Friday, June 23, 2017

"I Have Kept the Faith"

Rembrandt (1657)


“I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.
I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: 

Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love His appearing.” 
2 Tim 4:6-8


Paul the Apostle wrote these words in his second letter to Timothy, while imprisoned under the Emperor Nero.

During the last year of his life, he suffered in a cold dungeon.  Because he was a Roman citizen, he was spared torture and death by crucifixion.  He was beheaded.

Here in his letter to Timothy, is the doctrine of the elect, and the assurance of our salvation through grace and faith in Christ alone.

Excerpts from J.C. Ryle on 2 Tim 4:6-8:

“I have fought a good fight.” There he speaks as a soldier. I have fought that good battle with the world, the flesh, and the devil, from which so many shrink and draw back.

“I have finished my course.” There he speaks as one who has run for a prize. I have run the race marked out for me: I have gone over the ground appointed for me, however rough and steep. I have not turned aside because of difficulties, nor been discouraged by the length of the way. I am at last in sight of the goal.

“I have kept the faith.” There he speaks as a steward. I have held fast that glorious Gospel which was committed to my trust. I have not mingled it with man’s traditions, nor spoiled its simplicity by adding my own inventions, nor allowed others to adulterate it without withstanding them to the face. “As a soldier,-a runner,-a steward,” he seems to say, “I am not ashamed.”

Let us hear the Apostle once more. He looks forward to the great day of reckoning, and he does it without doubt. Mark his words.

“Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day; and not to me only, but unto all them also that love His appearing.” A glorious reward, he seems to say, is ready and laid up in store for me: even that crown which is only given to the righteous. In the great day of judgment the Lord shall give this crown to me, and to all beside me who have loved Him as an unseen Saviour, and longed to see Him face to face. My work on earth is over. This one thing now remains for me to look forward to, and nothing more.

Reader, observe that the Apostle speaks without any hesitation or distrust. He regards the crown as a sure thing: as his own already. He declares with unfaltering confidence his firm persuasion that the righteous Judge will give it to him. Paul was no stranger to all the circumstances and accompaniments of that solemn day to which he referred. The great white throne,-the assembled world,-the open books,-the revealing of all secrets,-the listening angels,-the awful sentence,-the eternal separation of the lost and saved,-all these were things with which he was well acquainted.

But none of these things moved him. His strong faith over-leaped them all, and only saw Jesus, his all-prevailing Advocate, and the blood of sprinkling, and sin washed away. “A crown,” he says, “is laid up for me.” “The Lord Himself shall give it to me.” He speaks as if he saw it all with his own eyes.

The Word of God appears to me to teach that a believer may arrive at an assured confidence with regard to his own salvation.

I would lay it down fully and broadly, that a true Christian, a converted man, may reach that comfortable degree of faith in Christ, that in general he shall feel entirely confident as to the pardon and safety of his soul,-shall seldom be troubled with doubts,-seldom be distracted with hesitation,-seldom be distressed by anxious questionings,-and, in short, though vexed by many an inward conflict with sin, shall look forward to death without trembling, and to judgment without dismay.

Now, such a statement as this is often disputed and denied. Many cannot see the truth of it at all.

The vast majority of the worldly among ourselves oppose the doctrine of assurance. It offends and annoys them to hear of it. They do not like others to feel comfortable and sure, because they never feel so themselves. That they cannot receive it is certainly no marvel.

But there are also some true believers who reject assurance, or shrink from it as a doctrine fraught with danger. They consider it borders on presumption. They seem to think it a proper humility never to be confident, and to live in a certain degree of doubt. This is to be regretted, and does much harm.

I frankly allow there are some presumptuous persons who profess to feel a confidence for which they have no Scriptural warrant. There always are some people who think well of themselves when God thinks ill, just as there are some who think ill of themselves when God thinks well.

There always will be such. There never yet was a Scriptural truth without abuses and counterfeits.

God’s election,-man’s impotence,-salvation by grace,-all are alike abused. There will be fanatics and enthusiasts as long as the world stands. But, for all this, assurance is a real, sober, and true thing; and God’s children must not let themselves be driven from the use of a truth, merely because it is abused.

My answer to all who deny the existence of real, well-grounded assurance is simply this,-What saith the Scripture? If assurance be not there, I have not another word to say.

Does not Paul say to the Romans, “I am persuaded that neither life, nor death, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, not height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord”? (Romans 8:38-39)

Does he not say to the Corinthians, “We know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens”? (2 Cor. 5:1.)

And again, “We are always confident, knowing that whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord.” (2 Cor. 5:6.)

Does he not say to Timothy, “I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed to Him”? (2 Tim. 1:12.)

And does he not speak to the Colossians of “the full assurance of understanding” (Col. 2:2), and to the Hebrews of the “full assurance of faith,” and the “full assurance of hope”? (Heb. 6:11, Heb 10:22)

Reader, you may be sure that Paul was the last man in the world to build his assurance on anything of his own. He who could write himself down “chief of sinners” (1 Tim. 1:15 ) had a deep sense of his own guilt and corruption.

But then he had a still deeper sense of the length and breadth of Christ’s righteousness imputed to him.-He, who would cry, “O wretched man that I am” (Rom. 8:24), had a clear view of the fountain of evil within his heart. But then he had a still clearer view of that other Fountain which can remove “all sin and uncleanness.” -He, who thought himself “less than the least of all saints” (Eph. 3:8), had a lively and abiding feeling of his own weakness. But he had a still livelier feeling that Christ’s promise, “My sheep shall never perish”  could not be broken.

Paul knew, if ever a man did, that he was a poor, frail bark, floating on a stormy ocean. He saw, if any did, the rolling waves and roaring tempest by which he was surrounded. But then he looked away from self to Jesus, and was not afraid. He remembered that anchor within the veil, which is both “sure and steadfast.”

