Grace Gems for DECEMBER, 2016
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Such likeness between men and swine!
(Sword and Trowel)
Rowland Hill illustrated the folly of sinners, by the story of a butcher who was followed by the swine right into the slaughterhouse. As pigs are not usually in the mind to go where they are wanted, it seemed a mystery how these animals were so eager to follow their executioner; but when it was seen that he wisely carried a bag of beans with which he enticed the creatures onward — the riddle was solved at once. Unsuspicious of impending death — the hogs cared only for the passing gratification of their appetites, and hastened to the slaughter!
Just in the same manner, ungodly men follow the great enemy of souls down into the jaws of Hell — merely because their depraved passions are pleased with the lusts of the flesh and the pleasures of sin which the devil gives them by handfuls along the way. Alas, that there should be such likeness between men and swine!
The joys of sin are so short and so unsatisfactory, that they can never be thought of for a moment — as a fitting inducement for a rational being to lose his immortal soul. Will a few hours' foolery, gambling, drinking, or immorality — compensate for eternal fire? Is the momentary indulgence of a base passion, worth . . .
enduring of flames which never can be quenched,
eternally moaning in vain for a drop of water,
being tormented by the never-dying worm,
being shut out from Heaven forever,
being eternally cursed by God!
Is any sin worth all this? Can any gain make up for this?
O you who delight in the poisonous sweets of sin — remember that though pleasant in the mouth for the moment — sin will be as wormwood and gall in your belly forever!
Why will you swallow the bait — when you know that the hook is there?
Why will you be lured by the Satanic fowler? Surely in vain is the net spread in the sight of any bird. But you are more foolish than the birds — and fly into the snare when you know it to be there! O that you were wise, and would consider your latter end. Let that one word "Eternity!" ring in your ears — and drive out the giddy laughter of worldlings, who prefer fleeting sensual joys — to the eternal pleasures at God's right hand.
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This is the knife that cut the throat of your child!
(J.C. Pittman, "Bible Truths Illustrated" 1917)
Through one sin, angels left their proper habitation. Jude 6
Through one sin, man was banished from paradise — and the eternal curse and its punishment rested upon him and his descendants.
Sin is a clenched fist — and a blow in the face of God! Sin is the only thing which God abhors! All sins, great or small, are objects of intense aversion to God.
Nothing speaks louder concerning God's hatred of sin — than Calvary! Surely, he who asserts that sin is a trivial thing, a mere "ripple on the ocean of God's love" — has never looked upon the cross! In view of what it cost Jesus to atone for it — sin is heinous, hellish, and damnable! It required nothing less than the suffering and death of of the Son of God on the cross!
Suppose a man should come to the dinner table and it should be told to him: "This is the knife that cut the throat of your child!" If he could now use that knife as any other knife, would not we say, "Surely there was but little love to the child!"
Oh, with what detestation would a man fling away such a knife!
In the same way, when there is a temptation to any sin — this is the knife . . .
which was the cause of Christ's sufferings,
which cut the throat of Christ,
which pierced His side,
which made Christ to be a curse!
Now, will you not look on that as a cursed thing — which made Christ to be a curse? With what detestation should a Christian renounce sin — for that, and that alone, was the cause of the death of Christ!
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Our afflictions proceed from God's heart!
(Arthur Pink, 1935)
"For the Lord disciplines the one He loves, and chastises every son whom He receives!" Hebrews 12:6
"Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline." Revelation 3:19
"My son, do not despise the Lord's discipline or be weary of His reproof — for the Lord reproves him whom He loves, as a father the son in whom he delights!" Proverbs 3:11-12
The Christian's chastisements flow from God's love. Not from His anger or hardness, nor from arbitrary dealings — but our afflictions proceed from God's heart! It is love which regulates all the ways of God in dealing with His own people.
It was love that elected them. The heart is not warmed when our election is traced back merely to God's sovereign will. But our affections are stirred when we read, "For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world, to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love He predestined us to be adopted as His sons through Jesus Christ." Ephesians 1:4-5
It was love that redeemed us. We do not reach the center of the atonement — when we see nothing more in the cross than a vindication of the Law and a satisfaction of divine justice: "God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son." John 3:16
It is love that regenerates or effectually calls us: "With loving-kindness have I drawn you!" Jeremiah 31:3. The new birth is not only a marvel of divine wisdom and a miracle of divine power — but it is also and superlatively a product of God's affection!
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Reading the Bible is like eating fish!
