anon he will find himself in the arid desert, where no life is found, and no sound is heard, except the screech of the wild eagle in the air, where he finds no rest for the sole of his foot, — the burning sky above him, and the hot sand beneath him, — no roof-tree, and no house to rest himself; at another time he finds himself in a sweet oasis, resting himself by the wells of water, and plucking fruit from palm-trees.  At one time he walks between the rocks, in some narrow gorge, where all is darkness, at another time he ascends the hill Mizar; now he descends into the valley of Baca anon he climbs the hill of Bashan, and a high hill is the hill Bashan and yet again going into the mountains of leopards, he suffers trial and affliction.

Such is life, ever changing.  Who can tell what may come next?  Today it is fair, tomorrow there may be the blundering storm; today I may want for nothing, tomorrow I may be like Jacob, with nothing but a stone for my pillow, and the heavens for my curtains.  But what a happy thought it is, though we know not how the road winds, we know where it ends.  It is the straightest way to heaven to go round about. Israel’s forty years wanderings were, after all, the nearest path to Canaan.  We may have to go through trial and affliction; the pilgrimage may be a tiresome one, but it is safe; we cannot trace the river upon which we are sailing, but we know it ends in floods of bliss at last.  We cannot track the roads, but we know that they all meet in the great metropolis of heaven, in the center of God’s universe.  God help us to pursue the true pilgrimage of a pious life!

We have another picture of life in its changes given to us in the ninetieth Psalm, at the ninth verse: “We spend our years as a tale that is told.”  Now David understood about tales that were told; I daresay he had been annoyed by them sometimes, and amused by them at other times.  There are, in the past, professed story-tellers, who amused their hearers by inventing tales such as those in that foolish book the “Arabian Nights.”  When I was foolish enough to read that book, I remember sometimes you were with fairies, sometimes with genii, sometimes in palaces, anon you went, down into caverns.  All sorts of singular things are conglomerated into what they call a tale.

Now, says David, “we spend our years as a tale that is told.”  You know there is nothing so wonderful as the history of the odds and ends of human life.  Sometimes it is a merry rhyme, sometimes a prosy subject; sometimes you ascend to the sublime, soon you descend to the ridiculous.  No man can write the whole of his own biography, I suppose, if the complete history of a man’s thoughts and words could be written, the world itself would hardly contain the record, so wonderful is the tale that might be told.  Our lives are all singular, and must to ourselves seem strange; of which much might be said.  Our life is “as a tale that is told.”

Another idea we get from the thirty-eighth chapter of the prophecy of Isaiah, at the twelfth verse: “I am removed as a shepherd’s tent.”  The shepherds in the East build temporary huts near the sheep, which are soon removed when the flock moves on; when the hot season comes on, they pitch their tents in the most favorable place they can find, and each season has its suitable position.  My life is like a shepherd’s tent.  I have pitched my tent in a variety of places already; but where I shall pitch it by-and-by, I do not know, I cannot tell.  Present probabilities seem to say that —

“Here I shall make my settled rest,

And neither go nor come:

No more a stranger or a guest,

But like a child at home.”

But I cannot tell, and you cannot divine.  I know that my tent cannot be removed till God says, “Go forward;” and it cannot stand firm unless he makes it so.

“All my ways shall ever be

Order’d by his wise decree.”

You have been opening a new shop lately, and you are thinking of settling down in trade, and managing a thriving concern; now paint not the future too brightly, do not be too sure as to what is in store for you.  Another has for a long time been engaged in an old establishment; your father always carried on trade there, and you have no thought of moving; but here you have no abiding city; your life is like a shepherd’s tent; you may be here, there, and almost everywhere before you die.  It was once said by Solan, “No man ought to be called a happy man till he dies,” because he does not know what his life is to be; but Christians may always call themselves happy men here, because, wherever their tent is carried, they cannot pitch it where the cloud does not move, and where they are not surrounded by a circle of fire.  God will be a wall of fire round about them, and their glory in the midst.  They cannot dwell where God is not the bulwark of their salvation.