He remembered the word, and work, and constant intercession of Him that loved him and gave Himself for him. And this it was, and nothing else, that enabled him to say so boldly, “A crown is laid up for me, and the Lord shall give it to me”; and to conclude so surely, “The Lord will preserve me: I shall never be confounded.” 
Take my advice this day. Seek an increase of faith. Seek an assured hope of salvation like the Apostle Paul’s. Seek to obtain a simple, childlike confidence in God’s promises.
Seek to be able to say with Paul
“I know whom I have believed: I am persuaded that He is mine, and I am His.”


Saturday, June 17, 2017

The Ark

Etty


"It is a wonderful fact of human nature that we learn far more easily from example than we do in any other way. Now, you have in this passage an example of a sinner saved by faith. It shows you how a sinner is saved. And as Noah fled into the ark which he had prepared, so should you. You too, have an ark provided; and just as Noah thereby condemned the world — that is, shewed that the world was righteously condemned so will you; if you enter in, you will show by your faith that its condemnation is just.

Let us go over these things and see:

First, Noah's warning: "By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house." We have an account given us of the warning of Noah in the 6th chapter of Genesis:

And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth ... that the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose. And the LORD said, My Spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh; yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years; verses 1-3.

That was the first warning.

 And the LORD said, I will destroy man, whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man and beast and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them; verse 7.

This is the second warning. That was the warning which God gave Noah; he told him that the Holy Spirit would not always strive with man, and then he told him that he would destroy man whom he had created. Now, if Noah had been like some of you, he might have said, God is a merciful God — he will not destroy the souls that he has made. Or, like some of you, he might have said, O! it is a long time yet; it will be time enough to turn to God a year before the flood comes. But, no; "Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house."

 Now, brethren, if you would be like Noah, you should be moved with fear. God has warned you, not once, nor twice, but a hundred times. God warns you in the Bible that "his wrath is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men" - Romans 1:18. It says, "Except ye be converted ... ye shall not enter the kingdom of God" - Matthew 18:3; it says, that if you commit such things you shall die; it says that if you do not believe you shall be damned - Mark 16:16; it says that if you are not converted and become as little children, you shall not enter the kingdom of God - Matthew 18:3. Ah, then, man, have you ever trembled at the warning of God? No; then you are not like Noah; you are not like him, for he believed God. I tell you, you could not live on as you do, if you believe God's Word; it is because you are infidel at heart - that is the reason why you do not tremble at his Word: "By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house."

Again, you are warned by providence. Some of you have seen souls cut down, and yet you are left. Some of you have seen those whom you led into sin taken away, and yet you are left. Ah, brethren, can you say that you have not been warned? and how have you taken it? Some of you have gone deeper into sin. Ah! you are not like Noah. But some of you will make this objection. I do not like to be moved with fear; I like it to be all love. It is quite true that none were ever brought to Christ by fear. We must be brought to Christ by a sight of his love. But then, it is quite as true that you will never be brought out of your security but by fear: you must be drawn out by fear, and drawn in by love.

I come now, in the second place, to consider the ark. "By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house." are told about the preparation of the ark in the 6th chapter of Genesis, 14th verse: "Make thee an ark of gopher-wood: rooms shalt thou make in the ark, and shall pitch it within and without with pitch"; then, verse 16: "A window shalt thou make to the ark, and in a cubit shalt thou finish it above: and the door of the ark shalt thou set in the side thereof, with lower, second, and third stories shalt thou make it"; verse 21: "And take thou unto thee of all food that is eaten, and thou shalt gather it to thee; and it shall be for food to thee, and for them. Thus did Noah; according to all that God commanded him, so did he."

"By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house." Noah saved his house by fleeing from all other refuges. "And the LORD said unto Noah, Come, thou and all thy house into the ark" - Genesis 7:1. "And Noah went in, and his sons, and his wife, and his sons' wives with him, into the ark, because of the waters of the flood."

First of all, he entered in. Carnal men would have said, Better go to the top of the mountains; but Noah believed God, and fled from all other refuges; and not only did he go to the threshold, but he entered in, and his Wife and his sons, and their wives with him, into the ark, and the Lord shut him in. So must it be with you if you would enter in.

Some rest in the ark of God's general mercy, but that is a false ark. Some rest in the ark of their decent moral character. Some rest in their knowledge of the ark, but these are all false arks; all that proceeds from man is false. Brethren, we must flee from all refuges of lies, and remember you must not stop on the threshold; there are many that look in, but do not enter in. 

There are many that know what is in the ark, but they do not enter in. But come thou into the ark, thou and thy wife, and thy sons' wives with thee, and the Lord will shut you in. You must not only hear about the ark, but you must enter in. You are not safe because you have wept and prayed. You are only safe when you enter in.

Observe, brethren, how completely the ark represents Christ. It was of God's planning; and so it is with Christ and the gospel salvation. All the men that lived could not have devised an ark to hold so many: so, in like manner, neither man nor angel could find a way whereby the sinner could be saved. "God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son..." - John 3:16. 

It is said, the angels desire to look into the plan of redemption. It is said, "it is unsearchable". It is a plan that saves the sinner, and that gives glory to God. It is a plan laid so as to bring the sinner to God — a plan that gives glory to God in the highest..."

"But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and knew not until the flood came, and took them all away" - Matthew 24:37-39.

Sermon Excerpt:
Rev. Robert Murray M'Cheyne

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

A Father's Forgiveness





http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Return_of_the_Prodigal_Son_%28Rembrandt%29

This is one of the most brilliant of all Christ's parables, and is recognized to be a profound revelation of forgiveness, told in a most incomparable style of tenderness. 

The episode of the elder son is no less revealing than the departure and return of the younger son. This is the divine friendship, the incomparable revelation of this parable.  

We learn first about the Father in His relation with sinners: A father so tenderly accepts, and defends the younger son who left the family, squandered the inheritance (what man is so loving?) 

Even the best of fathers is rare. Who is able to be this forgiving? A father with this much love, this much unconditional love, and who also  forgives? 

The heart of man is far less paternal than the heart of God!
 
Christ is making a second point: If the father has experienced an exuberant joy for the younger son who has withdrawn, returned and repented, the father feels no less for the eldest son whom he has kept always with him, and whom he desires to share much more than a day's feast.
 