An old man once said, "For a long period I puzzled myself about the difficulties of Scripture, until at last I came to the resolution that reading the Bible is like eating fish. When I find a difficulty — I lay it aside, and call it a bone. Why should I choke on the bone — when there is so much nutritious meat for me? Some day, perhaps, I may find that even the bone may afford me nourishment!"
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Let us use worldly things
(George Downame, 1560-1634)
Let us use worldly things — as wise pilgrims do their staves and other necessities for their journey. So long as they help us forward in our way — let us make use of them, and accordingly esteem them. But if they become troublesome hindrances and cumbersome burdens — let us leave them behind us, or cast them away!
The temptations of prosperity, like unseen bullets — wound and kill us before they are discerned.
Riches are . . .
long in getting — with much pains,
hard in keeping — with much care,
quick in losing — with more sorrow.
(Thomas Fuller, 1608-1661)
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The best course to prevent falling into the pit!
"Avoid every kind of evil!" 1 Thessalonians 5:22
It is our wisest and our safest course to stand at the farthest distance from sin; not to go near the house of the harlot, but to fly from all appearance of evil. "Keep to a path far from her — do not go near the door of her house!" Proverbs 5:8
The best course to prevent falling into the pit — is to keep at the greatest distance from the pit. He who will be so bold as to attempt to dance upon the brink of the pit — may find by woeful experience, that it is a righteous thing with God that he should fall into the pit!
Sin is a plague, yes, the greatest and most infectious plague in the world; and yet, ah! how few are there that tremble at it, that keep at a distance from it!
"If any occupation or amusement or association is found to hinder our communion with God or our enjoyment of spiritual things — then it must be abandoned. Whatever I cannot do for God's glory — must be avoided!" (Arthur Pink)
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Short pithy gems from John Flavel
"The soul is of more value than ten thousand worlds!"
"Whatever we have over-loved, idolized, and leaned upon — God has from time to time broken it, and made us to see the vanity of it. So that we find the readiest course to be rid of our comforts — is to set our hearts inordinately upon them!'
"Brethren, it is easier to declaim against a thousand sins of others — than to mortify one sin in ourselves!'
"Those who know God, will be humble.
Those who know themselves, cannot be proud."
"Affliction is a bitter pill, which, being enrapt up in patience and quiet submission, may be easily swallowed. But discontent chews the pill, and so embitters the soul."
"When God gives you comforts — it is your great evil not to observe His hand in them."
"Jesus Christ is in every way sufficient to the vast desires of the soul."
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Gems from Octavius Winslow
"So completely was Jesus bent upon saving sinners by the sacrifice of Himself, that He created the tree upon which He was to die — and nurtured from infancy, the men who were to nail Him to the accursed wood!"
"Christ took your cup of grief, your cup of the curse, pressed it to his lips, drank it to its dregs — then filled it with His sweet, pardoning, sympathizing love, and gave it back for you to drink, and to drink forever!"
"It is because we have such shallow views of God's love — that we have such defective views of God's dealings. We blindly interpret the symbols of His providence — because we so imperfectly read the engravings of His heart!"
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Short pithy gems from Martin Luther!
"Prayer is climbing up into the heart of God!"
"God does not need your good works — but your neighbor does!"
"I have held many things in my hands, and I have lost them all;
but whatever I have placed in God's hands — that I still possess."
"Many have passed for saints on earth — whose souls are now in Hell."
"The most damnable and pernicious heresy that has ever plagued the mind of man, was the idea that somehow he could make himself good enough to deserve to live with an all-holy God!"
"When Satan tells me I am a sinner — he comforts me immeasurably, since Christ died for sinners."
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If you want to see a man worked up until the Satanic is clearly uppermost!
"I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man." Galatians 1:11
We are sure that the Gospel we have preached is not according to men — because it is opposed, even to this day. If anything is hated bitterly, it is the out-and-out Gospel of the grace of God, especially if that hateful word, "Sovereignty" is mentioned with it!
Dare to say, "He will have mercy on whom He will have mercy — and He will have compassion on whom He will have compassion," and furious critics will revile you without stint!
The modern religionist not only hates the doctrine of Sovereign grace, but he raves and rages at the mention of it! He would sooner hear you blaspheme, than preach . . .
Election by the Father,
Atonement by the Son, or
Regeneration by the Spirit!
If you want to see a man worked up until the Satanic is clearly uppermost — let modern religionists hear you preach a Free-Grace sermon!
A Gospel which is according to men, will be welcomed by men — but it needs a Divine operation upon the heart and mind, to make a man willing to receive this distasteful gospel of the grace of God into his utmost soul!