If any of you who are God’s people are going to change your condition, are going to move out of one situation into another, to take a new business, or remove to another county, you need not fear, God was with you in the last place, and he will be with you in this.  He hath said, “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God.”  That is an oft-told story of Caesar in a storm.  The sailors were all afraid; but he exclaimed, “Fear not! thou carriest Caesar and all his fortunes.”  So is it with the poor Christian.  There is a storm coming on, but fear not, thou art carrying Jesus, and thou must sink or swim with him.  Well may any true believer say, “Lord, if thou art with me, it matters not where my tent is.  All must be well, though my life is removed like a shepherd’s tent.”

Again, our life is compared in the Psalms to a dream.  Now, if a tale is singular, surely a dream, is still more so.  If a tale is changing and shifting, what is a dream?  As for dreams, those flutterings of the benighted fancy, those revelries of the imagination, who can tell what they consist of?  We dream of everything in the world, and a few things more!  If we were asked to tell our dreams, it would be impossible for us to do so.  You dream that you are at a feast; and lo! the viands change into Pegasus, and you are riding through the air; or, again, suddenly transformed into a morsel for a monster’s meal.  Such is life.  The changes occur as suddenly as they happen in a dream.  Men have been rich one day, and they have been beggars the next.  We have witnessed the exile of monarchs, and the flight of a potentate; or, in, another direction, we have seen a man, neither reputable in company nor honorable in station, at a single stride exalted to a throne; and you, who would have shunned him in the streets before, were foolish enough to throng your thoroughfares to stare at him.  Ah! such is life. Leaves of the Sibyl were not more easily moved by the winds, nor are dreams more variable.  “Boast not thyself of to-morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.”  How foolish are those men who wish to pry into the future!  The telescope is ready, and they are going to look through it, but they are so anxious to see, that they breathe on the glass with their hot breath, and they dim it, so that they can discern nothing but clouds and darkness.  Oh, ye who are always conjuring up black fiends from the deep unknown, and foolishly vexing your minds with fancies, turn your fancies out of doors, and begin to rest on never-failing promises!  Promises are better than forebodings.  “Trust in the Lord, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed.”

Thus I have spoken of the changes of this mortal life.

IV. And now, to close, let me ask, WHAT IS TO BE THE END OF THIS LIFE?

We read in the second Book of Samuel, chapter 14, and verse 14, “We must needs die, and are as water spilt on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again.”  Man is like a great icicle, which the sun of time is continually thawing, and which is soon to be as water spilt upon the ground, which cannot be gathered up again.  Who can recall the departed spirit, or inflate the lungs with a new breath of life?  Who can put vitality into the heart, and restore the soul from Hades?  None.  It cannot be gathered up again; the place that once knew it shall know it no more for ever.

But here a sweet thought charms us.  This water cannot be lost, but it shall descend into the soil to filter through, the Rock of ages, at last to spring up a pure fountain in heaven, cleansed, purified, and made clear as crystal.

How terrible if, on the other hand, it should percolate through the black earth of sin, and hang in horrid drops in the dark caverns of destruction!  Such is life!  Then, make the best use of it, my friends, because it is fleeting.  Look for another life, because this life is not a very desirable one, it is so changeable.  Trust your life in God’s hand, because you cannot control its movements, rest in his arms, and rely on his might; for he is able to do for you exceeding abundantly above all that you ask or think; and unto his name be glory for ever and ever! Amen.

Read Full Post »

A More Extensive Use of the Word by Jacob Spener

Thought should be given to the more extensive use of the Word of God among us. We know that by nature we have no good in us. If there is to be any good in us, it must be brought about by God. To this end the Word of God is the powerful means, since faith must be rekindled through the gospel, and the law provides the rules for good works and many wonderful impulses to attain them. The more at home the Word of God is among us, the more we shall bring about faith and its fruits.

It may appear that the Word of God has sufficiently free course among us inasmuch as at various places (as in this city [Frankfurt am Main]) there is daily or frequent preaching from the pulpit. When we reflect further on the matter, however, we shall find that with respect to this first proposal, more is needed. I do not at all disapprove of the preaching of sermons in which a Christian congregation is instructed by the reading and exposition of a certain text, for I myself do this. But I find that this is not enough. In the first place, we know that “all Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). Accordingly all Scripture, without exception, should be known by the congregation if we are all to receive the necessary benefit. If we put together all the passages of the Bible which in the course of many years are read to a congregation in one place, they will comprise only very small part of the Scriptures which have been given to us. The remainder is not heard by the congregation at all, or is heard only insofar as one or another verse is quoted or alluded to in sermons, without, however, offering any understanding of the entire context, which is nevertheless of the greatest importance. In the second place, the people have little opportunity to grasp the meaning of the Scripture except on the basis of those passages which may have been expounded to them, and even less do they have opportunity to become as practiced in them as edification requires. Meanwhile, although solitary reading of the Bible at home is in itself a splendid and praiseworthy thing, it does not accomplish enough for most people.