Are we not moved to the heart by the son's repentance, but more touched by the Father's forgiveness?  


My friend, it is difficult, almost impossible, to believe that we are so deeply loved by the Father in Heaven. 
(AL)
Luke 15:16-32
11 And He said, 
"A certain man had two sons:
12 And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living.
13 And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living.
14 And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want.
15 And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine.
16 And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him.
17 And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!
18 I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee,
19 And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.
20 And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.
21 And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son.
22 But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet:
23 And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry:
24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.
25 Now his elder son was in the field: and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard musick and dancing.
26 And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant.
27 And he said unto him, Thy brother is come; and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe and sound.
28 And he was angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and intreated him.
29 And he answering said to his father, Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends:
30 But as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf.
31 And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine.
32 It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad:
for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found."
Image:Rembrandt ~ Return of the Prodigal Son
Dutch priest Henri Nouwen (1932–1996) was so taken by the painting that he eventually wrote a short book, The Return of the Prodigal Son: A Story of Homecoming (1992), using the parable and Rembrandt's painting as frameworks. Considering the role of the father and sons in the parable in relation to Rembrandt's biography, he wrote:
Rembrandt is as much the elder son of the parable as he is the younger. When, during the last years of his life, he painted both sons in Return of the Prodigal Son, he had lived a life in which neither the lostness of the younger son nor the lostness of the elder son was alien to him. Both needed healing and forgiveness. Both needed to come home. Both needed the embrace of a forgiving father. But from the story itself, as well as from Rembrandt's painting, it is clear that the hardest conversion to go through is the conversion of the one who stayed home.


Monday, May 29, 2017

Blinded by The Light


Paul the Apostle was miraculously converted on his way to Damascus.  His story is best described in his own words while he was in prison, and are recorded in the Bible in the New Testament.

Acts 22:1-16
1“Brothers and fathers, hear the defense that I now make before you.”
2 And when they heard that he was addressing them in the Hebrew language, they became even more quiet. And he said:
3“I am a Jew, born in Tarsus in Cilicia, but brought up in this city, educated at the feet of Gamaliel according to the strict manner of the law of our fathers, being zealous for God as all of you are this day.

4 I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and delivering to prison both men and women, 5 as the high priest and the whole council of elders can bear me witness. From them I received letters to the brothers, and I journeyed toward Damascus to take those also who were there and bring them in bonds to Jerusalem to be punished. 

Caravaggio

6 “As I was on my way and drew near to Damascus, about noon a great light from heaven suddenly shone around me. 
7 And I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’
8 And I answered, ‘Who are you, Lord?’
 
And he said to me, ‘I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting.’
 
9 Now those who were with me saw the light but did not understand the voice of the one who was speaking to me.
10 And I said, ‘What shall I do, Lord?’
And the Lord said to me, ‘Rise, and go into Damascus, and there you will be told all that is appointed for you to do.’
11 And since I could not see because of the brightness of that light, I was led by the hand by those who were with me, and came into Damascus. 
12 “And one Ananias, a devout man according to the law, well spoken of by all the Jews who lived there, 
13 came to me, and standing by me said to me, ‘Brother Saul, receive your sight.’ And at that very hour I received my sight and saw him.

14 And he said, ‘The God of our fathers appointed you to know his will, to see the Righteous One and to hear a voice from his mouth; 15 for you will be a witness for him to everyone of what you have seen and heard. 

16 And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name.’
Paul's story continues in the rest of Acts, chapters 22 and 23.

The apostle's life was an exemplary testimony of his faith in Christ. An extraordinary man of courage, Paul endured unimaginable suffering for his faith. A very detailed account of Paul's life is in his own words throughout his writings in the New Testament.

Diego Velázquez


The fingers of the left hand timidly appear on the thick book that indicates his status as an apostle. Top, left, is the inscription S.PAVLVS, text that connects the person with the apostle, without showing the sword, his only known attribute.



Thursday, May 25, 2017

Contentment



 

Rembrandt_St._Paul_in_Prison.jpg
Paul the Apostle in Prison

Discontent! Was there ever a time when there was so much restlessness in the world as there is today? We very much doubt it. Despite our boasted progress, the vast increase of wealth, the time and money expended daily in pleasure, discontent is everywhere. No class is exempt. Everything is in a state of flux, and almost everybody is dissatisfied. Many even among God's own people are affected with the evil spirit of this age.

Contentment! Is such a thing realizable, or is it nothing more than a beautiful ideal, a mere dream of the poet? Is it attainable on earth or is it restricted to the inhabitants of heaven? If practicable here and now, may it be retained, or are a few brief moments or hours of contentment the most that we may expect in this life? Such questions as these find answer, an answer at least, in the words of the apostle Paul: "Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content" (Phil. 4:11). 
 
The force of the apostle's statement will be better appreciated if his condition and circumstances at the time he made it be kept in mind. When the apostle wrote (or most probably dictated) the words, he was not luxuriating in a special suite in the Emperor's palace, nor was he being entertained in some exceptional Christian household, the members of which were marked by unusual piety. Instead, he was "in bonds" (cf. Phil. 1:13, 14); "a prisoner" (Eph. 4:1), as he says in another Epistle. And yet, notwithstanding, he declared he was content!

Now, there is a vast difference between precept and practice, between the ideal and the realization. But in the case of the apostle Paul contentment was an actual experience, and one that must have been continuous, for he says, "in whatsoever state I am." How then did Paul enter into this experience, and of what did the experience consist? The reply to the first question is to be found in the word, "I have learned . . . to be content." 

The apostle did not say, "I have received the baptism of the Spirit, and therefore contentment is mine." Nor did he attribute this blessing to his perfect "consecration." Equally plain is it that it was not the outcome of natural disposition or temperament. It is something he had learned in the school of Christian experience. It should be noted, too, that this statement is found in an Epistle which the apostle wrote near the close of his earthly career! 
 