" . . . the ministry which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God." Acts 20:24
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Mr. Hill, I am pleased to see you — I am one of your converts!
A man picked himself up from the gutter and brushed up against Rowland Hill one night as he went home, and he said, "Mr. Hill, I am pleased to see you — I am one of your converts!"
Rowland said, "I thought it was very likely that you were. You are certainly not one of God's converts, or else you would not be drunk."
There is a great lesson in that answer. Rowland Hill's converts could get drunk, but not the converts of the Spirit of God — those are really renewed in the spirit of their mind, by a supernatural operation!
Our converts are no good.
If our preaching does not turn men . . .
from drunkenness — to sobriety,
from thieving — to honesty,
from unchastity — to purity,
then our Gospel is not worth a button!
But if it does all this, then this is the evidence that it comes from God — seeing that in the world so sorely diseased by sin, it works the wondrous miracle of curing men of these deadly evils!
"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation! Old things have passed away — behold, all things have become new!" 2 Corinthians 5:17
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No matter what corner I go around on the winding road of life
"I will lead them in paths that they have not known" Isaiah 42:16
I do not know what is around that next turn in this winding trail of life. But I know this — whatever there is around that corner, I shall have my hand in Another's hand when I go and face it. And if I feel a little bit disturbed, I shall move my finger around in the palm of that hand till I find the scar, and then I shall know that Jesus Christ, who on the cross was wounded for my sins — is not going to leave me no matter what corner I go around on the winding road of life.
"Uphold my steps in Your paths, that my footsteps may not slip!" Psalm 17:5
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I would not make my ear into a common sewer, for all the wealth in the world!
Do you ask, "To whom shall I confess my sins?" Do not come to me with your confession. Oh no, no, no! I could not stand that!
I can never understand how a "Catholic priest" can ask people to confess their sins to him. I would not make my ear into a common sewer, for all the wealth in the world! What foulness must there be on the soul of him who has heard the sins that others have committed, and who knows what sin he has himself committed!
Sin, when we see what it really is, whether in ourselves or in others, horrifies us!
There is an old proverb about a thing being "as filthy as a priest's ear!" I cannot imagine anything dirtier than that, and I have no wish to be a partaker in the filthiness.
Go to God and confess your sin to Him — pour out your heart's sad story in the ear of Him against whom you have offended! Say with David, "Against You, You only, have I sinned — and done this evil in Your sight!"
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It will not do to be a saint abroad — and a devil at home!
There is a great importance in the way in which a man lives in his house. It will not do to be a saint abroad — and a devil at home! There are some of that kind. They are wonderfully sweet at a prayer meeting — but they are dreadfully sour to their wives and children. This will never do!
Every genuine believer should say, and mean it, "I will walk within my house with a perfect heart." It is in the home, that we get the truest proof of godliness.
"What sort of a man is he?" said one to George Whitefield — and Whitefield answered, "I cannot say, for I never lived with him."
That is the way to test a man — to live with him.
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Mohammed may conquer by the sword!
Mohammed may conquer by the sword — but Christ conquers by the sword which comes out of His mouth, that is, the Word of the Lord! His empire is one of love — not of force and oppression. He subdues men, but He does it by His own gentleness and kindness, never by breaking them in pieces and destroying them upon a gory battlefield.
The religion of Jesus is the most peaceful, mild and benevolent religion which was ever promulgated. When we compare it with any set of dogmas invented by men, there is not one of them that can stand the least comparison with it for gentleness, mildness and love.
As for the religion of Mohamed, it is the religion of the vulture — but the religion of Jesus is that of the dove — all is mercy, all is mild. It is, like its Founder — an embodiment of pure benevolence, grace and truth.
"Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me — for I am gentle and humble in heart." Matthew 11:29
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We would soon hear all the dogs of Hell baying with all their might against us!
"If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you." John 15:19
There would be much more persecution than there is — if there were more real Christians. But we have become so like the world, that the world does not hate us as it once did. If we would be more holy, more true, more Christ-like, more godly — we would soon hear all the dogs of Hell baying with all their might against us!
Remember, my brethren, whoever you may be, that if there is no distinction between you and the world around you — then you may be certain that you are of the world. For, there must always be some marks in the children of God to distinguish them from the ungodly. There is a something in them which is not to be found in the best worldling — something which is not to be discovered in the most admirable carnal man. A something in their character which can be readily perceived and which marks them as belonging to another and higher race, the twice-born, the elect of God, eternally chosen by Him — and, therefore, made to be choice ones through the effectual working of His grace.