It should therefore be considered whether the church would not be well advised to introduce the people to Scripture in still other ways than through the customary sermons on the appointed lessons. This might be done, first of all, by diligent reading of the Holy Scriptures, especially of the New Testament. It would not be difficult for every housefather to keep a Bible or at least a New Testament handy and read from it every day or, if they cannot read to have somebody else read.

Then a second thing would be desirable in order to encourage people to read privately, namely, that where the practice can be introduced the books of the Bible be read one after another, at specified times in the public service, without further comment (unless one wished to add brief summaries). This would be intended for the edification of all, but especially of those that cannot read at all, or cannot read easily or well or of those who do not own a copy of the Bible.

For a third thing it would perhaps not be inexpedient (and I set this down for further and more mature reflection) to reintroduce the ancient and apostolic kind of church meetings. In addition our customary services with preaching, other assemblies would also be held in the manner in which Paul describes them in 1 Corinthians 14:26-40. One person would not rise to preach (although this practice would be continued at other times), but others who have been blessed with gifts and knowledge would also speak and present their pious opinions on the proposed subject to the judgment of the rest, doing all this in such a way as to avoid disorder and strife. This might conveniently be done by having several ministers (in places where a number of them live in a town) meet together or by having several members of a congregation who have a fair knowledge of God or desire to increase their knowledge me under the leadership of the Minister, take up the Holy Scriptures, read aloud from them, and fraternally discuss each verse in order to discover its simple meaning and whatever may be useful for the edification of all.  Anybody who is not satisfied with his understanding of a matter should be permitted to express his doubts and seek further explanation.  On the other hand, those (including the ministers) who have made more progress should be allowed the freedom to state how they understand each passage.  Then all that has been contributed, insofar as it accords with a sense of the Holy Spirit in the Scriptures, should be carefully considered by the rest, especially by the ordained ministers, and applied to the edification of the whole meeting.  Everything should be arranged with an eye to the glory of God, to the spiritual growth of the participants, and therefore also to their limitations.  Any threat of meddlesomeness, quarrelsomeness, self-seeking, or something else of this sort should be guarded against and tactfully cut off especially by the preachers who retain leadership in these meetings.

Not a little benefit is to be hope for from such an arrangement.  Preachers would learn to know the members of their own congregations and their weaknesses or growth in doctrine and piety, and a bond of confidence would be established between preachers and people which would serve the best interests of both.  At the same time, the people would have a splendid opportunity to exercise your diligence with respect to the word of God and modestly to answer their questions (which they do not always have the courage to discuss with their minister in private) and get answers to them.  In a short time, they would experience personal growth and would also be capable of giving better religious instruction to their children and servants at home.  In the absence of such exercises, sermons which are delivered in continually flowing speech are not always fully and adequately comprehended because there’s no time for reflection in between or because when one does stop reflect, much of what follows is missed (which does not happen in a discussion).  On the other hand, private reading the Bible, reading in the household, where nobody is present who may from time to time help point out the meaning and purpose of each verse, cannot provide the reader with sufficient explanation of all that he would like to know.  What is lacking in both of these instances (in public preaching and private reading) would be supplied by the proposed exercises.  It would not be a great burden either to the preachers or to the people, and much would be done to fulfill  the admonition of Paul in Colossians 3:16, “ let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly, as you teach in an honest one another in all wisdom, and as you sing psalms and hymns and spirituals songs.  “ In fact, such songs may be used in the proposed meetings for the praise of God and the inspiration of the participants.

This much is certain: The diligent use of the word of God, which consists not only a listening to sermons, but also reading, meditating, and discussing (Psalm 1:2 ), must be the chief means for reforming something, whether this occurs in the proposed fashion or in some other appropriate way.  The word of God remains the seed from which all that is good in us must grow.  If we succeed in getting the people to seek eagerly and diligently in the Book of life for their joy, their spiritual life will be wonderfully strengthened and they will become altogether different people….