But let us endeavor to go a little deeper. What is "contentment"? It is the being satisfied with the sovereign dispensations of God's providence. It is the opposite of murmuring, which is the spirit of rebellion-the clay saying to the Potter, "Why hast Thou made me thus?" Instead of complaining at his lot, a contented man is thankful that his condition and circumstances are no worse than they are. Instead of greedily desiring something more than the supply of his present need, he rejoices that God still cares for him. Such an one is "content" with such as he has (Heb. 13:5). 

"Godliness with contentment is great gain" (I Tim. 6:6). Negatively, it delivers from worry and fretfulness, from avarice and selfishness. Positively, it leaves us free to enjoy what God has given us. What a contrast is found in the word which follows-"But they that will be (desire to be) rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows" (I Tim. 6:9,10). May the Lord in His grace deliver us from the spirit of this world, and make us to be "content with such things as we have." 

Contentment, then, is the product of a heart resting in God. It is the soul's enjoyment of that peace which passeth all understanding. It is the outcome of my will being brought into subjection to the Divine will. It is the blessed assurance that God doeth all things well, and is, even now, making all things work together for my ultimate good. This experience has to be "learned" by "proving what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God" (Rom. 12:2). Contentment is possible only as we cultivate and maintain that attitude of accepting everything which enters our lives as coming from the Hand of Him who is too wise to err, and too loving to cause one of His children a needless tear.

Let our final word be this: real contentment is only possible by being much in the presence of the Lord Jesus. This comes out clearly in the verses which follow our opening text; "I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: everywhere and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me" (Phil. 4:12, 13). It is only by cultivating intimacy with that One who was never discontent that we shall be delivered from the sin of complaining. It is only by daily fellowship with Him Who ever delighted in the Father's will that we shall learn the secret of contentment.




 

Monday, May 22, 2017

A Divine and Supernatural Light ~ Jonathan Edwards

https://plus.google.com/+ZeeshanSiddiqui00


What this spiritual and divine light is ~ a true sense of the divine excellency of the things revealed in the word of God, and a conviction of the truth and reality of them thence arising. 

This spiritual light primarily consists in the former of these ~ a real sense and apprehension of the divine excellency of things revealed in the word of God. 

A spiritual and saving conviction of the truth and reality of these things, arises from such a sight of their divine excellency and glory; so that this conviction of their truth is an effect and natural consequence of this sight of their divine glory. 

There is therefore in this spiritual light; a real sense of the excellency of God and Jesus Christ, and of the work of redemption, and the ways and works of God revealed in the gospel. 

There is a divine and superlative glory in these things; an excellency that is of a vastly higher kind, and more sublime nature than in other things; a glory greatly distinguishing them from all that is earthly and temporal. 

He that is spiritually enlightened truly apprehends and sees it, or has a sense of it. He does not merely rationally believe that God is glorious, but he has a sense of the gloriousness of God in his heart. 

There is not only a rational belief that God is holy, and that holiness is a good thing, but there is a sense of the loveliness of God's holiness. There is not only a speculatively judging that God is gracious, but a sense how amiable God is upon that account, or a sense of the beauty of this divine attribute. 

Thus there is a difference between having an opinion, that God is holy and gracious, and having a sense of the loveliness and beauty of that holiness and grace. 

There is a difference between having a rational judgment that honey is sweet, and having a sense of its sweetness. A man may have the former, that knows not how honey tastes; but a man cannot have the latter unless he has an idea of the taste of honey in his mind. 

So there is a difference between believing that a person is beautiful, and having a sense of his beauty. The former may be obtained by hearsay, but the latter only by seeing the countenance. There is a wide difference between mere speculative rational judging any thing to be excellent, and having a sense of its sweetness and beauty. The former rests only in the head, speculation only is concerned in it; but the heart is concerned in the latter. 

When the heart is sensible of the beauty and amiableness of a thing, it necessarily feels pleasure in the apprehension. It is implied in a person's being heartily sensible of the loveliness of a thing, that the idea of it is sweet and pleasant to his soul; which is a far different thing from having a rational opinion that it is excellent. 

This spiritual and divine light does not consist in any impression made upon the imagination. It is no impression upon the mind, as though one saw any thing with the bodily eyes: it is no imagination or idea of an outward light or glory, or any beauty of form or countenance, or a visible lustre or brightness of any object. 

The imagination may be strongly impressed with such things; but this is not spiritual light. Indeed when the mind has a lively discovery of spiritual things, and is greatly affected by the power of divine light, it may, and probably very commonly doth, much affect the imagination; so that impressions of an outward beauty or brightness may accompany those spiritual discoveries. 

But spiritual light is not that impression upon the imagination, but an exceeding different thing from it. Natural men may have lively impressions on their imaginations; and we cannot determine but the devil, who transforms himself into an angel of light, may cause imaginations of an outward beauty, or visible glory, and of sounds and speeches, and other such things; but these are things of a vastly inferior nature to spiritual light.

This spiritual light is not the suggesting of any new truths or propositions not contained in the word of God. This suggesting of new truths or doctrines to the mind, independent of any antecedent revelation of those propositions, either in word or writing, is inspiration; such as the prophets and apostles had, and such as some enthusiasts pretend to. 

But this spiritual light that I am speaking of, is quite a different thing from inspiration: it reveals no new doctrine, it suggests no new proposition to the mind, it teaches no new thing of God, or Christ, or another world, not taught in the Bible, but only gives a due apprehension of those things that are taught in the word of God. 
  
"For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, in the face of Jesus Christ."  2 Cor 4:6

This plainly shows, that there is such a thing as a discovery of the divine superlative glory and excellency of God and Christ, and that peculiar to the saints: and also, that it is as immediately from God, as light from the sun: and that it is the immediate effect of his power and will; for it is compared to God's creating the light by his powerful word in the beginning of the creation.
 
"Jesus cried and said, He that believeth on me, believeth not on me, but on him that sent me. And he that seeth me, seeth him that sent me. I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me, should not abide in darkness."  John 12:44-46
This doctrine may well put us upon examining ourselves, whether we have ever had this divine light, that has been described, let into our souls. 