"I have given them Your word and the world has hated them — for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world." John 17:14
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Short pithy gems from Charles Hodge
"To be in Christ — is the source of the Christian's life.
To be like Christ — is the sum of the Christian's excellence.
To be with Christ — is the fullness of the Christian's joy."
"The grace of God exalts a man without inflating him — and humbles a man without debasing him."
"The gospel is so simple, that small children can understand it — and it is so profound, that studies by the wisest theologians will never exhaust its riches!"
"Christian humility does not consist in denying what there is of good in us — but in an abiding sense of ill-desert, and in the consciousness that what we have of good is due to the grace of God."
"This is true religion:
to approve what God approves,
to hate what God hates, and
to delight in what God delights."
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We dwell within the palm of God's hand!
"My times are in Your hand!" Psalm 31:15
Not only are we, ourselves, in the hand of the Lord — but all that surrounds us is in His hand! Our times make up a kind of atmosphere of existence — and all of this is under His divine arrangement.
We dwell within the palm of God's hand! We are absolutely at His disposal — and all our circumstances are arranged by Him in all their details. We are comforted to have it so!
When one knows that his times are in God's hands — he would not change places with a king! No, nor even with an angel!
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Had he known me better!
Humility is the queen of the Christian graces. The excellence of humility is illustrated in the following Scriptures.
1. Humility is the Flower of Grace — Ephesians 4:2. Humility walks consistently, loves generously, serves willingly, acts meekly, forgives heartily, forbears thoughtfully, and responds obediently.
2. Humility is the Soul of Contentment — Philippians 4:12. It feels that it does not deserve anything, therefore takes whatever comes with gratitude. It ever sings, "O to grace how great a debtor!"
3. Humility is the Secret of Service — Acts 20:19. To serve the Lord with all humility of mind, is to have the bloom of consecration, the aroma of grace, the unction of love, the warmth of zeal, the ardor of faith, the walk of obedience, and the beauty of holiness.
4. Humility is the Badge of Obedience. The Lord's command is, "Humble yourselves" (1 Peter 5:6), and it is not without meaning that it is to be "under the mighty hand of God." We only know the mightiness of God's hand — when we lie low beneath it.
5. Humility is the Lesson of Grace. When we are yoked with Christ in God's will, we are in the position to learn of Christ, who is "meek and lowly in heart" (Matthew 11:29). To talk about humility, is to show we do not possess it; but to keep step with Christ, is to have it without knowing it.
6. The Mind of Humility. "In humility of mind, let each esteem other better than themselves" (Philippians 2:3). To see the best in others — is to find the worst in ourselves. Self-contemplation leads to self-congratulation, and that always fosters pride.
7. The Example of Christ. The mind of Christ is illustrated in that He "humbled Himself" (Philippians 2:8). He went down, before He was raised up. We need to pray: "Help us, O Lord, to deeper sink, that we may the higher rise." The downward path is the upward one.
8. Humility is the Attire of Heaven. "Be clothed with humility" (1 Peter 5:5). This is a suit that is always in fashion — it never wears out, and it is always befitting. Humility is recognized by men, admired by angels, and loved by God.
9. Humility is the Securer of Blessing. "He gives more grace to the humble" (James 4:6), or as the margin, "A greater grace." Whether an excelling grace, or "more" of the grace that excels — humility is its own reward, and is rewarded by the Lord's commendation.
10. Humility is the Harbinger of Reward. "He who humbles himself shall be exalted" (Matthew 23:12). The heavier the cargo — the more the vessel is sunk into the water, and the greater its worth. When the fruit of humility causes the branch of the soul to bend in lowliness — the Heavenly Gardener plucks the fruit for the garner of His love!
There is nothing more characteristic of a true Christian, than humility. It is the first lesson that he learns in the school of Christ, and is the source of contentment and solid peace of mind.
If he hears that anyone has reviled him — he is ready to say, "Had he known me better, he would have said worse things of me than that!"
The fiercest storms of adversity blow over him. Humility gives a pliancy to his mind, which saves it by yielding to the force it cannot resist; like the weak and bending reed that weathers out the tempest which fells the tall and sturdy oak.
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To attempt to murder this infant, is Deicide!
(James Smith, "The Love of Christ! The Fullness, Freeness, and Immutability of the Savior's Grace Displayed!")
"Herod is going to search for the child to kill Him!" Matthew 2:13
Christ, our Wondrous Lover met with sorry reception in our guilty, ungrateful world!