One of the principal wrongs by which papal politics became entrenched, the people were kept in ignorance, and hence complete control of their consciences was maintained was that the papacy prohibited, and insofar as possible continues to prohibit, the reading of the Holy Scriptures.  On the other hand, it was one of the major purposes of the Reformation to restore to the people the Word of God which had lain a hidden under the bench (and this word was the most powerful means by which God blessed his work).  So this will be the principal means, now that the church must be put in better condition, whereby the aversion to scripture which many have may be overcome, neglect of the study be counteracted, and ardent zeal for it awakened.

From Jacob Spener, Pia Desideria, edited and translated by Theodore G. Tappert (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1964).

Read Full Post »

Piercing Preaching by C. H. Spurgeon

“Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ. Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?”-Acts 2:36, 37

This was the first public preaching of the gospel after our Lord was taken up into glory.  It was thus a very memorable sermon, a kind of first-fruits of the great harvest of gospel testimony.  It is very encouraging to those who are engaged in preaching that the first sermon should have been so successful.  Three thousand made up a grand take of fish at that first cast of the net.  We are serving a great and growing cause in the way chosen of God, and we hope in the future to see still larger results produced by that same undying and unchanging power which helped Peter to preach such a heart-piercing sermon.

Peter’s discourse was not distinguished by any special rhetorical display: he used not the words of man’s wisdom or eloquence.  It was not an oration, but it was a heart-moving argument, entreaty, and exhortation.  He gave his hearers a simple, well-reasoned, Scriptural discourse, sustained by the facts of experience; and every passage of it pointed to the Lord Jesus.  It was in these respects a model of what a sermon ought to be as to its contents.  His plea was personally addressed to the people who stood before him, and it had a practical and pressing relation to them and to their conduct.  It was aimed, not at the head, but at the heart.  Every word of it was directed to the conscience and the affections.  It was plain, practical, personal, and persuasive; and in this it was a model of what a sermon ought to be as to its aim and style.

Yet Peter could not have spoken otherwise under the impression of the divine Spirit: his speech was as the oracles of God, a true product of a divine inspiration. Under the circumstances, any other kind of address would have been sadly out of place.  A flashy, dazzling oration would have been a piece of horrible irreverence to the Holy Ghost; and Peter would have been guilty of the blood of souls if he had attempted it.  In sober earnestness, he kept to the plain facts of the case, setting them in the light of God’s Word; and then with all his might he pressed home the truth upon those for whose salvation he was laboring.  May it ever be the preacher’s one desire to win men to repentance towards God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ!  May no minister wish to be admired, but may he long that his Lord and Master may be sought after! May none bewilder their people with the clouds of theoretic philosophy, but refresh them with the rain of revealed truth!  Oh, that we could so preach that our hearers should be at once pricked in their hearts, and so be led at once to believe in our Lord Jesus, and immediately to come forward and confess their faith in his name!

We must not forget, however, to trace the special success of the sermon on the day of Pentecost to the outpouring of the Holy Ghost in which Peter had shared.  This it is which is the making of the preacher.  Immersed into the Holy Spirit, the preacher will think rightly, and speak wisely; his word will be with power to those who hear.  We must not forget, also, that there had been a long season of earnest, united, believing prayer on the part of the whole church.  Peter was not alone: he was the voice of a praying company, and the believers had been with one accord in one place crying for a blessing; and thus not only was the Spirit resting upon the preacher, but on all who were with him.  What a difference this makes to a preacher of the gospel, when all his comrades are as much anointed of the Spirit as himself!  His power is enhanced a hundred-fold.  We shall seldom see the very greatest wonders wrought when the preacher stands by himself; but when Peter is described as standing up “with the eleven,” then is there a twelve-man ministry concentrated in one; and when the inner circle is further sustained by a company of men and women who have entered into the same truth and are of one heart and one soul, then is the power increased beyond measure.  A lonely ministry may sometimes affect great things, as Jonah did in Nineveh; but if we look for the greatest and most desirable result of all, it must come from one who is not alone, but is the mouthpiece of many.  Peter had the one hundred and twenty registered brethren for a loving bodyguard, and this tended to make him strong for his Lord.  How greatly I value the loving co-operation of the friends around me!  I have no words to express my gratitude to God for the army of true men and women who surround me with their love, and support me with their faith.  I pray you never cease to sustain me by your prayers, your sympathy, and your co-operation, until some other preacher shall take my place when increasing years shall warn me to stand aside.