If there be such a thing indeed, and it be not only a notion or whimsy of persons of weak and distempered brains, then doubtless it is a thing of great importance, whether we have thus been taught by the Spirit of God; whether the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, hath shined unto us, giving us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ; whether we have seen the Son, and believed on him, or have that faith of gospel-doctrines which arises from a spiritual sight of Christ.

From A Sermon by Jonathan Edwards (Excerpts)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jonathan_Edwards_%28theologian%29


 
Jonathan Edwards (1703 – 1758) was a Protestant preacher, philosopher, and theologian. Edwards "is widely acknowledged to be America's most important and original philosophical theologian," and one of America's greatest intellectuals. Edwards's theological work is broad in scope, but he was rooted in Reformed theology, the metaphysics of theological determinism. 


Image:
Zeeshan Siddiqui Photography
Copyright


 

Saturday, May 20, 2017

"And The Woman Was Very Beautiful to Look Upon."

wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/1a/Massys_David_and_Bathshba.jpg


King David not only committed adultery, but he arranged the death of Bathsheba's husband.  
The entire narrative is in 2 Samuel 11.
One evening David got up from his bed and strolled around on the roof of the palace. 
From the roof he saw a woman bathing—a very beautiful woman.  
So David sent someone to inquire about her, and he reported, “This is Bathsheba, daughter of Eliam and wife of Uriah the Hittite.”
David sent messengers to get her, and when she came to him, he slept with her.
14 The next morning David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it with Uriah.  
15 In the letter he wrote:
Put Uriah at the front of the fiercest fighting, then withdraw from him so that he is struck down and dies.
 27 When the time of mourning ended, David had her brought to his house. She became his wife and bore him a son. However, the Lord considered what David had done to be evil.
Commentary ~ Charles Spurgeon:
"At that hour David saw Bathsheba. We are never out of the reach of temptation. Both at home and abroad we are liable to meet with allurements to evil; the morning opens with peril, and the shades of evening find us still in jeopardy. They are well kept whom God keeps, but woe unto those who go forth into the world, or even dare to walk their own house unarmed. 
 
Those who think themselves secure are more exposed to danger than any others. The armour-bearer of Sin is self-confidence.  David should have been engaged in fighting the Lord's battles, instead of which he tarried at Jerusalem, and gave himself up to luxurious repose, for he arose from his bed at eventide. Idleness and luxury are the devil's jackals, and find him abundant prey. In stagnant waters noxious creatures swarm, and neglected soil soon yields a dense tangle of weeds and briars. 
 
When I see the King of Israel sluggishly leaving his couch at the close of the day, and falling at once into temptation, let me take warning, and set holy watchfulness to guard the door. Is it possible that the king had mounted his housetop for retirement and devotion? If so, what a caution is given us to count no place, however secret, a sanctuary from sin! While our hearts are so like a tinder-box, and sparks so plentiful, we had need use all diligence in all places to prevent a blaze. Satan can climb housetops, and enter closets, and even if we could shut out that foul fiend, our own corruptions are enough to work our ruin unless grace prevent. 
 
Reader, beware of evening temptations. Be not secure. The sun is down but sin is up. We need a watchman for the night as well as a guardian for the day. O blessed Spirit, keep us from all evil this night. Amen."





Wednesday, May 17, 2017

God's Sovereignty ~ Jonathan Edwards



The attributes of God: grace, mercy, and sovereignty, are revealed throughout Scripture.  Many believe that the way of salvation (sola fide, sola gratia) is New Testament theology, mostly because they are not familiar with the Old Testament.

 The way to salvation is throughout Scripture, beginning in the Old Testament where believers hoped for the future Savior.  In the New Testament, believers look back to our Savior and Redeemer our Lord, Jesus Christ. 

Thus <grace alone by faith alone in Christ alone> is not Pauline theology per se; Paul quoted from the Old Testament. Neither is it authored by Charles Spurgeon, John Calvin, Martin Luther, Augustine, et al.  These theologians articulated the doctrines of Grace as Scripture revealed, beginning in the Old Testament.

Jonathan Edwards is one of many theologians who illuminate the divine decrees.

This sermon is quite lengthy, and therefore I have selected excerpts from it.  I encourage you to read the entire discourse to deepen your knowledge of the sovereignty of Almighty God.


God's Sovereignty in the Salvation of Men
Jonathan Edwards

"Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth."
Romans 9:18

The apostle, in the beginning of this chapter, expresses his great concern and sorrow of heart for the nation of the Jews, who were rejected of God. This leads him to observe the difference which God made by election between some of the Jews and others, and between the bulk of that people and the christian Gentiles. In speaking of this he enters into a more minute discussion of the sovereignty of God in electing some to eternal life, and rejecting others, than is found in any other part of the Bible; in the course of which he quotes several passages from the Old Testament, confirming and illustrating this doctrine. 

In the ninth verse he refers us to what God said to Abraham, showing his election of Isaac before Ishmael - 'For this is the word of promise; At this time will I come, and Sarah shall have a son:'

then to what God had said to Rebecca, showing his election of Jacob before Esau; 'The elder shall serve the younger:' in the thirteenth verse, to a passage from Malachi, 'Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated:' 

in the fifteenth verse, to what God said to Moses, 'I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy; and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion:' 

to what God says to Pharaoh, 'For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might show my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth.' 

In what the apostle says in the text, he seems to have respect especially to the two last-cited passages: to what God said to Moses in the fifteenth verse, and to what he said to Pharaoh in the verse immediately preceding. God said to Moses, 'I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy.' 

To this the apostle refers in the former part of the text. And we know how often it is said of Pharaoh, that God hardened his heart. And to this the apostle seems to have respect in the latter part of the text; 'and whom he will he hardeneth.' 