At first He was denied a dwelling — but soon it was determined to deprive Him of existence! O height of folly! O depth of wickedness! To attempt to murder this infant, is Deicide!
Foolish Herod! Shall divine predictions be falsified by you — and shall your lust frustrate God's eternal purpose to save His people?
"She will give birth to a son, and you are to give Him the name Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins!" Matthew 1:21
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(Alexander Smellie, "The Secret Place" 1907)
"Do not come any closer! Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground!" Exodus 3:5
I have no need to go to the loneliness of Sinai to meet with God. I find holy ground much nearer home. But I wonder whether I take my sandals off of my feet.
God reveals Himself to me in His written Word. It is His sanctuary. By its agency, my deepest life is created, quickened, sustained. Listening to it, the saints have heard the very voice of their Lord. But do I reverence God by my frivolous use of the words of Scripture? And, whenever I open the Book, do I remember that God has breathed the Spirit of Life into its chapters and verses? Mine is culpable levity.
He reveals Himself in my history, as truly as ever He did in the history of Israel. In it, the devout heart will trace . . .
His perfect providence,
His stern hatred of sin,
His overflowing goodness.
Best of all, He reveals Himself in Christ. But if Christ brings Him close to me, He teaches me fresh reasons for standing in awe of Him.
His life shows me what God is — spotless, righteous, faithful, unflinchingly holy.
And His Cross has a more impressive message still. Here are God's infinite gentleness and shoreless mercy. Side by side with these are God's abhorrence of my iniquity, and His unconquerable justice. He is holy, holy, holy — even in the brightest and sweetest manifestation of His grace. Yet I do not always worship Him "with trembling hope and penitential tears."
Not a day passes, that I am not standing in the courts of His house. Not a place can I visit, where the Spirit of glory and of God may not overshadow me. I pray for tenfold more thoughtfulness and adoration and humility.
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(Henry Law, "Numbers" 1858)
"A star will come out of Jacob." Numbers 24:17
A star, what is it, but a glittering orb set in the canopy of night? It sparkles, as a gem amid surrounding gloom. It darts a cheering ray on the black pall around. It smiles with lovely radiance on a dark ground.
Such is Christ Jesus. Where He beams not — it is unmitigated night. It is the skies without a star. What is such blackness, but a chilly type of ignorance, and wretchedness, and sin? Take the poor soul, in which Christ never shone. All these vile troops there brood. Is God there known? Far otherwise. There may be vague idea of some supreme director. But the realities of God's grace, and love, and truth, and justice — are utterly unseen. There is no basking in a Father's smile. Each step is through the maze and thickness of impenetrable doubts. There is no joy of a felt pardon. There is no knowledge of sins blotted out. Such is each Christless soul.
But let the Star appear — and what loveliness pervades the scene! So when Christ rises in the heart, that brightness comes, before which sin and misery flee.
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O sad spectacle of misery, grief, and woe!
(James Smith, "Christ Exalted, Saints Comforted, and Sinners Directed" 1855)
"Jesus came to take away our sins!" 1 John 3:5
Here notice the purpose and end of His coming: "To take away our sins!"
Our sins were committed against Himself.
They deserved His everlasting displeasure.
They called aloud for His vengeance to awake and punish us.
He foresaw the whole of them — in all their variety, enormity, and aggravation. He knew that they would be sins against His law, His love, and His tenderest mercy — sins against light, out of bitter enmity, and perpetrated over and over again. He knew the whole amount of our vileness — and yet "Jesus came to take away our sins!" Oh, the greatness of His love!
Sin had . . .
incensed Divine justice against us,
exposed us to Jehovah's wrath, and
brought us under the dreadful curse of His violated law.
Therefore Jesus came and took away our sins, and at the same time . . .
satisfied the claims of divine justice,
appeased the Father's wrath,
and bore our curse Himself!
O wondrous love!
O marvelous grace!
O astonishing mercy!
But more wondrous, more marvelous, more astonishing — is Jesus Himself — who did this for us, and did it freely, without solicitation, or anything in us to induce Him to do it!
But how could Jesus take away our sins? "God made Him to be sin for us."
He bore the weight of our sins,
He endured their merited punishment,
and He suffered the shame they procured.
He was . . .
despised by men,
tormented by devils,
smitten with the sword of divine justice,
forsaken by His Father,
mocked by His creatures,
overwhelmed with grief,
torn with anguish, and
His heart was broken with reproach and agony
— all for a poor, sinning, sorrowing, Hell-deserving creature like me!