Yet much responsibility must rest with the preacher himself; and there was much about Peter’s own self that is well worthy of imitation.  The sermon was born of the occasion, and it used the event of the hour as God intended it to be used.  It was earnest without a trace of passion, and prudent without a suspicion of fear.  The preacher himself was self-collected, calm, courteous, and gentle.  He aired no theories, but went on firm ground, stepping from fact to fact, from Scripture to Scripture, from plain truth to plain truth.  He was patient at the beginning, argumentative all along, and conclusive at the end.  He fought his way through the doubts and prejudices of his hearers; and when he came to the end, he stated the inevitable conclusion with clearness and certainty.  All along he spoke very boldly, without mincing the truth – “Ye with wicked hands have crucified and slain him whom God has highly exalted.”  He boldly accused them of the murder of the Lord of glory, doing his duty in the sight of God, and for the good of their souls, with great firmness and fearlessness.  Yet there is great tenderness in his discourse.  Impulsive and hot-headed Peter, who, a little while before, had drawn his sword to fight for his Lord, does not, in this instance, use a harsh word; but speaks with great gentleness and meekness of spirit, using words and terms all through the address which indicate a desire to conciliate, and then to convince.  Though he was as faithful as an Elijah, yet he used terms so courteous and kindly that, if men took offense, it would not be because of any offensiveness of tone on the speaker’s part.

Peter was gentle in his manner, but forceful in his matter.  This art he had learned from his Lord; and we shall never have master-preachers among us till we see men who have been with Jesus, and have learned of him.  Oh, that we could become partakers of our Lord’s spirit and echoes of his tone!  Then may we hope to attain to Pentecostal results, when we have preachers like Peter, surrounded by a band of earnest witnesses and all baptized with the Holy Ghost and with fire.

When we follow the run of Peter’s argument, we do not wonder that his hearers were pricked in their hearts. We ascribe that deep compunction to the Spirit of God; and yet it was a very reasonable thing that it should be so.  When it was clearly shown to them that they had really crucified the Messiah, the great hope of their nation, it was not wonderful that they should be smitten with horror.  Looking as they were for Israel’s King and finding that he had been among them, and they had despitefully used him, and crucified him, they might well be smitten at the heart.  Though for the result of our ministry we depend wholly upon the Spirit of God, yet we must adapt our discourse to the end we aim at; or, say rather, we must leave ourselves in the Spirit’s hand as to the sermon itself as well as in reference to the result of the sermon.  The Holy Ghost uses means which are adapted to the end designed.  Because, beloved, I do desire beyond all things that many in this congregation may be pricked in the heart, I have taken this concluding part of Peter’s discourse to be the text of my sermon this morning.  Yet my trust is not in the Word itself, but in the quickening Spirit who works by it.  May the Spirit of God use the rapier of his Word to pierce the hearts of my hearers!

Read Full Post »

The Life of Faith by A. W. Pink

Yes, the life which Jesus lived here upon earth was a life of faith. This has not been given sufficient prominence. In this, as in all things, He is our perfect Model.

By faith, He walked, looking always unto the Father, speaking and acting in filial dependence on the Father, and in filial reception out of the Father’s fullness. By faith, He looked away from all discouragements, difficulties, and oppositions, committing His cause to the Lord, who had sent Him, to the Father, whose will He had come to fulfill. By faith, He resisted and overcame all temptation, whether it came from Satan, or from the false Messianic expectations of Israel, or from His own disciples. By faith, He performed the signs and wonders, in which the power and love of God’s salvation were symbolized. Before He raised Lazarus from the grave, He, in the energy of faith, thanked God, who heard Him always. And here we are taught the nature of all His miracles: He trusted in God. He gave the command, ‘Have faith in God,’ out of the fullness of His own experience” (Adolph Saphir).

But let us enter into some detail. What is a life of faith?