We may observe in the text:

 1. God's different dealing with men. He hath mercy on some, and hardeneth others. When God is here spoken of as hardening some of the children of men, it is not to be understood that God by any positive efficiency hardens any man's heart. There is no positive act in God, as though he put forth any power to harden the heart. To suppose any such thing would be to make God the immediate author of sin. God is said to harden men in two ways: by withholding the powerful influences of his Spirit, without which their hearts will remain hardened, and grow harder and harder; in this sense he hardens them, as he leaves them to hardness. And again, by ordering those things in his providence which, through the abuse of their corruption, become the occasion of their hardening. 

2. The foundation of his different dealing with mankind; viz. his sovereign will and pleasure. 'He hath mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.' This does not imply, merely, that God never shows mercy or denies it against his will, or that he is always willing to do it when he does it. A willing subject or servant, when he obeys his lord's commands, may never do any thing against his will, nothing but what he can do cheerfully and with delight; and yet he cannot be said to do what he wills in the sense of the text. But the expression implies that it is God's mere will and sovereign pleasure, which supremely orders this affair. It is the divine will without restraint, or constraint, or obligation.

Doctrine. God exercises his sovereignty in the eternal salvation of men.

He not only is sovereign, and has a sovereign right to dispose and order in that affair; and he not only might proceed in a sovereign way, if he would, and nobody could charge him with exceeding his right; but he actually does so; he exercises the right which he has.

 The sovereignty of God is his absolute, independent right of disposing of all creatures according to his own pleasure. The will of God is called his mere pleasure.

 I observe, it implies that God can either bestow salvation on any of the children of men, or refuse it, without any prejudice to the glory of any of his attributes, except where he has been pleased to declare, that he will or will not bestow it. It cannot be said absolutely, as the case now stands, that God can, without any prejudice to the honour of any of his attributes, bestow salvation on any of the children of men, or refuse it; because, concerning some, God has been pleased to declare either that he will or that he will not bestow salvation on them; and thus to bind himself by his own promise. And concerning some he has been pleased to declare, that he never will bestow salvation upon them; viz. those who have committed the sin against the Holy Ghost.

Hence, as the case now stands, he is obliged; he cannot bestow salvation in one case, or refuse it in the other, without prejudice to the honour of his truth. But God exercised his sovereignty in making these declarations. God was not obliged to promise that he would save all who believe in Christ; nor was he obliged to declare, that he who committed the sin against the Holy Ghost should never be forgiven. But it pleased him so to declare. And had it not been so that God had been pleased to oblige himself in these cases, he might still have either bestowed salvation, or refused it, without prejudice to any of his attributes. If it would in itself be prejudicial to any of his attributes to bestow or refuse salvation, then God would not in that matter act as absolutely sovereign. Because it then ceases to be a merely arbitrary thing. It ceases to be a matter of absolute liberty, and is become a matter of necessity or obligation. For God cannot do any thing to the prejudice of any of his attributes, or contrary to what is in itself excellent and glorious.

In calling one people or nation, and giving them the means of grace, and leaving others without them. According to the divine appointment, salvation is bestowed in connexion with the means of grace. God may sometimes make use of very unlikely means, and bestow salvation on men who are under very great disadvantages; but he does not bestow grace wholly without any means. But God exercises his sovereignty in bestowing those means.

All mankind are by nature in like circumstances towards God. Yet God greatly distinguishes some from others by the means and advantages which he bestows upon them.  In this he has exercised his sovereignty. He did this of old, when he chose but one people, to make them his covenant people, and to give them the means of grace, and left all others, and gave them over to heathenish darkness and the tyranny of the devil, to perish from generation to generation for many hundreds of years.

The earth in that time was peopled with many great and mighty nations. God did not choose them for his people, but left them for many ages under gross heathenish darkness, to perish for lack of vision; and chose one only people, the posterity of Jacob, to be his own people, and to give them the means of grace.  Ps 147:19-20   

'He showeth his word unto Jacob, his statutes and his judgments unto Israel. He hath not dealt so with any nation; and as for his judgments, they have not known them.' This nation were a small, inconsiderable people in comparison with many other people. Deut. 7:7. 'The Lord did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people.' So neither was it for their righteousness; for they had no more of that than other people. Deut. 9:6. 'Understand therefore, that the Lord thy God giveth thee not this good land to possess it for thy righteousness; for thou art a stiff-necked people.'

God gives them to understand, that it was from no other cause but his free electing love, that he chose them to be his people. That reason is given why God loved them; it was because he loved them.  Deut 7:8. Which is as much as to say, it was agreeable to his sovereign pleasure, to set his love upon you.

God exercises his sovereignty in the advantages he bestows upon particular persons. All need salvation alike, and all are, naturally, alike undeserving of it; but he gives some vastly greater advantages for salvation than others. To some he assigns their place in pious and religious families, where they may be well instructed and educated, and have religious parents to dedicate them to God, and put up many prayers for them. God places some under a more powerful ministry than others, and in places where there are more of the outpourings of the Spirit of God. To some he gives much more of the strivings and the awakening influences of the Spirit, than to others. It is according to his mere sovereign pleasure.

 God exercises his sovereignty in sometimes bestowing salvation upon the low and mean, and denying it to the wise and great. Christ in his sovereignty passes by the gates of princes and nobles, and enters some cottage and dwells there, and has communion with its obscure inhabitants. So God sometimes passes by wise men, men of great understanding, learned and great scholars, and bestows salvation on others of weak understanding, who only comprehend some of the plainer parts of Scripture, and the fundamental principles of the christian religion. Yea, there seem to be fewer great men called, than others. And God in ordering it thus manifests his sovereignty. 1 Cor. 1:26,27,28. 'For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are.

In saving some of those who seek salvation, and not others. Some who seek salvation, as we know both from Scripture and observation, are soon converted; while others seek a long time, and do not obtain at last. God helps some over the mountains and difficulties which are in the way; he subdues Satan, and delivers them from his temptations: but others are ruined by the temptations with which they meet. Some are never thoroughly awakened; while to others God is pleased to give thorough convictions. Some are left to backsliding hearts; others God causes to hold out to the end. Some are brought off from a confidence in their own righteousness; others never get over that obstruction in their way, as long as they live.

 Those who are in a state of salvation are to attribute it to sovereign grace alone, and to give all the praise to him, who maketh them to differ from others. Godliness is no cause for glorying, except it be in God. 1 Cor. 1:29,30,31. 'That no flesh should glory in his presence. But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption. That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.' Such are not, by any means, in any degree to attribute their godliness, their safe and happy state and condition, to any natural difference between them and other men, or to any strength or righteousness of their own. They have no reason to exalt themselves in the least degree; but God is the being whom they should exalt. They should exalt God the Father, who chose them in Christ, who set his love upon them, and gave them salvation, before they were born, and even before the world was. If they inquire, why God set his love on them, and chose them rather than others, if they think they can see any cause out of God, they are greatly mistaken.

They should exalt God the Son, who bore their names on his heart, when he came into the world, and hung on the cross, and in whom alone they have righteousness and strength. They should exalt God the Holy Ghost, who of sovereign grace has called them out of darkness into marvelous light; who has by his own immediate and free operation, led them into an understanding of the evil and danger of sin, and brought them off from their own righteousness, and opened their eyes to discover the glory of God, and the wonderful riches of God in Jesus Christ, and has sanctified them, and made them new creatures.

When they hear of the wickedness of others, or look upon vicious persons, they should think how wicked they once were, and how much they provoked God, and how they deserved for ever to be left by him to perish in sin, and that it is only sovereign grace which has made the difference. 1 Cor. 6:10.

 'Such were some of you; but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified, in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.'

The people of God have the greater cause of thankfulness, more reason to love God, who hath bestowed such great and unspeakable mercy upon them of his mere sovereign pleasure.



Saturday, May 13, 2017

Seventy Times Seven

Anger and bitterness wrapped around the words tumbling carelessly out of my mouth, accusing an estranged friend how much pain and destruction he caused in my life many years ago. It was a self-righteous, merciless, and hypocritical response which I tried to justify in my prayers this morning. I should have pleaded with the Lord to forgive me for not forgiving this man.  

I went for a walk in the blustering wind. "Who does he think I am that I would so easily forgive and forget! He tore my family to shreds, and he is asking me to forgive him? Never!"
 
A sudden rush of tears...I'm not crying, it's this brutal wind... but then came that dark image of me: an unrepentant criminal scurrying down an alley like a rat.

Despite the warmth of my kitchen, and coffee, and my classical music, I could not shake this intense guilt.  I opened my Bible to Matthew.  Christ is teaching His disciples about forgiveness. It was compelling and convicting...especially His answer to Peter.  (Matthew 18:21-22)

The Lord's will is that we forgive as He forgives us, showing mercy to the ones who do us wrong, to the depth that He forgave us in Christ, "while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:8



Commentary by Matthew Henry


"Those that come to God for the forgiveness of their sins against him, must make conscience of forgiving those who have offended them, else they curse themselves when they say the Lord's prayer. We must forbear, and forgive, and forget the affronts put upon us, and the wrongs done us; and this is a moral qualification for pardon and peace.
 
Lord, how oft shall my brother trespass against me, and I forgive him? Will it suffice to do it seven times? 


  • He takes it for granted that he must forgive; Christ had before taught his disciples this lesson (Matthew 6:14,15), and Peter has not forgotten it. He knows that he must not only not bear a grudge against his brother, or meditate revenge, but be as good a friend as ever, and forget the injury.

  • He thinks it is a great matter to forgive till seven times.
Christ's direct answer to Peter's question; I say not unto thee, Until seven times (he never intended to set up any such bounds), but, Until seventy times seven; a certain number for an indefinite one, but a great one. It is necessary to the preservation of peace, both within and without, to pass by injuries, without reckoning how often; to forgive, and forget. God multiplies his pardons, and so should we. It intimates that we should make it our constant practice to forgive injuries, and should accustom ourselves to it till it becomes habitual.

  • Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us. Those, and those only, may expect to be forgiven of God, who forgive their brethren.

When we pray to God as our Father in heaven, we are taught to ask for the forgiveness of sins, as we forgive our debtors. Observe here:

  • The duty of forgiving; we must from our hearts forgive. Note, We do not forgive our offending brother aright, nor acceptably, if we do not forgive from the heart; for that is it that God looks at. No malice must be harboured there, nor ill will to any person, one or another; no projects of revenge must be hatched there, nor desires of it, as there are in many who outwardly appear peaceable and reconciled. Yet this is not enough; we must from the heart desire and seek the welfare even of those that have offended us"
 


Sunday, May 7, 2017

Brought Up From The Horrible Pit ~ C.H. Spurgeon

"I waited patiently for the Lord; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry.  

He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings.  

And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear,  and shall trust in the Lord."   Psalm 40:1-3  


A Sermon Delivered on Lord's-Day Morning
August 13th, 1882 
by Charles H. Spurgeon

Excerpts:

Bringing up out of a horrible pit is a terribly suggestive metaphor. I have been in the dungeon in Rome in which, according to tradition, Peter and Paul were confined.  It was indeed a horrible pit, for originally it had no entrance but a round hole in the rock above; and when that round hole at the top was blocked with a stone, not a ray of light nor a particle of fresh air could possibly enter. 

The prisoners were let down into the cavern, and there they were left. When once the opening was closed they were cut off from all communication with their fellow men.  No being has ever been so cruel to man as man. Man is the worst of monsters to his kind, and his cruel inventions are many. He has not been content to leave his fellows their natural liberty, but he built prisons and dug pits in which to shut up his victims. 

At first they would place a man in a dry well merely for custody and confinement, or they would drop him into some hollow cavern in the earth in which corn or treasure had been concealed; but afterwards with greater ingenuity of malice they covered over the top of these pits so that the prisoners could not be partakers of God's bountiful air, or the merciful light of the sun, or the silver sheen of the moon. Covered all over and shut in, the captives were buried alive.

Even in modern times we have seen what they call oubliettes, or dungeons in which prisoners were immured, to be forgotten as dead men out of mind, buried so as never to come forth again. Such unfortunates as were doomed to enter these tombs of living men bade farewell to hope. They were inhabitants of oblivion, dwellers in the land of death shade, to remain apart from their kind, cut off from memory. These worst of dungeons may illustrate our text—"He brought me up also out of a horrible pit."

Imagine yourself now confined in one of those caverns, with the big stone rolled over the mouth of it. There would be neither hearing nor answering. Now will you know the dread solemnity of silence. You may speak, but no gentle whisper of sympathy will reach your ears in return; you may cry again and again and make the dungeon's dome echo to your voice, but you are speaking as to brass—no man cares for your soul. You are alone; alone in a fearful solitude. 

Of course, a prisoner in such a pit as that was in total darkness. He could not see the walls which enclosed him, nor so much as his own hand. No beam of sunlight ever wandered into that stagnant air; the captive would have to grope for the pitcher of water and the morsel of bread which a cruel mercy would allot to him. 

Our Lord was in the dark; midnight brooded over His spirit. He said—"Now is my soul troubled." "My soul is exceeding sorrowful even unto death." His was a pit of gloom, the region of the shadow of death, a land of darkness as darkness itself.

When a man is shut up in a pit, he is, of course, full of distress. If you were, any of you, to go into one of the solitary cells of our own jails, I warrant you a short sojourn in it would be quite enough. These cells some years ago were thought to be wonderful cures for all sort of evil dispositions in men, but probably they have oftener destroyed reason than conquered depravity. Go in, if you dare. Ask the warden to shut the door, and leave you in the dark all alone, that you may try the solitary system for yourself.  

 No, I should not advise you to try it even for five minutes, for you might even in that short pace inflict such an injury upon your nervous system as you would never recover. I believe that many of the gentler ones here would be quite unable to bear total darkness and solitude even for the shortest space. In the grim gloom the soul is haunted with phantom fears, while horror peoples the place which is empty of human beings; the heart is worried with evil imaginations, and pierced with arrows of distress; grief takes hold of the spirit, and alarm conquers hope.

 In our Lord's case, the grief and sorrow which He felt can never be described, nor need it be conceived. It was something tantamount to the miseries of damned souls. The holy Jesus could not feel the exact misery which takes hold on abandoned rebels, but He did suffer what was tantamount to that at the judgment seat of God. 

 He gave something which in God's esteem, reckoning the dignity of His mighty person, stood instead of the sinner's eternal suffering. He felt woe upon woe, night blackening night. Do not try to realize His agony; He wills that you should note, for He has trodden the winepress alone, and of the people there were none with Him, as if to show that none could understand His sorrows, and that we can do no more than speak of His "unknown sufferings."

 "He brought me up out of a horrible pit." The Lord Jesus Christ was lifted up from all sorrow of spirit at that moment when He said so bravely, "It is finished," and though He died, yet was He lifted up from death, as it is written, "Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption." His Spirit ascended to God, and by-and-by, when the third day had blushed with morning light, His body rose from the tomb, to ascend in due time to glory. He came up out of the pit of the grave, delivered from all fear of corruption, pain, or defeat.

 "Many shall see." Do you wonder that it is added, "and shall fear?" It makes men fear to see a bleeding Christ, and to know that they crucified Him. It makes men fear, however, with a sweet filial fear that is akin to hope, when they see that Jesus died for sinners, the Just for the unjust, to bring them to God. Oh, when they see the Lord of love acting as a scapegoat, and bearing their sins away into the wilderness of forgetfulness, they begin to hate their evil ways, and to have a reverent fear of God; for so saith the Scripture, "there is forgiveness with thee that thou mayest be feared."

But best of all—they come to "trust in the Lord." They build their hope of salvation upon the righteousness of God as manifested in Christ Jesus. Oh, I would to God that some of you would trust Him at once. Beloved friend, are you trying to be saved by your own works? That is a delusion. Are you hoping to be saved by your own feelings?
That is a lie. 


But you can be saved, you shall be saved: if you will trust yourself with that blessed One who was alone in the dark pit for the sake of sinners, and slipped in the miry clay for the ungodly, you shall assuredly be saved from wrath through Him.  

Trust Him, and as surely as He liveth you shall be saved; for he that trusteth in Him cannot perish.


Peter Paul Reubens





 

Thursday, May 4, 2017

"Consider the Lilies of the Field..."


It was many years ago on a beautiful Sunday morning, I was walking and praying. Every day I would ask the Lord to show me something that would make me a person of enduring faith. I always thanked the Lord for what He provided, but I was very disheartened, distraught, with what seemed to be overwhelming difficulties in my life.  

He would not answer my prayers. I did not realize it then, but I do now. Sometimes He makes us wait to give us time. When we least expect it, the answer is in something He created for us to meditate on. When we truly come to understand God’s nature, we dig deeper and the answers are there in His Word. 

Lilies of the Fields
That day, on the way to the park, all along the narrow street, the curbs were edged with graceful lilies, their orange faces stretched toward the sun. They seed themselves each year, and grow wild into the fields. 

It was then I remembered  "lilies of the field".

The Lord reminded me that my anxiety for material goods such as food and clothing is in vain. My preoccupation with physical existence should not be my focus. The time we have to live on earth until we take our last breath, the measure of our lives is not in our hands, nor within our power to add to it; therefore, we should leave the concern of our physical lives to Him.


He tells us: Look at the lilies which spring up in the fields! indeed, when in bloom, they are adorned with more splendor than was the great King in his glory. God has fashioned for these lilies of the field more beauty than have industries of men and occupations of women. While "the lilies neither labor nor spin", why do you trouble yourselves worrying?  "For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things." 

I continued to recall: You are able to live in opulence and in scarcity, the understanding of true good, and of the true righteousness of God. You have in God a Father, naturally greater than your heart. Even if you do not understand Him, know that He is in Heaven and that it is there He takes your measure and places your treasures. Reserve above everything else a place for the Name of your Father, a desire that His Will be done.

Matthew 6:27-33