Sin lay upon Him,
the wrath of God was endured by Him,
the most fearful terrors surrounded Him,
Heaven, earth, and Hell, appeared as though leagued against Him!
Men grossly insulted Him,
devils tried all in their power to destroy Him, and
God was pleased to bruise Him, and then leave Him to languish in heart-breaking sorrow.
O sad spectacle of misery, grief, and woe!
Was there ever sorrow, like unto Your sorrow?
Was there ever love, like unto Your love?
You might have sat upon Your throne, enjoying Your own glory, happiness, and felicity forever — and have justly left us to perish in our sins, and suffer for our own transgressions! But no, you would be Jesus — you would save Your people from their sins!
You would come to take away our sins, though in so doing — justice took away Your honor, happiness, and life. You would not leave us to perish — but You would put away our sins by the sacrifice of Yourself. You have . . .
turned away Jehovah's wrath,
cast all our sin into the depths of the sea, and
bore our punishment in Your own body on the cruel tree!
Indeed Your love is astonishing, inconceivable, and almost too great for my weak faith to believe!
Dear Lord Jesus, You are exactly what I need — and You are all that I need. Your love will be . . .
a sufficient portion in life,
a divine cordial in death, and
an ocean of felicity in which to bathe forever!
To see Him, love Him, and extol Him — is the Heaven of every Christian. He is . . .
sweeter than honey,
more pleasant than the light, and
more precious than life itself!
To know Him — is to be truly wise.
To live upon Him — is to be happy.
To walk with Him — is to be holy.
To look to Him, expect from Him, and cast all our cares upon Him — is to honor Him.
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(From Spurgeon's autobiography)
There was a day, as I took my walks abroad, when I came by a spot forever engraved upon my memory, for there I saw this Friend, my best, my only Friend . . . MURDERED!
I stooped down in sad affright, and looked at Him. I saw that His hands had been pierced with rough iron nails, and His feet had been torn in the same way. There was misery in His dead countenance so terrible that I scarcely dared to look upon it. His body was emaciated with hunger, His back was red with bloody scourges, and His brow had a circle of wounds about it — clearly could one see that these had been pierced by thorns.
I shuddered, for I had known this Friend full well. He never had a fault — He was the purest of the pure, the holiest of the holy.
Who could have injured Him?
For He never injured any man — all His life long He "went about doing good." He had healed the sick, He had fed the hungry, He had raised the dead — for which of these works did they kill Him? He had never breathed out anything else but love — and as I looked into the poor sorrowful face, so full of agony, and yet so full of love — I wondered who could have been a wretch so vile as to pierce hands like His. I said within myself, "Where can these traitors live? Who are these that could have smitten such a One as this?"
Had they murdered an oppressor — we might have forgiven them; had they slain one who had indulged in vice or villainy — it might have been his desert; had it been a murderer and a rebel, or one who had committed sedition — we would have said, "Bury his corpse — justice has at last given him his due!"
But when You were slain, my best, my only-beloved — where did the traitors hide? Let me seize them, and they shall be put to death! If there are torments that I can devise — surely they shall endure them all. Oh! what jealousy — what revenge I felt! If I might but find these murderers, what I would do to them!
And as I looked upon that corpse, I heard a footstep, and wondered where it was. I listened, and I clearly perceived that the murderer was close at hand! It was dark, and I groped about to find him. I found that, somehow or other, wherever I put out my hand, I could not meet with him, for he was NEARER to me than my hand would go.
At last I put my hand upon my bosom. "I have you now!" said I — for lo, he was in my own heart — the murderer was hiding within my own bosom, dwelling in the recesses of my inmost soul!
Ah! then I wept indeed, that I, in the very presence of my murdered Master, should be harboring the murderer! I felt myself most guilty while I bowed over His corpse, and sang that plaintive hymn,
"Twas you, MY SINS, my cruel sins,
His chief tormentors were!
Each of my sins became a nail,
and unbelief the spear!"
Amid the rabble which hounded the Redeemer to His doom, there were some gracious souls whose bitter anguish sought vent in wailing and lamentations — fit music to accompany that march of woe.
When my soul can, in imagination, see the Savior bearing His cross to Calvary, she joins the godly women, and weeps with them; for, indeed, there is true cause for grief — cause lying deeper than those mourning women thought. They bewailed innocence maltreated, goodness persecuted, love bleeding, meekness about to die — but my heart has a deeper and more bitter cause to mourn.
MY SINS were the scourges which lacerated those blessed shoulders, and crowned those bleeding brows with thorns! My sins cried, "Crucify Him! Crucify Him!" and laid the cross upon His gracious shoulders.
His being led forth to die is sorrow enough for one eternity — but MY having been His murderer, is more, infinitely more grief than one poor fountain of tears can express.
If Christ has died for me, as ungodly as I am, without strength as I am — then I cannot live in sin any longer, but must arouse myself to love and serve Him who has redeemed me.
I cannot trifle with the evil which slew my best Friend.
I must be holy for His sake.
How can I live in sin — when He has died to save me from it?
~ ~ ~ ~
Heaven's richest treasure!
(Gleanings from the Inner Life of Ruth Bryan)
"For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers — but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect!" 1 Peter 1:18-19
I wonder why dear saints do not talk with more ardor about Him who has, in love to our souls, brought them up from the pit of corruption.
Oh! what it cost Him! Price beyond all computing! Heaven's richest treasure — paid for worms of earth!
Oh! the wonders and blessedness of union to such a rich Husband, who thought not His own precious blood too much for my ransom!
Oh, that my heart were a ten-stringed instrument, and my life a living epistle — in which all might read Him. But, alas! it is so blotted over with unbelief and other sins, that it is hard to pick out His dear name in most of the pages!
Oh! when I see Him face to face, and behold those love-prints in His glorious body, what shall I feel? That will be Heaven — not one of harps and crowns, or of anything else — but JESUS and the open vision of His unveiled glories, the ineffable glories of Deity, and perfect beauties of humanity ever beaming with new effulgence in the person of our Bridegroom! Then shall we reflect His glory, and show forth His praise!
Eternal praises to the worthy Lamb!
~ ~ ~ ~
The religion of sinners!
"If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." 1 John 1:8-9
We must beware of deceiving ourselves in denying or excusing our sins. The more we see them — the more we shall esteem and value the remedy.
The Christian religion is the religion of sinners — of such as have sinned, and in whom sin in some measure still dwells.
The Christian life is a life of . . .
continued repentance, humiliation for and mortification of sin,
continual faith in, thankfulness for, and love to the Redeemer, and
hopeful joyful expectation of a day of glorious redemption, in which the believer shall be fully and finally acquitted, and sin abolished forever!
"He will save His people from their sins!" Matthew 1:21
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I suppose they like to choose their own wives!
"He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love He predestined us to be adopted as His sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will." Ephesians 1:4-5
Whatever may be said about the doctrine of election, it is written in the Word of God as with an iron pen, and there is no getting rid of it — there it stands!
Long before time had begun, God loved His chosen ones, and predestined them unto eternal life.
I can never understand why a man should cavil at another's being chosen — when he himself does not himself wish to be saved!
Some men cannot endure to hear the doctrine of election. I suppose they like to choose their own wives — but they are not willing that Christ should select His bride, the Church!
Those who cavil at the doctrine of election should answer this question: "Why is it that God has left devils without hope — and yet has sent His Son to redeem mankind? Is not divine sovereignty manifested here?" Answer me, you that deny God's sovereignty, and hate His election — how is it that angels are condemned to everlasting fire — while to you, the fallen children of Adam, the gospel of Christ is freely preached? The only answer that can possible be given is this: God wills to do it.
If the Lord should choose to show mercy to only one man in the world — He has the perfect right to do so.
If He chooses to show mercy to a few, or if He chooses to show mercy to all — He has the right to do so.
How is it that some of us who were once drunkards, swearers, and the like — are now sitting here to praise God this day? Was there anything good in us which moved the heart of God to save us? God forbid that we should indulge the blasphemous thought! I never met with any Christian who ever thought that he deserved to be chosen unto salvation; the very fact of the choice, proves that it must have been all of grace.
Electing love has selected some of the worst — to be made the best!
I shall never understand, even in Heaven — why the Lord Jesus should ever have loved me!
There is no more humbling doctrine in Scripture than that of election — none more promoting of gratitude, and, consequently, none more sanctifying. To me, election is one of the sweetest and most blessed truths in the whole of Revelation — it is one of the highest notes of heavenly music!
The man who is not willing to submit to the electing love and sovereign grace of God, has great reason to question whether he is a Christian at all — for the spirit that kicks against election is the spirit of the devil, and the spirit of the unhumbled, unrenewed heart.
"We ought always to thank God for you, brothers loved by the Lord, because from the beginning God chose you to be saved." 2 Thessalonians 2:13
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"No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it." Hebrews 12:11
I bear my witness that some of the best things I have ever learned from mortal lips — I have learned from bedridden saints!
There is no greater mercy that I know of on earth than good health — unless it is sickness. Sickness has often been a greater mercy to me than health!
It is often worth while being afflicted, in order to experience the great loving kindness of God which He bestows so abundantly on us in the hour of trouble and perplexity. Yes, God turns our fasts into feasts — and we are glad in the midst of our sorrow!
A whole-hearted consecration,
a child-like confidence,
a deep-toned submission —
these will make us ready for suffering, whatever it may be.
"In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials." 1 Peter 1:6
~ ~ ~ ~
There are many ways to get into Hell.
"For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it." Matthew 7:13
There is only one way to avoid Hell.
"I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." John 14:6
There is no way to get out of Hell.
"They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever!" Revelation 20:10
"They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of His power!" 2 Thessalonians 1:9
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We are as moths near a burning candle!
"Turn away my eyes from looking at vanity!" Psalm 119:37
Dear friends, do not gaze upon any sin . . .
for looking breeds longing,
and longing begets lusting,
and lusting brings sinning!
Keep your eyes right — and you may keep your heart right.
If that first woman had not looked upon the forbidden tree and seen "that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise," she would not have plucked and eaten the forbidden fruit — and we would not have been the children of sin and sorrow!
O friends, if we begin to look upon iniquity, we shall almost certainly fall! There are some sins that we poor, frail creatures cannot endure to look at. We are as moths near a burning candle — the only safety for us is to get out of the room and fly into the open air. But if we go near the candle — we shall certainly burn our wings and, perhaps, even destroy ourselves!
Just so, we must take care that we do not get used to sin. I believe that even the common reading in the newspapers of accounts of evil things is defiling to us. If we habitually read such things, we shall come, at last, to think less and less of the coarser forms of vice than we ought to do.
Nothing can keep us away from the fangs of sin, like falling into the embraces of Christ. Looking unto Jesus, is the great remedy against looking unto sin!
Turn away my eyes from vanity, my Lord, by filling them full with a vision of Yourself and holding me spellbound with that grandest spectacle that eyes of men, or angels, or even of God, Himself ever saw — the spectacle of God Incarnate bearing our sin in His own body on the Cross!
Keep your eyes fixed there — and all will be well.
~ ~ ~ ~
What gives the world its fatal charms?
(E.M. Bounds, "The World!")
"No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other — or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money." Luke 16:13
The world is one of the Christian's enemies which must be fought and conquered on the way to Heaven. The Christian life is represented as a training school, in which to deny worldly desires is one part of its curriculum.
There is no more fundamental statement in Scripture, than that the world is to be renounced by every true disciple of Christ — and that to love the world and the things of the world, puts us in open and standing enmity to God. By virtue of our love or friendship to the world — we are the enemies of God.
Christ Jesus lays it down as an obvious truth that between the world and His disciples, there would be hatred. To serve two opposing masters is impossible. The call of Christ when accepted and obeyed, becomes at once the secret and the source of the world's hatred.
Jesus declares the native and inevitable enmity of the world to His followers: "The world has hated them, because they are not of the world — even as I am not of the world." Again, in His high-priestly prayer, He declares this distinct and eternal separation and conflict: "They are not of the world — even as I am not of the world." By virtue of their relation to Christ — they are separated from, and are in conflict with, the world.
The love of the world is hostile to and destructive of, the love of God. The two cannot co-exist. Yet many modern church members and church goers are friends of the world — its advocates and lovers.
"You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore would be the friend of the world, makes himself an enemy of God!" James 4:4. Friendship with the world is God's greatest enemy. Love of the world violates our marriage vows to Jesus.
Nothing is more explicit than this, nothing is more commanding, authoritative and more exacting. "Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him!" 1 John 2:15. Nothing is more offensive to God, nothing is more criminal, more abominable, more violative of the most sacred relationship of the soul with God.
It remains true to this hour, that all the genuine disciples of Jesus are not of the world — but are chosen out of the world, have left the world, have renounced the world, and are crucified to the world.
What gives the world its fatal charms? What makes its enchantment so lethal? What makes it a deadly foe to Christ, and which poisons us against Heaven?
The world is the devil's pawn. The world gets its deadly and fascinating snares from the devil. The world is not simply the ally, but is the instrument and the agent of Satan.
The world's opposition and enmity have been always against the Christian — and often its smiles are more fatal than its hate!