First, it is a life lived in complete dependence upon God. “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding… in all thy ways acknowledge Him” (Proverbs 3:5, 6.) Never did any so entirely, so unreservedly, so perfectly cast himself upon God as did the Man Christ Jesus; never was another so completely yielded to God’s will. “I live by the Father” (John 6:57) was His own avowal. When tempted to turn stones into bread to satisfy His hunger, He replied “man shall not live by bread alone.” So sure was He of God’s love and care for Him that He held fast to His trust and waited for Him. So patent to all was His absolute dependence upon God, that the very scorners around the cross turned it into a bitter taunt. — “He trusted in the Lord that He would deliver Him, let Him deliver Him, seeing He delighted in Him” (Psalm 22:8).

Second, a life of faith is a life lived in communion with God. And never did another live in such a deep and constant realization of the Divine presence as did the Man Christ Jesus. “I have set the Lord always before Me” (Psalm 16:8) was His own avowal. “He that sent Me is with Me” (John 8:29) was ever a present fact to His consciousness. He could say, “I was cast upon Thee from the womb: Thou art My God from My mother’s belly” (Psalm 22:10). “And in the morning, rising a great while before day, He went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed” (Mark 1:35). From Bethlehem to Calvary He enjoyed unbroken and unclouded fellowship with the Father; and after the three hours of awful darkness was over, He cried “Father, into Thy hands I commit My spirit.”

Third, a life of faith is a life lived in obedience to God. Faith worketh by love (Galatians 5:6), and love delights to please its object. Faith has respect not only to the promises of God, but to His precepts as well. Faith not only trusts God for the future, but it also produces present subjection to His will. Supremely was this fact exemplified by the Man Christ Jesus. “I do always those things which please Him” (John 8:29) He declared. “I must be about My Father’s business” (Luke 2:49) characterized the whole of His earthly course. Ever and anon we find Him conducting Himself. “that the Scriptures might be fulfilled.” He lived by every word of God. At the close He said, “I have kept My Father’s commandments, and abide in His love” (John 15:10).

Fourth, a life of faith is a life of assured confidence in the unseen future. It is a looking away from the things of time and sense, a rising above the shows and delusions of this world, and having the affections set upon things above. “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1), enabling its possessor to live now in the power and enjoyment of that which is to come. That which enthralls and enchains the ungodly had no power over the perfect Man: “I have overcome the world” (John 16:31), He declared. When the Devil offered Him all its kingdoms, He promptly answered, “Get thee hence, Satan.” So vivid was Jesus’ realization of the unseen, that, in the midst of earth’s engagements, He called Himself “the Son of man which is in heaven” (John 3:13). “And so, dear brethren, this Jesus, in the absoluteness of His dependence upon the Father, in the completeness of His trust in Him, in the submission of His will to that Supreme command, in the unbroken communion which He held with God, in the vividness with which the Unseen ever burned before Him, and dwarfed and extinguished all the lights of the present, and in the respect which He had ‘unto the recompense of the reward’; nerving Him for all pain and shame, has set before us all the example of a life of faith, and is our Pattern as in everything, in this too.

“How blessed it is to feel, when we reach out our hands and grope in the darkness for the unseen hand, when we try to bow our wills to that Divine will; when we seek to look beyond the mists of ‘that dim spot which men call earth,’ and to discern the land that is very far off; and when we endeavor to nerve ourselves for duty and sacrifice by bright visions of a future hope, that on this path of faith too, when He ‘putteth forth His sheep, He goeth before them,’ and has bade us do nothing which He Himself has not done! ‘I will put My trust in Him,’ He says first, and then He turns to us and commands, ‘Believe in God, believe also in Me’” (A. Maclaren, to whom we are indebted for much in this article).

Alas, how very little real Christianity there is in the world today! Christianity consists in being conformed unto the image of God’s Son. “Looking unto Jesus” constantly, trustfully, submissively, lovingly; the heart occupied with, the mind stayed upon Him — that is the whole secret of practical Christianity. Just in proportion as I am occupied with the example which Christ has left me, just in proportion as I am living upon Him and drawing from His fullness, am I realizing the ideal He has set before me. In Him is the power, from Him must be received the strength for running “with patience” or steadfast perseverance, the race. Genuine Christianity is a life lived in communion with Christ: a life lived by faith, as His was. “For to me to live is Christ” (Philippians 1:21); “Christ liveth in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God” (Galatians 2:20) — Christ living in me and through me.

From An Exposition of Hebrews, Volume 2.

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »